Around the same time I was experimenting with the latest “release” of ReactOS, I also took an hour or two and installed a very sparse NetBSD system.
Coming from Crux as my main system (three out of four of my machines have it installed right now) NetBSD was very, very attractive — to the point where I plan to spend a lot more time with it in the future.
Why? Well, it’s a little tough to explain. Given the things I like about Crux, and given the things I usually feel are shortcomings for Crux, NetBSD seems to be a good mesh of corrections and enhancements.
As an example, Crux’s software “repositories” are admittedly sparse. What you don’t see in one of the four “official” software lists you have to either draw up from scratch, adjust from another distribution or maybe update from someone else’s version. In one way that can be unappealing, because it means more work to install something you happen to like, but isn’t quite “popular.”
Thus far however (and my experience with NetBSD is extremely thin at this point) it seems that a lot of the programs I enjoy are already available within NetBSD, which means I don’t have to work quite so hard to put together a system I like.
But at the same time, the things I like about Crux — like the ability to customize a machine at a very low level, or relying on adjustable scripts to modify software at a low level — also appear to be available in NetBSD. And the experiences I have with Linux suggest that those are helpful in rejuvenating very very old machines.
So thus far I like what I see. Installation for a bare-bones system is very quick, wireless networking for my PRO 2200/BG was not a problem, and building software was relatively painless. I have yet to put together an entire desktop (mostly because time is an issue for me right now), but I’m very, very interested in learning.