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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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  • Re:It just works (Score:3, Interesting)

    by eksith ( 2776419 ) on Friday June 21, 2013 @10:29PM (#44076143) Homepage
    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, 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 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.
  • 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 ) on Saturday June 22, 2013 @02:07AM (#44076927) Homepage

    Red Hat's IPO was in 1999. The Linux :: BSD ratio was already massive by then.

    I don't agree with you about 1994. I don't think it was losing time. I think the BSD community was hostile to people like me (Windows Power Users and Unix users -- non admins) who became the people who pushed Linux into corporate America during the 1990s and early 2000s.

  • 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 ?
  • Re:Well... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Plunky ( 929104 ) on Saturday June 22, 2013 @03:04AM (#44077043)

    Honest question, who uses NetBSD?

    Well I do, and moreover I personally have written ~30 thousand lines of code for NetBSD which has been used in other OS projects (the other BSDs, and OpenSolaris at least - see Bluetooth code) in varying amounts, and I am certainly not the only one to have had code re-used. The NetBSD libc is being used for Android now, I believe.

    Also, many companies [netbsd.org] do use it, though they don't always advertise that fact.

    Seriously, after 25 years in the business I've never seen or heard about anyone using NetBSD in production ever.

    The licence is liberal, and companies are not obligated to mention their usage.

  • 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).

Forty two.