Weekly Feature Digest 27 – Software System Redesign

PC-BSD has long been very flexible about how you can install software. You have PBI’s, packages, and ports available with just a couple clicks or via a couple of simple terminal commands. For a long time the PBI format has served as an excellent solution for people who may need an offline package install, or just simply prefer the ease and simplicity the PBI format has to offer especially via the AppCafe. Perhaps the “Achilles’ Heel” of this situation is that we have also been severely limited on the amount of software that the AppCafe has to offer as packages had to first be converted into the PBI format.

This week we are announcing a radical change that we think will benefit all PC-BSD users in ways that were previously unthinkable. The PC-BSD team has begun work during the last couple of weeks redesigning our PC-BSD utilities (AppCafe, Update Center) to work with our pkgng software repository that we are currently building to contain detailed information about all the software available through packages and PBIs. What this means for you is that in the near future PC-BSD will have a much broader software pool to pull from, and will not be limited anymore by only having a small subset of PBI’s. You will now be able to install packages and PBI’s in one place, while also being able to update and manage both in one place.

You may be asking yourself “why the change?”. Over the last several months we have noticed a considerable amount of our time has been going into compatibility and fixes for PBIs. So much time in fact that other important development had to be postponed and / or sidelined while we worked on bringing PBIs up to speed. We are hoping by adopting appcafe and the PBI format to work in tandem with pkgng, that we will be able to refocus our efforts on other important endeavours.

We will have more information available soon as development continues on how you can get involved with testing out the new features and submitting ideas to help the project along. Let us know what you think about the changes. Are we headed in the right direction? Do you have ideas related to the redesign that you’d like to contribute? Let us know!

Key Features:

Much larger software library. Instead of 800 available appcafe applications think more like 10000+
Detailed information on all the software available including packages in one place
Ability to search and filter your results to show
Improved compatibility across desktop environments
New rating system is being developed for grading the quality of packages in the AppCafe library

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Written by Josh Smith. Posted in 10.0, misc, new features, pbis, pkgng, testers

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Comments (16)

  • Felix Catt
    May 2, 2014 at 5:33 pm |

    Well from the Lumina Qt Desktop Dev to the Utility Redesign, I can smell the ongoing fierce change of BSD, if not revolution. It may not just influence but determine the future development of the BSD against the IT Trends. Profound gratitude and good luck!

  • John
    May 2, 2014 at 5:39 pm |

    I look forward to this. I know I have had items that were not part a pbi so had to go and install it from ports. I would like it this way as they are usually smaller them the pbi’s are. I guess this probably means if it does not have a package you will have to install from ports any ways.

  • sg1efc
    May 2, 2014 at 6:41 pm |

    Sounds awesome, Thanks everyone! πŸ™‚

    “Instead of 800 available appcafe applications think more like 10000+”

    Guessing that these thousands of applications will be mainly from Linux?

    • Josh Smith
      May 9, 2014 at 3:10 pm |

      Many of them are ports from Linux, and users will easily filter and be able to pick between GPL and BSD licensed software to download.

      • sg1efc
        May 9, 2014 at 4:06 pm |

        Cool, Thanks Josh and everyone! πŸ™‚

  • May 2, 2014 at 6:47 pm |


  • Hans The Dutchman
    May 3, 2014 at 6:13 am |

    Great idea. Together with Lumina it will turn PCBSD into a Top Operating System. I like it a lot and looking out for the first updates πŸ™‚

  • Seth
    May 3, 2014 at 10:02 am |

    I think this is the right direction to take the project. Since the adoption of pkgng, day-to-day application management on PC-BSD has been in a weird state of limbo between the pkgng tools and AppCafe.

    Integrating the two into a single AppCafe will remove a major pain point for non-technical users and sysadmins alike, and probably drive more adoption.

  • May 8, 2014 at 5:11 am |

    I’m not PC-BSD user.But I will be one when I have another laptop since the only laptop I have rite now is actively used in my daily activities.I’m sure PC-BSD will be better than any OS I’m familiar with or use at this moment.I’m looking forward to hearing good news from Dev Team.I pray for your success.

  • LGE
    May 8, 2014 at 2:20 pm |

    This does not look good for PBIs … You say that “a considerable amount of our time has been going into compatibility and fixes for PBIs”, and on the forums half the time the solution to a non-working PBI ends up being installing the package instead. My fear is that, in the end, this whole PBI business will be too much trouble and it will be abandoned.

    I like the concept, however. I know this is your project and you do what you want with it; I don’t pay and I cannot demand you do things the way I want. Despite all that, may I suggest going back to the PBI format we had in PC-BSD 9? Those PBIs at least worked without weird hacks.

  • Mike Matthews
    May 8, 2014 at 10:51 pm |


    Would it be possible to make the text stand out a bit more against the background (darker text) for those of us whose site is not so great?

    Many Thanks


    • Mike Matthews
      May 8, 2014 at 10:53 pm |

      Apologies: Meaning the site in general, not this particular post ..

  • May 9, 2014 at 7:59 am |

    I don’t like the linux dependency.

    • Josh Smith
      May 9, 2014 at 3:08 pm |

      I’m not sure you fully understand. There is no Linux dependency. User’s will be allowed to choose BSD or GPL licensed software easily using basic search filtering in AppCafe if that is what you’re getting at :).

  • Dave
    May 25, 2014 at 4:44 pm |

    When this change is implimented, will you be able to update installed packages or ports through the PC-BSD system update tool ?

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