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Wind River lays off FreeBSD developers; Q&A 397

Posted by Nik
from the been-here-before dept.
SidVicious and Intosi both wrote in with news that Wind River Systems (WRS), who had acquired BSDi's software assets earlier this year, including a team of FreeBSD developers, has laid off those developers. This has also been reported in other places, such as DaemonNews. This raises some interesting questions; for example, what happens to the "FreeBSD" trademark, which Wind River currently own. Read on for Wind River's answers to this and other questions.

In the interests of full disclosure. I'm also nik@freebsd.org, although not a WRS employee. I was employed by BSDi in Europe, before the European team were laid off as part of the WRS acquisition. These questions were answered by WindRiver's PR department.

Q: WRS has already been through two rounds of layoffs in the recent past. Why this third set of lay offs now? Are the FreeBSD developers the only ones affected?

Wind River has only had two rounds of layoffs. During the second round Wind River decided to divest itself of the FreeBSD project. We spent several weeks looking for a suitable corporate sponsor but did not find any company with sufficient interest and financial capability in this challenging economy. This week's layoff of the FreeBSD employees is therefore Wind River's "final option" in executing the plans set in motion by the second round of layoffs.

Q: WRS currently own the trademark "FreeBSD". Do WRS plan to retain the trademark? If so, why? If not, will WRS let the trademark lapse? Or are there plans to transfer it to a third party, such as the FreeBSD Foundation?

Wind River plans to ensure continuation of the altruistic, open stewardship of the FreeBSD trademark. We feel strongly that the FreeBSD project must be protected and encouraged and that a FreeBSD trademark in the wrong hands could be very detrimental. We continue to search for the best solution. No specific third-party has yet been determined, but transfer to a suitable third-party is the leading option being considered.

Q: WRS own the "bsd.com" domain. Will that be retained?

Possibly. Wind River will continue to invest in BSD/OS and participate as a highly interested member of the *BSD community. As such, the bsd.com domain may be important for Wind River. We are weighing this against the needs of the *BSD community and hope to resolve the issue later this month.

Q: What's happening to the "FreeBSD Mall", at freebsdmall.com?

freebsdmall.com continues to operate and take orders, and all new and existing orders from customers for FreeBSD 4.4 or other products will continue to be fulfilled. Wind River is still evaluating its long term options and strategy for the FreeBSD Mall, but plans to maintain its presence and service either internally or externally.

Q: As part of the BSDi acquisition, WRS will (presumably) have picked up customers who had subscribed to the BSDi CD sets of FreeBSD. Will WRS continue to service those customers, or are their subscriptions now cancelled?

Like all customer contracts, subscription orders will continue to be fulfilled.

Q: BSDi (and, it seemed, WRS) had made some headway in producing additional FreeBSD boxed products to go in to the retail channel. Will WRS continue to do this?

Wind River is currently continuing activities to promote FreeBSD 4.4 through the retail channel. Future FreeBSD releases will probably not be produced or distributed by Wind River.

Q: Will WRS continue to produce the usual 4 disc CD sets of FreeBSD, including one for the recently released FreeBSD 4.4?

Yes, for FreeBSD 4.4.

Q: WRS had been funding work on the FreeBSD Handbook, in order to print the second edition in the near future. [ Disclaimer, I'm co-editor of this work, along with your employee, Murray Stokely ] Will WRS continue with plans to print the second edition of the FreeBSD Handbook?

Wind River will encourage any stewards that emerge to take on FreeBSD publication to complete and publish this work.

Q: WRS houses the "FreeBSD Test Lab" at its Alameda campus. Will WRS continue to host this facility?

No. Some equipment from this lab will be transferred to Yahoo! which hosts much of the build structure equipment for FreeBSD, as well as the primary CVS source repository and main FreeBSD mail server. Wind River does not plan to maintain the FreeBSD test lab at its Alameda, CA headquarters.

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Wind River lays off FreeBSD developers; Q&A

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  • preface.. (Score:4, Funny)

    by terpia (28218) on Friday October 05, 2001 @04:57AM (#2391236) Homepage
    I would like to preface this by saying that *BSD is NOT dying.
    Thank you.

    • Agreed.

      I already saw troll postings saying BSD is dying.

      *sigh*

      When will people realise the importance of volunteer based in these projects?

      ObSidenote: I wouldn't label OP's post as funny.
      • Re:preface.. (Score:2, Interesting)

        by draxil (198788)
        Well it's, very hard for these well loved platforms to actually die die. Look at the Amiga nuts, there are STILL releases coming out (believe amiga classic os 3.9 or somesuch) even though the corpse is nearly a decade old, and who knows one day it may even come back to life in the form of this amiga one milarky (given some lightning perhaps)..

        And look at BSD in comparison and it's absolutly nowhere near death (strong (fanatical) user base, fairly open etc.). BSD will pull through, becuase there are still shed loads of people using it (and unlike those dedicated amigans you dont need any exotic hardward to run it). Ok you don't have the media honey status of linux but I really don't think that is going to stop the platform riding this out. Ok so a bunch of the developers need new jobs (I see this as the main problem, trademarks and getting people to press the CDs are really secondary concerns..) but with the likes of apple taking an interest in the BSD codebase I can't see that these coders arn't going to be of interest to someone..

        And I AM a linux person.. I have only ever installed it once exclaimed "oh thats nice" and then blatted it to make room for mp3s :). See we are not all that non-understanding.. Although to be quite honest what you guys really need is Debian BSD, see no corperate whoring no getting ripped off...

        • Re:preface.. (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          Actually, part of the reason why I used FBSD exclusively is to avoid trying to deal with or ask for help from Linux fanatics. You can call me a troll if you like, but the endless hypocrisy and general bad attitude shown by many of you has chased more than just me away from your favorite OS. I have no interest in being ridiculed for admitting that Linux is not the best choice for every job.

          Of course, there are more concrete reasons why I don't use Linux as well, but my dislike of the community that I would be forced to deal with is a big part of my allegance to the BSDs. The Debian zealots are by far the worst and I would almost rather watch FBSD die than have it absorbed into the circlejerk.

          So, no, I do not need a Debian BSD and, should it happen, I'm moving to Macs.

          At this point, you are required to hurl the "wow, you must be really thin-skinned" or "good riddance" remarks my way. Go ahead, it's not as though you can chase me away twice.

          • You can call me a troll if you like, but the endless hypocrisy and general bad attitude shown by many of you has chased more than just me away from your favorite OS. I have no interest in being ridiculed for admitting that Linux is not the best choice for every job.



            Along with the alleged security holes in glibc (which most fBSD wonks can't seem to point out, despite saying they're there), the "excessive code bloat" (c'mon, let's get real here. Let's look at hardware support in fBSD, then in Linux, and then we'll talk about the codebase size) the alleged poor performance of Linux 2.4 kernels (Sysadmin showed this to not be the case; Linux systems still outperform fBSD machines overall) and the alleged poor management of Linux development overall.



            Call it what you want, but I call it FUD.



            I have no interest in being ridiculed for admitting that Linux is not the best choice for every job.



            Agreed! However, I don't personally plan to start up a new Yahoo! so I don't need FreeBSD. For desktop machines, Linux outperforms FreeBSD. Sorry, but it's true. And yes, I've been an off-again, on-again FreeBSDer.



            Of course, there are more concrete reasons why I don't use Linux as well, but my dislike of the community that I would be forced to deal with is a big part of my allegance to the BSDs. The Debian zealots are by far the worst and I would almost rather watch FBSD die than have it absorbed into the circlejerk.



            For a real circlejerk, fire up your favorite IRC client, head for irc.linux.org (Openprojects) and hop into...#freebsd. Bonus if you get a kickban for asking questions about Linux compatibility (FreeBSD is not Linux!)



            And it's not just #freebsd on OPN. Daily Daemonnews, FreeBSD Diary, FreeBSDzine...you name it. Many of the stories I've seen either are about "oh look, we're so much l33ter than Linux" or are loaded with comments by people creaming their jeans over FreeBSD.



            And I didn't see people running to the press when a FreeBSDer stole code from the Linux kernel recently (bttv?) Apologists have even excused it ex post facto by stating that, hey, a Linux user stole BSD code without putting the required copyright notice on it (which has since been done, BTW.)



            Come on. Let's get real here. Community matters . . . to a certain extent. The general attitude of developers is what should matter the most. Heck, I recently became one of those Debian folks after having used FreeBSD for a few months. I don't miss it a bit, to tell you the truth.

        • and unlike those dedicated amigans you dont need any exotic hardward to run it

          No, but unlike the "dead" systems FreeBSD (and *BSD, and Linux) needs a certain amount of continued development just to keep it running.

          Why? Well the hardware keeps changing. Even if you don't care to support the cutting edge the trailing edge moves. ISA cards are nearly gone, so if you refused to support PCI you would be about dead now. AT keyboards are being phased out, so if you can't support USB keyboards you are going to have to soon. Intel recently announced that they want to get rid of floppies (following Apple's lead!), so if you can't boot of CD-ROM of ethernet to do the first install, well you have some work to do.

          Of corse FreeBSD can do all that, and there is no reason to believe that FreeBSD isn't going to keep up, but it is a good thing to remember that some effort is needed to keep even with a living hardware platform.

          FYI, I think NetBSD was the first to get a USB stack (before Linux), and was one of the first free OS (or the first) to run on x86-64 (under simulation). They have even less manpower then FreeBSD. Of corse their main goal is being "the most portable", so they have frameworks for new busses, and a strong desire to test them out.

          P.S. why pick on the amegians? There is still BSD 2.11, a full Unix for PDP-11 systems. That's right, 16 bit Unix shambles on, overlays and all.

  • Just wondering but after leaving a project like the ones these developers where do you guys think they will land. Gnome? IBM? RedHat? Some other branch of *BSD?

    Seems a waste of some talent, someone here has to have an idea where this level of development team would be headed.
    • Re:Layoffs. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Asmodai (13932) on Friday October 05, 2001 @05:12AM (#2391261) Homepage
      Your question is kind of irrelevant in a way.

      They will not land with gnome, ibm, redhat, or some other branch of BSD. They remain FreeBSD developers, do you really think they will change their aims and goals because they got laid off? They merely had a chance to work on it fulltime compared to the part-time contributions of the majority of us (yes I am a FreeBSD developer too).

      They will surely wind up in companies who can use their extensive skills and probably will still be heavily involved in BSD related issues at their next employer.

      And then again they may not.
  • I'd like to know.
    • by kkenn (83190) on Friday October 05, 2001 @05:17AM (#2391268)
      FreeBSD 4.5
    • Websites likes DaemonNews and other initiatives will offer CD-ROM sets and merchandise.
    • FreeBSD 5.0 is well into development, and will most likely be finished ...

      It seems relatively decent, with no obvious problems...

      It's somewhat disheartening to see this the same night I upped my box to 5.0...

      jeff@boris [2:53am] ~: uname -a
      FreeBSD boris.st.hmc.edu 5.0-CURRENT FreeBSD 5.0-CURRENT #0: Thu Oct 4 17:49:06 PDT 2001 root@boris.st.hmc.edu:/usr/obj/usr/src/sys/BORIS.5 .0.1 i386
  • What happens to "free" OS's when corporate greed^H^H^H^H^H financing (the so-called saviour) takes over? Corporations traditionally gut anything not making money - what's to become of the carcass?
  • This is sad...

    But how does this affect to the future of FreeBSD? The FreeBSD is, after all, an open source project and will continue to evolve with or without commercial support. Right?
    • Re:The future (Score:4, Informative)

      by Asmodai (13932) on Friday October 05, 2001 @05:37AM (#2391296) Homepage
      Correct.

      We have 5.0 standing for November 2002 [this was changed from November 2001 due to the fact that we weren't quite satisfied with the current state and thought things were missing].

      Until we release 5.0 in 2002 we continue to work on 4.x, so we will most likely see 4.5, 4.6, 4.7 and possible 4.8.

      Releases will very probably be going through DaemonNews, since it looked like WRS shows no interest of doing so after 4.4.

      So possibly all of you subscribers might want to look for a new distributor.
      • What I'm wondering is how working on 4.x and 5.0 at the same time will affect FreeBSD. Is most of the work being done on 5.0 independent of the work involved in 4.x++ ? I'm just hoping that FreeBSD working on 2 different streams at the same time doesn't significantly slow down progress.
        • FreeBSD follows a pretty standard development cycle, influenced by it's use of CVS.

          There is the main development trunk, known as -CURRENT (or -HEAD and -MAIN in CVS terms). This is where all the really cool new stuff goes and as a result may be unstable at any given moment. Most work goes into this main trunk. This is 5.0 right now.

          CVS allows branching of source. -CURRENT _used_ to be 4.0, but it progressed far enough to be -STABLE. A branch occured at that point, but -CURRENT continued growing straight up (becoming 5.0-CURRENT), and 4.X-STABLE started growing out to the side (just like a tree branch.)

          When something in -CURRENT has been well tested and is deemed to be stable enough, it's merged into the branch below it. This is how -STABLE continues to grow. The latest -STABLE has reached 4.4 now.

          CVS also supports tagging. It's primary use is to mark a snapshot of the CVS repository for -RELEASE.

          It's always been done this way, and many, many software projects are developed this way.

          This is unlike the Linux kernel development probably because Linus and friends don't use CVS (or if they do it's not public and it's not used in the same fashion.) Linux also has two different streams. The even numbered kernels are "stable", and the odd numbered kernels are "developmental". 2.2 used to be the stable branch, and 2.3 was the dev branch. 2.3 became the 2.4 stable branch, and 2.5 is now the dev branch. I only call them branches because I don't know what else to call them, not knowing how Linus actually manages source.
        • FreeBSD has worked this way for a long time.

          It works pretty well, because users and developers have differing and sometimes incompatible needs. Users need a stable operating system whose behavior they can predict. But for the operating system to move forward, sometimes large changes need to be made, and they can't be made stable and predictable without some time for debugging. So the developers need a "sandbox" where they can do what they have to do and not worry about destroying users' expectations of stability.
  • fsck (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Noryungi (70322) on Friday October 05, 2001 @05:33AM (#2391289) Homepage Journal
    OK, so it's bad news for FreeBSD.

    What I'd like WRS to do is this:
    • Transfer the trademark to the FreeBSD Foundation.
    • Let Walnut Creek become an independent CD-ROM reseller again (I think that small company was profitable before, but I may be mistaken) to ensure the independence of FreeBSD.
    • If they are really serious about FreeBSD, give some funding and bandwidth to the FreeBSD Foundation, and call for other large companies (Yahoo and Apple come to mind) to match their donation.


    In short, if they are *not* interested in FreeBSD, which seems to be the case, they should just let it be. As others have pointed out, Wind River was mainly interested in BSD/OS, the closed-source BSD. They have got what they wanted, so firing people makes sense... Unfortunately.

    • Apple as a sponsor would be a very interesting idea. It is common knowledge that much of the BSD in MacOS X is FreeBSD, so it would seem to be in Apple's favour to keep FreeBSD going. I would bet that most of the FreeBSD development in the past has been on the x86 platform, and these developers are not going to go out and buy Macs... the only way to keep the input comming into FreeBSD (and therefore MacOS) is to support FreeBSD (I Guess they could be using Darwin on x86???) How about closer links between FreeBSD and Darwin? Let's hope that FreeBSD keeps on moving forward somehow!
      • by pecka (31619)
        that's true, but the BSD in X is based on release 3.x with HUGE ammount of work done in NeXT. so i don't think that they're so much interested....maybe ripping few pieces here and there. but i think that the main concern in Apple right now is to polish the UI and add none-core features
    • by pecka (31619)
      ...i would like to see FreeBSD on MarsWRS is doing the RT computing stuff for NASA, you know.
    • Let Walnut Creek become an independent CD-ROM reseller again

      The days of Walnut Creek of over. It's sad but it's true. Back when everyone had a 14.4K connection to the internet, downloading FreeBSD, Slackware, CICA, Simtel, Hobbes, etc., was not feasible. They made their money because it was cheaper to buy the CDs than to download the software.

      The situation is much different now. The abundance of broadband connections and CD burners has changed the CDROM market. From the reports before the BSDi sale, Walnut Creek had been generating less and less revenue over the previous few years.

      There is still a market of "official" FreeBSD and Slackware sets, but I don't see that market driving a viable business. There needs to be other things driving revenue as well.
      • Re:fsck (Score:2, Informative)

        by SidVicious (148237)
        Well Being an ex Walnut Creek CDROM and a BSDi person, let me say this, Walnut Creek CDROM was near its end. We were not shure if we were even going to get paid, till Gary Jhonson, ex CEO, made advances to buy our company. It was a dead idea for the most part when the company was trying to expand beyond selling shareware and Freeware. To run such a staff, to press CD's there was no way the support for FreeBSD or Slackware could continue. Damn I miss those guys... Slackware that is...

        And to ansewr nvrrobx's question of Apple buying up the FreeBSD crew; Let me point out, Jordan Hubord, now works at apple, and let me also point out he cares about the people who worked under him at WC CDROM/BSDi/WRS, and I know of at least one possable "offer" there. Im sure there were others made also. I think its officaly under the Darwin Project, I donno, I don't keep tabs that much.

        I'm just a blabber mouth :P

  • PR Blabber (Score:5, Funny)

    by rjamestaylor (117847) <rjamestaylor@gmail.com> on Friday October 05, 2001 @06:02AM (#2391327) Homepage Journal
    Q: WRS had been funding work on the FreeBSD Handbook, in order to print the second edition in the near future. [ Disclaimer, I'm co-editor of this work, along with your employee, Murray Stokely ] Will WRS continue with plans to print the second edition of the FreeBSD Handbook?

    Wind River will encourage any stewards that emerge to take on FreeBSD publication to complete and publish this work.

    Typical PR blather in the answer to this question, which properly should have been, "No." Here's a translation/exposition:
    • Encourage
      Morally, not financially, support. As in, "Go for it! [aside: on your own dime]."
    • Stewards
      An unpaid volunteer; this term is used to appeal to ones altruism; see
      Sucker
    • that emerge
      The current arrangement is finished, something else will have to be arranged without our intervention (thus, "emerge" as if spontaneous)
    • complete and publish
      As far as we're concerned, this project is aborted. Have a nice day.

    Wind River: a fitting moniker for a company whose committment has dried up and blown away.

  • by Ami Ganguli (921) on Friday October 05, 2001 @06:10AM (#2391333) Homepage

    Ok, a silly question from somebody who doesn't really follow *BSD:

    Is there any chance of some consolidation in the *BSDs? I always thought it strange that there were three of them, but then I don't really know the history behind it.

    I'm all in favour of competition, but four free Unix-like OSs (Linux + 3 * BSD) does some a little much to me.

    • by Asmodai (13932) on Friday October 05, 2001 @06:34AM (#2391359) Homepage
      Please make sure you check your facts.

      FreeBSD, NetBSD and OpenBSD are operating systems and split off for various reasons and now serve their own niches.

      Linux is only a kernel. It becomes an operating system only due to the fact that people created their own distributions.

      And if we look at the distributions, there are over 100 distributions (at least).

      So ask yourself, which part is more ripe for consolidation then?
      • Linux is only a kernel


        Yeah and a hacker is only a skillful coder. Maybe in the strictest sense that's true, but do to popular use Linux is now an operating system. Although I agree with your point, there's no reason for consolidation, choice is the operative word, the more OS's that are available the better. And IMHO the more *nix OS's the better, 'specially since they're, for the most part, compatible with one another.

    • 3 BSD's isnt much if you compare to all the Linux "distributions" out there.
      • Not IMHO...

        If we'll take Apple which have OS X which is based of FreeBSD, should we call it BSX-OS X?

        Most of those distributions (190, whatever) are simply a spin of Redhat, Mandrake, SuSE or Debian with few tweaks, more/less packages. You csn use the packages yourself on your favorite linux distributions without any problem. It's not like when you're moving from Windows to Linux or vice versa...

        So whats your point?
    • by sql*kitten (1359) on Friday October 05, 2001 @07:17AM (#2391404)
      I always thought it strange that there were three of them

      Well, the most basic reason is that there are three different objectives, which aren't easily met in a single operating system:
      • FreeBSD is about the best possible performance on the x86, cross-platform capability is not very important.
      • NetBSD is about being able to compile on as many platforms as possible. This is more important than feature set or performance on a single platform.
      • OpenBSD is about correctness and hence security. I believe they are an offshoot of FreeBSD, but I could be mistaken. They might like cross-platform compatibility and performance, but these aren't the priority.


      BSD/OS is a proprietary implementation of BSD by Berkeley Software Design, who's name coincidentally enough has the same initials as Berkeley Standard Distribution. They're a commercial organization, so you get support etc. from them, whereas the others are ad-hoc. This doesn't mean there's no support and no product upgrading of course, just that they tend to proceed according to the developer's wishes rather than contractual obligations.
      • OpenBSD is an offshoot of NetBSD. Theo (lead developer for OBSD) had philosophical differences with the rest of NetBSD and thus started OpenBSD. OpenBSD being the most code-audited BSD with some good cross platform support as well.

        There is another small BSD offshoot in the name of emBSD [embsd.org]. It is a stripped down version of OpenBSD and its primary objective is to create a firewall and/or router using as little hardware as possible (ideally with not moving parts like a hard drive).

    • for free Unix-like OSes (Linux + 3 BSD)

      Sorry, there are 190+ Linuxes.

      The BSDs have carved out specific purposes for each other. OpenBSD wants 'security'. NetBSD wants portability. And FreeBSD wants to be the most useable on X86 processors via a combination of speed and a large number of packages.

      To get security, you have to limit what you run, and that is counter to useability. (Microsoft claims to be the most useable, and look at all their secuity problems) Portability can be an issue with a large number of packages.

      So:
      1) No merger of Net/Open/Free
      2) there is no Linux, there is over 190+ linuxes.
    • I don't think it's very likely that the BSDs will merge, but I believe I have noticed an increase in sharing of code and ideas between NetBSD and FreeBSD in the last couple of years. Needless to say, I think this is a Good Thing.
  • FreeBSD has met far greater challenges than this one (check out the history between 1.0 and 2.0 :)) and will continue to leverage a superior operating system.
    As i look through the commits, it seems development is even going faster than ever :D
    Cheer up guys, FreeBSD will overcome ;)
  • Hmm, this again. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 05, 2001 @07:01AM (#2391387)
    It seems to me like most of the things i've seen in the last couple years, especially in the game industry, have sounded like the following pattern:
    • Company of bright people gets bought by larger company.
    • Larger company fires everyone from smaller company.
    • Smaller company no longer exists, nor does their product nor whatever research they were doing.
    This just seems awfully wierd to me. It seems to me like you still have the same bunch of people open, aand they collectively have whatever money was used to buy them out; Why don't they just immediately reform back into the company they were? Sometimes there are intellectual property concerns, true, but not if the company subsisted primarily on research or if (like dynamix) they just got completely finished with a product and it was time to start on something else, or if their product is *cough* available under the BSD license. (Except it looks like what happened here was that there was a company that existed to create funding for FreeBSD, and a larger company bought it, took the bits that created funding, and stranded FreeBSD without either funding from them or funding from the funding mechanisms FreeBSD had created.. is this accurate?)

    I'm not sure what my question was. I'm just looking for comments on what seems like an odd issue to me, and wondering if anyone could try to show me why that if you're a small company with something actually sellable, it wouldn't at this point be a really foolish idea to trust another company enough to let them buy you. Given that you seem to have little proof that you're doing anything other than quietly signing your company out of existence after a three month grace period. I mean, if you just want to get rid of your products and logo, you could sell those things independently of the company itself.

    Unless the reason these companies actually get bought is that some larger company wants to destroy a smaller company before they innovate themselves into being a competitor.

    Unless the reason these companies get sold is that the CEO wants to quit, and he can get more money by steering the company into being sold than he can in a severance package.

    Someone closer to the industry want to explain to me what is happening here?
    • Re:Hmm, this again. (Score:2, Interesting)

      by wolpert (164907)
      Actually, this is not the same thing as you described. A brief history; Walnut Creak software hosted the FreeBSD development. It wasn't owned by Walnut Creak, but they helped by having a distribution site, et al. Of course, Walnut Creak also distributed version of Linux and other open-source software on the website and various CD sets.


      BSDi, having financial troubles (my opinion), tried to get on the open-source bandwagon by buying out Walnut Creak. This was, of course, in the time when having Linux in your product line allowed for huge market valuations. It didn't help them, though it tried.


      WRS decided it wanted more technology, and bought BSDi. I think they were interested more in embeded side of BSD/OS, as well as enlarging their customer base. Either way, the FreeBSD side of the house never fit their profile. At least, with BSDi, FreeBSD was based on the same source-base as BSD/OS. Namely, BSD. (Of course. :-)


      Either way, this won't stop development of FreeBSD, so it's not exactly what you described. Rather, this cause logisitical problems for a bit until a) the FreeBSD trademark issue is solved, and b) the future of their core servers and how the core members will continue their development is dealt with.


      Remember, the different is that this is still an open-source, community involved development project. If transmetal got bought-out and they fired Linus, it would not stop Linux. It would just change some of Linus's logistics. The principle is very similar here. (Except that core distributions were done by BSDi and Walnut creak. Core distributions are not done by Transmetal I believe.)

    • Many of these buyouts were done with dot-com magic fairy dust (i.e., now-worthless stock). For example, one buyout that I'm familiar with was 60% stock/40% cash. And yes, when the larger dot-com that did the buyout folded the smaller subsidiary, the founders *did* try to start operations back up again, but because various trademarks were owned by the company that did the buyout, they had to start up under a different name, and because they only got 40% cash, they didn't have enough cash to publicize and fully ramp up operations again. And of course the stock is now worthless.

      There are other such buy-outs that were virtually all-stock. With 1-year lock-ins so that the founders can't sell stock. With non-compete clauses in the contract. Etc. There's one word for those small company founders now that the stocks they were paid with are worthless: SCREWED.

  • by BMazurek (137285) on Friday October 05, 2001 @07:04AM (#2391389)
    freebsdmall.com continues to operate and take orders, and all new and existing orders from customers for FreeBSD 4.4 or other products will continue to be fulfilled

    Like all customer contracts, subscription orders will continue to be fulfilled.

    So, WRS has divested the majority of its expenses related to FreeBSD, but will still sell merchandise and profit from it. Anyone know if they plan to contribute financially to the project based upon revenues/profits from the CD sales? Let's Hope...

  • 100 or so unix gurus laid of at HP labs in NJ. X developers laid off from Wind River Systems. FreeBSD is dead and/or dying, HP/UX is dying, what is going to happen of the rest? Are these new employees skilled in unix-like OS programming going to move to other unix-likes? Windows? Mac (I guess technically a unix now)? Or will the the tumble merely continue, taking Solaris and linux, leaving Windows and the toy (Macintosh) standing?

    As an unemployed unix C programmer, I'm worried.

    • You should learn Visual Basic for Windows. The market for us is very robust, especially with such
      exciting MS techologies in the future.

      Oh, wait, nevermind, I am trolling again.

      :=]
      ]
    • Get a grip. :)

      First of all, BSD is not dying. In contrary it is growing.

      Personally having used HP-UX I found it a shame HP is moving to Linux instead of HP-UX [I thought progress was based on technical merit? Seems hype is winning. =( ].

      At this telco I work for our back-end systems will never switch to something like Windows. We have major uptimes on the Unix systems which the Windows machines cannot guarantee.

      I still foresee a very bright future since a lot of the people around me start to complain more and more about Windows and where we can push Unix by proclaiming its stability and less idiotic licensing costs, we often win the debate...

      Don't worry. :)
      • Re:HP/UX, FreeBSD (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Get a grip. :)

        Merely questions. Living in New Jersey and watching the market get flooded with really intelligent people who have the exact same skillset as I is scary.

        First of all, BSD is not dying. In contrary it is growing.

        My comment was that FreeBSD was dead and dying. It started when the lead programmer and cofounder left to go work for Apple. It continued when 5.0 was pushed back by a year. Now with this news, I think it's impossible to say that FreeBSD is not dying, and personally I consider it dead.

        Personally having used HP-UX I found it a shame HP is moving to Linux instead of HP-UX.

        Personally having seen the source code and defect lists of HP-UX, I disagree. HP-UX died when they went SMP. They fucked it up big time, and it took years to get it back under control. Years which were wasted as other unixes went ahead. Actually this was largely due to the BSD-style code which was in the kernel (Sys V was much easier to SMPize), but from the little I know about the FreeBSD kernel they didn't have nearly the same problems as HP-UX.

        At this telco I work for our back-end systems will never switch to something like Windows.

        Your telco could probably use FreeBSD 1.0. I'm talking about the future.

        I still foresee a very bright future since a lot of the people around me start to complain more and more about Windows and where we can push Unix by proclaiming its stability and less idiotic licensing costs, we often win the debate...

        NT is getting there. I completely agree that unix is a much better product, but so was Beta (vs. VHS). I'm sure that unix will stick around in some form or another. I know nothing about the NT kernel, but I would assume it has a more tightly coupled GUI, for instance, which would pretty much guarantee that unix will always perform better and be more stable. But I don't even know if that assumption is true, and performance at the kernel level is becoming less and less of an issue with these faster and faster machines.

        Don't worry. :)

        I'm not worried about unix so much as my own personal career. I'm confident that unix will be around for many many many years to come, but how big of a market it will have and how many people will be hired in it. Where are all these laid off people going to go? Let me know at least that so I can put in my application!

        • >Actually this was largely due to the BSD-style >code which was in the kernel (Sys V was much
          >easier to SMPize), but from the little I know
          >about the FreeBSD kernel they didn't have nearly
          >the same problems as HP-UX.

          Why is it every source I've ever seen are under the impression that HP-UX is (and has been) based on the AT&T codebase (originally SVR2 iirc, currently SVR3.2 with SVR4 extentions)? I would think that the HP/UX instructors and engineers wouldn't lie to me about such things.
        • Re:HP/UX, FreeBSD (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Mr. Slippery (47854)
          I completely agree that unix is a much better product, but so was Beta (vs. VHS). ...But I don't even know if that assumption is true, and performance at the kernel level is becoming less and less of an issue with these faster and faster machines.

          That's really only relevant for simple desktop boxes; there's a limit on how much power you can really use to run office software. For heavy-duty, interesting applications, more machine speed gets eaten up by more load. CPUs are getting faster, but that increase gets eaten up by projects getting larger. And faster CPUs don't help that an OS is unstable, insecure, and/or unsupportable.

          I'm pretty much a pure Unix geek [infamous.net]; I've never written a program on a Windows box. But even in this slow market, I get calls from recruiters a few times a month. Not as many as I did a year ago, but they're still calling. (Three times this week, in fact. If you're in Maryland, somebody's looking for a couple of AIX developers for a contract in Hunt Valley.) Unix is alive and well.

          Yes, many Unix developers are getting laid off. Guess what? So are Windows developers. So are chip designers, grocery clerks, and auto workers. The economy's in "bust" phase. Welcome to capitalism.

        • Re:HP/UX, FreeBSD (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Asmodai (13932) on Friday October 05, 2001 @09:26AM (#2391730) Homepage

          Merely questions.

          I know, and my comment was semi-joking, hence the smiley.

          My comment was that FreeBSD was dead and dying. It started when the lead programmer and cofounder left to go work for Apple. It continued when 5.0 was pushed back by a year. Now with this news, I think it's impossible to say that FreeBSD is not dying, and personally I consider it dead.

          If you think that one person is the thing which lets FreeBSD live or die then I must sadly conclude you have been comparing FreeBSD too much with Linux.

          FreeBSD, ever since I joined it about 2-3 years ago, and probably before that, the project didn't fall or rise with the come or leaving of one person.

          5.0 was pushed back because of a lot of the developers, including myself, requested this since we didn't believe in releasing a `product' which we found was not what we wanted it to be yet. And we now added KSE to the kernel, which is a major step forward.

          Your telco could probably use FreeBSD 1.0. I'm talking about the future.

          Funny remark. I foresee a wonderful career for you as psychic instead, since you are able to conjure up the systems we use here. :)

          NT is getting there.

          Out of there yes. At least in Europe I see less and less usage of Windows systems and the replacing of Windows systems --which ironically first replaced Unix systems-- by Unix systems again.

          Stability remains an issue and with the current licensing scheme introduced...

          I know nothing about the NT kernel, but I would assume it has a more tightly coupled GUI, for instance, which would pretty much guarantee that unix will always perform better and be more stable.

          Yes, NT has its graphical subsystem/driver in the kernel. Performance gain, likely, stability gain, not so likely.

          [...]and performance at the kernel level is becoming less and less of an issue with these faster and faster machines.

          If I can buy less state of the art hardware, speedwise, by having a kernel which is better designed and optimised and thus making good use of that hardware, I will. I am not going to counter a sloppy non-optimised kernel by buying mega-expensive hardware.

          I'm not worried about unix so much as my own personal career. I'm confident that unix will be around for many many many years to come, but how big of a market it will have and how many people will be hired in it.

          I think it will remain big. I have had no problems finding new Unix related jobs in the last year (switched jobs twice). Granted, that's Europe.

          Where are all these laid off people going to go? Let me know at least that so I can put in my application!

          Assuming you are referring to the, now, ex-WRS employees. I know some are busy on their own businesses, already heard some other FreeBSD developers offering them jobs since they know their skillset and the company they work for can use people like that. And others are just looking through the wanted ads. So it basically looks like whatever any person does when they get fired/laid off.

          • Re:HP/UX, FreeBSD (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            If you think that one person is the thing which lets FreeBSD live or die then I must sadly conclude you have been comparing FreeBSD too much with Linux.

            I don't believe that projects can survive without a strong central leader. I think there needs to be a central vision, and a decision maker to stop the differences of opinion from being something which is battled out over time. When 50% of the developers want to see FreeBSD go in one direction, and 50% of the developers want to see something else, you need a leader to tell 50% of the people to submit to the other 50% for the sake of the project.

            Yes, NT has its graphical subsystem/driver in the kernel. Performance gain, likely, stability gain, not so likely.

            Performance gain for the graphical applications, perhaps, but at best no effect on nongraphical applications, and more likely a detriment in performance on nongraphical applications. I'm on your side on that one.

            Funny remark. I foresee a wonderful career for you as psychic instead, since you are able to conjure up the systems we use here. :)

            True, true. But I can't let you get away with saying "unix works better for my telco" if you're not going to back up why. :)

            If I can buy less state of the art hardware, speedwise, by having a kernel which is better designed and optimised and thus making good use of that hardware, I will. I am not going to counter a sloppy non-optimised kernel by buying mega-expensive hardware.

            I'm not talking about mega-expensive hardware. Most mega-expensive hardware is built for non-microsoft operating systems anyway. And my point is that most of the performance gains in your low-end hardware is used by the applications, not by the kernel. Kernel CPU usage is growing linearly while CPU speeds are growing exponentially. As a result it is becoming much more important how well your applications are written, and much less important how the kernel is written. The most important factor in this is probably going to be marketing related. What OS system calls are the really smart programmers learning in college? Right now it's probably unix, but this could change, and that would be devestating.

            Assuming you are referring to the, now, ex-WRS employees [....] it basically looks like whatever any person does when they get fired/laid off.

            Well, I was more referring to the ex-HP employees, since I happen to live in NJ myself. And looking through job listings in this area, there is very little in the way of software companies using C/Unix. There are plenty of financial companies and other specific uses, and of course there are a ton of sysadmin openings, but personally I'm not so interested in writing software that's only going to be used by a single company. I'll do it for a few years, while the economy is tight, if I must, but if this is more permanent I'm going to have to consider either moving cross country, reeducating myself in Windows programming, or changing careers even more dramatically. I'm only a few years out of college, so starting my own business (presumably consulting) is not really an option. There's too much fear of us younger folk in these crazy economic times.

            • JKH didn't "leave" FreeBSD any more than Jeremy Allison "left" SAMBA when VALinux laid him off. Nor any more than Linus "left" Linux when he went to work for Transmeta.

              Apparently much of the open source community has no idea how open source projects actually function. Anyone who reads the FreeBSD mailing lists has seen major FreeBSD developers change jobs many times without losing their commitment to the project.
    • If you look at the OSes available right now, you see two basic types, the Microsoft supplied stuff, and the UNIX and UNIX-like types. Yes, there are others, like OS/2, Novell, etc, but the UN*X and Windows OSes have to distinct differences, each with a real strength. Microsoft's is that they've managed to get in the sweet spot as far as licensing and distribution goes, with almost all NEW computers getting their OSes. In turn, people learn to use their OSes first, and those who aren't willing to relearn something, especially something harder, won't change OSes. the UN*X OSes enjoy a different benefit, and one that helps for those who ARE willing to try something new, and that is that many are FREE. I didn't have to go pay $199.99 for my first copy of Slackware, and that gave me something that I could legitimately and legally toy with and not have to worry about cutting a check for each upgrade.

      With Apple adopting OSX (which I'm pretty damn sure is pronounced oh-ess-ecks), they've somewhat changed the playing field. One can now have a fairly decent UNIX OS behind the pretty graphics, and never actually have to touch the harder stuff IF one doesn't want to. I had the opportunity to play with the Darwin core for x86 for quite a while at my previous job, and it was not a bad piece of work. There were several things that were a pain, but I never had anything actually crash or die, as well it shouldn't.

      I think that the smartest thing that Apple could do would be to release a full version of OSX for the PC. Granted, it would require a lot of work to get it to work with all of the PC hardware that is on the market at the moment, but at the same time, if they could work things out with a large vendor, like Dell or Compaq or HP or something, they could build a standard configuration that would be easily supported, and they could release lists of verified hardware. It would take a lot of work to get that far, but I think it would be worth it, and with the success that I've had with Linux as my desktop, I'd be more than willing to test out another UNIX (functionality-wise) for a different desktop, especially one that was designed for easy to use features. Hopefully, someone will realise this and do it.
      • It's pronounced "Oh Ess Ten".

        Apple is a profitable hardware manufacturer. It's no coincidence that none of the people calling for them to port OS X to the PC are Apple stockholders. It would be fiscal suicide.
      • I think that the smartest thing that Apple could do would be to release a full version of OSX for the PC.

        Smartest thing for whom?

        Keep in mind that Darwin/x86 currently doesn't support VIA or AMD motherboards, and doesn't support IDE hard drives. They've got a loooong way to go before it's ready for the market.
    • Note that HP has actually moved much HP/UX development offshore to India. I have no idea what their long-term commitment is to HP/UX, but it's pretty clear that for the short term it has not been "abandoned" as you suggest.

      Regarding Linux, probably 60-75% of Linux originates overseas with part-time developers. Virtually all of KDE, QT, major subsystems of the Linux kernel, etc. were developed overseas. These people are unlikely to quit developing Linux just because a few American dot-coms go bust. For that matter, I no longer work for a Linux company myself, and still fix the occasional bugs that are found with the software I support (or with hardware that it drives, which sometimes requires the software to be hacked to make a certain piece of brain dead hardware work :-(. )

  • Stability (Score:2, Insightful)

    by aozilla (133143)

    This makes little sense to me. The whole beauty of FreeBSD vs. Linux (to me) was the simplicity. I didn't want distros and rpms and a gui install and all the other crap that came with Linux when I was installing a server. How hard would it be to just maintain the current tree and work only on the really important server features, bug fixes, and essential drivers?


    I suggest the FreeBSD community forks FreeBSD, GPLs it (possibly with a modified GPL to support the advertising clause, where necessary), and then continues to maintain FreeBSD by porting new Linux drivers, fixing bugs, and if there's enough manpower, adding server-only features/performance enhancements. Yahoo used to run a lot of FreeBSD machines. I assume they still do. Yahoo combining efforts with the FreeBSD community (utilizing the GPL to try to coax a little more sharing) could do it.


    I'm going to look into how realistic this (forking and GPLing) would be right after I finish hitting submit.

    • Re:Stability (Score:3, Insightful)

      by agshekeloh (67349)
      When I started using FreeBSD in 1995, they were in worse shape than they are now. No commercial support at all, except for one little server donated by Walnut Creek. The FAQ was scary. IIRC, there was no Handbook. And they *still* kicked butt over anything else out there.

      And GPLing is not at all necessary. Or desired. Many BSD developers consider the GPL less free than the BSD license. If all your BSD expertise is not interested in GPL'd work, where would you get developers from?

      This is a setback, but nothing more. Times have been hard before. They have been good before. They will be both, again and again.
    • How hard would it be to just maintain the current tree and work only on the really important server features, bug fixes, and essential drivers?

      Pretty trivial, since over 99% of the people working on FreeBSD were not WRS employees, and thus are still working wherever they were working last week.

      The hardest part would be getting them to stop work on 5.0, halting work on less important features, and giving up on making the nonessential drivers work. :-)

      I suggest the FreeBSD community forks FreeBSD, GPLs it (possibly with a modified GPL to support the advertising clause, where necessary)

      That would be a lot harder. Legally it is easy, however many of the current developers would not be interested since they like the existing license for business reasons, or moral reasons, or just plain stuburness. Loss of those people would hurt a lot.

      P.S. the advertising clause has been gone for quite a while.

  • suitable corporate sponsor but did not find any company with sufficient interest and financial capability in this challenging economy.

    Ummm Isnt Apple's OSX built on FreeBSD?

    Ahhh the trappings of the BSD license, you do the work - someone else makes money by stealing it.

    • Ummm Isnt Apple's OSX built on FreeBSD?

      Ahhh the trappings of the BSD license, you do the work - someone else makes money by stealing it.

      The point of the license is that it *wasn't* stolen.

      You many not agree with the author's choices in licenses but please don't accuse others or make up stories. The authors determined what license best fit their needs and goals and Apple used it accordingly.

      It's to Apple's credit that they've since maintained an Open Source distribution [apple.com] of this along with paying for engineers to port it to a platform they're not on, hosting the web-site, and keeping it current with their commercial distribution.

      Disagreement is a fair thing, misinformation and calumny are not.

      Note: You are perfectly free to choose whatever license you like when/if you produce something.

    • by jacrawf (691)
      Ahhh the trappings of the BSD license, you do the work - someone else makes money by stealing it.

      *shrug* Some people just believe that freedom shouldn't come at the cost of coercion. They believe that their code is as free as it can ever be; and they are right. The code they have written is, indeed, freely available to the entire world. Does that necessarily have to mean that the code someone else writes has to be as well? Should it not be that other person's choice as to whether they want to release their own sweat and blood upon the world in whatever form they choose?

      You see, to put it very simply, it boils down to where you want your freedoms to lay. People who choose licenses such as the GNU's General Public License believe that the code should be free, as though it somehow has rights. Or maybe it's just a control issue. "I wrote that code and you have to do what I say if you want to use it! Don't like it? TOUGH! Write you own code then, infidel!"

      However, people who choose less restrictive licenses like the BSD license care more about the freedom of the people who write the code. Those folks believe that if you write code, you should get to say what can be done with it, even if that code cannot stand on it's own as part of a separate program. Their code is their gift to the world, and nothing can lessen that gift -- no, not even incorporating their code into a proprietary, closed program. They're glad that that person or company could make good use of what they had written. (And who knows; when the money starts getting thin and the coder needs employment, how much do you want to bet the company who used her code will be a little more eager to give her a job?)

      So, is your free software truly free?

    • by scrytch (9198) <chuck@myrealbox.com> on Friday October 05, 2001 @11:41AM (#2392274)
      Ahhh the trappings of the BSD license, you do the work - someone else makes money by stealing it.

      And releases it as Darwin. But otherwise, yeah you're right. Look at what happened to Apache and X without the protection of the GPL, they're just in the dustbin of history now, aren't they?
    • OS X uses some code from FreeBSD, but it's not "build on FreeBSD" in the sense that Win 3.1 was built on DOS.

      As others pointed out, the whole point of the BSD license is that the contributors are philosophically happy with having their code used in commercial products.

      Man, the clueless Linux bigots are really out in force today.
    • There once has 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."
  • Idiots (Score:3, Funny)

    by mosch (204) on Friday October 05, 2001 @07:48AM (#2391445) Homepage
    Idiots and trolls, please post your 'FreeBSD is dying' messages here, so that they may be summarily ignored.
  • I wish I could say I was surprised by this turn of events, but having the misfortune of dealing with WRS professionally, I cannot. My experience with WRS has been pretty dismal - of the 10 severe problems I've had with their products, their FAEs have solved only 1 for me; all others I have either had to live with or have solved myself. The company I work for has been told "Y'know that version of VxWorks you have licensed? Well, we aren't going to support it anymore, but you still have to pay us for a service contract if you want to continue to ship. Oh, and you will STILL have to pay us a per-unit license fee on top of that. But don't call us with any problems."

    When they bought BSD I really wondered what they were thinking, as I was at a loss to see how BSD fit into their corporate strategy. The BSD kernel is much more competent than the VxWorks kernel, but being Free Software there is little value added from WRS - I can just embed BSD and avoid dealing with WRS. If they had a good history of decent board support packages I might see where they would be of value to me, but given how poorly they've supported VxWorks with BSPs, I have little confidence they would really have a benefit for their support.

    Now, had WRS been able to buy Cygnus before RedHat, that would have made sense - Tornado (Wind River's VxWorks development package) uses the GCC toolchain, so owning the primary developers for GCC would have made sense. But I cannot see where the advantage to owning BSD is to WRS.

    However, this just goes to show the power of Free Software - while WRS may screw up BSD.COM, they can never kill BSD.

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