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The PC-BSD logo
PC-BSD 10 with Plasma Desktop
Developer iXsystems
OS family Unix-like
Working state Current
Source model Open source
Initial release 2006
Latest release 10.2 / August 21, 2015; 3 months ago (2015-08-21)
Package manager PBI & FreeBSD Ports/Packages
Platforms x86-64
Kernel type Monolithic
License BSD licenses
Official website pcbsd.org

PC-BSD or PCBSD, is a trademarked[1] Unix-like, desktop-oriented operating system built upon the most recent releases of FreeBSD. It aims to be easy to install by using a graphical installation program, and easy and ready-to-use immediately by providing KDE SC, LXDE, Xfce, and MATE[2] as the graphical user interface. It provides official binary nVidia and Intel drivers for hardware acceleration and an optional 3D desktop interface through Kwin, and Wine is ready-to-use in running Microsoft Windows software. PC-BSD is able to run Linux software,[3] in addition to FreeBSD ports, and it has its own package management system that allows users to graphically install pre-built software packages from a single downloaded executable file, which is unique for BSD operating systems.

PC-BSD supports ZFS, and the installer offers disk encryption with geli so the system will require a passphrase before booting.


PC-BSD was originally founded by FreeBSD professional Kris Moore in early 2005. In August 2006 it was voted the most beginner friendly operating system by OSWeekly.com.[4]

The first Beta consisted of only a GUI installer to get the user up and running with a FreeBSD 6 system with KDE3 pre-configured. This was a major innovation for the time as anyone wishing to install FreeBSD would have to manually tweak and run through a text installer. Kris Moore's goal was to make FreeBSD easy for everyone to use on the desktop and has since diverged even more in the direction of usability by including additional GUI administration tools and PBI packages (see Package management).

Since October 10, 2006 PC-BSD has been supported by the enterprise-class hardware solution provider iXsystems.[5][6] iXsystems now employs Moore as a full-time developer and leader of the project. In November 2007, iXsystems entered into a distribution agreement with Fry's Electronics whereby Fry's Electronics stores nationwide carry boxed copies of PC-BSD version 1.4 (Da Vinci Edition).[7] In January 2008, iXsystems entered into a similar agreement with Micro Center.[8]

Release history[edit]

Version Release date FreeBSD codebase
1.0 April 29, 2006 6.0
1.1 May 29, 2006 6.1
1.2 July 12, 2006 6.1
1.3 December 31, 2006 6.1
1.4 September 24, 2007 6.2-STABLE
1.4.1.x Various 6.3-PRERELEASE
1.5 March 12, 2008 6.3-STABLE
1.5.1 April 23, 2008 6.3-STABLE
7.0 September 16, 2008 7.0-STABLE
7.0.1 October 17, 2008 7.0-STABLE
7.0.2 December 10, 2008 7.1-PRERELEASE
7.1 April 10, 2009 7.2-PRERELEASE
7.1.1 July 6, 2009 7.2-STABLE
8.0 February 23, 2010 8.0-RELEASE-P2
8.1 July 21, 2010 8.1-RELEASE
8.2 February 24, 2011 8.2[9]
9.0 January 13, 2012 9.0[10]
9.1 December 18, 2012 9.1[11]
9.2 October 7, 2013 9.2-CURRENT[12]
10.0 January 29, 2014 10.0[13]
10.1 November 14, 2014 10.1[14]
10.2 August 21, 2015 10.2[15]

Since version 7, PC-BSD began following the same numbering system as FreeBSD. PC-BSD exclusively used KDE SC, until version 9.0, which has been customized to support tighter application integration and the PBI package management system. While manual installation of other desktops such as Xfce and GNOME was technically possible, none of these were supported and major functionality was lost when not using PC-BSD's special build of KDE SC.[16] GNOME is offered, including Xfce, LXDE and other Desktop Environments, starting with PC-BSD 9.0.

PC-BSD used to support both x86 and x86-64 architectures. Support for x86 was dropped in version 9.2.[17][18]

no carrier (underlined red) status message shown in widgets of a PC-BSD 10.1.2 network manager (running on MATE). Three network interface widgets (2 ethernet and 1 WiFi) showing two network interfaces being up, one being down with no cable plugged in (hence: "no carrier").

Package management[edit]

PC-BSD's package management system takes a different approach to installing software than many other Unix-like operating systems. Instead of using the FreeBSD ports tree directly (although it remains available), PC-BSD uses files with the .pbi filename extension (Push Button Installer) which, when double-clicked, bring up an installation wizard program. An autobuild system tracks the FreeBSD ports collection and generates new PBIs daily.

All software packages and dependencies are installed in their own self-contained directories in /Programs. This convention is aimed to decrease confusion about where binary programs reside, remove the possibility of a package breaking if system libraries are upgraded or changed, and prevent dependency hell. The PC-BSD package manager also takes care of creating categorized links in the KDE menu and on the KDE SC desktop.

The PC-BSD package management system aims to be similar to that of major operating systems such as Microsoft Windows and Apple Mac OS X, where applications are installed from a single downloaded file with graphical prompts, rather than the traditional package management systems that many Unix-like systems use.


In 2014, the PC-BSD project announced its development of a new desktop environment, from scratch, named Lumina. Ken Moore is the main developer of Lumina, which is based on the Qt toolkit.[19]


PC-BSD was originally licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL) because the developers were under the impression that applications using the Qt, which PC-BSD uses for its interface development, must be licensed under the GPL or the QPL. Upon discovering that there was no such restriction in fact, the PC-BSD developers later relicensed the code under a BSD-like 3-clause license.[20]

Hardware requirements[edit]

Here are the hardware requirements for PC-BSD 10.0 according to the PC-BSD wiki:[21]



  • x86-64 processor
  • 4 GB of RAM
  • 50 GB of free hard drive space on a primary partition for a "desktop" installation, or 20 GB for a "server" installation (TrueOS)
  • Network card
  • Sound card
  • Nvidia 3D accelerated GPU & Nvidia Display Driver for FreeBSD/PC-BSD[22]
    • latest NVIDIA Driver 346.47 for PC-BSD 10.1.2 (as of 1 May 2015)[23]
    • other graphic card brands are supported[24]

Notes on storage and RAM requirements[edit]

The PC-BSD installer's hardware check will display a warning message if the selected partition contains less than 20GB for a server installation or less than 50GB for a desktop installation. The installation itself does not require this much disk space. Instead the minimum recommendation is to provide sufficient room for the installation of multiple desktops, applications, and to store local ZFS snapshots. An elaborated ZFS install will work well and unabridged with 8GB of memory and up, but with less memory the ZFS install will also work satisfactorily.


UEFI support (for x86-64bit only) has been added to the installer and the boot manager from version 10.1.[25] This includes ACPI detection and setup of RSDP (Root System Description Pointer), XSDT (eXtended System Descriptor Table), and RSDT (Root System Description Table) pass-through values to the kernel. Note that a new installation will be needed in order to install UEFI support as it requires the creation of a small FAT partition. The current UEFI does not support secure boot.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lavigne, Dru. The Definitive Guide to PC-BSD. Apress. PC-BSD and the PC-BSD logo are registered trademarks of iXsystems Inc. 
  2. ^ "System Selection Screen/10.0 - PC-BSD Wiki". pcbsd.org. Retrieved 3 June 2014. 
  3. ^ "Chapter 11. Linux Binary Compatibility". freebsd.org. Retrieved 9 February 2014. 
  4. ^ "The Most Beginner Friendly OS". Retrieved 2006-08-10. 
  5. ^ "iXsystems Announces Acquisition of PC-BSD Operating System". iXsystems.com. Retrieved 2011-06-29. 
  6. ^ Mayank Sharma (2006-10-13). "Why iXsystems bought PC-BSD". linux.com. Retrieved 2010-04-01. 
  7. ^ "iXsystems Announces Distribution Agreement with Fry's Electronics". Retrieved 2011-06-29. 
  8. ^ "iXsystems Announces Distribution Agreement with Micro Center for PC-BSD". Retrieved 2011-06-29. 
  9. ^ "PC-BSD 8.2 Released". Retrieved 2011-02-24. 
  10. ^ "PC-BSD 9.0 Released!". Retrieved 2012-01-13. 
  11. ^ "PC-BSD 9.1 Now Available". Retrieved 2012-12-21. 
  12. ^ "Official PC-BSD Blog » PC-BSD 9.2-RELEASE Now Available". Retrieved 2013-10-07. 
  13. ^ "Official PC-BSD Blog » PC-BSD 10.0-RELEASE is Now Available". Retrieved 2014-01-30. 
  14. ^ "Official PC-BSD Blog » PC-BSD 10.1-RELEASE Now Available". Retrieved 2014-11-19. 
  15. ^ "Official PC-BSD Blog » PC-BSD 10.2-RELEASE Now Available". Retrieved 2015-08-21. 
  16. ^ "Can I use Gnome with PC-BSD?". PC-BSD knowledge base. Retrieved 2009-03-05. 
  17. ^ Minimum hardware requirements for PC-BSD 9.1
  18. ^ Minimum hardware requirements for PC-BSD 9.2
  19. ^ Larabel, Michael (23 April 2014). "PC-BSD Is Developing Its Own Desktop Environment". Phoronix. Retrieved 2 July 2014. 
  20. ^ "Press And Legal - Legal notices". wiki.pcbsd.org. The PC‑BSD Project. Retrieved 2 March 2015. 
  21. ^ "Hardware requirements on PC-BSD wiki.". 
  22. ^ "FreeBSD Display Driver – x64". www.nvidia.com. NVIDIA Corporation. Retrieved 2 May 2015. 
  23. ^ "10.1.2-RC1 Now Available">PC-BSD 10.1.2-RC1 Now Available". blog.pcbsd.org/. iXsystems, Inc. Retrieved 2 May 2015. 
  24. ^ "Working with the graphical environment on FreeBSD". wiki.freebsd.org. FreeBSD. Retrieved 2 May 2015. 
  25. ^ "What's New in 10.1". 


External links[edit]