The new PC-BSD 1.4 beta, released last week, offers 3-D desktop support via Beryl as well as late-model components such as KDE 3.5.7, FreeBSD 6.2, Xorg 7.2, a selection of fresh GUI tools and utilities, and a variety of optional components, as detailed in the full release notes.

PC-BSD is a desktop-oriented distribution based on FreeBSD, similar to DesktopBSD, but outside the official FreeBSD project. It strives for user-friendliness primarily via a graphical installation program and a KDE graphical interface. "PC-BSD has been designed with the 'casual" computer' user in mind," according to the project Web site.

According to the developers, "Home users will immediately feel comfortable with PC-BSD's desktop interface, with KDE 3.5 running under the hood. Software installation has also been designed to be as painless as possible; simply double-click and software will be installed."

In a "24-hour test drive" of PC-BSD 1.3 last month, an Ars Technica reviewer said, "KDE seemed to load much faster on PC-BSD than I'm used to; probably around three times faster than my Kubuntu installation on my other drive (which either says something bad about Kubuntu or something great about PC-BSD). In fact, the whole system felt very snappy."

The project's developers released a live CD alpha of PC-BSD 1.4 last month. DistroWatch called it "one of the best live desktop BSD products built to date," though noted it was "not fully automatic" in that it boots into a terminal window and you must run X -configure before starting up the KDE desktop.

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