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Robert Watson on FreeBSD and TrustedBSD

Roblimo posted more than 13 years ago | from the telling-it-the-way-it-is dept.

BSD 91

Last Friday we solicited questions for Robert Watson, hard-core FreeBSD and TrustedBSD developer. His answers (below) are breathtakingly deep and instructive. Whether you're "just curious" about BSD or a FreeBSD user who wants to see what's going on with the inner circle of developers, you'll want to spend the time it takes to read everything here, and possibly even send Mr. Watson a brief "thank you" email.

OS X based on FreeBSD
by Kevinv

OS X's Darwin is based on FreeBSD. How good a member of the Open Source movement has Apple been? Have they contributed anything back to the FreeBSD project (code/money/t-shirts/etc...)?


The easy answer is that Apple is involved in the open source community, and appears to be strongly committed to releasing their own software as open source, and contributing changes back to other projects whose software they use. Clearly, they're fairly embroiled in their upcoming release process at this point, but I'd expect more news on this front in the future.

They've had a strong presence at various technical conferences, including the BSD Conference in Monterey last year, and they're helping to sponsor and are participating in the Open Packages project. I've visited Apple on two occasions to discuss both FreeBSD and TrustedBSD work with them, and had the opportunity to meet with many of the people in their Core OS Group. While I don't know everything they've been up to, I can speak to their shipping me two iMacs so I could explore the operating system and look at porting some of the TrustedBSD work to it, and must say that

I'm very impressed.

One thing I think the FreeBSD project should do is select a liaison to work with Apple to help them understand our development model better, and help integrate back changes made to Darwin. Especially in light of all the changes coming in FreeBSD 5.0, it's important that we work together to prevent substantial divergence between our source trees (where possible) allowing us to continue to exchange features in the future. I have to give Apple a big thumbs up, and hope they keep up the good work!

what do you do for *money*??
by gskouby

While perusing the mailing lists for -hackers, -stable, -current, etc. etc., I often wonder what people like yourself, Mike Smith, Greg Lehey, and the other core members do to pay the bills.

Unless something has changed recently with the BSDi takeover, I can't imagine that the FreeBSD project keeps the food on the table. So how about a little insight into your and the other core members "real" jobs. (As if there is such a thing as a "real" job). But anyways, thanks for all the hard work for little pay!


Ahh, the perils of capitalism. Needless to say, all core members enjoy employment in some form or another. Some work with companies that pay them to work on FreeBSD (including BSDi), others do independent consulting on (among other things) FreeBSD; others still work on utterly unrelated areas. Since the question was raised, I'll talk a little about what I do, and how it does relate to FreeBSD.

I work for NAI Labs, a research organization that is now associated with PGP, Inc -- about 100 full time researchers doing advanced research and development for the likes of DARPA, other government agencies, industry, and internal research and development. If you don't recognize the name, we used to be the Advanced Research and Engineering (ARE) division of Trusted Information Systems (TIS). At NAI Labs, I'm a Research Scientist in the Network Security research group, and have worked on a variety of projects including securing DNS (DNSsec), DHCP security, active network security, and denial of service research. While most of my work (right now) is relatively unrelated to FreeBSD, we hope to change this in the relatively near future, identifying funding for work on FreeBSD and TrustedBSD, as well as porting work to OpenBSD, and work on Darwin. Other examples of operating system security work on open source here include Software Wrappers and Low Watermark Mandatory Access Control. One of the great things about working at NAI Labs is the opportunity to participate in cutting edge security research, and the opportunity to set your own direction. All in all it's a really nice place to work, and I recommend it highly--in fact, we're actively hiring at this point, so if you're interested, feel free to fire off a resume to

Of course, companies can greatly benefit from employing a FreeBSD developer, as they have the opportunity to influence development of the operating system (subject to the common sense of the developer and consensus of the project as a whole, needless to say). Many FreeBSD developers, looking at the committer community as a whole, are employed to do what they would like to be doing anyway: working on a section of the system that interests them.

TrustedBSD and NSA secure linux
by Xuther

How does TrustedBSD compare with NSA secured linux ( in terms of new and or improved security features? And are there any plans to eventually integrate the rest of the TrustedBSD features back into the shared BSD source tree (the extended attributes already have been committed)? How would using TrustedBSD instead of FreeBSD impact clustering applications?

And just for my information, where did all the packages for clustering BSD go? All I can seem to find anymore is the linux stuff. And personally I don't like redhat and their rpm distribution method, all anyone wants to distribute anymore is rpms which is not near enough to standard and compatable accross the board as tar-gzip for my purposes. (One primary difference being that I can open a tar-gzip on a windows box at work during break to browse through source, and to my knowledge no one has bothered to create a "winrpm")


These compound questions are the killers :-).

I am both aware of and familiar with the NSA Secure Linux work -- a fair amount of the work is being done at NAI Labs under contract from NSA. Stephen Smalley, one of the lead developers on the project, actually works just upstairs from me in the Glenwood, Maryland office of NAI Labs. As such, I've had a number of opportunities to talk with him about the work. One of the advantages of working at NAI Labs is the ability to get wide exposure for a variety of security-related research on many platforms, and relating to many topics.

TrustedBSD and SELinux are similar in many ways, and also differ in many ways. The similarities lie in overlapping functionality and architectural goals; the differences only begin with the choice of operating systems. TrustedBSD introduces a number of features into the FreeBSD operating system including Mandatory Access Control (MAC).

In a broad generalization, MAC allows administrators to define security policies about how users interact with one another. These policies are mandatory in the sense that users are not permitted to change the policies, although some flexibility may be permitted by the policy.

MAC is distinguished from Discretionary Access Control (DAC) in this manner; most Linux or FreeBSD users will be familiar with DAC in the form of file permissions. In DAC models, the owners of objects (and possibly other parties) are permitted to modify protections to reflect their needs. A common mandatory policy is Multi-Level Security (MLS), or the "military security model".

In this model, users are assigned "clearances", and objects are assigned "classifications". MLS prevents users from reading files they are not allowed to read, but it also prevents users from sharing files they are not allowed to share (this is the mandatory component). MLS is just one mandatory policy, there are many others that have been defined and explored in various environments. TrustedBSD implements three mandatory policies in its current prototype form: MLS, a Biba integrity policy that is similar to MLS but protects integrity instead of confidentiality, and a light-weight partitioning scheme that is an extension of the popular jail() mechanism introduced in FreeBSD 4.0-RELEASE.

SELinux provides an implementation of a flexible mandatory access control architecture called Flask for Linux. The architecture is a generalization of Type Enforcement (TE) and can support a wide variety of mandatory security policies. In the Flask architecture, the security policy is encapsulated in a pluggable "security server" component that can be replaced. The example security server provided with SELinux includes support for TE, MLS and a simple form of Role-Based Access Control (RBAC). An important focus of this architecture is separating policy representation and processing from policy enforcement.

SELinux differs from TrustedBSD in that it is a more mature system, having been worked on for several years, that it addresses only mandatory access controls, and that it uses the Flask architecture rather than explicit hard-coded policies. It is certainly the case that we plan to leverage the SELinux implementation now that the source code is available; the abstractions of the Flask architecture are similar to ones that were being considered for TrustedBSD. Having the opportunity to look at the SELinux source will allow us to benefit from their implementation experiences.

As you observe, some TrustedBSD features have already been integrated into the base tree, including extended attributes on files, as well as infrastructure support for capabilities, ACLs, and some of the improved abstractions I spoke about above. The plan is to integrate most of the TrustedBSD features into the base operating system distribution over time; some features are more intrusive, as well as more computationally expensive, than others, meaning that some features may be distributed as modules rather than enabled by default. However, it is a definite goal to make all of the work easily available for FreeBSD installations, and under a two clause BSD-style license. Many of these features will appear in FreeBSD 5.0-RELEASE, although they will presumably mature over time.

The remainder of your questions address clustering; I have to begin by pointing out that I don't have much experience with clustered environments. I can probably safely comment that the TrustedBSD features won't present any substantial additional impediment towards implementing clustering, either in terms of functionality or performance. Most of the of the TrustedBSD features either supplement base UNIX features without substantially changing them in ways that impact applications, or are disabled unless specifically configured.

My understanding is that many of the normal computational clustering tools, such as PVM, are available via the FreeBSD ports/packages collection, and that FreeBSD is used in clustering, but as a non-expert can't speak much to this issue. As clustering means something different to every observer, this may not have answered your question, and I'd welcome follow-up e-mail to discuss this further.

by Enahs

What's your opinion on the Open Packages project? Even though I'm not currently a *BSD user, it sounds great on the surface--there's even been interest expressed in patches for Linux!--but I've got to wonder what sort of complexities need to be worked out to maintain a set of packages for FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, Darwin...


I think OpenPackages is a great idea: the ports/packages on FreeBSD and other BSD platforms have been an incredible boon for the users of these systems. One of the disadvantages of BSD is that it hasn't presented a single porting target, and that there has been redundant porting work going on. OpenPackages offers a way to reduce redundant work, and improve application portability. I was excited to see Apple on the list of sponsors for the project, it shows continued commitment by Apple to open source.

A few important questions:
by Bob Abooey

1) Do you ever plan on moving away from the slow and resource intensive method of VMS style paging for memory address resolution


I'm not sure how to interpret this question; FreeBSD provides the standard UNIX-like API for memory management (brk(), sbrk(), memory mapping, protection modification, SysV shared memory). This is supported by a Mach-based virtual memory system that has undergone substantial feature evolution and performance optimization. All performance benchmarks I've seen suggest that the FreeBSD virtual memory system is both robust and high-performance under both light and heavy loads. This is one of the features of FreeBSD that has made it so popular for web farms and file servers.

My understanding is that the new VM system under development for Linux takes into account the FreeBSD VM design, and shares many of its design choices and, as a result, performance and stability properties. However, I have not followed that work closely enough to comment in great detail on the topic.

2) Are there plans to rewrite the TCP/IP stack to be multi threaded

One of the major development projects currently underway is "SMPng", or the Next Generation SMP project for FreeBSD. The SMPng project goals include:

  • A fully preemptive and reentrant kernel
  • Fine-grained data based locking
  • An evolutionary development process
  • Rapid development cycle leveraging technology donated by BSDi from their next generation SMP support under development for BSD/OS, including debugging tools and operation models
  • Thread-based interrupts allowing blocking at will
This should substantially improve performance on SMP machines, as well as modernize the structure of the kernel. It will include work to push down locks (eliminating the giant kernel lock present in other versions of FreeBSD), including in the network subsystem, allowing components of the network stack to execute in parallel on different processors.

3) Will BSD ever migrate away from UFS to a more modern file system?

It depends what you mean by a "modern file system". Right now, FreeBSD actually uses FFS, the Berkeley Fast File System, with the addition of "soft updates" for performance and consistency, and under 5.0-CURRENT (the development branch), the ability to atomically snapshot file systems, as well as the ability to store extended attributes on files, in turn supporting other features such as Access Control Lists (ACLs). Fsck-less booting is currently a work in progress, and will be in 5.0-RELEASE also. In fact, several sites including Yahoo! have already deployed fsckless booting internally. paper presented at the USENIX 2000 Technical Conference discusses the performance and consistency differences between journalled and soft updates consistency mechanisms. The paper in question also discusses two different journalling implementations based on FFS and developed on FreeBSD, which will be made available at some point to the FreeBSD project for possible integration. I think it's safe to say that, by most definitions, FFS on modern BSD operating systems is very much a modern file system.

4) With serious POSIX compatablity issues are there plans to use code from POSIX compliant OS's to become more commercially attractive to major corporations

One of the FreeBSD Project goals is to comply with appropriate API and user interface standards. Generally speaking, a failure to comply with a relevant standard is considered to be a bug, and should be reported using the standard bug reporting tools (we use GNATS to track bugs). If you are aware of non-compliant features or interfaces, please let us know and we will endeavor to fix them.

Why would you... ?
by SonOfSam

FreeBSD development is obviously a big part of your life. I have noticed that peoples reasons for using a free OS are often not simply because its better, but because of some view or stance on freedom that they have.

I am a Windows guy, only because my job says so.

What I want to know is, how would you go about convincing me, a Win2k user, to consider using a *BSD. I am interested in learning a new OS... always. But, what makes it stand out from Linux/Win2k/MacOS?


There are a number of aspects to your question, and there are a lot of ways I could explore it. It seems that the first part of the question relates to why I as a user and developer make use of FreeBSD (and open source in general). Another aspect seems to be a question about political motivations.

Open source gives me as a developer the ability to do things that closed source could never allow--I get to determine what features are important and dedicate resources to making them available. As "extensible" as closed source operating systems may be, it is hard to understand how a system works without access to the source, and hard to modify it to do things the designers didn't anticipate. This argument is also a reason why NAI Labs does a great deal of its research and development on open source systems: it's simply impossible to get that level of responsiveness from a closed source system vendor.

As to political motivations? My motivation for pushing FreeBSD is the philosophy of the project, rather than general intuitions about personal freedom. The project (as with many open source projects) has a dedication to technical excellence and openness (of process, as well as source) that is outstanding. I wouldn't force anyone to open source their software as that's a personal (or often corporate) choice, but I recommend open source software widely.

One of the political aspects to open source is the selection of license: I don't see this as a big thing. The BSD license probably does better reflect both my beliefs and needs, but I use and modify software under a variety of licenses, and recognize that the license you release your software under has to reflect your own beliefs and needs. Any other understanding of license selection as a moral argument fails to recognize a contemporary understanding of relativism that is vital to cooperation :-).

As to why FreeBSD as opposed to any other operating system? Well, as I mentioned above, the FreeBSD project has a dedication to technical excellence and openness. What does this mean? It means that I have a high level of confidence in the software (both by reputation, experimentation, and source code inspection). The operating system is stable and performs extremely well, is extensible, and is being actively developed in a variety of ways. There's an attention to detail, as well as the big picture, that reflects a high level of dedication among developers.

Advantages over the traditional Windows platforms have long been stability and performance, as well as openness. I haven't run the performance numbers recently, but understand that Microsoft has made large investments in stability and performance for Windows 2000; it would be a mistake to underestimate their ability to improve in this area. As long as Microsoft remains closed source, however, they will be unable to match the openness that is vital to the work that I do.

The primary difference that I see as important for me when comparing FreeBSD and Linux lies in the development model: there is a central forum and structure for the FreeBSD developer community that provides a forum for communication, group decisions and consensus building. My feeling is that this leads to better design decisions, and a focus that reflects a whole-system view. An important question for the FreeBSD Project as we move forward is whether or not this model can scale easily as we expand. The number of "committers" on the FreeBSD team has dramatically expanded over the last couple of years; many of these developers are working on the ports/packages and documentation, but many of them also work on the base system. Moving towards an elected core team, as well as ongoing debates on the development model and source code management reflect the increasing size and more diverse needs of the developers. The SMPng project's managed development model is another sign of this growth, and an example of a successful attempt to address the need for more structured development practices in the face of a larger audience and more people working on the same code.

Mac OS X appears to have a bright future: Apple has managed to tread in NeXT's footsteps when it comes to combining a mix of strong technical components from the open source and research communities, as well as excellent internally developed work. OS X represents a number of dramatic changes for the Mac user community; Apple has in the past shown a great deal of responsiveness to that community, and OS X looks like it will be an interesting fusion of advanced operating system concepts and a highly usable interface. Part of what will be important in the widespread adoption of Mac OS X is consistency with prior versions, allowing users to migrate in a relatively seamless manner. In Steve Jobs' recent demo and presentation, inclusion of the traditional Apple Menu appears to demonstrate sensitivity to this issue, and responsiveness to the comment submission process. I see a place for a Mac OS X box on my desk in the near future.

Because it leverages FreeBSD work, and because FreeBSD leverages Apple's work, I don't see them as mutually incompatible. It is my firm hope that Apple and the FreeBSD Project find ways to work together more in the future, because I think everyone will benefit from this.

These are just my opinions, and I would expect others to disagree with me. I should point out that in the past, I've recommended the use of a variety of operating systems to both individuals and companies; this includes Windows, Linux, Mac OS, Solaris, and FreeBSD. I'd be a fool to assert that any operating system is appropriate for all uses and environments.

decent literature
by boog3r

instead of asking you a few questions directly, i would like to solve them on my own with the best set of tools. what publications or literature would you recommend for:

the *bsd newbie or learner
the *bsd uber-know-it-all-i-dont-need-any-docs

i am trying to cut the signal/noise ratio out of understanding bsd. specifically, what security documentation have you found useful day-in/out?


I'll speak to the FreeBSD section of BSD, since that's what I'm most familiar with. There are several books available describing FreeBSD.

The most commonly used is The Complete FreeBSD by Greg Lehey, which can also come bundled with a CDROM set, making it easy for new or experienced users to go to a single source. The book is currently in its third edition, and apparently there is a fourth edition currently under preparation. I saw this book in the local Barnes and Noble's recently, so it should be fairly easy to locate. A recent addition to the collection of books on FreeBSD is Ted Mittelstaedt's The FreeBSD Corporate Networker's Guide, which also includes a CD-ROM.

The online documentation for FreeBSD is also strong, both in the form of the FreeBSD Handbook, which includes both reference and tutorial materials accessible via a web browser, and the normal UNIX-like man pages. The FreeBSD Handbook is also available in printed form. Both are actively maintained and regularly extended to cover new features.

FreeBSD and BSD books are generally available from BSDi via their FreeBSD Mall Books page, and from the Daemon News Books and Posters page, not to mention your normal online book vendors (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, et al), and quite possibly your local bookstore.

In addition, the BSD Daemon News magazine is now available in print as well as electronic form, and includes articles appropriate for both users and developers.

I suspect the "uber-know-it-all-i-dont-need-any-docs" guy is unlikely to listen to any recommendations from me, but would probably find the man pages most useful as they're more reference than tutorial :-).

To be honest, I don't use security documentation other than the man pages, as I'm familiar with most of the base system features, as they're an area where I've done a lot of work. Out of the box, FreeBSD is a fairly safe beast, as long as you've reviewed recent security advisories for the release you're using. The usual advice applies: don't install or run things you don't need to, and emain up-to-date on security advisories. There's a FreeBSD security how-to on the web site.

For the die-hard "uber-know-it-all", there's always the source, which in the end is authoritative as to how the implementation works, regardless of documentation :-).


I noticed in the comments, although it didn't make it into the questions in the interview, that there was a lot of curiosity about the relationship between the OpenBSD Project and the TrustedBSD Project, also regarding TrustedBSD and FreeBSD. As it's important to understanding the work I do, and the goals of the project, I figured I should throw in a bonus answer:

TrustedBSD provides a set of extensions to FreeBSD to add support for {ACLs, Capabilities, Mandatory Access Control, Auditing} as well as supporting features to implement them. As I described above, these features are being integrated into the base operating system distribution, with the intent that they be "part of FreeBSD". This is facilitated by having some of the TrustedBSD developers also be FreeBSD Project developers.

The OpenBSD and TrustedBSD projects have largely different thrusts: while the OpenBSD project seeks to provide a correct and bug-free POSIX implementation (where correctness includes a focus on failing to suffer from security holes). It also includes cryptography-related features as a primary development goal, hence early development and integration of IPsec in the base system (and a continuing high level of maturity of their implementation), as well as their work on OpenSSH. The TrustedBSD project seeks to introduce a variety of features, some described in the defunct POSIX.1e draft.

While TrustedBSD targets FreeBSD as the starting operating system, it should be observed that all of the BSD systems stem from the same source base, and remain very similar. This means that porting a feature from FreeBSD to OpenBSD should prove relatively straight-forward. The same goes for Darwin, the kernel from Mac OS X. I list both of these explicitly because we in fact have plans to start porting features to both of these platforms, as resources permit. The starting point in both cases will be to make Extended Attributes available in their file systems; these are used to store the supporting data for ACLs, capabilities on files, and MAC labels. I'd welcome interest in porting these features to other BSD platforms, including NetBSD and BSD/OS as well.


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Re:FreeBSD 2.2.8 faster than 3.2 or 4.2 (1)

bpechter (2885) | more than 13 years ago | (#498694)

I bet it's just because of the smaller kernel and simpler less involved SCSI subsystem.

The new one seems to be more reliable and better at recovery -- but I think it's a bit larger and bulkier. If the hardware's right I think 2.2.8 was a bit quicker.

The real screamer was on a 486 8-)
I want to get the time to reinstall that bugger on a K6-2/450 with an AHA-1542B and see how it flies with 128mb of memory.

Re:Good show, Watson! (1)

bpechter (2885) | more than 13 years ago | (#498695)

Not every open sourcer uses linux...

Sometimes you use the right os for the right job.
FreeBSD makes a great web and backup server
supporting the departmental Sun systems
and the Network Appliance Filer.

# uname -a
FreeBSD 4.2-STABLE FreeBSD 4.2-STABLE #0: Mon Jan 8 16:05

#uname -a
SunOS babel 5.8 Generic sun4u sparc SUNW,Ultra-2

#uname -a
Linux pechter 2.4.0 #9 Mon Jan 15 16:03:01 EST 2001 i586 unknown


Re: Rivals? (1)

Alfred Perlstein (3926) | more than 13 years ago | (#498696)

I wouldn't consider *BSD as rivals to anything, just providing ourselves with a superior replacement for the currently available technology and make it available to the public.

Unlike the Linux/GPL camp who's enemy is everyone trying to make a living by writing software, we're just trying to write the best stuff for our own business and personal use.

We're not rivals with anyone, just sorry you guys are all so lost. :)

Re:FFS a modern File System??? (more so than UFS?) (1)

Alfred Perlstein (3926) | more than 13 years ago | (#498697)

FFS is actually the "Fast File System" not "FAT Fast file System", the author should have done more research. :)

UFS provides the naming layer/policy of the filesystem. FFS provides for the block allocation and metadata policies.

The "traditional UNIX filesystem" was called something like "ss5", it was the one with inodes all at one end of the disk and practically no policy for reducing fragmentation. It was terrible, after a short period of heavy disk usage the FS would be as fragmented as badly as MS-DOS FAT and disk bandwidth would be limited to something like 3% of the actual disk speed.

FFS was a rewrite of the block allocation and disk layout to avoid the serious problems with "ss5". FFS tries to make sure that inodes and data are allocated in the same area, this is to reduce seeking. Along with those enhancements IO clustering was added, recently softupdates and snapshots.

Oh, and the dipstick that said "snapshots" were
dangerous needs to get a clue. Snapshots provide for taking a view into the filesystem almost like a freeze frame.

Re:Relating to MacOS discussion.. (1)

AIXadmin (10544) | more than 13 years ago | (#498698)

I think we have to take into account that Apple is 95% open source. Closed source things are generally items that they have collaborated with other companies on. Things like quartz which contains things (I am assuming) licensed from Adobe. Or Quicktime which lies in patent and licensed code mine field. Apple is trying to walk the line between two worlds. IMHO is doing quite well. Darwin has been a smashing success for them!

One step further... (1)

Pope Slackman (13727) | more than 13 years ago | (#498699)

Even though Linux might be superior, only Windows has the commercial
support and marketing potential to succeed on a large scale.
Therefore support is better lent for improving Windows.


Re:Good show, Watson! (1)

DES (13846) | more than 13 years ago | (#498700)

Funny - all the ones I know use FreeBSD 8)


Re:Good show, Watson! (1)

DES (13846) | more than 13 years ago | (#498701)

950 GB/day is roughly 1.1MB/second

Your number is off by one order of magnitude. 950 GB/day is 11.25 MBps, or 90.07 Mbps average throughput, and that's just counting the actual files transferred, not the protocol overhead. The actual figure these days is somewhere around 110 Mbps average throughput.


Re:Good show, Watson! (1)

rhadc (14182) | more than 13 years ago | (#498702)

So do I. I feel that FreeBSD is architecturally better. When the lazy in me takes over, I work with debian to play with software that I expect to be included in the distribution.

When I use FreeBSD, I get the feeling that all the core developers are years more experienced.

Working with FreeBSD is more work and more rewarding. I use FreeBSD for my servers because I don't want as many problems. Linux is really more of a toy.


Re:Good show, Watson! (1)

Puppet Master (19479) | more than 13 years ago | (#498703)

One question though: who exactly uses FreeBSD? Just about ever open-sourcer I know prefers Linux.

I use it. Have for about 6 years now... We have 12 FreeBSD servers at the office, and I have 3 at home. I've tried Linux, and although it is a good package, I just prefer FreeBSD.

Re:Good show, Watson! (1)

bsletten (20271) | more than 13 years ago | (#498704)

I have used FreeBSD at home for several years and at work for the last year. My reasons for this mirror Mr. Watson's.

Re:Good show, Watson! (1)

platinum (20276) | more than 13 years ago | (#498705)

Along with this small ftp server [] that can only server 5000 simultaneous users.

Re:Obvious (1)

platinum (20276) | more than 13 years ago | (#498706)

And a number of companies, including BSDi [] and those listed here [] , here [] , here [] , here [] , here [] , here [] would probably disagree.

Re:Good show, Watson! (1)

emc3 (22477) | more than 13 years ago | (#498707)

I used to be the primary sysadmin for a small ISP (1993 - 1997). We started in late '93, with our public debut in early '94. When we started, we used Linux. However, this was right around the time of kernel 1.0, and we suffered instability problems occassionally. As a result, we wound up migrating our primary servers to FreeBSD. The only box that remained on Linux was our news server, because it also served up UUCP dialup with a fragile, customized configuration (we used UUCP to provide internet email gateway services to several local BBS's). Eventually, the UUCP customers died off and we migrated that box to FreeBSD as well.

Even though these days, I'd venture to say that the stability and performance of Linux and FreeBSD are probably about equal, I still prefer FreeBSD for more serious tasks. The main reason for me is that the system update functions and the ports/packages mechanisms are so much nicer than Linux's kernel updates and rpm/aptget/whatever package management. I realize, however, that this is pretty subjective, and there are likely those who disagree, and prefer rpm over FreeBSD's ports.

The best thing, for those who wonder, is to just give it a try. But *really* give it a try. Don't just install it, say "hey! it doesn't install [ABC] by default! weak!", and give up on it. Really *use* it. Make a kernel config file and build a new kernel. Install cvsup, use it to get your source tree in sync with -STABLE, and do a "make world". Install some extras from the ports tree (I like ports over packages, when possible, since they fetch the original source, are automatically patched for FreeBSD, and I can always go back and easily recompile with customized options if I don't like the default config).

Try it, you'll like it!

Ernest MacDougal Campbell III / NIC Handle: EMC3

Why to ignore the above.. (1)

Gr00ve (30611) | more than 13 years ago | (#498708)

1. Users numbers are irrelevent, _developer_ figures are what count.
2. The figure of 7000 OpenBSD users he bases all others numbers on is how many bought the last OpenBSD cd. I leeched an ISO and I'm sure many others did a ftp install.
3. He uses developer posts to extrapolate user numbers.
4. IHBT.

Quartz - license free (1)

TheInternet (35082) | more than 13 years ago | (#498709)

Things like quartz which contains things (I am assuming) licensed from Adobe.

As far as I know, this is not the case. One of the goals with the transition from NextStep to OSX was to ditch licensing fees that raised the price of the product. This included getting rid of Display Postscript in favor of the PDF-based Quartz engine.

- Scott
Scott Stevenson
WildTofu []

Re:Interesting article (1)

Foogle (35117) | more than 13 years ago | (#498710)

You have been trolled. Have a nice day.

Re:Interesting article (1)

MadAhab (40080) | more than 13 years ago | (#498711)

I believe he did address that issue, and repeatedly. Different projects have different goals, and FreeBSD has always focused on technical excellence. But it doesn't suit everyone's needs all the time, nor should it be expected to.

Your question can also be put a different way; why did Linus not just work on the BSDs in the first place? Linus has said that were it not for the lawsuit keeping the BSD down, he would probably have never created Linux, because he wouldn't have needed to.

Finally, you presume that the goal is to overthrow Windows (though Microsoft is hardly the world's largest company), and that warez is somehow "free", and that commercial software has some kind of integrity that open source lacks. There are plenty of sources to disabuse you of those notions, but really if you went back and read the article carefully, you'd get the answers to your questions.

Boss of nothin. Big deal.
Son, go get daddy's hard plastic eyes.

Re:Oh those crazy government projects. (1)

scott4000 (42414) | more than 13 years ago | (#498712)

you can't tell me Linux really has the ability to create atomic snapshots...if linux really contains the amount of radioactive substances you claim, it will wreck havoc on sensitive electronic equipment attached to the global internet.

Re:FFS a modern File System??? (more so than UFS?) (1)

darkonc (47285) | more than 13 years ago | (#498713)

Watson simply corrected the (incorrect) proposition that
(1) BSD ran on UFS, and
(2) It's not a modern FS.
Other saying that BSD doesn't run UFS, he didn't make any comment on UFS. Specifically, I don't see any reference to FFS being "more" modern than UFS (or less).

Think of UFS as a {proprietary?} 'fork' of the FFS system. Both have been updated since then. In modern nomenclature, it should probably be refered to as FFS 5.23 (pick your favorite number).

Re:Article avoids the point (1)

AYEq (48185) | more than 13 years ago | (#498714)

Why? I hear this question and I really do not understand how to answer that. Kind of off topic but how can you explain Free Software to people who only hear the price aspects.I am not bashing that parent, there just seems to be people who like to have freedom and the ability to dig through source code to find out how something really works. He/She said that the main purpose of free software was to compete with windows and I really don't think that most developers even think about windows really (I know I don't). Not slamming,bashing, or flaming; it is just that I see this question a lot and yet have no way to explain it. It seems that you either get it or not. I hope that *BSD and Linux continue to develop their own product (of course borrowing from each other where needed) and I think that in the end they will both serve different communities (ie. like windows does for most people but not for me)

Re:Good show, Watson! (1)

Hard_Code (49548) | more than 13 years ago | (#498715)

Wow, they have *virtual* VMware now?

Re:Good show, Watson! (1)

afairch (56711) | more than 13 years ago | (#498716)

I certainly fall into this category. My first shot at installing a non-MS OS was FreeBSD. as it turns out I had some unsupported hardware, so after a couple of days fighting with it someone suggested Linux which worked 'out of the box'.

I recently ordered a copy of OpenBSD to install on an old machine I have had lying around and am now learning some of the little differences. So far I am very pleased with it.

Re:overexpensive. (1)

rtaylor (70602) | more than 13 years ago | (#498717)

Hmm.. Wasn't the Matrix rendered on BSD clusters (Something like 32 Dual PIII's or something).

Anyway, you still need to spend a crapload on hardware to make linux a good video editing machine, and most likely your going to be using Linux on a PPC for the speed. Since MacOS comes with PPC's your arguement is moot as you've paid for it and removed it anyway.

Re:Interesting article (1)

rtaylor (70602) | more than 13 years ago | (#498718)

BSD was around before windows was, so isn't it microsoft who should be competing against BSD? They're slowly taking over BSD turf through purchase of the companies (Hotmail, and LinkExchange come to mind).

Anyway, if anything BSD is a direct rival of Solaris X86 which isn't much of a competition.

Wow (1)

lw54 (73409) | more than 13 years ago | (#498719)

I have just been in the mind of a genius. Robert Watson truly knows what's going on.

Re:Good show, Watson! (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | more than 13 years ago | (#498720)

Interesting? And Score 3?
Strange I think the bigger web/ftp sites are all using FreeBSD or NetBSD.

Re:Good show, Watson! (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | more than 13 years ago | (#498721)

This is not funyy this is trure :-)
Linux may meanwhile lead in number of installations. Anyway for a long time NetBSD/FreeBSD was leading.
A lot of top hitting sites like are running BSD.


Re:Good show, Watson! (1)

znerd (83191) | more than 13 years ago | (#498722)

I use FreeBSD too, and all ppl I know use it too :) Just matter of choosing your friends! ;-)

Re:Relating to MacOS discussion.. (1)

Geekboy(Wizard) (87906) | more than 13 years ago | (#498723)

BeOS, is designed to be a graphics OS. Lots of multi-threading, and "types" of processes (real-time, priority, normal, not priority). Real cool support for video. (I saw a demo at their headquarters, they had Star Wars (the original, from 1977) Wizard Of Oz playing at 640x480 (it was a 1600x1200 screen) and 3 different mendelbrot programs all running in real time, with "synced" audio (synced is in quotes because both of the movies were playing the audio, so there was some cool effects from that)

Re:Good show, Watson! (1)

mr (88570) | more than 13 years ago | (#498724)

I know she's a troll. Her 1st efforts included the 'Applixware won't be comming out with a 5.0 native binary for BSD' as part of her anti-BSD FUD.

If it was anti-linux centered stuff, the 'slashdot filters' would be written to stop it from posting.

Any time a BSD story makes it to the front page, she's there trolling. And, if she REALLY cared about the 'facts' she's post some.

Re:Good show, Watson! (1)

ozzmosis (99513) | more than 13 years ago | (#498725)

Theres alot of people or this wouldnt be on the front page.

Re:Good show, Watson! (1)

ArtPepper (106669) | more than 13 years ago | (#498726)

>who exactly uses FreeBSD?...

I do.

Re:No surprise, *BSD is DYING (1)

gavcam (120595) | more than 13 years ago | (#498727)

And there's about another 2 million *BSD users who'll be quite willing to help you do it!

Re:Relating to MacOS discussion.. (1)

OwnedByTwoCats (124103) | more than 13 years ago | (#498728)

Mac OS X appears to have a bright future...I see a place for a Mac OS X box on my desk in the near future.

Coming from a very technically-oriented FreeBSD core developer, I found this also surprising. It shows how MacOS might now appeal to both the very technical, the very artistic, and the very newbie - something not normally possible. Again, we'll see what happens here (I, for one, would never wish to waste money to buy the overexpensive hardware and software compared to a decent Linux box).

I'm not surprised at all. For a decade, I've earned a living coding for Unix, while using a Mac for personal use. The mark of a professional is use of the right tool for the right job.

Where is OpenBSD? (1)

pricorde (124290) | more than 13 years ago | (#498729)

What? what? no question about the comparison between OpenBSD and TrustedBSD ?

And a pure troll question is selected (about virtual memory, FFS, ...)

Bad, bad questions...

Re:Oh those crazy government projects. (1)

wfaulk (135736) | more than 13 years ago | (#498730)


This is an incredibly useful feature that has been one of the big selling point of VxFS (probably the most respected filesystem out there) for quite some time. Solaris just added it to their UFS implementation, I believe that SGI's XFS has it, etc...

Are you sure you know what you're talking about? (He didn't say automatically, but atomically.)

Re:Good show, Watson! (1)

enneff (135842) | more than 13 years ago | (#498731)

I work for a fairy large ISP, and all of our servers run FreeBSD, and frankly it's a great platform to work on, and it's extremely reliable.

I suggest that you're taking a sample group of your friends, who run Linux at home. Which is all well and good (I run Slackware on two of my machines), but I think you'll find that a BSD will be chosen over Linux for many professional environments, as it is (IMO) are more production grade OS.

Re:Good show, Watson! (1)

rob_ert (141300) | more than 13 years ago | (#498732)

How uses FreeBSD anyway??? Me and a couple of other guys at this little hardware company how also invented this thing called Java ;-) P.S. Big thanks to Watson!!

Re:Interesting article (1)

bbcrack (143718) | more than 13 years ago | (#498733)

because you can?
choice is the variety of life!
each os has its own good points.
windows is great if your a luser but linux *bsd are better for a real user. were i work we run openbsd freebsd and suse oh and the odd nt box for lusers

Re:shocking revelation! (1)

TobyWong (168498) | more than 13 years ago | (#498734)

Evil is as evil does....

sued anyone lately?

Re:comparisons. (1)

TobyWong (168498) | more than 13 years ago | (#498735)

Small minds my friend, small minds. They think they are doing "their side" a favour by bad-mouthing anyone with a different opinion. I thought of a new slogan for this type of zealot: "Closed minds for open source".

Re:Relating to MacOS discussion.. (1)

jerud (170683) | more than 13 years ago | (#498736)

I also like the fact that he is not so single-mindedly deadicated to one platform that he can't see the advantages of another. Question though...I recently installed BeOS and have yet to figure out exactly what user audience it could possibly be targeting...probobly just ignorance but...

Re:FFS a modern File System??? (more so than UFS?) (1)

reh187 (182368) | more than 13 years ago | (#498737)

It wasn't my choice to put FAT in there or not... It was a quote =) Hense the "'s around that statement...

FFS a modern File System??? (more so than UFS?) (1)

reh187 (182368) | more than 13 years ago | (#498738)

I thought it was the other way around? I was sure that UFS was actually based on FFS... If you go here: schap.htm [] and do a search in the page for BSD... It clearly states: (and it could be wrong, so someone please clear this up for me...)

"UFS--The UNIX file system, which is based on the BSD FAT Fast file system (the traditional UNIX file system). The UFS file system is the default disk-based file system used in Solaris."

So which came first, is my question?

Re:Doh, should have asked these questions.... (1)

Z4rd0Z (211373) | more than 13 years ago | (#498739)

That said, most of the rest of what I wrote still stands - essentially distributions shipping the 4.4BSD-Lites derived kernels with the GNU Unix-like tools wouldn't really be providing users with anything substantially better/different to Linux.

I agree, and I think a Linux kernel with a BSD-like userland with a ports collection and beautifully organized source tree, the ability to 'cd /usr/src && make buildworld' and configure virtually the entire system from /etc/rc.conf, would be heaven. Such a distribution could even continue using the GNU tools. It's the sensible organization of BSD that I love so much.

Re:Doh, should have asked these questions.... (1)

Z4rd0Z (211373) | more than 13 years ago | (#498740)

Extinction is the path down which you are headed, O Anonymous One.

Re:Doh, should have asked these questions.... (1)

Z4rd0Z (211373) | more than 13 years ago | (#498741)

Thou art quite wrong about BSD running on a Mach kernel. There have been implementations of BSD which run on Mach, one of which is Darwin. The other one that I know of is called Lites. There is also at least one version of Linux running on Mach and it is called RTLinux. Hurd also runs on a Mach kernel.
(Free,Open,Net)BSD uses its own native kernel. Some parts of the BSD kernel were borrowed from Mach, such as virtual memory, but this has been largely written (refer to the interview) and in the case of NetBSD dropped entirely.

kudos (1)

khufure (214732) | more than 13 years ago | (#498742)

appreciate the answers... especially the last "bonus".

Excellent Interview (1)

WinterSolstice (223271) | more than 13 years ago | (#498743)

This was an excellent look into the minds of a great Open Source developer. I enjoyed especially the references for more information, and for future directions of the *BSD products. WS

Re:Good show, Watson! (1)

WinterSolstice (223271) | more than 13 years ago | (#498744)

I use both. I use Debian for my desktop (I can get games to run better, easier, and it supports RPM better) I use FreeBSD for my firewall/proxy. I like FreeBSD alot more, I just don't have the time to get mesa and all of the other 3dfx junk to work on two platforms. WS

yeah right! (1)

gagganator (223646) | more than 12 years ago | (#498745)

otherwise, with a few patches, a couple programs downloaded, and a grand total of zero dollars I can turn any linux machine into a studio quality video editing box.

your time is worth a grand total of zero dollars?! i am familiar with the concept of writing code to solve problems (i get _paid_ for _my_ code). your problem is that linux still has that problem to solve

the fact is i can not buy a linux video editing and dvd producing solution. a render farm a video editing solution does not make

Re:Good show, Watson! (1)

jo42 (227475) | more than 13 years ago | (#498746)

>who exactly uses FreeBSD?


Linux is a kernel, not an OS nor a religion - me

comparisons. (1)

saintlupus (227599) | more than 13 years ago | (#498747)

windows is great if your a luser but linux *bsd are better for a real user. were i work we run openbsd

apparently there are no grammar checkers available for openbsd.

anyhow. i just wanted to step in and say that i am absolutely staggered. how did you just read an interview that said, among other things, that one should pick the best os for a given task -- and then start making sweeping claims about windows being "for lusers"! the zealotry in this place floors me sometimes.


Good show, Watson! (1)

grovertime (237798) | more than 13 years ago | (#498748)

That really was a tremendously solid Q&A. Watson certainly deserves our collective praise in taking so much time, care and energy in answering all questions in detail. One question though: who exactly uses FreeBSD? Just about ever open-sourcer I know prefers Linux.

  1. humor for the clinically insane []

damn (1)

nocomment (239368) | more than 13 years ago | (#498749)

All those apple-realted questions and nobody asked his opinion of how many buttons a mouse should have!!!!

Re:Sorry it Was FreeBSD not Linux (1)

ryancooley (248760) | more than 13 years ago | (#498750)

Yes, you've made your point, it was FreeBSD not Linux that the Matrix was done on, but I stand by my statements, With my 500$ 750MHz Athlon Box I can do video editing with great results using completely free opensource software which works great. And as with quite a bit of opensource software I use, I far prefer it to it's commercial counterpart regardless of price.

Re:overexpensive. (1)

ryancooley (248760) | more than 13 years ago | (#498751)

i dont go around deriding linux as worthless because it cant hold a candle to the mac in video editing.

Well, if you mean it's easier I'll agreee, otherwise, with a few patches, a couple programs downloaded, and a grand total of zero dollars I can turn any linux machine into a studio quality video editing box. Geez man! It sounds like you've never seen the Matrix (video done exculsively on Linux).

my Personal arguement is that Macs don't give you the freedom you have with PCs, hardware wise. If you want an ultra-high-end 32-processor PC you can get it. Getting a mail server is again just as possible. Secondly, I wouldn't use OS X if I had nothing else! The System requirements are huge (I liked OS 7.x because it can run on extremely old or brand new hardware with great performance) even for a MAC.

Re:Relating to MacOS discussion.. (1)

raju1kabir (251972) | more than 13 years ago | (#498752)

It shows how MacOS might now appeal to both the very technical, the very artistic, and the very newbie - something not normally possible.

I've long ago given up on worrying what might appeal to computer newcomers, but as a somewhat more experienced user I can say that there are plenty of times when I would have creamed my pants at the prospect of such a thing.

Some years ago I was doing hardcore publishing work: Pulling data from databases, doing transformations, and batch pre-formatting (often using RTF, which holds style info well) for import into QuarkXPress where the book and magazine designers could have at it and tinker with the pretty bits. Sticking a FreeBSD box under the desk and running Netatalk on it did the job, but it'd be a whole lot nicer (and smoother) to have it all in one place.

Even now, I use QuarkXPress and Excel almost daily for any number of tasks; no matter how much I like the command line, there are some tools where the GUI wins. And if you're going to use it, might as well use the best tools available (hence no Gnumeric for me today, thank you).

Re:All questions not answered (1)

JustTed (263340) | more than 13 years ago | (#498753)

95% of freebsd advisories deal with the ports tree, so they apply to just about everything. what source are you looking at?

Re:Doh, should have asked these questions.... (1)

JustTed (263340) | more than 13 years ago | (#498754)

besides the fact that bsd comprises an entire os, not just a kernel, there's the matter that a lot of userland depends on the kernel. many of the interfaces are different. /proc is completely different, as are the top and ps commands and so on. everything would need to be ported, which is a big waste of time.

Re:Good show, Watson! (1)

fuzzyping1 (266783) | more than 13 years ago | (#498755)

You obviously don't get around much. Most of the "open-sourcers" that I know prefer FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD... and even NeXT. ;-) I'd be interested in gauging the experience levels of your "open-sourcer" buddies... perhaps even hearing how you define an "open-sourcer".

Re:Doh, should have asked these questions.... (1)

macsuibhne (307779) | more than 13 years ago | (#498756)

Practically every assertion you make above is false. BSD is a complete O/S implementation, userland and kernel. Porting applications from Linux to BSD is trivial, since they implement the same system calls. FreeBSD can even run Linux (and SCO, and SVR4) binaries directly in emulation mode (essentially, the kernal is aware of the "brand" of the binary being run and remaps the system call vector accordingly). The BSD kernel isn't based on Mach, it's based on BSD 4.4, from the Computer Science Research Group (CSRG) at UC Berkeley. Mach was developed at Carnegie Mellon U, and the NeXT O/S was layered on Mach 2.0, as is the Darwin kernel, with features from Mach 3.0 thrown in. The Darwin "userland" utilities are all FreeBSD, with Apple custom stuff for network authentication, et al. As to Linux running on Mach, it's been done -- see -- an effort that seems to have been superseded by Darwin\O/S X, pitching Linux in favour of FreeBSD, presumably for licensing reasons. I don't know where you're getting your information from, but it's patently a crock. Just the facts, Sweeney.

Bravo indeed! (2)

Christopher B. Brown (1267) | more than 13 years ago | (#498757)

The questions were quite good; the answers were exceptionally good.

This reflects well on all involved, and if it leads to greater interest in TrustedBSD, that's well-deserved!

FreeBSD seems to have a propensity to be more widely used at ISPs where they have networking loads that start getting "challenging."

Those are certainly in a minority as compared to the hordes of "I turned a PC in the back office into a web server" where just about anything more stable than Windows 3.1 represents an improvement.

I like david parson's comment that

"In the free software world, a rising tide DOES lift all boats, and once the user has tasted Unix it's easy for them to switch between Unices."
If someone is excitedly moving from watching Blue Screens of Death to Linux, they're likely to be vigorously noisy about that. In contrast, the "excitement" about a move between Linux and *BSD is likely to be far less visible, as the switch is much easier and more nearly transparent. Which doesn't mean that conversions don't take place; just that they're not as loud.

Re:FFS a modern File System??? (more so than UFS?) (2)

Guy Harris (3803) | more than 13 years ago | (#498758)

The "traditional UNIX filesystem" was called something like "ss5",

Actually, originally, it wasn't called anything, as it didn't need to be called anything - it was the only UNIX file system there was (at least in UNIXes from AT&T), so it didn't need a name to distinguish it from other file systems.

I think of it as "the V7 file system", as it first showed up in the UNIX often called Version 7 (although it was really the UNIX that came with the Seventh Edition of the document "The UNIX Time-Sharing System"; it always amused me when companies referred to V7 as "Release 7.0", or something such as that implying that there was any formal Official Release Process - as far as I know, it was "what was on the main Research UNIX machine at the time they decided to make the tape").

That was the basis of the file system in System V (SV boosted the block size to 1K bytes from 512 bytes, and I think made a few other minor changes) , so some might think of it as the System V file system, e.g. "s5fs". (It was also the basis of the file system in 4BSD prior to 4.2BSD.)

Oh, and the dipstick that said "snapshots" were dangerous needs to get a clue.

I think at least one of those postings was joking about the "atomic" part, as per the "Geiger counter" comment later in the posting.

Re:Oh those crazy government projects. (2)

johnnyb (4816) | more than 13 years ago | (#498759)

Actually, I think Linus and friends have hacked Linux so that it can create a wormhole to Pluto, but that's just a rumor :)

Re:Doh, should have asked these questions.... (2)

JoeBuck (7947) | more than 13 years ago | (#498760)

If someone (or many someones) spend the effort to create an XYZ/BSD release, it will come to be. If not, it won't. So the real answer to "why isn't there ..." questions is "Because you haven't done it". ESR often gets on my nerves, but his "shut up and show me the code" comment has a lot of validity here.

I can't imagine that such a project would be in the financial interest of Red Hat or of Suse, but I could see how it might appeal to volunteers, so my guess is that a Debian GNU/BSD would be the most likely of the three. But because far fewer folks will be interested, I can't see how it would ever become more than a niche project.

Re:Interesting article (2)

MAXOMENOS (9802) | more than 13 years ago | (#498761)

If the intention of the open source community is to create an OS to rival Windows, wouldn't it be better if the BSD developers developed Linux instead - if you're trying to compete with the world's largest company, it's best to be united.

I disagree completely. One of the strengths of open source software is that you have many choices for solving a problem: Linux and BSD; KDE and GNOME; MySQL, mSQL and PostgreSQL; Emacs and VIM. It encourages open source software to get better on its own accord, instead of aiming for Microsoft.

I'd also like to point out that trying to replace Microsoft XXXXX is not a good goal for open source. It puts Microsoft in charge of where OSS is headed. Our goal should be to produce the best technology possible and keep it as free as possible (although I acknowledge that the BSD and Linux camps disagree on what this should mean). Sometimes that means following Microsoft's lead (like GNOME does, with Windows-like GUI and component technology). Sometimes that means following your competition (like the rivalry between VIM and Emacs). Sometimes it means stepping out in a totally different direction (Slashcode, ZOPE).

ObJectBridge [] (GPL'd Java ODMG) needs volunteers.

Re:Doh, should have asked these questions.... (2)

NatePuri (9870) | more than 13 years ago | (#498762)

Because Linux user like Linux and *BSD users like BSD. The differences are greater than .tgz v. .rpm or .deb. Why I use the various *BSDs and not one Linux (except at work where my *new* boss wiped my Open and FreeBSD installs and installed RH Linux 7.0 because he thinks "RH will win in the end", me hacker, him Manager..." When you download FreeBSD's enormous set of files, you get a huge bunch of tools like tar and gzip, mv, cp, sed, awk, perl, tcsh, etc., and the bsd kernel. When you download Linux you get... a kernel. Or you download a huge set of .deb and .rpm files until you have a complete set of tools. Here's why this difference matters... It matters because BSD developers, the one's that put their tag on the release, are the same ones that reviewed the tools to ensure that it all fits. I hear Slackware is like this, but I don't know personally. RPM and .deb developers are very numerous, a bit too numerous. When RH and others put their sign the release, I'm not so sure the main developers know what's going on with all the rpm's on the cd. See what I mean? For me, OpenBSD and FreeBSD are the best. OBSD for firewalls, and FreeBSD for everything else.

Lies, damn lies, and statistics. (2)

mindstrm (20013) | more than 13 years ago | (#498763)

And how many of those users are doing anything serious? How many are deploying servers for business? On the Internet? How many are just sitting in their basement doing nothing?

Yeah, Linux has some huge numbers. I've been one of those numbers for almost 9 years.... but seriously.

The billion sheep who run linux because 'it's cool', well, who cares. I mean, it's great that they jumped off the windows bandwagon and are learning something else.. but they don't represent real business.

Re:overexpensive. (2)

TheInternet (35082) | more than 13 years ago | (#498764)

Secondly, I wouldn't use OS X if I had nothing else! The System requirements are huge

You're clearly referring to the beta because the GM isn't out yet. The latter will have lesser requirements. And furthermore, the requirements are largely so outlandish because they have to take into account the Classic environment -- which is, more or less, emulating Mac OS 9 on Mach. If you stick to Carbon (OSX native port of Mac API), Cocoa, BSD and Java apps, then you'll be stylin'. Classic does work very well -- a true achievement in emulation -- but it is a resource hog.

- Scott

Scott Stevenson
WildTofu []

Re:What is never said (2)

be-fan (61476) | more than 13 years ago | (#498765)

Doh. I forgot that moderators never read at -1. I don't mind the mod-point (cuz it *was* offtopic) I just hope nobody thinks that I am inviting racist trolls to post on /. more often. I was replying to a troll that had set himself up too well to resist.

PS> Yea, you can mod this one too. Why doesn't /. offer post editing?

Re:Doh, should have asked these questions.... (2)

AntiBasic (83586) | more than 13 years ago | (#498766)

Ok, after having reading up on many of the posts on here I don't find any of them are a good enough answer for your question. So here goes.

Why isn't there a Redhat/BSD release, or a Debian/BSD release, or a Suse/B....Anyway, you get the idea...There are releases using the Linux kernel (DUH!), and releases using the Hurd kernel, so why don't I see distributions using the Open/Free/Net/Whatever BSD releases as the kernels in distributions?

This is because of OS design. *BSD is an integrated OS. Meaning that kernel/userland overlap a lil. 99% of the OS's out there do it this way. And to use the hackeneyed slogan yet again: Linux is just a kernel. When you upgrade from Linux 2.2.18ac5-pre-test-mdk4 to Linux 2.2.18ac6-beta-alpha-spoon you just gotta do the make; make depend; make install then all those bzlilo (or however its done) you don't have to upgrade any of your distro's applications (yes there has been are 1-2 instances). I don't really agree with Linus on separation of userland/kernelland.

IMHO, it's a shame....Although Linux 2.4.x seems to be a vast improvement over 2.2.x and is claimed to be more scalable than BSD, I like the security ethos that seems to go with the BSD projects....

Yeah Linux 2.4.x clears up a many of my gripes about it, its still not as great as the hype makes it seem. It reminds me of how all the MS/W2K people are loving these NTFS5.0 quotas that they just got and all the Novell dudes are scoffing. When it comes to scalable, thats just one of those trendy words stupid people use to sound important. Like paradigm and proactive.

I'm rambling now I suppose but learn as much as you can about their differences and similarities, advantages, disadvantages, have fun , increase your knowledge, and try to be an ambassador for whatever your choices may end up being.

Re:Good show, Watson! (2)

mr (88570) | more than 13 years ago | (#498767)

Insightful. Good post. The plain truth is that *BSD is in decline. *BSD is suffering an ongoing loss of user base. I've been looking at the numbers; and The numbers don't lie.

What numbers?
Where/who are they from?
What URL's to back up your statement of decline?

Oh, thats right. You don't HAVE facts to back up your statement....just bluster.

Make your trolling interesting....come up with some real URL's.

Doh, should have asked these questions.... (2)

ssimpson (133662) | more than 13 years ago | (#498768)

[Good interview BTW - very informitive!]

Why isn't there a Redhat/BSD release, or a Debian/BSD release, or a Suse/B....Anyway, you get the idea...There are releases using the Linux kernel (DUH!), and releases using the Hurd kernel, so why don't I see distributions using the Open/Free/Net/Whatever BSD releases as the kernels in distributions?

IMHO, it's a shame....Although Linux 2.4.x seems to be a vast improvement over 2.2.x and is claimed to be more scalable than BSD, I like the security ethos that seems to go with the BSD projects....

I guess the question is: Is there a real reason that BSD isn't offered as a kernel choice?

Re:The numbers behind the *BSD's Death (2)

Moses Lawn (201138) | more than 13 years ago | (#498769)

Will you *please* go away. I am so damn tired of seing your posts in every thread that mentions BSD. At least come up with some new material. This post is just about an exact cut and paste from your post of the other day []

Then there was this [] , this [] , and this [] . You did another cut-n-paste here [] .

This one [] took the novel step of attacking the compiler. Cool.

So do you actually sit around in your underwear thinking this shit up, or did you hack up some kind of comment generator? Either way, you need a new hobby. Or a girlfriend. I will say, though, that you're somewhat humorous, in a Bullmer-Lytton-kind-of way. Phrases like "mired in a mortifying tangle of fatal trouble" and "head spinning downward spiral" are pretty classic for their alliteration value alone. Anyway, now that that's done, you can leave now. Preferably to the mountains of Uzbekistan or someplace else they don't have electricity.

And no, I *don't* have anything better to do that search Slashdot archives. But this fool's been pissing me off for a while.

Having been trolled, I'll now pull the hook from my mouth.

Oh those crazy government projects. (2)

TheFlu (213162) | more than 13 years ago | (#498770)

...the ability to atomically snapshot file systems...
This sounds horribly dangerous, I hope Linux never gets this "feature".

Geiger counters be damned! The Linux Pimp []

Re:Good show, Watson! (2)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 13 years ago | (#498771)

He's posted this about 3 or 4 times in this thread. It's a troll. FWIW, basing the estimates of how large the entire *BSD base is on how many CDs Theo says he's sold directly is clearly going to come up with ludicrous results.

AFAIC, development work continues on BSD, some of it (BSDi, Apple) by respected major commercial players. Anyone who decides not to use it because they think there are only around 10,000 users is an idiot...

Re:Doh, should have asked these questions.... (2)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 13 years ago | (#498772)

Ok, ok, having just spent a little while double checking, yes, you're right. I was confused by the distinction between Lites, an implementation of 4.4BSD-Lite over Mach, and 4.4BSD-Lite itself, and further by NextStep and MacOS-X's use of it.

That said, most of the rest of what I wrote still stands - essentially distributions shipping the 4.4BSD-Lites derived kernels with the GNU Unix-like tools wouldn't really be providing users with anything substantially better/different to Linux.

Your comments explain a lot actually. I was wondering what the f--- the BSD people were doing compiling Mach as a monolithic kernel... ;)

Re:Good show, Watson! (3)

Nugget94M (3631) | more than 13 years ago | (#498773)

I actually don't know many open sourcers who "prefer Linux". What I find to be far more common are open sourcers who have only used Linux and do not have much experience with the alternative opensource platforms. It's unfair to call this attitude a "preference" for Linux. I would infer from your question that you fall into this category (and are in good company).

Of those folks who have used both FreeBSD and Linux, well, they all prefer FreeBSD of course. :) All glibness aside, there's a huge contingent of FreeBSD users and developers who were first exposed to open source unix through Linux and for one reason or another find FreeBSD to more closely meet their needs and goals.

Re:Oh those crazy government projects. (3)

johnnyb (4816) | more than 13 years ago | (#498774)

This is a wonderful feature, especially if you want consistent backups. And yes, Linux has it (its with the LVM stuff).

Re:Interesting article (3)

platinum (20276) | more than 13 years ago | (#498775)

Please show me where you got the idea that the purpose of the open source community is to create an OS to rival Windows? Personally, I enjoy working on open source projects, including FreeBSD, not because I want Microsoft to go away, but because I enjoy using and developing a stable, secure OS. Perhaps the quote: "Linux is for Microsoft haters, BSD is for Unix lovers" is true...

FreeBSD File System (3)

NetJunkie (56134) | more than 13 years ago | (#498776)

Does FreeBSD have a file system with dynamic inode allocation? We store millions of small files on our filesystems, and I would like to compare FreeBSD to Linux with ReiserFS.

Relating to MacOS discussion.. (3)

proxima (165692) | more than 13 years ago | (#498777)

There has been an ongoing debate about the quality of MacOS and if it will take away users from such operating systems as LinuxPPC [] . I found the following comments by Robert Watson particularly interesting:

The easy answer is that Apple is involved in the open source community, and appears to be strongly committed to releasing their own software as open source, and contributing changes back to other projects whose software they use.

This comes as a welcomed surprise to me, as I would've expected Apple to be much more stubborn with their intellectual copyright and design issues. We'll see what Apple does actually does contribute though.

Mac OS X appears to have a bright future...I see a place for a Mac OS X box on my desk in the near future.

Coming from a very technically-oriented FreeBSD core developer, I found this also surprising. It shows how MacOS might now appeal to both the very technical, the very artistic, and the very newbie - something not normally possible. Again, we'll see what happens here (I, for one, would never wish to waste money to buy the overexpensive hardware and software compared to a decent Linux box).

These are just my opinions, and I would expect others to disagree with me. I should point out that in the past, I've recommended the use of a variety of operating systems to both individuals and companies; this includes Windows, Linux, Mac OS, Solaris, and FreeBSD. I'd be a fool to assert that any operating system is appropriate for all uses and environments.

Like many open source developers (not necessarily fanatical end users), Robert seems very willing to promote the alternatives to the OS he develops. This acknowledgement that no OS is best for everything should be commended.

Yahoo does, XOOM/NBCi does, Walnut Creek/BSDi does (4)

jabbo (860) | more than 13 years ago | (#498778)

When I worked at NBCi, we ran a benchmark of our most heavily trafficked application on Linux, Solaris, and FreeBSD. (this is the part that used to be Xoom, FWIW -- around 3-4 million users per day across 32 servers) FreeBSD was about 20% faster than Linux and marginally faster than the more expensive (per-box) Solaris setup once we had them all tuned. Shockingly, FreeBSD 2.2.8 (tuned all to hell) was a little faster (2% - 4%) than FreeBSD 4.0 or 3.2 -- not sure why.

Anyways, Yahoo uses FreeBSD, we used FreeBSD at NBCi/XOOM, many, many ISPs and ASPs use FreeBSD, and Apple now uses FreeBSD, after a fashion...

The only people I know that don't like FreeBSD, especially after being confronted with hard evidence for its networking prowess, are folks who are unfamiliar with BSD internals. To a man, they've all indicated to me that they're willing to take the performance hit because they "know" Linux better. And I can respect that. But the tone of your article seems to imply that FreeBSD users are few and far between, and that's just bullshit. Give it a try sometime, you might discover that you'd prefer it on your web and mail servers yourself!

shocking revelation! (4)

iso (87585) | more than 13 years ago | (#498779)

The easy answer is that Apple is involved in the open source community, and appears to be strongly committed to releasing their own software as open source, and contributing changes back to other projects whose software they use.

woah woah woah, hold on a minute. are you trying to tell us that Apple isn't pure evil? that can't be possible! the slashbots can not be wrong! heretic!!

- j

Re:Doh, should have asked these questions.... (4)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 13 years ago | (#498780)

BSD is less a kernel (indeed, arguably, there is no 'BSD' kernel - I'll expand on this below) than "the rest of Unix". Consequently, you could have something like BSD/Linux (in the same way as RMS refers to Linux as GNU/Linux, because it's the GNU "rest of Unix" running on Linux.)

As RedHat, Debian, etc, rely heavily on the GNU part of the OS, it would take a substantial amount of work to switch over to BSD code.

The BSD's use a kernel called Mach, not developed at Berkeley. This is a kernel whose respectability lies mainly in its maturity. It's not terribly exciting. Its history is of a project to produce a microkernel which didn't quite end up working as intended. BSD Mach kernels are almost always shipped as statically linked and monolythic.

Producing a version of GNU that runs over Mach would be relatively straightforward. Linux, however, is arguably better supported, has a more streamlined design, and it's hard to find a feature in Mach as used by the BSDs that doesn't already exist in Linux. So a Redhat/Mach release, while quite feasable, would probably be of limited potential.

Perhaps the Mach experts here could give reasons why we'd want to use it in place of Linux?

Excellent interview! (4)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 13 years ago | (#498781)

This is one of the best interviews I've read on /. in months, and the comment towards the end about the different roles of the OpenBSD and TrustedBSD projects, and the intention of the TBSD people to port their work beyond just FreeBSD, also goes some way to demonstrate that the supposed friction between the different BSDs is largely a myth, or at any rate overblown.

Also good to see that not everyone is paranoid about MacOS X taking over the world ;)

I'm looking forward to seeing the BSDs go from strength to strength, and for the average Unix user have choices beyond the already excellent Linux for well supported Unix-like operating systems - and see those choices strengthen.

Re:FFS a modern File System??? (more so than UFS?) (5)

Guy Harris (3803) | more than 13 years ago | (#498782)

The FFS (Berkeley Fast File System) is an optimized file system based upon the earlier UFS (Unix File System).

Not exactly.

Originally, there was the 4.2BSD file system; this was 18 years ago, so memories have faded a bit, but I think that it was, indeed, called the "fast file system".

Sun dubbed the Berkeley file system "UFS" when they put vnodes into "Sun UNIX 4.2BSD Release 2.0" or whatever they called it (this was before "SunOS" was coined).

Berkeley, in, I think, 4.3BSD (or was it 4.3-tahoe, or a later version?) came out with a modified version called the "fat fast file system" ("fat" is lower-case; this helps avoid confusion with the "FAT" in the DOS file system), sometimes called FFFS. Sun picked that up when it came out, so that UFS, at that point, was the FFFS, not the FFS.

Various organizations have subsequently extended the Berkeley file system in various ways, e.g. many of them have added access control lists, implemented "fast symlinks" whose contents are stored in the inode itself (instead of storing block pointers in the inode, for short symlinks the actual target pathname is stored), the 4.4BSD per-inode flags (system immutable, user immutable, etc.).

So, unless by "UFS" you meant the file system that came with The UNIX Time-Sharing System, Seventh Edition (which was the basis of the 4.1BSD file system, as well as the System V file system), FFS is not "an optimized file system based on the earlier UFS", as "UFS" at Sun was just the FFS. (And, frankly, I wouldn't say that FFS was based on the V7 file system; the FFS was intended to implement a superset of the same semantics as the V7FS, and took some implementation ideas from it, but shared little, if any, code, and few on-disk data structures, with it.)

overexpensive. (5)

gagganator (223646) | more than 13 years ago | (#498783)

I, for one, would never wish to waste money to buy the overexpensive hardware and software compared to a decent Linux box.

i would have thought weve had enough mac discussions on slashdot recently that people would not continue to perpetuate the overexpensive stereotype

i dont think $799 for a well designed risc g3 box with firewire, 100baset and monitor is overexpensive. i dont think $1299 for a gigaflop g4 with gigabit ethernet is expensive. i dont think $3500 for a _complete_ dvd authoring solution is expensive. that machine may be expensive as a mail server, but that isnt its use

i dont go around deriding linux as worthless because it cant hold a candle to the mac in video editing. like the man said, the right machine for the right job

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