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BSD Operating Systems

Bob Bruce on the BSDI/Walnut Creek Merger 105

Posted by Nik
from the NP:-even-better-than-the-real-thing dept.
Earlier we announced that Walnut Creek CDROM and BSDI are merging. Obviously, this will shake up the BSD playing field considerably, and will doubtless have knock on effects with the Linux and other open source communities too, to say nothing of the various commercial organisations that already rely on FreeBSD or BSDI on their servers. Here, to answer questions about the merger, is Bob Bruce, president of Walnut Creek. Jordan Hubbard, FreeBSD core team member and release co-ordinator, and Gary Johnson, CEO of the new company, also contribute.

But first, a little bit of background.

Walnut Creek sells CDs full of freely available software, and run the world's busiest FTP server (ftp.freesoftware.com, formerly known as ftp.cdrom.com). Walnut Creek has been involved with FreeBSD since the early days, producing the first FreeBSD CD distribution, and providing gainful employment for some members of the FreeBSD development community. This article from FreeBSDzine explains some of the Walnut Creek/FreeBSD relationship.

BSDI was formed by members of the Computer Systems Research Group (CSRG) at UC Berkeley (i.e., the same group responsible for the Unix BSD in the first place). BSDI produce, market, and provide support and training for a commercial BSD Unix (or Unix-like) OS for the Intel platform, and as such, are competing in the same space that FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, and Linux (not to mention Microsoft) all play in.

While there have been several IPOs, mergers, and acquisitions by various Linux-driven companies in the relatively recent past, this is the first in BSD space. Here Bob Bruce answers questions about the merger, some of which came from yourselves, via the earlier story.

[Disclaimer: in another xterm I'm nik@freebsd.org, which obviously gives me a greater vested interest in this event than most. Unless otherwise indicated, the answers are from Bob.]

What, exactly, is happening? The reports from DaemonNews are that the two companies are merging, the Wall Street Journal says that BSDI is "acquiring" Walnut Creek. Is this a merger of equals, or will one company be the dominant partner?

Walnut Creek CDROM and BSDI have merged into a single company. I don't think either partner will be dominant. Walnut Creek CDROM and BSDI had very similar company cultures, and both companies had a long history of involvement in the BSD community. Several BSDI people were members of UC Berkeley's Computer Systems Research Group (CSRG), and were key early contributors to the free software movement. Several of the top people in the FreeBSD project worked for Walnut Creek CDROM. So together we have an extemely talented group of people.

The two companies mesh well at the sales and marketing level, too. Walnut Creek CDROM brings online sales and retail channel expertise. Our shrink-wrap products are sold in nearly all major chains, including CompUSA, MicroCenter, Fry's, Border's, etc. BSDI brings expertise in VAR/OEM sales, embedded systems, corporate sales and infrastructure markets. For instance, UUNet runs on BSD/OS.

Why merge at all? FreeBSD and BSDI have coexisted for some years now. BSDI uses code from FreeBSD (I believe) and they have also contributed code back to FreeBSD. What benefits will merging bring?

The obvious advantage is that our development efforts will be sharing codebases. So we can make improvements faster and at lower cost. Our goal will be a single ABI for third party vendors to port to, which will mean more applications available on BSD.

People who are trying to decide whether to rely on Linux or BSD should note that the two commercial BSD-based companies are unifying at the same time that the Linux market is being divided up into smaller and smaller fragments. It seems like every few weeks another company announces a Linux distro. I just read that Motorola is producing their own. Now don't get me wrong, I really wish that Linux wasn't so fragmented. In fact, I would like to go back to the good old days when Slackware had a 90% market share ;-)

Gary adds: A merger makes a lot of sense from a promotion and funding perspective. You'll be seeing much more promotion about BSD in the future. It's often been said that we've got the superior technology, but the marketing has been nearly non-existent. That's going to change.

More money means more development funds as well. For example, an Itanium project is definitely in the pipeline. No firm details yet, but it will happen.

What's the new company going to be called?

Currently BSDI is the name of the company, but we are looking at alternatives.

Where is BSD's focus going to be? The traditional role has been servers, with some developers expressing a disdain for the desktop.

Gary says: We're committed to growing our position in the marketplace. Traditionally, the Internet Infrastructure market has been where we're strongest, and that's where we're going to focus. But not to the exclusion of promoting BSD for the desktop. FreeBSD and BSDI both have major customers in the embedded market, and among infrastructure suppliers.

What will happen to the FreeBSD codebase? Is it going to merge with the BSDI code, or vice-versa? Will there be two code trees?

There are plans for the two codebases to merge, but not immediately. FreeBSD 4.0 is scheduled for release very soon [4.0 should go gold on March 13th -- Nik] and will not contain any code from BSD/OS. Once 4.0 becomes the "stable" branch, the merging work will begin on the "current" branch. There will also be continuing improvements and enhancements to the proprietry BSD/OS.

Jordan adds: I also see us best doing this by gradual convergence, not by simply attempting to ram one group or code-base into another. It will take time for the FreeBSD developers to come up to speed on the various features in BSD/OS they may be merging and the converse is true for the BSDI developers; they've been working on BSD/OS for the last decade and will need time to familiarize themselves with the FreeBSD code base, its development methodologies and its culture.

There are a number of FreeBSD features which existing BSD/OS customers have requested just as there are a number of BSD/OS features which the FreeBSD project will be looking into merging. By doing this work in parallel, we can deal with the familiarization issues on both sides while making the eventual code merger progressively easier.

David Greenman and Mike Karels will be working together as co-architects for the new system. As features are merged in, they will be available for download at www.freebsd.org, and on "snapshot" CDROMs. The completely merged system will be released as FreeBSD 5.0.

Who 'owns' FreeBSD now? Jordan's been talking about a FreeBSD Foundation, is that going to see the light of day?

FreeBSD is "owned" by the FreeBSD Project, which is made up of the core team, the committers, and all the other people who write the code. No company can ever own FreeBSD, anymore than a company can own Linux. The FreeBSD Foundation will be an independent non-profit organization. It will be controlled by a board of directors, which will contain some members of the core team. The Foundation and the core team are still separate entities going forward.

What about the name "FreeBSD", and related tems, like the "PicoBSD" distribution? If someone wants to build the own CD-ROM release, can they call it "FreeBSD"?

The trademark "FreeBSD" was owned by Walnut Creek CDROM, so it is now a registered trademark of the merged company. But, by written agreement, the use of the trademark is controlled by the FreeBSD core team.

Roughly speaking, how many new, full time, developers is this going to bring to FreeBSD?

About twenty. But that will grow. We are hiring, so if anyone out there in Slashdot land needs a job and knows how to code, send your resume to jobs@cdrom.com.

Are there any BSDI only features that are slated for rapid integration into FreeBSD?

No. FreeBSD and BSD/OS have well deserved reputations for robustness and stability. We don't want to jeopardize that by rushing the integration process.

Are any features of the BSDI codebase going to stay proprietary?

At first much of the BSDI codebase will remain proprietary. It will only be freed as it is integrated with FreeBSD. There are some parts of the codebase that cannot be freed because the code was written under a contract that does not permit disclosure.

Jordan adds: This pertains only to the BSD/OS kernel. There is intention to merge the "userland" code as soon as is practical, since there are no issues with any of that code, according to Mike Karels.

Prompted by a question from "dcs" earlier; most of the FreeBSD developers meet through the mailing lists, and no one is "parachuted" in to a committer position without first submitting PRs, having them accepted, being proposed for committership, having a mentor, and so on. Everyone's got where they are by working with one another, and going through the peer review process.

Will the BSDI developers (those of them who will be working on the FreeBSD code) have to go through the same (or possibly accelerated) process? Or will they be dropped in as committers almost immediately?

Jordan: I think it's too early to say how each and every case will be handled, but that it'd also be reasonable to assume that a hybrid approach will be used. In each case we'll be first estabishing just what each potential new committer will be doing and what the priority for that work is, then we'll look at their track record and take prior experience into account just as we've done with many other committers.

Some committers have approached us as complete unknowns and have had to enter the project "the slow way", by submitting PRs and essentially proving themselves to us over time. In other cases, a committer has approached us (or vice-versa) and the core decision to add him has gone in a matter of hours from concept to edits to the access file ("Kirk wants a commit bit? stamp Done! Somebody go grab him before he changes his mind!"). It all really depends on just how much of a known-quantity the person is and I expect that to work in everyone's favor in a good deal of the cases for BSDI developers.

It's been suggested that some of the BSDI people would be coming in as FreeBSD core team members. Is that right?

Jordan: This really isn't clear yet and all we've talked about is the fact that we'd be willing to take some on if they expressed a direct interest. This has yet to happen as I'm sure most of the folks over at BSDI are still too busy staggering around and trying to cope with this Brave New World to think about things like joining FreeBSD-core. I would also expect to be able to spend a little time explaining just what this means in reality to any prospective candidate in advance, such being only fair.

Are there any changes planned for the BSD license?

That is up to the University of California. We have no control over the BSD license. UC removed the advertising clause last year, which was the right thing to do. I can't think of anything else that should be changed. The BSD license is about as free as you can get short of public domain, and its "business friendly" nature is one of the reasons that BSD is so widely used in commercial applications which require customized kernels, such as the IBM Interjet, the Intel StorageServer, and Inktomi's network products.

Will the code still be released under the BSD license? If so, which one? There are three BSD licenses available; the original BSD license with four clauses, the new BSD license, without the advertising clause, and the FreeBSD license, which also omits the fourth clause as well.

It will be released under the newest license, without the advertising clause. Contrary to other reports, once the BSDI code is released under the three clause license it will be usable by anyone, not just other open source projects.

How will this impact on other organisations use of the codebase? For example, Apple use FreeBSD extensively in MacOS X.

It will have a positive impact. We have been unable to work more closely with partners like Apple because of limited resources, especially not enough people. That will change. We will be strengthening existing partnerships and building new ones.

Jordan adds: It should also be noted that people who are doing their own FreeBSD-based solutions can continue to do so, we're not changing the terms under which FreeBSD is being released or can be used in other products. Nothing changes for FreeBSD here and it's in the areas where a customer wants more than FreeBSD can currently deliver for, say, an embedded systems product that I see the commercial possibilities. Anyong buying a commercial RTOS today gets a lot more than a CDROM containing some bits, for example, they also get about four feet of printed manuals, a support contract, tools for doing cross-compilation on other platforms (like NT), etc. Providing those kind of value-adds for FreeBSD on a commercial basis would be a win-win scenario for everyone, I think, and that's just one possible avenue of exploration.

Living and working in the UK, BSD's presence here is limited. I can get various Linux flavours from the bigger PC stores, but BSD seems to be relegated to a few, more specialist, suppliers. Red Hat has announced plans to expand in to Europe, and Suse is based in Germany. Is this a market you're going for, or are you contentrating on the U.S. at the moment?

Gary: In the UK, you may find FreeBSD on the shelves of Dixon's soon [Big consumer electronics chain, computers, cameras, hi-fi systems, that sort of thing -- Nik]. You can expect to see big changes in our market presence in Europe, particularly over the next six to 12 months. I can't say more than that at the moment.

Walnut Creek sell 'competing' products, including Slackware and Redhat Linux. Is this going to change?

Our Slackware division will be spun off as an independent company: Slackware Linux, Inc. But our Linux and BSD developers will continue to work closely together. Patrick Volkerding has moved out here from Minnesota and is now managing Slackware development on a day-to-day basis. We will be releasing Slackware 7.1 by summer.

What about other distributions (or, indeed, other OSs). Would the new company release OpenBSD or NetBSD CDs, for example?

We have no plans to do that.

But we are trying to get the entire BSD community to work together more. For instance, our annual conference, FreeBSD'Con, is being renamed BSD'Con, and will now include all BSD software, not just FreeBSD.

There is frequent cross-fertilization of ideas and code between the Linux and BSD communities. Probably a lot more than most people realize. This is what "Open Source" is all about: both communities benefit from fresh ideas as well as healthy competition. We are at the focal point where these two communities come together, and this is a very exciting place to be.

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Bob Bruce on the BSDI/Walnut Creek Merger

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Without actually considering whether this is meant to be a useful comment, it's probably worth pointing out immediately that Nik is in fact not employed by Walnut Creek CDROM (which doesn't actually exist anymore), nor would WC need to pay anyone to print articles favourable to the company.

    It's also worth bearing in mind that even posting as an AC you can probably be traced, and this comment is almost certainly either libellous, slanderous or both. Given that WC does have an interest in protecting its good name, you're taking a great risk for very little real return.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    This is patently false. The Linux world is not fragmented at all--one kernel source tree and one user-land source tree goes into every single Linux distribution out there.

    Uhmm... not really.
    There is one kernel tree indeed... with a whole lot of vendor supplied mods for specific hardware.
    To say there is a single userland tree is simply bullshit. All userland trees do have a common component in the gnu bin utils and the like, but most definitely there are huge differences between distributions in what their userland has, and where it comes from.

    The fragmented world is *BSD, with four separate kernel trees, and four separate userland trees. After this merger, that will change slightly (three separate userland trees, 3.5 separate kernel trees), but the simple reality is that *BSD is far more fragmented than Linux.

    BSD is fragmented, or as I prefer to say: you have choice in the BSD arena. What you say however is not true. The 4 major BSD's share far more among esp. their userland then the Linux dists out there. Their kernels are quite different... but the difference between an OpenBSD kernel and a FreeBSD kernel is less dramatic then the difference between a Linux 2.0.36 and a 2.3.x kernel for example.

    What Bruce said is that while the Linux community seems to go on framenting themslves, the BSD community actually reduced fragmentation by this move. He did compare the direction and not so much the current state of fragmentation.

  • Well, I've known Nik for 8 years now, on and off and he's a very cool guy with the energy of 10,000 elephants. He's been using FreeBSD since '93 or '94 and has done enourmous good work for it as a committer with the documentation project, as well as excellent advocacy work elsewhere.

    There, I think he owes me an alcohol-free beer now. :-)

    -Dom
  • Two guys walk into a bar. Which is weird, because you'd of thought the second one would of gone round after the first one hit it...

    Regards,
    Denny

    # Using Linux in the UK? Check out Linux UK [linuxuk.co.uk]

  • by howardjp (5458)
    Actually, he was brought on by the Slashdot crew just to handle BSD related stories.
  • People who are trying to decide whether to rely on Linux or BSD should note that the two commercial BSD-based companies are unifying at the same time that the Linux market is being divided up into smaller and smaller fragments. This one is to good to be true, what they forget is that even the smallest of these fractions usually command a higher marketshare than FreeBSD systems. You, and the article, seem to be suggesting that this is _bad_. I can tell you that it _isn't_ as long as they are all fairly compatible. Which they are.

    For instance, as has been said slackware owned a large ammount of the market at the beginning but then were taken over by RedHat when people thought that distribution was better. RedHat is now being challenged by SuSe and Turbo etc. because some people are realising that RedHat isn't perfect. They are all, more or less, compatible with one another though and each has their specialities. This is all _wonderful_ IMO, and the last thing I want is for all the companies to merge into one big market leader that crushes all before it. This is one of the biggest reasons why I don't use/recommend FreeBSD to people.
  • I doubt you will see this since my post was so long ago. Anyway, I posed the concern as a question. That is because as you pointed out I do NOT know the participants and wondered how the fit will work. That is not spreading fear but showing that

    a) I have a concern and if you are right (I have no reason on earth to think otherwise) my concerns have been put to rest.

    b) I wanted just to illicit just the response I got except without the fear remark which I feel was unneeded.

    It is good to know that BSDI is a good group. I feel better about the merger because of your remark even if you did think I was spreading fear and uncertainity in my wake. :->
  • I don't know why you would feel this way; all the BSDi folks I've met have been cool and amiable people. I think the fears of a 'culture clash' are mistaken, as BSDi doesn't really have a 'coporate culture'. Spreading fear without knowing any of the participants seems silly.
  • As an OpenBSD developer I see this as a positive thing that can only help the other BSD's. We're talking about proprietry code being made free, which can only help the other projects...
  • I've just started using freebsd recently and I don't have anything but positive things to say about it. If anything I think this merger will have a positive impact on the BSD community and the future of "free"BSDs. Keep up the good work guys.
  • I think you should just be glad that this didn't turn into a holywar/flamewar like most BSD articles posted to Slashdot do.

    Personally, I like being able to read comments that are intelligent and thoughtful, rather than "Linux RuLeZ! BSD SUX!"

    I was also surprised by the relatively intelligent posts made on the last article about the merger. I honestly expected it to be a complete waste of time reading the comments.

    I may have to change my opinion about Slashdot if this trend continues. :)
  • I live in Concord California where WC Cdrom is located and that probably is where my intrest in WC Cdrom begins and ends.

    In the artical the idea of many diffrent Linux organisations.. the shatering of Linux.. is seen as a "bad thing" and mergers like this one a "good thing" I'd like to suggest exactly the opposate is the case.

    If there is bad code you can not cutaway that bad code and say "this is bad". Instead you have to eat it. Good and bad. Not much diffrent from any closed source product.
    But with a splitered system there will ALLWAYS be "good" code SOMEPLACE.
    There is also the issue of no os being "everything to everyone". Linux can be exactly that but not in one pacage. Each Linux distro is something to some people but each distrobution being diffrent Linux on the whole becomes all things to all people.

    Yes there is this big bugaboo about how you can not make a single binary that runs on all Linux distrobutions. Just document what IS required and don't worry about it....

    BSD however dose have the advantage of having a core os.. Unlike Linux.. however That means thats BSD. For good or ill.
  • I've never understood the point to all the different Linux distributions. The specialty ones like uClinux, sure, they're doing something you can't easily do by paring down a generic distribution, but for the rest they all have the same code.

    They have different installation programs, That's good. Having a choice between an inflexible user-friendly installer and a flexible confusing one is good.

    They have different package managers. That's bad, because that's the most boring possible thing to have to worry about, and the popular one (RPM) really needs a lot of work. dpkg is a clearly better design, particularly with wrappers like apt-get, but it doesn't get the attention.

    They have different selections of packages by default. That's mixed. You want to be able to pick up systems designed for different purposes, but they never really go into what criteria they use to select the packages, and you can't really separate the package selection from the distribution.

    And they have different configuration and administration tools, different file layouts, different arrangements of "the stuff in /etc" (which may not all be in /etc, but you get my point). This is bad, because programs depend on that stuff being in standard places.

    I think Linux is mature enough that instead of trying to compete on the basis of stuff that really doesn't matter, they should just pick on one minimal distributaion (Debian's good, it's got dpkg, it's not fluffy) and work in the installers and other tools from that starting point.
  • Posted by nik on 09-03-00 8:34

    I think we need a Meet The /. Editors Day. emmett is coming in to focus as a person, but who the h*ll are "nik", "timothy" and all the others?
    --
    Here is the result of your Slashdot Purity Test.
  • Yeah, so the FreeBSD core team has to be loving this. I mean, they ar the ones assimilating the competing product. BSDI will just be throwing code, developers, money, advertising, and distribution support (ie, channels) at the roject. Plus, BSDI will obviously begin comercial support (thus boosting that offered by WC in the FreeBSD Mall). Oh, and all those BSD/OS boxes will convert over to FreeBSD eventually. So hey.. doesn't it look almost like FreeBSD, Inc. bought BSDI? :-)

    Plus Slackware is getting better support through the merger, by splintering into a seperate independant company instead of WC Cdrom division.
  • Question. BSDI is already on Nasdaq, and I believe it officially bought WC Cdrom. It can change its name, but that doesn't mean stock holders can be forgotten about and BSDI to say "all thse years with us selling stock was a test run, thanks for trying our system." At most, I would think BSDI could buy back its stock, and re-emerge, or somehow create a new company, IPO it, and convert the BSDI stocks over. Either way, there's no real way to create an IPO scam like all the Linux IPOs seem to be. (Personally, I don't see the point in buying stocks from a company that loses money, from a financial point of view. All 'open source/media hype' aside.)
  • umm.. BSDI is putting almost all of its code, except for kernel data which is licensed from 3rd parties, under the FreeBSD BSDL license. BSD/OS will eventually die, and customers will be migrated over to FreeBSD 5.0. FreeBSD cannot be locked, as if the core team did, another would form to take over the project anyways. Its free!

    So, BSD/OS is being assimulated, as I said.
  • hmm.. your right. I could have sworn I saw a Nasdaq link when checking out BSDI's page last week.. my bad.

    What I meant, was that (now hypothetical) BSDI was already a public company than they couldn't IPO. The merger seems to be in the direction that WC Cdrom was bought by BSDI, in the fine print (I gather from the Wall Street Journal reference in the article). Even if they do internally see this as a pure merger with no buyer, and a new company created, that wouldn't stop BSDI from being a public company. Thus, BSDI would need to buy back its stock to go IPO bezerk. But of course, it seems they never did IPO. So this branch of logic can be trimmed.
  • I wonder if it isn't more sour grapes over the decline in the importance of Slackware than anything else.

    Could be. But it sounded more like wistful regret, and not very deep at that. I think the reactions here are just a little bit overblown.

    Though as a *BSD user, I can understand why people are a bit on edge. It helped to read Jordan Hubbard's comment that FreeBSD can no more be un-freed than Linux. It seems apparent that BSDi is doing this more along the lines of "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em" than "Keep your friends close, keep your enemies closer." If they tried to un-free the code, developers would simply jump ship to another BSD, or start a new one where the old one left off, even if it required a new coat of paint on the code to free it from new and evil masters. GPL advocates sometimes forget that this is how the BSDs came about in the first place. They've already weathered that test, and it would be highly foolish for any corporation to stake their plans on the same thing not happening again.

  • Your right! With hundreds or even thousands of people getting the FreeBSD source EACH DAY, and people like me getting it each week, it would be difficult, under the license, to make a new FreeBSD based off of FreeBSD and keep it Free. Although, it would have have the BSDi code in it too. Your right, it would be impossible, even though I would be one of the first in lines to offer my source code that I keep on my system. Before you type, know what your typing about. I bet you don't even know what the GPL or BSD license is, do you?
  • As someone who has around 60 FreeBSD systems running in commercial and educational service all over the midwest as singles and compute clusters, this 'merger' makes me highly nervous. This smells of some folks wanting to suck from the IPO cow and to hell with the products.

    I originally looked at BSDI and thought the product & services were not nearly worth the money. Further, in talking with the people at BSDI I didn't like their tone towards lowly scum customer (me) out here in hicks-ville. That's why I started with FreeBSD slightly before 2.0.0. It's met my needs and my customer's needs very well. Now we have this mess.

    It's too early to have a new project called "FREE! FreeBSD", but the dribble in this article may have me registering a few new domain names just in case...

    I have a new poll question for /.

    "When will the 'new' BSDI IPO?"
    [ ] 1 month
    [ ] 2 months
    [ ] 6 months
    [ ] 12 months

    Note here that never is not an option. Greed kills. The old BSDI wasn't IPOable, but this mess probably is because it has the WC cash stream.

    Finally, after the IPO and after the 'new economy' has it's correction to sync(2) with the 'real economy' where will this IPOed mess then be? I liked it when the FreeBSD support organization was tangent to a real business not inflated by gross over-expectations of an insane "tech-happy" stock market. This whole thing makes me just sick.

  • Are you hallucinating? BSDI, the company that sells BSD/OS is NOT a public company. What company you're thinking of on Nasdaq is anybody's guess. And you've never heard of a public company buying another company?
  • You know.. If you would like to slander someone that you don't know.. don't pick on someone that has so many supporters. I happen to know majority of the people that work at WCCDrom.. and whether Nik actually works/worked there or not, is in no way related to why he happened to be the person conducting this interview.

    Don't be sucha spazz..be greatful that ANYONE does ANYTHING and that there is even a /. for us to read. Dorko.

    Thanks for the great interview Nik.. hope to hear more about this as the subject progresses.

    - DL
  • My take as a FreeBSD committer is that -core isn't anti-desktop, they're just not PRO-desktop. In other words, the desktop isn't the main focus of the people in -core.

    More to the point, -core doesn't have anything to do with the day-to-day running of FreeBSD or what gets committed to the tree or not: that's up to the developers. So far, we've seen not much in the way of contributions from the user/developer population directed to "improving the desktop" (whatever that means). Jordan once tried to run a desktop contest for a "default desktop" and didn't get any submissions.

    In a free software project, things don't happen until someone does the work - so it seems that not many people who use FreeBSD are motivated enough to work on "improving the desktop". Whenever it comes that FreeBSD should "support the desktop better" the answer is invariably "yes, better desktop support would be great! I can't wait to see your patches!" and then it goes no further.
  • BSDI can't "assimilate" FreeBSD because neither Walnut Creek, nor the new merged company will have control of it. Control rests firmly where it always has, in the hands of FreeBSD Core.

    Sure, BSDI could take the free version of FreeBSD and make their own proprietary version - but wait, they always could, and did exactly this with BSD/OS (which incorporated some amount of FreeBSD code). This hypothetical version could not be called FreeBSD, because that name is administered by FreeBSD core.

    You can bet that if they tried to somehow make FreeBSD non-Free, the vast majority of the developer and user base would not follow them, and would carry on developing the real FreeBSD as ever before.

    There will always be a free FreeBSD out there - no-one can take away my CVS repository from me.
  • They wouldn't even have to start a new BSD project. BSDI can't steal the FreeBSD name, because (while Walnut Creek owns it right now until the FreeBSD Foundation can be set up to transfer it to) the administration rights to the trademark belong to FreeBSD-core, who you can bet would not give them up to a commercial distribution.

    The best BSDI could do is to take the FreeBSD code, merge it with BSD/OS and create PlusBSD 5.0 - which is what *anyone is allowed to do and do all the time*, and FreeBSD will continue unchanged as before.
  • First off, BSD needs more then anything a bigger more involved community. I'm an avid BSD user and am rather disgusted that the ./ posts are so low.

    How can you substantiate this? The BSD community is by far the most active by scale.

    when ./ posts a .00000000001 upgrade to the freaking linux kernel you sheep come out droves.

    Amen to that brother! Slashdot is VERY Linux-centric. Just look at the way the ignorant zealots flocked to the Slackware story over this. Stigma is all that matters rather than maturity and performance. Anything that is remotely BSD is crucified on slashdot plus most BSD users avoid slashdot because of its one-sidedness. if you want the current BSD news check out OpenBSD Journal [deadly.org], Daily Daemon News [daemonnews.org], FreeBSD'zine [freebsdzine.org], FreeBSD Diary [freebsddiary.org], FreeBSD Rocks [freebsdrocks.com] and OpenBSD Explained [dayrom.com.au]

    At first much of the BSDI codebase will remain proprietary. It will only be freed as it is integrated with FreeBSD. There are some parts of the codebase that cannot be freed because the code was written under a contract that does not permit disclosure.

    According the Karels the only thing that will remain proprietary is the kernel...for now. And a lot of the things they can't just put under a BSDL comes from things under NDA's.

  • the impression i got out of the interview is that BSD/OS is going to merge with FreeBSD, with the result being FreeBSD 5. That makes me suspect that if one BSD is going to be assimilated, it's gonna be BSD/OS. i was afraid of the opposite until i actually read the damn interview...

  • >When 99% of your software will compile and run on your system regardless of the distro that you use, what does it matter?

    If you have source code and can't get it to 100%, there is a problem with the code.

    What I see happening is a whole group of NEW coders coming up thru the ranks with 'Linux Experience' and have no CLUE about writing portable code. They write it going directly to /etc/passwd, and look for files in /usr, etc. Some mentoring of these young pups would be a good thing...if they will take the mentoring and they can find a mentor.

    (that is problem #1)

    Anytime money is involved, the dominate player doesn't want to do anything to take away their #1 position. The X86OPEN standard -> Linux standard binaries are examples of this. I have a hard time believing if the BSD's can run linux binaries, that you can't get all the Linux distros to all agree on a common format. Its all about being at the top of the pile and the money this represents.

    This fighting for #1 is EXACTLY what fragmented the Unix market years ago. Every special enhancement to the 'linux kernel' will work to drive a wedge. There is nothing stopping someone from taking the kernel and doing their own fork. And if Linus never blesses the code back into his kernel, and the fork gets marketshare, this divide will contiune because the other vendors will be emboldened to create their own version. And as long as these forks all run 'linux standard binaries', the vast majority of the market won't care. Just like the market for shrink-wrapped Linux binaries won't care if the box is RedHat, SuSe, SCO, Solaris or BSD, so long as the box containing the binary at CompUSA and says 'works with Linux' works on whatever platform they have.

    The cracks are already showing....and Linus sees it. That is why at LinuxWorld 2000 in NYC he called fragmentation a good thing.

  • by Rogain (91755)
    Don't be sucha spazz..be greatful that ANYONE does ANYTHING and that there is even a /. for us to read. Dorko.

    (Ignoring the rest of this thread) the above statement is patently idiotic. If slashdot becomes a site full of any old crap written by any old moron who happens to hit a submit button, then I'll stop reading it.
  • If wonder how much the other BSD's (Net and Open) will improve because of this. Specifically, SMP would be the major concern. If this helps them, it would be perfect.
  • Nope, Linux IS becoming more and more fragmented.

    Couple of quick examples

    Motorola HA Linux
    Linux Distro for ABIT Hardware (Gentus Linux)
    only works on their hardware.

    There are a whole lot of others who are making distros that have kernel mods that haven't gotten into Linus's "blessed" kernel.
  • First off, BSD needs more then anything a bigger more involved community. I'm an avid BSD user and am rather disgusted that the ./ posts are so low.

    when ./ posts a .00000000001 upgrade to the freaking linux kernel you sheep come out droves.

    bahh, now with some comments.

    At first much of the BSDI codebase will remain proprietary. It will only be freed as it is integrated with FreeBSD. There are some parts of the codebase that cannot be freed because the code was written under a contract that does not permit disclosure.

    this bugs me, in practical terms I don't mind working with closed source, however. as an ideological bastard. i really feel like I'm getting bend over.

    . Providing those kind of value-adds for FreeBSD on a commercial basis would be a win-win scenario for everyone, I think, and that's just one possible avenue of exploration.

    say what market boy? win-win?.. value-adds. Jezzus. I'm really starting to smell something fishy here. maybe FreeBSD on a commercial basis really means it won't be free anymore.

    I hope I'm just being paranoid. but I don't trust corporate america, I have a feeling they may try to close the doors a bit to make sure the money river heads in their direction.

    -Jon

  • A priest, an evangelist, and a rabbi walk into a bar...

    The bartender says, 'What is this, some kind of joke?'

    sorry.
  • You totally missed the point AGAIN. If we have the source we can develop drivers. Ahem FreeBSD is still its own entity they are seperate camps and until doomsday comes and I see developers being moved to BSDi at an alarming rate (I know IRL a couple of the Core developers) Im not worried because it will make BSD much stronger in the mean time and you know what I wouldnt even care if I had to pay for it as long as I get the source. I will *PAY* for quality thank you I know the developers gotta make money somewhere.

  • Yes! hehe.. Okay so my examples SUCKED but there are some really anti-desktop people in the FbSD core :-)

  • Hmmn.. Dont look for that to happen. There is a lot of strong anti-desktop sentiment among BSD developers. A lot of people mistake this for an elitist attitude and perhaps it is but I like the focus on the server myself and I think its pretty good. So.. Its possible but dont expect it from the core team or anyone close to that mindset. So something like Mozilla Native for FreeBSD could be a long time coming.

  • Just ignore me *mutters* I cant even read!

    STUPID stupid stupid. heh. :p oh well

    ja

  • Although Walnut Creek supported FreeBSD they did not "own" it. Therefore BSDi+Walnut Creek don't currently own it either. What we can look forward to as FreeBSD users is enhanced support as they now have an even larger supporter who is bringing some nice items to the table.

  • I have logged on to Slashdot and I let the data flow
    I have accessed all the links of stories that I know
    I have freshmeat on the disk drive that is full as it can be
    I surf Slashdot and I like BSD
    With all I need on a CDRom, all tools are there I see,
    Holding on and on while I install with ATAPI/IDE
    I surf Slashdot, it has news for me
    I surf Slashdot and I like BSD

    And I look to the merger announced last week.
    And I thank U.C. Berkeley, BSI and Walnut Creek
    And I've all the mirrors bookmarked, since I am such a geek,
    I surf Slashdot and I like BSD
    With all I need on a CDRom, all tools are there I see,
    Holding on and on while I install with ATAPI/IDE
    I surf Slashdot, it has news for me
    I surf Slashdot and I like BSD

    And it's accessing the story and it's groaning with the load
    And moderation is broken and the Slashcode rev is old
    But I see posts in my Netscape, after all, it's free
    I surf Slashdot and I like BSD
    With all I need on a CDRom, all tools are there I see,
    Holding on and on while I install with ATAPI/IDE
    I surf Slashdot, it has news for me
    I surf Slashdot and I like BSD
  • People who are trying to decide whether to rely on Linux or BSD should note that the two commercial BSD-based companies are unifying at the same time that the Linux market is being divided up into smaller and smaller fragments.

    This one is to good to be true, what they forget is that even the smallest of these fractions usually command a higher marketshare than FreeBSD systems.

    Another thing is that if FreeBSD ever took of, like Linux have, the BSD license would also lead to more fracturing in that marketspace than we will ever see in the linux world. Adding proprietary extensions to FreeBSD would be the norm, and the BSD license would allow it.

  • That is the point, as long as FreeBSD lingers in obscurity nobody tries that kind of stuff, but as soon as the are money to be made they try it. There are plenty of examples in the Linux world of this being tried, but the GPL has hindered them in doing this on important parts.
  • No wonder you're posting as an anonymous coward. I use Linux and think it's great. I have friends that use FreeBSD, and I think it's great. They both fill niches in the community, and the code for a lot of things gets shared back and forth. Just my $.01 'nuff said
  • This is all _wonderful_ IMO, and the last thing I want is for all the companies to merge into one big market leader that crushes all before it. This is one of the biggest reasons why I don't use/recommend FreeBSD to people.

    So, you don't recommend people to use FreeBSD because it's company (Walnut creek, until now) is the market leader that crushes all before it? Perhaps BSDI has sold 90% of UNIX to the world, and is eating up Walnut creek as it plans Sun and Intel.

    I recommend (and use) FreeBSD and Linux. It depends on the purpose. If I was writing embedded controllers, (which I'm not) I'd use BSDI. This is very simple for me. Use a tool when it's useful.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    According to IDC surveys of server operating systems, Linux is the only OS gaining marketshare, accounting for one in every four servers. According to the survey, NT is holding steady at 38%. All other operating systems have shown a steady decline in marketshare over the past 3 years of IDC's survey.

    When we look at the IDC marketshare numbers, the rationale behind the merger becomes clearer. Both FreeBSD and BSD/OS are competing for the same niche in that shrinking remaining segment. There just isn't enough of the pie to go around. By consolidating, they buy themselves a little more time, since they no longer are competing with each other in that segment. Presumably, some costs will be lowered as duplicate company internal structures (payroll, accounting, receptionist) are combined.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    David Greenman and Mike Karels will be working together as co-architects for the new system. As features are merged in, they will be available for download at www.freebsd.org, and on "snapshot" CDROMs. The completely merged system will be released as FreeBSD 5.0.

    Now, if only certain ideologies within the BSD community would realize that; yes, they really CAN play together, the Net- and Open- folks could get back together, join up with the BSDi/Free- group, buckle down, and release 4.5BSD that serves all the goals of all four of those ideological platforms all at once.

    Then BSD could just maybe crush all those who oppose it. Wouldn't that be a hoot?

  • It would be nice with some information on their long-term plans. They want to merge the code bases, presumably under the free BSD license, but some parts of BSD/OS are owned by other people and will necessarily remain proprietary.

    Are they going for a Netscape/Mozilla like situation, where we have a free Mozilla/FreeBSD and a branded proprietary Netscape/BSD/OS derived from the free code base?

  • It's also my opinion that Linux can't truly fragment because of the nature of the GPL.

    Define "fragment". The GPL does mean that changes to the GPLed parts of the code that goes into a Linux distribution (including, but not limited to, the kernel) made by one distribution must be made available in source form, and thus must be available to other distributions.

    However, this does not ipso facto mean that those distributions will pick up said code, so different distributions may have behavioral differences, and some of them may well cause pain to users, developers, etc.. (Not all differences are "this distribution is for secure firewalls and the like, this distribution is for embedding in client appliances, this distribution is for embedding in server appliances, this distribution is for home desktop users, this distribution is for corporate/government/institutional desktop users, this distribution is for big Web servers, etc. - some of them may be differences between distributions aimed at the same market.)

  • When I read your topic, I thought you were going to say something about NetBSD, OpenBSD, and FreeBSD. After all, they're not fragmented, they're specialized. I mean, there used to be four of them, and there'll soon be three, and the projects share code and collaborate in joint BSD-wide projects like KAME, so if anything, they're unifying.

    I was disappointed to see you say "Linux can't truly fragment because of the nature of the GPL." with such authority. There's nothing in the GPL that prevents multiple GPL'd projects based on the Linux kernel code, after all.

    However, I agree with you. Use what you enjoy and what works. Use different systems for different purposes. Use Linux if you want for your desktop, or your workstation, or your server, or your Palm. If you're inclined, go for a FreeBSD mega server like cdrom.com, and boast about your terabyte and a bit of traffic daily. OpenBSD'ify your router/firewall machine and show off your encrypted swap space, or NetBSD'ify that old Sparc and have people perve your UVM. Have fun, damnit! ;)
  • The daemonnews article indicates that in the end, there'll be the joint code base, called FreeBSD, and any parts that are unable to be merged due to NDAs or other restrictions, will be available from the new company.

    Therefore it seems quite likely you'll see FreeBSD commercial product, and not BSD/OS, which as a name (but not as a legacy) will not be used. To answer your question, it won't be a free vs. branded deal as Mozilla vs. Netscape, but will be a merger into FreeBSD, and some non-free commercial extensions to FreeBSD will be available from BSD, Inc.
  • I have mixed feelings about this whole merger. After all, it is good when a corporation can throw core developers at a free project and decrease development times. However, it is also easy to see developers being pulled.

    I know that the core FreeBSD team will survive on but I am also wondering if the Free version of BSD will continue to show up shelves with the same sort of exposure.

    How will the FreeBSD core REALLY interact with the BSDI folks? The whole thing makes me nervous.

  • by nikc (11398)

    AC wrote:

    In case you didn't know, "nik" is an employee of Walnut Creek CD. He lives in the UK and recieves payments from a company in California. He is paid to post articles favorable to Walnut Creek CD and FreeBSD. If you want to write to "nik" his true email address is nik@freebsd.org

    Not quite true. In the interests of getting the facts right:

    I'm an employee of C.R.F. Consulting in the UK ("C.R.F." == "Clayton's Retirement Fund", but not a lot of people know that).

    Yes, I live in the UK.

    My company provides services to Andover.net, one of which is the editorial for the BSD section. Yes, my company is paid for this work. I am not (directly), although, ultimately, Andover.net do fund part of my salary. I also have Andover options.

    Those editorial services are not restricted to either Walnut Creek, or FreeBSD. I've posted (and will continue to post) stories about BSD, whatever the flavour. I also occasionally post other submissions to the front page as well.

    I'm not (and nor are any companies I'm connected with) retained or paid by Walnut Creek. The closest I've come to that was not having to pay the registration fee for last years FreeBSD Convention. That's not specific to me, as I understand that everybody who presented at the conference did not have to pay for registration.

    If you want to write to me (and it's about Slashdot), I'd prefer you use the nik@slashdot.org address. If it's about FreeBSD in general, or the Documentation Project, I'd prefer you used nik@freebsd.org. And if you'd like to use C.R.F. Consulting's services, and you're a company in or around London in the UK, I'd prefer you wrote to nik@crf-consulting.co.uk :-)

    FWIW, there don't seem to be many other "Nik Clayton"s on the 'net, so going to Google and doing an ego search for my name will turn up links to pretty much everything I've ever written online in the past eight years. I'm sure you'll enjoy it.

    Now, could we get back to the regular Natalie Portman discussions? Thanks.

    N

  • Adding proprietary extensions to FreeBSD would be the norm

    Then where are those proprietary extensions? All I can see are a couple of semi-free options. If it hasn't happened before, what makes you think it will now? One of the overriding goals of FreeBSD is to make it usable and modifiable by anyone, and throwing in proprietary stuff eliminates that.
  • Those aren't proprietary extensions to FreeBSD, which the original poster was concerned about. It doesn't matter what Apple does, I can still use 100% of FreeBSD without their permission.

    If Jordan Hubbard comes along and gives me an apple, and also give Steve Jobs an apple, I still have my apple. Even if Steve locks his up in a chest and threatens criminal proceedings against anyone taking it, I still have *MY* apple and I'm going to eat it and nothing Steve can do can change that.

    You can't steal what is free. A parable for you:

    There once was a fabulous apple tree. No matter how many apples one would take
    from it, there were just as many as before! When this was heard by the villagers
    they all rushed to the apple tree and took apples. But no matter how many they
    took, there were just as many apples as before. But some of them came and took
    apples and locked them within a chest, so that none could steal them. And they
    laughed at the other villagers, saying, "Look, they do not protect their apples.
    Surely a thief will come and steal them."
  • People who are trying to decide whether to rely on Linux or BSD should note that the two commercial BSD-based companies are unifying at the same time that the Linux market is being divided up into smaller and smaller fragments.

    It's a shame that Mr Bruce felt the need to take a gratuitous shot at the Linux community. Perhaps he should take a look at it in a different fashion:

    People who are trying to decide whether to rely on Linux or BSD should note that the two commercial BSD-based companies are merging in a desperate attempt to survive at the same time that an expanding Linux market is feeding the growth of new participants.

    Is that fair? No, but Mr Bruce's comment isn't any fairer. I wonder if it isn't more sour grapes over the decline in the importance of Slackware than anything else.
  • The FreeBSD culture and the BSDI culture are so close that if they can be reasonably combined within the purview of a freely licensed development effort, it looks like a good thing to me. I have the greatest respect for both Jordan Hubbard and Mike Karels, having done some small amount of work with both of them, Jordan at Walnut Creek and Mike back at Berkeley in the CSRG days. I've also been greatly impressed by David Greenman's sagacity as FreeBSD architect.

    I haven't seen either Walnut Creek or BSDI, Inc. set the world on fire from a business perspective, so perhaps from that aspect alone the idea of a merger is a good one.

    The whole "desktop vs. server" idea is a mare's nest. Sun doesn't scruple to support a single version of Solaris that runs on both their desktop machines and their Enterprise 10000 servers - it's a bloated pig in both places. (By the way, for sheer entertainment value, I urge any interested parties to ask Mike O'Dell about Solaris networking. I've never seen a better rant on any subject.) The choice of a "desktop OS" is, in most cases, chiefly influenced by factors which don't directly have anything to do with the OS. Linux and FreeBSD now both have creditable office suites in native ports...both suffering from the fact that neither one is Microsoft Office. (NO uSoft Office is NOT the best, but it's the one that sells corporate accounts. Win lose or draw, this is A Truth right now.) Both have reasonably good desktops available, or getting there. FreeBSD used to trounce Linux in TCP/IP stack robustness and carrying capacity. It's still better, in most trials, but the race is no longer a runaway.

    Both Linux and FreeBSD have contributors who are far better at writing code than conducting themselves rationally. I had originally supposed that, over a span of about five to ten years, Linux would gradually displace FreeBSD. I am no longer certain that this is the case. I do not believe that FreeBSD will overtake Linux to any significant degree, because compared to, say, Microsoft, both operating systems have similar capabilities and make similar offerings. Thanks to the AT&T lawsuit, Linux came to market first, and gained a lion's share of the market, which it will probably not lose. Many Linux proponents believe that the prevalence of Linux in the marketplace is due to the GNU license. I regard this as a religious argument. The religious fervor surrounding things GNU certainly has provided Linux with a boost, but I don't think that it is a decisive one. Apple's customers include a strong religious minority, which has helped the company, but this minority was not enough to save the company when it hit the bricks. (One strong difference between Apple and Gnu is that Apple's religious followers probably derive their fervor from the same place as the medieval church: the tendency of the Church to periodically pick a group, declare them heretics, kick them out and burn them at the stake. GNU does not do this; Apple certainly does. Apple II anyone? How about a Newton?)

    The merger of BSDI and Walnut Creek CDROM bring real strengths from both. I expect the result to be the presence of BSD UNIX as a strong second choice to Linux for years to come.
  • It's true that there are some silly things, like the 2 you mentioned. However, there are many distros which have a good reason to be separate. Linux for embedded systems should not be the same as Linux for desktops/servers. Also, I like the fact that there are separate distros of Linux; I would not, for example, appreciate it if Debian "merged" with one of the RPM-based distros. Yes, there are some differences in file structure, etc., but there are far more similarities; just stay away from those silly GUI tools and use the cross-platform configuration tool called "vi" :)

    As far as kernel mods go, there are good reasons not to include many of them. Do most people want to use Mosix? No, probably not (though I am using it, and it's cool). So, it's a patch. This keeps the kernel source from getting even more insane than it already is.

    I think that both of these are Good Things. Silly things like ABIT Linux will likely die out rather quickly, IMO. It's also my opinion that Linux can't truly fragment because of the nature of the GPL.

    Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against *BSD (though I'll probably not try it, because I really like SysV). But there's no need for people to make snide remarks (the one in the interview to which the original post was referring)...use what works for you.
  • Okay very rarely does any news I ever hear give me that overall, wow this was actual good and very cool feeling.

    Both of these companies are awesome and the two coming toghether will hopefully yield even better opearting systems for both ends

    (How can you make FreeBSD much better ;-)

    Seriously this is some cool stuff and I wish more VERY good things like this could occur more often I seriously think this is going to give FreeBSD even more mindshare among the server admin and heavy duty server market.

    JA

  • by BMazurek (137285)
    Anyone have any indication as to whether the merged corporate entity has plans to go public? With the success IPOs for various Linux companies, I think they have got to be at least entertaining the idea. I've used FreeBSD since 2.0.5, and I know I'd be on board in a heartbeat...
  • by Guy Harris (3803) <guy@alum.mit.edu> on Thursday March 09, 2000 @11:55AM (#1215623)

    I suspect many claims of fragmentation of Linux may be overstated.

    However, I think the claim:

    The Linux world is not fragmented at all--one kernel source tree and one user-land source tree goes into every single Linux distribution out there.

    is also overstated.

    First of all, there's the issue of versions of software. Linux distributions are built from many pieces maintained by different people, so it is possible that a given release one distribution might have a 2.2.x kernel and a 2.1.y glibc and so on, whilst a given release of another distribution that has the same 2.2.x kernel might have a different version of glibc, or a different version of utility XXX, or whatever - meaning that different user-land source trees are going into those distributions. Perhaps the next release of the second distribution uses the same version of glibc as the release in question of the first distribution, but it might then have a different kernel, or a different version of utility XXX or YYY, or whatever.

    In addition, some distributions may well add their own changes to some or all of the components they bundle into their distributions. For example, it is not the case that all Linux distributions have "standard" versions of libpcap - Red Hat 6.1 has a patched version that, whilst it has some improvements, changes the format of capture files written by applications that use the libpcap code to write capture files (e.g., tcpdump) and doesn't change the magic number on those files. This obliged Ethereal [zing.org], which uses its own library to read capture files in order to handle capture files that are not libpcap-format capture files, to go through some pain in order to be able to read

    1. standard libpcap capture files;
    2. libpcap capture files with the changed format and unchanged magic number;
    3. libpcap capture files with the changed format and a different magic number, as produced by a later version of the patch than was picked up by Red Hat 6.1;

    transparently (which the patched libpcaps don't do - the later patch can read the original format with the standard magic number, and can read the changed format with the new magic number, but can't read the changed format from files that use the standard magic number and that format; I can sympathize with the patch's developer for not doing so, as the hack I put into Ethereal's capture-file-reading library is really a bit gross, but, for Ethereal, I wanted it to be able to Just Work - hand it a capture file, and it consumes it, without having to be told what it is, regardless of whether the libpcap file that comes with the system on which it's running is capable of doing so). (I filed a bug on this, as did several other people; apparently a future Red Hat release will pick up a later patch, so that the libpcap files with a different file format will have a different magic number, and files from unpatched versions of libpcap can be read by tcpdump, for example.)

    And, of course, not all Linux distributions have the same configuration file setup - for example, not all of them use a System V-style init and rc files.

    I suspect there are people out there who can cite other examples of being bitten by differences between distributions, so I consider it an error to assert that "one kernel source tree and one user-land source tree goes into every single Linux distribution out there", or even to assert that the differences between the source that goes into those distributions don't cause any problems.

    None of this, however, indicates that

    1. Linux is necessarily any more badly fragmented than the BSDs (I suspect that, on the whole, it's easier to move software between Linux distributions than it is to move them from one BSD system to another, although I suspect most software probably moves with relatively little pain between Linux distributions, between BSD systems, from Linux distribution XXX to BSD system YYY, from BSD system YYY to Solaris, from Solaris to HP-UX, etc. - although there are presumably examples of pain caused by all of those transitions);
    2. there is no fragmentation in BSD.
  • by panda (10044) on Thursday March 09, 2000 @08:22AM (#1215624) Homepage Journal

    People who are trying to decide whether to rely on Linux or BSD should note that the two commercial BSD-based companies are unifying at the same time that the Linux market is being divided up into smaller and smaller fragments. It seems like every few weeks another company announces a Linux distro. I just read that Motorola is producing their own. Now don't get me wrong, I really wish that Linux wasn't so fragmented. In fact, I would like to go back to the good old days when Slackware had a 90% market share ;-)

    We're not getting you wrong, Mr. Bruce. It's painfully obvious that you don't like the vitality of the competition to BSD from GNU/Linux.

    Why is it that everyone just assumes "market fragmentation" is bad? Why do they assume that GNU/Linux is going to follow the same old rules that the UNIX marketplace followed in the late '80s?

    Yeah, the UNIX market is fragmented with *BSD, SysV, AIX, IRIX, HP-UX, GNU/Linux, etc. ad infinitum.

    And yeah, the GNU/Linux market is fragmented, but so what? When 99% of your software will compile and run on your system regardless of the distro that you use, what does it matter? So PHBs get confused about which distro is "better," so what? PHBs shouldn't be deciding which distro to buy/download, the techies ought to be making those decisions. (Yeah, I know, most corporations don't work that way, neither does the one that currently has me enslaved.) Where is the evidence that a fragmented market is bad? I always thought the mantra was "choice [in the marketplace] is good for consumers?" If not, then why is everyone beating up on Microsoft?

    So, when you're consumer/choice oriented you call it "competition." When you're a big company whose competing in that marketplace of choice, you call it "market fragmentation."

    Of course, I can't fault Mr. Bruce for wishing Slackware [slashdot.org] had a 90% market share.

  • by speedbump (11624) on Thursday March 09, 2000 @08:08AM (#1215625)
    I started up my ISP business in 1993 using BSDI 1.1. We still have the original server we started with, and it is running BSDI 2.0. It is our primary domain name server, as well as our primary web server, and handles 10,000 emails a day, over 2 million web hits a month, 500 FTP sessions a day, and still runs mostly idle.

    Here's the specs on this server: Pentium 133 (yes, really!) with 64megs RAM. The SCSI-II card is an EISA bus dinosaur, but it works. Although we have PCI slots on the server, the operating system is old enough that they are not supported. This system is definately getting clunky enough that it is time for an upgrade. Even so, this server has stood the test of time, and delivered incredible value for that initial $495 that we paid for the OS.

    So I am working on bringing a new system online to replace the old warhorse. The new one is a Micron Netframe 3100, which sports dual Pentium III 450mhz CPUs, with 128MB RAM. The SCSI drives are alledgedly hot-swappable, but I haven't tested this capability yet. The operating system we have chosen is FreeBSD 3.3R, and here are the reasons:

    o BSDI's policy of licensing per-user has automatically eliminated their OS from consideration. Too bad, because I'd pay the cash for commercial support in a heartbeat, otherwise.

    o FreeBSD looks so much like BSDI that it is difficult to tell the difference. Our shell users (we've got a lot of those) need that compatibility.

    o Most of the applications we run are supported on both BSDI and FreeBSD. Stronghold, several shopping cart programs, and the like, are easy to port over.

    o We've been using FreeBSD for quite some time as well. In fact, we were using it before we started using Linux, and have never been sorry for that decision. FreeBSD really is one of the best server operating systems I've ever encountered, in terms of sheer bang for the buck performance, reliability, and ease of use.

    o Our customers can run Linux apps on the new server if they want to. We like that. We want to promote cross-pollination of the various UNIX camps, as much as possible.

    o FreeBSD isn't NT. 'Nuff said.

    The Walnut Creek merger with BSDI is the biggest news in FreeBSD land that has happened in quite some time. Since the people involved all assure us that FreeBSD remains free from corporate ownership, then the user community has nothing to fear. And this pre-emptive move by BSDI to pool resources bodes well on the public awareness front for this very worthy operating system.

    I look forward to the spread of FreeBSD, and if BSDI can get over this per-user licensing temporary insanity, then they will have my support, both verbal and monetary. The folks from Colorado Springs should be proud of their work, and I expect that they will produce more of the same.

  • by Admiral Burrito (11807) on Thursday March 09, 2000 @01:39PM (#1215626)

    According to IDC surveys of server operating systems, Linux is the only OS gaining marketshare, accounting for one in every four servers. According to the survey, NT is holding steady at 38%. All other operating systems have shown a steady decline in marketshare over the past 3 years of IDC's survey.
    When we look at the IDC marketshare numbers, the rationale behind the merger becomes clearer. Both FreeBSD and BSD/OS are competing for the same niche in that shrinking remaining segment. There just isn't enough of the pie to go around.

    Your "not enough pie to go around" statement implies that FreeBSD/BSDI usage is shrinking. It may be that FreeBSD/BSDI's growth is not proportional to market growth, or it may be that FreeBSD/BSDI is simply not (yet) a large enough percentage to get out of a shrinking "other" category (sorry, don't have the IDC survey handy to check that).

    I don't know about BSDI but I'm quite certain the FreeBSD usage is growing. FreeBSD's "piece of pie" is getting bigger regardless of whether or not it's getting bigger at the same rate as the whole pie. And FreeBSD's piece of pie is already large enough that nobody is going hungry.

  • by 348 (124012) on Thursday March 09, 2000 @04:47AM (#1215627) Homepage
    Interesting that he phrased the answer to who "Owns" BSD in this manner.

    FreeBSD is "owned" by the FreeBSD Project, which is made up of the core team, the committers, and all the other people who write the code. No company can ever own FreeBSD, anymore than a company can own Linux. The FreeBSD Foundation will be an independent non-profit organization. It will be controlled by a board of directors, which will contain some members of the core team. The Foundation and the core team are still separate entities going forward.

    Non-profit, not for profit's and foundations essentially mean that the company CAN be for profit, the not for profit part comes from the stipulation that the board members are not allowed to profit. With his answer he clearly and firmly syas the corporate structure surrounding FreeBSD is structured in such a way that it will keep FreeBSD free. The foundation of keeping it in the spirit of open source is firmly in place. Got to hand it to Walnut Creek et all, they seem to be doing everything right. Makes me wonder with models like this that obviously work, and work well, why do fly by nights' like LinuxOne keep driving down the wrong path. Reminds me of that far side cartoon with the Midville School for the Gifted. Has a guy trying to go in the front door, pushing real hard. Right above his head there is a big sign that says "Pull". Good to see that the folks behind FreeBSD are not pushing on the pull door.

Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed. -- Francis Bacon

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