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Which BSD? 368

Posted by Cliff
from the choices-choices-choices dept.
Poodle Fang asks: "After using Linux for a few years, I am now interested in trying out the free x86 BSDs. I have been reading that OpenBSD is focused on security and FreeBSD on performance, but is there really much of a difference in security and performance among the BSDs? Do any of the BSDs have any features that sets it apart from the others (for example, does one work better on laptops than the others?) How well do the Linux emulation libraries work? I am more concerned in the performance, stability and security than packaging or an easy install process. Any insights would be appreciated! "
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Which BSD?

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  • by Signal 11 (7608) on Wednesday October 27, 1999 @06:39PM (#1582311)
    If you're new to the *BSDs, the usual recommendation is FreeBSD due to it's broad hardware support, user support, and ease of installation.

    Each BSD has it's own goals - OpenBSD for example aims to be the "secure" BSD, and is designed package by package to make sure the l335 h4x0rs out there would rather pull their fingernails out than try to bypass the security safeguards on your box.

    Sooooo... maybe it might be better if you told us what you're looking for- you've asked a really open-ended question!


  • by snopes (27370)
    I'm not an expert on BSD, but here's your basic breakdown:
    386BSD - was the original 'PC' unix
    from that grew:
    FreeBSD - continue a focus on i386
    NetBSD - main focus being platform proliferation (they support everything, though I don't know about laptops)
    OpenBSD - a fairly recent splinter form /Free|Net/BSD. Very significant security features, though I'm not sure how they affect usability.

    As a general rule you'll find the BSD's more server focused than Linux (big generalization, but it holds up some). Drivers are always there weak point, but check the Slashdot BSD section for sites that help you locate what you need.
  • If I could give any advice, it would not to go with the commercial BSD, BSDi. It's a royal pain in the ass on whatever you want to compile, and even worse to setup with a network - if you don't know what your doing.

    However, this can be argued for any distro, but still.. I believe BSDi to be the worst in that category - it's simply nasty.

    Stick with FreeBSD, it's stable, nice, and don't forget free.

  • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot AT hackish DOT org> on Wednesday October 27, 1999 @06:43PM (#1582315)
    Well, it's not really emulation. It works perfectly, and pretty much runs Linux binaries as native binaries. It runs them about as fast as (or in some cases faster than) a Linux system.

    As for the differences, FreeBSD supports more x86 hardware generally, while NetBSD supports more architectures. OpenBSD has better out-of-the-box security, but all the BSDs are quite good in security with a bit of tweaking and configuring. It mostly seems to be a matter of personal preference, though most home desktop users tend to pick FreeBSD.
  • I have a confession to make.

    I run Windows98.

    I know, I know. But I feel this is the appropriate time to come out of the closet.

    So, I ask: Is *BSD as easy/hard to learn as Linux? Can I/ Should I start with FreeBSD?

    This isn't meant to start a flamewar, of course. I'm just curious.

    p.s. If you'd like to help in the "Drive to get jawad off of Windows": EMail me at or Thank you.

  • by FauxPasIII (75900) on Wednesday October 27, 1999 @06:45PM (#1582318)
    Here's how I understand it.

    OpenBSD has undergone a line-by-line professional security audit. It is focused entirely on security.
    FreeBSD is the most mature of the BSDs on the i386 platform. It focuses mostly on that platform, although I believe that there is a sparc port as well now.
    NetBSD's hook is that it is ported to everything including the kitchen sink. It ran well on the Vaxen and the Apollos that I came across not so long ago. ;-)

    Based on user testimonial, the linux Binary emulation is extremely good for anything that isn't specifically tied to the kernel. i.e. you can't load kernel modules. I've seen somebody run StarOffice 5.0 on OpenBSD using the emulation.

    I'm installing OpenBSD on a 486 tonite, so maybe I'll follow up with some more first-hand info soon. ;-)
  • I have been using Linux (on and off) for a couple of years now and have been wondering the same thing. I decided to dive in and ordered FreeBSD from CheapBytes. I have to say that I was fairly impressed, but the fun wasn't over yet. After getting FreeBSD going on my desktop, and getting most of my Hardware going (haven't got my ppp up yet) i decided to check out openbsd and put on the Dell Inspiron 7000 that i'm using now. I downloaded OpenBSD yesterday and burnt a CD of it this afternoon. I was installing it up into a minute ago when I got lost on using openbsd's fdisk implementation. Well, I'm off to track down some OpenBSD install tips. Later, and Happy BSDing
  • ....this sounds like someone compiled a guided flamer program on their OpenBSD system. :) If you replace FreeBSP in the above message with the name of your favourite politician, it's almost exactly the same as you'd find in your generic alt.rec.flamewars. Whoever moderated this up as informative should have read it first. Thanks, Rob. I'm liking M^2 more and more.

  • correct me if i'm wrong, but isn't that Renslaer(sp?) Polytechnic Institute? You should be able to get a local Unix guru to help you out.
  • Nope on *BSD for your first time, unless you like it really *rough*. :)

    I'd recommend RedHat, Mandrake or Caldera for your first open source OS. Multi-boot with these are much easier to setup than the *BSD releases.

    But why not try em all? Check out Cheapbytes [] and order the CDs. Probably about $30 for the ones I mentioned.

    Oh. Backup your data. Win98 doesn't like to share partition tables with other operating systems.

  • by mr (88570)
    FreeBSD - optimized for X86 op-code processors
    OpenBSD - The line by line security audit gives it a claim to security. Security, however is what one makes of it on thier box.
    NetBSD - likes running on as many different platforms as possible. From x86 to toasters to dreamcasts. And, the NetBSD developers have been cast by others as as giving a damn about hacking an OS, not trying to peddle one.

    FreeBSD is prob. the best bet for x86. Only because that was the original focus.

    Linux emulation on FreeBSD has worked on every program I have tried...but that is hardly useful praise.

    For stability, FreeBSD gets the nod, only because you can point to Yahoo and and go, yup, yup, lotsa uptime, lotsa traffic. (for most purposes almost any modern Unix-like OS will be stable enough for most people) I'm sure the defenders of the Net and OpenBSD will submit big net/open BSD sites. (just like if one said RedHat was used on the biggest, a swarm of SUSE would point out big SUSE sites)
  • This sounds very much like some politician's speach slamming something, though I have no idea what. There's lots of big words in there but no real content. You don't explain your point of view, just pour forth a lot of emotional rhetoric.

    The more I think about it (and go over your posting), the more it looks like to took somebodies speach and did a search and replace on it. If so, I guess you're trying to show that the speach can be applied to anything producing the same value (ie, none).

  • Okay, assuming you aren't familiar with the BSD-style of doing things (if you're a programmer - buy stock in Tylenol now).. there's alot of minor things that can get you shooting yourself in the foot in no time. Some things are just plain unintuitive - to use a somewhat related-yet-unrelated example, have you ever run "killall" on a solaris box thinking it acted the same way it did under linux? Well, unlike the linux version, solaris will happily kill everything just like you told it to!. The sysadmin was none-too-pleased after his carefully tuned box suddently coredumped a half-dozen programs and warm-booted. :\

    BSD is kinda the same thing - for example your wonderful GNU-enhanced utilities no longer have those extensions... which can make life difficult for awhile until you figure out why a perfectly good command doesn't work anymore... there's other stuff too... best advice I can offer - if you're taking the plunge for the first time, be sure to RTFM, or you'll be bald by next tuesday.

    On the plus side, the BSD stuff has alot of cool features you just can't find under linux - especially the filesystem stuff. The immutable flag is a very good way of tripping up crackers, and the bsd-style kind of file creation is to make the file creator's group match what the directories group is set to. Very nice, b/c I hate doing the find/grep/chown dance twenty times a day *muttering* ....

    If I haven't scared you off, take the plunge, but maintain a rigorous backup policy for the good of thy karma. You DO have backups, right? >:) ~ The BOFH


  • I know this guy. He's the type of person who likes to make himself seem much smarter than he really is. He will write twice as much as he needs to on assignments (I'm in college), and he will say things in class with a very thoughtful voice, and no depth of thought.

    So, one day I was talking with a friend about BSD, and how I wanted to try it out. This person I know just happenned to be sitting nearby and jumped in. He said that FreeBSD was the most secure and that OpenBSD was the most compatible. I asked him to elaborate on this compatibility thing, and he said "Well... I think... OpenBSD can run C++ programs." Instantly I lost all respect for him. I inquired further, and he said "yes, it can run Microsoft C++ programs, and the other BSD's can't."

    Moral of the story: If you don't know, shut up already! :) (not refering to anyone who has posted here)

  • by JeffI (87909)
    Not to long ago I was in much the same position as yourself. There has been quite a bit said already, personally I am using FBSD for my servers and OBSD for the firewall/router. I would use NetBSD if I had some (more) obscure hardware other than x86. Well nevertheless, here is a url that I have found to have good links, and some up to the minute BSD news. Daemon News []. Now all will be great if slashdot keeps up with the BSD news as much as the Linux stuff.
  • You should start with linux; the sheer number of new users it is gaining means that information geared to the new user level is abundant. This isn't saying anything bad about the *BSDs available ... its just that linux is easier to start with. And what you learn will help you figure out a *BSD when you eventually do decide to try one. I'm currently trying to figure out how to mount volumes with openBSD; I know, I know, 'man mount' but whatever I try doesn't work! Linux is easy to start with compared to the *BSDs. I recommend the Red Hat distribution to begin with if you are pretty new to computers - it easily installs. If you've been playing with these beasties since 1983 (like me) then go for Slackware as it installs less junk on your hdd. STAY AWAY from Debian if you are a new user, unless you live in a country where it is dark and snows for 8 months of the year and you can lock yourself in your room. I haven't tried Caldera, Turbo linux etc. etc., but you really can't go far wrong as a new linux user if you pick Red Hat. It takes a while to get into linux if you switch straight from windows and you've never had any dos experience; and if you have any subtly broken hardware (like I did when I first installed linux) then you'll find out about it when linux crashes! Linux uses hardware more intensively than windows, but you shouldn't have much to worry about. Good luck!
  • Since you're looking for this to be a desktop OS, I'd put my vote on FreeBSD. It's ports system is very cool, it's rather easy to configure, and it's probably just as secure as OpenBSD once you turn everything off (have you ever seen a Linux box running no services and no extra kernel features get cracked? Same goes for any decent OS that doesn't put a HTTP server into it's kernel)

    I've used FreeBSD (not too much though), and unfortunatley I couldn't get a DHCP client to work, and if it weren't for that I may be running it right now instead of Linux.
  • Don't try to do anything too exotic though... the "emulation" isn't flawless... and some things may break in strange ways .. I wouldn't want to try to run something like "fbcon" or anything that does direct I/O..

    Any kernel dev people here (I know you're out there, step forward and be counted!) care to comment on the current state of the art right now on this front?


  • by Malcontent (40834) on Wednesday October 27, 1999 @07:05PM (#1582347)
    FreeBSD is most definately not for beginners. If you are a win98 user go get yourself a copy of caldera 2.3. Pop the CD into your drive and less then a half hour later you will have a nice, slick linux system that you can play around with. Keep your win98 partition for running your current apps and try the apps in Linux. After using both of them for a while you may prefer linux. If you don't prefer it just wipe it out and all you are out is $30.00. I would recommend against getting a cheap bytes version unless you also buy some application CDs too. The commercial Caldera box comes with both Star office and Applixware and you can try them out to see if you like them.Most people use a computer mainly for word processing, spreadsheets, email and web browsing. You will find Linux very good at these functions.
    If you have a fairly fast internet connection you can also download some images and do an over the internet install of RH6.1. Then go visit Anywhere office [] from applix and you can use their java based office suite for free. I think you will find it more then adequate for most of your needs.
    Whereever you are there is probably a Linux users group, go to one of the meetings and you will find lots of friendly knowledgable people who are just dying to help you out. Good luck and welcome to the adventure.
  • No, I disagree! Some are easier than others due to the style of documentation available and the community behind it.
  • The BSDs are great for servers, their perfromance is excellent, and they have alright high end hardware support.

    However, if you are using this computer as your personal workstation i would highly recomend staying with Linux. Its overall environment seem better polished and more usable. It is not difficult to get around the problems of the BSD's, however they are annoying. The ports collection is invalualuable to almost anyone on all three of them.

    Between the three BSD's, I have found openBSD to be the best. It not only is super secure, but it gets around many of the newsences of freeBSD. It's hardware support is excellent, i have found drivers for many devices that would not work under freeBSD or Linux. I also found the installation of openBSD was much nicer, however i have done many i386 unix installation, so i knew what i was doing.

    In my network which is mixed commercial unix(mostly solaris), Win 95/NT, *BSD, linux, i use freebsd on intranet servers (excellent NFS), openBSD on the internet servers, and Linux on the rest.

    If you have never used unix, i would highly recomend Linux, Redhat, SuSE, or any commercial package will work great.
  • by Above (100351) on Wednesday October 27, 1999 @07:06PM (#1582351)

    Everyone will have a different opinion, and they are all right. I'm going to offer my FreeBSD-slanted opinion as one view.


    Coke, original formula. Hard to argue with that. NetBSD has a long and noble history. The NetBSD team does a great job of covering the hardware world. No, not the WinTel hardware world, that's Linux. They cover platforms. By running on so many platforms it is a great platform if you have a lot of different (and/or old :-) sorts of hardware. Unfortunately, it is this platform compatability that slows their progress.

    I have nothing bad to say about NetBSD. unfortunately, I have nothing good (feature wise) to say about it when it comes to getting real work done. Anything you buy these days has "better" choices that run on it. I will continue to be a big NetBSD supporter though, as it's the only choices for some of my older machines that still deserve a real operating system.


    I'd tell you about it, but then I would have to kill you. :-) Actually, it's not that bad. OpenBSD is security focused, and so they do go a few extra steps in that direction. About 60% of what they do can be done on NetBSD simply by intelligently securing the box. The other 40% is good security add on work.

    Most of the good stuff the OpenBSD folks come up with make it into the other BSD's and Linux shortly afterwards, although not all. I'm not sure on security alone OpenBSD is "better", assuming you have a clueful admin who understands the issues.

    IMHO the best thing for the BSD community is if the OpenBSD guys and the NetBSD guys could get together. Unfortunately, the inability to do that is the very reason they are apart.


    The FreeBSD folks want to get real work done. Early on, that resulted in an Intel focus, as that was the only affordable platform available. Now the Alpha is included, and hopefully more soon. When they day is done though they are interested in bang-for-the buck, not on RC5 or quake, but applications like web, ftp, and news. Bread and butter network stuff, rooted deep in the Unix world.

    This shows in several places. The VM subsystem they implemented several years back was one of the first of it's kind in the free OS world. The port subsystem is an efficient way to distribute and build tools that may still have compile-time dependancies and configuration without creating a packaging nightmare. The installer is simple, clean, fast, and good for the novice and the expert.

    Put simply, FreeBSD makes the admin and the machine the most productive when trying to do Internet application "stuff".


    I'll offer my Linux opinion, to complete my perspective. Linux wants to be everything to everybody. As such, it supports more "options" to everything. There are more device drivers, more supported file systems, and more "applications" than any other free unix. In many cases, this is good, but when it comes to getting real work done, it is questionable at best.

    The quality of both some of the "supported" hardware and the drivers are to be questioned, but how are you to know what is good, and what is bad? The releases are more frequent, both to fix bugs, and introduce features. There are often all sorts of new things added you don't need that may affect what you're trying to do.


    Any of them will probably do what you want. All of the BSD's have a very different structure than Linux, not only in code, but in how they are designed, built, and released. They all have core teams, rigid code review and testing procedures, and an emphasis on being correct rather than being first, best, or fastest. For the most part, if there is a feature in a released version, it works, reliably. Linux emulation on FreeBSD works like a dream. If RealPlayer G2 and acroread will run fine under it, anything will. The penality for this stability and reliability is that you're doing to have to pick from the "approved" hardware list, and do without some of the wizbang stuff.

    Finally, I have one recommendation. Learn the way each OS wants you to do things. Unix is Unix, unless you're an admin or a programmer. The worst thing anyone switching OS's can do is try to impose one OS's / designers view on another. It's usually a poor fit. Just because one OS does something completely different than another does not automatically make it better or worse, what matters is what you are able to do with it at the end of the day.

    Good luck with whatever you try.

  • "FreeBSD confuses demagoguery with leadership and undocumented conspiracism with serious research"

    Surely, you mean "conspiritorialism"? ;-)
  • As deep and from the soul this sounds, I can't sem to find anything than 'FreeBSD needs to grow up.' Sure, I agree that for a long time FreeBSD was considerd the underdog, and now that people are treating it more like an operating system rather than an annoyance to 'linux world domination,' there's some lag in changing attitude. This isn't by the leaders, but by some followers. Linux advocates had to grow up some, and maybe a few BSD ones do too... who knows.. maybe this is bs too..

    But, where is your examples? How is FreeBSD being evil to other BSDs? How is it robbing the poor and giving to the rich, or anything else one could hold ethical and important where FreeBSD breaks community trust. I'm willing to listen, just not accept statements blindly. I like the FreeBSD people I've met, though never met other BSD people since I'm all x86, and used the BSD a system administrator told me to try. I've got an HP Apollo, but no luck yet with the NetBSD port (used to chat a bit with the guy), and just got another HP... might get it working...

    So, where's FreeBSD hurt us? I can forgive some evils, because FreeBSD has helped user choice a great deal in knocking the linux zealots over and over again with the fact that there are other, and at times substatually superior, open source operating systems out there. That doesn't make everything ok.. but then what am I to despise FreeBSD for? I don't see them breaking my, or the communities, trust.
  • by Millennium (2451)
    I don't know whether to rate this Funny, Flamebait, Troll, or What the Hell Are You Talking About?

    It doesn't seem to have anything to do with any of the BSD's. I have no experience with any of the BSD stuff, but I doubt it could possibly be that bad. Actually, it sounds more like a rant that would be targeted at Microsoft than one targeted at the BSD's.
  • You haven't learned much, have you?
  • .There are some serious differences between the different flavors of BSD, but for general purpose use one would almost never notice them.

    OpenBSD ships with heavy cryptography in the distribution, allowing one to choose Blowfish generated passwords instead of MD5 for example. They're allowed to do this because they code, integrate the distribution, and ship from Canada, where Draconian laws on exporting Open Source cryptography are non-existent. Taking advantage of this the OpenBSD project is also striving to update ssh-1.2.12, the last completely free version of ssh, to remove well known security problems, which will be known as OpenSSH.

    The other two projects, NetBSD and FreeBSD each have separate slants, though neither offers direct strong cryptography in their distributions because both ship from within the United States. FreeBSD is tailored for use with x86 and now Alpha CPUs, while NetBSD is tailored for wide portability. This is why the NetBSD project states "Of course it runs NetBSD."

    I've only slightly used FreeBSD, and many years back. However, my NAT box connected to a cablemodem runs OpenBSD, and I have several old Sun workstations which run NetBSD... I have to say I'm very pleased with both of these Operating Systems and would strongly recommend them to anyone with need of an OS for some specific purpose (like NAT service on a firewall, or to run old oddball hardware like my Sun3s, old VAXes, and the like). And they're very strong distributions with heavy development cycles... just recently the NetBSD project integrated in UVM, a completely new memory manager with distinct advantages from the stock VM described in the BSD Design and implementation Red Book.

    Hell, they all make for excellent alternatives to Linux as well... though I personally prefer Linux on my desktop workstation, after having my previous IP-MASQ Linux system, also connected to the cablemodem, cracked using a well known named buffer overflow (yes it was my fault) I'm now convinced I don't want a Linux box sitting out on the open net. I feel much safer with OpenBSD for many reasons... not just because they include the cryptography but because they code audit, they by default run critical daemons without root privileges in chroot() jails, and the authors take great pains to distribute their system by default with the fewest services started as possible, unlike most Linux distributions.

    And one last thing, not meant to inflame Linux Proponents since I gleefully run both systems in my house, the documentation in all the BSD distributions seems far superior to Linux DOCS. Linux may have more HOWTO's, and other informal documentation, but when it comes to finding canonical documentation, like in man5 for /etc for example, the BSD's seem much better organized. The man system is but one small example, for primary documentation (just read Design and Implementation of the BSD Operating System for a great example of amazing kernel documentation) I've simply found nothing better among free software.

    I've been very pleased with the results

  • I almost had trouble reading it. I just kept thinking, "what the hell is he/she talking about?" But then i decided, to just think "huH?"
  • by Mr Z (6791) on Wednesday October 27, 1999 @07:13PM (#1582360) Homepage Journal

    Although I haven't tried it personally*, everything I've seen and heard points to FreeBSD being the smallest leap from Linux. Once you get past the shallow stability/scalability/performance claims, the two aren't appreciably different.

    As for the "emulation", I understand it is pretty good. A coworker of mine used to request Linux builds of a particular piece of software I maintained at work, because he was using it on a FreeBSD box, and I had a Linux box. It all worked without a hitch.

    As for claims that some software runs faster, I'm sure it does. In general, software will run slightly differently, which includes some operations running faster and others running slower. FreeBSD and Linux are optimized differently -- this is an artifact of the fact that they're completely different implementations of the same basic POSIX and Unix APIs. I'm sure there's a class of problems that each is better at. Making a broad statement that X is faster than Y is pretty much pointless. (Even if Y is a Microsoft product. ;-) )

    In the end, you really need to try out different flavors and find the one you're happiest with. If it seems like too much of a hassle, then perhaps that's a hint that the change won't do you much good.


    (* Note: I did try to install FreeBSD once, but a bug in the Adaptec 7800 driver caused it to trash memory and crash before it even mounted the / partition. (This was a long time ago and I'm sure it's fixed by now. Linux and FreeBSD have been sharing their AIC7xxx code for awhile now.) Since I needed the machine for some hardcore simulation work, and since I already had a working Linux install, I didn't take the time to debug it then, and haven't gotten back around to it since. This isn't a black-mark against FreeBSD in my mind at all relative to Linux: Not only were the FreeBSD developers willing to help, but also my first Linux installs required similar sorts of hand-holding. The two worlds aren't that different. I've just been too lazy to try another Unix when I have something that works well enough for me.)

  • Just pointing out that there IS a way to set immutable files on Linux with the ext2 filesystem. I forget the exact command (it's in the ext2 tools though) but it IS there.
  • Well.. your advice works if you have used Linux previously (and I know the asker did and probably so do most people here)... but I was raised on BSD and to me some of the Linux themes seem odd and queer... so its not necessarily unintuitive, its just different.
  • by NovaX (37364)
    386BSD was the origional free BSD UNIX. Xenix (MS, later SCO) was in the 80s and quite popular as a usuable UNIX, and BSDI came around at some point and offered another x86 UNIX.

    OpenBSD is a 3, I believe, year old splinter from NetBSD. There should be many similarities, and many changes from NetBSD.

    BSD is more focused at the task that its goal is, and what its developers are working towards. Linux is developed at what every one or two developers are interested in, and throw their code up and hope Linus takes it. Its not a targetted, planned growth, but definately covers all corners.
  • by jedinite (33877) <[ ] ['din' in gap]> on Wednesday October 27, 1999 @07:14PM (#1582364) Homepage
    As a long time BSD biggot [grin], I feel that I'm somewhat qualified to speak on this one...

    Quite simply, one of the biggest misconceptions about the BSD's is that OpenBSD is more secure than all other OS's period. OpenBSD is more secure than any other OS out of the "box"--you can install the latest version and have a damn highly-secure box without any fuss. But FreeBSD or NetBSD can be(and properly patched and config'd and etc ARE) just as secure. By no means should you think that FreeBSD (or NetBSD for that matter) is not a secure OS. It just requires a little more work out of the "box" to fully secure it.

    FreeBSD is definately where you should start, I agreee 100%. Even though they've recently opened their driver database for the rest of the BSD's [], you're so much more likely to get FreeBSD running on your existing hardware than any of the others.

    One of the best pieces of advice I can give the BSD newbie is to head to Walnut Creek's site [] and go ahead and pay for the subscription []. About 4 times a year you get the latest FreeBSD delivered right to your door on a CD, which is extremely handy for handing out to friends who have seen the light :) And, you're supporting some great software (and the development of some future great software)!

    As for WHY you should make the switch, just wait till you see the screaming performance. Something about a magic TCP stack, i dunno ;) but the Daemon [] just simply smokes with Apache.

    Question: How do I leverage the power of the internet?
  • All of the BSD's are great operating systems. One major limitation for large systems is the utter lack of SMP support in threads. None of the BSD kernels I know of support kernel-level threads, and you need them for effective SMP. This essentially means that your second CPU is going to do nothing unless your program actually forks (or you start different copies of your program and give them an affinity to processor 1 and 2). Unfortunately, this still won't address load-balancing, which kernel threads with SMP will do. Doing these things defeats much of the good things about threaded programming and SMP, but that's BSD for you. The kernels are great and stable but just do not seem to address threads at all.

    So if you expect to utilize your dual-processor machine, you should consider Solaris x86, Unixware, or Linux, instead of the *BSD's.


    Kriston J. Rehberg []

  • and the bsd-style kind of file creation is to make the file creator's group match what the directories group is set to. Very nice, b/c I hate doing the find/grep/chown dance twenty times a day *muttering* .
    Using the SGID bit on a directory causes all files created in that directory to have their group set to that of the directory. Not only that, but any subdirectories created in that directoryy inrehit the SGID bit. I use this all the time on Linux, Solaris and FTX (Stratus).

    *gripe* I hate it when rpms that install into /usr/local reset my SGID bits and groups.

  • I've been tinkering with FreeBSD for nearly a year now and compared to the Linuxen I've experimented with (SuSE, Caldera, Debian, and Slackware), it's easier to keep FreeBSD up to date via the ports tree and CVSup.

    But when it comes to the *BSD family, FreeBSD has more merchandise available. Just check out for stickers, hats, shirts, mouse pads, plushies, etc. OpenBSD does have the cool Blowfish shirt, with the C code on the back.
  • FreeBSD is okay but I installed NetBSD for the first time with no help and no experience installing a *nix. Easy? I should say so... Of course this was on a Mac IIci, but that shouldnt matter.

    When idle it had load averages of ~6.5
  • It's unintuitive if you're new! I know it isn't nearly the kind of conceptual leap I needed to make between freebsd and linux as when I jumped ship from w98 to linux. That was painful.

    Anyway, whenever I drop into a BSD shell it takes me a minute or two to reorient my brain to that environment... everything "seems" the same.. yet there are subtle things that need to be taken into account. It's not unlike converting regex expressions between perl, php3, egrep.. well.. try it some time, I guarantee you'll be a drooling mess by the end of the day if you have to do alot of it. :\


  • Don't forget that some of the Open Source OS's also design programs that do things easily for you. Other ones, no one does any of the "quick fix/setup" programs, and in that case, it is harder. Redhat Linux is my choice for a first time.
  • But NetBSD has the best logo!
  • by liNA-seven-nine (96581) on Wednesday October 27, 1999 @07:20PM (#1582373)

    from the author of The Complete FreeBSD: []

    if you peers are using bsd, use bsd. have no freinds? use linux instead

  • Got a 7000. Be careful about the video! Mines an ATI-Media-P (they upgraded it behind my back.. would be good if xfree worked). Ok, so xfree does work, just is a pain. Check out the linux laptop pages for info on the i7000 to make sure xfree is setup correctly. I've kept putting off spending another hour or two tryingto get the config to work (kept doing something wrong)... hoping to get a desktop soon enough....
  • My advice is don't ever listen to _anyone_ be it other Slashdotters or your local Unix guru. Instead, just go out and try out the stuff for yourself. There's no better teacher than experience. --e!
    -------------------------------------------- ---
  • I don't think that *BSD is significantly easier or harder to learn than Linux. They're both descendents of the grand Unix tradition, so it's not surprising that they have a lot in common.

    I think the main thing you need to do, if you haven't done so already, is to realize that Unix and Windows are completely different entities. Once you reconcile yourself to the fact that you'll need to learn a new OS from scratch, you'll be fine. Also, as a rule, Unix is a lot more configurable, but that comes at the price of complexity. As an analogy, think of Windows as a car: you can specify what color you want it, whether you want automatic or manual transmission, and whether you want the extended warranty. Unix, on the other hand, is a box of Legos: you're handed a box of parts, and you can put them together any way you like. Yes, this is more complex, but you can do much more.

    Personally, I'm a BSD bigot, probably because I grew up on a VAX running 4.2BSD, so I'd love to see you run *BSD (probably FreeBSD, since it tends to be the most featureful of the *BSDs on Intel boxes). However, from what I've seen, Caldera's OpenLinux is the most newbie-friendly of the free OSes.

    If you're just starting out, I'd say that FreeBSD, Red Hat Linux and Caldera OpenLinux are approximately equal (within an order of magnitude) in terms of complexity. I'd recommend that you try at least two of them and see which one(s) you like best.
  • Not mine, but's a joke. I don't know what's funnier...the joke, or the people who responded seriously to it. :-)

  • chattr +i
  • Well I have played with the install on all three BSD and I will give you a quick warning off the bat. OpenBSD's install is definitly not for the beginner. I found the install process for NetBSD and FreeBSD both to be much easier, with FreeBSD being the most automated. OpenBSD has a very odd way of setting up partitions. NetBSD has some similarities to OpenBSD as far as partioning goes but somehow NetBSD seemed easier. Those nice text menus I guess. Neither NetBSD nor OpenBSD are going to do a lot of post installation setup for you, running XF86Setup automatically for example. For that you need FreeBSD. FreeBSD takes up two floppies to boot instead of one floppy like the others. All three have ftp install processes which is what I was using, but only OpenBSD and FreeBSD include DHCP support during the FTP install. I find the BSD bootloader nicer than LILO and easier for the newbie at least. NetBSD however has a way to set which partitions are on the menu and label each one. FreeBSD uses the partition type as the label but I wasn't sure how to modify the boot menu. NetBSD seems to boot the fastest. NetBSD and OpenBSD put their base dist in a single file and the kernel in a single file and the X stuff all in one file, with the option of getting small split files. FreeBSD only offers them the small split file way. FreeBSD's ports collection is impressive and generally will stay ahead of the other with some interesting exceptions. For example FreeBSD has ported KDE as of 1.1.1 but NetBSD is up to 1.1.2. Those are just a few of my general impressions of the BSD's but I would suggest trying them out and see which one you like. FreeBSD and NetBSD get my vote over OpenBSD because security is not as critical and I find the install and setup easier. Also NetBSD and FreeBSD both can be downloaded from and OpenBSD was oddly absent Hmmm?
  • Harder to learn? What have you been smoking? They are just as easy (or difficult for some) to learn as Linux. The hardest thing is going back and forth because the commands are often similar but different. As for easiest install... its NetBSD by far. You basically download it and hit install. I had no trouble installing it and I had no idea what I was doing.

    Feel free to think differently.
  • Several years ago I first installed FreeBSD on a spare 486 at Miami University. We were running a Linux server and Linux just wasn't cutting it. We had a lot of problems with reboots and lost filesystems.

    So after the first installation of FreeBSD 2.2.2, this thing stayed up and was more responsive that a P166 running Linux. If you just want to play with a UNIX or clone, Linux will get you through your day, but if you are doing real work, FreeBSD is it.

    As for the other BSDs, I installed NetBSD on a Mac68k and a MacPPC. In both cases, I was astounded by it. NetBSD is also an incredible system. I have not had much experience with OpenBSD, but the code itself is a direct off-shoot of NetBSD with security tweaks, so I expect the same experience.

    But in general, I am sure you will be pleased with any BSD. They are fast, small, and easy systems. They are each present a clean, consistent interface without bogging down the system with unused "features" and bloat as GNU code tends to. The ports system also makes it a snap to install anything from Java to Apache to KDE without anything more than "make install". And without a doubt, my favorite feature of FreeBSD (and the others permit this as well) is the simple upgrade procedure: "make world". Never again will I have to deal with RPMs or dependencies, or precompiled binaries optimzed for a 386sx. :) Have fun and let us know which one you choose.
  • Actually, AIX becomes a lot more tolerable if you stop pretending that it's Unix, and recognize it as a species of its own.
  • Your right, but wrong. I looked at RPI.. my biggst disgust was that EVERYTHING is moving towards NT. I tried asking what UNIX boxes they had on the tour (they tried to keep them away from our eyes) and the CS guy had no clue... stayed with a few people in their rented house, and talked to one about UNIX. They think its dead, he thinks its dead, Microsoft's NT is king. heh... I just didn't feel good about the prospect of going their for CS when they're moving as strongly to NT (because businesses are/were), etc. Wasn't for me, but I wont spout various attacks because if he's going there, he likely found it comfortable.
  • Okay, linux is NOT unix, linux is based off of emulating a UNIX enviroment, which is the main difference between that and *BSD. BSD's are actually based off of the code of Berkely's unix, which is the alternative to System V Unix. Now, another big thing is that the FreeBSD developers (and possibly Net and Open) actually worked at Berkely on the software research facility untill they closed that down.
  • The chattr command allows changing file attributes on an ext2 partition. Here's an excerpt from the man-page:


    chattr -changefileattributeson aLinuxsecondextended
    file system

    chattr [-RV] [-vversion ][mode]files...

    chattr changesthefile attributesona Linuxsecond

    The lsattr command allows showing these attributes.

  • No reason to feel bad. I think that FreeBSD is an excellent way (better than linux) to get into *nix. No it does not have a point and click installation program like Caldera OpenLinux, but it is a "real" BSD style *nix that is very coherent. Many linux distros would be well advised to do things like FreeBSD. System setup is, for the most part, done in /stand/sysinstall. This is way different from say RedHat who has a control-panel and a Xconfigurator and a soundconf and ... and ... etc. Anything in FreeBSD that is not set up in /stand/sysinstall is set up in the standard BSD ways. This should not be intimidating if you really want to learn UNIX. There is a wealth of documentation out there on Just my $.02. I really like FreeBSD. I've been a Linux user for a long time and I made the switch to BSD this year. FreeBSD is like the linux distro that I wish I could have had. I'm now dabbling in OpenBSD which is a do-it-yourselfer's dream. It makes UNIX fun :-) I promise. -Peter
  • No. And just for reiteration purposes... no. They are both equally easy/difficult to learn.. but the hardest thing is switching between the two.
  • Yahoo, Microsoft, Wistle.. OpenBSD got $10k from very happy corperations that base products on it. Why not go to FreeBSD's page and take a look at the list they made. Its not nearly complete, but shows its got some big names. Yahoo has been very happy. Microsoft too, cept they refuse to update virus scanners so they can blame BSD...
  • by aithien (32819)
    You sound almost as bad as the dialogue on the #freebsd channel of efnet ;-)
  • I like NetBSD, even though I run it on x86 hardware (where any of the three BSDixes would run fine). I think it's because they seem to have the most focused community. There just don't seem to be many hot-dog types, and nobody ever hypes it anywhere (I hope I am not engaging in that right now). And NetBSD seems to be the most 'exploratory' free OS of all, it's what a new architecture designer (as with the Chalice CATS StrongArm motherboard) ports first to the new hardware.

    I've been working for some time to find replacements for everything I run on Linux so I can convert over my last Slackware box to one of the BSD's (at present I have boxes running all three BSD variants on my home network). The last package is CDParanoia, and it's non-Linux port is in progress right now.

    Lastly, I am into this stuff to learn more about Unix, and the BSDs give a lot more exposure (for example, a "real UNIX" responds with wonderment to a "dir" command....) than Linux does.

    Of course, your mileage may vary. Mine certainly does.

  • Oh. Backup your data. Win98 doesn't like to share partition tables with other operating systems.

    Of course backing up your data is a good suggesiton, but i've never personally had problems with Windows / Linux dual boots. Well, the only problem i've had is that for some reason unknown to me Win95/98 decides to fdisk /mbr when installing, thereby wiping out lilo. There isn't really any reason for this as far as I can see, the Win95/98 installer doesn't do partitioning?! (Unless you have an unpartitioned HDD I assume).

    This shouldn't be a problem when adding a Linux partition to a Win98 install though, unless you reinstall '98.

  • by drix (4602)
    I'm not going to reinvent the wheel; the distinction between the 31 flavors has been made abundantly clear. I think it's wise to point out, though, that you shouldn't choose OpenBSD just for security, just because of its vaunted line-by-line audit. I mean, that's a really laudable thing to do (not sure if I know of another OS available to day that can claim that), but a lot of what's been done to OpenBSD can be easily implemented in other operating systems (Unix, anyways). I'm sure OpenBSD users might suffer a few less buffer exploits or TCP/IP attacks in the years to come, but I think most the reasons why OpenBSD is "secure" can be implemented by competent sysadmin in the other BSDs. Thus, if you need compatibility or HW support, but also security, don't be too hesitant to try Net/FreeBSD.
  • by NovaX (37364) on Wednesday October 27, 1999 @07:46PM (#1582410)
    Remember that;s not a complaint by Greg Lehey, that's logic. FreeBSD, Inc. has numerously stated that its position to companies that wish to port to FreeBSD is toport to Linux first, for economics, and then port to FreeBSD. The Linux emulator is sufficent and porful enough to run their programs, and all it takes left is the will to port to FreeBSD after Linux. With Linux having a bigger infrostructure, more users, more UGs, more books, etc, its logical if you are on your own. That's one thing I greatly admire, telling users to use another platform because its better for them, and they can go to BSD when they're ready.

    oh, and if it was a complaint.. I doubt he would have flown in for FreeBSD Con. Coming to the U.S. from Australia (around a 19 hour time change from Bay area), cannot be fun. Hope he had a laptop (especially with BSD) to keep him company on the flight. :-)
  • It's not really called "emulation" because it's not an emulator. FreeBSD (and others, I'm sure) runs Linux binaries. You can install Linux libraries, even as low-level as the various C libraries floating around for Linux. Technically it's called, in FreeBSD, "Linux mode."
  • While OpenBSD certainly is one of the most secure operating systems out there (esp. out-of-the-box), that's not all it's good for. OpenBSD makes a great workstation too. Of the three xBSDs that are available for free, OpenBSD is hands down the easiest to configure. The OpenBSD team has done a wonderful job of setting up a very flexible default install. The BSD ports collection works great on the platform too, so a huge collection of popular software is also available (and OpenBSD, like FreeBSD, will run Linux applications). I highly recommend it.


    "You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

  • I've heard this before from a lot of FreeBSD advocates: "The FreeBSD TCP stack is lightning fast", which of course goes with the implication that the Linux stack is not all it could be.

    For the dozens of times I've heard this, I haven't seen any recent benchmark or anything to back up the claim. It should be very simple to compare the two -- you can use exactly the same apps very easily.

    I know that the original TCP stack for Linux was not so hot, but I know it was rewritten sometime in 2.0.x (get me if I'm wrong). I'm sure there have been other improvements through 2.1 developement.

    I've never used Linux in a high enough bandwidth environment to be able to see the stack at all. On my old k6-200 serving ftp on 10baseT, processor utilization to fill the pipe (perhaps 30 users, so the ftp daemon wasn't costing much) was about 3%.

    Anyone have any reports on the two in a 100baseT or gigabit environment?
  • Don't listen to anyone huh? I'll agree with you that the best way to learn something is by doing it/working with it, however your statement is just plain wrong. Sometimes it's not realistic to learn something by diving in headfirst. Imagine if every pilot tried to learn how to fly a plane that way - or if nuclear technicians got degrees by "playing around".

    Okay, those are silly analogies, I'll admit it. The truth is, that experience AND instruction are the best teachers. Without guidance, trying something can be, at best, a waste of time and, at worst, dangerous.

    When I want to learn something dealing with computers I usually check the web first. I'll bet most people work the same way. This might come as a suprise, but the information on the web is actually written by real people. And books, like those O'Reillys that we all love -- those are written by people too. Believe me, I'd much rather learn Perl from one of those books (or a knowledgable Perl programmer) than just "trying" it by typing text into the interpereter and seeing what happens.


    "You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

  • I think the aspect that scared me the most was:

    1. The tour guide was a CS/CE (computer engineering.. not civil), and said he spent 8 hours max / day (generally 5) on classes and work.. and then complained that he had 1 class on friday.. never worked weekends. Four years for both.

    2. The people I was staying with all had either 1 major and 2-3 minors, or 2 majors and 1-2 minors. One was leaving in 3 years. Now, some people are smart, but the guy I talked to (2 guys, 2 girls) said it was common. With the people in charge making such a big fuss about how great RPI is tied to the industry.. I was skeptical.

    3. Didn't like their facilities / campus. Personal preference.

    In any case, that was all my opinion.. and it isn't much because when I got a tour of the CS stuff.. a junior tagged along and kept asking dumb questions about SAT scores and talking about his conceptual physics class when we were showed some class playing with little robots. hehe.. just didn't have a great showing I presume. Like IIT, cept housing was dumb so I'm on a upper-classman floor (nice dorms!).. so know no freshman (damn!).
    Still.. UNIX/Windows, always see SGIs.. and physics teacher answered a few problems with gnuPlot. Just has that diversity and UNIX love to it.
  • What nonsense! There is a thriving community behind OpenBSD. Subscribe to the mailing list for a few days and you'll see lots of information, much of it very useful. The S/N ratio of the OpenBSD mailing lists is pretty high and there is definitely a community there.

    The community seems to be growing in size, too.
  • A lot of those bugs were in the base BSD code, and in the process of auditing OpenBSD, theo find's the bugs and shares them with other BSD groups.
  • Hi, I am a partner of Nightfall Security Group, a San Diego based computer security thinktank which favors BSD over the other varieties of UNIX based operating systems. For security, OpenBSD wins hand down. OpenBSD has a very spartan feeling about it, the installation is text based and it requires some previous knowledge of tcp/ip, filesystems and various UNIX things. Theo, who heads the OpenBSD project is very proud that OpenBSD has had only a couple vulnerabilities found in it, since it's tenure, and most, if not all of them dealt with third-party applications. On the other hand, FreeBSD is Nightfall Security Group's choice for our servers, while OpenBSD is for our firewalls. FreeBSD in our experience is the most efficient and stable operating system that we have encountered regularly. You can bang FreeBSD with all that you got and chances are it will take it and bounce it right back. FreeBSD's security is also very good, like all BSDs, but because there primary focus is performance the FreeBSD core team does not review the source code with such scrutiny for vulnerabilities as the OpenBSD team does. FreeBSD's installation is very GUI and FreeBSD comes with a pretty complete set of drivers. Overall, FreeBSD is the most useable BSD out there. NetBSD is one of the most portable operating systems in existence. If you go to the NetBSD website, at, you will find a link to a list of hardware architectures that it can run on. The list is absolutely astounding. NetBSD lacks in our opinion true stability and their scrutiny of code for vulnerabilties needs improving. But, if you need an operating system to run on a very outdated or unique piece of hardware chances are it already has been ported to it, or it will soon. For more information you can always visit NFSG's website at [] - [mailto]
    Chairman of TooRcon (
  • The NetBSD team does a great job of covering the hardware world. No, not the WinTel hardware world, that's Linux.

    Linux is the "WinTel hardware world"?!?

    Just off the top of my head, I can think of several platforms that Linux runs on:

    • PPC
    • x86
    • ARM
    • SPARC
    • Alpha
    You BSD guys just never give it a rest, do you?

    Interested in XFMail? New XFMail home page []
  • by maynard (3337) <> on Wednesday October 27, 1999 @08:29PM (#1582446) Journal
    OpenBSD's security is wonderful, but correct me if i'm wrong, it's no *remote* root exploits?

    I doubt anyone would be insane enough to make that claim with sincerity. OpenBSD does a good job by starting most daemons as normal users and then chroot() jailing the process, providing high quality blowfish cryptography support for passwords (try and run crack on that!), and just being careful with their code. They've done an extensive code audit looking for lack of bounds checking ala buffer overruns and other obvious exploits... strncpy() instead of strcpy() type fixes.

    But this DOESN'T mean OpenBSD is completely and totally secure, nor does it mean it's been completely cleaned of remote root exploits. Never mind removing all Denial of Service exploits, or well hidden and unpredictable race conditions.

    Such are the statements of fools... :-)
  • Unfortunately it seems that clustering support has been lacking for *BSD so far. I've seen a few attempts, but nothing really good that I've seen so far. It would be nice if someone ported Beowulf over, because that would give researchers an easy way to migrate over, or use in parallel, or whatever with existing clusters.

    Yes, *BSD, and FreeBSD in particular have pretty advanced TCP/IP stacks, so far they've been the only ones capable of driving the Myrinet cards past the gigabit range.
  • Who the fuck is this AC?

    Probably somebody who picked the "Complain about a company/organization" option for Scott Pakin's automatic complaint-letter generator [], supplying "NetBSD" as the name of the company/organization, specified that it should generate 5 paragraphs, hit the "Complain" button, and pasted the results into a Slashdot comment.

  • by maynard (3337) <> on Wednesday October 27, 1999 @08:43PM (#1582454) Journal
    IMHO the best thing for the BSD community is if the OpenBSD guys and the NetBSD guys could get together. Unfortunately, the inability to do that is the very reason they are apart.

    I'll address just this point, never mind the rest *cough*.

    Two reasons why this won't happen:

    • OpenBSD codes and ships from Canada where laws against exporting cryptograpy are almost non-existent. This means that one of the primary reaons OpenBSD split off from the NetBSD group, that being to create a distribution with a security focus, could not be done here in the United States. I'll note that many of the core NetBSD contributors are based here in Boston (though, obviously not all)

    • I don't think Theo wants too. Good 'nuff for me.
  • For example FreeBSD has ported KDE as of 1.1.1 but NetBSD is up to 1.1.2.

    FreeBSD is up to 1.1.2 - that's what I'm running at home. (The NetBSD 1.1.2 ports were mentioned in a news item on the KDE Web site; I didn't see the FreeBSD ones mentioned, so you may not have known about 1.1.2's availability on FreeBSD.)

  • Even M$ uses the BSD tcp/ip stack.

    Indeed? I've heard that claimed, but not seen any hard evidence one way or the other.

    MS does, as I remember, use, for example, the BSD FTP client (I think I ran "strings" on "ftp.exe" and saw a Berkeley copyright notice in it), but I've not seen anything to indicate that their TCP/IP stack came from BSD.

  • Everyone will have an opinion, but no they won't all be right.

    for example,

    Linux... The quality of both some of the "supported" hardware and the drivers are to be questioned, but how are you to know what is good, and what is bad? The releases are more frequent, both to fix bugs, and introduce features. There are often all sorts of new things added you don't need that may affect what you're trying to do.

    1) Linux drivers are great.

    2) These new things are only added by you if you install them. If you're worried about the quality of new drivers, then wait for the stable releases. It isn't necessary to upgrade constantly, even if it available.

    3)You'll know the quality the same way that you know the quality of any other OS... you listen to the people you trust. If there is an OS that is so perfect that everything works exactly as everyone would expect, so that you wouldn't need to check on the quality of new versions, you should try clicking your heels together three times.

  • There is no sparc port of FreeBSD. FreeBSD runs only on i386 and alpha platforms.

    There was, at one point, a SPARC port project, but I think it may have died out (the link to it on the Projects page on the FreeBSD Web site [] is broken). (I have the vague impression that Sun was encouraging it for use on, perhaps, some UltraSPARC-based boards they sold, but may have lost interest.)

    I think there may also be an IA-64 port in progress.

  • by Guy Harris (3803) <> on Wednesday October 27, 1999 @09:07PM (#1582462)
    ...which can make life difficult for awhile until you figure out why a perfectly good command doesn't work anymore...

    You don't need to have used Linux to have that experience - you can experience it with nothing but a mix of different commercial UNIXes, for example. :-) (Or you can experience it moving to a Linux system, just as you can experience it moving from a Linux system, or you can experience it moving to a BSD system from a commercial UNIX system, or from a commercial UNIX system to a BSD system.)

    "UNIX systems all behave the same, except where they don't."

    (I suspect you can also experience it moving from Windows 9x to Windows NT, or vice versa....)

  • I've installed all three of the free BSD Unix variants in the last few weeks, and have to say that the OpenBSD installation is by far the easiest of the three.

    I guess I'm weird, but I like a no-frills, just-the-facts-maam installation. It installs everything you need, and then some. Out of the box, it's tight and stable. Given a few patches (available at to take care of a couple little niggling bugs, recompilation of the system, and the installation of a couple packages from /usr/ports, it's up and running smoothly and flawlessly.

    FreeBSD - well, I installed Free and ran it for a while. It has a *ton* of stuff with its system, most of which actually works. The only thing I can say here is that it seemed less "tight" than OpenBSD. One day, my X configuration worked. The next day, after having changed exactly *nothing*, my window manager mysteriously stopped working. Then, the next day, X refused to come up at all. So, I wiped it out. It didn't seem very well put-together at that point (v3.2).

    NetBSD - its installer is less straightforward than OpenBSD. It uses a somewhat curses-type installer on x86, and it's a little less than flexible. For instance, I couldn't convince it to install the system to two disks (having a couple of smallish disks is an unfortunate reality on a couple of my machines). At any rate, I had to set up the slices on wd0, reboot and pretend to want to install to wd1 and set up the slices there, and then reboot again (because I wanted / on wd0a), suspend the installer after having "set up" wd0 again, and mount wd1a to /usr before resuming. After that little bit of hacking around, the system installed normally. The mouse device still eludes me, though, and I've not the time to deal with it currently. On OpenBSD, it's /dev/psm0. On NetBSD, from which Open is derived back in the mists of time, even after compiling in the wscons console drivers and setting things up, /dev/wsmouse won't allow the mouse to work. It, too, is less "tight" than OpenBSD in my opinion, but in a different way.

    There seems to be a spirit of technological innovation in the NetBSD camp that the other BSDs benefit from greatly. Witness RAIDFrame, pciide, etc. migrating from Net to Open. Softupdates originated in, I believe, FreeBSD, and was ported into OpenBSD. Some of the better parts of FreeBSD's userland made it to OpenBSD and was audited and changed. Some of it made it back to Free and even back into Net. So, there's a lot of cross-pollination between all of them.

    YMMV, of course, but my miles will be run on Open.


  • though I have not used NetBSD or OpenBSD, I have used both FreeBSD and Linux, and one thing I have definitely noticed is that in low-RAM situations, FreeBSD seems to run decidedly more smoothly.

    My machine is a Pentium 133 w/16 megs of RAM, so if I am running Netscape Communicator, i have about 22 megs of stuff in the swap partition. Any Window Managers other than FVWM are out of the question, and despite that, Communicator still dies fairly often.

    FreeBSD, though, will let me use Communicator with KDE, and on top that, I have never had Navigator die on me.

    How this info matters to a more powerful machine is beyond me, but what it means to me is that I see no good reason to be using anything other than FreeBSD - I use only x86 computers, so there's no compatibility gap there which would justify another unix, and security is not a big issue for me since I am just running a desktop which I doubt anybody would put much effort into cracking, anyway.
  • I asked him to elaborate on this compatibility thing, and he said "Well... I think... OpenBSD can run C++ programs." Instantly I lost all respect for him. I inquired further, and he said "yes, it can run Microsoft C++ programs, and the other BSD's can't."

    Perhaps he had it backwards; OpenBSD is the BSD that concentrates on security, and, as for the Microsoft programs, the "About Wine" page on the Wine Web site [] mentions Linux, FreeBSD, and Solaris (presumably meaning Solaris x86) as platforms on which Wine can run Windows x86 binaries, but doesn't mention openBSD.

    That may, of course, just be because they didn't mention it, not because Wine can't run on OpenBSD; the "emulators" section of the OpenBSD ports status page [] mentions Wine, so there may be a working port.

  • by ninjaz (1202) on Wednesday October 27, 1999 @10:04PM (#1582482)
    $ uname -srm
    NetBSD 1.4 alpha
    11:35PM up 156 days, 3:04, 4 users, load averages: 1.21, 1.01, 0.69

    NetBSD's stability looks fine here. :) 156 days w/ absolutely no signs of degradation. That's 156 days since the initial setup up the machine (i.e., after transferring data from a different-type filesystem and building a custom kernel), and my first experience with NetBSD. Of course, the FreeBSD box next to it has a similar uptime (as has the Linux box..)

    I think it says something about all of them that the most limiting factor for uptime is the size of your UPS and eagerness to upgrade.

    Regarding the original topic at hand, I think it really depends on how eager the poster is to jump head-first into a real unix environment. I personally think it's nice to learn it the hard way first, so you know the underlying principles and can easily pick up new flavors.

    Of course, if you don't care about OS or having unix skills, the one with the easiest install and prettiest out-of-the-box desktop configuration would be the obvious choice, imho. The only 2 unices I've really used as workstation os's have been Linux and Solaris, though, so I can't really comment on how the BSD's compare.. (fwiw, Linux beats Solaris to a pulp in that department, and I suspect *BSD would, too)

  • here are some (completely non-scientific) times from Linux (as server) and FreeBSD (as server) to NetBSD (as client):

    $ time cp /from-linux-2.2.10-ac3/ppro-200/testfile .

    real 1m11.308s
    user 0m0.017s
    sys 0m5.704s

    $ time cp /from-freebsd-3.2-RELEASE/k6-2-400/testfile .

    real 0m52.546s
    user 0m0.013s
    sys 0m5.314s

    It's probably worth noting that (at least) FreeBSD and NetBSD support NFSv3 in stable releases, and Linux does not yet.

    I can't give a good answer to what would be best for NFS serving *to* linux, as I don't have anything set up that way. Samba should display less variance as it's a user-level process. In that case, network stack and ethernet drivers would matter more.

  • Linux is the "WinTel hardware world"?!?

    I don't think he was denigrating Linux in anyway. Just distinguishing what he meant by "covering the hardware world." Linux has a lot of device driver support on Intel, more than any other x86 unix in fact. But his point was to clarify that NetBSD runs on more different architectures than any other unix.

    Of course Linux runs on a lot of platforms, just not as many as NetBSD. You arguing against this fact by listing some of the platforms that Linux runs on would be like me arguing that CowBSD has just as many/as good device drivers as Linux by listing:

    • NE2000
    • IDE Hard disks
    • Serial ports
    • Parallel ports
    • keyboards
    • ...

    It's just not a valid argument.

  • The two things that definitely convinced me te use FreeBSD are the ports collection and cvsup.
    The ports enable you to install 2000 different utilities with a single "make install".
    cvsup allows you to keep up with all security patches with a 5 line script that is cronned every week.
    But after using it for some time (after being a Linux user), the total consistency of the system is another good argument (although this is not a specific FreeBSD argument...)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I am going to try to answer the Original Question to the best of my ability:

    is there really much of a difference in security and performance among the BSDs? Do any of the BSDs have any features that sets it apart from the others (for example, does one work better on laptops than the others?) I am more concerned in the performance, stability and security than packaging or an easy install process.

    1. Security and Performance Issues

    1.1 All three BSD's (and Unix or Unix-like Operating Systems) are server-class, carrier-class, and datacenter-ready applications geared specifically for performance, stability, and security. There may be other OS's that excel [Unix and Unix-like OS's] in one of these three fields, but never in all of them. Plus, Unix is an actual useable OS when compared to say, OpenVMS, MVS, VOS, OS/900, etc. I am specifically speaking from a mid-range perspective.
    1.2 My point is this: any good Unix implementation will have you fully covered (assuming you know what you are doing) for security and performance. I do not believe that security and performance issues vary WILDLY between Unix and Unix-like OS's. (well, see below)
    1.3 If your goal is development, and not implementation, then you may have to shop around. For example,
    1.3.1 OpenBSD is great if you would like to rid Unix of the evil problem of buffer/heap overflows and poorly written code as far as SECURITY goes. It also includes SERIOUS Userland material for security-awareness (it has IPSEC and a keyserver for ISAKMP /eye-suh-kemp/ built-in to the OS, many crypto libs built-in, etc).
    1.3.2 FreeBSD is great for the Internet Server market it was geared for. It is simply BSD for the masses, but it does an EXCELLENT job in this manner. If you are not a coder and looking to help a project on the Internet -- this is it. If you are a coder and like to see your code actually used and cherished by it's users/implementors, this may also be a great and exciting development evironment for you.
    1.3.3 NetBSD has probably the cleanest implementation of Unix code anyone has ever laid eyes on. I mean, this stuff is *solid*. If you are ever interested in SERIOUS kernel development, this OS is like the BIBLE. It is so clean and bug-free, it's simply amazing. They need a lot more developers to get where they want to be. Only for serious low-level hardware hackers, display hackers, device driver writers, and the like! But you will be very happy little coders.

    2. Userland Support (such as Laptop support)

    2.1 FreeBSD has all the Userland support you will be looking and expecting to find. This may not neccesarily be true under NetBSD and OpenBSD.
    2.2 Most serious advocates of OpenBSD and NetBSD run FreeBSD on their laptops ;> I've seen NetBSD and OpenBSD on laptops before, however, so it still mostly depends on what you are going to be using and doing with your machine (of course).

    3. My take on the BSD's for maximizing Performance, Stability, and Security (versus ease of use / ease of install)

    3.1 FreeBSD is the easiest to deal with. It has the most documentation. It has the best driver support for say, NIC cards under x86 (this is probably true in general for x86 arch -- the FreeBSD network driver support is insanely awesome). It has the long-standing Vendor support that Linux has (one example: Accelerated-X, however, there are many more). If you are building a generic BSD server or workstation, this is the OS you probably want to do it on.
    3.2 NetBSD is better than FreeBSD in all three areas. But the Userland support lacks in some ways. Since most people change around Userland into something completely different ANYWAYS -- this might not be an issue for you. If you already expect *LOTS* of development, than this is the OS you want to do it on. But, if you expect certain Unix Userland things to be there, you might find them missing or at least Under/Un-Documented. FreeBSD fills in those places, but at a slight cost of performance and stability.
    3.3 OpenBSD is great for "Community", especially "Hacker community" environments. If you want to crack your life away, than this is the OS you belong in. It allows you to at least attempt to give out shell accounts and sleep well at night. I wouldn't do this with any other OS, and believe me, you will end up modifying OpenBSD to hell and back by the time you feel semi-confident with it. But, there is already a lot of work done with OpenBSD to guard against Userland attacks. FreeBSD or NetBSD will have all of the regular security stuff you are looking for (IPSEC, SSH, etc) and you can build a lot into FreeBSD or NetBSD for security (as much or MORE than any other Unix OS). But if you want all that stuff to play with right away, OpenBSD has it by default.

    4. Final Discussion

    Well, it's totally up to you. Check out all three homepages. Read up. And the best answer is probably, "Use what your friends use". I am a BSD bigot. If it were up to me, I would never want to use Linux again. But, everyone at work uses Linux. So, I either a) have to turn them all over to the darkside -or- b) become a Linux-head myself. But then again, I've fought the same battle for years at companies about Windows. I just enjoy an OS that actually works. And IMHO, it's got to be a *BSD.
  • If openBSD's code is so safe and secure because they audit their code, why doesn't Linux do the same? Is it because no one wants to initiate and maintain such a project?

  • okay fine, but that still proves my point. Whether it's from a man page, or a book, or a mystical leprechaun -- it's still instructions


    "You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

  • strings ftp.exe on nt reveals:

    @(#) Copyright (c) 1983 The Regents of the University of California.
    All rights reserved.

  • I wasn't arguing that Linux supports as many architectures as NetBSD; I was simply trying to refute his statement (as I interpreted it) that Linux was limited to "WinTel hardware."

    Maybe that's not what he meant; I'm just so used to reading anti-Linux flames in BSD-related threads that perhaps I'm too quick on the gun.

    I don't understand why it seems that BSD users feel the need to constantly attack Linux and Linux users. They (BSDs and Linux) each have their uses.

    Interested in XFMail? New XFMail home page []

  • Ok, I've read basically that FreeBSD has the best support for the x86 platform, but I've also heard NetBSD is very well designed and written and fast.

    So which is "fastest"? If I want to stick a *BSD on an old or even mediocre Pentium class machine...which of these is optimized for that, and would I be able to recompile with optimizations for my chip? E.g., Stampede Linux is compiled with pgcc which is optimized for pentiums...can I get that sort of optimization from a *BSD?

    I'm actually considering to install some form of Linux, and I guess it could be an ask slashdot itself. I've looked at Slackware, and Debian for its package features, and Stampede for its optimization.
  • Why don't YOU give it a rest? I'm a Windoze guy, and don't know which is the better Linux/Unix. I think it's too bad that there always has to be someone who dumps some completely irellevant post in which they bitch and moan over something. Get a grip and say something if you have something to add, otherwise SHUT UP and let the serious people speak!
  • As much as I hate to say it, I've found IE 4.x/5 under NT and 98 to be more stable and functional than any version of netscape on any OS.

    It is a Netscape problem, not an OS problem. Netscape Navigator is essentially NCSA Mosiac hacked up beyond recognition. That is why the Mozilla folks have decided to do a complete rewrite.

    However, for me, Netscape still runs better then IE. Because I use Linux, and slightly unstable but running always beats won't run at all. Tell Microsoft to support Linux and *BSD with their browser.
  • Linux is the "WinTel hardware world"?!?

    Just off the top of my head, I can think of several platforms that Linux runs on:

    • PPC
    • x86
    • ARM
    • SPARC
    • Alpha

    You BSD guys just never give it a rest, do you?

    Add to that list

    • VAX
    • Sun-3
    • HP 300/400
    • Mac 68K
    • Amiga
    • Atari TT/Falcon
    • NeXT
    • NS32532
    • BeBox
    • Hitachi SH3

    But don't take my word for it, go visit the NetBSD Supported Hardware page [] and see for yourself. Nobody implied Linux isn't portable, just that NetBSD has been ported to more platforms than just about anything else. Next time, try to keep your knee from jerking quite so hard.

  • by NovaX (37364)
    whoops.. 15 hours. 17 from chicago (where I am now). Either way, I could funner things to do than sit in a plane for 15 or so hours.
  • but historically Linux has had a rather mediocre TCP/IP stack,
    That was certainly true in the early's gotten better, but I understand that *BSD still does outperform Linux a little in this department. But...
    with problems that force workarounds on systems that need to connect to a Linux host.
    And what workarounds would these be, pray tell? I've connected to Linux boxes from Solaris, HP-UX, Macs, Windows, and AIX - were all these OS vendors nice enough to put "workarounds" in so they could talk to Linux boxen? That's especially remarkable on those systems released before Linux got big.
  • No, Netscape Communicator is not based on Mosaic all "hacked to hell."

    I find your usage of quotes very interesting, as I sure as hell didn't say that. I said Navigator is based on Mosiac hacked beyond recoginition. And it is. Perhaps you're not aware of the fact that the original name for Netscape Communications was Mosaic Communications. Pull up [] sometime and see what happens.

    Internet Explorer *is* based on Mosaic.

    I'm well aware of IE's origins. I don't know why you think that excludes Netscape from doing the same thing.

    Cool handle, BTW.
  • BSDi is a company.
    Their product is BSD/OS. It is fairly good, but its probably not worth the money.

    _Please_ stop saying "i run bsdi"
  • The FreeBSD folks want to get real work done. Early on, that resulted in an Intel focus, as that was the only affordable platform available. Now the Alpha is included, and hopefully more soon. When they day is done though they are interested in bang-for-the buck, not on RC5 or quake, but applications like web, ftp, and news. Bread and butter network stuff, rooted deep in the Unix world.

    This isn't terribly relivant to which BSD is better, but since you brought RC5 up I thought I'd throw this in. Almost all of the 'staff' have at least one box that runs FreeBSD, and for many of us, it is almost the only OS that we use. Many of our public boxes run it (web, many of the proxies, etc.), and all of the private boxes we depend on do.

    Why? Well, certainly, there is an issue of familiarity. Several staff members are very familiar with FreeBSD; one of them is even on the FreeBSD team. But, most of them are also familiar with Linux, and they all prefer FreeBSD. I don't want to start another holy war, but I'd say that the biggest reasons why they prefer FreeBSD are stability, security, easy upgradeability (cvsup), and software distribution (ports). Some of it is also personal preference, and what you're used to. In fact, the stats box, which originally ran Red Hat, has been so heavily hacked that it could almost qualify as it's own OS (we call it dbnug BSDux release 1.0 (Bovinator) internally }:8) ). The only reason there's a linux kernel on the box is because of the Sybase Licensing.

    As for the rest of us who aren't quite as 'in the know' (like me), we've just kinda followed along since it's easy for us to ask questions about FreeBSD. ;) Seriously though, many of us (myself included) have tried both Linux (various distros) and FreeBSD, and most of us prefer FreeBSD.

    Decibel! Human Interface

Life is difficult because it is non-linear.