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GhostBSD is a Unix-like operating system for desktop usage. It is based on FreeBSD) and offers the MATE desktop environment. GhostBSD aims to be easy to install and offer an out of the box desktop system that is easy to use. The project goal is to combine security, privacy, stability, usability, openness, freedom and to be available for everybody free of charge.


While GhostBSD supports all the features of the version of FreeBSD that it is built from, it also offers several features on top of that. The project offers live media that support booting into a graphical desktop. The X11 system is configured automatically during startup and usually does not require any manual configuration. An easy to use graphical installer assists in installing the operating system.

A default installation comes with a fair amount of useful software pre-installed. The user experience is further enhanced by tools like the Networkmgr which are developed as part of the GhostBSD project.


The name GhostBSD originally stood for GNOME hosted on BSD since it begun as an effort to provide a ready-to-run GNOME desktop on FreeBSD. The main desktop has been changed to the GNOME 2 fork MATE and the project offers alternative desktop environments like XFCE as well. These desktops have in common that they use the GTK toolkit and therefore GhostBSD now means GTK hosted on BSD.

GhostBSD vs. FreeBSD

  • GhostBSD is based on FreeBSD. FreeBSD is a great operating system, but, by design, it does not come with a desktop environment. FreeBSD is a server OS. Without installing additional software from FreeBSD's ports and packages collection, FreeBSD is a command-line only experience.
  • GhostBSD comes with a working desktop (MATE as official and XFCE as community release) and with some additional packages and functionality. You can get some desktops from the FreeBSD ports. But it is a lot of work to get the desktops run properly. It takes time, effort, and following a lot of written instructions. Using the desktop-installer package, which provides the user with options in a text-based menu and helps automate much of the process, is still time-consuming. The biggest problem with either of these methods is that users might find out that their system is not fully compatible with FreeBSD after they have taken all the time to set things up.
  • This work is done by Eric Turgeon. He solves that problem by providing a live desktop image that users can evaluate before installing. GhostBSD provides an MATE image and a XFCE image. Each of these images provides an installation of OS with a desktop environment pre-installed.
  • If users try out the image and find that their hardware works, they can install GhostBSD and have a ready-to-go desktop operating system based on FreeBSD. GhostBSD comes with a Graphical installer called GBI. GBI is a GTK graphical BSD installer program written by Eric Turgeon and introduced in 2011 for GhostBSD 2.5. GBI uses the pc-sysinstall back-end, developed by Kris Moore of PC-BSD.
  • With GhostBSD you get a Application Management with a gui and a cli. You can also use the GhostBSD port system, also based on Free BSD ports with addons. But You do not need to use the ports. You can download all applications as precompiled packages.
Dialog-warning.png Attention: Don't use portsnap to get the FreeBSD ports collection on your computer. If you update a package, that installed a service, you will experience some breakage.

If you used portsnap it is recommended to run #rm -r /usr/ports
before you switch to GhostBSD ports.

  • As an additional difference to FreeBSD Ghost comes with a booting process that includes OpenRC.
  • Whats the difference between the FreeBSD repos and the GhostBSD repos?
  • GhostBSD uses a subset of FreshPorts.
  • GhostBSD ports has additional changes made by Eric.
  • "FreshPorts lists the changes made to the ports tree. If you wish, FreshPorts can email you when your favourite port has been updated.
  • FreshPorts is not the place to report errors or request changes. You should do that on the FreeBSD Ports mailing list. We do not maintain ports. We do not create ports. We do not fix ports. We just tell you what others have been doing to the Ports tree. "
  • FreeBSD Ports is the upstream branch. This is where major changes happen. FreshPorts is an intermediary service which hosts FreeBSD Ports. GhostBSD Ports is a downstream branch where GhostBSD specific changes happen.
  • GhostBSD packages are built using GhostBSD Ports.


Concept Continuation with GhostBSD 20.10.28

This update removes

  • portsnap,
  • sendmail,
  • freebsd game in base,
  • freebsd-update,
  • freebsd pc-sysinstall and
  • bsdinstall witch is FreeBSD installer.

These are relics of the past.

The new ISO is using a zfs pool in the RAM. The whole file system is R/W, but not persistent.

Concept Change with GhostBSD 19.09

What has changed since 19.04

GhostBSD 19.09 is built from TrueOS/FreeBSD 12.0-STABLE.[1]

Concept before GhostBSD 18.10

Before GhostBSD 18.10 GhostBSD was based on FreeBSD directly. So GhostBSD was based on FreeBSD RELEASE until GhostBSD 11.1. Till then there was not such a platform like TrueOS. Mid-2018 they came up with their changed concept to be a platform for other projects. TrueOS was based on FreeBSD CURRENT.

Version history

Version 'Released
GhostBSD 20.08.04 2020-08[2]'
GhostBSD 20.04 2020-04[3]
GhostBSD 20.01 2020-01[4]
GhostBSD 19.10 2019-10 [5]
GhostBSD 19.09 2019-09[6]
GhostBSD 19.04 2019-04[7]
GhostBSD 18.12 2018-12[8]
GhostBSD 18.10 2018-11[9]
GhostBSD 11.1 2017-11[10]
GhostBSD 10.3 2016-08
GhostBSD 10.1 2015-09
GhostBSD 4.0 2014-09
GhostBSD 3.5 2013-10
GhostBSD 3.1 2013-06
GhostBSD 3.0 2013-03
GhostBSD 2.5 2012-01
GhostBSD 2.0 2011-03
GhostBSD 1.5 2010-07
GhostBSD 1.0 2010-03


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