Home > NetBSD > NetBSD: Not Just for Toasters NetBSD: Not Just for Toasters Eugenia Loli 2006-10-07 NetBSD 61 Comments NetBSD is the oldest and least-used of the three major BSD derivatives. David Chisnall takes a look at how it’s survived for so long and where it’s going in preparation for the next release. About The Author Eugenia Loli Ex-programmer, ex-editor in chief at OSNews.com, now a visual artist/filmmaker. Follow me on Twitter @EugeniaLoli 61 Comments 2006-10-07 11:39 pm twenex And this is a good overview. If it had better hardware support (in terms of the peripherals it supports) and didn’t use the BSD licence I would almost certainly be running NetBSD instead of Linux. 2006-10-07 11:43 pm jlarocco What’s wrong with the BSD license? 2006-10-07 11:46 pm twenex I don’t like the idea of someone taking code and being able to change it, or add to it, without giving anything back – either money, or the changed/added code. EDIT: Also, and getting back to the subject of NetBSD itself, I’ve found that one cannot use precompiled packages and source without setting and unsetting an environmental variable in between installing them. This is annoying. Edited 2006-10-07 23:51 2006-10-07 11:51 pm jlarocco Fair enough. 2006-10-08 1:51 am Brandybuck In the mortal words of RMS, “Software just wants to be free”. So make it free! Take off the damn leash you keep around its neck and let it go! If someone doesn’t “give back”, so what? Stop being your software’s chaperon. 2006-10-08 2:14 am bubbayank Stop being your software’s chaperon. So GNU is a chastity belt? 2006-10-08 4:27 am axel “”Stop being your software’s chaperon.” So GNU is a chastity belt? ” and RMS is the annoying cockblocking little brother. 2006-10-08 8:49 am l3v1 So make it free! Yes, that would be nice, but, and this is a huge but, many people – who don’t like the bsd style licenses – don’t like the idea of making “free” software and giving it to the public to see someone who doesn’t share their ideas about “free” software pick that up sell it and take some people’s money to become rich based on the “free” works of the original software creator. I don’t especially like this idea either. “Make it free” should read and mean “make it free for everybody to use and modify freely”, not “make it free for everybody else to sell”. 2006-10-08 1:00 pm twenex Hear, hear! 2006-10-08 3:40 am NotParker I don’t like the idea of someone taking code and being able to change it, or add to it, without giving anything back – either money, or the changed/added code. So much for free! Viral is so much more accurate when describing the GPL. Kind of like a blood sucking Vampire. 2006-10-08 6:54 am monodeldiablo … then don’t use it with any OSS you write! There, that was easy. Or are you just another armchair programmer with a dirty diaper and a bitter grudge that somebody donated boatloads of good code and didn’t ask you how *you* wanted to use it before slapping a license on it? Judging by your past commentary, I’m inclined to you are. Let’s talk about NetBSD, please. 2006-10-08 8:52 am l3v1 blood sucking Vampire So if someone gives you code freely, and says you can do whatever you want with it if you also contribute back your changes, that’s blood sucking. Then, what would you call that if someone can take a freely given code stick his logo on it and sell it without contributing anything back ? I guess that would mean fair use to you. Well, many people believe that and that’s why they use bsd-style licenses. And that’s what you also should do, and stop complaining about GPL’s this and that. 2006-10-08 5:26 pm NotParker So if someone gives you code freely, and says you can do whatever you want with it if you also contribute back your changes, that’s blood sucking. They have every right to put thousands of conditions on their own code … but stop being hypocrites and calling it free. If I hand you a candy bar and say its free but tell you that you can only eat it between 5pm and 6pm, and when you are done with it you have to mail back the wrapper and a photo of your stool, it isn’t a “free” candy bar. Its an unfree candy bar. When it comes down to the core of the GPL is lying. You have a to lie to people to con them into using the GPL. The GPL is not about freedom at all. Its about conning people into joining a cult. Edited 2006-10-08 17:30 2006-10-08 5:30 pm sbergman27 “””If I hand you a candy bar and say its free but tell you that you can only eat it between 5pm and 6pm, and when you are done with it you have to mail back the wrapper and a photo of your stool, it isn’t a “free” candy bar””” Pervert. 😉 Edited 2006-10-08 17:31 2006-10-08 6:02 pm twenex Someone whose posts have the the low signal to noise ratio that yours do should be very careful about accusing people of lying. 2006-10-08 6:46 pm sbergman27 “””Someone whose posts have the the low signal to noise ratio that yours do should be very careful about accusing people of lying.””” I disagree with NotParker for the most part. But I would hardly call his signal to noise ratio low. He makes some very valid points. GPL is a license with sharp teeth. And whether it is more or less free than BSD depends upon whose freedoms you are concerned about. Developers? Users? Someone else? Inevitably, the the term “freedom” is thrown around as though the recipient of the intended freedom is a given. It’s not. You have to explain whose freedoms you are talking about when you use the term. That would make these threads much less confusing, show how silly some arguments really are, and put arguments that otherwise would seem silly into a context that highlights how brilliantly conceived that they are. Edited 2006-10-08 18:55 2006-10-08 6:49 pm twenex GPL is a license with sharp teeth. And whether it is more or less free than BSD depends upon whose freedoms you are concerned about. Developers? Users? Someone else? Inevitably, the the term “freedom” is thrown around as though the recipient of the intended freedom is a given. It’s not. You have to explain whose freedoms you are talking about when you use the term. That would make these threads much less confusing, show how silly some arguments really are, and put arguments that otherwise would seem silly into a context that highlights how briliantly conceived that they are. Good point. 2006-10-09 11:27 pm dylansmrjones Bullshit. Of course the GPL is free. It’s free in the same sense that democracy is freedom. You can do whatever you want to, as long as you don’t take those rights away from others. The BSD-license is more akin to anarchy (not bad at all), where you can do anything, including limiting the freedom of others. One could say they are both free, in two different ways. One is protective of the freedom (as in democracy), while the other is unprotective (as in anarchy). Which one is best to use depends on the situation. 2006-10-10 11:09 am dylansmrjones Oh yeah, the anti-GPL gang is out – or perhaps it’s the anti-BSD gang.. who knows? What I posted is factually correct, and in no way offensive. And no more OT than the parent post. Fact is the BSD is unprotective and the GPL is protective, essentially giving two different kinds of freedom. Disagreeing with me is no reason to mod down, so stop that. 2006-10-08 5:34 am orestes I don’t like the idea of someone taking code and being able to change it, or add to it, without giving anything back – either money, or the changed/added code. It’s not like the GPL prevents people from doing that either, unless they feel like distributing the result. 2006-10-08 1:04 pm twenex It’s not like the GPL prevents people from doing that either, unless they feel like distributing the result. Exactly. Choosing a BSD project/licence because you want to sell modified, binary-only code is just freeloading. 2006-10-08 4:47 pm sbergman27 “””Exactly. Choosing a BSD project/licence because you want to sell modified, binary-only code is just freeloading.””” No. It is simply respecting the license terms. 2006-10-08 6:01 pm twenex So is giving back the code. The difference is, those who don’t want to reward other coders for their efforts will use the BSD’s to avoid it, those who do will use the BSD’s and give back, or use the GPL to make sure they are also compensated. 2006-10-09 9:40 am Soulbender “What’s wrong with the BSD license?” Can we just NOT go there again? There are enough license flamewars already. 2006-10-08 3:44 am Babi Asu You are qualified to make this statement if you can do more than “./configure && make && make install”. Most of vocal supporters of GPL (if term zealot is too harsh) usually don’t know what to do if apt-get doesn’t work or code doesn’t compile. 2006-10-08 3:52 am santagada Let’s get back to NetBSD and let the unfunded remarks out 2006-10-08 1:02 pm twenex I’m perfectly well aware that you can do that. What I’m saying is that you should be able to install precompiled packages without unsetting variables needed for ports. 2006-10-08 1:15 am bytecoder The title made me laugh. 2006-10-08 2:23 am Seth Quarrier Every one knows the different license religions, now lets talk about NetBSD the OS. 2006-10-08 3:54 am tecneeq I mentioned that yesterday on the #netbsd blog (http://blog.onetbsd.de/?p=258). The BSD vs GPL question is easy to solve: use what you like, both are fine. NetBSD was supported in it’s early days by the FSF and uses a lot GPL’ed software (gcc for example). Many GPL’ed projects use BSD code. 2006-10-08 8:55 am l3v1 Problem is, many people just can’t stand neutrality. They just strive for something to be against. No friggin’ way they could stand by one and let the others alone. Hell, the other day I was almost yelled at by some idiot for trying to be objective in a political question, demanding that I take sides. People are people. 2006-10-08 12:08 pm silicon Right on track. The only thing I hate is non-free software/content/media/<put_whatever_string_you_like> 2006-10-08 6:00 am sdeber But what annoys me is that it gives people the power to take other people’freedom away. 2006-10-08 8:36 am DevL Such comments always gets me started. 2006-10-08 8:59 am l3v1 Such comments always gets me started. Yet you didn’t start But, I think the guy has a point, despite formulating it a bit edgy. We – I mean myself and some other people in my situation – sometimes forget that it’s not the license that chooses the people, it’s the people that choose the license. Meaning, that someone who picks a bsd-style license knows all too well that by that move anybody can pick up that code and make money from it. So it somebody does that, it’s _not_ steeling anybody’s work or freedom, they are just doing what they were allowed to do. 2006-10-08 1:23 pm twenex That’s one way of looking at it, but aren’t *BSD people worried about the possibility of forking code? The circumstances that led to that happening in the Unix world imho really (if you’ll excuse the expression) forked up Unix. 2006-10-08 10:09 am jjmckay Right. That’s what the comment was meant to do. His comment on the BSD license wasn’t even on topic, imho. What does the license have to do with the fact that BSD runs on more than toasters or how NetBSD has survived so long. It’s an ego thing to start that fight. It is a self enhancing thing to do. People feel more themselves if they can feel greater separation from ‘others’ this way. “This is ME and my opinion!” It is a self seeking thing to do, what the ego is constantly doing. Read up on Eckhart Tolle or google video his talks to see what I’m talking about. Some of his book chapters are on the net which is probably easier to start with. This is something that would be nice to have more tech savvy people know about. That is: egoic arguements about OS/licenses/software/etc etc…. If you know the mental mechanics behind the statement, you’ll perhaps gain a deeper perspective on what and why the person is saying that. Hope this helps. Edited 2006-10-08 10:11 2006-10-08 2:22 pm twenex What a load of unnecessary extraneous psychoanalytic BS to explain the simple fact that I explained why I didn’t run NetBSD. 2006-10-08 10:59 am vlado I think a definition is needded: “One’s freedom is limited by the freedom of the others”. 2006-10-08 10:41 am happycamper I liked the article so much that. i’m installing NetBSD on one of my computers, so I can tinker with it. 2006-10-08 11:49 am justin.68 The OS is clean and compact, but it gives you a real hard time to set it up to be useful if you’re a novice. I guess this is why NetBSD is the least used of the BSD’s despite its portability. 2006-10-08 1:10 pm twenex Try the NetBSD guide. I followed that the second time I set it up and it felt a lot easier to do than the first time. 2006-10-08 12:00 pm JohnX BSD source has been much more successful than GPL will ever be… BSD has found its way to Windows, Mac, Linux, embedded systems and god knows what else. That’s the difference between GPL and BSD. GPL fans want to convert by force. BSD however has other goals… The goal is to provide to everyone quality software. In that respect, BSD is much more useful and that can be seen by the numbers of users using BSD software compared to the ones using GPL. 2006-10-08 1:07 pm twenex GPL users don’t care about “success”, they care about freedom. As for “success”, if people can freeload off your code, I’d hardly call that being successful. I’d call that being duped. 2006-10-08 3:13 pm bservies GPL users don’t care about “success”, they care about freedom. Ha! Thanks for the laugh. GPL users care deeply about spreading their cult and have defined “success” as eliminating the jobs of people who think differently from them for decades now. I knew in the mid 80’s that RMS didn’t want me to make a living at my chosen profession. As for “don’t care about success,” just look at all the fanboys who cheer every time some idiot pundit declares that Linux will take over the world “any time now”. And you people have re-defined “freedom” to mean, “think like we do.” No, I say. As for “success”, if people can freeload off your code, I’d hardly call that being successful. I’d call that being duped I use NetBSD because the code is beautiful. It is functional art, designed and written by serious engineers. It is a pleasant respite from my day job, where I am required to use Linux. And if someone wants to use anything I submit back and get paid for the effort they put in to producing a product (which is damn hard work, no matter what you start with), more money to them. They deserve it. 2006-10-08 12:42 pm robilad No wonder they didn’t chose Linux, they’d have to supply the source code or a written offer with every skinjob, and that would have been a great way to identify them. 2006-10-08 1:15 pm MacTO There’s an old line about rights and responsibilities. The GPL tries to find a balance between the two, while the BSD license is mostly concerned about rights. Is it surprising that the GPL has produced this amazing kernel, compiler, and so much more? As for the rest of the article, it pretty much goes to show why I don’t use NetBSD anymore: it simply does not mesh well with my needs as an end user. I could care less if NetBSD is more portable if it does not run on my hardware. I could care less if the package system supports distcc, because I don’t have the resources to use it nor do I want to build a significant number of packages. And Xen simply won’t interest me until it cooperates with a guest host that I’m interested in. If your opinion and needs differ, then fine. But I suspect that the majority of people share my opinion, albeit for their own set of reasons. That is why the majority use Windows, Linux, or Mac OS X. Claiming that it is about the hype is a cop-out. Oh sure, hype can influence popularity. But when you’ve been unpopular for over a decade, you probably have much deeper problems. 2006-10-08 1:19 pm twenex In a nutshell! 2006-10-08 2:34 pm deb2006 … I’d be using the BSD license. Since the world is at it is – often stinking rotten – I use the GPL. 2006-10-08 2:55 pm twenex Hear, hear! Once more. 2006-10-08 4:03 pm wanderer I recently started building a jukebox for my stereo system, and chose NetBSD. I’ve been using Linux for 12 years, so Linux would have been the obvious choice. But after doing some research on the BSDs, I decided on NetBSD. Why? 1. Simplicity After coming from Linux, NetBSD (or any BSD) feels like “old school” UNIX (very minimal). It takes some getting used to. But after a bit, I began to appreciate it. NetBSD’s base system is smaller than just about any minimal Linux system these days. It’s small enough I can wrap my head around the whole thing. I remember running Linux 10 years ago; it felt about the same way. Since then, everything including the kitchen sink has gotten added to the “core” of most distributions. (Example: What’s the preferred scripting language for a base Linux system? Python, Perl, bash, tcsh, and others are probably used. Most Linux distros pull them all in. Bloat, and maintenance headaches.) I appreciate that NetBSD keeps the base system simple; you can of course add what you want via pkgsrc, but that choice is yours. This is one place that NetBSD stood out compared to the other BSDs: The base system seemed smaller. 2. Cohesiveness I’m a stickler for detail. It drives me nuts when man pages on Linux haven’t been updated in years, or are from a different distro, or don’t quite describe the system I’m running, or the man page chastises me for even using man instead of info. Those types of things make the system less useful to me. I want a single system that is a single, cohesive whole. Things work better together if they were designed together. This extends far beyond man pages, of course, but here’s another example: I wanted to learn about the audio driver: “man 4 audio”. Linux distros don’t (typically) ship man pages to cover each kernel subsystem — they can’t; the kernel evolves too rapidly and it is a separate entity. I would prefer to trust the man pages shipped with the system than something I find via google. 3. Quality I don’t speak for my employer (I actually work at a Linux company…) but from what I’ve seen, the quality of software that goes into Linux distros is far more variable (and on average, lower quality) than what’s in the BSDs. I think most engineers would agree that designing a system as a whole leads to better quality than trying to stitch together many other people’s code and apply patches to fix it up. It’s commonly accepted that you can’t add security after the fact; it has to be designed in from the start. I feel the same way about quality. The fact that NetBSD is so portable is an indicator of good design, which in turn is an indicator of quality. I know many people will disagree with me… that’s fine. I’ve grown past Linux. Use what works for you; I’ll use what works for me. 2006-10-08 5:20 pm sbergman27 “””I don’t speak for my employer (I actually work at a Linux company…) but from what I’ve seen, the quality of software that goes into Linux distros is far more variable (and on average, lower quality) than what’s in the BSDs. … The fact that NetBSD is so portable is an indicator of good design, which in turn is an indicator of quality.””” Not to knock NetBSD’s quality, but Linux runs on more platforms than NetBSD. More diverse ones, as well. This has been true for about 3 years now. http://os.newsforge.com/article.pl?sid=06/07/23/1212252 Just out of curiosity, if you’ve “outgrown Linux” like you say, why are you not working for a NetBSD company? Edited 2006-10-08 17:24 2006-10-08 8:45 pm Babi Asu From the article You should understand that “portability” is not the same as “number of ports,” though. Making an actual port still requires 1) manpower and 2) hardware, thus money, both of which NetBSD certainly has much less than (for example, Linux). And Linux ports are often quite “brute forced,” involving a lot of code rewriting. … The primary reason why a lot of companies are choosing Linux over NetBSD, though, would be hype: Linux gets a lot more media attention; many people don’t even know that NetBSD exists. As a consequence, there is a lot more commercial software and support for Linux, and unfortunately this seems to form a closed loop. Fortunately, there are a number of companies that look beyond the latest hype and recognize the strengths of NetBSD: companies like Avocent, Sony, Brocade, Force 10, Wasabi Systems, NEC, Ricoh, and others. 2006-10-08 9:45 pm twenex Could it also be that Linux peripheral hardware support is much wider than any of the NetBSDs’? 2006-10-08 7:49 pm orfanum and a big group hug – now, doesn’t that feel better? 2006-10-08 7:52 pm twenex ROTFL. Oh, bravo! 2006-10-08 10:31 pm Cloudy Cloudy has just finished porting NetBSD to a new CPU architecture. Cloudy read the Informit article. Cloudy has not laughed so hard at stupidity in years. Cloudy would like to thank Eugenia for posting references to such cluelessness. Cloudy is very much amused. Cloudy, however, hopes no one reads that article thinking they are going to learn anything about NetBSD, because they aren’t. 2006-10-09 1:08 am sbergman27 Cloudy would be more understandable if Cloudy stopped referring to Cloudy in the third person. 2006-10-09 4:24 am Cloudy Cloudy was making a joke, because Cloudy routinely points out that Informit articles are anything but informing, and Cloudy was looking for a fresh way to say it. 😉 2006-10-09 12:39 am ebasconp When the NetBSD 3.1 will be released? I am waiting for it since October 2nd!!!! 2006-10-09 4:29 am Cloudy NetBSD is a good operating system, and relatively easy to port; especially in a cross development environment. I’ve ported Linux and NetBSD to similar hardware in the past year and I greatly prefer porting NetBSD because of its more modular design. It would be very nice to have something like scratchbox for packages, though. It takes a long time to compile emacs on a 200mhz ARM processor.