We have seen many attempts at a FreeBSD based desktop system and inevitably they all fail. I was a long time user of PC-BSD and TrueOS and I loved them both. They were really good BSD desktops and I feel like they worked fine so I was disheartened to hear that it was being discontinued. But alas it was. Now some people are quick to point blame. Some blame Kris, Kris Moore the developer of the system, to the community who just downloads FreeBSD and adds the necessary package themselves and just do it. BSD is a great system. There are plenty of reasons to use it. Its fast, its extendable and its rock solid. As I type this I am running behind an OpenBSD firewall and I always have a bare metal system running TrueOS for when I have client work to do and for development. BSD has some advantages to it that makes this Linux distributor use it for many, many tasks. Little know task, we actually considered the Lumina desktop for Linspire before we settled on XFCE. So despite fantastic and exciting work by these guys; why do they ultimately fail miserably?
1. The Community - One of the things that is an advantage for Linux in general is the community. Despite there being thousands of distribution you have your diehards. I would say 5% of our business comes from our users recommendations. You dont have that with TrueOS or PC-BSD. Most people when they say BSD, they recommend NetBSD or FreeBSD. Not the desktop centric BSD's.
2. Missed Oppurtunities - When Sun pulled the plug on Solaris, lets face it Solaris is on life support ONLY, none of the BSD people approached these customers. Instead these customers started calling us, the commercial Linux distributors, looking for a direct drop in replacement. I found myself on more than one occasion telling them "Hey look you already have this UNIX expertise, have you looked at BSD because while Linux is UNIX like its NOT UNIX" the same when SCO UnixWare and SCO OpenServer dropped dead, rightfully so, the BSD people just let them all congregate around Linux. So for any and all BSD people reading this, remember one thing, conversations dont hurt and if they say no, then its no but at least you have the bird in ear..
3. macOS (and marketing) - Im gonna lump these two together because it makes sense. FreeBSD developers seriously need to QUIT telling people who ask for a FreeBSD desktop to use macOS. I look at macOS the same way I do ChromeOS. macOS uses the BSD kernel, they use the BSD userland tools but the stuff that matters, the stuff people see are Mac tools; Xcode, Visual Studios for Mac, Photoshop, MS Office, FileMaker Pro. You cannot take a macOS app and run it on FreeBSD like you cant take an Android-on-ChromeOS app and run it on Ubuntu or Linspire. What the BSD folks need to do is make a desktop system and market it on its own merits. Speed, app availability and ease of use with GNOME, KDE or XFCE . Tell them, hey our kernel is used by Apple, Sony, Panasonic and Vizio TV;s but for gods sake when people ask you for a FreeBSD desktop dont say 'buy a mac"
So those are the three major impediments to having a truly successful BSD based desktop. Also, a side note. The BSD folks need to be assertive. Dont give up just because Linux is more popular. BSD has it own accolades and you need to push those accolades and once again I cant say this enough, push the merits of your own system. Popularity doesnt mean that you cant create your own market. I mean if you think popularity means success you are wrong. If that was the case Apple would have an 80% marketshare. So if the BSD people want to succeed on the desktop create a desktop that easy to use, easy to install, and that you can get behind.