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Which BSD for an Experienced Linux User?

Cliff posted more than 9 years ago | from the a-change-of-flavour dept.

Operating Systems 290

Bruce C asks: "I'm a software developer with 28 years commercial experience. Although my day job is mostly on Windows software, I've been using SuSE Linux for 6 years at home. Before that I worked on HP/UX. I've no pressing plans to abandon Linux, but I am interested in experimenting with a BSD style operating system. My current motivation is largely curiosity. Of course, I might end up being converted, but that isn't my intention. I'm wondering which of the various *BSD systems would be the 'best' introduction for a person like me. The workstation I'm planning to use is a generic beige box: Celeron 1.2, 768Mb RAM, 120 Gb IDE, with about 80Gb free. It's on a LAN, behind a firewall. The live CDs for FreeBSD (Freebsie), DragnoflyBSD, and NetBSD all booted and started on it. I haven't tried an OpenBSD CDROM. Which BSD should I pick?"

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290 comments

All of them (2, Insightful)

SilverspurG (844751) | more than 9 years ago | (#11473178)

And find one that's right for you.

Re:All of them (4, Informative)

brilinux (255400) | more than 9 years ago | (#11473338)

That is true ... though I was not as successful ... basically, I now use both NetBSD and FreeBSD; I like them both. I use FreeBSD on my laptop because it has NDIS support for my WiFi card (after 5.3), but I also like NetBSD, which is on my desktop. NetBSD seems to handle packages better than FreeBSD, as often with upgrades on the latter, I have some problems (I think that DragonFly is trying to fix that, though it is very preliminary right now). I have also used OpenBSD, primarily for the AFS support built in, but I did not like it as much as the others. I also have an UltraSparc, that, of course, is running NetBSD.
To each his own, they are all great OSes, you will find one (or more) that you like.

Re:All of them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11474208)

For a good general purpose (and portable!) BSD, you just can' beat NetBSD.

NetBSD is probably the best "starter" BSD of all. Actually, the attributes which make NetBSD good for beginners, are the same attributes that make old timers like myself stay with it. NetBSD is all the BSD most folks will ever need.

Hey mods... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11473744)

Come on, this isn't redundant. It's trivial, agreed, but it doesn't deserve to be modded down IMHO. Plus, in its triviality it's quite a good advice.

try darwin (2, Interesting)

Hes Nikke (237581) | more than 9 years ago | (#11473182)

I'd try darwin - that is just the 1st step towards Mac OS X ;)

(first post?)

PC competition for the I-Mini MAC? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11473327)

When MAC announced their "I-Mini", it caught my eye. Wanting to buy/build a small computer for my already cramped breakfast bar, I started pricing out similar hardware. The results startled me. Most of the configurations I found were more than the humble US$499 of the "I-Mini". To match price I had to configure with a much bigger shuttle-style case.

My question is this. What PCs are currently on the market to compete with this? When my wife asks for the "cute little MAC", what real computer can I buy instead?

Re:PC competition for the I-Mini MAC? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11473475)

Look, the word is "Mac" or "Macintosh", not "MAC". Additionally, the new computer is called "Mac Mini", not "I-Mini", and the company is called "Apple" not "MAC".

Re:PC competition for the I-Mini MAC? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11473749)

Hahaha! Hook, line and sinker.

Corrected post! Thanks for setting me straight (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11473851)

When Mac Mini announced their "I-Macintosh", it caught my eye. Wanting to buy/build a small computer for my already cramped breakfast bar, I started pricing out similar hardware. The results startled me. Most of the configurations I found were more than the humble US$499 of the "I-Macintosh". To match price I had to configure with a much bigger shuttle-style case.

My question is this. What PCs are currently on the market to compete with this? When my wife asks for the "cute little I-Macintosh Mini Apple Power MAC G-3", what real computer can I buy instead?

Stopp trolling, this is the macintosch way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11474016)

When Mini-Me announced their new "Eye-Apple", it caught mye eye. Waning to buy/build a small computer for my already cramped breakfast bar, I started priceing out similar hardware. The results startled me. Most of the configurations I found were more than a humble US$499 of the "Eye-Apple". To match price I had to configure with much bigger shuttle-style case.

My question is this. What PCs are currently on the market to compete with this? When my wife asks for the "cute little Eye-Apple MAC RiSC Opener", what real computer can I buy instead?

Re:try darwin (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11473765)


Elegy For *BSD


I am a *BSD user
and I try hard to be brave
That is a tall order
*BSD's foot is in the grave.

I tap at my toy keyboard
and whistle a happy tune
but keeping happy's so hard,
*BSD died so soon.

Each day I wake and softly sob
Nightfall finds me crying
Not only am I a zit faced slob
but *BSD is dying.

Re:try darwin (3, Funny)

Atzanteol (99067) | more than 9 years ago | (#11474173)

But once you've installed MacOS X, be sure to put Gentoo Portage [gentoo.org] on it to make it usable!

Hah! I counter your zealotry with my own!

portage also works on Free and Open BSD I believe...

Re:try darwin (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 9 years ago | (#11474301)

So who, if anybody is using Darwin? We don't seem to hear anything from any Darwin users that aren't also MacOS users. It's intriguing to know that Darwin runs on x86, but this doesn't seem to have an consequences in the real world.

Re:try darwin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11474643)

Oh Lord, it must be a troll. Darwin? OMG.

Darwin might be of interest to somebody looking for a senior project. But it is not newbie introductry material. You can boot it and watch the curor blink.

FreeBSD (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11473212)

Given that you know Linux, you'll find FreeBSD to be the best one to try. I would recommend the 5.x series if you're feeling ambitious, or the 4.x series if you don't want to put in too much effort. I say this because of my own past experice with Linux and BSD. Have fun.

Re:FreeBSD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11473739)

When we think about FreeBSD, it reminds us of
DeForest Kelley's great observation:
It's dead, Jim.

If you're so fucking experienced.... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11473217)

....can't you make up your own mind?

Otherwise, I think you're best off with Gentoo - after all, that appears to do it for the "I run it because it's cool" types that FreeBSD used to attract.

Re:If you're so fucking experienced.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11473280)

Well, i like gentoo just because it works well ( when i get it running that is :P )

I don't have much linux experience, and i have a MAC experience (although back from the Color Classic 2).

Im still tied to windows by my gaming habits. As soon as i grow out of them, i can grow out of windows for good.

Re:If you're (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11473641)

Gee, man! Relax. He says he wants to *try* it, not that he plans to switch.
So, tell us: why are you so angry? ;)

(just kidding, I don't want to be mean. Oh wait, yes I do.)

--
Requiem for the FUD [slashdot.org]

OPENBSD!!! (1, Interesting)

strikehosting (798386) | more than 9 years ago | (#11473258)

I say OpenBSD because I live in the same city as Theo [theos.com] and I work right near him! He was one of the people that started NetBSD too!

OpenBSD is also one of the most secure OS's in the world with a unmodified install!

Re:OPENBSD!!! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11473483)

Security != Least Exploited

Re:OPENBSD!!! (2, Funny)

nocomment (239368) | more than 9 years ago | (#11473541)

I'd say OpenBSD too, but not for reasons so lame as "I live near them". I live near microsoft but it would be a cold cold cold cold day in hell if I recomended that.

Re:OPENBSD!!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11473610)

It is official. Netcraft has now confirmed: *BSD is dying

One more crippling bombshell hit the already beleaguered *BSD community when IDC confirmed that *BSD market share has dropped yet again, now down to less than a fraction of 1 percent of all servers. Coming on the heels of a recent Netcraft survey which plainly states that *BSD has lost more market share, this news serves to reinforce what we've known all along. *BSD is collapsing in complete disarray, as fittingly exemplified by failing dead last [samag.com] in the recent Sys Admin comprehensive networking test.

You don't need to be the Amazing Kreskin [amazingkreskin.com] to predict *BSD's future. The hand writing is on the wall: *BSD faces a bleak future. In fact there won't be any future at all for *BSD because *BSD is dying. Things are looking very bad for *BSD. As many of us are already aware, *BSD continues to lose market share. Red ink flows like a river of blood.

FreeBSD is the most endangered of them all, having lost 93% of its core developers. The sudden and unpleasant departures of long time FreeBSD developers Jordan Hubbard and Mike Smith only serve to underscore the point more clearly. There can no longer be any doubt: FreeBSD is dying.

Let's keep to the facts and look at the numbers.

OpenBSD leader Theo states that there are 7000 users of OpenBSD. How many users of NetBSD are there? Let's see. The number of OpenBSD versus NetBSD posts on Usenet is roughly in ratio of 5 to 1. Therefore there are about 7000/5 = 1400 NetBSD users. BSD/OS posts on Usenet are about half of the volume of NetBSD posts. Therefore there are about 700 users of BSD/OS. A recent article put FreeBSD at about 80 percent of the *BSD market. Therefore there are (7000+1400+700)*4 = 36400 FreeBSD users. This is consistent with the number of FreeBSD Usenet posts.

Due to the troubles of Walnut Creek, abysmal sales and so on, FreeBSD went out of business and was taken over by BSDI who sell another troubled OS. Now BSDI is also dead, its corpse turned over to yet another charnel house.

All major surveys show that *BSD has steadily declined in market share. *BSD is very sick and its long term survival prospects are very dim. If *BSD is to survive at all it will be among OS dilettante dabblers. *BSD continues to decay. Nothing short of a miracle could save *BSD at this point in time. For all practical purposes, *BSD is dead.

Fact: *BSD is dead

Re:OPENBSD!!! (1)

Sancho (17056) | more than 9 years ago | (#11474398)

It's also one of the most useless OS's in the world with an unmodified install!
Seriously, the "all services off by default" is why OpenBSD can make the claim you made. Once you start making the box more useful, you start making it less secure.

FreeBSD (4, Interesting)

numbski (515011) | more than 9 years ago | (#11473285)

Hands down the easiest to pick up, and arguably the most common.

Install software from source?

cvsup -g -L2 stable-supfile
cd /usr/ports/misc/screen
make
make install
make clean

Install the binary version?

pkg_add -r screen

next?

Re:FreeBSD (4, Informative)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 9 years ago | (#11473399)

Besides being the easiest, FreeBSD has by far the largest collection of ported software. Although you can probably built almost all of the same programs by hand on Net- or OpenBSD, it's nice to be able to let someone else do the hard work for you, particularly if this is your first time to use the system.

BTW, I'd rewrite your instructions as:

Update your software collection:
cd /usr/ports; make update
portupgrade -ra

Install from source:
portinstall misc/screen

Install from binaries:
portinstall -PP misc/screen

Yes, I know that the first one is rarely that simple (although it can be, especially on relatively new machines). The second two are pretty representative, though.

Re:FreeBSD (1)

necrognome (236545) | more than 9 years ago | (#11474583)

Although you can probably built almost all of the same programs by hand on Net- or OpenBSD, it's nice to be able to let someone else do the hard work for you
NetBSD: *cough* pkgsrc [netbsd.org] *cough*

Re:FreeBSD (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11473658)

In the final analysis, but one fact remains:
*BSD is dead

Re:FreeBSD (1)

Lussarn (105276) | more than 9 years ago | (#11473668)

I'm a long time Linux user who recently installed FreeBSD 5 on a development server, apart from the init scripts are a bit arcane to a Linux user my two problems have been.

Kernel crashes when using DMA. VIA chipset. A kernel recompile seems to have fixed that somehow. uptime on two weeks now with quite heavy disk use.

Because of a "bug/unimplemented feature" in Linux a FreeBSD 5 kernel can't lock files on a Linux NFS server (NLM cookie length > 8). Very recent Linux kernel have this issue sorted out (at least 2.6.10 works, 2.6.7 don't).

After sorting these two issues out it has been very nice to me. I usually run Gentoo Linux and so far I like portage better than ports, it feels a little more modern and easier to use but it could be what I'm used to.

Re:FreeBSD (4, Informative)

dokebi (624663) | more than 9 years ago | (#11474290)

I second FreeBSD, but for a different reason: DOCUMENTATION.

I think FreeBSD by far has the best centralized documentation anywhere (gentoo is good, too--I think they try hard to model after FBSD). Between the Handbook for general How-To's and the man pages for nitty-gritty, you can do almost everything without googling.

I keep trying to learn Debian, but every time I give up because it's hard to find good up-to-date information.

i tried freebsd and liked it (1)

davez0r (717539) | more than 9 years ago | (#11473305)

try one and see if you like it. a live cd won't expose you to the fun aspects of it, but i guess you know that.

after having used linux (debian mostly) for quite a while, i tried freebsd a while ago, and it was very nice to me. the ports collection reminded me a lot of apt, and the documentation was quite good. and they made a release today!

that being said, i haven't used it in some time. but with my new mac mini, i can relive my bsd glory days with additional drop shadows and window animations! i don't know if that really counts as a bsd, though.

although (1)

davez0r (717539) | more than 9 years ago | (#11473448)

seeing as you've:

  • taken the time to download, burn, and boot three different live cds
  • submitted an article to slashdot soliciting advice
  • and probably asked the opinion of a bunch of people IRL

just in order to "experiment" with a bsd, then perhaps openbsd's somewhat anal devotion to security is for you.

openbsd: catering to the risk-averse for over 8 years!

Re:although (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11474587)

You don't have to get huffy about it. OpenBSD is the most secure BSD, and some people appreciate the fact.

Mac OS X doesn't count as *BSD??? (2, Interesting)

parvenu74 (310712) | more than 9 years ago | (#11474352)

but with my new mac mini, i can relive [sic] my bsd glory days with additional drop shadows and window animations! i don't know if that really counts as a bsd, though...

Are you saying that if the interface is too pretty or intuitive it doesn't count as being a real *BSD experience? If/when linux grows an interface as functional, beautiful, and elegant as Mac OS X, will it no longer qualify as being a "real linux experience?" If a rose by any other name is still a rose, then a *BSD variant with any other GUI -- like say, the Macintosh variety -- should still be *BSD... especially since most *BSD users seem rather indifferent to graphical user interfaces from what I gather.

Re:Mac OS X doesn't count as *BSD??? (2, Insightful)

davez0r (717539) | more than 9 years ago | (#11474487)

i was just using the author's metric. he didn't seem to include osx in his list of possible choices. also, it would be tricky for him to run it on a celeron. perhaps i should have said that it wouldn't count for him.

on a side note, when you [sic] someone, please make sure [m-w.com] you're not the one making the mistake.

Experiment (2, Informative)

Turmio (29215) | more than 9 years ago | (#11473331)

So you're willing to experiment with a new system. Then why not install all of the free BSD's and use each for a few weeks and after that decide which one to keep, if any.

Re:Experiment (1)

kiore (734594) | more than 9 years ago | (#11474143)

Yes, I agree with you.

Before posting the query I felt that I would probably be trying more than one of the different BSD OSes.

What I was hoping for, and seem to have got, was reasoned explanations as to why I should try a particular version first.

Cheers

Bruce

What do you want? (5, Interesting)

twilight30 (84644) | more than 9 years ago | (#11473339)

A quick rule of thumb is generally ...

OpenBSD for security, NetBSD for portability and FreeBSD for diffusion in the wider world (ie, comparable to Linux).

I have no need for portability, and FreeBSD didn't appeal to me, so OpenBSD it was -- five years ago. I don't think you'll go wrong with any of them, though. If I did it again to experiment I'd probably try FreeBSD out this time.

BSDs do generally have more thorough online and internal documentation than Linux for the core basics, so you won't miss with any of them.

Re:What do you want? (1)

andkaha (79865) | more than 9 years ago | (#11473556)

OpenBSD for security, NetBSD for portability and FreeBSD for diffusion in the wider world (ie, comparable to Linux).

Bollocks!

If your playground is i386-type systems, like it is in the case of the OP, and if he has some common sense, then the three operating systems are more or less the same in terms of security and software availability. He should just pick the one he finds most fun/simple to administrate.

Re:What do you want? (5, Informative)

Cecil (37810) | more than 9 years ago | (#11473860)

I agree that he'll be fine whichever he chooses, but your statement that they are all more or less the same in terms of security is very wrong. OpenBSD is not the same as the other BSD's in terms of security. It really, really isn't. If you think so, you're naive. The entire development process revolves around security; code is audited, settings and defaults are carefully crafted. OpenBSD did not start simply because they wanted to include one piece of software and FreeBSD wanted to include another. The whole purpose of OpenBSD is to be the most secure OS on the planet.

To suggest there is no difference is not only untrue, but vaguely insulting to the project.

Re:What do you want? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11474393)

Beg to differ. At one time FreeBSD might have had something special to offer, but no more. NetBSD has gained on it and NetBSD is now considered by many to be the BSD of choice. Even Slashdot can come to realize the advantages of NetBSD, which are illustrated in this story. [slashdot.org]

OpenBSD (2, Interesting)

skinfitz (564041) | more than 9 years ago | (#11473352)


Go with OpenBSD - one remotely exploitable hole in how many years? 5?

Besides that it's so much of a bastard to install that it's a fun challenge. (Not many people can say they have installed OpenBSD!)

Re:OpenBSD (2, Informative)

0racle (667029) | more than 9 years ago | (#11473406)

Lots of people can say that, and its not that hard if you read the documentation.

Re:OpenBSD (1)

erlenic (95003) | more than 9 years ago | (#11473535)

What other OSs have only had one remote hole in the default install, in 8 years? I can't think of any, but if there is one I'd like to know.

Re:OpenBSD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11473959)

Redhat FC3 and EL3 both start with a solid firewall by default. I'm not aware of any remote holes in them. Of course, once you turn a service on and open a whole in the firewall, I agree OpenBSD is better, but you're the one who said, "default install".

Re:OpenBSD (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11474374)

how many years has fc3 been available again?

Re:OpenBSD (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11473694)

OpenBSD is easy to install. The hardest part is the disk configuration. OpenBSD doesn't hold your hand through the process. BUT, it's all spelled out in the FAQ. Once you've done it, you'll realize it's not that bad. I can install a base OpenBSD system from CD in about 10 minutes. Not much longer on a broadband connection booting from a floppy. Combine that with the power of the ports and packages, I can usually have the system I want in an hour or two depending on download times.

Re:OpenBSD (2, Insightful)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 9 years ago | (#11473493)

I disagree. OpenBSD was a bear to install when I first tried several years ago. I gave it another shot last year after getting quite a bit of FreeBSD experience under my belt, and it was a breeze.

It defines "minimal", but if you can get used to the fact that the installer won't hold your hand in any way, then it's actually about the easiest you'll find. Seriously. It's just not that bad for an experienced user.

Re:OpenBSD (2, Funny)

SunFan (845761) | more than 9 years ago | (#11473991)


I found OpenBSD easier to install than Red Hat. I'm not sure what that means about me, though.

Re:OpenBSD (1)

stonezone (460503) | more than 9 years ago | (#11474238)

openbsd is one of the easiest distros to install. except you cant "click on pictures". If you know how to read, and to code/run *nix you do, Obsd install would be cakework...

Re:OpenBSD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11474340)

I would not recommend OpenBSD for the novice BSD user. There are too many difficult points where the novice will become frustrated. Installation is more difficult than most systems I have used. OpenBSD makes a great firewall, but you have to budget your time and not try to hurry through the install or you will end up back at square one.

OSX (0, Offtopic)

FLAGGR (800770) | more than 9 years ago | (#11473364)

OSX, and better way then to go and buy a mac mini.

Re:OSX (1)

Flamerule (467257) | more than 9 years ago | (#11473670)

OSX, and better way then to go and buy a mac mini.
Before you get any more insightful mods, I think you should give some details as to how the OP can get OS X to run on his 1.2 GHz Celeron.

Also, does anyone know what "better way then to go" means?

Re:OSX (1)

Atzanteol (99067) | more than 9 years ago | (#11474250)

I find it amazing that an Ask Slashdot could ask "Does anybody know how to grow carrots" and a moron posting "Install MacOS X" or "Get a Mac" gets modded up...

Yes, that's right disciples of Jobs. I'm talking about *you*.

OpenBSD strengths. (5, Informative)

far_star (102599) | more than 9 years ago | (#11473380)

Here are some reasons you should consider OpenBSD's strengths.

Easy Install (and perhaps one of the quickest I've ever seen)
Very Secure OS. (You mihgt just find the OS all of your future servers run)
Ports System. - Like other BSDs, the ports system is truly a marvel. Software installation could not be easier.
Good license standpoint - OpenBSD has a rather purist stance on the licenses for software they ship. It might seem extreme at first, but there is some good reasoning behind it.
Documentation - OpenBSD's offical FAQ is very helpfull and answered 99.9% of the questions I had as a beginner.

Re:OpenBSD strengths. (5, Informative)

SuperBeaker (604944) | more than 9 years ago | (#11473484)

I would also add firewalls, routing, and packet queueing. I haven't found anything that compares with the power and ease of OpenBSD's pf firewall ruleset. It provides all of the features that you could possibly need in a firewall including stateful packet filtering, packet normalization, and packet shaping - all with and extremely easy-to-understand interface. For routing, you can support RIP, OSPF, and BGP. BGP is supported with the new OpenBGP server. I have a few OpenBSD boxes set up in my home lab that are linked with various Cisco routers running OSPF. But which one is actually cheaper . . . ? :) Finally, the OpenBSD dev team is militant on the security front. All servers are chrooted by default. Stuff just works out of the box securely. I can't tell you how easy and quick it is to set up a secure, chrooted web server with OpenBSD.

pretty much need to try them all (4, Informative)

ArbitraryConstant (763964) | more than 9 years ago | (#11473393)

I've tried them all and they're so different from each other that one won't really give you a very good idea of what the others are like.

OpenBSD is probably the easiest. Most things are in a working configuration by default, they just need to be switched on. FreeBSD has more software and better performance, but it's never been worth it for me because you have to mess around with the kernel and stuff (We're not on Linux, after all). I had to manually enable modules to get things like sound and set all sorts of environment variables to get some of the ports to work right. On OpenBSD it pretty much works the first time you boot it if it's going to work at all. The security is a bonus, but mostly I like how little work it takes to maintain.

FreeBSD is a bit more up to date, and has more powerful features (I love jails). I usually fall back on it if I need one of the features.

I don't really see much point in NetBSD, but given the number of people that use it and like it it's probably worthwhile to take a look.

DragonFly is still close enough to FreeBSD in terms of user experience that you might be able to skip it if you don't like FreeBSD.

They're all pretty easy to install. Give 'em a shot.

Re:pretty much need to try them all (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11473634)

In the final analysis only one fact remains:
*BSD is dead

Re:pretty much need to try them all (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 9 years ago | (#11473673)

FreeBSD has more software and better performance, but it's never been worth it for me because you have to mess around with the kernel and stuff (We're not on Linux, after all). I had to manually enable modules to get things like sound and set all sorts of environment variables to get some of the ports to work right.

I'm honestly not sure what you're talking about. There are quite a few ports that accept environmental variables to decide with optional dependencies to compile in. For example, if you set "WITHOUT_X11='YES'", then ports will avoid requiring xorg (or xf86 on 4.x) whenever possible. Ports are pretty good about letting you know which options you can select, and you can put all of those definitions in a single file so that you don't have to remember them each time.

To enabling the drivers for my SB Live! card, I added this to /boot/loader.conf:

snd_emu10k1_load="YES"
which would be analogous to adding an entry to /etc/modules on a Linux system.

FreeBSD is a bit more up to date, and has more powerful features (I love jails).

That is such an understatement. :-) I host a few webservers, a Freenet/Gnutella/IRC server, and my ISP's newsserver inside their own jails on my server at home with almost zero CPU overhead. The only downside is that you can only assign one IPv4 address to each jail right now, although that's being worked on.

Re:pretty much need to try them all (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 9 years ago | (#11474013)

Apparently the functionality of Free jails can be implemented in Net and Open environments using systrace functionality. I wish someone would provide them as preconfigured options though...

The main selling point for FreeBSD when I first tried it was nVidia drivers. I'd tend to agree though - they all have their strengths, and I'd recommend you try them all (including OS X). They are sufficiently similar that you can relatively easily move between them (far easier than Linux distros that can't make up their mind if they are SysV, BSD, or MyFirstOS).

typical boring slashdot post (4, Interesting)

epine (68316) | more than 9 years ago | (#11473422)

I started on OpenBSD 2.6 and I liked it. Just text mode as a firewall. The initial install was a little bumpy but then the man pages were excellent.

I've since used FreeBSD a fair amount. I'm becoming comfortable there, but I still feel more at home with OpenBSD.

FreeBSD 5 is not the best place to start. Some important things have changed and there isn't much support for these changes on the web yet. You'll find lots of older "howto" articles that won't work as written. I managed to bootstrap my FreeBSD server using PXEboot, but I had to liberally adapt the approaches I found because of the many changes in 5.x

There's a lot of negativity floating around about FreeBSD 5.x lately. It seems they've put a lot of energy in breaking hard ground over the past two years. It remains to be seen whether lush vegetation will spout in future versions as they tune these improvements. I think in any project with sufficient ambition, there are times when things have to go sideways for a period of time.

Recall how Tiger Woods decided to tune his golf swing when he was on top of the world. I sure hope it works out better for FreeBSD.

Re:typical boring slashdot post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11474156)

epine says:
"FreeBSD 5 is not the best place to start. Some important things have changed and there isn't much support for these changes on the web yet. You'll find lots of older "howto" articles that won't work as written."

This is definitely the case. And it is worse if you are looking for kernel documentation. Almost everything you can find is no longer applicable. Something as seemingly as simple a scheduler has turned out to be a lot of trouble for FreeBSD. As a stable general purpose BSD, it would be better to start with NetBSD [netbsd.org] because it is rock solid. Someone learning shouldn't have to face a ton of errata, and that is why NetBSD is a better choice.

Try all (1)

andkaha (79865) | more than 9 years ago | (#11473439)

It's really not at all that hard to install all the BSDs, one after the other, and try them out. There's not that many of them... and what better way to get to learn the systems?

All the BSD projects have excellent documentation, easily accessible from their respective web sites. They all have good mailing lists for users who can both RTFM and RTFFAQ but who still gets stuck with problems.

Honestly, if you rely on other people's opinions on what operating system to choose for personal use, you will get a system that you think you'd like, instead of a system that you feel comfortable with.

FreeBSD for Documentation (1)

ManDude (231569) | more than 9 years ago | (#11473444)

I have worked with FreeBSD and OpenBSD. In comparison the documentation for FreeBSD is very good and complete. OpenBSD has ok documentation which you can get by with.

Currently I am moving towards OpenBSD becuase I am sick of having to compile a new kernel for every little thing that I want to do in FreeBSD (It takes a while on my P2 300). With OpenBSD you are much less likely to have to recompile the kernel.

In your case, with a lot of other Unix experience, you probably will have little trouble using any BSD, but I wouldn't stray into the experimentals or recent forks - stick with Net, Free or Open.

The Dude

FreeBSD, definitely. (4, Informative)

nuxx (10153) | more than 9 years ago | (#11473461)

I say without a doubt they should try FreeBSD first. It'll run almost any application they are used to either natively or through the Linux compatibility layer.

Also, reading through the FreeBSD Handbook [freebsd.org] will answer almost any question that one could have regarding getting the system up and going.

Combine all of this with the extremely expansive collection of ported applications [freebsd.org] (it's often as easy as 'cd /usr/ports/net/whatever ; make all install clean ; rehash' for almost anything) and it's a really, really nice way to work.

Re:FreeBSD, definitely. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11474036)

I would say that now is not the best time to experiment with FreeBSD because it is in a transition period. There are a lot of problems with the most recent release. Maybe start out with 4.10 if you must use FreeBSD. Otherwise someone might get an unfair impression of the weak points.

Re:FreeBSD, definitely. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11474254)

Dumbass. Why would you start out with 4.10 when 4.11 has been out for so long now?

*BSD is dying (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11473470)

It is now official. Netcraft has confirmed: *BSD is dying

One more crippling bombshell hit the already beleaguered *BSD community when IDC confirmed that *BSD market share has dropped yet again, now down to less than a fraction of 1 percent of all servers. Coming on the heels of a recent Netcraft survey which plainly states that *BSD has lost more market share, this news serves to reinforce what we've known all along. *BSD is collapsing in complete disarray, as fittingly exemplified by failing dead last [samag.com] in the recent Sys Admin comprehensive networking test.

You don't need to be the Amazing Kreskin [amazingkreskin.com] to predict *BSD's future. The hand writing is on the wall: *BSD faces a bleak future. In fact there won't be any future at all for *BSD because *BSD is dying. Things are looking very bad for *BSD. As many of us are already aware, *BSD continues to lose market share. Red ink flows like a river of blood.

FreeBSD is the most endangered of them all, having lost 93% of its core developers. The sudden and unpleasant departures of long time FreeBSD developers Jordan Hubbard and Mike Smith only serve to underscore the point more clearly. There can no longer be any doubt: FreeBSD is dying.

Let's keep to the facts and look at the numbers.

OpenBSD leader Theo states that there are 7000 users of OpenBSD. How many users of NetBSD are there? Let's see. The number of OpenBSD versus NetBSD posts on Usenet is roughly in ratio of 5 to 1. Therefore there are about 7000/5 = 1400 NetBSD users. BSD/OS posts on Usenet are about half of the volume of NetBSD posts. Therefore there are about 700 users of BSD/OS. A recent article put FreeBSD at about 80 percent of the *BSD market. Therefore there are (7000+1400+700)*4 = 36400 FreeBSD users. This is consistent with the number of FreeBSD Usenet posts.

Due to the troubles of Walnut Creek, abysmal sales and so on, FreeBSD went out of business and was taken over by BSDI who sell another troubled OS. Now BSDI is also dead, its corpse turned over to yet another charnel house.

All major surveys show that *BSD has steadily declined in market share. *BSD is very sick and its long term survival prospects are very dim. If *BSD is to survive at all it will be among OS dilettante dabblers. *BSD continues to decay. Nothing short of a miracle could save it at this point in time. For all practical purposes, *BSD is dead.

Fact: *BSD is dying

FreeBSD will probably be your best choice (1)

sirket (60694) | more than 9 years ago | (#11473473)

At least initially. It's easy to install, fast, simple to configure and has a plethora of software available. It also has some of the best documentation of any OS out there in the form of the FreeBSD handbook. While I agree you should give all the BSD's a try- you should probably start with FreeBSD.

The difference between the BSD variants are small and tend more towards implementation details and installation than general system maintenance. If you log in to a running BSD system and were asked to administer it- chances are it would not matter what BSD it was. It is nothing like trying to switch between slackware and debian or debian and redhat.

-sirket

Re:FreeBSD will probably be your best choice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11474424)

NetBSD is a better choice for the beginner because everything is more orderly. FreeBSD is in a state of upheaval now, and not a good choice for someone starting out.

I like... (2, Interesting)

virid (34014) | more than 9 years ago | (#11473479)

OpenBSD. If you're a networking guy Packet Filter (PF) is a cool toy to play with. But if you're looking for a more BSD-style Linux you might want to consider Slackware.

Developer reveals What Killed FreeBSD (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11473536)

The End of FreeBSD

[ed. note: in the following text, former FreeBSD developer Mike Smith gives his reasons for abandoning FreeBSD]

When I stood for election to the FreeBSD core team nearly two years ago, many of you will recall that it was after a long series of debates during which I maintained that too much organisation, too many rules and too much formality would be a bad thing for the project.

Today, as I read the latest discussions on the future of the FreeBSD project, I see the same problem; a few new faces and many of the old going over the same tired arguments and suggesting variations on the same worthless schemes. Frankly I'm sick of it.

FreeBSD used to be fun. It used to be about doing things the right way. It used to be something that you could sink your teeth into when the mundane chores of programming for a living got you down. It was something cool and exciting; a way to spend your spare time on an endeavour you loved that was at the same time wholesome and worthwhile.

It's not anymore. It's about bylaws and committees and reports and milestones, telling others what to do and doing what you're told. It's about who can rant the longest or shout the loudest or mislead the most people into a bloc in order to legitimise doing what they think is best. Individuals notwithstanding, the project as a whole has lost track of where it's going, and has instead become obsessed with process and mechanics.

So I'm leaving core. I don't want to feel like I should be "doing something" about a project that has lost interest in having something done for it. I don't have the energy to fight what has clearly become a losing battle; I have a life to live and a job to keep, and I won't achieve any of the goals I personally consider worthwhile if I remain obligated to care for the project.

Discussion

I'm sure that I've offended some people already; I'm sure that by the time I'm done here, I'll have offended more. If you feel a need to play to the crowd in your replies rather than make a sincere effort to address the problems I'm discussing here, please do us the courtesy of playing your politics openly.

From a technical perspective, the project faces a set of challenges that significantly outstrips our ability to deliver. Some of the resources that we need to address these challenges are tied up in the fruitless metadiscussions that have raged since we made the mistake of electing officers. Others have left in disgust, or been driven out by the culture of abuse and distraction that has grown up since then. More may well remain available to recruitment, but while the project is busy infighting our chances for successful outreach are sorely diminished.

There's no simple solution to this. For the project to move forward, one or the other of the warring philosophies must win out; either the project returns to its laid-back roots and gets on with the work, or it transforms into a super-organised engineering project and executes a brilliant plan to deliver what, ultimately, we all know we want.

Whatever path is chosen, whatever balance is struck, the choosing and the striking are the important parts. The current indecision and endless conflict are incompatible with any sort of progress.

Trying to dissect the above is far beyond the scope of any parting shot, no matter how distended. All I can really ask of you all is to let go of the minutiae for a moment and take a look at the big picture. What is the ultimate goal here? How can we get there with as little overhead as possible? How would you like to be treated by your fellow travellers?

Shouts

To the Slashdot "BSD is dying" crowd - big deal. Death is part of the cycle; take a look at your soft, pallid bodies and consider that right this very moment, parts of you are dying. See? It's not so bad.

To the bulk of the FreeBSD committerbase and the developer community at large - keep your eyes on the real goals. It's when you get distracted by the politickers that they sideline you. The tireless work that you perform keeping the system clean and building is what provides the platform for the obsessives and the prima donnas to have their moments in the sun. In the end, we need you all; in order to go forwards we must first avoid going backwards.

To the paranoid conspiracy theorists - yes, I work for Apple too. No, my resignation wasn't on Steve's direct orders, or in any way related to work I'm doing, may do, may not do, or indeed what was in the tea I had at lunchtime today. It's about real problems that the project faces, real problems that the project has brought upon itself. You can't escape them by inventing excuses about outside influence, the problem stems from within.

To the politically obsessed - give it a break, if you can. No, the project isn't a lemonade stand anymore, but it's not a world-spanning corporate juggernaut either and some of the more grandiose visions going around are in need of a solid dose of reality. Keep it simple, stupid.

To the grandstanders, the prima donnas, and anyone that thinks that they can hold the project to ransom for their own agenda - give it a break, if you can. When the current core were elected, we took a conscious stand against vigorous sanctions, and some of you have exploited that. A new core is going to have to decide whether to repeat this mistake or get tough. I hope they learn from our errors.

Future

I started work on FreeBSD because it was fun. If I'm going to continue, it has to be fun again. There are things I still feel obligated to do, and with any luck I'll find the time to meet those obligations.

However I don't feel an obligation to get involved in the political mess the project is in right now. I tried, I burnt out. I don't feel that my efforts were worthwhile. So I won't be standing for election, I won't be shouting from the sidelines, and I probably won't vote in the next round of ballots.

You could say I'm packing up my toys. I'm not going home just yet, but I'm not going to play unless you can work out how to make the project somewhere fun to be again.

= Mike

--

To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. -- Theodore Roosevelt

Hard Lessons (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11473568)

What We Can Learn From BSD
By Chinese Karma Whore [slashdot.org], Version 1.0

Everyone knows about BSD's failure and imminent demise. As we pore over the history of BSD, we'll uncover a story of fatal mistakes, poor priorities, and personal rivalry, and we'll learn what mistakes to avoid so as to save Linux from a similarly grisly fate.

Let's not be overly morbid and give BSD credit for its early successes. In the 1970s, Ken Thompson and Bill Joy both made significant contributions to the computing world on the BSD platform. In the 80s, DARPA saw BSD as the premiere open platform, and, after initial successes with the 4.1BSD product, gave the BSD company a 2 year contract.

These early triumphs would soon be forgotten in a series of internal conflicts that would mar BSD's progress. In 1992, AT&T filed suit against Berkeley Software, claiming that proprietary code agreements had been haphazardly violated. In the same year, BSD filed countersuit, reciprocating bad intentions and fueling internal rivalry. While AT&T and Berkeley Software lawyers battled in court, lead developers of various BSD distributions quarreled on Usenet. In 1995, Theo de Raadt, one of the founders of the NetBSD project, formed his own rival distribution, OpenBSD, as the result of a quarrel that he documents [theos.com] on his website. Mr. de Raadt's stubborn arrogance was later seen in his clash with Darren Reed, which resulted in the expulsion of IPF from the OpenBSD distribution.

As personal rivalries took precedence over a quality product, BSD's codebase became worse and worse. As we all know, incompatibilities between each BSD distribution make code sharing an arduous task. Research conducted at MIT [mit.edu] found BSD's filesystem implementation to be "very poorly performing." Even BSD's acclaimed TCP/IP stack has lagged behind, according to this study. [rice.edu]

Problems with BSD's codebase were compounded by fundamental flaws in the BSD design approach. As argued by Eric Raymond in his watershed essay, The Cathedral and the Bazaar [catb.org], rapid, decentralized development models are inherently superior to slow, centralized ones in software development. BSD developers never heeded Mr. Raymond's lesson and insisted that centralized models lead to 'cleaner code.' Don't believe their hype - BSD's development model has significantly impaired its progress. Any achievements that BSD managed to make were nullified by the BSD license, which allows corporations and coders alike to reap profits without reciprocating the goodwill of open-source. Fortunately, Linux is not prone to this exploitation, as it is licensed under the GPL.

The failure of BSD culminated in the resignation of Jordan Hubbard and Michael Smith from the FreeBSD core team. They both believed that FreeBSD had long lost its earlier vitality. Like an empire in decline, BSD had become bureaucratic and stagnant. As Linux gains market share and as BSD sinks deeper into the mire of decay, their parting addresses will resound as fitting eulogies to BSD's demise.

Same old Linux FUD... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11473814)

Same old GNU/Linux FUD, that has been disproved [slashdot.org] countless times...
In short: the MIT research is *11 years old*, and that Rice study on the TCP/IP stack uses FreeBSD *2.2.6*

All of them, but in a particular order (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Cowherd X (850136) | more than 9 years ago | (#11473629)

Which one? I would recommend you try all of them, but in the following order:

  1. FreeBSD 4.11 - because it will ease you gently into the world of BSD with its easy setup, wonderful documentation and a myriad of great ports that build right out of the box.
  2. NetBSD - because it will introduce you to the world of quality device drivers for a very wide selection of hardware.
  3. DragonFlyBSD - because it will show you the speed and the potential of change on BSD platforms. It's still in the early stages of development, so do not expect to be able to build additional software out of the box.
  4. OpenBSD - because it will expand your view of what security is regardless of what your current experience might be. With the experience gained using other BSD systems you should have no trouble installing OpenBSD, but don't install OpenBSD before other systems because you will most likely regret it, it's the least user-friendly BSD system to set up.

After you're finished you may want to try FreeBSD 5.3, especially if you are interested in comparing its GBDE (Geom Based Disk Encryption) to NetBSD's CGD (CryptoGraphic Disk) facility.

Welcome to the world of BSD, I hope your ride will be a smooth one. Let us know if we can help. :)

Requiem for the FUD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11473663)

// Please *don't* mod this up. It has [slashdot.org] already [slashdot.org] been [slashdot.org] done! [slashdot.org] Thx

... facts are facts. ;)

FreeBSD:
FreeBSD, Stealth-Growth Open Source Project (Jun 2004) [internetnews.com]
"FreeBSD has dramatically increased its market penetration over the last year."
Nearly 2.5 Million Active Sites running FreeBSD (Jun 2004) [netcraft.com]
"[FreeBSD] has secured a strong foothold with the hosting community and continues to grow, gaining over a million hostnames and half a million active sites since July 2003."
W hat's New in the FreeBSD Network Stack (Sep 2004) [slashdot.org]
"FreeBSD can now route 1Mpps on a 2.8GHz Xeon whilst Linux can't do much more than 100kpps."

NetBSD:
NetBSD sets Internet2 Land Speed World Record (May 2004) [slashdot.org]
NetBSD again sets Internet2 Land Speed World Record (30 Sep 2004) [netbsd.org]

OpenBSD:
OpenBSD Widens Its Scope (Nov 2004) [eweek.com]
Review: OpenBSD 3.6 shows steady improvement (Nov 2004) [newsforge.com]

*BSD in general:
Deep study: The world's safest computing environment (Nov 2004) [mi2g.com]
"The world's safest and most secure 24/7 online computing environment - operating system plus applications - is proving to be the Open Source platform of BSD (Berkeley Software Distribution) and the Mac OS X based on Darwin."
..and last but not least, we have the cutest mascot as well - undisputedly. ;) [keltia.net]

--
Being able to read *other people's* source code is a nice thing, not a 'fundamental freedom'.

FreeBSD is the most popular with ISPs. (1)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 9 years ago | (#11473672)


I have no experience with any of the BSDs, but it seems to me that FreeBSD is the most popular with ISPs. That means that any programs you write will run on the web host computer. For example, Powweb [powweb.com]. (I'm a customer, but have no other connection with them.)

Professor of BSD (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11473717)

What We Can Learn From BSD
By Chinese Karma Whore [slashdot.org], Version 1.0

Everyone knows about BSD's failure and its imminent demise. As we pore over the history of BSD, we'll uncover a story of fatal mistakes, poor priorities, and personal rivalry, and we'll learn what mistakes to avoid so as to save Linux from a similarly grisly fate.

Let's not be overly morbid and give BSD credit for its early successes. In the 1970s, Ken Thompson and Bill Joy both made significant contributions to the computing world on the BSD platform. In the 80s, DARPA saw BSD as the premiere open platform, and, after initial successes with the 4.1BSD product, gave the BSD company a 2 year contract.

These early triumphs would soon be forgotten in a series of internal conflicts that would mar BSD's progress. In 1992, AT&T filed suit against Berkeley Software, claiming that proprietary code agreements had been haphazardly violated. In the same year, BSD filed countersuit, reciprocating bad intentions and fueling internal rivalry. While AT&T and Berkeley Software lawyers battled in court, lead developers of various BSD distributions quarreled on Usenet. In 1995, Theo de Raadt, one of the founders of the NetBSD project, formed his own rival distribution, OpenBSD, as the result of a quarrel that he documents [theos.com] on his website. Mr. de Raadt's stubborn arrogance was later seen in his clash with Darren Reed, which resulted in the expulsion of IPF from the OpenBSD distribution.

As personal rivalries took precedence over a quality product, BSD's codebase became worse and worse. As we all know, incompatibilities between each BSD distribution make code sharing an arduous task. Research conducted at MIT [mit.edu] found BSD's filesystem implementation to be "very poorly performing." Even BSD's acclaimed TCP/IP stack has lagged behind, according to this study. [rice.edu]

Problems with BSD's codebase were compounded by fundamental flaws in the BSD design approach. As argued by Eric Raymond in his watershed essay, The Cathedral and the Bazaar [catb.org], rapid, decentralized development models are inherently superior to slow, centralized ones in software development. BSD developers never heeded Mr. Raymond's lesson and insisted that centralized models lead to 'cleaner code.' Don't believe their hype - BSD's development model has significantly impaired its progress. Any achievements that BSD managed to make were nullified by the BSD license, which allows corporations and coders alike to reap profits without reciprocating the goodwill of open-source. Fortunately, Linux is not prone to this exploitation, as it is licensed under the GPL.

The failure of BSD culminated in the resignation of Jordan Hubbard and Michael Smith from the FreeBSD core team. They both believed that FreeBSD had long lost its earlier vitality. Like an empire in decline, BSD had become bureaucratic and stagnant. As Linux gains the market share and as BSD sinks deeper into the mire of decay, their parting addresses will resound as fitting eulogies to BSD's demise.

Same old Linux FUD... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11473782)

Same old GNU/Linux FUD, that has been disproved [slashdot.org] countless times...
In short: the MIT research is *11 years old*, and that Rice study on the TCP/IP stack uses FreeBSD *2.2.6*

What do you Like About Linux? (4, Informative)

nuintari (47926) | more than 9 years ago | (#11473729)

If you like Linux for tons of packages, and ease of use as a desktop system, go with FreeBSD.

If you hate Linux for its complexity, bloat, unclean filesystem, and long for something cleaner, go with Open or Net, I prefer Open myself.

If you hate linux for all those things, but don't want to make any large steps, then again, FreeBSD, its the closest thing to a baby step you'll make.

All the BSD's rock, all of them are much cleaner, and more consistent than your average linux distro, which is, in my humble opinion, the best reason to move over to them.

The BSD's (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11473845)

FreeBSD - My preference. Very powerful, lots of add-ons (ports), lots of support, works *great* for servers. Up until Linux 2.6 I wouldn't even touch Linux on server.

OpenBSD - supposedly more secure. I don't use this except in specialized installs (running on RAM disk or something).

NetBSD - offers nothing

Dragonfly - keep an eye on it, but at the moment not worth the trouble. unproven. experimental.

Darwin (Mac OS X) - awesome on the desktop. decent as a server. uses FreeBSD userland. However it is highly complex since it is running on a microkernel, sorta. I feel more comfortable with straight FreeBSD on a server, though the Xserve hardware is wonderful.

I personally use Mac OS X on my laptop and FreeBSD on the server.

For a first-time user, I think FreeBSD will be the easiest to learn. I also recommend Gentoo on Linux 2.6 kernel in some situations (the threading is the best in the open source world IMO).

Don't expect to be blown away though. On the surface, Linux and BSD don't look that much different. But it's good to learn it.

It depends (3, Informative)

mnmn (145599) | more than 9 years ago | (#11473863)

BSDs in their most basic are all the same. NetBSD, OpenBSD, FreeBSD are like different distros. The only difference will be felt when compiling the kernel or system, in which NetBSD will feel different.

It really depends on what the BSD is destined to do. For learning any one of those three will do really. The effective differences between their CLI, commands, toolbox, kernel interface and compilations, networking etc are negligible. In networking, well, OpenBSD has the excellent pf instead of the ipf, but for learning will feel the same nevertheless.

If used for anything beside learning, well, FreeBSD is featureful, and can make excellent use of your hardware, OpenBSD is extremely secure and simple, and makes for great firewalls and VPN servers, NetBSD is also real simple, and porting it around is easier than Linux, easiest among all OSes.

But even those differences are negligible. FreeBSD and NetBSD are also very secure, FreeBSD and OpenBSD are also portable etc. FreeBSD has the largest base and some apps will run natively on it but not the other BSDs. I think FreeBSD alone has nVidia drivers available for it among all BSDs. If you plan to encrypt the filesystem, encrypt data structures in the ram, keep code and data seperate in the ram enforced by the OS, use encryptions of many more bits, do fancy VPNNing, use OpenBSD. I personally have difficulty in choosing a BSD for any specific task because they are so similar despite what the developers say. So I just use OpenBSD because I'm Canadian.

Choosing a Linux distro is usually a better conversation with more reasons to choose one over the other. Please dont bring up Linux vs BSD, just search that term on google and read for the rest of your days.

Re:It depends (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11474311)

If security is very important to you, then your only choice should be OpenBSD. That is what folks in-the-know bank on when you need the finest security of all. While I would not presume to term FreeBSD as insecure, I can honestly say that OpenBSD is at least a decimal order of magnitude more secure than FreeBSD.

I always liked OpenBSD (1)

MerlynEmrys67 (583469) | more than 9 years ago | (#11473883)

However FreeBSD has a much better maintained ports tree.

Oh yeah - if you are going to go into BSD, learn the ports update mechanisms. This is the way FOSS should be handled - I love ports - my understanding is it is much like Gentoo (Never used it, but I like the idea of compiling the whole distribution from scratch - takes a while, but many things are much easier that way)

Re:I always liked OpenBSD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11474071)

I would say that OpenBSD is much more secure than FreeBSD. So if security matters a lot, it would be better to go with OpenBSD.

What Flavor of Mt. Dew? (0, Flamebait)

perrin5 (38802) | more than 9 years ago | (#11473957)

Recently I have started drinking Mt Dew. This is a new experience for me, and I am largely curious as to which one I will like better. Do you have any advice for me?

Seriously, this is like asking everyone in the pentagon "What's the best kind of bomb?"

Re:What Flavor of Mt. Dew? (1)

maskedbishounen (772174) | more than 9 years ago | (#11474568)

Seriously, this is like asking [...] "What's the best kind of bomb?"

The one where you drop on your boss, stating you no longer need to pay the licensing fee to you-know-who because you can do it better, for free, using you-know-what? ;)

Mac OS/X, of course. (1)

Mordant (138460) | more than 9 years ago | (#11473989)

More details here [apple.com].

Re:Mac OS/X, of course. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11474246)

The biggest problem with Mac OS X is that it is not about deciding which ISO to download. Can't do that. The biggest problem with Mac OS X is that you have to buy new hardware. That puts it out of reach of someone who wants to experiment with a new operating system in his leisure time. Then again if someone is contemplating a hardware purchase, it might be worth looking at a Mac also.

Dragonfly is where it's at (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11473995)

Please give DragonFly [dragonflybsd.com] your attention. You won't be sorry. In fact, it may be the last OS you ever need. You are going to really love it.

Dragonfly is based on advanced concepts, concepts which although well proved, where historically trampled by the corporate power of Microsoft and Apple. Of course I'm talking about the power of the advanced capabilities found in the Amiga before it went away. Fast multitasking, blazing multimedia, and awesome SMP capabilities are found in DragonFly.

Truthfully there are still a couple of minor rough spots (what OS doesn't have a couple?). Remember it is a work in progress. But all in all, the DragonFly experience is a cut above the crowd. After using DragonFly, you will find its ancestor FreeBSD to be seemingly slow and unresponsive in comparison. The next generation of BSD is with DragonFly. Please give it a try.

Well, I like FreeBSD (1)

tommyServ0 (266153) | more than 9 years ago | (#11474026)

I haven't tried them all, that's my disclaimer. But I did come to FreeBSD after 5 years with Linux (mostly Mandrake and RedHat). I'll never go back to Linux. The ports system alone rocks my face off.

Some early gotchas for me: I hated the default shell, I was used to Mandrake setting up bash with colorized ls commands and vim being installed with syntax coloring. I had to learn to do all that from scratch. But once you get it going it's as easy as installing the ports and then modifying your .cshrc and .vimrc files.

The other gotcha was the whole system startup area. FreeBSD has you enable the script (chmod 755, rename) *AND* put a variable in /etc/rc.conf. That sometimes messes me up. There are no runlevels in FreeBSD.

Installation isn't as slick as with the Linuxes, but once you get used to /stand/sysinstall you can handle it.

So, take the plunge. My recommendation is FreeBSD. It's rock-solid. But you couldn't go wrong with the others.

Also, visit Onlamp's BSD Devcenter [onlamp.com]. It has a ton of great articles for BSD novices and experts. There's an article on there right now called FreeBSD for Linux Users which covers many of the core issues for someone like yourself.

Easy? Free*; Education? Open*; Experiment? Net* (5, Informative)

QuietRiot (16908) | more than 9 years ago | (#11474120)

I'd suggest *starting* with OpenBSD (or NetBSD though I've got no personal experience myself) and later trying a FreeBSD install. If you've been on Linux for 6 years and have run HP/UX I'd have to say you're qualified to run one of the less candy coated BSD's to get yourself integrated into the "whole BSD 'thang." DragonFly will be cool (someday) but I can't suggest it for someone new to BSD. Same with Darwin.

OpenBSD would be great to learn on as it will definately push you into the documentation and get you used to some of the conventions used (slices v. partitions, startup scripts, etc.). I'd suggest you use an older or spare computer if you've got extra or can pick one up cheap. You could also just set aside space on those 80 gigs you've got. READ UP ON PARTITIONING, USE OF LARGE DRIVES, ETC. BEFORE YOU START ANYTHING!

Once you get some OpenBSD under your belt, put a box in service at your network connection (right behind you cable/DSL connection?) and learn to setup pf (packet filter - built in). Experiment with AltQ and get yourself a good firewall/NAT in place (junk the Linksys). Not too much trouble and the docs at OpenBSD - pf [openbsd.org] are quite good. Here you could experiment with adding a web server or MTA (if you don't have tons of boxen to keep your "real" services in some kind of dedicated DMZ). My home OpenBSD box forwards BitTorrent, Freenet, VNC and SSH to a variety of machines in my house. I also prioitize packets in the following order: 1st to tcp_ack_out, Vonage telephone, ssh_interactive, everything else, freenet, and finally ssh_bulk. Keeps my phone line crisp and prevents freenet from destroying my ssh sessions' latency. You can do this with other products but I've had a good time (and have learned quite a bit) constructing my /etc/pf.conf file. (Yes. I've got a life otherwise :)

Then build youself a FreeBSD box. This should be cake. 5.x should install without a problem for you and you've got access to all the ports you could ever imagine. Your experience with OpenBSD will help you understand some of the differences you'll encounter. Makes a great desktop. OpenBSD will work fine as a desktop machine but I've never done it. Same for NetBSD I suppose. Give it a whirl. I'm sure you'll learn a ton and be quite happy with whatever you decide.

Don't short yourself on learning OpenBSD. It is awesome, security aware and has some wonderful features (need encrypted swap case the feds might knock down your door at any minute? check.). It may just serve all your needs and knowing it is surely going to be useful to either yourself or others in the future. Use it for utility and the ability to sleep at night with your data behind it. (still better go with RSA keys on sshd though). Check out http://undeadly.org/ [undeadly.org]

Don't short yourself either on checking out FreeBSD. I moved from Linux to "the beast" some 5 years ago and haven't looked back since. The 4.10 machine I use everyday has been up 168 days as of today. I had at shutdown the machine previous to that due to a scheduled power outage. It sits fully exposed on an unprotected IP and runs user apps, a web server and mail. Not a single problem in years. FreeBSD has certainly served me (and some clients of mine) well.

If you're a system developer or like playing with things at the driver level or experimenting with new code, new systems or want to put your toaster on the network, don't deny yourself a NetBSD 2.x install. Wonderful features at the leading edge. Very capable and I hope to get some more experience with it myself one day.

Learn OpenBSD. You won't regret it.

hardware is usally the deciding factor for me (2, Insightful)

josepha48 (13953) | more than 9 years ago | (#11474326)

NetBSD usually has pretty good hardware support. It usualy recgonizes most network cards. Especially wireless support in NetBSD is better IMHO. FreeBSD used to lock up my laptop with my netgear ma301 wifi nic, while NetBSD runs pretty nicely.

Configuring things to start up on the BSD's is all done in the /etc/rc.conf file, so once they are installed they are all very similar. Kernel is in /usr/src/sys and they have no GUI kernel config like Linux does (AFAIK). So if you have ever manually edited a .config for Linux you'll be right at home.

FreeBSD seems to have more software in the ports than netbsd does. I'm not sure about OpenBSD. OpenBSD never like my hardware. NetBSD actually recgonized my sound card better than Linux or FreeBSD on my laptop so that makes is more desirable.

If you need to use framebuffer programs that use svgalib or want to use them, and not run X windows, then FreeBSD is the choice. FreeBSD has a framebuffer that does graphics, fairly easily, while NetBSD does not.

NetBSD's SMP support is newer than FreeBSD, but it did no sound like that was an issue.

My suggestion is number them 1(NetBSD), 2(FreeBSD), 3(OpenBSD) and create a random number generator that picks it for you. Pretty much once you install one of them, the others are pretty close and easy to learn where things are.

Go Free (1)

bsdbigot (186157) | more than 9 years ago | (#11474375)

I notice that you consider yourself an old-time HP/UX user. If that was a preference of yours, you will probably get adjusted to the BSD's very easily: IIRC, HP/UX up until and including 10.x was very heavily BSD. I still get a kick out of firing up my Apollo 710 and seeing how different that environment is from Solaris.

Net/Open/Free all have great install programs, though Free is a little more in-depth about everything that you can do during the install process. Net and Open make it very easy to floppy- or netboot and install the entire OS over FTP. This is also an option with Free, but the mirrors get slogged down. So, I recommend you download the ISO; you only really need disc 1.

Also, I would recommend the 5.3-RELEASE of Free over the 4.11-RELEASE. The 5 series releases have been pretty great and very stable for the vast majority of uses. 5 series Free represents what is apparently a new (or just highly-refined) philosophy on the older hierarchy and RC architecture, and from that perspective is far easier to administer. Also, devfs is very handy (not sure if any of this stuff made it into the 4.x series, as I jumped ship when 5.0 released).

FreeBSD, by far (1)

amigan940 (702577) | more than 9 years ago | (#11474426)

If you're new to the world of BSD-based OSes, I suggest FreeBSD. I've been using it for over a year on my server, and just last month sucked it up and blasted linux in to oblivion on my workstation. Suffice it to say, I will never put that trash back on: FreeBSD more than amply handles my desktop needs. I find I use my workstation a lot more in FreeBSD than I did in linux (I usually was booted in to windows) because it's not a chore to do anything. Just remember to read the handbook, for god's sake, before going into any support community (IRC, mailing lists, etc). It should answer most of your questions anyway. Don't let the naysayers get to you: FreeBSD is very much alive.

Plan 9 (1)

sleepingsquirrel (587025) | more than 9 years ago | (#11474429)

If you're mostly looking for new experiences, you might also give something like Plan 9 [bell-labs.com] a try. And if you're really looking for adventure, there is alway the Hurd [gnufans.org].

Don't Switch... (1)

zwendell (837962) | more than 9 years ago | (#11474472)

If you're just trying to get a feel for how BSD works, go with Slackware, as it's almost BSD, but with a nice, familiar, LINUX kernel. or, go gentoo because it's nice to have a fast machine with an easy package system and custom compiled apps... but, if you're stuck on going with a BSD distro: try them all, as the first guy said - that's the only way to know which is best for YOU.

My personal experience in the FreeBSD world (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11474503)

I've been an avid follower of the developments in FreeBSD for around 5 years now, so my overview of the entire history of "glue that binds" FreeBSD together isn't complete. That said, I've come to be a bit disappointed at how events in the last 18 months or so seem to be pushing the project in a direction that has made things more difficult, instead of more successful, that has shown distain for experience and quality and made FreeBSD a platform for large ego's to push their personal projects down everyone's throat.

The statistics sample from 2001 over a year was a cheap attempt to minimize Matt's contribution to the project. The reason why he has been mostly silent is probably one of the most prominent signs of his superior maturity. The fact that the official defense (mostly fronted by Greg, atm) he wasn't such a substantial committer is crap, for the most part. If one wanted to go by the stats, Jeff Robertson (sorry if I munged the spelling) would be one of the key committers, and his UMA system isn't even entirely ripe yet, it's just been committed within the sample timeframe. That suddenly phk is at the top of the list, is simple a result of his newest attempt to add another large chunk of bit rot to the project that he can later claim not to have time to maintain "unless someone is willing to pay for my time" (like the atm bits, the half-finished devd monster, et.al.) One can hardly get him to look at his malloc bits, that put his name in lights at some point in the long past.

Matt didn't contribute because he was convinced that that the smp development direction that was chosen (my impression at least from the archives and my fading memory) was overly complex, too complex for the number and talent level of the contributers involved, and that it would delay a release from the -current branch significantly. So he was right. I'll almost bet that that was a constant sore for John, who still hasn't gotten his long-promised, but little delivered re-entrant work done, but he always had time enough to object to any other commits that might help along the way. Strangely Julian and Matt could work together. One might attribute certain commits to both Matt and Julian (if that would matter anyway, since -core is interested in proving the opposite statistically).

If the issue here had anything to do with IPFW, then you all better get out your C-coder hats and take a little more time to fix that rotting pile of muck that has been the standard broken packet filter interface for FreeBSD long past its possible usefulness. A packet filter with no central maintainer which is subject to once yearly random feature bloat through some wild university project from Luigi. The brokenness that Luigi introduced (and the repository bloat through backing out and recommitting, ad absurdum) was probably no less a threat to security than anything Matt did. If the security officer was to be blatantly honest with himself, ipfw would be marked broken for either a full audit or full removal (just port obsd's pf or something that someone actually actively _cares_ about).

You've alienated Jordan, Mike, Bill Paul (for all I can see), Greenman, you constantly rag on Terry, even though he's seen and done more with FreeBSD than most of you, O'Brien is on the verge of quitting (since he, like I, am not convinced that GEOM is anything more than an ego trip that will never be completely maintained or usefully documented). There are certainly others, too, that have attempted to make technically correct contributions, but didn't fit into the sort of paranoid "glee club" that core would like to have around them. You guys lack the talent to steer the positive from Matt into the project and let the crap fall by the wayside. I'm not saying Matt's rants are the most intelligent thing he's done, but he's sat by the wayside and watch the superstars beat up the code to a point where it's less stable, slower, and more bloated than it ever was. I, for one, can understand his frustration (as I can with Mike's, Jordan's, and a few others), although I find his method of expressing it extreme, I often wished he'd have just visited the offenders personally with a clue bat.

All in all, history will judge if -core has made the right decision. I personally believe it was a decision made in weakness. The loss the project as a whole will suffer is greater than the bruised ego's the -core has had to deal with in its communications with Matt. Matt was an extremist, but he put up or shut up. I wish I could say that for most of -core. This is a personality confict in a technical project. I'd say that most of you take this just as personally as Matt did, but instead of insulting him in a moment of anger, you shoot off your own respective feet, lose a good deal of experience and embarass the man publicly. You talk the talk of respect, but you aren't walking the walk. I'd say most of you need thicker skin. In the end, FreeBSD folk will walk smiling though the streets, but the project will become a cult of likeable people, instead of one that achieved technical excellence. That will, imho, be what history says of the current -core. Hint: lose the touchy-feely, hack the code.

PS: if I've offended anyone (yeah, I singled a few out), prove me wrong, but spare me your insultedness. It's become a pathetic hobby in -core.

FreeBSD (1)

blate (532322) | more than 9 years ago | (#11474654)

All of FreeBSD, OpenBSD, and NetBSD are good distributions, IMHO, based around a solid kernel. However, the best bang for your buck (in this case, your time) is FreeBSD, I think.

FreeBSD is pretty easy to install and comes with an extensive collection of "ports" -- packages that you can download and install or build for your system. I think it supports a larger range of applications than the other BSD's which are targeted more towards server and headless situations.

Check our the FreeBSD website for lots of great documentation on installing and configuring your new system. I think you'll be fine with the hardware you're running (I've run it on very wimpy pentium and 486 boxes in the past).

If you're going to grab a distro, get either the last 4.x-STABLE build or one of 5.2 or 5.3-RELEASE. While it's fun to run the bleeding-edge last night's build stuff, it's probably not right for a BSD beginner.

You'll likely feel like a fish out of water for a few days using BSD, coming from a Linux background. Config files are in different places, the boot process is a little different, and so forth. However, I think you'll learn to appreciate its design, just as I'm sure you appreciate the way Linux works. It's a great OS for servers -- I use it for my email server at home.

Good luck!
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