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Is BSD Better Than Linux?

- - 17 comments
In my quest to find the most stable, secure, feature-rich, and lightweight desktop operating system for my main workstation, I tried and tested almost all major Linux distributions available. I'm making an effort to settle for Xubuntu right now as I really value its speed and efficiency. However, after reading some of the comments on one of my older articles, I'm having second thoughts.

A comment by "Anonymous Coward" found on my blog post entitled Why Mac OS X Sucks and Linux Rocks said:

"I find that FreeBSD is the most sane operating system of all. Instead of using some weird conventions like some Linux distro, FreeBSD is fast, secure and sane.

Not only the configurations are consistent and intuitive but also all BSDs are consistent with each other. Furthermore, the FBSD7 kernel is faster than Linux kernels out of the box (not to mention u can optimize it manually). All the development tools can easily be installed via the ports (from haskell compilers, Java, IDEs to code analyzers). And of course, if you like your UI, you can install compiz-fusion. And guess what! it all works great.

In terms of MacOS X. It is indeed a pile of eye candy (regardless of its phylogeny with FreeBSD). I find using it's UI slow and inefficient and that's why I stopped using the MacMini I got.

Linux, is just a pile of c**p. The best thing is: It's c**p undercover. U can't really see its crap because:

(1) The kernel is glued together by hacks
(2) Each distro is either a mess (config files, package managers etc) and often counter intuitive.

Give FreeBSD a go!"

The comment struck me because I haven't tried any of the BSD derivatives yet, and the commenter here is kind of implying that Linux is as crappy as Mac OS X when compared to FreeBSD.

To those who don't know anything about BSD, here are some quick BSD facts:

Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD, sometimes called Berkeley Unix) is the Unix operating system derivative developed and distributed by the Computer Systems Research Group of the University of California, Berkeley, from 1977 to 1995.

Historically, BSD has been considered as a branch of UNIX - "BSD UNIX", because it shared the initial codebase and design with the original AT&T UNIX operating system. See Evolution of Unix systems.

Some of the BSD descendants that are still active to this day are: FreeBSD, NetBSD and OpenBSD. FreeBSD is probably the most popular among them and has been characterized as "the unknown giant among free operating systems."

FreeBSD is generally regarded as reliable and robust. Among all operating systems that can accurately report uptime remotely, FreeBSD is the free operating system listed most often in Netcraft's list of the 50 web servers with the longest uptime. A long uptime is an indication that no crashes have occurred and no kernel updates have been deemed needed.

So here I am thinking of giving FreeBSD a go to see for myself if BSD is indeed better than Linux. What do you think?

17 comments

  1. Linux and Mac OS are both crap so they say yet who is using BSD outside of servers and some desktop users using PC BSD? No one!

    On top of that when you do install Free BSD it's like going with Debian. Yes Debian is great but is it more easy to use then Ubuntu?? HECK no.

    And that is where you will be left with FreeBSD. A great OS but not easy to use and you wont find all the easy desktop stuff you will get in PC BSD or even more so in Ubuntu. And it wont even touch Mac OS in a million years for ease of use.

    It's interesting that the person talking down on Linux and Mac OS tells you that after you install Free BSD if you like using your UI to install the same one you would use on Linux anyway.

    For instance PC BSD is like Linux with the BSD kernel (Yes I know the things on Linux are actually not part of Linux but most of the GNU tools and UI interfaces like KDE and Gnome have gotten popular because of Linux!) If I install PC BSD and give it to someone they will think it's Linux cause people relate things like KDE to Linux at this point.

    In reality unless you are doing command line related stuff you might as well stick with the Linux you have. With Ubuntu 8.04 you know it's going to have long term support, patches etc and you can always buy support if you need it!

    As for Mac OS, I am rockin my 8+ year old power book with Tiger an it just keeps rolling. Its rock solid and a 5 year old can figure it out! That is the way a computer should be!

    Anyway please someone tell me why BSD is better?

    Looking forward to peoples comments.

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  2. Rem QiemMay 07, 2008

    You should go for it, me after reading this I'm gonna test it out too.

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  3. Hey,

    I just recently found your blog and have to say you have great posts. C'mon, give FreeBSD a try and let us know what you think - I really like your reviews and would try BSD if you recommend it :))

    Cheers,
    Dantata

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  4. BSD is a rock solid OS, I agree. I used Macs from 1993 until 2005, Mac OS X was a leap forward but it was time to think different in 2005, so I switched to Ubuntu on regular pc hardware, which was a revelation: I was enabled to build my own box, so I build it.
    I tried Desktop BSD and PC-BSD, both shipping with KDE 3.5.x. Not bad, but with Ubuntu, I'm a Gnome man, things like package manager and repositories are settled so much better. At this very moment I'm willing to pay the price for a c**p kernel for the sake of user's friendliness :)

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  5. Go for it! I would be interested in your findings.

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  6. AnonymousMay 08, 2008

    Don't worry about what other "Point and click Linux" guys say, because the saying goes something like this: Linux users usually just simply hates Windows... where as BSD users just simply loves Unix. That's why you see so many point and click Linux users these days. pkg_add is not necessarily that much harder than click Applications, click Preferrence, click Synaptic, click search box, type in program name, click search, check box that says mark for installation next to your wanted program, click apply, password dialog pops up, type it password, click ok, etc...

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  7. Oh, I wasn't saying do not try it. But if you are looking for an easy to use OS Free BSD out the box is not it. To get it to that point you will have to make it more like the point and click versions of Linux, UNIX (With Open Solaris) Windows and Mac's that people who are die hard Linux and Unix (BSD) heads hate.

    And no pkg_add is not hard to use, what makes it hard is that you have to 1. Know that pkg_add exists 2. know the name of the package in the repository you want to install. If you don't know the name or you spell it wrong you are stuck. 3. you need to know how to bring up a terminal, su to the root account etc. Not a big deal for an admin type. A pain in the butt for a non admin type.

    As far as synaptic goes, Ubuntu users have not used that in a couple of years now. We just go to to the applications menu, add/remove and then browse the applications you want to add or remove. Choose it put in your password and it will install. No big deal, it's there nice and clear and you don't need to know how to spell the name etc. No terminals, no typing (Unless you want to get to the application quick)

    Also now you can just use dpkg. Just download a deb file, double click it and the front end to dpkg comes up checks dependancies and installs the application similar to what you would do in Windows. So you have the best of both worlds

    Like I said, I love BSD. I use PC BSD on a regular. It just has a way s to go to catch up to Ubuntu and a LONG way to go to catch up to the Mac OS.

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  8. Thank you all for the words of encouragement :-)

    Looks like I’m going to try FreeBSD this weekend. I’ll post an update here soon so watch out.

    Best regards,
    Jun

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  9. All of it sounds good. Linux needs competition. Ergo Linux needs FreeBSD and vice versa.

    However, should it be faster than Linux - I would still say that BSD derivatives have pretty uncool and corporate sounding names.

    Come on BSD? Business Software Development???? Bullshit Development?

    Also, it's all about 3rd party apps. I am not familiar with BSD so I am holding out comments on this one.

    If they want people to use it, they should come up with another name/brand. IMHO

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  10. AnonymousMay 11, 2008

    Few observations about Linux and BSD.

    I think no one should have any doubts about BSD system stability vis a vis linux. I have been trying all Linux distros thorugh their upgrades for many years. I say with conviction that it is a crap as it took them almost 10 years to get the xorg/xconfig thing somewhat right. All these years many people could not go beyond the basic graphic screen so they had no way of knowing how linux looks.
    In Circa 2008 things are somewhat better especially for first 20 distros. Still I find they have great problems in identifying graphic cards and resolutions. I found that Sabayon installed consistently well on all my systems but it will die as it has port system like BSD. Mint looks good but does not install on old computers. PCLOS is another one that has some reliability. The much tooted SUSE 10.3 is funny. If you start installing it from a external usb cd drive it will boot the cd and they after few screens would not locate the installtion cd drive not the CD, mind you. Smaller distros are just not mentionable except a few based on Slackware like wolvix. Wolvix is simply incredible but the poor developer has no time to improve on it. Rest of the smaller distros look tired and quirky. Just imagine if Bill gates decides to sell vista for 50 dollars. Who will use Linux ? Certainly I would not.
    However, I would definitely use BSD. One more thing, have a look at the handbook of freebsd. Wow, have not seen a more lucid and complete manual in decades. Three cheers to freebsd and PCBSD too for the reliability and consistency of efforts.

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  11. AnonymousMay 11, 2008

    Few observations about Linux and BSD.

    I think no one should have any doubts about BSD system stability vis a vis linux. I have been trying all Linux distros thorugh their upgrades for many years. I say with conviction that it is a crap as it took them almost 10 years to get the xorg/xconfig thing somewhat right. All these years many people could not go beyond the basic graphic screen so they had no way of knowing how linux looks.
    In Circa 2008 things are somewhat better especially for first 20 distros. Still I find they have great problems in identifying graphic cards and resolutions. I found that Sabayon installed consistently well on all my systems but it will die as it has port system like BSD. Mint looks good but does not install on old computers. PCLOS is another one that has some reliability. The much tooted SUSE 10.3 is funny. If you start installing it from a external usb cd drive it will boot the cd and they after few screens would not locate the installtion cd drive not the CD, mind you. Smaller distros are just not mentionable except a few based on Slackware like wolvix. Wolvix is simply incredible but the poor developer has no time to improve on it. Rest of the smaller distros look tired and quirky. Just imagine if Bill gates decides to sell vista for 50 dollars. Who will use Linux ? Certainly I would not.
    However, I would definitely use BSD. One more thing, have a look at the handbook of freebsd. Wow, have not seen a more lucid and complete manual in decades. Three cheers to freebsd and PCBSD too for the reliability and consistency of efforts.

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  12. Eugene M.June 03, 2008

    For about 3 years, until March, 2008, I was a Windows XP user. After hearing about Open Source Operating Systems, I started to wonder what all the hype was about, so I read about it more and decided to download FreeBSD 7.0 as my desktop. I chose FreeBSD over Linux because it is both an OS and Kernel, stable, fast, consistent, and not patched together. FreeBSD is the original Unix OS, and came way before Linux did.

    So, I excitedly deleted Windows XP from my hard drive and installed FreeBSD 7.0 along with the KDE gui 3.58 from 3 CD's which were downloaded for free from FreeBSD's website. Keep in mind, to make my 'test' between Windows XP and FreeBSD in terms of speed, performance, and stability objective and accurate, I'm using a standard box that has an AMD Athlon 1000 processor with only 256 MB RAM, CD and DVD drives, a SoundBlaster sound card, and Samsung SyncMaster 700NF color Monitor.

    The install was simple and a few minor 'adjustments' had to be made before my desktop was fully functional. This involved adjusting fonts, adding groups to my user, and giving privileges to my CD ROM.

    After using FreeBSD 7.0 for over 3 months, I am very impressed by it's speed, peformance, and stability, all of which exceeds Windows XP by a large margin. My machine works faster, never crashes, and the file system and SWAP / memory system are amazing, in addition to the full-proof security I have. Under FreeBSD, my hard drive 'works' much less than it did under Windows XP. Another nice feature of using FreeBSD is that it runs 'most' Linux applications as well as over 18,000 of it's own. I'm using OpenOffice, GIMP, Gphoto2, Xchat, Pidgin Internet Messenger, and using the excellent KDE Konqueror to surf the web. An excellent feature of FreeBSD is you have the choice to use 3 built in firewalls. I chose to enable PF (Packet Filter) firewall which is more secure than the most expensive commercial firewalls on the market today. The setup was easy and so were the rules configuration. In the aggregrate, I must say this much: if FreeBSD had the same games and commercial software (including VMware and Flash) produced for it that Windows XP has, FreeBSD would be a first choice desktop for everyone and Microsoft's dominance and market share for the desktop would rapidly decline to nothing. And FreeBSD is ... "Free"! :-)

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  13. PC-BSD, otherwise known as Pretty Crappy-Bull Shit Disc, is the best Linux Distribution ever created.

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  14. I've been an on and off "free" OS user since purchasing a boxed Mandrake Linux disc set at Business Depot way back in the 90's. One thing that always irk'd me about whatever flavor of Linux I happened to be using was how easy it was to break it while doing something as simple as an update. Been using PS-BSD for a while now and all I can say is yes it has it's little quirks too but in terms of breakage it's tops. PC-BSD is much snappier too when clicking around the system and the bonus is that it stays that way.

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  15. having more than 12 years experience in unix and unix-like system, i prefer (and suggest) to use freebsd instead of another free-os (linux-based system, any-other-bsd, or opensolaris) for production server, enterprise or heavy-duty tasks.

    never use linux-based system for mission-critical system (none of linux-kernel is stable enough).

    never never ever believe in marketing bloats, try it by yourself. ibm redhat novell suse microsoft, all are the same. they are indeed a profit-motive company, trying to sell a product, for god shake.

    don't just convinced by this also, i provide no proof, try it by yourself.

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  16. AnonymousJune 04, 2010

    I was a long time Windows user who decided to switch to an open OS about a year ago. I've gone through virtually every single (major) Linux distro and always had the same problem: it always felt a little too "all over the place" for me. Yes, there are common standards, but it always felt somewhat disjointed, and I could never understand why exactly. After 8 or 9 months on Ubuntu Studio, I decided to make the jump to FreeBSD just for the hell of it.

    A month and a half later, I am compiling my own custom kernels and running jails to test-drive software. I've been using a computer since the early 90's, and in the last month, I finally actually REALLY understand how one works.

    If you are just looking for out-of-the-box functionality in a free OS, look to Linux. If you are really interested in learning how everything works, building your own desktop environment, and custom-tuning a system, FreeBSD is an excellent choice. It is stable, reliable, and can do anything Linux can. It's just that, like anything worthwhile, you have to earn some knowledge before you can fully utilize the potential of the system.

    For example, currently, I am compiling two different kernels for booting an old laptop...a "speedy" kernel with minimal hardware support, and a "compatibility" kernel to run just about anything you can hook up to it. All this takes is editing of a text file and a few very simple commands to unload the existing kernel and boot a specialized one. I find things like this to be FAR easier in FreeBSD than Linux (and impossible on Windows).

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  17. no one going to try and bsd off of comments like this. example hey you Mr Your os is a pile of bull Shit! try my os and you will agree with me. Its no different then saying hey you X political party is shit try my Political party and will see. all you going to do is start a flame war or make the person hate bsd LOL.

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