Although the media may have evolved from floppy disks to DVDs and USB flash drives, the entire process of installing an operating system on a desktop computer has been more or less the same since the 1980s. Broadly speaking, you can say that most operating system installers now require more clicks than typing, but in general, it hasn’t really changed a lot. Of course, this does not mean that there is no room for improvement.
Among the long list of projects detailed in the FreeBSD April-June 2021 status report, there is one Brief update of the experimental installer developed by [Yang Zhong]In order to make FreeBSD installation more user-friendly, the new installer abandons the classic terminal interface and completely adopts a modern Web-centric design paradigm. Once users boot into the real-time operating system, they only need to point their browser to the loopback address at any time to access the GUI of the installer.
Now, this alone will not be particularly groundbreaking.After all, Google has implemented a complete operating system with a web framework in Chrome OS, so let the installer become a real web application That is it a lot?But what makes [Yang]The installer is very interesting that the web interface is not limited to the local machine, but can also be accessed through any browser on the network.
This means that you can put the FreeBSD installation CD into a headless machine on the network, and then use the browser on your laptop or even your smartphone to access the installer. Graybeards will point out that savvy users will always be able to access the text installer from another computer via SSH, but even the most determined Luddite has to admit, just open a browser on any device you have and point it at the target The IP address of the machine is a big usability improvement.
Although the software looks complete enough to complete the basic installation, we should remind readers that it is still too early. There is currently no proper authentication, so once you boot into the live environment, anyone on the network can format your drive and start the installation process.
Some parts of the GUI are not fully functional, and occasionally there will be [Yang] Pop up to explain what is valid and what is invalid. For example, the manual network configuration panel currently only applies to the WiFi interface, because this is all that he must personally test. It is indeed a fairly modern installer.
Some people will argue that alternative operating systems such as Linux and BSD are attractive in part because they can run happily on older hardware, so we imagine that the installer uses a memory-intensive web browser to render its interface The idea will not get along well with many users. In our tests, the experimental installer ISO won’t even start unless it detects at least 4 GB of onboard RAM. But this is undoubtedly an interesting experiment, and as it matures, it deserves close attention.
[Thanks to Michael for the tip.]