Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 26th Nov 2009 19:41 UTC, submitted by Gabor
FreeBSD Astute readers probably already saw this one waiting in our backend, but since there was no official announcement yet, I decided to wait. Now that it's officially here, let's rejoice: the FreeBSD team has released version 8.0 of their operating system, packed with new features and improvements.
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What's the point with *BSD?
by toast88 on Fri 27th Nov 2009 07:19 UTC
toast88
Member since:
2009-09-23

Seriously, why would anyone except a geek install something like *BSD nowadays? I tried FreeBSD several times and I could never get used to it.

First, there is the installer which is really horrible and reflects what Debian did when they where on Potato which is more than 10 years ago. You *have* setup everything manually, the interface of it is just *ugly* and awkward to use (try the text-based Debian installer and you know what an installer should look like). Why doesn't this ever get seriously updated?

Second, hardware. FreeBSD supports a fraction of what I can use on other operating systems. It's the situation like it was with Linux 10+ years ago. You can't use anything fancy. Sound and graphics work, sure. But what if I ever want to use something like a DVB-T Stick or an UMTS Dongle. Or certain wireless devices? Or the power management of a recently purchased laptop? Or webcams. When using FreeBSD with that kind of hardware, one will certainly run into trouble with things not working and that's in 2009. When Linux actually supports hardware that's not even released yet neither supported in Windows (USB3.0, certain ATI Radeon etc)?

Third, software. Linux users have pledged for years to get things like flash, java plugins, Skype and Acrobat Reader (and there is even Mathematica, LabView, MatLab and much more) natively for Linux and the vendors have finally conceded and we have all that stuff running on open source operating systems. Why should one switch and have less such software meaning less comfort? I know, *BSD have emulators for the Linux ABI but everyone knows this is always kind the last option you would choose and that's what people do with wine because there a few apps that are only available on Windows. But still, one should always avoid such setup because there will *always* be cases where something won't work properly, wine can and will never replace Windows and the same for the Linux ABI in FreeBSD.

Fourth, FreeBSD features. I know, *BSD has some unique features that may look Linux deprecated. But, check them out:

zfs: Nice filesystem but the same will be on Linux with btrfs soon and it's probably going to be even better. And btrfs has been developed by the company which actually bought Sun, namely Oracle. Furthermore, what's actually what people are so crazy about zfs? You can have nearly all of those features with xfs+lvm as well (even snapshots) and you will much more flexible, zfs even lacks an fsck which *disqualifies* it's professional use (by professional I mean a SAN with 150+ harddisks and several TB of filesystem with hundreds of GB of userdata). And, yes, all filesystems corrupt, even zfs did. Check out the zfs ML. And when you have something like a SAN, you will get your SAN exposed to the operating system as one single block-device. So half of the zfs magic features will just be useless.

Scheduling: *BSD claims to have a much a better scheduler than Linux. I have run FreeBSD on various hardware and it never blew me away like BeOS when I saw it the first time neither like Linux when upgrading from 2.4.x to 2.6.x. I bet, I can setup two Unix servers with Linux and *BSD and you will never be able to tell the difference from the responsiveness and how the machines cope with load. A bad Linux scheduler is just history.

Fifth, package management. I have a software project which is written in Qt and several open source libraries. I write build instructions for several opererating systems, including *BSD and even Haiku. Building the software requires some packages to be installed. On all kind of Linux systems (Ubuntu, Arch, Fedora) I've seen so far, installing those packages (qtcreator, glib2, taglib, libmcrypt, libmad, git) takes around 1-3 minutes depending on the hardware. On FreeBSD with it's so much *superior* ports system and recently binary package management, the installation took around 20(!!) minutes and that's in 2009. Who would want to use that? I'm currently using Fedora on my laptop and I'm already somewhat annoyed that yum is somewhat slow compared to apt/aptitude but it's still ok to use. But FreeBSDs pkg_add is just way beyond and if I had to use it on a daily basis, I'd run seriously mad.

Sixth, realiability. Many FreeBSD users claim that *BSD is just way more stable than Linux. Well, just one thing. At my university, we have Linux servers serving 20000+ users and guess what, we don't have daily crashes. The largest businesses (Google) and facilities (CERN, other physics labs) run Linux and so do 90%+ of the Top500 supercomputers. Isn't that a sign that Linux is kind of mature nowdays!?!

Seriously, what's the point in using FreeBSD!?! I mean, yes, I have several Amigas as well and the hardware and the software is just unique and nice but, hell, not for daily work (anymore). What's the point of using a nice operating system when I can just perform half of the tasks I can do with a common operating syetem?

Bernd

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