NomadBSD | An Amazing OS For USB Drives

NomadBSD is an interesting operating system based on FreeBSD. It’s a fully fledged operating system that is primarily intended to be ran from a USB device. Their latest version ’130R-20210508‘ is based on FreeBSD 13.0. The installation process is simple and on the download page of their website they give instructions that differ slightly depending on the operating system you are currently using. For the most part you’re essentially going to be extracting a .img file to be written to a USB device using DD. The extracted .img file is 4.7GB in size so you’ll need a USB drive of at the very least 5GB to host your OS. Once the operating system has been written to a USB device you’ll then have some initial setup like choosing your keyboard layout and password and you’re good to go. Also included in the initial setup is the choice of your shell which defaults to Fish and some applications like your default file manager and text editor. I decided to go with BASH as it’s what I’m most familiar with and set my default file manager to Thunar which is commonly found on XFCE.

After the initial setup has finished you’re planted a simple but very usable desktop. It uses Openbox as the window manager but other WMs and desktop environments can also be installed. The layout of the desktop consists of a single Tint2 panel at the top with a dock at the bottom of the screen using plank. You can access the application menu by either clicking on the launcher at the top left side of the panel or right click anywhere on the desktop. Here is where you’ll find a list of application categories with plenty of applications to launch out of the box. It’s in this launcher or menu where you will also be able to access different desktops/workspaces or exit the session.

As far as applications go you might think it wouldn’t include too much out of the box but I was surprised by how much is setup and ready to go. You’ll find more than enough applications to get you up and running before you decide to install some new applications which can be done easily in the terminal or by using OctoPKG. You can also manage your updates using OctoPKG too. Some of the applications installed out of the box include ;

  • GIMP
  • Firefox
  • LibreOffice
  • Cantata 
  • VLC
  • Audacity 
  • SimpleScreenRecoder 

Another application included out of the box and one I found very useful was a tool to quickly and easily install a Linux version of a web browser such as Brave. Using this tool to install the Linux version of a web browser makes it possible to view content on sites like Netflix. Viewing Netflix natively on FreeBSD isn’t possible so this tool makes it great for those that use that service.

What makes using NomadBSD so interesting is the fact that it’s a portable OS running from your USB device. That doesn’t mean thats the only place that can provide a comfortable home for NomadBSD. You can copy your entire system as it is including applications etc onto another drive with ease using the NomadBSD installation wizard.

All in all I’m incredibly impressed with this incredibly useful OS. Even if it wasn’t something you wanted to use daily it’s something you can install onto a spare USB device and always have a fully fledged operating system ready to go! 

What do you think of NomadBSD? Let me know in the comments below!

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