FreeBSD is lagging behind Linux on the desktop. Why is this?
Linux has an advantage over FreeBSD. The usability of the aforementioned operating system is not up to the standards set by Linux that has the Red Hat Linux Enterprise distribution that is fully capable of powering servers and uses a simple GUI installer and a graphical desktop. That makes setting up a server very easy. The FreeBSD distribution requires a better set of init scripts that setup the hardware properly upon booting the operating system. That would make using the OS much easier. FreeBSD is falling behind Linux. That will not help them in the long run. Although the Sony Playstation IV runs a FreeBSD based operating system. That has not prevented problems with the hardware though. This is a good thing, the Orbis OS is a promising development. The PS4 uses an eight core ATI Radeon GPU, but there is no real driver for AMD GPU chipsets on FreeBSD, but there must be a custom driver developed for this hardware that allows the hardware to work with this operating system. I hope that this leads to drivers leaking back into the mainstream FreeBSD codebase. This would lead to a better level of hardware support for the FreeBSD UNIX distribution.
If FreeBSD had an easier installation procedure and better hardware configuration by default, this would be a win for the free and open BSD operating system. FreeBSD does have many advantages, ZFS is one, and the integration of the kernel and the software as one unit. Re-compiling a kernel for FreeBSD is very easy and a good way to setup a higher resolution text-mode console. But Linux has KMS which sets up the virtual terminal in the native resolution of your monitor. That is what this operating system needs. Linux Mint and Ubuntu are the popular choices for the desktop as they have easy installation and perfect hardware support. That is what people expect. Linux is not even close to UNIX. Linux is based on Minix, a micro-kernel architecture, but uses a monolithic kernel. Minix and Unix are 2 completely different cores, as different as Windows and Mac OS X, Windows and Linux, and Mac and Linux. BSD is a different beast, based on Unix, Linux is based on Minix, the OSX operating system is based on the Darwin UNIX OS. Ubuntu with Mir is based on Linux. Android is based on Linux. They may share some of the same commands and file structure, however the similarities end there. Linux is a micro-kernel only loading what it needs to run, running only what it is told to do, supports plugins to the kernel, and every scripting language that it has a plugin for. BSD is a lot more like Windows or OS X in terms of driver structure, loading drivers from dynamic files.
But this is the difference with FreeBSD. The UNIX based FreeBSD operating system uses the /etc/rc.conf file to customize the OS. You may choose to load certain drivers to allow your hardware to work, this takes time though. A FreeBSD based operating system that had an Ubuntu-like level of hardware support and loaded into a live desktop would be awesome. If more programmers were working on the FreeBSD code and helping to create drivers for hardware, this would be a more viable desktop operating system. There is a live CD environment supplied with the FreeBSD installation DVD, but this only allows a command-line environment. Not a full desktop. Another thing missing from FreeBSD is the NetworkManager GUI that Gnome and MATE use on Linux. This is used to see a list of available WIFI networks and connect to one by clicking the network name and entering the PSK. There is a forums posting about this here: https://forums.freebsd.org/viewtopic.php?&t=2615. But I am not sure when this will be included. You can use wpa_supplicant on FreeBSD to manage wireless networks, but if you are using a few networks, this solution is quite clumsy. Better to include a better GUI for managing WIFI networks. Not everyone wants to edit text files to setup a WIFI network.
Linux is gaining popularity in the server market as well as on the desktop. FreeBSD has advantages on servers with the ZFS file system. But hopefully FreeBSD will improve on the desktop. That is what it really needs.