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BSD Operating Systems

BSD: "The Net's stealth operating system" 460

conio writes "MSNBC has an excellent article about BSD titled "The Net's stealth operating system." It gives a brief history of BSD and discusses why it's not as mainstream as Linux. It also delves into the BSDL vs. GPL holy war, and talks about how BSD will soon work its way into the workstation market. It's both accurate and well-written. "
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BSD: "The Net's stealth operating system"

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  • Without GNU or GCC, some other free compiler and OS would have filled the bill. I don't believe any GPL products were/are necessary to build Minix or *BSD.
  • No apps? I suppose you never typed cd /usr/ports, did you?
  • Neither BSD nor Linux is Unix... talk to the Open Group...

  • Well, technically, it can then be said that Hotmail originally ran on BSD. The fact that it was switched to NT and then back to BSD doesn't make that untrue.
  • Nope, Linux has much better SMP support then *BSD. In current BSD variants SMP is somewhat like that of Linux 2.0. However, there is plenty of anecdotal "evidence" that FreeBSD has a slight edge over Linux on single CPU systems.
  • Hmm, one needs to win popularity contests to get stuff submitted into the BSD distrobution (oh yeah, which version are we talking?) Assuming you are talking about FreeBSD, I'm just taking a wild guess that Jordan K. Hubbard would have a disagreement with you about that. And even if it was true, are we all forgetting how one becomes a name in the Free/Open software circles? That's right, you do something GOOD.

    Good technical merit will get you just as far in the BSD camps as it will in the Linux camp. You just sound like someone who had one of their submissions turned down...

  • The NetBSD/mac68k mailing list has one of the friendliest groups of people I've ever seen on the Net. Questions get answered patiently, often with pointers to references. In the last (nearly) two years, I've seen only one questioner get flamed, and that was because he was being thoroughly obnoxious about getting an answer.

    Running NetBSD on an SE/30, and Linux on a G3,

    -- Dirt Road

  • for RedHat?

    Of course. If you were a software developer, would you want to support distributions X, Y, and Z that you've never even heard of? Quick: what patchlevel is glibc at in the latest release of Mandrake?

    Sure, it RUNS on other linuces, as well as more mainstream ones like slackware and SuSE, but they're saving their own asses by saying "RedHat".

  • Yes, NetBSD has the ports stuff, except it's called "packages." In the NetBSD camp, "ports" are the many many different architectures that NetBSD runs on -- so a different name was needed to avoid confusion.

    -- Dirt Road

  • I have noticed similar sentiments among some of the "older" gentlemen attending meetings at our LUG. They prefer the community feel of Linux over the Elitist view of many of the die hard UNIX/BSD users/developers.

    Personally, I knew one (he was one of the owners of a company that employed me) of the core developers of the NetBSD distribution. He seemed nice enough, yet carried a massive grudge over OpenBSD and FreeBSD.

    He hated OpenBSD for breaking off and "not keeping" up with NetBSD's development process. He also despised FreeBSD because they concentrated on the Intel platform and that is strictly for "weenies".

    I definitely felt the elitist sentiment when I worked there. The fact that I used Linux seemed to make me that much less of a person, since according to them Linux is simply an insecure system riddled with holes and containing no modular/hard-coded code. Ah well tis is life.

    This may also be a reason for the popularity of Linux. Who would you rather follow? Linus and a community of young, enthusiastic hackers... Or a reserved body of elite programmers?

    ** On a side note. FreeBSD is detected as a typo and offers Freinds as the only correct spelling on Communicator mail. Interesting I found **
  • Linux != FSF. What is the goal of Linux, to write a free unix-like OS. What is the goal of BSD, to write a free unix-like OS. True both camps have chosen different methods of getting there, but in the end the goal is the same. Both strive to produce a secure, stable, and fast unix-like OS. IMHO, BSD is good for linux is good for BSD. If we'd stop worrying about whose dick is bigger and go back to writing software both camps would be happy. Although some comparison is good, ie if both are always trying to out-do each other, then we'll end up with two amazing families of OSes, which IMHO is a very good thing. I personally use linux, I've tried freebsd, i just felt more comfortable with linux, i'm sure it works the other way too. Who really cares which free OS someone is using. Atleast they aren't using NT.
  • Native: "And what kind of football team has the devil as a mascot?"

    Hey, here's a good one: the Diablo Valley [] Soccer Club has a 'Red Devils' team, heeee. Where I grew up in WV there's a HS w/ a 'Red Devils' mascott, Oak Hill - but their sites all seem to be /.'d w/o anyone accessing them.

  • Okay correct me if am wrong (well that goes w/o saying), but I always thought UNIX was the operating system and Unix/unix/*nix was a philosophy of taking a lot of small, useful, stable, configurable software tools and making them inter-useable (sp? or is it even a word?). Thereby empowering the user, developer, sysadmin,...

    Now besides that I think that the argument is one of semantics and personal outlook. In other words people will say what they want. Linux and DOS are not even comparable, but definitions can be so subjective and tentative that it doesn't matter. Some argue that DOS is not even an OS but a collection of interrupts.

    I can understand (given some of the personalities on this site) why some misunderstandings may cause as much confusion as they do, but people will derive what they want and assimilate it accordingly. Now I must stop before I digress into information theory (hhmmm..something to think about).

  • The reason why 386BSD was "splitted" into NetBSD, FreeBSD and OpenBSD is because the developers had a different view of what should go into an operating system, and what the priorities ought to be.

    That is the same reason why there are different Linux distributions. People have different ideas about what should go in the operating system, and have different priorities.

    btw, I thought Red Hat was distributed with a kernel using some Red Hat specific patches...
  • It's agnother gnu! :-)
  • > what patchlevel is glibc at in the latest release of Mandrake?

    Why should they care. Just link statically. Have you ever downloaded Netscape Communicator? They have an executable with the motif library linked statically and another dynamically.
    So the question is why do they make two tarballs, one for libc5 and one for libc6? Maybe it's a matter of space.
    But in essence if you link your application statically you won't depend on what's installed on the machine, just the kernel.
  • My old ISP (before I got a cable modem) used SunOS and FreeBSD. IIRC the reason why they used FreeBSD over Linux was pretty much "I like the way FreeBSD feels better." Which is the reason I use linux, to me it feels better. I'm just glad they didn't use any *doze.
  • OK Mr. Pedantic:

    Why don't you tell me who owns The Open Group?
    Can you or can you not call a product UNIX without having to pay The Open Group (owned by SCO - see answer to above - who itself is 17% owned by MS) and pass their tests?
  • Well, at least one more cool thing anyway:

    It frigging runs on anything.

    - A.P.

    "One World, One Web, One Program" - Microsoft Promotional Ad

  • Linux's gain...BSD's loss...if it wasn't for that lawsuit we'd probably be having Linux Vs BSD wars...instead of NT vs Linux wars...
  • > what patchlevel is glibc at in the latest release of Mandrake?

    Why should they care. Just link statically. Have you ever downloaded Netscape Communicator? They have an executable with the motif library linked statically and another dynamically.
    So the question is why do they make two tarballs, one for libc5 and one for libc6? Maybe it's a matter of space.
    But in essence if you link your application statically you won't depend on what's installed in the machine, just the kernel.
  • by tig ( 6017 ) on Thursday July 22, 1999 @07:51AM (#1789510) Homepage
    I wanted to ask the question: what did the move of putting Linux under the GPL do for attracting developers? it would be great to get the response of kernel coders on this. I would speculate that the fact that the kernel belonged to the "community" at large thanks to the GPL and could not be co-opted into another proprietary OS(tcp stacks in NT for example) played a part in assuring developers about the ownership, rightful use, and legacy of their code.

  • 7) Dust Puppy!
    8) Alan Cox?

    QDMerge [] -- data + templates = documents.
  • by drwiii ( 434 )
    As someone who's been using FreeBSD extensively for the past 18 months, I can safely say that my FreeBSD systems are the only machines that I actually look forward to doing admin tasks on. The system's design is so well documented and intuitive that it makes my job a hell of a lot easier.

    That and who can't love the cute little Daemon logo? (:

  • Hopefully not related to Microsoft Bob :)
  • You forgot the all important bitmap of Bob (still available at a few places in Slackware).

    All Hail Bob.
  • at my job, we have decided to move our rh5.1 webserver over to openBSD...simply because of what we have seen. The rh5.1 system is flawless, but sometimes chokes up under heavy loads...personally i love linux, but i think this was a good move for the company.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...he missed at least one important detail. Specifically, that Linux IS NOT UNIX. It was written from the ground up as UNIX-LIKE, but was not (unlike *BSD) derived from a source tree that was around before Linus took his first computer course.

    Now, before you break out the flamethrowers, let me make clear that this does NOT, in my eyes, mean that one OS is better than the other. That's a silly argument to begin with under any conditions. Linux and *BSD each serve different niches that just happen to have some overlap. Use what works best for you, and Be Happy.
  • You're right -- at least about NetBSD/OpenBSD [].
  • Here's a question for ya. How easy would it for a Linux user to learn? (to admin a personal system, that is. I can *use* SunOS, but I admit to never having learned [nor needed to] adminning a Sun box.)

    Idly curious...
  • by cdlu ( 65838 )
    I admin a couple of bsd systems, a lot of linux systems and a sun system

    Linux is by far the easiest to admin remotely
    BSD is by far the easiest to admin at the console
    Sun is by far the hardest to admin.
  • I've had nothing but good experiences getting help from the FreeBSD lists. Most recently I needed some help getting my USB equipment up and running. Nick Hibma (the FreeBSD USB guy) was very kind and very responsive and got me up and going in a day. In the past I've gotten responses from David Greenman, Soren Schmidt, Joerg Wunsch and John Dyson. All were polite and courteous and willing to help me get things right. None of them were derogatory, nor did they act elitist or snobbish when it turned out that the problem was just normal stupidity on my part.

  • Unix is terrible .. the problem is that there is nothing really outhere to replace this ..
    So we are stuck :-)
  • Yes! Thank for saying it.

    In addition, many *nix users are hobbyists, not admins. I use linux at home because I get to play with more software and there is an active, friendly, helpful and cooperative user base. If I were trying to set up secure server that handled heavy traffic, sure I'd use BSD. Its proven! You just can't beat that! Its A-O-K! Linux is still great!

    There isn't a single path to success, innovation, and improvement.

    Jeez, I'd kill for either one right now, as I'm stuck on NT at work...

  • one look at that little excercise convinced everyone i know that BSD is full of holes..this may be the case or it may not but i trust irix (& linux) far more than most other OSes..
    Allowing a process to rename itself does not a security hole make, imho. If you want to play fool-the-admin, you can just mv the program you want to run to whatever name you'd like to show up in ps.

    The fact that you're saying you'd trust Irix to be secure does cast a bit of doubt on your credibility, too... If you'd like a little exercise there, search bugtraq for Irix. Or try logging into a new Irix installation as guest or OutOfBox.
  • For a lot of the cross platform apps, it's simply a matter of:

    unpack the source tarball
    change to the source directory

    I primarily use NetBSD, which is supposedly the most obscure of the three free BSD's. Just about anything I want to do is available for it. Except I haven't found a CDDA2WAV or CDParanoia app that works with IDE.
  • Linux has nothing to do with Free Unix. Linux is GNU!

    Linux - or, to be pedantic, "a GNU/Linux system", although a pile of the userland stuff in such a system doesn't come from GNU - is a UNIX-compatible operating system that's free software.

    As far as I'm concerned, that's enough for me to call it a "free UNIX".

    Besides, the BSDs have some GNU userland code as well. Hell, I think some commercial UNIXes have some GNU userland code....

  • They use racks of FreeBSD frontends to Sun e4500
  • There's a similar emulator from SCO called Merge, I haven't tried it, but see if you can run the SCO x86 binaries under iBCS, I'd be curious as to the results.
  • I do not believe the GPL has anything at all to do with the rise of Linux. It has everything to do with Linus being at the right place, at the right time, with the right OS. Think back to 1991. MS-DOG was king, and the OS hobbyists were playing with Minix [] (a cute lil' free OS by Andy Tanenbaum). Minix was an okay cross-platform Unix-like OS. Linus wanted a great 80386 Unix. (Sigh. Nostalgia. Anyone else remember the Minix-Linux flame wars? The biggest criticisms of Linux were the monolithic kernel, its x86 platform dependency, and its lack of basic utility programs.) At the time, there was no really good free Unix for IA32. (I think at the time, Minix was really an 8086 OS -- can someone confirm that?) Linus produced the first good free IA32 Unix, and the rest (up to today) is history. I'd say Linux stole the show early on and has never had a serious competitor in its home field, x86 free Unix.
  • The article says BSD stands for Berkeley Software Design. I've see other things that say it stands for Berkeley Standard Distribution. Is it the former, latter, or neither?
  • No, acually NetGate uses BSDi machines:

    u1{narf} % uname -a
    BSD/OS 3.1 BSDI BSD/OS 3.1 Kernel #0: Tue Jul 14 19:33:36 PDT 1998 i386
    u1{narf} %
  • This is MS FUD at it's finest

    shhhh... I can almost hear the black helicopters coming.

  • Something to add to what you just said:


  • (tcp stacks in NT for example)

    There seems to be this urban legend in the Linux world that NT uses a BSD TCP/IP stack. Before this gets repeated so often that it's considered true, folks should read this note on Linux-Kernel: 9906_04/msg00173.html

    It's interesting that certain people (such as Alan Cox) didn't disagree with that statement.

    (And even if MS and Sun and Apple and everyone else has a BSD TCP/IP stack and FTP program - who cares! If I understand correctly the BSD TCP/IP stack was developed by the US Dept of Defense and the University of California, NOT a group altruistic free software programmers. The intention behind using a BSD licence was to benefit commercial and government interests by promoting a standard networking platform. The project was successful. BSD TCP/IP was NOT as an attempt to liberate software from commercial interests.

    Now if you are talking about FreeBSD SuperFoo99, I'd agree that it might be 'stolen' by commercial interests, but I don't think that applies to the long standing free TCP/IP code.)

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Someone can sell me a binary only package under the BSD lincense, and give me no access to the source. I no longer have the right to change it and make improvements.

    Linux is popular because it is *free*. I don't want my code used by some company, thanks.
  • Native: "And what kind of football team has the devil as a mascot?"

    Not to mention an NHL team from New Jersey, a basketball team from a university in Durham, NC, and a popular line of vacuum cleaners. Gotta love them rednecks.

    But then, this happened pre-Dallas Stars' cup victory.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I think that is *exactly* the point that a lot of the "zealots" on both sides miss.. You use what does the job for *you*, not because its the latest & greatest whiz-bang system. If your company got better results out of BSD than RH/Linux, then it obviously made good sense for them to move to BSD.
  • Heh thats pretty weird, cause' I'm writing this message in X e + gnome on FreeBSD right now. I also have Civ: Call to power opened behind this window and really haven't run into many apps that I can't compile on FreeBSD (or use linux binaries). If I do have problems I usually go look in the ports collection instead. There, all you type is make install and it downloads the program, untars, automakes, and installs. It also keeps the package info so you can make deinstall or check what was installed by looking in /var/db/pkg. The ONLY thing I am missing on FreeBSD is vmware. Unfortunately FreeBSD can't emulate linux kernel modules, so I can't use vmware. Also, the SMP support is admittedly pretty ugly (even on BSDi 4.01), but we use solaris over here with 6 processor boxes if we want SMP. I haven't found linux SMP much better than FreeBSD 4.0 though.. they both need a lot of work.
  • It seems a bit disingenuous to criticize the behavior of the BSD folks, when the Linux crowd, especially many of the regulars at our /., are getting a very deserved reputation, as being bomb-throwing, foaming at the mouth, OS-bigoted, extremeists.

    " Do you doubt that this has all the makings of a good old-fashioned computer science religious war? Ask Peters, who wrote an article for online magazine earlier this month. His even-tempered prose spurred a thread 600 messages long on geek news site "

    I suppose that on the plus side, for once /. users were mentioned as doing something other than flame-mailing someone, just because that person didn't swear that Linux was the most important incention of the last several millenia.

    I'm starting to get the same feeelings about this site, as I do about living in San Francisco. I love the location. And what it has to offer. But I'm starting to really hate the local population. Extremeism is not a healthy situation. No matter how cool the thing that you hold an extreme opinion may seem.
  • SCO owns the AT&T source code, but the trademark is owned by The Open Group (I think)
  • There are a number of reasons why Linux is more popular. I don't have any experience/exposure to Net/Open so I will write based on my FreeBSD experience. A few of the reasons are:

    -- Either by choice or by luck FreeBSD was originally seen as a Server OS. Most attention was on making fast and efficient. It was not until relatively recent that any meaninful attempts were made to make it easier to use.

    The result of that was that people using it were more concerned with performance than usability. This further pushed the developers in favor of performance over usability since this was what the user base demanded and their reason to use FreeBSD.

    -- Because there is a "core" team that either implements new code or reviews it before it makes it to the OS there have not been emphasis on making it easy to contribute code/man pages/documentation.

    This is becoming easier and there are "projects" that make contributing easier (i.e. the documentation project), but FreeBSD still has a long way to go in terms of facilitating the work of volunteers.

    Many people have been discouraged from trying to help, out of fustration on the hurdless they needed to overcome in order to help. These hurldess were(are?) mostly lack of documentation on how to contribute and lack of tools.

    The perfect example is the FreeBSD "Handbook".. the official online manual for FreeBSD. This Handbook is done with SGML and for someone to help with it the would first need to figure out/install the tools and then deal with SGML. Last time I tried to help with documentation there was barely enough info on what tools to get and even less in terms of SGML documentation.

    -- Marketting. Walnut Creek, Freebsd Inc, BSDI.. have done limited marketting in traditional media. BSDI probably are the ones that have done the most, yet most people don't even know who they are.

  • >Is it just me or does this seem amazingly hypocritical?

    I think it goes back to the hunter/gatherer era, where people had to band together to hunt/gather (amazingly enough) enough food to survive. If a person wasn't helping your "group" it was competing (for resources) against yours. Therefore, in essence, the other groups were your "enemies." IMO, it just isn't so anymore. But some people still believe it is. Kinda like how some people still use racial slurs--until you consciously accept the fact that it isn't all/nothing, you won't be able to see past it.

  • My ISP uses FreeBSD. In fact, they have been
    for years!
  • ...I'd appreciate it if someone who is more knowledgeable than I would tell me how often developments in FreeBSD are integrated into the development tree of NetBSD, for example.
    All the time. There's a massive amount of code trading back and forth. And this extends to the userland, too; if we add new features to daemons or whatever, they tend to go back and forth. That's something that the Linux distros, since they don't share userland source to the same degree, don't get as much of.

    The other main advantage that Linux has for me is the applications that are being ported to Linux more and more.
    So just install a set of linux libs and whatnot under /emul/linux (a package is available, so it's as simple as a single pkg_add command) and run the Linux programs. I use Linux stuff all the time. My Netscape Communicator and RealAudio player are Linux versions, for example.


  • While reading the story, I couldn't get the image of Slim Pickens out of my mind!

    Anyway, I'm from Texas and you only meet folks like this in Country and Western bars and steak restaurants. YeeHaw!
  • The GPL is less free than the BSD license because the FSF has conveniently redefined the meaning of the word "free". Free means no strings attached; the GPL forces you to provide source and infects any works it touches. How is that more free than "you can do whatever you want with this work as long as credit is given where credit is due"?

  • Over the years, the UNIX/Unix/Free *nix community have been doing a great job at "sewing (sic) confusion in the minds of the public and IT management" all by themselves. They've never needed Microsoft's help before - why start now?
  • by drdink ( 77 ) <> on Thursday July 22, 1999 @09:37AM (#1789582) Homepage
    I think that is what happens when a news(?) site begins to decay... The moderators and operators who are supposed to treat people and opinions equally begin to take sides based on their feelings and beliefs. Just because the moderator had a beef against FreeBSD, which a good majority of the Linux community appears to have, the article gets marked down. I do not understand what is with the BSD and Linux wars. People are entitled to their opinions and freedom to use whatever they want. I, myself, prefer FreeBSD as a server because some of its features such as saving system cores in kernel panics, its fast and efficent networking, its stability and ease of admining, and its logical layout. Unlike Linux, all the sources are nicely put before the operator in /usr/src, so you can find the source to ANYTHING on your system. Before people start bashing on Linux, BSD, and *even* Windows, I would hope they would at least have the decency to try it for a long enough period of time that they get a good opinion. The Linux community has dissappointed me lately because of behavior like this. I've even found myself branding things before I fully try them, such as Enlightenment, GNOME, and KDE. Would you try it before you rate it? I'm also tired of hearing about licenses. It doesn't matter if soemthing is put under the GPL or BSDL. Both licenses allow distribution. It should be the programmer's choice as to which he uses. I'm even okay with commercial licenses, if the software is good enough (such as WordPerfect). For those of you who claimed this story was Microsoft FUD to confuse the Linux community, I have not much to say to you. If you really think Microsoft would use one opensource operating system as a sword against another to defend their commercial box of exploding blue monkeys, you need help. Even if they did, we should not fall for such stupid things. For gods sakes, read the BSD license and then the GPL license, they have the same goals. They just have different guidelines in the way they reach the goals. Basicly, before you start replying with random crap to a story, think about what the hell the story is about and think about what you are saying. The Linux and BSD community could work together if the two sides would just quit picking fights with petty words like the comments I see attached to this article.
  • What's an "app"?
    Here's a translation table to help techies programmer types and consumerist non-computer types talk to each other. Yes, I know that there's a many-to-many mapping here. That's always true when translating one language to another. Oh, some of these are slightly less than serious, and occasionally even slightly less than accurate. I also intentionally de-alphabetized them so you could have more fun.
    • open source = source code
    • manpage = documentation
    • Enterprise = that spaceship from Star Trek
    • binary edit = patch
    • physical disk = hard drive
    • box = computer
    • mount point = hard drive
    • file = binary file
    • open source = shareware
    • binaries = programs
    • alpha = beta
    • CGI scripts = CGIs
    • partition = drive letter
    • off the net = offline
    • obvious = subtle
    • MS-ASCII = text
    • alpha = new technology
    • computer secretary = admin
    • logical disk = hard drive
    • Evil One = Bill Gates
    • program = script
    • criminal = hacker
    • bug fix = upgrade
    • commonplace = ubiquitous
    • programmer = software engineer
    • floppy disk = disk
    • luser = surfer
    • network = web
    • hide = protect
    • computer scientist = mathematician
    • net = web
    • daemon = server
    • legal extortion = per-seat licensing
    • diskette = disk
    • hacker = coder
    • physical disk = drive letter
    • secretary = HTML programmer
    • sysadmin = sysop
    • cracker = hacker
    • IRC client = IRC browser
    • computer = server
    • memory = RAM
    • logical disk = drive letter
    • programmer = scripter
    • mail messages = e-mails
    • flexible = difficult
    • beggarware = shareware
    • paid bug fixes = updates
    • disk drive = hard drive
    • Internet Exploder = Internet Explorer
    • eye trash = banner ads
    • shell command = system call
    • couldn't care less = could care less
    • drive = hard drive
    • greatest common factor = least common denominator
    • Unix = UNIX
    • Microsoft's mistakes = virii
    • copy = upload
    • competence = elitism
    • monolithic program = application
    • programming = scripting
    • computer scientist = engineer
    • fleeceware = software
    • lying = marketing
    • file system = hard drive
    • controller = hard drive
    • PC = home computer
    • coredump = blue screen
    • offline = away from the computer
    • millennium = millenium
    • partition = hard drive
    • beginner = newbie
    • business = enterprise
    • competent = elite
    • bloatware = apps
    • fleeceware = commercial software
    • function = command
    • configurable = confusing
    • Mordor = Redmond
    • mail = e-mail
    • challenging = impossible
    • kernel = kernal
    • disk controller = hard drive
    • mails = sends e-mails
    • executables = programs
    • binaries = shareware
    • crippleware = shareware
    • buggy = beta
    • mark-up language = programming language
    • system call = command
    • internal network = Intranet
    • beta = production
    • open source = freeware
    • system call = operating system function
    • copy = download
    • fix = hire a consultant for
    • luser = user
    • disk space = memory
    • code = software
    • MS-HTML = HTML
    • netiquette = useless manners
    • newsreader = news browser
    • IRC channel = chat room
    • disk = hard drive
    • Evil Empire = Microsoft
    • GUI annoyance = wizard
    • operating system = kernel
    • kernel = operating system
    • newsgroup = chat room
    • editor = text editor
    • bloatware = application
    • patch = source edit
    • file = text file
    • file system = drive letter
    • expert-hostile = user-friendly
    • login = shell account
    • mount point = drive letter
    • connect to = logon to
    • access the web = surf the net
    Your job now is to write a program than converts from one lingo to the other, or vice versa.
  • FreeBSD already runs most linux applications, except vmware, without a problem, and still companies port software for FreeBSD, including realplayer and Netscape. OS/2 was not helped by it's lack of apps, but it failed to gain use for other reasons as well. OS/2 was direct competition with NT (Old versions)and couldn't compete with the user base/support/already made apps for NT. Also OS/2's place amongst Geeks was removed by Linux and FreeBSD which are both superior to OS/2. Plus IBM didn't market or support OS/2 very well. Plus the author of the article (IMHO) is not trying to say that FreeBSD is vastly superior to Linux, but that it has it's place in the world, and that it soon may get a surge of new users.


    P.S. It's the end of the day, and after working all day i'm too lazy to check for spelling/grammer mistakes
  • by dcs ( 42578 ) on Thursday July 22, 1999 @09:48AM (#1789611)
    Sure. The Gartner Group had a test with NT, Linux and FreeBSD. NT sucked, of course. FreeBSD was first, with Linux a somewhat close second. The test, unfortunately, is not available on the web anymore.

    What they benchmarked was the ability of the system to degrade gracefully underload. In other words, forget how fast your system is when everything is cached in RAM... when things get ugly, you have a lot of processes, and swap is heavy, during the "peaks" of your workload, how well does the system handle that? FreeBSD showed the best scores by far under the heavier loads, with the scores (err, FreeBSD and Linux) getting closer under lighter loads, and both NT and Linux surpassing FreeBSD under no load to speak of.

    As it goes, they somehow reached the conclusion that Linux was the prefered server under a number of environments analysed, even though FreeBSD performed better and had none of the drawnbacks they found in Linux. Go figure.

    Then, there is the Mindcraft benchmark. I'm told Linux performed significantly better than FreeBSD, with NT performed way better, and Solaris beating everyone. Alas, this test measured the perfomance of the system under very few processes, and everything cached. At least, as far as NT went. Gartner results say that if the environment of the test changed so that number of processes increased and swapping became necessary, NT would soon find itself trailing everyone.
  • 'Nuff said.

    I need Applix Office (or StarOffice if I have to, but I'd prefer not). WordPerfect would also be nice, but not critical.

    Looking at the Linux emulation stuff it looks like I can get it to run, but trying to 'brand' all the individual little ELF binaries as 'Linux' did not make it work, so I gave up and switched back to Linux. I did make sure that the emulation worked by running a few little Linux binaries (running the Linux version of 'gnu tar' then feeding it through the FreeBSD version of 'gnu tar' was a blast :-).

    I think the guy had a valid point -- while FreeBSD may run many Linux binaries, it is by no means as easy to do for non-trivial programs as some people like to say. ("non-trivial" == "has more than one object module").

  • There do exist easy-to-find MP3 players in FreeBSD. Try 'splay'. Or 'freeamp' if you wish. Or even 'x11amp' if you don't care about that stupid license (its template is in /usr/ports).

    Web browser: what's the beef? I installed KDE off the FreeBSD CD-ROM by using pkg_add (gosh, how horrible can that be!), then used its built-in web browser to download the FreeBSD version of Netscape off of What, you don't like Netscape? Tough, that's all you get on Linux too.

    The only real problem I had with FreeBSD was that I could not get a commercial-quality office suite working. That's the only reason I switched back to Linux. Otherwise, it's fast, it's stable (more stable than Linux in fact -- the memory leak in the Netscape text input widget occasionally locks up my Linux machine, but all it did on FreeBSD was make Netscape core-dump once it reached the limits of virtual memory), and reasonably well laid out (though I prefer the way OpenBSD is laid out, to tell you the truth -- FreeBSD is trying to get too fancy nowdays).

    Of course, there WERE some problems... I had to pull out the sound card I had in it (an Ensonique AudioPCI) and replace it with an old SoundBlaster pulled out my junk box in order to get sound support... but if I hadn't had four years of accumulated Applix files that I did not want to succumb to bit-rot(*), I would probably still be running FreeBSD.


    *bit-rot: what happens when a file can no longer be usably read, executed, or altered. Generally happens when the OS that the file was created for no longer will run on obtainable hardware, or when the applications software that it was created with will no longer run due to OS upgrades or etc.
  • I suggest you check your dictionary. They are two different words. People who are the true "elite", i.e., those who are the best or most skilled at what they do, generally do not engage in "elitism".

    "elitism" means (to quote the American Heritage Dictionary): "Belief in rule or domination by an elite".

    Frankly, I would prefer not to be ruled by a self-proclaimed "elite". Frankly, that reeks of, where you can read the rantings of these self-proclaimed "elites" who want to rule our nation. Ick.

    -- E

  • I don't think so. BSD is a mature, intelligently designed OS, one that attempts to do things the right way, not force you into the way someone in Seattle thinks you should.

    The complaints that Linux users have about BSD and vice versa are nothing like the complaints that folks have about NT. We'd be having Linux/BSD vs. NT wars.

    One thing that the article missed is the pride of hackerdom. Nobody anywhere gets paid for maintaining a FAQ, or a mailing list, yet people do it everyday. Folks moderate newsgroups, release code, anything, just to make a name for themselves in the community. A box of software can be bought, the respect of your peers is priceless. And, as this very website shows, hackerdom can be it's own reward.

    I think that the BSD v. Linux thing will go on, but it will be based on the relative merits of the two, not on the licensing differences.

    Eric Brandwine

    Yeah, those Linux developers are just a bunch of college sophomores. Sure. College sophomores with PhD's and 10 years's experience.

    'Nuff said.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 22, 1999 @08:01AM (#1789632)
    I can just feel a flamewar coming on.

    Flames can sometimes be useful. Most flamewars however, aren't constructive. They tend to be destructive, that's why they're named after a "destructive force."

    And in this instance a flamewar would be pretty stupid. This isn't a case of who's better. The BSD's cover different areas, as does Linux. Is there a point to fighting? Its like saying, "My boat is faster than your car" or "My orange is sweeter than your apple."

    The OSes in question are very powerful. What they do well they excell in. Its not like we're comparing Solaris (yay) to NT (boo!).

    Before jumping into the BSD/GPL debate, think about it. We're all on the same side! We like solid OSes. We can have a few beers and start scoffing at the NT folk together.

    Together. That is a word that both the BSD and Linux worlds should be using more often. Or at least we can hope.
  • Microsoft's free e-mail service Hotmail began its life on BSD servers

    What? Did they finally succeed in converting it to NT?

  • by Disco Stu ( 13103 ) on Thursday July 22, 1999 @08:05AM (#1789673) Journal
    This article certainly carries the attitude that many BSD users seem to have -- that BSD of for real users, users with experience, users who care more about a robust, secure OS than what's currently hip; and that Linux users are "hackers" who jumped on the Linux bandwagon because it's the hip thing to do among hackers, rather than because Linux carries any advantages as an OS.

    The truth is, Linux carries with it several advantages that the article only hints at. The article mentions the splits in BSD, but it doesn't discuss the problems these splits carry with them. It's nice to know that with Linux, when a new feature or better security is added to the kernel, that feature will be available to every users on many different platforms. I am certainly not an expert on BSD, so I'd appreciate it if someone who is more knowledgeable than I would tell me how often developments in FreeBSD are integrated into the development tree of NetBSD, for example.

    Personally, I prefer Linux. As a student at a large university, I'm surrounded by Linux experts. I couldn't say the same about BSD. The other main advantage that Linux has for me is the applications that are being ported to Linux more and more. However, I would be willing to switch to BSD if I saw clear advantages. Unfortunately, this article seemed to be more interested in cashing in on the Linux hype by subtly bashing Linux rather than presenting the real advantages.
  • by pb ( 1020 ) on Thursday July 22, 1999 @08:10AM (#1789706)
    This wasn't accurate, it was just as uninformed as most articles. At least it's publicity, though.

    I know that at least FreeBSD should be able to run linux binaries without too much trouble, just like Linux should be able to run, say, SCO binaries without too much work, etc. So it shouldn't really have fewer applications. Also, a lot of the same UNIX apps should be source-compatible anyhow, and some are released under the BSD license.

    Since the owner of the source code can release it under multiple licenses anyhow, there's nothing wrong with making a kernel submission GPL'ed, and also releasing it to the *BSD's under their license, so I don't really see the argument there. The other arguments have been dealt with. Remember, the BSD license lets your competitors freely use your code too, and also lets people take that code and incorporate it into closed projects, which I don't think is necessarily a feature.

    Past that, at least it's press. I don't believe that 70% of all ISP's figure, either. A lot of ISP's use Linux. Maybe if he meant the number, it would only take a few major ISP's to skew that figure. Still... that doesn't jive.
  • .. Linux has a celebrity.

    This is pretty much an extension of your comparison of the Linux community to a bunch of excited kids. Linus is a charismatic guy. He's funny, likeable, and direct. When it comes to PR, technical talent takes a back seat to some of the more interpersonal aspects. My sister, who is in nursing, doesn't even own a computer .. but she's heard of Linus Torvalds. The people who make the biggest splashes are the people that get the most press.

    Of course, this is not to say that the BSD community doesn't have its own important and colorful characters. But if you were to compare the number of Slashdotters who know who Linus Torvalds is against the number who know who, say, Theo DeRaadt is, you'd find a pretty evident bias.
  • "Be" happy....I like it. I know you didnt mean that...but thats somewhat metaphoric
    -Matt Jankowski
  • by drwiii ( 434 ) on Thursday July 22, 1999 @08:13AM (#1789727)
    It shouldn't be too hard.. Lots of the unique features of FreeBSD may seem "different" when compared to analogous Linux techniques, but once you get the hang of how (and why) things work on FreeBSD, I think you'll find it to be a pleasant experience.

    Probably the best advice I can give is to review the FreeBSD Web Site [] and especially the FreeBSD Handbook []. Remember, you can always search the FreeBSD mailing list archives [] if you have problems.

    Another excellent resource is the Complete FreeBSD Book [], which costs about $40, but is well worth it. If you decide to go with FreeBSD, an Internet-based installation will work, but all the hard-core FreeBSD users have FreeBSD Disc Sets [] from Walnut Creek CDROM.

    In the end, I guess it took me about a week of normal use to get accustomed to FreeBSD's way of the world. After a few days you'll start to notice that, in the ways that FreeBSD differs from Linux, those ways will make total sense from an implementation or an overall-system standpoint.

  • Oh, and I thought "Berkeley Software Distribution"....

    You thought entirely correctly. It was originally a distribution of software from Berkeley (until Berkeley stopped doing BSD); a company called Berkeley Software Design, Inc. [] made a commercial OS out of the Net-2 and later 4.4-Lite BSD releases (with source available; I think the original releases may have come standard with source, for about USD 1000, although a quick look at their site suggests that you pay extra for it now).

    (BTW, BSDI's release was originally called BSD/386; it was renamed to BSD/OS when, I think, a SPARC port was made available. They never sold an OS called BSDI....)

  • I don't think the lawsuit was all that important.

    More important was the fact the Bill Jolitz, who released the original 386BSD wasn't really well suited for running a Bazaar-style project. At times, his (rare) messages didn't seem sane, and his "press officier" Jesus, Jr, didn't made it better. This meant that the project was delayed until first the NetBSD and later the FreeBSD groups got fed up waiting for him to reelase a new version, and broke away.

    The most important thing, in my opinion, was that the BSD developers were highly competent operating system engineers making great personal sacrifices for the cause, while the Linux developers were a bunch of enthusiastic kids having great fun doing what they wanted to do. At least, that was the impression one got from the BSD and Linux newsgroups. There is even some of it left today.

    I suspect a lot of potential developers felt like me: I'd rather hang out with the kids who are learning and having fun, than the self-important professionels who are making sacrifices.
  • Preferences -> Exclude Stories from the Homepage -> BSD

    Sad to say, I'm seriously considering this. Not because I'm disinterested in BSD, necessarily. It's just that every BSD story on Slashdot precipitates a roaring flame-fest. I'm not placing blame; I'm sure there's plenty to go around. But this really is getting ridiculous.


  • BSD is not UNIX(TM) []. In fact, BSD as you probably know it (4.4 Lite) is not derived from any original UNIX source code. In 1994, all code from the USL and Novell was removed and replaced with new code for a "lite" release. Browse [] for more information. It's not the code heritage that makes a UNIX, it's whether you register yourself for the Open Group blessing and the branding rights [].
  • A new poll idea:
    Which is the kewlest Mascot/logo

    1)GNU yacc/bison thing(I don't know what exactly it is)
    2)BSD Daemon
    4)That Salvidor Dali Window(M$ windows logo)
    5)Pimp in the RedHat
    6)That funky debian penguin
  • by Stone99 ( 64453 ) on Thursday July 22, 1999 @08:28AM (#1789824)
    That article summed things up pretty well for me, though unwittingly, I think. I've toyed with *nix off and on for the last 6 years, only just a few months ago gone full-Linux, using RH. I played with FreeBSD 2.2.2 through that, and while it was nice, and stable, and easier to configure than I apps!

    Maybe this has changed with the FreeBSD 3.x series, but for those of us out there who don't know how to mod our Linux apps (no matter how easy true hackers claim it to be) *BSD isn't worth it. No matter how stable an OS is, if it doesn't DO anything, it's useless.

    Linux has the larger share of the publicity and market not because of the 'young hackers' but because it is the only *nix that Joe Average User has a change of understanding and _using_.
  • Is that the same one who mentioned a number of Linux distributions, such as "Red Hat Linux", "Caldera OpenLinux", and "Deviant Linux"?

    Tim (Jones) at EST says he's still looking for that "Deviant Linux" distribution. Think it maybe has pictures of nekkid penguins in it or something? Or maybe penguins doing unspeakable things to sheep? Or ???


  • Linux and freeBSD could combine to form freeLSD

    I think we used that for a server once, because when we installed it, the computers case started to melt. I tried to run a reboot to see if that would fix it but the india just stood there looking at the sun while Jimmy Hendrix tried to get the Midi interface drivers installed from a remote terminal that was located in the deserst. It had a nice interface though.
  • Ever consider the possibility that there are some Microsoft shills posting as Anonymous Cowards, trying to create conflicts in the free software community that don't actually exist?


  • > I wanted to ask the question: what did the move
    > of putting Linux under the GPL do for
    > attracting developers?

    It did a lot, because it opened for commercial distributions, which both made Linux available to a lot more users, and directly could help pay developers.

    Linux was originally distributed under a license that forbad commercial use, but a potential distributor (the man behind Yggdrasil?) managed to convince Linus that switching to the GPL (and thus allowing commercial use) would be a good thing.

    Of course, the real question is what would have been different if Linus had used a BSD like license. Here we can only guess, but I don't think it would have made a great difference for Linux popularity. It would have helped some of the commercial OS'es (like BeOS) since they would then be able to reuse Linux code, it would have helped Hurd since some GPL purists might have insisted on that. It would have mixed influence on the BSDs. Some anti-GPL purists might support Linux instead of BSD, but the BSD's would be able to use Linux code.
  • by Crass Spektakel ( 4597 ) on Thursday July 22, 1999 @08:31AM (#1789845) Homepage
    Funny, it describes the situation quite clear:

    BSD crumpled under the struggle of copyright in 1993 (thats was right when I switched from BSD to Linux).

    BSD is rockstable (I don`t say that linux isn`t stable, but maybe a little bit less).

    But now the point: BSD is boring.

    Simply said I don`t run a webserver all day and I don`t type "uptime" all day.

    I actually try to work (to some extend :-) and play at my machine. And here we go, the linux-folks is much more "innovative", got the straight target "world domination" instead of "high uptimes".

    Beside of that both are very equal - it`s yet another *nix-lookalike. *nix is a tool, like toiletpaper. You use it, but you don`t arguee about it. But you may still prefer the pink one with funny penguins on it :-)
  • Actually, Linux probably shares userland code a lot more than BSD does. That's because Linux really doesn't HAVE a userland -- Linux is a kernel, a few GNU tools necessary to boot, and a lot of little individual packages, most of which use the same code base. For example, there are not four different 'telnet' programs in the Linux world. Everybody uses the same "NetTools" package maintained by some guy whose name I can't remember (sigh). Similarly, everybody uses the same 'libc' library, it's all the same 'glibc' off of, though everybody seems to be using a different revision of it (sigh). (even the old libc5 was that way, there was only one libc5, though some people, like Red Hat, for some inexplicable reason chose to ship an old version of it rather than the current version).

    I like FreeBSD, but I'm posting this from SuSE Linux because I could not get Applix running despite branding all the ELF binaries in the Applix directory as Linux binaries and making sure the Linux emulation was compiled into the kernel. Bummer. I also did not have success getting WordPerfect 8 to run, though I've heard others say they managed to do it. I did run a couple of little Linux binaries to make sure the emulation was working, and they worked, so I do know the emulator works, but sometimes it's not easy to get multi-part apps to do right with it...

  • There is not "one Linux." Apart from the obvious issue of incompatible Linux distributions, the kernels themselves are different. RedHat ships with RedHat-specific patches in its kernels, not the stuff you find on
  • A typical inaccuracy was when they blithely repeated that Linux developers were a bunch of young kids and BSD developers a bunch of old pros, in blatant disregard of the facts.


    for the details.

    It does appear, though, that Linux has a whole lot of young kid ADVOCATES, some of who think it's, like, l33t (AGHH!!).

  • "One thing that the article missed is the pride of hackerdom."

    Quite so! A good UNIX war is about defending your pride rather than degrading your oponent. ;-)
  • One thing you might not realise too, is that like anything that comes from a University and the people deeply embedded in that culture, is that the focus and emphasis is on the small private clicks that form around the institutions, giving rise to that old adage "It's not what you know but who you know". So in BSD, you need to win popularity contests to get your stuff into the system. In linux, however, you only need to demonstrate the technical validity of your proposal. Thus, BSD lags behind in the development arena and has a pathetically small developer community to support it. I also imagine that the several forks of BSD are largely due to interested developers not being able to win popularity contests and thus being forced to fork off the code base in order to get their own stuff added.

    Remember that what linus torvalds did was to capitalize on the Internet and the available talent. And he was wildly sucessful in creating a worldwide development team, which in turn has turned out a tremendous product. BSD can't do that because it's about popularity contests and dysfunctional politics. The artical says that the difference, as if it really means anything, is that BSD developers have degrees and 10 years of experience and are managers in their work, while Linux hackers are all unwashed masses without degrees (loosely interpreted). It said it as if that implies a certain quality of the code that won't be found in Linux. Bullshit. The focus should be on technical merits and not who has the more prestegious paper. And in the Linux world that is most certainly the case.

    Linux is a truely open develop model that does not discriminate based on popularity contests or worthless peices of paper. It is not about who your sponsor is or what friends you have on the inside or who owes you favors. It's about technical merit.

  • Really? Hmm, what is GNU an acronym for again?
  • You can say the same about BSD, if you have different library versions on different machines you won't get the binaries to work right either. Linux systems have one thing in common, the same kernel. Will I have problems copying a binary linked against libfoo 1.5 to a system with libfoo 1.0? Yes. Is that Linux specific? No.
  • In my experience, it seems that, while the OS is first-rate (I *really* like FreeBSD, for example), its higher-echelon users (the coders, maintainers, etc) are, for the most part, really horrid, arrogant people.

    Have a look at the FreeBSD mailinglists sometime. I have a friend who's been using the OS for 5 or 6 years now, since back in the days of FreeBSD 1.x. He asked a rather difficult question on the -questions mailinglist a month or so ago, and was torn to shreds by the denizens of the list, who seem hell-bent on ego-stroking rather than offering any real help. He was treated as if he'd just installed the thing and he *certainly* was no "newbie" to the BSD scene.

    Take a look at some of the comments here. I bet you'll see a lot of "Hah! I TOLD you so!"'s. Again, more blatant egomaniacal behavior offering little to no substance. Fun stuff.

    This is the kind of crap I've come to expect from BSD people; I've come to the conclusion that, while a lot of linux users are clueless, a lot of BSD users are heartless, and it seems to be a pretty even trade-off.

    - A.P.

    "One World, One Web, One Program" - Microsoft Promotional Ad

  • I don't think the lawsuit was all that important.

    can't say for certain, but I know of at least one case where the Lawsuit worked against BSD.

    one of the founders of the Beowulf project at NASA gave a lecture in which he said that BSD was originally seen as a technically superior OS (Linux was still pretty young then), but that the potential fallout from the lawsuit made them turn to Linux.

    Probably several other smaller projects and developers has similar experiences - why pour effort into something which might be shutdown soon?

  • "You can't just copy things around between the different Linuxes."

    I have an ancient Slackware box I've been upgrading diligently for the past few years by hand. The other day I needed a copy of sshd 1.x, but I was buggered if I was going to download the whole thing and recompile it (I already had all the other crap compiled). FTP'd over to my friend's Debian 2.1 box, grabbed his copy, it ran fine. I can run libc6 binaries from another friend's Redhat 6 machine on mine, and have done so. I can run my own libc5 binaries from another old machine if I need to. I routinely compile binaries on my machine and run them on others' machines. Saves me from having to drag all my source code over to their boxes (I only have a 56k modem link) and do it there. Never have I had a problem with it, and I've been doing this for years.

    There is *one* Linux. There are *several* distributions. There is *one* Linux kernel. When you hear Alan Cox announce that he's forking the codebase, you can call me and we'll talk.

    - A.P.

    "One World, One Web, One Program" - Microsoft Promotional Ad

  • FreeBSD installs as a base system (which is a Good Thing(tm)), and allows you to install different software via its ports library.

    Here's a quick listing of the various categories living in /usr/ports:

    archivers astro audio benchmarks biology cad chinese comms converters databases deskutils devel distfiles editors emulators games german graphics irc japanese java korean lang mail math mbone misc net news palm plan9 print russian security shells sysutils templates textproc vietnamese www x11 x11-clocks x11-fm x11-fonts x11-servers x11-toolkits x11-wm

  • by D3 ( 31029 ) <> on Thursday July 22, 1999 @08:39AM (#1789903) Journal
    I really wish some of these articles would focus on the concept of using the best OS for a particular function. When we decided to get some network sniffers running for Intrusion Detection we went with OpenBSD for their security and top notch packet filter that tells an accurate assesment of the number of packets dropped. Linux will tell you it never drops any packets because it doesn't really know. Solaris is the same way.

    However, when we needed a logging box running RAID and SMP, the documentation for *BSD (free versions) was not clear. Linux OTOH had both RAID and SMP support that was clean and ready to go.

    To me, any ISP or serious admin will not restrict themselves to one OS as the solution to all their problems. Add free to functional as being the two biggest factors for a server OS to be implemented and your choices are Linux and *BSD. Do your research on what you need and then go with what fits.

  • > 1)GNU yacc/bison thing(I don't know what
    > exactly it is)

    I strongly suspect it is a gnu.
  • This is MS FUD at it's finest. Sure, split the *nix crowd even more. Point out to the unconverted that basically "Users of BSD and Linux hate each other and constantly gripe. Nothing ever gets done. Microsoft doesn't have any competitors, so there's nothing to argue with!"
    I can see some IT manager/director reading this article and saying "Well, I certainly don't want to migrate our mission critical systems over to OS that are maintained by a bunch of pathetic whiners!". The reference to the 600 message thread on slashdot (i missed that one) was an interesting punch, too.
    I believe that the bitterness and competition between Linux and the BSD camps are actually good for both communities. It keeps both camps from getting lazy, in a form of motivation unknown to MS (well, until recently)......COMPETITION. Competition is good. With competition comes innovation..trying to stay one step ahead of the other camp.

    In a way, I got the impression Microslop is really, truely taking Linux as a serious threat. I really hope we're witnessing M$'s last stand with the Linux v.s Windoze war....

They are called computers simply because computation is the only significant job that has so far been given to them.