PC-BSD is based on FreeBSD 6.2 but promises a more enduser-friendly experience. It was bought by iXsystems in October 2006. If you want to know more about the how and why of this acquisition I can encourage to read the interview of Dru Lavigne with Kris Moore and Matt Olander about it. One of the key selling points is the PBI system, that should make it easier for Windows and Mac users to install new software, not a small hurdle for many novice users to Linux or *BSD.
The PBI system
What is the PBI system? FreeBSD has it’s own ports and packages system to install, manage and remove software, but it takes some getting used to. Linux users will find a similar system in Gentoo and it’s derivatives. PBI’s are self-extracting and self-installing packages that install the software you want. They contain all the dependencies that are needed to run the program and in this way they reduce some serious headaches.
We have similar initiatives in the realm of Linux. There is Klik, Autopackage and the soon to be CNR warehouse. The PBI website is the place to be to download your package. There are various categories and a limited range of software. But, it’s a good start. I do hope it will fare better than Klik and Autopackage, which remained fringe tools at best.