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Operating Systems Unix OS X BSD

Happy 20th Birthday, FreeBSD 220

mbadolato writes "FreeBSD celebrates its 20th birthday this week. On 19 June 1993, David Greenman, Jordan Hubbard and Rod Grimes announced the creation of their new fork of the BSD 4.3 operating system, and its new name: FreeBSD." And in the time since then, FreeBSD hasn't exactly stood still; it's spawned numerous other projects (like DragonFly BSD and PC-BSD), as well as served as the basis for much of Mac OS X; there's even a Raspberry Pi build.
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Happy 20th Birthday, FreeBSD

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  • Well... (Score:5, Funny)

    by grub ( 11606 ) <slashdot@grub.net> on Friday June 21, 2013 @10:24PM (#44076123) Homepage Journal

    Given enough time, Netcraft will confirm...
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      If it is not in `cat /usr/share/calendar/calendar.history` on a FreeBSD box then I refuse to believe it happened.

      • You have to check that file on a Xenix/SCO UNIX system. It will probably have Netcraft credits at the bottom with the copyright.

  • It just works (Score:5, Insightful)

    by approachingZero ( 1365381 ) on Friday June 21, 2013 @10:25PM (#44076131) Homepage
    I've been using it since about 1998 to serve web pages. Solid product, thanks for all the hard work people.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by eksith ( 2776419 )
      This is exactly the reason I was using it for such a long time. I've used it along with Linux and OpenBSD, while these days, I use the latter for my home server. FreeBSD was my first honest attempt at building a home server.
    • Re:It just works (Score:4, Insightful)

      by mlts ( 1038732 ) * on Friday June 21, 2013 @10:38PM (#44076187)

      It works without issue. I've used a BSD on and off since the days of Jolitz's 386BSD which came with a compressed image with a number of utilities on a 1.44MB floppy disk. Before this, if a person wanted source code to look at, they would have to pay a good mint to BSDI or a company like that... and of course, if you wanted SVR4 source... good luck with that.

      Ahh... memories.

      • It works without issue.

        Lets not wax TOO poetic about it. Wasnt there an issue in 8.1 which caused reboot loops if u had a USB keyboard plugged in?

        • Re:It just works (Score:4, Informative)

          by steg0 ( 882875 ) on Saturday June 22, 2013 @08:27AM (#44077807) Homepage

          I recall frequent kernel panics while booting that were related to the Intel Ethernet chipset on a SuperMicro H8SGL-F board (not exactly the least common hardware) in a released version (I think it was 8.2 or 8.3), which was probably this [freebsd.org]. Rather annoying.

          There have been other problems, too (off the top of my head), like

          • the mediocre PAE support,
          • and the in my eyes rather ungracefully handled transition to Xorg 7.2 in the 6.x releases, which for me didn't work at all like the documentation [freebsd.org] said, although this was not a problem of the base system, but the ports collection.
          • Then there's stuff like some guys arbitrarily deciding to reimplement the system installer and on top of that, to remove the old one in the time window between 9.0 RC 3 and 9.0-RELEASE, see (along with some elitist Linux bashing going on:) here [gmane.org] and here [gmane.org]
          • or the transition to Clang at a time when it wasn't even ready for the non-x86 architectures!

          So sometimes I ask myself whether this OS is really ready for prime time

          But enough of the rant. I've been sticking to it since 2000 and for most of the time it just runs and does its job. It's got some nice coherent documentation too.

    • Re:It just works (Score:4, Interesting)

      by houstonbofh ( 602064 ) on Friday June 21, 2013 @10:49PM (#44076237)
      It is also the core of several appliances like m0n0wall, pfSense, FreeNAS, Nas4free, and Askozia. (even if Askizia ported to Linux later) Not bad for a little OS no one uses... ;)
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Well has it !!

  • Congrats FreeBSD (Score:5, Insightful)

    by laffer1 ( 701823 ) <luke@ f o o l i s h g a m es.com> on Friday June 21, 2013 @10:55PM (#44076273) Homepage Journal

    FreeBSD is a great example of open source working. Not only has it been successful, but it has spawned a lot of other open source projects such as GhostBSD, PC-BSD, DesktopBSD, DragonFly, pfsense, freenas, nanobsd, and my own MidnightBSD.

    There are a lot of people who have donated a lot of time to FreeBSD. This wouldn't have happened without all the committers and folks offering patches to the project. FreeBSD and all the other projects I mentioned wouldn't be here without the. Thanks!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by adolf ( 21054 )

      And a lot of closed-source things: FreeBSD != GPL, so one is free to bottle up a bunch of their compiled stuff and sell it without interference.

      I, personally, am quite OK with this. (I once owned a TV that I strongly suspect ran FreeBSD; it worked well.)

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by cold fjord ( 826450 )

      I will second that. And beyond just the fact that FreeBSD is a great OS and has spawned a number of derivative systems is the fact that it participates in the *BSD ecosystem in which useful ideas and developments are shared among the many BSD based distributions. (FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD.....n) That makes for a lot of innovation and experimentation that benefits much of Unixland, and beyond.

    • by smash ( 1351 ) on Saturday June 22, 2013 @12:59AM (#44076713) Homepage Journal
      It is also the basis of JunOS, Netapps Data OnTap, and various other commercial products. FreeBSD is really under-rated and works very very well.
    • by jbolden ( 176878 )

      Let's not forget OSX which got some of its code from FreeBSD as well.

  • by stox ( 131684 ) on Saturday June 22, 2013 @12:07AM (#44076539) Homepage

    We might be talking about FreeBSD as we do Linux these days.

    • by jphamlore ( 1996436 ) <jphamlore@yahoo.com> on Saturday June 22, 2013 @12:18AM (#44076585)
      Let's explode that myth. Here's what actually happened. Linux distributions such as Slackware back then supported booting from a floppy into the OS so that one could run the rest of the userland from a hard drive. That meant one could preserve Microsoft Windows booting yet run Linux at the same time with no risk. I cannot stress how important a feature that was back then to someone like me, back when PCs were very expensive and had to be shared among family members. The FreeBSD developers took a different tack. Their OS was for grown-ups, for servers. They openly mocked on their mailing lists the feature of being able to boot into the OS from a floppy drive. (Note this is different from being able to INSTALL from floppy, everyone back then could do that.) The FreeBSD developers CHOSE to not be popular.
      • And Linux back then supported booting the OS from an extended partition, a feature FreeBSD didn't have until many years later.
      • by camperdave ( 969942 ) on Saturday June 22, 2013 @12:27AM (#44076613) Journal

        They openly mocked on their mailing lists the feature of being able to boot into the OS from a floppy drive... The FreeBSD developers CHOSE to not be popular.

        ... and here it is umpteen years later and NOBODY boots from a floppy. Sounds to me like they were just ahead of their time.

        • This is debatable. Booting from a CD is really booting from a floppy image written on the CD, so the feature is still in use worldwide for installers and for livd CD or live DVD environments.

          Few modern kernels and boot environments fit on a single 1.44 Megabyte floppy image anymore.

      • by stox ( 131684 ) on Saturday June 22, 2013 @12:33AM (#44076641) Homepage

        I disagree, as far as real adoption goes. Yes, booting Linux from a floppy using a MSDOS filesystem did enable a lot of people to get exposed, but the race was lost before those people made a difference. Had BSD development not stalled for two years, many of the early commercial and big site adoptions would have gone to BSD instead. Many started with BSD and then jumped to Linux because that is where the momentum was. Red Hat's IPO sealed the deal.

        BTW, I introduced Pat Volkerding to the Church of the SubGenius, and pioneered a lot of the early work with Linux at Fermilab. I know a little about these things.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 22, 2013 @01:42AM (#44076857)

        It wasn't just something specific like floppy boot, it was the entire attitude that Linux was for "Peecees" or "Windoze" users, while *BSD was for the Sun Workstation Master Race (who couldn't actually personally afford a sun workstation). Just as an example, *BSD thought "real workstations use SCSI (period)". While Linux had all sorts of workarounds for your buggy IDE chipset and support for your proprietary Soundblaster CD-ROM drive.

        And while the Net/Open/Free factions were flaming each other on the maillists, there was this persistant attitude that Linux was vastly inferior thing, even after the "the battle was over", and Linux had clearly won. When the history is really written, the story of *BSD has little do with AT&T and is more about how arrogance and personal politics alienated a entire genration of users.

        • by jbolden ( 176878 )

          Honestly it was worse than that. Linux also had the "I wish I could buy a Sun workstation but can't afford one" crowd. BSDs were focused on Unix admin types they didn't want Unix user types with light admin knowledge.

      • by jbolden ( 176878 )

        Great example of what was different between the BSD and Linux culture of the mid 1990s.

      • Actually, the efforts in PC-BSD seem to suggest otherwise. From everything I've read, they've done their level best to ensure simple things - such as gui utilities working in the same way that CLI utilities work. That would have taken a lot of work. Once they get that entire OS pnp installable, that will be good enough to challenge the likes of Ubuntu, Mint, Fedora and other Linux distros. PC-BSD also offers a much wider choice of DEs
    • by jbolden ( 176878 )

      The BSD people keep telling themselves that but no. The BSDs never made an attempt to appeal to Windows Power users and Unix users who didn't do administration. They focused on providing a classic Unix admin experience. They were harder to install, harder to configure, less tolerant of various hardware.... BSD failed because it never made an attempt to appeal to the group of end users that became the Linux desktop users of the 1990s and the Linux admins of the 2000s.

      They lost a few months due to the la

    • We might be talking about FreeBSD as we do Linux these days.

      Well no. The difference is that I could get a stack of floppies and simple install instructions and actually install Slackware and get it running within one day. Whereas with BSD, asking for install help was pretty much guaranteed to leave you with the mark of the idiot for the remainder of time.

  • Here's to the other kind of free, and another 20 years for both!

  • I'm not trolling here, but as a Linux user I never took interest in BSD, I hardly know what it is. The impression I have is that it is solid but somewhat backwards compared to Linux. It's just strange to me that there are two similar OSes coming out the same year and they are still both here. So what are the differences besides the licensing scheme ?
    • As a regular user you don't see any difference. The same software works on both.

      The main differences are in the kernel, and in the way the systems are developed. In Linux land the kernel and most other operating system components are developed in separate projects, and the distributions are responsible for packaging them so that they work together as one cohesive operating system. In FreeBSD everything is developed by essentially the same team as one big project. That's why we often don't speak about BSD di

      • That's a good description. I would add that each develops with a different open source philosophy; Linux under GPL, the BSD's under the BSD license.
        Proprietary software companies use CopyRight to preserve power for themselves.
        The GPL answer to it is CopyLeft, (I'll share with you, but only if you agree to share with everyone else).
        The BSD answer is CopyFree (I'll share with you. Period. I have faith that some good will come out of it).
        Perhaps both approaches in parallel are needed to prevent CopyRight holde

    • by real-modo ( 1460457 ) on Saturday June 22, 2013 @03:55AM (#44077161)

      Hmmm.. last used for any length of time: FreeBSD 2.2.2 with FVWM95 (serial mouse!), back in '00 or thereabouts. (At the time, FreeBSD was reliable; Linux was not. Corel Linux--remember that, anyone? Urg. Red Hat? flaky, at the time. Mandrake Linux: slightly less flaky.)

      But the culture hasn't changed much, from a recent scout-round. I'd say your impression is correct. Here are some random thoughts:-

        *BSDers will say *BSD is more like "real Un*x", but as far as I can tell the OS has been riddled with schisms since the '70s. The "real Un*x" is a nostalgic fantasy (or an artefact of Stockholm syndrome, take your pick).

      *BSDers will say *BSD is reliable. That hasn't been a problem for Linux for a decade. (Except for Intel's video drivers...grrr.)

      Differences...apart from being behind the times hardware-wise (which you can do with Centos 4, if you want), the main difference is: only one "distro". (Although there are a few derivatives of FreeBSD and NetBSD, only their creators use them, pretty much.) BDSM submissives enjoy OpenBSD; no-one'd dare fork it.

      The FreeBSD man pages were better. Way better, as I recall. That's in part because they tried to avoid all that dubious GNU stuff. Can't say they were wrong about info(1), but I can say they were wrong about make(1).

      Filesystems. Linux and *BSD have *FAT*, NTFS, and ZFS in common. That's about it. FreeBSD has had ZFS for a couple of years longer than Linux.

      Culture. For a long time the *BSDs' attitude was "compile it from source, and fix the dependencies yourself". Like combining the bad parts of old-time Slackware and Gentoo. Might be better now; I've only tried Live CDs.

      Startup: I like the rc.conf startup configuration approach. (Way better than System Five initscripts. "Fragile" hardly begins to describe that approach.) I used Arch Linux for a long time because it had the closest approximation to rc.conf, but it also had drivers for USB and stuff. You know, the hardware I had attached to my PC. Not much, back in the day; but I wanted to use it. Arch was a pretty good compromise.

      Now, Arch Linux has moved away from an rc.conf-ish approach to using systemd. I've been getting progressively more annoyed with all the Sieved Poots appearing in linux, so I recently tried PC-BSD, which is supposed to be an end-user friendly porcelain on top of FreeBSD. Unfortunately, it's dire. Bug after glitch after missing object. On both my PCs, the typography is eyewatering. Worse than Windows 3.11.

      You're better off with FreeBSD. I might be going back there soon. Probably, though, it won't have support for my USB wifi stick. If you never see me comment again, you'll know what's happened.

      • Correction: That was FreeBSD 2.2.26.

      • by dargaud ( 518470 )

        Filesystems. Linux and *BSD have *FAT*, NTFS, and ZFS in common. That's about it.

        Strange, I expected a lot of common pieces between the two. The source for most things in /bin/ is the same, right ? Or are all options to, say, 'ls' different ?

        • They are similar but not the same. Most Linux distributions uses the GNU user land, where FreeBSD develops its own. Programs like ls will still fulfill the same task, but the options will be different and some features might be missing. You can still install the GNU user land on top of FreeBSD if you want it.

      • ZFS appears to have a performance advantage under BSD. Or am I out of date again? In any case, I use BSD as a cheap NAS for precisely this reason. It can saturate gigabit ethernet on a cheap slow system.

      • Filesystems. Linux and *BSD have *FAT*, NTFS, and ZFS in common. That's about it. FreeBSD has had ZFS for a couple of years longer than Linux.

        Last I looked, Linux supported BSD disklabels and filesystems.

        FreeBSD has had ZFS for a couple of years longer than Linux

        Doesn't in-kernel ZFS still lead on BSD, too?

    • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Saturday June 22, 2013 @07:33AM (#44077665) Journal

      The reason I switched for FreeBSD around 2001 is that in-kernel sound mixing Just Worked. Two apps could write to /dev/dsp and get working sound. I'm now writing this while watching a DVD on the FreeBSD box connected to my projector and 5.1 surround sound system and I didn't need to do any configuration.

      The other big difference is ZFS, which makes a huge difference to how you manage storage. Creating a new volume is as easy (and fast) as creating a new directory. You get compression, deduplication, constant-time snapshots, and a load of other things via a very easy administration interface.

      If you're doing development work or running servers, jails give you a way of deploying a complete system that's got almost the same isolation as a VM but with much lower overhead. With ZFS, you can create one stock install and then clone it into a new jail in a few seconds.

      The base system is maintained as a whole and the developers take the principle of least astonishment (POLA) seriously. User-visible changes are minimised and new configuration utilities are expected to follow the pattern of existing ones.

      For firewalling, there are a number of choices, but the most sensible is probably the fork of OpenBSD's pf, modified to have better SMP scalability.

      For security, there's the MAC framework, which is roughly equivalent to SELinux, that the sandboxing on OS X and iOS are based on, and also Capscium, which provides a capability model that is better suited to application compartmentalisation. An increasing number of the system daemons use Capsicum for privilege separation.

      That's probably most of the user-facing things. You'll notice that GPU drivers (except for the nVidia blobs) tend to lag Linux somewhat. For Intel it's not so bad, for AMD it's quite a way behind (catching up, but not there yet).

    • There's a few things where it's ahead and a few where it is not. ZFS is the biggest thing it leads with IMHO, since the linux implementation (which I'm using on the computer I'm typing this on) has a lot of catching up to do.
      Another thing which really astonished me is it's performance on 32 bit hardware. To learn how to use freebsd I put it on a disused server full of IDE disks and it performed far better than the linux that had been on there previously. On more recent systems it behaves as well as linux
  • I remember downloading 386BSD via ftpmail one floppy image at a time. And writing those images to soooo many floppies and again when some of them were corrupted. It took days to download and install 386BSD for the first time but eventually I got it up and running on an 386DX machine. The sense of awe and wonder I had when it finally booted was indescribable. Those were the days.
  • I'm still waiting to see the BSD userland / toolchain environment spliced together with the Linux kernel. My headache with BSD was always hardware driver support. Linux, the kernel, has won that race, and rather then duplicate efforts I would like to see the best parts of *BSD merged on top of a Linux kernel. Instead of just GNU/Linux (SysV Style Linux), you could have an alternative BSD/Linux (BSD Style Linux) distribution. If you include Mac OS X, BSD style unix far an away out numbers SysV style machines

    • by jbolden ( 176878 )

      That sound like Gentoo. You take the Linux kernel and the BSD ports systems and engineer around that. What else are you looking for?

    • So basically, you want a SunOS-like directory full of BSD userland applications? It seems like that should exist already.

    • by slacka ( 713188 )

      I think BSD/Linux is a brilliant idea. I started off with SOLARIS and various flavors of BSD and have gradually moved over to GNU/Linux for hardware compatibility. Linux has finally reached BSDs rock solid stability, but I still miss the rc scripts, logical parameters, and well written man files of the BSD userland. Have you tried Starch Linux?

  • I've attempted to use FreeBSD over the last 10 years and every single time I attempt to, I run into the exact same issue with hard drives. Simply the fact that my chipsets are never supported, IDE and Sata. I've been in the chatrooms on IRC, I've been on the forums and no one was ever able to answer me. So FreeBSD might be 20 years old but they still don't have hard drive support.
  • Happy birthday! Your user will be celebrating in the atrium! I understand there is to be cake!
  • Happy Birthday FreeBSD! I've been around since the 1.x series, and I'm still using it on a day-to-day basis, both @home and @work (there, with thousands of FreeBSD servers).

    Having said that, I'm not really happy about the status of Xen on FreeBSD. Sure, Xen/DomU is working, no complaints about it. But we're waiting for Xen/Dom0 support for quite some time now, basically to host various VMs on FreeBSD/ZFS clusters. Sadly, Xen/Dom0 support is nowhere to be seen.

You know you've been spending too much time on the computer when your friend misdates a check, and you suggest adding a "++" to fix it.