It is a common question (complaint?) around many BSD newcomers that asks: ‘Why don’t FreeBSD / PC-BSD create and use their own desktop environment?‘
Recently, that question had been answered, PC-BSD decided to go for it and finally create a lightweight, BSD licensed desktop environment of their own based upon Qt and Fluxbox – they call it Lumina.
Why Create A New D.E.?
Of course, now that the moment has finally arrived and with it the new Lumina desktop environment, another question from the other side of the coin has suddenly popped-up to prominence:
‘Why create a new desktop environment? Whats wrong with KDE / GNOME / XFCE / <other>?’
To that, Ken Moore – Lumina’s main developer and one of PC-BSD key developers, has answered:
“There are many reasons for needing a new desktop environment instead of using the existing ones, mainly because all the major existing DE’s are developed on/for Linux, not BSD. This causes all sorts of problems on BSD,”
So now that it’s a justified fact, what does Lumina has to offer and what are those improvements we’re talking about?
Lumina Desktop Version 0.6.2 Highlight Features
- New file manager – lumina-fm, also called “Insight”
- Simple multimedia player to allow playing/previewing multimedia files
- Image slideshow viewer for previewing image files
- Full ZFS file/directory restore functionality if ZFS snapshots are available
- Tabbing support for browsing multiple directories at once
- New screenshot utility – lumina-screenshot
- A configuration utility – lumina-config
- Competely new implementation
- Configure desktop appearance (background image, add desktop plugins)
- Configure panels (location, color/transparency, size, manage plugins, up to 2 panels supported per screen)
- Manage/set global keyboard shortcuts (including shortcuts for adjusting audio volume or screen brightness)
- Application / file opener utility – lumina-open
- Update the overall appearance of the application selector window
- Fully support registered mime-types on the system now, and recommend those applications as appropriate
Looks like it’s getting closer to a complete, fully featured D.E. isn’t it? Well I hope so, I have to admit that not until long ago I was under the impression that the BSDs will never have a D.E. of their own.
I guess, this is one of the things that comes along, whether you like it or not, when you aspire to have a user friendly OS.
Users who’d like to get the experience Lumina offers should note that current Lumina is available under PC-BSD version 10.0.2 (check out PC-BSD 10 Review) and that Lumina version 0.6.2 will be available on 10.0.3 which is due to be released shortly.