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 howto links (week 29)

FreeBSD howto and installation tips

FreeBSD howtos and installation tips

Here are some links to FreeBSD howto articles published this week. This may be of interest to those who don’t mind “getting their hands dirty”.

Building a router with pfSense (video)

Do you have extra computers lying around the house? In this episode, Matt shows us how to convert an old computer into a home network router.

Link (wideopenmind.com)

Installing A FreeBSD 7.0 DNS Server With BIND

This tutorial shows how to set up a FreeBSD based server that offers DNS services. This tutorial is written for the 64-bit version of FreeBSD, but should apply to the 32-bit version.

I want to say first that this is not the only way of setting up such a system. There are many ways of achieving this goal but this is the way I take. I do not issue any guarantee that this will work for you!

Link (howtoforge.com)

How To Patch / Upgrade BIND 9.x Under FreeBSD Operating System

BIND 9 is part of core FreeBSD 7.x. How do I apply BIND 9 security patch under FreeBSD 7.x? Do I need to fetch entire source (buildworld) to patch BIND 9? How do I patch up recent BIND 9 DNS cache poisoning bug?

Link (www.cyberciti.biz)

FreeBSD Install Logwatch Tool For Log Analysis and Monitoring

How do I watch, monitor system log under FreeBSD systems and generate summery of critical UNIX log files via email?

Link (cyberciti.biz)

FreeBSD Install and Configure Webmin Web-based Interface ( Control Panel )

Q. How do I install webmin control panel for my FreeBSD server?

Link (cyberziti.biz)

ezjail – A jail administration framework

I want to set up some jails. They will each be very similar. They will each be used to test a slightly different configuration of Bacula. My tool of choice is ezjail, available in the ports tree.

With ezjail, I can:

  • create a jail flavour, upon which the creation of other jails can be based
  • centrally update the jail’s ports tree

Link (freebsddiary.org)

Wanted: SpreadFreeBSD.org community leaders

SpreadFreeBSD.org has been around for a couple of months now. So far I’ve added most of the content together with Matt Olander from iXsystems.

However, now the site gets more and more visitors, we’re looking for community leaders, forum admins and content providers to make this site a little bit more interactive where BSD lovers can “meet” and find out more about BSD operating systems.

If you’re interested in helping us, please get either in touch with myself of Matt Olander (matt at ixsystems dot com).

Many thanks in advance.

Never been on SpreadFreeSD.org?

Status update for KDE4 on FreeBSD & PC-BSD

KDE4.1 on FreeBSD

Click to magnify

There’s been quite a bit of noise recently about the usefulnes of KDE4, its inferiority compared to 3.5, and some are even suggesting to fork KDE4. However, Martin Wilke is in the meanwhile doing a great job porting KDE4 to FreeBSD.

Read the latest status update about the progress (incl screenshots).

Kris Moore from the PC-BSD project is now assisting with the porting of KDE4 to FreeBSD. Alpha versions of PC-BSD7 with KDE4 can be downloaded here. Please help us with the testing, and remember this is still so called alpha quality.

Flaws found in BSD, Linux software updaters

Though Linux and the BSD are considered to be very safe and secure operating systems, they are the products of human beings and hence not perfect:

The software update mechanisms used by most BSD and Linux operating systems can be tricked into installing buggy or known-to-be-compromised software on users’ systems, creating serious security risks, according to new research.

The study Package Management Security, to be published in a forthcoming issue of the university of Arizona Tech Report, analysed 10 package managers and found that all were vulnerable to exploits, allowing attackers to install unsafe software on target systems.

Package managers are designed to automatically keep software up-to-date and thus safe from known vulnerabilities. The packages analysed in the study were APT, APT-RPM, Pacman, portage, Ports, Slaktool, Stork, Urpmi, Yast and YUM.

Read the rest of the article here.

Securing FreeBSD’s update system could be a nice project for which funding could be requested. The FreeBSD Foundation is now requesting project proposals to improve FreeBSD. If there’s anybody out there with ideas on building in better security measures read on:

The FreeBSD Foundation is pleased to announce we are soliciting the submission of proposals for work relating to any of the major subsystems or infrastructure within the FreeBSD operating system.  A budget of $80,000 was allocated for 2008 to fund multiple development projects.

Proposals will be evaluated based on desirability, technical merit and cost-effectiveness.

To find out more about the proposal have a look here.

UNIX history family tree

unix_family_history_tree_1600x1200

This is an interesting picture (or desktop background 1600×1200) showing the history of UNIX, incl Linux and the BSD’s

Unfortunately I can’t remember where I found this. If you know, please let me know and I add the source.

Click to enlarge

FreeBSD based systems – what would you call them?

The number of FreeBSD related operating systems is fortunately not as as high as the number of Linux distributions.

Most of you, if not all, will agree there are no FreeBSD distributions/distro’s due to the fact that FreeBSD is developed as a coherent operating system with a kernel and userland applications.

Existing FreeBSD based operating systems use the FreeBSD base and specialise in a certain field, e.g. DesktopBSD & PC-BSD concentrate on desktop use, pfSense and m0n0wall on routing/firewalling, AskoziaPBX on PBX systems etc etc. For more examples, check out this page.

Since these systems aren’t distro’s what would you call them? Please let me know on the poll below.

What would you call FreeBSD based operating systems?

View Results

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RootBSD – FreeBSD based VPS hosting (Xen & Jails)

RootBSD.com logoFreeBSD is one of the most stable server operating systems available today and is very well suited for a hosting environment. Many tools and software  packages are available on FreeBSD to create and run (Web 2.0) websites, including Apache, Lighttpd, Perl, Python, MySQL, PostgreSQL, Ruby on Rails etc. Used for powering many established websites such as Yahoo!, FreeBSD has proven to be an ultra-reliable platform for companies hosting sites with high hosting demands.

RootBSD is such a hosting provider that offers dedicated server hosting and virtual private servers (VPS) running on FreeBSD servers.

RootBSD was established with one simple goal in mind: to provide reliable BSD-based hosting services to hobbyists, advanced professionals and businesses. RootBSD has achieved this and much more as it has become the hosting provider of choice for many and has started to gain somewhat of a following over the past year in the FreeBSD community. RootBSD also sponsors many FreeBSD developers with free hosting services.

A few highlights of the RootBSD service:

  • Virtual hosting (Xen-based and Jail-based) and dedictated hosting
  • RootBSD deploys VPSs on Xen which is fully virtualised, unlike jail-based hosting that most providers use. RootBSD also offers jails-based VPS hosting.
  • Most recent stable FreeBSD release available; currently FreeBSD 7.0, while other providers are still using FreeBSD 6.3 (e.g. Verio)
  • Entry-level packages aimed at hobbyists start at only $20/month
  • Clean and attractive website. The geeky, black-’n-green looking website was replaced by a much more professional looking “FreeBSD coloured” website last May.

The benefits of full virtualisation under Xen are that

  • the VPS envrionment is separated from the host system which lets customers fully customise their environment. In a jail the guest VPS runs off the kernel of the host system, meaning you cannot change the kernel.
  • jails use a virtualised network stack that works fine for most services but doesn’t let the user do some more advanced things like firewalling, virtual network devices, VPN tunnels, etc.

As far as I’m aware, RootBSD is the only FreeBSD hosting provider that is offering a VPS service virtualized under Xen. If you or your business requires a flexible, cheap and fully-controlled webhosting, RootBSD should definitely be considered.