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Debian BSD Linux

Debian Elevates KFreeBSD Port to First-Class Status 376

Reader points out this press release from Debian which says that the port of the Debian system to the FreeBSD kernel will be given equal footing alongside Debian's several other release ports, starting with the release of Squeeze. Excerpting from this release: "The kFreeBSD architectures for the AMD64/Intel EM64T and i386 processor architectures are now release architectures. Severe bugs on these architectures will be considered release critical the same way as bugs on other architectures like armel or i386 are. If a particular package does not build or work properly on such an architecture this problem is considered release-critical. Debian's main motivation for the inclusion of the FreeBSD kernel into the official release process is the opportunity to offer to its users a broader choice of kernels and also include a kernel that provides features such as jails, the OpenBSD Packet Filter and support for NDIS drivers in the mainline kernel with full support."
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Debian Elevates KFreeBSD Port to First-Class Status

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  • Awesome! But... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 07, 2009 @04:10PM (#29673879)

    This is a really cool thing, except that I wonder how much this is going to be used? I'm sure there's a group of people who will be interested in this, and it might be a great stepping stone for those that want to move to/from FreeBSD to/from Linux, but a lot of the FreeBSD community is heavily focused on the fact that FreeBSD is developed as a complete OS. The userland and the kernel are developed by the same people and integrated. So while this is exciting, I'm not sure how much interest you're going to get from the FreeBSD community. Similarly, a lot of the Linux people who use Debian don't think of using Debian but think of using Linux, Debian just happens to be the distribution they choose.

    Now, what may be interesting that'll come out of this is packages with better FreeBSD compatibility. That is something I look forward to.

  • Re:Cool (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Darkness404 ( 1287218 ) on Wednesday October 07, 2009 @04:29PM (#29674089)
    There has been a lot of hype about ZFS but what use is it in a desktop system? And honestly, while APT is great for desktop systems, I really wouldn't use it much on a server. So unless there is some amazing benefit for the average user with ZFS why even have this port as a main system?
  • Re:Cool (Score:4, Insightful)

    by spun ( 1352 ) <> on Wednesday October 07, 2009 @04:31PM (#29674115) Journal

    First apt based distro with ZFS? Something worthy of a post about...

    I know about Nexenta, but FreeBSD has more drivers than OpenSolaris, right?

    You seem to be asking some interesting questions, but fail to do so in a timely fashion.

  • Re:Cool (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Timothy Brownawell ( 627747 ) <> on Wednesday October 07, 2009 @04:37PM (#29674205) Homepage Journal

    Why would you not want to use APT on a server? What part of automatic dependency handling, automatic unneeded package pruning, easy security update application, and secure package retrieval do you not want on your servers?

    Possibly the "automatic unneeded package pruning". It could be dangerous if your custom apps don't specify their dependencies correctly (say, they rely on something that had been automatically installed by one of their other dependencies).

  • by IgnoramusMaximus ( 692000 ) on Wednesday October 07, 2009 @04:43PM (#29674265)

    Is this a stepping stone to Debian moving from Linux to BSD permanently?

    Unless the elected leaders of Debian all go insane at the same time, not very likely.

    I'm trying to figure out if the FreeBSD licenses are more compatible with the Debian philosphy, or less.

    Far less. If Debian were to ever go BSD as its primary license (see point one), somewhere in the vicinity of 90% of its contributors would leave, probably to start a new GPL-ed distribution.

    Inclusion of the BSD kernel is not the same as an adoption of the BSD philosophy, as the kernel is an interchangeable component of the whole, very much like the much maligned Hurd is, of which there is also a Debian-based experimental distro.

  • by acey72 ( 716552 ) on Wednesday October 07, 2009 @04:43PM (#29674267)

    Debian is in effect raising BSD from the dead. IMO it's a good thing, the more OSes there are, the better.

    If being made into the un-dead means becoming more like GNU/Linux, I'd rather just keep me and my demonic servers six feet under please.

  • test? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 07, 2009 @04:48PM (#29674363)

    You do non-production evaluation of config changes, don't you?

    C'mon, no professional just pokes "apt-get update" into the root shell on a live production server. That's just asking for hilarity, fail, and unemployment.

    can you tell me more about the potential applications of this "test machine" idea? i've been asking for a test machine for 7 months and my predecessor for the 8 months before me, but since we've had no failures, who can find the money?

  • Permanently seems unlikely, especially since Linux still has more users and developers (AFAIK) than FreeBSD. That said, if they maintain FreeBSD as a supported kernel, then more of the software packages that are normally run on Linux will be tested and supported on FreeBSD. This is a good thing. One problem that *BSD has faced historically is that a lot of software isn't actually written for a UNIX-like OS (i.e. written to the POSIX API) but is instead written for Linux specifically. Not only does that make it less portable, it makes it less maintainable - Linux sometimes dumps things when it discovers a better alternative to its current way of doing this. Coding against the common API puts you at less risk of finding the API you use getting deprecated.

  • by vlm ( 69642 ) on Wednesday October 07, 2009 @05:01PM (#29674561)

    And this happens now on BOTH sides of the fence, so mixing this improves the situation how? I see it making it worse if anything.

    Software that compiles and installs on BOTH BSD and Linux, has not been all that unusual since, perhaps, 1991-1992.

  • Re:Cool (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chris Mattern ( 191822 ) on Wednesday October 07, 2009 @05:03PM (#29674579)

    "nearly here". No other words can strike such fear into the heart of a production system sysadmin. How about something that's seen production use for years, instead?

  • Re:Cool (Score:2, Insightful)

    by flydude18 ( 839328 ) on Wednesday October 07, 2009 @05:07PM (#29674637)

    And new installations of $app don't work either because users are never told they need $bar. This is a fairly obvious bug that gets noticed, and an update for $app adds the dependency to $bar.

    Sure, I'm assuming that someone will fix it, but you're assuming that someone will goof up in the first place. Seems fair.

  • Re:Cool (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jurily ( 900488 ) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <yliruj>> on Wednesday October 07, 2009 @05:09PM (#29674661)

    Do we need Linux any more, now that HURD is nearly here, based on the same ideas but with Linux's design problems known about and worked around?

  • Re:Cool (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sancho ( 17056 ) on Wednesday October 07, 2009 @05:09PM (#29674663) Homepage

    Wow, you got modded Troll and Timothy got modded Offtopic for describing a legitimate concern. Man, this place has gone downhill.

    The correct rebuttal to your statement is that you don't mess with things on production machines. You don't uninstall that third package. If you want to make changes like that, you do it on your test machine first. Timothy was concerned with packages dropping dependencies, but that shouldn't happen within -stable.

  • GNU's not (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fm6 ( 162816 ) on Wednesday October 07, 2009 @05:11PM (#29674687) Homepage Journal

    There's a religious tone to your answer. It assumes the question was: "does it run the Linux [kernel]?" But outside the RMS fan club, "Linux" is the name of the OS, not the kernel. So the guy was really asking "does it run the Linux [operating system]?" Hence the "funny" upmods.

    It just occurred to me, that if you're going to quibble about the synechdoche [] usage of "Linux", then GNU/Linux is even worse, because that term implies that that one OS somehow completely incorporates the other. But you couldn't really incorporate the GNU operating system in anything, because the stupid thing still isn't done yet. (After 25 years! [Insert Duke Nukem or Harlan Ellison joke here]) What's included in Linux is not GNU, but the libraries and utilities that were originally meant to be part of GNU. So really, it should be "Unix-like OS with Linux kernel, GNU excerpts, and some other stuff", or UOWLKGEASOS for short.

    But your post does answer one important real-world question, one that isn't answered on the KFreeBSD site: what's the darn thing for? I guess the answer is, "So you can run both BSD and Linux (GNU/Linux? UOWLKGEASOS?) binaries on a single system."

    Except I still don't see the point. Is there any software for one system that's never been ported to the other?

  • by vlm ( 69642 ) on Wednesday October 07, 2009 @05:17PM (#29674733)

    I really don't get why Debian would do this though because of the fact that it will take away from its primary user base (Linux users) to help fill a possible niche of users (KFreeBSD users) that are small in number.

    That type of question makes sense when asked about Microsoft, but doesn't even make sense when discussing Debian. "Why would Debian do this" is like a zen koan, until you're enlightened it makes no sense, or when it makes sense it means you're enlightened.

    Debian developers do what they want to do, within the legal framework and societal tolerance. If the guys doing the port, feel like doing the port, they do the port, and we get a "testing" quality port, and if its good enough, TPtB declare it a release-quality architecture and we eventually get a "stable" quality release. There is no "Debian" borg style hive mind, or if one does exist, instead of "the three laws of robotics" or "the ferengi laws of acquisition", the hive mind has the social contract and the DFSG. There is no top down militaristic business command structure. Very few people in Debian with positions of power have the "wikipedia" attitude of "I'm not personally interested in your work, so I shall gleefully destroy it while laughing, ha ha ha".

    In summary, they felt like doing it, they did it, some folks in positions of power acknowledge it. Its the same deal for all Debian packages, this port is not getting "special" treatment.

  • Re:What's Next ? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by gujo-odori ( 473191 ) on Wednesday October 07, 2009 @05:29PM (#29674841)

    I'll take a pass on that one, thanks :p

    But a Debian system with an OpenSolaris kernel? Now *that* would be nice!

    Of course, if KDE should someday work as well on OpenSolaris as GNOME does (including Timeslider integration into Dolphin and/or Konqueror), then it might be just as well to go with OpenSolaris itself, although I'd still prefer the APT to OSOL's packaging system. Plus, of course, the number of packages in the Debian repositories completely dwarfs what is available for OSOL.

    That said, I like OSOL so much that if KDE _were_ at the same support level as GNOME, I'd likely move from Kubuntu to OSOL now.

  • Re:test? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by vlm ( 69642 ) on Wednesday October 07, 2009 @05:29PM (#29674843)

    can you tell me more about the potential applications of this "test machine" idea? i've been asking for a test machine for 7 months and my predecessor for the 8 months before me, but since we've had no failures, who can find the money?

    apt-cache search xen

    Its free.

    Also, lets be realistic here, my test box is a 500 MHz AMD-K6 wiht 384 megs ram from roughly the mid 90s... probably 99.99% of testing only requires verification that it works, not that it works at "full speed".

  • Re:OK (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Korin43 ( 881732 ) on Wednesday October 07, 2009 @05:39PM (#29674947) Homepage
    I think you're confusing "important part of an operating system" with an operating system. Linux is definitely not an operating system, it's just a common term to refer to Linux-based operating systems (because the average person doesn't care). Just like the FreeBSD kernel alone isn't an operating system. Debian and FreeBSD are operating systems. GNU appears to be a complete operating system (although not finished). I think you can install it from here: [].

    Need a simple proof that Linux isn't an operating system? Download the kernel and boot it (oh wait, you can't because GRUB isn't part of the kernel), do some stuff on the command line (bash is not part of the kernel either), maybe update some programs (apt isn't part of the kernel). Oh wait you say, I don't need apt, I can just download the source and compile it myself... but wget and gcc aren't part of the kernel either.

    And don't take this to mean I think we should call it GNU/Linux. People can call their operating system whatever they want. If they wanted every piece of software that uses GNU to be called GNU/Software, it should be in the license. My point is just that kernel != operating system.
  • Re:Cool (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bfields ( 66644 ) on Wednesday October 07, 2009 @06:04PM (#29675223) Homepage


    Options are to keep the autoremoval turned off, or build simple custom packages for your third-party aps with the proper dependencies.

    Or you could do without any package management entirely. That doesn't strike me as likely to make anybody safer....

  • Re:Cool (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Antique Geekmeister ( 740220 ) on Wednesday October 07, 2009 @06:30PM (#29675463)

    Would everyone who actually manages to run their servers with only "-stable" please raise their hands? One, two... no wait, that person is scratching their head.

    I'm afraid that "running servers with only -stable" is like "never typing 'rm -rf' as root". It would be nice if we could do so, but far too often we need to get work done and risk a "non-stable" package to get particular critical features, and this approach breaks down very quickly.

  • Re:Cool (Score:3, Insightful)

    by stevey ( 64018 ) on Wednesday October 07, 2009 @07:29PM (#29675931) Homepage

    Raises hand.

    The only time when I've worried about running (Debian) stable software on production servers has been towards the end of a releases' life.

    In that case signatures for things like clamav were often useless. However right now I'm running entirely stable software and don't expect that to change for the forseeable future.

    A lot of people seem to want the latest and greatest releases of software for no appreciable reason. (If they were hitting specific bugs I'd understand ..)

  • Re:OK (Score:3, Insightful)

    by x2A ( 858210 ) on Wednesday October 07, 2009 @07:51PM (#29676045)

    "oh wait, you can't because GRUB isn't part of the kernel"

    I don't boot my kernel with GRUB.

    I think the whole thing's just silly anyway... people who need to be told "it's linux/gnu" because linux isn't the thing and the whole thing so help me god, are people who are less likely to understand the difference anyway, and aren't going to be looking at it going "wow Linus Torvalds wrote all of this by himself? Wow he must be a god... nobody else, just him, I must give all my credit for doing this to him". No. So putting "gnu" in the name isn't going to make them instead go "Oh it's written by this one guy called Linus and some guy who's parents hated him and called him GNU or something... but still, they're gods and get my respect".

    It's just marketting, and one thing that Linux has accomplished that GNU hasn't, is in having a name that people like. You could replace the ENTIRE stack above the Linux kernel with a much nicer all tied together polished system, call it "DogShitOS" and people are still going to called it Linux. Want people to call it your own name? Come up with something like Ubuntu, Debian, people have no problem saying those. But GNU? People just don't like it... you can't force them to.

    Even apple fans like "apple" or "mac", maybe running "leopard" or whatever. But they're just PC's in "pretty" cases, the main difference now is the operating system: OSX. But who says "I like OSX" rather than "I like apple"? *Not* the general public, they like names, not letters.

    RMS (which for some reason I always read as "root me silly") should just get over it.

  • Re:OK (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 08, 2009 @04:27AM (#29678327)

    Actually, the Linux kernel is the operating system. The operating system is just the software what offers the hardware resources to software and it operates both of them.

    You are doing dum examples there. You are saying that Linux is not a operating system because it needs a GRUB. Okay so you are saying that Intel's i7 processor is not a CPU because it needs a motherboard. The CPU is the motherboard + i7. But then you again notice something, you need electricity. So the CPU is the electricity + motherboard + i7. And then you notice that no, it does not yet work at all. You need other parts as well than those. Like RAM. And when you add these things, you actually get something else, bigger than just a CPU.

    Same thing is with operating systems. You first start with someting, like I/O. Filesystems, Networking and all device drivers what are needed to communicate with hardware devices. You build up a operating system from many smaller features. You do not call a device driver as kernel or operating system. It is just a smaller part of the operating system. Then when you have got the operating system working, you can get all other software working top of it. LIke glibc (needs a filesystem, I/O, scheduler and so on) and bash. Those both software needs already a existing operating system to work on the computer.

    The operating system needs a bootloader to start it. After the OS is started, it starts running all other process on the system. First software what is outside of the OS on Unix systems is INIT. INIT is motherprocess of all other processes. All other software. You can not see the processes of the OS at all.

    You are speaking about Linux like it would be a microkernel. Microkernel is just one part of the operating system. The operating system is completed by microkernel + modules (sometimes called OS servers).
    The operating system is the software what is running on kernel mode or as supervisor mode.

    Example, read the page 1-3 of that. And if you dont still understand the technology, refer this small short explenation

    On top of the operating system is the rest of the system software. Here we find the command interpreter (shell), compilers, editors and similar application independent programs. It is important to realize that these programs are definitely not part of the operating system, even though they are typically supplied by the computer manufacturer. This is crucial, but subtle, point. The operating system is that portion of the software that runs in kernel mode or supervisor mode.

    It is protected from user tampering by the hardware (ignoring for the moment some of the older microprocessors that do not have hardware protections at all). Compilers and editors run in user mode. if a user does not like a particular compiler, he is free to write his own if he so chooses; he is not free to write his own disk interrupt handler, which is part of the operating system and is normally protected by hardware against attempts by user to modify it.

    The shell or libc can not work at all without operating system. The OS does not need a GRUB anymore. The GRUB only thing is to start a OS. After that it release all the controls to the OS. And if following your logic. The GRUB is part of BIOS/EFI. Because without such, GRUB would not work at all either. And by your logic, the BIOS is part of the electricity lines, because without electricity, the BIOS would not work at all because computer does not work.

    The operating system structures are so simple. They are not complex "black magic" what computer science can not explain. Only thing what makes problems is people trying to spread GNU propaganda "Linux is just a kernel" like it would be a microkernel li

The best defense against logic is ignorance.