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In Favor of FreeBSD On the Desktop 487

Posted by timothy
from the tricky-little-devil dept.
snydeq writes "Deep End's Paul Venezia wonders why more folks aren't using FreeBSD on the desktop. 'There used to be a saying — at least I've said it many times — that my workstations run Linux, my servers run FreeBSD. Sure, it's quicker to build a Linux box, do a "yum install x y z" and toss it out into the wild as a fully functional server, but the extra time required to really get a FreeBSD box tuned will come back in spades through performance and stability metrics. You'll get more out of the hardware, be that virtual or physical, than you will on a generic Linux binary installation.'"
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In Favor of FreeBSD On the Desktop

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  • by kriston (7886) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @09:33AM (#37984640) Homepage Journal

    Are you really suggesting that the time I spend will "come back in spades?"

    Sorry, but as a longtime FreeBSD user and having wasted days of my life getting the graphics card to work and then tuning every last parameter, I'll take Ubuntu or Fedora on my desktop, thanks.

    Sorry, but it's not worth the time and whatever "spades" you're getting paid pack in are 99% emotional, not physical.

  • Use Gentoo (Score:5, Informative)

    by doconnor (134648) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @09:44AM (#37984810) Homepage

    If you want your Operating System tuned and customized to your hardware can't you just use Gentoo Linux? Then you won't lose the benefits of the better support that Linux has.

  • by Sarten-X (1102295) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @09:50AM (#37984906) Homepage

    TFA only makes a passing mention of OS X, and doesn't acknowledge its presence on servers at all. TFA is really little more than an advertisement for FreeBSD over Linux, saying "Look! It's more stable and has better features!" while completely missing the point that Linux is stable enough for use and also has ample useful features of its own.

    Linux is used more than BSD because there are more available distros, meeting diverse needs without any configuration necessary. Professional support is more readily available, and in my limited experience, even hardware support is somewhat better.

    Personally, I think Apple servers don't have much market share because they're so damned expensive, and there's not much in the way of specialization.

  • Re:Flash (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @09:57AM (#37984978)

    I assume they still don't have it. Wake me up when that happens and I will use FreeBSD on the desktop.

    Your assumption is wrong. A simple search on the internet would have shown you that Flash works on FreeBSD, and it works for a while now (both 32 and 64bit). I've used it with Firefox and with Opera.

    See the handbook [freebsd.org].

    So, um... wake up lazy!

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @10:12AM (#37985178) Journal
    The fact that Apple has largely abandoned the server market, and is the only source of hardware on which OSX is blessed to run probably doesn't help.

    Yeah, you can get the "Mac Pro Server"(Oh Boy! you can by a rack shelf and then put two of them on it, for up to 4 whole sockets in 12Us! The bitchin' Radeon HD 5770(whose mini displayport and DVI outputs aren't compatible with my KVM gear) totally takes my mind off the fact that xserves would have done 24 sockets in the same space. Dual PSUs aren't an option; but does your shitbox dell server have bluetooth or S/P-DIF audio? Thought not...) or a "Mac Mini Server"(a server that supports up to 8GB of RAM, fuck yeah! Wait, you mean that "apple remote control" is the name of an attractive IR remote, not a LoM card? Shit, no wonder is seemed so cheap.)

    For many people's desktop requirements, the fact that Apple refuses to make a sucky-but-wildly-inexpensive tower isn't actually a huge deal. The server market is a whole lot less forgiving of deviations from reasonable form factors and common redundancy and management features...
  • by overlordofmu (1422163) <overlordofmu@gmail.com> on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @10:17AM (#37985256)
    Don't you know other people mock Gentoo?

    Sure, it works well for chumps like Facebook and the the NY Stock Exchange, but no one is using it for serious . . . um, wait . . . nevermind.
  • Re:m-( (Score:4, Informative)

    by TheRaven64 (641858) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @10:18AM (#37985260) Journal
    It's also nonsense. The ULE2 scheduler in FreeBSD has very good SMP support. Up to 8 cores, it gives a pretty linear speedup on the MySQL benchmarks I saw. Allegedly it should continue to scale well up to at least 64 cores, but I've not seen any real tests on bigger machines. This has been true since FreeBSD 7 [freebsd.org], although SMP performance improved a lot in the 8-9 window.
  • Re:m-( (Score:5, Informative)

    by the_humeister (922869) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @10:18AM (#37985274)

    Could you elaborate?

    I have an AMD 1090T (6 cores @ 3.2 GHz) that I've run FreeBSD 8.2 and Debian 7 on. I run Povray 3.7 [povray.org], which is multi-threaded (compared to the prior version which was not), on this machine and was testing out OSes. Using the latest gcc version for each OS (4.6), it turns out running on FreeBSD is about 15% faster than on Debian running the standard benchmark:

    FreeBSD 8.2, gcc 4.6, -march=barcelona

    Render Time:
        Photon Time: 0 hours 0 minutes 2 seconds (2.390 seconds)
                                using 9 thread(s) with 2.763 CPU-seconds total
        Radiosity Time: No radiosity
        Trace Time: 0 hours 3 minutes 10 seconds (190.466 seconds)
                                using 6 thread(s) with 1113.568 CPU-seconds total

    Debian 7.0, gcc 4.6.1, -march=barcelona

    Render Time:
        Photon Time: 0 hours 0 minutes 2 seconds (2.277 seconds)
                                using 9 thread(s) with 2.648 CPU-seconds total
        Radiosity Time: No radiosity
        Trace Time: 0 hours 3 minutes 38 seconds (218.326 seconds)
                                using 6 thread(s) with 1277.363 CPU-seconds total

  • Benchmarks (Score:4, Informative)

    by Chemisor (97276) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @10:20AM (#37985294)

    Sorry, but it's not worth the time and whatever "spades" you're getting paid pack in are 99% emotional, not physical.

    These benchmarks [phoronix.com] say that Linux is usually faster than any BSD flavor.

    As for stability, I can't find any definite stats on this. Personally, haven't seen a Linux crash since 1997, and that's a pretty damn long time.

  • by Nelson (1275) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @10:44AM (#37985658)

    Ubuntu (and it's variants) and OpenSuse are pretty damned good, it's literally minutes and you've got an integrated, modern KDE, or Unity or GNOME up and running. You want more software of security patches? It's just a couple clicks and you're there. Now if you had some concrete numbers on instability or performance numbers then you could talk about something, real numbers, not just hearsay.

    Thing is, I don't think you can find and interesting performance difference between Linux and FreeBSD, excluding the possibility that there might be a few pathological cases where one really out performs the other, and the Linux community is such that if you could produce a real benchmark, they'd invalidate it before too long and fix the performance problem. And from my own experience shipping products and running businesses on it, I don't think you could show a substantial difference in reliability. Now one thing I know you could measure the difference on is the amount of time managing them and I think Linux has a gigantic lead here.

    I'm not a BSD hater exactly, but they need a better story than they've had and they need a different sort of community. If you like oldskool like UNIX, real UNIX, then BSD is just the thing. If you want UNIXy like stuff with some more contemporary things (think upstart, systemd, I don't know a full desktop UI) then Linux is pretty clearly the choice. Now that newer stuff may not be what you want, I'm personally sort of surprised how well Linux does in the embedded world where a BSD might be far better suited in a multitude of ways. PCBSD is getting nice, it's still nowhere near the level of polish that Ubuntu is though. LLVM and Clang have finally provided them with a non-GCC build chain option, there has been a ton of cycles spent on GPL vs. BSD licenses and in this particular case, I don't see how BSD has benefited in those discussions, at the end of the day the difference fundamentally lets businesses do stuff and just not contribute it back. Maybe I'm wrong but while BSD was worrying about a build chain, Linux platforms were building GNOME and KDE and remarkably simple graphical installers and easy to use automatic patch systems and support for tons of hardware and the list goes on.

  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @10:50AM (#37985738) Journal
    No, BSD was UNIX when it contained AT&T UNIX code and AT&T owned the trademark. After the UCB vs AT&T lawsuit, BSD removed the last remaining traces of UNIX code and was not UNIX.
  • by musial (2448338) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @10:54AM (#37985768)
    "Note to all: Despite what you might read on Slashdot or other aggregators, this piece is about servers, not desktop FreeBSD use. Not sure how that got misconstrued, but I'm talking exclusively about server use. I haven't run *BSD on the desktop since 1998, hence my comment about Linux on the desktop and FreeBSD on the servers. "
  • by bonch (38532) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @11:38AM (#37986362)

    OS X runs on its own XNU kernel and driver model but incorporates various components of FreeBSD and NetBSD, such as the network stack. That layer of the operating system is referred to as Darwin.

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