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I've recently moved to a Mac OS X workstation. I am doing my best to stick to the command line, but am wary of corrupting my system. Is there a BSD distro that I can throw in a VM to experiment with? As far as I know, OpenDarwin has closed.

Secondly, if a Linux distribution is preferable, would Ubuntu be the next logical choice?

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shouldn't this be on superuser? – 0x89 Sep 4 '09 at 16:18
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Any of them should work fine in a VM system like Parallels.

For BSD's, FreeBSD is the leader for documentation and support.

For Linux, Ubuntu is extremely popular for home use (and workstation). For enterprise work CentOS/Red Hat is a leader.

This is rather subjective, though. I can just tell you that those are popular distributions in general and everyone has their own favorites for their own reasons. Distrowatch is a good site to refer to for information on that. If you're emulating it anyway, it doesn't really matter much if you want to experiment with different ones.

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As much as you seem to want to stick close to your Mac OS roots (OpenDarwin/BSD), I'd suggest running Linux in a VM since BSD has a lot of emulation problems (I almost broke my keyboard over frustrations when trying to run OpenBSD in VirtualBox).

It all depends what you're actually trying to accomplish; if you give us more information we'll be able to help you.

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OpenBSD works fine in VMWare - there are known issues running OpenBSD in VirtualBox. I believe that FreeBSD is supported in VirtualBox – brad.lane Sep 4 '09 at 17:31

Try PureDarwin, they have a vm image. But personally I would and do just work on the actual local machine.

Also if I really need a Unix environment I go with either NetBSD or Ubuntu. I have an aversion regarding FreeBSD I cannot explain other than to say device driver support was not great 10 years ago. For your purposes I think a minimal NetBSD install plus the man pages is what you need/want.

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OSX is not exactly like any of the other Unicies so you mighht need to use the actual OS.

OSX has unix permissions thus you can only mess up your own file if you are not needing enhanced privieges e.g. sudo. In this case create a new user to play with so only affecting these files.

Also setup Time Machine to copy everything so if you do get something wrong you will have a recent backup easily available.

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