Data Fidelity

helloSystem: A New, Promising Macintosh-like Free Desktop OS

helloSystem is a completely new desktop operating system based on FreeBSD. It is created by the founder of AppImage technology for GNU/Linux, Simon Peter, a software developer from Germany. Its look and feel mostly designed to be like MacOS but ten times simpler. The application packages are also bundles too similar to AppImages we often use on Ubuntu. We are fans of AppImage and we would love to try out the helloSystem even though now it’s still in alpha development stage. A good news for everyone is that it is Free/Libre Open Source Software and the project allows everyone to participate in the development. You can read the rest of our little adventure in this article. Happy reading!

Subscribe to UbuntuBuzz Telegram Channel to get article updates.

About helloSystem

Quoting the website: 

“helloSystem is a desktop system for creators with a focus on simplicity, elegance, and usability. Its design follows the “Less, but better” philosophy. It is intended as a system for “mere mortals”, welcoming to switchers from the Mac. FreeBSD is used as the core operating system. Please refer to if you would like to learn more about the ideas and principles behind hello.”

The developer himself is the founder of another technology, called AppImage, that helps GNU/Linux both users and developers adding and distributing applications for computer in simple ways. We use helloSystem version 0.7 on ThinkPad Core i5 6GB T430 to do the test.

Similar OSes

helloSystem is one of Unix-like operating systems family and mostly identical with the BSDs.

FreeBSDOpenIndianaApple MacOSGNU/Linux

This goes without saying that helloSystem is not similar to Microsoft Windows and any other OS outside of Unix family.

Appearances and Display

helloSystem runs with full resolution on our laptop (1366×768) and full desktop animations (drop shadows and geany effects). It runs beautifully, fast and flawless on our livecd tests. At first glance, it looks very much Apple-like (explanation next sections). Playing with the top menu, we will find System, that is the center point that offers access to all areas of the user’s computing. For example, we run an application by menu System ->  Applications -> FeatherPad. One more example, we connect to the internet by System -> Applications -> Preferences -> Wireless Networks Alternatively, beside System, there is Search, where we can put cursor in and type featherpad to run FeatherPad. If you want to look deeper, all this design is no surprise, as the designer of helloSystem has a six-part long User Interface/User Experience discussions in his blog and seeing helloSystem we could not help but think that this is his implementation of that. 

(Picture 1: helloSystem desktop work space with About This Computer opened)

File Access

On helloSystem, the user accesses the filesystem using Filer. This is comparable to Finder (MacOS), Nautilus (Ubuntu), Dolphin (Kubuntu) and Explorer (Windows). Following the design principles, this file manager works in a very simple way. Open a folder, a window will pop up. Open another folders, they show up with their own windows. Its appearance is consisted of its own window and contents of the folder being opened, no more. It means there is no sidebars, no toolbar, no statusbar either (while menubar is on global menu of course). We have tried all file managers on GNU/Linux and this one is simpler than them all.

(Picture 2: this should give a basic understanding about how helloSystem works, that is, by depending on the top menu and Filer file manager to access everything)

helloSystem’s filesystem is similar to Unix filesystem, everything is file, every address of file started with slash ( / ) and separated also with slash ( / ), with directories as place to store information either it is file or another directory. However, helloSystem works similar to MacOS when the user access the filesystem as by default it shows only user’s directory, hiding system’s directory, through Filer. 

How to access deepest filesystem? On helloSystem, we run Filer then click the menu Go -> Go To Folder -> a dialog will show > enter a directory address like /usr -> Go -> Filer will show the directory. We do this to access various directories in the filesystem such as /media and /boot.

Alternatively, we did a trick: run Filer -> press Alt+Up several times -> Filer shows root directory ( / ) -> right-click -> Show Hidden Files -> all filesystem shown. That’s it. 


The work space, people call it the desktop, of helloSystem is consisted of the panel to top, the wallpaper in background, the drive icons to right, and the dock of applications to bottom. This desktop layout is today known similar to Apple MacOS and elementary OS. The simplicity of this desktop is visible everywhere. For example, each disk drive is presented as icon on desktop and its giving the user ability to Rename and Format it by right-click. Most existing desktop environments on GNU system including KDE cannot do it to this date.


(Picture 3: helloSystem showing its global menu for web browser to the top and disk drives to the right; the use of ‘butterfly’ button ala Apple is visible in the menu; our disk names “data” and “penyimpanan” are also visible)

Global Menu 

This will surprise everyone, yes helloSystem features a global menu and a search in it. From left to right it reads by default: Search – System – File – Edit – View – Go – Bookmarks – Tools – Help (except first two, these may change following the focused running application). To Ubuntu users, this will remind us to the past Unity Desktop, the era of 2011-2017, as well as Apple MacOS. Then how it works? On hello, every running application will place its menubar on the top panel. When no application running, it shows menubar of Filer, the file manager, to access the user’s files. And to the left corner there is a visible blue spot, a Search, for typing a word and it will show everything from applications choices as well as system’s commands. We think this kind of user interaction makes everything very easy to understand, very clear to do.


(Picture 4: a search in the helloSystem “start menu”; one might ask “why didn’t free software projects develop something like this earlier?” and now helloSystem silently answers us with this)

Browsing the internet

helloSystem detects and connects our laptop to the internet. It works without installing any additional software (drivers, firmware) first. To do so, we access the menu System -> Applications -> Preferences -> Wireless Networks -> Scan -> select the wifi name -> enter wifi password -> connect.  We surf the web using default browser Falkon (formerly QupZilla) which already empowered with adblock. Ah, and one thing, we confirmed that drag and drop works perfectly from Filer into Falkon as we write this article.


(Picture 5: helloSystem connects to the internet and visits without any issue; the web browser is KDE Falkon)

Audio and Video 

helloSystem can play audio and video normally. It is thanks to GNOME MPV player included by default (but honestly we wonder why it is not available from the top menu, the search neither). The sound hardware works. The GPU hardware also works. All in our laptop out of the box. 


helloSystem includes Terminal. This means it allows the user to control and configure how the computer works via command lines. The command lines mostly come from FreeBSD, the basis of helloSystem, not GNU/Linux. It features launch, the special command lines from helloSystem that mimics launch from MacOS, a command to run application by name; as well as a set of FreeBSD commands including the powerful pkg package manager. We think the decision to use FreeBSD as the basis is very clever, because that way helloSystem will have a unified, fully working, professional and secure technology in the system area. The developer also plans to make command lines entirely optional and we appreciate this so much! 


helloSystem brings several key applications preinstalled by default. Among them are file manager, PDF viewer, text editor, terminal, web browser, audio & video player, system settings, and utilities center. What is the default application package format? It is dot app (.app) as one can see every time hovering cursor on an application under the menu. Furthermore, quoting the helloSystem Wiki Documentation:
Most applications in helloSystem come in the form of application bundles. An application bundle is an application that looks and behaves like a file but is actually a directory, containing not only the application but also auxiliary files such as icons and other resources.”

They are available in one place in the system that is /Applications. The folder is also accessible from Filer menu Go -> Applications. 

Add/Remove Application

helloSystem offers many free software applications via its System menu under Applications categorie. For example, the user can add LibreOffice, FreeCAD or OBS Studio by clicking menu System -> Applications -> Office -> LibreOffice -> installer dialog will show -> click Yes -> it will get the application from the internet and add it to the system -> it is installed. We believe that this method of installation is easy to understand, simple to do, and clear to repeat for many people. We like this! And however, the application package format is not .exe, not .msi, not .dmg but .app. 

(Picture 6: helloSystem showing how an application Audacity being installed) 
Aside from that, because it is based on FreeBSD, it is also blessed with tens of thousands of software from FreeBSD repository (most of them are the same to what Ubuntu also provides) can be installed using pkg command line (equal to apt-get on Ubuntu).

System Settings 

How about configuration? helloSystem also support easy access to system configuration via Preferences and Utilities. And also as mentioned, of course via Terminal for experienced users. 


Boot EnvironmentsDesktopFontsKeyboardMousePrint SettingsScreen SettingsSharingShortcut KeysSoundUsersWireless Networks


Android File Transfer (MTP)CalculatorCalendarCreate Live MediaHardware ProbeHelpInstall FreeBSDLogsQTerminalRemote AssistanceTasmota Device ManagerZeroconf

(Picture 7: Preferences the system settings aka control panel and Utilities)

Miscellaneous and Potentials

Because it is now still in alpha development stage, it is certainly still incomplete. However, we think it has a lot of potentials to be a great future free operating system capable to fully replacing Microsoft Windows and Apple macOS (and get mass produced by many computer brands). To us, the concepts are more appealing than the ones of ReactOS and even elementary OS


(Both user groups of Windows and MacOS will love this: installer dialogs ala Microsoft, also known as next-next-next-finish, are available on helloSystem with beautiful visuals)

Under Constructions:  

There is a category under System menu containing new, unfinished products. They are among others:

Battery, to help the user with power management.Disk first aid, to check disk drive health and repair them if needed.Disk Utility, to format disk partitions and manage disk storages.Download Applications, to add/remove applications more conveniently.Install Debian Runtime, for software applications from GNU/Linux to run on helloSystem. Think about GNU/Linux subsystem of FreeBSD. 

Distributed (decentralized) communication system:

helloSystem features Tox as the network technology that empowers its Remote Desktop feature. This will surely attracts many people (for instances, those in the Fediverse). 

Privacy promises:

helloSystem via its Welcome screen promises privacy that it will not track the users, not send advertisements, not sell user profile data etc. It is certainly impressive to everyone as now the world became more aware about user privacy everyday. See for example


There are issues and they have been expected. For example, 

The most severe is we always find helloSystem reboots instantly when doing installation of any of applications under System menu or doing it using pkg command. The search functionality in Filer is not our taste (Filer -> Tool -> Find Files). We need file search like Dolphin’s, Explorer’s, or Finder’s where we just type something and it displays results instantly without opening any additional window.We work everyday with Windows key, and we do not find it works. We also are not Mac users, so we are accustomed to Ctrl+Z, Ctrl+Y, Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V but it also does not work as the key is swapped with Alt instead. We find several other minor issues as well.


We think helloSystem is truly promising. It is very fast, very good looking, lightweight, works as expected, on top of it is being free software (and for technical people: without systemd, without Wayland). It enables us to use BSD system very easily and very practically although we are originally users from different operating system. For your information, this article is written from within helloSystem. We admire the design, the implementation so far, they way the developer invites people to the development (see Under Construction) and we wholeheartedly agree to the developer plans to make AppImage works as application format and also for Terminal command lines to be completely optional. We really appreciate that. All in all, it is still very new and even has not published its first stable version so we should patiently watch this new free OS for the time being. Now we let dear readers to try helloSystem too by visiting the website Happy adventuring!


“Work is underway to make it possible to use the existing AppImages that have been built with Linux in mind on FreeBSD systems including helloSystem.” 

“The goal is to make the terminal entirely optional.” 


“Objectives, Must Read, Must Watch, Design Principles, References etc.”


This article is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

More In Technology News

Contact Data Fidelity

Send us a quick message, and we will endeavour to contact you as soon as possible. 

Alternatively, feel free to use our complimentary Quote Tool service to find our how much a new website will cost you today.

Contact Us

Take control of the internet

Download a FREE copy of our E-book, covering:

  • Origins of the internet, CERN & The GNU Philosophy
  • Misconceptions around the internet & its best practices
  • Database Architecture & Design
  • Exiting Big Tech
Book Subscription
Skip to content