Linked by Eugenia Loli on Mon 28th Apr 2003 15:48 UTC
Original OSNews Interviews Today we feature an in-depth interview with three members of FreeBSD's Core (Wes Peters, Greg Lehey and M. Warner Losh) and also a major FreeBSD developer (Scott Long). It is a long read, but we touch a number of hot issues, from the Java port to corporate backing, the Linux competition, the 5.x branch and how it stacks up against the other Unices, UFS2, the possible XFree86 fork, SCO and its Unix IP situation, even re-unification of the BSDs. If you are into (any) Unix, this interview is a must read.
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A few points
by samb on Tue 29th Apr 2003 02:08 UTC

Greg Lehey:
Possibly Linux users are more accustomed to jumping through hoops to get software installed, but FreeBSD users expect to be able to type 'make install' and have things done automatically.

Kind of funny to read this coming from you, as you have pointed out the fickleness of the ports system numerous times in your diary.

Let me for instance quote from your diary entry of the 18. of April 2003:

Started upgrading the ports on battunga. Somehow it's touch and go whether port upgrades work at all. People seem to have forgotten that one of the aims of the FreeBSD project is to keep machines running as long as possible. battunga has now been up for 219 days, not very long, and it was a relatively fresh install at the time, but now half the ports have rotted to the point that portupgrade can't recognize them.

On a Debian system, this kind of behavior would be simply unacceptable.

I should take some time to think of a better way.

The 'better way' requires a lot more work. Just take a look at the Debian Policy Manual:

Greg Lehey:
Just to get the thing to run at any speed, I installed fvwm2 and discovered that, apart from flashy graphics, it wasn't missing too much.

A little nitpicky, but there is no such thing as fvwm2 anymore, unless you installed a very old beta. Once fvwm2 was declared stable, it became the official fvwm.

Anyway, I think GL makes a very good point here. WMs like fvwm and sawfish gives end users who are willing to put in a little effort an amazing amount of power to create a desktop in your own image. I would think an effort well spent for people who spend hours a day, year after year in front their computer.

Scott Long:
[regarding SMPng] However, as more subsystems and drivers are converted to use it, we feel that the result will be faster and more scalable than what is available from Linux. There are also two related projects that will provide vastly improved threading support to applications, and will hopefully be another reason for people to look at FreeBSD.

Are there any benchmarks to support this 'feel'? If you skim the Linux kernel mailing list, you will see that a number of different benchmarks are regularly posted, and the regressions and optimazations of the development kernel is being closely monitored. I see nothing like that in the FreeBSD-camp. Not on the public mailing lists, anyway.

While a lot more development money may be going into Linux right now, FreeBSD is helped by the 20+ years of development and maturity that the BSD base brings.

And how exactly does that helps with regard to the development of 'new' technologies like SMP, threading, NUMA, and so forth?

This might have been a good argument back in the mid-nineties when the free unix-systems were still very much playing catch-up, but it's becoming less and less relevant. Besides, doesn't actual deployment and number of eyeballs count for something?

Wes Peters:
It's also important to note that development of FreeBSD isn't driven by sales, it is driven by what the FreeBSD developers want it to be. There is an assumption in your question that the influx of paid development has been good for Linux; I know many long-time Linux developers who feel this is most emphatically not the case.

Really? Any specific reasons why? I mean, nothing has changed as far as the actual development model is concerned (though a number of hackers including Linus has adopted BitKeeper). It's still very much Linus and his lieutenants. Nobody has been able to cram anything down Linus' throat, that I'm aware of. Perhaps you know differently?

Paid Linux developers are paid to develop what their employers want, not what is best for the Linux system at this moment in time.

Of course, quite a few Linux hackers have been employed to do exactly what they previously did as a hobby.

Here's Linus' take on it: (,7204,5897985%5E15397...)

Part of the thing I like about the commercial side of it is it's doing a lot of things I personally wouldn't be interested in - and we do need it, it's just it's not what I do. So when I say commercial, in a way that implies I'm not very interested, that doesn't mean it's not a good thing. A lot of the commercial impact, a lot of the green stuff, that you need to make it successful.

The involvement of so many different entities is pulling Linux in many directions

Which is in exact accordance with Linus' philosophy of software development. To let Linux go where people are willing to take it.

Scott Long: Linux development is so quick and scattered that it's hard to assess many of its technical merits. The strict social hierarchy in Linux often forces changes that are either large or are from 'unknown' developers to be kept outside of the main Linux development stream, making the work of developers and integrators harder. FreeBSD, OpenBSD, and NetBSD have a much lower barrier for entry for developers in that the official source trees are publically availalbe via CVS, and there are many more developers with CVS commit access that can funnel in changes.

And despite this supposed lower barrier of entry, there seems to be a lot more happening on the Linux side of things.

I mean, projects like KSE and SMPng which are supposed to be major new features in the 5.x branch aren't even done yet, and even when they finally get there, noone really seems to know what kind of performance boosts they will bring to the table. In practice, that is.

There were a few other silly things in at as well that I just can't be bothered to respond to.