BSD, the more Unix-like OS

This is an interesting blog post looking at the BSD as a viable alternative to Linux. The BSDs are less hyped and are in some areas superior to Linux:

“The BSDs have been around for a long time – longer than Linux. But they have received much less attention than Linux in the press because they have fewer noisy supporters. Nevertheless, they continue to thrive, because of their similarities to, and differences from, Linux. Like Linux, the BSDs are free, fast and have a variety of software available for them. In addition, BSD kernels tend to be more stable than Linux kernels, BSDs run on a wider variety of hardware and have fewer security issues.

But where the BSDs tend to really shine is in networking. TCP/IP speed tests run on identical hardware often show the BSDs to be faster than Linux. While the Linux community has focused on enabling Linux to use more esoteric hardware, the BSD community has worked on making the network infrastructure faster and easier to extend. This has caused a number of network hardware vendors to use customized versions of BSDs, particularly NetBSD, as the internal operating systems of their commercial products.

As the lesser-known players in the free operating system market, the BSD development groups have had more opportunity to work on the core of their products. FreeBSD has the largest market of the BSDs and gets the most development interest. NetBSD runs on an incredible variety of CPUs, including some systems that leave even the fastest Intel chips in the dust. OpenBSD’s main focus is security, and it attracts developers for whom that is the main concern.

It is well known that many large Internet service providers use one of the BSDs (FreeBSD) to run their production mail and Web servers. It is common to find BSD-based Internet servers that have not crashed or been rebooted in years.

… any shop that is considering Linux should also take a look at the BSDs, particularly if they want stability and less excitement in their operating system.”

Source: ravisblog.com (01/11/2007)

BSDStats numbers (May 2007)

BSDStats.org is a website that records the numbers of PCs/servers running a particular BSD system. This is broken down per country, releases, drivers/HW stats, CPU stats, and port stats.

Though these figures are interesting enough, they cannot be used for any benchmarking or market analysis or so, since the software that anonymously updates (pings) the bsdstats server is not (yet) installed on a lot of/most servers (e.g. FreeBSD) or it’s not mandatory to use when pre-installed (e.g. PC-BSD). The numbers are likely to be much higher. The counters reset at the first day of each month (servers that are on 24/7/365) or when the computer is first switched on.

The numbers, that we’re interested in as far as this blog is concerned, for May 2007 are:

  • FreeBSD – 5,131 systems – 53.0 %
  • PC-BSD – 4,265 systems – 44.1 %
  • DesktopBSD – 28 systems – 0.3 %

Please note, that the number for DesktopBSD (28) is not correct this month. There are likely to be many more users but the update script contacted the BSDStats server on 1 May at half 5 in the morning only. All PCs that were off at that time aren’t included in this number. This problem will be fixed in the upcoming RC3.

Differentiating Among BSD flavours

This website deals mostly with FreeBSD and systems derived from or based on this superb operating system. However it’s also good to be aware of other BSD systems that are around and the reason why they exist or why have been developed: OpenBSD (secure by default – the world’s most secure OS), NetBSD (runs on nearly every platform imaginable, including a bread toaster! and in some sense Apple’s MacOS X. (See Unix family tree here)

There’s a good article on Serverwatch.com explaining the history, the differences between and common features of the 4 main BSD systems.

Organizations that want to use a public Unix variant have two solutions from which to chose: Linux and BSD. The much talked about Linux camp contains a variety of distributions that include different utilities and tool sets. The same is true of the less frequently covered BSD camp. This article compares and contrasts the four main BSD variants and offers recommendations for both server- and desktop-based solutions.

There are four main BSD variants. Three of these (FreeBSD, OpenBSD, and NetBSD) are totally free; the fourth (Mac OS X) is technically the core part of an operating system that most wouldn’t even consider a BSD variant. To understand the differences between the various versions, let’s briefly recap the history of BSD to understand how the different versions have developed.

Read the whole article here.