FreeBSD – A better chioce for the Open Desktop?

Thoughts about FreeBSD

Since Linsux.org is now a *BSD supporter, it only makes sense that we’d write a few Pro-BSD articles, right? Good.

Today, we’re going to talk about why FreeBSD is a better choice for the “Open Desktop”.

Linux is the current leading Open Source Operating System (LOL?). But, then again, Linux isn’t really an Operating System. Yeah, yeah; we’ve all heard that before. But, what should it be called then, you might ask. Well, the most common answer is “Linux is a kernel, which is then packaged into a something called a distribution with other software, thus making it an Operating System”. Those are the really nice terms, though, I would describe it like the following “Linux is a cluster **** of a kernel packaged into about 10 billion different distributions that are almost identical, yet cannot agree on a decent set of standards, so every software and hardware company cringes at the thought of having to support a super-dooper cluster **** like that is Linux.”

FreeBSD, on the other hand is a complete Operating System, with standards, a well organized development team, and all that jazz nobody gives a **** about.

Here’s a few basic comparisons: etc

  • Licenses
  • Main Development Team
  • Documentation
  • Advantages for the Power Users

There’s some strong language in this post (hence the **** above). A new version is in the make.

Thanks Justin for submitting this.

BSD license vs GPL license

Every so many weeks you find that GPL license advocates attack the BSD license. These attacks are about freedom of sharing the code, and to what degree this should be allowed.

Chemisor, a BSD advocate, is of the opinion that a linguistic misunderstanding may be the root of the disagreements over the difference licensing philosophies. He publishes his thoughts on the quite-hostile-towards-BSD Slashdot.com. Quite courageous of him! Not unexpectedly this is the start of quite a lively discussion.

The first disagreement I wish to address concerns the statement “BSD projects are free, but GPL projects stay free.” GPL advocates cannot understand why the BSD advocates are not getting this point, and BSD advocates make accusations of Communism, which are then argued to death by both parties. The problem with the statement above is the different interpretation of the word “project.” I, and I suspect many other BSD advocates, generally separate the concept of “project” from “code.” While code is what projects are made of, I do not see it as valuable as the useful product a project provides. When I write a program, be it a site scraper, or a todo program, or a UI framework, I think of my project as the entity that matters. The fact that I may have copied some code from one to another is of no concern to me.

A GPL advocate sees an entirely different situation. To him, it is the code that comes first, and the applications built from that code are a secondary consideration. Even a single line of code is precious, whether it contains a complex spline formula or i += 2;. As an aside, I would expect this mindset to be more prone to reusing other people’s code instead of reimplementing it. Where I would scoff at a piece of code, call it utter garbage, and rewrite the damn thing from scratch, a GPL advocate would probably wrap the garbage in another API that he finds more palatable. In my opinion, this leads to bloat from wrappers, instability from the garbage that is still there, and loss of skills. What programmer from the current generation is up to the challenge of reimplementing libjpeg? But, I digress. I am here to explain, not bash, so please excuse this little rant.

Read further here

Further reading

If you want to know more about the differences between the GPL and the BSD license, have a look at these articles:

FreeBSD review and howtos from a Linux user

I recently decided to give the new 7.0 release of FreeBSD ago and was fairly impressed. I did use BSD along time ago on a home server for a few months but pretty much forgot everything about it from back then.

Firstly FreeBSD refers to both a kernel and userspace tools making it a whole operating system (userspace tools being the basic programs like shells and copy/move commands), this is different to Linux which is just a kernel and distros are technically called GNU/Linux to show that it is using the GNU userspace tools.

read further

I’m faster than you! No I am!

All FreeBSD interested people will remember the document that Kris Kennaway released (Introducing FreeBSD). In this paper he explains how dramatic improvements have been achieved in FreeBSD 7.0; especially with regards to SMP and SQL database querying (MySQL and PostgreSQL). According to his findings FreeBSD even outperformes Linux.

There’s always been a healthy competition between Linux and FreeBSD, but stating that FreeBSD is faster than Linux, that hurts….

After major improvements in SMP support in FreeBSD 7.0, benchmarks show it performing 15% better than the latest Linux kernels (PDF, see slides 17 to 19) on 8 CPUs under PostgreSQL and MySQL. While a couple of benchmarks are not conclusive evidence, it can be assumed that FreeBSD will once again be a serious performance contender.

Linux kernel developer Nick Piggin reran the benchmark and came to a different conclusion: In his benchmark Linux was faster than FreeBSD.

I’m not an expert, but what do you guys think of this? Is Nick doing a fair analysis and comparison? Anybody been using FreeBSD 7 in a “heavy duty” (SQL) environment who can comment on this?

Depenguinator – version 2.0

Beastie kills TuxIn December 2003, I wrote a script for remotely upgrading a linux system to FreeBSD. I gave it a catchy name (‘Depenguinator’, inspired by the ‘Antichickenator’ in Baldur’s Gate), announced it on a FreeBSD mailing list and on Slashdot, and before long it was famous. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for changes in the layout of FreeBSD releases to make the Depenguination script stop working; so for the past three years I have been receiving emails asking me to update it to work with newer FreeBSD releases,

Colin Percival wrote on his website. If you want to ‘kill’ some ‘penguins’, download the Depenguinator and let it do it’s job ;-)

GPL and BSD : impact

Very Grumpy Bunny has written a post comparing the GPLv2 and the BSD licence and explaining the difference when  applied to Amarok.

There are several BSD licenses, so many that you’ll typically see any particular license under BSD terms listed as a BSD-Style license. Example, the Vorbis and Theora codecs. The terms themselves are fairly simple.

#1: Anybody can access the source code
#2: Anybody can copy the source code
#3: Anybody can modify the source code
#4: Anybody can use the source code
#5: Anybody can relicense modified code

Sounds pretty simple, at least compared to the Gnu Public License. Here are the terms of say the GPLv2.

#1: Not everybody can access the source code.
#2: Everybody who can access the source code can copy the source code
#3: Everybody who can access the source code can modify the source code
#4: Everybody who modifies the source code must submit the changes back to the original author
#5: Everybody who modifies the source code must maintain the original license

That does seem a little bit more complex. Immediately we see that the GPL has restrictions placed on what can be done with the code. Ergo, the BSD-style license is more free… or is it?

Read the simplified terms of the BSD-License again. Note anything missing? Well, if you didn’t, here’s what is missing. Any changes that are made to the BSD code don’t have to be given back to the author. Anybody can take a segment of BSD code, do whatever they want with it, and never post any changes back, tell the author what they did, or anything else.

So, there is a critical difference between a BSD license, and a GPL style license. The BSD license adopts a care-free attitude about written software, while a GPL style license enforces restrictions around that software to make sure everybody benefits.

Whole post can be read here.

FreeBSD in 2007 – a review

2007 is over. It was a very successful year for open source software and another 12 interesting months have passed for FreeBSD. In this post I want to look back at 2007 and see how FreeBSD faired, what happened in “FreeBSD land” and how FreeBSD based operating systems have developed. This post will be a sort of summary of the messages I posted during 2007.

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We’ll be looking at:

Start of this blog

Around April last year I was toying with the idea of starting a FreeBSD related news blog with the view to raise more awareness of FreeBSD and show it’s a perfect alternative to Linux. My first post was on 17 May 2007 and since then visitor numbers have rapidly gone up and feedback from visitors indicates that there’s definitely interest in such a blog. With the continuing growth of my WordPress.com hosted blog, I wanted to get some more flexibility and the ability to install plugins and scripts. Hence my move to Bluehost/FreeBSDOS (BTW, if you’re looking for cheap and reliable webhosting, I can really recommend them).

FreeBSD in 2007

FreeBSD LogoUnfortunately 2007 didn’t see the final release of FreeBSD 7.0; just 4 beta’s and a RC1. Well, maybe not “unfortunately”, because a top-quality product is better than a rushed-out flaky one that needs to be fixed and patched soon after its release. FreeBSD 7.0 incorporates some new and exciting technologies which will put this version a-par with, if not ahead of, Linux. Exciting stuff.

The FreeBSD Foundation have issued their quarterly newsletters (Q2, Q3, Q4), keeping the world up-to-date with the latest developments and news. The Foundation received a lot of coverage online and in the blogosphere with their Absolute FreeBSD book auction and their fund raising drive. The 2007 fundraising goal was $250.000, but a total of $403,511 was achieved. Well done.

There are already a couple of Linux related magazines for sale in stores, but BSD magazines aren’t available currently. “An interesting opportunity“, Software Media LLC/LP Magazine must have thought. They will issue first issue at the beginning of Q2 2008 and will contain an article by Dru Lavigne and Jan Stedehouder (Jan used and reviewed both PC-BSD and DesktopBSD for a month in his PC-BSB: the first 30 days and DesktopBSD: the first 30 days series).

Conference-wise, the ‘normal’ BSD conferences (BSDCan, EuroBSD, MeetBSD) were held, with a new one in Turkey (BSDConTR).
CONTINUED

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