Linked by fvillanustre on Fri 6th May 2011 22:19 UTC
Talk, Rumors, X Versus Y When comparing the evolution in market share of Linux and OpenBSD, two operating systems that were born around the same time, a question comes to mind: why is there such a difference in market penetration? Linux, on one side of the spectrum, with a license that supposedly impairs commercial venues, has enticed companies and organizations to adopt and support it under varying commercial models, while the BSD derivatives (FreeBSD, OpenBSD and NetBSD), with a larger history and an allegedly more commercial friendly license haven't been as successful to gather a large installed base and widespread adoption.
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Comment by Drumhellar
by Drumhellar on Fri 6th May 2011 23:42 UTC
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Having a permissive license hasn't hurt development or adoption of Apache, or other projects with an MIT-style license.

I think a bigger factor was the lawsuit between USL and BSDi. Questions on the legality and future of BSD/386 had a chilling effect on potential contributors.

Meanwhile, Linus Torvalds comes along with a UNIX-like OS with no ties to AT&T or USL, freeing it from any legal questions. Also, Linux's development was community-driven from the get-go, while BSD's was not.

I think the license was only a small factor. While many make the argument that Linux is successful because of the GPL, I think the GPL is successful because of Linux.

Reply Score: 5

RE: Comment by Drumhellar
by JoeBuck on Fri 6th May 2011 23:54 in reply to "Comment by Drumhellar"
JoeBuck Member since:

The USL vs Berkeley lawsuit was settled in 1994, 17 years ago. Certainly the legal cloud had an impact at the beginning, but it can't be blamed anymore.

I think that there's a good argument that the GPL helped rather than hurt, but it's also true that other projects with more permissive licenses have been successful. The cultural differences and leadership of the projects also made a big difference; Linus welcomed contributors, gave them real power, and set a blistering development pace (the rate of change is amazing), while the leaders of the various BSDs were far more exclusive and hard to work with.

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE[2]: Comment by Drumhellar
by laffer1 on Sat 7th May 2011 01:30 in reply to "RE: Comment by Drumhellar"
laffer1 Member since:

It is challenging to get into the big three BSD projects, especially FreeBSD. There is a steep mentoring period and it ends up making their average committer's age much higher. They attract mature developers instead of college students. The downside to that is that there are much less people interested in contributing as the bar is higher to start.

I think Google's Summer of Code program has helped interest in several BSD projects over the last few years. DragonFly and FreeBSD have gained developers from it.

The real difference is that linux is quite commercial these days. Many of the developers work for a large company and get paid to work on Linux part of the time. That makes a big difference in what gets done and how quickly. It also balances out the immature developers from college that also work on linux. People talk about the GPL but at the end of the day the IBM, Novell (who knows with attachmate), Intel and Ciscos of the world fund Linux development.

I can tell you it's quite hard to attract new developers to my project. It was much easier when I was in college and had a lot of time to contribute as well as many contacts with free time.

Another hurdle is that people can just do things on linux that aren't possible on other operating systems like use flash, java, etc. Sure there are ports to some of the BSDs but they are buggy or outdated. Eventually you hit people who want to get real work done and it's hard to get them to run your OS that's designed for servers. There is movement in this area in the BSD world. PC-BSD has started to attract interest in desktop development and my project is specifically about making BSD desktop ready.

I don't think it has anything to do with the license. Most people I've met don't care that much.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[2]: Comment by Drumhellar
by Laurence on Sat 7th May 2011 12:39 in reply to "RE: Comment by Drumhellar"
Laurence Member since:

The USL vs Berkeley lawsuit was settled in 1994, 17 years ago. Certainly the legal cloud had an impact at the beginning, but it can't be blamed anymore.

Why not?

People are naturally going to develop for the platform that already has the most support. The early adoption to Linux meant that it gained critical mass quicker so naturally corporations and developers would more likely be drawn to Linux over the lesser supported BSD.

This is still true. You can have a fully functional FreeBSD desktop however when things go wrong there's less sources for help. So most people who want an open source desktop turn to Linux due to the significantly larger number of support forums, mailing lists, and developers on hand.

Reply Parent Score: 5