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In Favor of FreeBSD On the Desktop

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the tricky-little-devil dept.

Open Source 487

snydeq writes "Deep End's Paul Venezia wonders why more folks aren't using FreeBSD on the desktop. 'There used to be a saying — at least I've said it many times — that my workstations run Linux, my servers run FreeBSD. Sure, it's quicker to build a Linux box, do a "yum install x y z" and toss it out into the wild as a fully functional server, but the extra time required to really get a FreeBSD box tuned will come back in spades through performance and stability metrics. You'll get more out of the hardware, be that virtual or physical, than you will on a generic Linux binary installation.'"

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487 comments

Shouldn't Apples count? (1, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#37984602)

I'm sure I'm opening myself up for an onslaught here, but I thought all their OSX-based stuff was basically just a very elaborate FreeBSD distro. And you get the benefit of one of the best GUI's in the desktop world, to boot.

Re:Shouldn't Apples count? (3, Funny)

sirdude (578412) | more than 2 years ago | (#37984632)

Seeing as to how you haven't RTFA, you deserve to be on-slaughtered :)

Re:Shouldn't Apples count? (4, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#37984644)

Sir, this is /. I have NEVER read an article.

Re:Shouldn't Apples count? (2, Funny)

Threni (635302) | more than 2 years ago | (#37984660)

Damn - you're right. I wondered what all that text was above the comments. I assumed it was an ad, or a Terminal session or something....

Re:Shouldn't Apples count? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37985114)

But, at the very least, you got first post; your name is out there, and you didn't have to say frost piss, or frist post, or whatever. You've posted something just as useless, but achieved your goal of getting your name out there, once again.

You are the greatest. All hail the mighty elrous0, king of useless fisty pasts.

Re:Shouldn't Apples count? (3, Informative)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 2 years ago | (#37984906)

TFA only makes a passing mention of OS X, and doesn't acknowledge its presence on servers at all. TFA is really little more than an advertisement for FreeBSD over Linux, saying "Look! It's more stable and has better features!" while completely missing the point that Linux is stable enough for use and also has ample useful features of its own.

Linux is used more than BSD because there are more available distros, meeting diverse needs without any configuration necessary. Professional support is more readily available, and in my limited experience, even hardware support is somewhat better.

Personally, I think Apple servers don't have much market share because they're so damned expensive, and there's not much in the way of specialization.

Re:Shouldn't Apples count? (4, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#37985178)

The fact that Apple has largely abandoned the server market, and is the only source of hardware on which OSX is blessed to run probably doesn't help.

Yeah, you can get the "Mac Pro Server"(Oh Boy! you can by a rack shelf and then put two of them on it, for up to 4 whole sockets in 12Us! The bitchin' Radeon HD 5770(whose mini displayport and DVI outputs aren't compatible with my KVM gear) totally takes my mind off the fact that xserves would have done 24 sockets in the same space. Dual PSUs aren't an option; but does your shitbox dell server have bluetooth or S/P-DIF audio? Thought not...) or a "Mac Mini Server"(a server that supports up to 8GB of RAM, fuck yeah! Wait, you mean that "apple remote control" is the name of an attractive IR remote, not a LoM card? Shit, no wonder is seemed so cheap.)

For many people's desktop requirements, the fact that Apple refuses to make a sucky-but-wildly-inexpensive tower isn't actually a huge deal. The server market is a whole lot less forgiving of deviations from reasonable form factors and common redundancy and management features...

Re:Shouldn't Apples count? (5, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#37985112)

I read TFA when it was on OSNews, and it's a waste of space. I was expecting some actual points, but it seemed to boil down to 'I haven't rebooted this machine for three years! FreeBSD is therefore awesome!' When someone talks about uptime, it's a clear sign that they are an idiot: uptime is irrelevant, downtime is important. You can achieve good uptime by failing to install security updates, but it's far better to spend a minute rebooting than to spend a day cleaning up and reinstalling after a machine is compromised.

I have these reasons for using FreeBSD on the desktop:

I don't want to have to spend ages configuring stuff, or learning how to configure stuff. With FreeBSD, the stuff I learned ten years ago is still relevant. I only need to learn new things when there is new functionality. Contrast this with Linux where userspace tools change more often than Paris fashions. Just as you've learned one, it's deprecated, and then replaced by something else.

APIs are well designed and stable. A couple of years ago, I wrote some code for getting the battery status on a variety of platforms. On NetBSD, OpenBSD, and FreeBSD it was a few sysctls and worked on every architecture. On Linux, the interfaces were subtly different on every architecture, but there was a 300KB library that abstracted this for you. The code to invoke this library was more complex than the entire *BSD implementations combined.

Sound Just Works. FreeBSD has low-latency sound mixing in the kernel and has a really amazing implementation of the OSS 4 APIs. Multiple applications can just open /dev/dsp, issue a couple of ioctls() to select the sample rate and so on, and away it goes. I installed FreeBSD on a NAS / Media Center box a few weeks ago. 5.1 sound output in VLC just worked[1], and I can ssh into the machine and run another music player with the display exported to my laptop without needing to close the VLC that has the sound device open to play audio from DVDs, or configure some userspace sound daemon. The kernel just does what a kernel is supposed to do: abstract the details of the underlying system (including the fact that multiple unrelated processes are running) from userspace apps. This was what made me switch from Linux to FreeBSD in the 4.x days - multiple apps playing sound at once was easy. Apparently, three sound daemons later, it's almost easy in Linux, in a hacky kind of way, as long as PulseAudio doesn't hate you as much as it apparently hates most people...

ZFS. Seriously, if you haven't used it then you don't know how awesome it is. Creating new filesystems is as easy as creating new directories. Transparent compression, deduplication, and free snapshots are amazing. Even better is the integration with the ezjail tool, which clones a base system install and creates a jail. This is great if you want to run some untrusted code, or just set up a test environment - it takes a few seconds to create a new, isolated environment where you can test things, break things, and then destroy it when you're done. I've only used it on the most recent FreeBSD machine I've installed, and after a day I started missing it on systems where I wasn't using it. There are some places where it could be better integrated, for example apt-clone on Nexenta took a snapshot, installed a bunch of packages, and then reverted the filesystem if any of them failed - I don't know of any FreeBSD equivalent yet, but hopefully pkg-ng will introduce one.

Capsicum. The first security framework I've seen that is actually well designed. It's in -CURRENT, not sure if it will make it into 9.0, but should into 9.1 if it doesn't. Most of the standard userland tools are being modified to use it, and things like Chromium have already had Capsicum integrated - a tiny diff to do fine-grained sandboxing. An increasing number of ports are getting Capsicum support too, so expect to see your favourite desktop applications start to run with the absolute minimum required privilege soon.

[1] I spent a couple of hours looking for documentation on how to configure it. Then I decided to actually test it, found that it worked already, and felt quite silly.

Re:Shouldn't Apples count? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37984678)

No. But you could just call them all Unix.

Similar to the author, I run OSX on my desktops and BSD on my servers. OSX is too many steps removed from all of the other distros to rightly call it BSD and that its kernel is based on bits from some of them isn't a strong enough tie. Certainly a derivative though.

Re:Shouldn't Apples count? (2)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#37985142)

OS X is the only one you can call UNIX. The others are UNIX-like or UNIX-derived (in the BSD case). To be called UNIX (a trademark owned by The Open Group), you must be certified as implementing the whole of the Single UNIX Specification.

Re:Shouldn't Apples count? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37984716)

And you get the benefit of one of the best GUI's in the desktop world, to boot.

The desktop looks like AOL's client software from the late 90's. Best GUI is debatable.

Mac fags (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37984990)

Good call posting AC.
Slashdot went from opensource zelots to Mac fags in a matter of years.
Anything mac negative (same as HIV positive) is modded to hell.

Re:Shouldn't Apples count? (2)

Nursie (632944) | more than 2 years ago | (#37984730)

Yeah.... not quite.

There are BSD user-space tools. The kernel is a combination of the BSD kernel, Mach and various other bits.

It's BSD-flavoured, but it's not BSD. Look up Darwin for more info.

Re:Shouldn't Apples count? (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 2 years ago | (#37984772)

No, It shouldn't. If they had a freeBSD kernel, then yes. They have a Mach microkernel based one with elements of FreeBSD 4 something ( Free BSD is currently on 8.2 going on 9 soon). Yes, the common BSD tools and environment are there, but not used in anyway by the fancy Gui. And try upgrading or replacing those. DarwinPorts and Fink both elect to create separate repositories of the same tools. Just as you can call OpenBSD OpenBSD instead of NetBSD, OSX is Sufficiently diverged from FreeBSD to be something completely different: OSX

Re:Shouldn't Apples count? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37985010)

No, it's not the microkernel; it's the CMU Mach monolithic kernel.

At one time I believed that Digital's first releases of OSF/1 on AXP (1.x) used microkernels but in a cursory search of the intarwebs I can find nothing to support that recollection.

Re:Shouldn't Apples count? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37984826)

Mac OS X uses >some FreeBSD userland tools and services (like IP stack, firewall, etc), but it is by no means a FreeBSD distro.
The Darwin Kernel is based on XNU and only partly on the FreeBSD kernel. The Cocoa application framework is completely proprietary, as is the GUI.

OS X is basically a massively enhanced version of NeXTStep.

Re:Shouldn't Apples count? (1)

jiteo (964572) | more than 2 years ago | (#37984876)

And you get the benefit of one of the best GUI's in the desktop world

No.

Re:Shouldn't Apples count? (1)

goarilla (908067) | more than 2 years ago | (#37985148)

Well I do think so, it's also pretty consistent in my opinion.
What really annoys me is the mixed BSD/GNU userland though.

Re:Shouldn't Apples count? (2)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 2 years ago | (#37984988)

MacOS X is a skyscraper in the same way a house is a skyscraper. Yes, they use some of the same parts, and use similar (sometimes the same) stuff for similar functionality, but the similarities end there.

MacOS (or as I call it) Frankenstein's OS, is a hodgepodge of at least three distinct operating systems, plus Apples own work.
Unlike Frankenstein's monster, however, Frankenstein's OS, doesn't lurch around, it's actually rather good and functional, especially after the X.2 or X.3 update when they put threading into the kernel.

As for the best GUI... that is a matter of opinion, which I disagree with. The GUI is way to distracting and lacks certain pieces of functionality, customisability and accessibility that I would prefer.

Windows 2K ~= KDE > XP > XFCE > Window Maker > Gnome > Vista/7 > Any version of OSX > TWM

at least, IMO.
Yes, there's no real one trend in that list, each one is a combination of things that works for me.

Re:Shouldn't Apples count? (1)

onefriedrice (1171917) | more than 2 years ago | (#37985188)

MacOS X is a skyscraper in the same way a house is a skyscraper.

Perhaps you haven't had your coffee yet.

Re:Shouldn't Apples count? (2)

wrencherd (865833) | more than 2 years ago | (#37985168)

With MacPorts, OSX is like FreeBSD, but frankly there's nothing like the real thing.

I often get modded down for posting this (probably partly b/c I post it too often), but . . .

Apple's hardware is tops, but OSX is a lesser-BSD and it would be the best of all possible worlds if a user could replace it (easily and completely) with a real one (FreeBSD, PC-BSD, or Desktop BSD).

Performance gets eaten by old software (4, Interesting)

gentryx (759438) | more than 2 years ago | (#37984612)

At least it's that way for us in HPC. Sure, FreeBSD is rock stable and all, but if you run stable, you'll be trailing behind and won't get to use the latest packages. This may be fine for ordinary HTTP server, but when you need an updated NUMA aware scheduler for your 48 core/4 socket machine or the latest drivers for your InfiniBand hardware, then you'll happily give up some alleged increase in stability in favor of real performance. Same is true for Debian stable.

Re:Performance gets eaten by old software (1)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 2 years ago | (#37984836)

And, those are the real situations where you need the performance you allegedly get by using BSD. Honestly, for most day to day purposes eeking a few extra performance percentages out of a box is not all that big of a deal. Most computers are more than powerful enough to do most of what we want them too most of the time. This is true even in server class installs except at the most cutting edge.

When I really need the most performance out of a box (HPC, high end servers, etc) I'm going to spend the money on the latest and greatest hardware. The latest and greatest is usually a driver nightmare on the *BSD OSes, so I tend to use Linux. If performance isn't a huge issue, then I'm not going to go to all the effort of tweaking a *BSD box. So I tend to use Linux. Of course in the first case I'll spend a ton of time tweaking, and even recompiling parts of the Linux stack for performance, in the second I'll "'yum install x y z' and toss it out into the wild".

Re:Performance gets eaten by old software (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37984900)

If you're concerned with being up to date, you use ports which are rarely much out of date. Except maybe for some of the less popular ones.

And really, you should be rolling your own as you can optimize them for use with more modern processors.

Re:Performance gets eaten by old software (1)

gentryx (759438) | more than 2 years ago | (#37984950)

And this is why I run Gentoo Linux. I don't have to roll my own, but still get optimized (and customized) builds, mostly free of effort.

Re:Performance gets eaten by old software (3, Informative)

overlordofmu (1422163) | more than 2 years ago | (#37985256)

Don't you know other people mock Gentoo?

Sure, it works well for chumps like Facebook and the the NY Stock Exchange, but no one is using it for serious . . . um, wait . . . nevermind.

Sorry, but it's not worth the time (4, Informative)

kriston (7886) | more than 2 years ago | (#37984640)

Are you really suggesting that the time I spend will "come back in spades?"

Sorry, but as a longtime FreeBSD user and having wasted days of my life getting the graphics card to work and then tuning every last parameter, I'll take Ubuntu or Fedora on my desktop, thanks.

Sorry, but it's not worth the time and whatever "spades" you're getting paid pack in are 99% emotional, not physical.

Re:Sorry, but it's not worth the time (3, Funny)

Col. Klink (retired) (11632) | more than 2 years ago | (#37984714)

Oblig xkcd [xkcd.com].

Re:Sorry, but it's not worth the time (2)

Entrope (68843) | more than 2 years ago | (#37984816)

It is one thing to look at somebody else's work product and be impressed. It's an entirely different thing to look at your own and decide that, yea verily, that was a nearly optimal way to spend your time. (The major difference is that you usually have a much better idea of how much time and frustration you spent than what someone else spent.) Unless your objective is making computers run fast or maintaining the OS, time spent tweaking things at a low level -- which FreeBSD requires -- is probably not worth it.

Re:Sorry, but it's not worth the time (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37984920)

Are you really suggesting that the time I spend will "come back in spades?"

Have you seen PC-BSD [pcbsd.org] ?

Re:Sorry, but it's not worth the time (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37984952)

You must not have been very good if you had that much trouble. I started using FreeBSD over a decade ago and I never had that much trouble getting my graphics cards to work. Some of them weren't supported at all, so I just used the VESA, but once I started buying with FreeBSD in mind I never had that kind of trouble either.

If you're taking that much time and effort to tune a video card you're never going to get the time back, and it doesn't matter what OS you use, in my experience FreeBSD doesn't take any more time in that respect that Linux does.

Where you do save a crapload of time is things like the integrated revision system, so when you edit a system file you can simply check it out and check it back in when you're finished. Or compiling everything with appropriate use of processor extensions. Not to mention the much easier process of eliminating unneeded modules from the kernel.

Re:Sorry, but it's not worth the time (0)

Chemisor (97276) | more than 2 years ago | (#37985190)

Where you do save a crapload of time is things like the integrated revision system, so when you edit a system file you can simply check it out and check it back in when you're finished.

If you want version control on system [config] files, it is equally easy to put /etc in a git repository. Same benefits, but without relying on an obsucre file system. Oh, and I can push the same config files and their full mod history to every computer on the network. Can your fancy ZFS do that? I thought not.

Or compiling everything with appropriate use of processor extensions.

Ever heard of Gentoo [gentoo.org]? It's quite a bit easier to use than your BSD ports system.

Not to mention the much easier process of eliminating unneeded modules from the kernel.

I don't know what you're talking about. Linux always supported module unloading, and will usually do it automatically with no user intervention required.

Re:Sorry, but it's not worth the time (1)

goarilla (908067) | more than 2 years ago | (#37985250)

Where you do save a crapload of time is things like the integrated revision system.

Any advantage of this over say RCS ( which I still use ) or svn,git,hg ?

Re:Sorry, but it's not worth the time (1)

IICV (652597) | more than 2 years ago | (#37985080)

Sorry, but it's not worth the time and whatever "spades" you're getting paid pack in are 99% emotional, not physical.

Yeah, that's exactly what I was wondering. I actually RTFA'd to see if the author had any sort of real statistics, but he really doesn't; the one thing that's presented as any sort of evidence is Netcraft's list [netcraft.com] of most reliable hosting companies for February, which is pretty meaningless. Sure, the top three are running FreeBSD, but every other company on the list is running Linux (besides number 9, which is running Windows Server 2003).

Furthermore, if you look at the historical monthly data [netcraft.com] for "best datacenter", it's pretty obvious that the whole thing is hugely variable. Sure, in Feb 2011 the top three were FreeBSD sites; in April 2011, the top three were Rackspace (which runs something I've never heard of), Linux and Windows. You would imagine that if this were really a measurement of the operating system's reliability, the top ten lists would be fairly consistent; after all, it's not like the OS is changing significantly month to month. Instead, because it varies so much, this is probably mostly measuring how good the providers are at making sure data flows to and from their data center, instead of how good they are at responding to it.

And finally, the server admins who choose FreeBSD are pretty self-selecting. Someone who really knows how to tune and administer Linux is probably going to have just as stable a system as someone who really knows FreeBSD.

I basically agree (and I am still using it) (1)

Conley Index (957833) | more than 2 years ago | (#37985086)

I am currently using FreeBSD as my main OS, even on a recent (2010) laptop. It works great, for me. I have great control what is going on on my computer and I love the combination of a stable (as in "API/ABI stable" _and_ as in "upgrades do not break basic functionality") base system and very recent applications from ports.

Anyhow, I still have to agree with you that for most people, it is just not worse the time. For anyone else, I usually install Ubuntu. Ports are very powerful, but just not suitable for everyone.

If there were just stable ports (ports that come with a release and get only security fixes until the next release), one might come to the conclusion as the original article, but currently, you can either use release ports and live with the security holes (not a good idea to have an outdated browser and Flash plugin on the desktop), or you upgrade all ports very frequently.

PC-BSD might be a different story, I have not tried it in some time. Even though it brought me to FreeBSD, there were some good reasons not to use it anymore: How can you suggest users to use FreeBSD ports, if there is no PC-BSD PBI, and then wipe them at an upgrade? Probably not an issue anymore, but for me, that stuck.

Re:Sorry, but it's not worth the time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37985262)

You should have had no problem whatsoever getting your graphics card working, as most of the Xorg drivers are common between Linux and FreeBSD. The binary blob drivers for cards Xorg doesn't support out of box fail almost as often for Linux as they do for FreeBSD---and in fact, the nVidia driver for FreeBSD is largely identical to the Linux driver, and unlike the Linux driver, contains more parts that can be tweaked to get a reluctant card working. If you have that much trouble getting the almost identical to Linux driver system working, you should have been using Desktop BSD or PC-BSD, which have done the legwork for you already, have been well-received, and as a long-time FreeBSD user you undoubtedly would know about.

Furthermore, the vast majority of system tuning is either automatic, occurs during one-time compilation of applications/kernel, and yields tangible performance benefits. A simple exercise with DTrace, as an experienced FreeBSD user like yourself should have done, will often show improvements up to and beyond 15% between untuned generic binaries and customized binaries.

Of course, as an experienced FreeBSD user, it's not likely you would have made this post in the first place. How long have you actually been running FreeBSD anyway?

Benchmarks (3, Informative)

Chemisor (97276) | more than 2 years ago | (#37985294)

Sorry, but it's not worth the time and whatever "spades" you're getting paid pack in are 99% emotional, not physical.

These benchmarks [phoronix.com] say that Linux is usually faster than any BSD flavor.

As for stability, I can't find any definite stats on this. Personally, haven't seen a Linux crash since 1997, and that's a pretty damn long time.

Flash (-1, Flamebait)

xoundmind (932373) | more than 2 years ago | (#37984658)

I assume they still don't have it. Wake me up when that happens and I will use FreeBSD on the desktop.

Re:Flash (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37984938)

You are dead wrong. Wake up call. Flash works. Since years....

Re:Flash (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37984978)

I assume they still don't have it. Wake me up when that happens and I will use FreeBSD on the desktop.

Your assumption is wrong. A simple search on the internet would have shown you that Flash works on FreeBSD, and it works for a while now (both 32 and 64bit). I've used it with Firefox and with Opera.

See the handbook [freebsd.org].

So, um... wake up lazy!

Re:Flash (2)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37984992)

They've had it for years, there's at least two different ways of doing it. The easiest way is just using Wine and the Windows version of Firefox. The other way is to just use the Linux version of Flash. And really, it's only necessary because of incompetent web developers anyways.

These sorts of FUD posts about a largely unimportant feature that isn't native, is really not conducive to a decent discussion.

Gnome 2 and KDE 3 (2)

water-and-sewer (612923) | more than 2 years ago | (#37984694)

I dual boot my Linux desktop, and spend a lot of time in FreeBSD (I used PC-BSD, which installs pretty easily). These days, one of its advantages is that you can still have a KDE3 or Gnome2 desktop - worth it indeed!

m-( (3, Insightful)

Lazy Jones (8403) | more than 2 years ago | (#37984720)

tl;dr - guy uses 10 years old hardware and wonders why an OS that works fine for him doesn't appeal to everyone else...

We switched our last servers from FreeBSD to Linux about 10 years ago because FreeBSD had crappy SMP support. Seriously, why does something like this get posted to /.?

Re:m-( (0)

kriston (7886) | more than 2 years ago | (#37984770)

+1 on the SMP support.
Even the deader-than-dead NetBSD runs circles around FreeBSD when it comes to SMP support.

Re:m-( (1)

Entropius (188861) | more than 2 years ago | (#37985020)

Wow -- not a BSD user, but isn't basically every non-netbook computer (and some of those) sold these days multiprocessor?

Re:m-( (3, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#37985260)

It's also nonsense. The ULE2 scheduler in FreeBSD has very good SMP support. Up to 8 cores, it gives a pretty linear speedup on the MySQL benchmarks I saw. Allegedly it should continue to scale well up to at least 64 cores, but I've not seen any real tests on bigger machines. This has been true since FreeBSD 7 [freebsd.org], although SMP performance improved a lot in the 8-9 window.

Re:m-( (4, Informative)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 2 years ago | (#37985274)

Could you elaborate?

I have an AMD 1090T (6 cores @ 3.2 GHz) that I've run FreeBSD 8.2 and Debian 7 on. I run Povray 3.7 [povray.org], which is multi-threaded (compared to the prior version which was not), on this machine and was testing out OSes. Using the latest gcc version for each OS (4.6), it turns out running on FreeBSD is about 15% faster than on Debian running the standard benchmark:

FreeBSD 8.2, gcc 4.6, -march=barcelona

Render Time:
    Photon Time: 0 hours 0 minutes 2 seconds (2.390 seconds)
                            using 9 thread(s) with 2.763 CPU-seconds total
    Radiosity Time: No radiosity
    Trace Time: 0 hours 3 minutes 10 seconds (190.466 seconds)
                            using 6 thread(s) with 1113.568 CPU-seconds total

Debian 7.0, gcc 4.6.1, -march=barcelona

Render Time:
    Photon Time: 0 hours 0 minutes 2 seconds (2.277 seconds)
                            using 9 thread(s) with 2.648 CPU-seconds total
    Radiosity Time: No radiosity
    Trace Time: 0 hours 3 minutes 38 seconds (218.326 seconds)
                            using 6 thread(s) with 1277.363 CPU-seconds total

Re:m-( (1, Offtopic)

Entrope (68843) | more than 2 years ago | (#37984840)

These stories get posted so that people have threads where they can say "Netcraft confirms: FreeBSD is dead" ... and have it be remotely on topic.

Re:m-( (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37985008)

Because it was posted earlier on OSNews

Re:m-( (2)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37985076)

I'd mark you troll if I hadn't already posted in this particular thread. It's been 10 years, there has been substantial work on SMP in the interim. I did take a quick look to see if there were any comparisons of the two and couldn't find any that were even remotely recent. The most recent being FreeBSD 5 and 6 against a Linux kernel 2.6+, which is hardly recent enough to consider current.

Re:m-( (2)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#37985302)

There are some benchmarks of FreeBSD 7 against Linux of the same era [freebsd.org] (that graph includes the version of Linux that was specifically released after the previous set of benchmarks showed FreeBSD beating Linux by even more). Both Linux and FreeBSD have improved in SMP support since then, so I don't know how they compare anymore. I suspect that both are in the state where the kernel is not likely to be the cause of any scalability issues that you encounter.

Re:m-( (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 2 years ago | (#37985186)

Not to be mean but I do have wonder about this statement. "Sure, it's quicker to build a Linux box, do a "yum install x y z" and toss it out into the wild as a fully functional server, but the extra time required to really get a FreeBSD box tuned will come back in spades through performance and stability metrics."

What if you spend that extra time to also tune the Linux box. I am not a BSD hater but last time I checked Linux had better support for SMP and in my experience it has been very stable and performs very well.
Not to say that BSD is a bad choice. FreeNAS runs on it and FreeBSD also supports ZFS which are both pluses IMHO but I just don't know if one can say that it is a "Better" choice than Linux for the desktop or server.
And no I really do not want to start a flame war but I do have to wonder.
Frankly a good reason to use FreeBSD over Linux is that "It is secure, it works, and I know it." The same is true for OpenBSD, and Linux IMHO.

Oh and DragonFly BSD is supposed to be fixing SMP. I have a bit of fondness for Matt Dillion. He was involved in the Amiga community at the same time I was.

because costs (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37984738)

The maintenance involved easily costs $50/hr.
An i7 costs $300.

Why finetune and keep maintaining a software system for thousans of dollars when you can just dish out a few hundreds and get a faster CPU?
I was all for finetuning, Gentoo, LFS, even played with BSD. But when I run the math on how much it costs me (from a time/lost profits perspective), I quickly reverted to Debian and bought me a beefier PC.

Sure, playing around with an OS and finding out more about it as fun, but let's just keep it in perspective. For low/mid systems (like the ones we all use at work/play), the effort is not worth the gains.
The scales tip when we're referring to systems that cost significantly more (10's of thousands of dollars), and most of us would rather snuggle with such them rather than maintain it.

Hardware Failure Mitigates OS Stability (3)

bengoerz (581218) | more than 2 years ago | (#37984746)

The author himself gives the reason: "Right up until last week, this FreeBSD box had an uptime of 1,057 days, or nearly three years. This streak was broken only due to a UPS failure during a brief power outage... And this box has been rock-solid stable the entire 10 years, with only a disk failure or two in the middle." Considering hardware failure will eventually bring down the machine anyway, there's little to no difference in uptime between a "rock solid" BSD install versus a "also-solid" Linux install.

Re:Hardware Failure Mitigates OS Stability (2)

dreemernj (859414) | more than 2 years ago | (#37985210)

And individual stories like his three year uptime server are worthless. I have a server in a closet running Windows 2000 Server. It is in constant use by hundreds of employees and its uptime is over a thousand days right now. It too has only really had issues with a UPS failure at a bad time. And it hasn't had any drives die since it was installed in 2001.

Does that mean Windows 2000 Server is better than Linux or FreeBSD? No! It means that anecdotes like these aren't helpful at all.

Not-that-useful info (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37984748)

I'm not saying I wish to argue with the article's position, but saying "You'll get better performance out a finely-tuned install of X than a generic install of Y" isn't really all that useful; with enough effort for X=Windows Server and enough sloppiness for Y=Some-Flavor-Linux Server, this still is true; that doesn't mean I'm saying Windows Server is the best choice.

It's the software (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#37984756)

FreeBSD ports just aren't as comprehensive as Debian's repository.

Re:It's the software (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37985134)

Not only that but stuff like virtualization software just isn't available for the *BSD's. Virtualization is critical for any desktop these days.

FreeBSD is not virtualiztion aware. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37984758)

Linux does better in a virtualized environment that FreeBSD does, especially in file access, because Linux's kernel is visualization aware and FreeBSD's is not.

12 years with freebsd on the desktop... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37984766)

Been using FBSD for past 12 years on my desktop... recently switched to CentOS 6 because of stability problems with the nvidia driver.

What you have to understand about fbsd is that it is a server operating system. They put NO effort into it working on the desktop.

The installer is text-based. If you installed X during the install, it is out of date. You will configure X from the terminal. If you install KDE or GNOME, you should know FBSD did no work on fixing any bugs (and there are a TON of bugs).

You will never see a desktop feature as part of the improvements in a release.

The community is hostile to new users.

If you really wonder why people don't use FBSD on the desktop, try it. You'll figure it out within an hour.

Numbers? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37984768)

I've been hearing continually for years about how BSD performs so much better and is superior to linux in every way--but i have yet to see anyone actually post some hard data to back this up. It'd be nice for someone to actually find some way of quantifying this--or to just admit it's a philosophical difference and be done with it (yes, i know, that'll happen about the time that the universe suffers heat death)

Hostile community (1, Interesting)

hessian (467078) | more than 2 years ago | (#37984778)

The FreeBSD community takes a "blame the user" stance that is going to alienate most desktop users, who want to use the machine to get something done and don't want to be held up by snafus that may take days to fix.

Much of BSD's documentation is wrong or vague, many things are still broken within the OS and especially in the parts a desktop user would use, and when there is a problem, there's nowhere to go for a clear, quick solution.

A friend of mine installed FreeBSD on some older hardware and couldn't get the mouse to work. After two weeks of back-and-forth on the mailing list, someone else chimed in that they had the same problem... and then another... and another. It turned out that for the previous for years the FreeBSD community had been screaming "RTFM" at people, when the error was actually in the FreeBSD code.

Most desktop users are going to prefer Linux or Windows, despite the decreased efficiency, because they work and when you have a problem, there are multiple resources so that you can resolve it quickly. With FreeBSD, a broken driver may require 30 minutes to fix, or 48 hours of solid hacking. If you're trying to use your computer to do something unrelated to the operating system, that's too painful of a loss of time.

Re:Hostile community (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37985160)

The FreeBSD community takes a "blame the user" stance that is going to alienate most desktop users, who want to use the machine to get something done and don't want to be held up by snafus that may take days to fix.

Can you be more specific ? I have a subscription on several mailing lists and I see people asking questions and being helped all the time. Same on the FreeBSD forum.

Much of BSD's documentation is wrong or vague, many things are still broken within the OS and especially in the parts a desktop user would use, and when there is a problem, there's nowhere to go for a clear, quick solution.

Can you give an example of broken things and bad documentation ? I find the documentation rather thorough and easy to understand. Maybe a bit to technical, but neither wrong, nor vague.

And you know, sometimes it's actually a RTFM problem after all.

Re:Hostile community (1)

Danzigism (881294) | more than 2 years ago | (#37985266)

after using FreeBSD for over 10 years, I've never once seen "FreeBSD code" cause problems with a mouse not working.

Who has the time? (2)

whistl (234824) | more than 2 years ago | (#37984800)

When I have a list of 200+ servers and VMs that I'm responsible for, as well as the applications that run on them, who has time to tune each server? While a nice idea, it's simply not practical at the scale most large businesses run at.

We used to use FreeBSD on some servers, but they all quickly became dead ends, as OS patches and upgrades were painful and time consuming. Now we're a SLES house.

Cite (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37984804)

[T]he extra time required to really get a FreeBSD box tuned will come back in spades through performance and stability metrics. You'll get more out of the hardware, be that virtual or physical, than you will on a generic Linux binary installation.

So taking the time to tune a FreeBSD box allows you to beat a generic Linux binary installation. Seems an unfair comparison, don't you think?

If you are making the (generally unfounded) argument that building from source gets you vastly better performance, then you can still use Linux, with something like Gentoo. Even if you're using a purely binary distribution, there are ways to tune it (e.g. choosing a different scheduler, etc). Compare apples to apples, or at least apples to Malus sieversii.

The real question is: is a "tuned" FreeBSD box both faster and more stable than a "tuned" Linux box? Answers should include (non-anecdotal) evidence.

I'm more of a BSD fan than most Linux users, but there are many more people claiming that the BSDs are superior than there are people providing evidence of this.

Works great (1)

SirDice (1548907) | more than 2 years ago | (#37984806)

I've been using FreeBSD as a desktop for at least 10 years now. You pretty much have everything a Linux box has, KDE, Gnome, XFCE, Openbox, Windowmaker, whatever you want. Only lately things aren't going too good. Mainly because Gnome and XFCE have decided to solely depend on Linux' udev which FreeBSD doesn't have. Sure we could 'add' udev to FreeBSD but why would we want to do that when we have a perfectly working devfs that's better and older then the latest Linux fad.

Use Gentoo (4, Informative)

doconnor (134648) | more than 2 years ago | (#37984810)

If you want your Operating System tuned and customized to your hardware can't you just use Gentoo Linux? Then you won't lose the benefits of the better support that Linux has.

more stability? (3, Interesting)

james_van (2241758) | more than 2 years ago | (#37984814)

all the linux fanbois i know are always raving about "OMGZ teh linux is uber stable, i only have to reboot every 6.1 years!" and looking down their noses at me as a poor, foolish windows user. youre saying theres something even more stable? those guys must be insufferable

A tale of three tries (1)

sirdude (578412) | more than 2 years ago | (#37984850)

Frankly, I've tried using FreeBSD three times in my life and gave up each time. It's just too bleeding involved to get it up and running to your expectations especially when there's a Debian installation that I can have up and running to perfection in about an hour.

From memory, the stumbling block was inevitably drivers, and often when you couldn't get your NIC working, it decidedly becomes a chore. I refuse to even try to recollect the veritable nightmares that I experienced trying to get my graphics card going the first time.

I suppose I should give it another shot using virtualbox.

P.S. even the "post options" popup on bsd.slashdot.org fails to open right. Poetry.

What about drivers? (1)

peppepz (1311345) | more than 2 years ago | (#37984862)

Especially for "multimedia" hardware such as GPUs? Linux is already a bit behind in this field, but FreeBSD is even worse.

Hurr durr? (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 2 years ago | (#37984874)

Not once did I read any phrase relating to *BSD on the desktop. He specifically says "Linux on the desktop, BSD on the server".

Very well done, editors.

Re:Hurr durr? (1)

MimeticLie (1866406) | more than 2 years ago | (#37984970)

Yeah. His conclusion at the end of the article is specifically about servers:

Once you've ridden the learning curve and spent some time actually getting to know the innards, you may decide you'd be better off running FreeBSD on the next set of Web servers, SMTP relays, or application servers you build.

I guess even the submitters don't RTFA.

Re:Hurr durr? (1)

ohcrapitssteve (1185821) | more than 2 years ago | (#37984980)

You would have found it if you read the title: "In Favor of FreeBSD On the Desktop" :-D

Re:Hurr durr? (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 2 years ago | (#37985064)

You would have found it if you read the title: "In Favor of FreeBSD On the Desktop" :-D

You mean the title of the stub? That's not the title of TFA:

"Why aren't you using FreeBSD?
FreeBSD is a free, fast, stable, feature-rich operating system. If you've never looked into it before, you should."

Granted you have to read the first paragraph to see that he's writing about servers, but surely that's not too much to ask for a story submission. At no point through the entire article does the author mention BSD on a desktop computer. Only servers.

Re:Hurr durr? (1)

pz (113803) | more than 2 years ago | (#37985062)

In fact, at the end of the article, in the concluding paragraph, the last line of serious content is:

Once you've ridden the learning curve and spent some time actually getting to know the innards, you may decide you'd be better off running FreeBSD on the next set of Web servers, SMTP relays, or application servers you build

Not in a single place does the article advocate that any variant of BSD is appropriate for the desktop, save Apple's.

Re:Hurr durr? (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 2 years ago | (#37985180)

Not in a single place does the article advocate that any variant of BSD is appropriate for the desktop, even Apple's.

FTFY. The article does not comment on desktop OS's at all, save that the author uses Linux on the desktop.

I'm going to be generous and assume that this was a genuine mistake.

x y z? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37984922)

I tried yum install x y z, but nothing hapenned.. I'm running debian.. Should I be concerned?

Why even run it on servers? (1)

jtseng (4054) | more than 2 years ago | (#37984942)

In every professional environment I've worked in we choose the best tools for the job; it was usually Windows, Solaris or some form of Linux. I've only seen one instance of using FreeBSD and even then we were migrating to CentOS. Why? It's the maintainability and time-savings, stupid! Not only are the tools you need widely available for those platforms, the updates are easily accessible as well, they're generally configured to work out of the box (granted it may not be optimized but you can "spend the extra time to tune it"), and far more people know how to use those platforms vs FreeBSD.

I know it, I know it, I know it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37984962)

- It is because we don't want to have to compile basic applications.
- It because we don't want to use a system with a lack of QA.

People don't want to watch kernel compiling (1)

daveewart (66895) | more than 2 years ago | (#37985018)

"Here I sit, watching a freshly installed FreeBSD box run through cvsup on all ports, to be closely followed by a new kernel compilation. As the output flies by in the xterm, I find myself wondering why I don't run into more FreeBSD in the world."

There's your answer right there. Perhaps people want more from their OS than to sit watching a kernel compilation."

FreeBSD vs Linux -- 1994 edition (1)

Kurt Granroth (9052) | more than 2 years ago | (#37985040)

I remember the first time I looked into FreeBSD. It was back in 1994 and I needed to run some Unix variant on my 386 and it came down to FreeBSD or Linux. At the time, FreeBSD seemed to be significantly farther along than Linux... but in a completely unusable way, to me. I was a rank newbie to Unix that had just learned how to exit 'vi' without powering down the computer. FreeBSD had almost no documentation and certainly none for somebody like me.

Linux, on the other hand, had the Linux Documentation Project (LDP). The docs there were incredible! I hogged the computer lab's laser printer printing off the SAG and the NAG and, most importantly, Matt Welsh's 'Installation and Getting Started Guide'.

It was no contest. FreeBSD was an impenetrable mystery but 60 something floppies of Slackware later and I was hooked on Linux for life.

Time equals money (2)

bigogre (315585) | more than 2 years ago | (#37985046)

I've installed BSD systems a number of times. They've always required more effort than a Linux box to get configured for what I want.

Sure BSD is a cool thing. To some people MS-DOS 6.11 was a great thing, too. You'd be surprised how many systems in the world are still running MS-DOS (a lot of point of sale systems). Just because something is cool or can be made to work doesn't mean it's the best for any particular use.

You could use a Porsche 911 as a dump truck, but why? You could make a pickup truck into a limousine, but why? Wise use of tools is a sign of maturity.

Theory vs Reality (1)

ChrisKnight (16039) | more than 2 years ago | (#37985050)

In theory, I prefer FreeBSD. I have been running it as my primary server OS for 16 years. I have 30+ VMs running it right now. At the time they were easy to spin up an configure for my friends for whom I provide hosting.

In reality, the nearly constant state of screwed up dependencies in the ports tree makes it pretty much impossible to keep those 30 systems up to date without serious amounts of manual prodding. Keeping PHP up to date alone has drained my will to keep running FreeBSD.

At my job I maintain several thousand CentOS boxes, via puppet. The ease of keeping these systems patched is like night and day compared to my mere 30 FreeBSD VMs.

The only things keeping me running FreeBSD are nostalgia and inertia. The next time I need to do major updates I plan on swapping them out for CentOS.

Linux isn't untweakable (1)

r00t (33219) | more than 2 years ago | (#37985066)

It's even easier and faster, since you can just tweak the stuff that matters. Install something sane, perhaps debian-testing, ditch the background daemons you don't need, compile your own kernel (way easier than with FreeBSD), and compile any app that you really really care about. Done, easy, and you still get fast/easy access to the gigantic Debian software collection.

Um, Debian? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37985088)

Hey submitter, you are forgetting about the Debian/kFreeBSD project! http://www.debian.org/ports/kfreebsd-gnu/ [debian.org] Complete with apt and everything. I've been running it on a laptop with pretty decent success for almost a year now.

The upgrade cycle is too steep for the desktop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37985118)

I've been using Linux (Ubuntu LTS) professionally on the desktop for a few years to support my company. It wasn't a full time job when this started so I also had plenty of time to spent on administrating it.

But now that I am working full time one of the first things I discovered was that Linux may be free of charge to get it up & running. Support is a totally different aspect! For example trying to get Ubuntu 8 LTS upgraded to Ubuntu 10 LTS. I tried, hard, with several years worth of experience. From a direct upgrade to upgrading from one version to the other until 10 was reached. It failed, horribly. The only way I would have succeeded was to do a clean installation and then try to figure out how I could manually restore my configuration (thus also hoping that it wouldn't break things).

Long story shorter; I moved the desktop to Windows 7 & Office 2010. Sure; it costs money. But now I can also rest assured that I'll be able to continue to use this environment until 2018 or so (- 7 - years) before any upgrade might be required.

Now; lets take a look at the FreeBSD Support cycle [freebsd.org]. Release 8.2; Feb. 24 2011 released and expected EOL is Feb. 29 2011. That is one year.

If you use a desktop professionally then one year is totally out of the question. Quite frankly, with such a short lifespan I wouldn't even consider it for personal use either.

Mr. Venezia doesn't seem to understand the basis of desktop usage: Most desktop users want to use their computers (desktop) instead of tinkering with it.

There is a very good reason why Microsoft continues to support their OS's for so long.

Since when... (2)

Danzigism (881294) | more than 2 years ago | (#37985202)

did Slashdot get taken over by ADD/OCD redditors? FreeBSD is not hard to install, use, and configure. It has the best documentation out of any *NIX I've seen. It can easily utilize resources, great for server daemons, clusters, DB, and can run Xorg. There's so many damn distros to choose from nowadays, people see it for 30 seconds, download a new ISO of something completely different, install it, get bored, try another, etc. Maybe if you actually put some time in to making the system just the way you want, and RTFM, then you might be happy with the results you get from FreeBSD, or any other OS for that matter. Just tired of the ADD. Pay attention!
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