FreeBSD touchy? Not for desktops? A pain? What?
Yes, FreeBSD does not support all of the hardware that Linux supports. However, it should run on a majority of older systems with little or no problems. If you have new(er) hardware, a little research goes a long way. It might also save you a bad experience.
I have been running FreeBSD for almost two years on an older Dell Dimension desktop with a 500mhz pIII and 256mb of RAM. It is primarily used for storage and running daemons, but has been configured to run KDM at boot (and runs KDE3 very well). All of the hardware works out of the box. The only reason for me to recompile the kernel is to add quota support. It has Linux emulation, based on Fedora, which allows you to build/run stuff not supported natively (eg: Flash). The ports system is very easy to use, handles most dependencies automatically, and you can even install most software pre-compiled using the 'pkg_add' command.
Is FreeBSD for everyone? No, but neither is Linux. If you're a gamer you'll probably be disappointed. If you need proprietary drivers for your hardware, again, you're probably going to be disappointed. If you don't like "Linux software" (as most n00bs call it), stay away. FreeBSD uses all the same stuff. If you're happy using Linux, why switch? In all honesty, on the user level, you're not going to notice any difference between a good Linux distro (like Slackware) and FreeBSD.
I installed FreeBSD for something to do, and because I had an extra computer to play with. I am very happy with it. Upgrading from one release to the next is simple using 'freebsd-upgrade', so there is really no reason to do a clean install. It is not any "more touchy" than Linux. If you do mess something up, the recovery option available on your install disc will probably be able get you back into the system.
A lot of the stuff being said in this thread is being said because of inexperience, not because it's the truth. In a lot of ways, it's just like the non-sense openSUSE, Ubuntu, and Mint users say about Slackware. "It's too hard". Edit: FreeBSD-9.0rc3 (default kernel) running KDE 3.5.10 on a Dell Dimension 5000 desktop.
By the way, I do not have any of the problems with hotplugging mentioned in this thread. Memory sticks, cell phones, iPods, mice and keyboards have all worked as they would under Linux.