Linked by Eugenia Loli on Thu 31st Aug 2006 01:29 UTC, submitted by sequethin
NetBSD Charles Hannum, co-founder of NetBSD posted to 3 major BSD lists saying that "The NetBSD Project has stagnated to the point of irrelevance. It has gotten to the point that being associated with the project is often more of a liability than an asset. I will attempt to explain how this happened, what the current state of affairs is, and what needs to be done to attempt to fix the situation."
Thread beginning with comment 157384
To read all comments associated with this story, please click here.
Member since:

Never seen so many BSD'ers together, so I might as well ask. I'm a Linux user (who hadn't heard of BSD before trying Linux) but from what I've read it seems that BSD is a very interesting OS. I'm going to try FreeBSD out this week.
Now if BSD's fast, secure, cohesive, i.o.w. good , why isn't BSD the hype Linux is? Is it simply the license, or is there something about Linux that lends itself to be more versatile or something?

OSX, which is the second proprietary desktop system in market share, is based partly on BSD, so in a way BSD already is more successful than Linux. But do you guys think an Ubuntu-style "pop in the CD, all autoconfig., run it live, install, get working" BSD is possible? Or do the BSD dev.s simply not want this?

Reply Score: 2

Legend Member since:

If I remember correctly, very roughly at the time linux has started, the BSDs had some legal problems that have been resolved in court.

After the issue was over, Linux was already the hype.

Reply Parent Score: 2

Carnevill Member since:

The question of why isn't BSD as hyped as linux can't really be answered. Some blame the lawsuit with At&T, which held up the development. By the time the lawsuit was settled linux had come on the scene. Beyond that everybody has a differant answer. But FreeBSD does have a couple Ubuntu style cd's. They're PC-BSD and DesktopBSD both are easy to install and configure.

Reply Parent Score: 2

manofsteel21 Member since:

There are projects that make easy to use and install BSD's such as PC-BSD ( and DesktopBSD ( Personaly I like the easy to use options because I shouldnt have to use the commandline to get actual work done or install say open office or somthing, it should be easy to do the basic things, on the other hand, I love having the power of the commandline should I have to use it.

I was wondering about what somone said, that everything is tied together so you know where everything is comming from, but it looks like it uses a lot of the same packages Linux uses. Firefox, KDE, thunder bird, ect. I understand under the hood is different, they share a lot of common apps.

Reply Parent Score: 3

Cloudy Member since:

I remember sitting around with a bunch of BSD developers "back in the day" listening to McKusick ask that very question.

I gave him the same answer ten years ago that I'll give you now: The organization of the various BSD projects encouraged small close-knit communities concentrating on specific goals. Linus had the foresight to play to the crowd. Linux has always had an inclusive egalitarian development model. I wouldn't go so far as to call it a cult of personality, but the fact that Torvalds is warm hearted and good natured, and has an inclusive development process while BSD projects tend to be faceless to outsiders and exclusive in appearance is what led to Linux being "all the hype".

Reply Parent Score: 3

h3rman Member since:

Thanks for those comments. It's very interesting to see that these open source projects develop their own, unintended dynamic.


"Linus had the foresight to play to the crowd."

I don't think that was intended or in any way a "foresight". As Torvalds has himself said, he didn't really feel like working out all the "boring" stuff, at least, what he himself found less exciting, that you have to do to create an OS out of a kernel. That's why he sent his kernel into the world. But then, how many things that bring about change in the world are really intended ?

I also heard a lot of BSD users are former Linux users that got disappointed at the "messy" or "dirty hack" nature of Linux code. I have no way of judging this, but what do you guys think, is there anything objective to say about these assertions? And isn't all that only relevant to developers?

Reply Parent Score: 3

Oliver Member since:

>Torvalds is warm hearted and good natured

Do you know him personally or do you just know the hype? ;-)

>BSD projects tend to be faceless to outsiders and >exclusive in appearance

If you count on GNU/Linux because of a good natured Linus, try this ... *BSD are honest operating systems, no hype, just what you see is what you get :o)

There is nothing exclusive in *BSD, but out there in Linux world, there are many urban legends about *BSD. Vice versa almost noone in *BSD world is interested in flamewars about GNU/Linux or Windows - that's the difference. Nowadays hype (aka how to lure people into something) is the measure for the success of an operating system or application - to be true, it's bullshit. Sorry, but opensource should do it better than closed-source systems, but the opposite is true (see Ubuntu for example). If you fight the battle with the same means, than you aren't any better than Sun, Microsoft, Apple, IBM and so on.

Back to topic, yes NetBSD needs a real overhaul, there is no need to acquire some of Linux mechanisms, why to mimic the behaviour of a system, who in the end mimics Unix only? NetBSD is a real Unix derivate, it needs more people like Charles Hannum, who think about it and work toward a better future.
I know *BSD is dying, especially on OSNews ;) , ... for years and anyhow it's alive and kicking.

Hype doesn't last forever, one day in the future there isn't enough hot vapour anymore and then? Think about it.
So GNU/Linux should think about it's path toward the future. NetBSD only needs enthusiastic, but able people!

Reply Parent Score: 3

Soulbender Member since:

"BSD projects tend to be faceless to outsiders"

Unless you count Theo. He can be called a lot of things but faceless isn't one of them ;)

Reply Parent Score: 3

sbergman27 Member since:

Well, some people point to the legal issues with AT&T. And maybe that factors in. It was before my time. I was still supporting SCO Unix back then. (Or was it OpenServer by that time?)

I, personally, think that the GPL has a lot to do with the media exposure that Linux enjoys. Think about "The BSD Story":

"BSD is a great OS, based on UNIX, that you can get for free."

Falls a bit flat doesn't it? Oh, you might squeeze a story out of this on a slow news day, but it just lacks something.

Now try this:

"Linus Torvalds, a computer science student, all by himself, wrote an operating system. But then Linus had an idea: Why not take the source code, the magic recipe for computer programs, and give it away for free so that others could improve it. But with a catch! If you change the recipe, you have to give those changes back. Most companies keep the recipe for their computer programs a secret..."

I think that most of us here at OSNews can fill in the rest of the story of how Linus Tovalds invented a new way of writing computer programs. It's not like we haven't all read about a hundred of these articles. ( And yes, I know how hideously wrong the above paragraph is. :-P )

The point is that this is "newsworthy" (and reusable) in a way that "The BSD Story" simply is not.

This is *not* intended as a slight against BSD. Just an observation of the fact that Linux has more of a human interest angle.

The other way in which I think that GPL has helped Linux's popularity is that it attracts companies who seriously want to contribute. Companies that would like to simply leech off of it find that using the code entails certain responsibilities, which might put them off, but who cares? Companies that really want to contribute has the assurance that their competitors are not going to just take their work and use it against them without giving back.

One needs only look to Theo's recent carping about companies not giving back to OpenSSH to see that this *is* an issue.

To be sure, GPL also has its down sides. Which are becoming ever more apparent. Ceaseless wasted effort arguing about licenses instead of getting real work done. Unintended incompatibilities with other software also under perfectly good OSI/FSF approved licenses. People trying to do their part to help out, only to find that they get shot down because they have run afoul of some subsection of a license that I used to think was simple, but now can't help but see as a legal minefield. (The GPLv2 vs GPLv3 draft arguments I have followed recently have been a real eye opener to me... after 10 years of having *thought* that I understood GPL.)

So there it is. The good, the bad, and the ugly.

On the balance, though, and back to the original point, I do believe that, for better or worse, the GPL has contributed to Linux's popularity relative to the BSDs.

Edited 2006-08-31 16:39

Reply Parent Score: 4