Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 12th Jan 2012 22:54 UTC
FreeBSD Some people already submitted this news last week, but it wasn't until today that it became official: the FreeBSD team has announced the release of FreeBSD version 9.0. As you may expect from the major version number change, this is releas eis packed with new stuff.
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I have yet to have a single one pass my "is it safe?" test which simulates what my customer would go through with just 3 years of ownership. I take a distro from 3 years ago, install it, make sure ALL the hardware works, then using whatever GUI the system has update it to current. I have YET to have a Linux that didn't puke on its own drivers and end up with a broken mess that can ONLY be fixed with CLI that is above the skillset of my customers, thus making Linux useless.

What I'm going to write is probably not what you want to hear, but your "is it safe" test is pure balderdash. You are expecting a Linux or BSD distribution from 3 years ago, which is ancient, to update to current without a glitch. You are asking for a level of backward compatibility that even MS isn't offering. Try to update an adequately powerful machine with XP to Windows 7 without the appropriate third party software and driver disks handy and see the spectacular ways in which an update from ancient software to current can blow up.

What people seem to forget is that Windows XP is a fluke in the history of consumer Operating Systems. Microsoft never meant for XP to be the defacto OS for over 10 years. This lull in OS upgrades was beneficial for users, but it never was the general rule. The upgrade cycle was supposed to be "Buy a new machine every 3 years". After Vista we have entered that cycle again. So your "Suzy the checkout girl and Brian the backhoe operator" will have to buy new equipment every 3 years with MS OSes. (Assuming that MS will keep upping the system requirements.)

If you care enough about selling FOSS systems to "Suzy and Brian", why don't you treat a Linux or BSD system the way they are meant to be treated? No endless updating to current if that can't be done by a clueless end user (and they can't). I'm a Linux user, so don't ask me about the intricacies of BSD. BSD users are infinitely more qualified to talk about that. What I can offer as advice is a simple one about Linux and it might even give you some auxiliary repeat business.

Set up your machines with an easy to use (NOTE! USE not UPDATE to current) distribution. Disable the dist-upgrade option of that distro, so that the major version is frozen. Put the /home directory on a separate partition. Offer your customers a "refresh package" every couple of years for an appropriate fee and update the machines yourself to the latest and greatest. LTS versions should be a great target for this. Your customers don't get headaches, you get a bit more business, everybody wins.

Then again, you could also continue your (futile?) quest for the perfect software which never breaks. Your choice.

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