Home > FreeBSD > Comparison: FreeBSD vs NetBSD Comparison: FreeBSD vs NetBSD Eugenia Loli 2005-02-23 FreeBSD 41 Comments Here’s a comparison by a BSD user between FreeBSD and NetBSD. Elsewhere, the FreeBSD logo competition has just kicked out, officially this time. About The Author Eugenia Loli Ex-programmer, ex-editor in chief at OSNews.com, now a visual artist/filmmaker. Follow me on Twitter @EugeniaLoli 41 Comments 2005-02-23 11:59 pm I’ve always built XOrg from ports on FreeBSD with optimization flags set in make.conf as the speed improvement from proper optimization feels noticible, and I haven’t had any problems except for the time wasted by an initial few hours of compiling. 2005-02-24 12:02 am I should also mention that sysinstall is still crappy, even jkh admitted it (at least that it has long since transcended its original design requirements and is showing its age) Personally I prefer a simple, straightforward CLI installer to a gimpy pushbutton one. I certainly prefer Solaris’s original CLI installer to WebStart and its horrible Java interface, but the CLI installer seems to be gone in Solaris 10… a shame. At least I have their word that they’re writing a new installer to replace the steaming turd that is WebStart… 2005-02-24 12:04 am Wow, must be a NetBSD user. He noted like 4 times that he could not get xorg to work with his card in his computer using FreeBSD. Half the article is that he could not get xorg to work. It even looks like XFree86 4.4.0 is still in the ports tree, so its still an option by using X_WINDOW_SYSTEM variable. What a let down, I was wanting something solid about NetBSD… 2005-02-24 12:10 am I said in my article that NetBSD was still my OS of choice 🙂 Also, XOrg works on NetBSD. It also, sort of, works on FreeBSD 5.3. It’ll do the -configure part just peachy – but if you try to start anything other than just the server (ie, if you try to run a WM of ANY KIND, or any window at all) it locks the machine. I’m sorry, but whether or not I’m a NetBSD user doesn’t have anything to do with that behavior being completely broken. 2005-02-24 12:15 am “I should also mention that sysinstall is still crappy.” In what way? It’s easy, it’s fast, offers defaults for those who aren’t anal retentive and does most of the work for you like an installer should. 2005-02-24 12:19 am Just out of curiosity, what are the flags for “proper optimization” in FreeBSD? 2005-02-24 12:55 am I’m sorry the author is having difficulty with Xorg, but it works well for me on both FreeBSD and several Linux distros (currently using Fedora). For the vast majority of users, this is a non-issue, especially given the fact that interest in XFree86 is drying up fast. Developers have lost all interest in XFree86, and I’m not even convinced that it will still be around in a year’s time. 2005-02-24 1:15 am I don’t use FreeBSD but do use NetBSD (was a random selection). This article was more like “What I don’t like about FreeBSD” to me. I don’t think this article helped anyone in selecting either. Sounds like a commentary like the one i’m typing now. My 2c, Xorg will be made to work if it isn’t already because Xfree is free-falling from the OS community. Monolithic kernels do have the nasty problem of requiring reboots for changes. Kernel/module version management is NOT an issue anymore period. Once again installation is about 0.5% of anyones time using the OS and should not be any measure of an OS. NetBSD install is kinda nasty yes especially when the installer app segfaults. The best install method in my opinion is booting a livecd, partition the HDD, format, untar the distro to the HDD and edit whatever files it needs… fstab/grub etc. 2005-02-24 1:21 am My first bsd experience was w/ fbsd and I gotta say it’s a great OS, but out of the two “nbsd & fbsd” I find nbsd to be allot more organized and well thought out. Especially when it comes to ports and how/where they are installed. Pkgsrc is just much easier to work w/… Although there are some things I miss from my fbsd days. The nvidia driver & flashwrapper. I dream of the day nbsd has a nvidia port As for the article, I was hoping it to be a little more in depth. Alittle more about the “in’s & out’s” if you know what i mean..? 2005-02-24 1:23 am Xorg worked for me out of the box even with the initial 5.3-RELEASE, let alone -STABLE or patched 5.3-RELEASE. PEBCAK, it seems. 2005-02-24 1:25 am I was hoping for an objective review. Statements like: “Remember, aside from the fact that FreeBSD is on an ata66 hard drive and NetBSD is on an SATA150, this is the *SAME* hardware.” Well, there is a difference in transfer rate on the drive, 66 megs vs 150 megs. This would equate to slower reads and writes when compiling. Now, it would have been nice to see it on the same drive. ____________________________________________________________ “* If one FreeBSD mirror is down, use another. If, on the other hand, the NetBSD master sites go down, you’re just SOL if you want up-to-date sources. I’ve brought this up many times with the NetBSD people, and the general attitude is that they don’t care. (Although there was a statement by a NetBSD developer who shall remain unnamed that the servers were second-hand from wasabisystems, and were far from high quality)” I am not sure about the authenticity. Do you realize that this could cause friction between NetBSD and Wasabisystems. If I am not mistaken, Wasabisystems does just a little bit of porting. And if they gave a server or two out to a project, do you think they will give another one or two away after comment like the above? The attitude of hey, I gave them hardware and the developers are talking about company in less than stellar light to the outside world. Here are some rules: 1) Try to write an unbiased review. 2) If your unable to write an unbiased review, then fine, people will be able to tell in the fud factor. Now, rule one and two can be broken with no great surprise. Here is rule 3. 3) Don’t cause friction between developers @netbsd and @Wasabisystems. Wasabisystems is a big supporter of NetBSD. 2005-02-24 1:33 am I can’t believe that he can’t install Xorg properly. I have it running on 5.3-RELEASE and -STABLE on both amd64 and i386 with my X800. No point blaming the os for bad support of a 9200. 2005-02-24 1:56 am but this article is kind of inane(never used this word before). Is it really important how well the installer (fypov*1)of one of that two BSD works? And does someone care which X implementation runs on it? And if we want to install some additional software… Do we have a setup.exe to click on. Nope. Regards Andreas Why do I comment on this? 1)From your point of view Bah! 2005-02-24 2:30 am I think the article was written from a standpoint that isn’t necessarily readily explored. That of exploring a comparison from NetBSD to FreeBSD given specific hardware and what experience was achieved by the user. The article is subjective, because everyone’s experience and therefore their opinion varies accordingly. Insulting the author of the quality of the article seems a bit low. We’re all (or at least most of us I would hope) part of the open source community, a community that is unnecessarily divided and political. Let’s try to be a bit more supportive of our peers and give thoughtful and constructive criticism. 2005-02-24 2:38 am 1) I do find the FreeBSD installer much more convenient than NetBSD’s. 2) I never claimed to be a NetBSD developer. I am simply a user who happens to write code on NetBSD (that isn’t contributed to NetBSD most of the time, since it’s usually small utilities that only I have a use for.) 3) XOrg works just great for me on Fedora Core 3 on the same hardware, same drive, as FreeBSD. 4) I did say in my article that FreeBSD was **FASTER** on the ATA66 drive in compiliation than NetBSD on the SATA150s. If you’d like to buy me another SATA150 (sorry, they’re both dedicated to NetBSD) I’d be happy to benchmark both operating systems for you. 5) I can’t install xorg properly? Hmm, I installed it with the FreeBSD stock install. Wow, that was hard. I can compile and install XFree86 on NetBSD, FreeBSD, and OpenBSD, but I can’t install XOrg from binary packages that are AUTOMATICALLY SELECTED BY THE INSTALLER. WTF? 6) Also, this article was *NOT* a what a like about NetBSD and hate about FreeBSD article. It was meant to indicate what I thought were good and bad points about both. If you couldn’t be bothered to notice that disclaimer at the top of the article, well, that really isn’t my problem. 7) If wasabisystems stops their pretty much insignifigant support of NetBSD because of an article a non-netbsd-foundation-member wrote, they have serious managerial to deal with. 2005-02-24 2:49 am Hmmm… FreeBSD’s X.org has never had any problems with my Radeon 9200. It autodetects beautifully right out of the box. Without further information on what the problem was, I can’t say why it may have happened in your case. That said, I like NetBSD’s installer more than FreeBSD’s, and OpenBSD’s more than either; the exception would be FreeBSD’s fdisk and disklabel steps, which work really nicely (OpenBSD’s partitioning/slicing steps aren’t easy, especially if one isn’t devoting the entire disk to OpenBSD). NetBSD 2.0’s installer is quite good overall, however, and much more approachable than OpenBSD’s. 2005-02-24 2:56 am I like the poster that said. ” the microkernel has been around longer than linux has, and it’s one of the very few things that linux got right.’ Give me a break linux is not a microkernel. 2005-02-24 3:59 am On FreeBSD 5.3, I haven’t had any problems with XOrg either. I hated XFree86, and I’m glad FreeBSD made the switch. 2005-02-24 6:34 am This guy “reviews” operating systems and does not know the difference between a micro kernel and a monolitic kernel. Frankly I’m not impressed! 2005-02-24 7:04 am I don’t seem to recall making any statements about microkernels in my review… I made a few generalizations about lots of kernel modules vs,.very few kernel modules, that’s it. 2005-02-24 7:17 am Sincerely I’ve always like NetBSD but until they give me a way to stay up-to-date with binaries, system and packeges, I won’t move to it. I mean that building packages every quarter is a bit annoing for a dekstop usage. For example, have I to wait 3 months for a Firefox update ? With FreeBSD I think that every week the packages are build. p.s. Don’t tell me that pkgsrc is outside the NetBSD project. 2005-02-24 7:26 am > but the CLI installer seems to be gone in Solaris 10… a shame. It is still there , see nowin boot option (IRC eg. “boot net – install nowin” from OpenBoot ) 2005-02-24 10:04 am Everything is in the subject Can someone tell/remind us why all main Linux Distros and Free Unices are switching to xorg ? What does xorg bring new compare to Xfree86 ? I read that it was it was more open compared to XF86. 2005-02-24 10:04 am i’m reading osnews articles dialy, but when is this os a vs os b comparison crap finally stop? the article is more a rant than a comparison. os’es like *bsd have so much more power in its base system. if building/configuring x isnt as easy as one may have hoped then boohoo, stay with the os you had in mind when installing freebsd. and how is the article not biased? first bitching about x.org and then the crossplatform build.sh. well netbsd’s buildsystem is neat, but what do you wanna accomplish here sean? setting fbsd up as a desktop os or building it for your non-existant hardware? all those linux desktop distro reviews are nice. i don’t read them but windows users are and some will try it afterwards which is a good thing. ppl who are about to setup a bsd box will look at much more diffentent things all those flavors support, what you can do with it and what not. don’t get me wrong here, it’s always good to see something about bsd’s in the news but i just dont get the point of yours comparison 2005-02-24 10:37 am I mean that building packages every quarter is a bit annoing for a dekstop usage. For example, have I to wait 3 months for a Firefox update ? No, you don’t have to wait 3 months for a Firefox update. You know, you don’t have to follow the stable pkgsrc branches. If you want to stay up-to-date, just follow pkgsrc HEAD branch. For example, I follow pkgsrc HEAD, and if there’s something I need, I just cvs update; export IGNORE_RECOMMENDED=yes; make replace 2005-02-24 10:44 am If one FreeBSD mirror is down, use another. If, on the other hand, the NetBSD master sites go down, you’re just SOL if you want up-to-date sources That’s nicely put. FreeBSD is good, because “If a mirror[/i] goes down, use another”. NetBSD is bad, because “If master goes down, you’re SOL”. I’d guess that if master FreeBSD repo goes down, you’re just as SOL as with NetBSD. And I never had any problems getting up-to-date sources (fast) from anoncvs.se.netbsd.org when anoncvs.netbsd.org was down. I guess many anoncvs mirrors rsync the actual repo, not anoncvs repo. 2005-02-24 11:24 am This is one of the most useless comparisons I’ve ever read. 2005-02-24 11:54 am With FreeBSD I think that every week the packages are build. Where on earth did you get that idea from? FreeBSD builds binary packages only once (when a new release comes out) and they are never updated to newer versions. Ports system is the only available way to keep installed software up-to-date. At least NetBSD’s binary packages are updated every three months. But they don’t build binaries for XFree86 or Xorg. And neither FreeBSD or NetBSD builds binaries for OpenOffice. 2005-02-24 12:01 pm > Ports system is the only available way to keep installed > software up-to-date. I got it from here: ftp://ftp.freebsd.org/pub/FreeBSD/ports/i386/packages-5-stable/ for 5-STABLE 2005-02-24 12:02 pm Since he’s talking about desktop usage – there’s one thing that I really don’t like in NetBSD 2.0. Smoothness of mouse movement in X. NetBSD 1.6 used to be good in this respect, much better than any FreeBSD version I’ve tried before. But now with the new NetBSD 2.0, the mouse pointer gets jerky way too often even during normal tasks like loading a page in a web browser. And when I unpack pkgsrc, it is often even completely, 100% frozen for 10-15 seconds. I think this is absolutely terrible for desktop usage, old NetBSD was so much better in this… I got some suggestions from the people on their mailing lists, but it didn’t help too much. I hope they improve the responsiveness in the next versions so that the mouse pointer won’t freeze anymore under load. 2005-02-24 12:20 pm I got it from here: ftp://ftp.freebsd.org/pub/FreeBSD/ports/i386/packages-5-stable/ for 5-STABLE OK, I was wrong. Do these binaries work need a specific FreeBSD release to work or can you use them on any FreeBSD 5.x release? 2005-02-24 12:42 pm Or maybe these binaries are only useful if you track 5-STABLE ? So maybe I was not completely wrong, after all. 😉 2005-02-24 1:05 pm There is no Nvidia driver for NetBSD. This is the only reason why I still use FreeBSD. 2005-02-24 1:53 pm I successfully installed FreeBSD 5.3 it seems pretty fast, I could not start xwindows. I am new to both Linux and FreeBSD, I also could not find any XFree86. Although my graphics card was recognized somehow “startx” never worked. Which file do I have to edit, what have I done wrong, the install was smooth. Any tutorial sites available. Thanks. 2005-02-24 2:24 pm The best starting point is the FreeBSD handbook http://www.freebsd.org/doc/en_US.ISO8859-1/books/handbook/index.htm… For more specific issues, google helps a lot. Or searching in the mailing lists archives http://lists.freebsd.org/pipermail/freebsd-questions/ The best places to ask more questions are bsdforums.org and the ‘freebsd-questions’ mailing list http://www.freebsdforums.com/forums/ http://lists.freebsd.org/mailman/listinfo/freebsd-questions A very nice collection of tutorials on various FreeBSD topics is the Onlamp BSD section http://www.onlamp.com/bsd/ 2005-02-24 3:19 pm When this happened to me, I was using duplicate mouse event source in xorg.conf (XF86Config-4 or your equivalent). Check it out… 2005-02-24 5:59 pm If you don’t think the article is useful, why is it worth wasting your time to flame me? Rhetorical question. If you think the article is biased, please read the first paragraph again. I said that I was trying to make it unbiased – not that I had succeeded – deal with it. Nobody paid me to write it and nobody had a gun to your head forcing you to read it. 2005-02-24 7:12 pm BSDFreak presents also a link to Jan Schaumann’s slide show (in pdf) about pkgsrc. http://www.bsdfreak.org/modules/news/article.php?storyid=127 This slide show addresses some interesting pkgsrc features like updating installed packages, and the problems involved in updating are also considered. Still, using binary packages is not sufficiently discussed and pkg_chk (which I find irreplaceable) is also not even mentioned. At the end of the slide show Schaumann lists the pkg_select frontend and possible integration of pkgsrc with sysinst or sushi as the future features for pkgsrc. 2005-02-24 8:45 pm Or maybe these binaries are only useful if you track 5-STABLE ? So maybe I was not completely wrong, after all. 😉 No, you don’t have to track 5-STABLE, as long as your dependencies are resolved (pkg_add does a limited amount of this by default, but doesn’t out-of-date dependencies; for that you need portupgrade and portinstall). It doesn’t hurt to track -STABLE, though, for the more complex interconnected apps. But you don’t have to track it for your kernel; you can choose to just keep your ports tree up-to-date with cvsup, while still installing binary packages from 5-stable. And, if you browse ftp://ftp.freebsd.org/pub/FreeBSD/ports/i386/ you will see other packaging options, including 4-stable and a generic pagackes-stable, which AFAIK contains the ones which are non-architecture-dependent. 2005-02-24 8:51 pm Sounds good. Thanks Andrea and rycamor for pointing out and explaining this option. 2005-02-24 10:07 pm I’ll admit that I’m just one user, but I have not recently had any problems with X11 on FreeBSD in the initial install. Is this due to the nv driver being more stable than the ati/radeo n driver? I’ve installed everything from 4.0 to 5.3-RELEASE on a variety of machines (with GeForce cards almost exclusively) (the exception being FreeBSD 4.0 an 4.1 which were ati cards) and even updated via ports to various unsupported releases with no problems. Most recently, I did an install on a amd64 machine with a GeForceFX 5700 and had no problems (well, none due to Xorg) with the default Xorg or 6.8.1 that was in ports. On a side note, anyone know why the nvidia binary module does not work on amd64 machines that are running FreeBSD i386? I’ve traced the problem to the binary kernel module and it keeps telling me that the driver is not compatible with my processor. Linux does not yield this problem on the same machine, so it seems like NVIDIA has a problem with amd64 in x86 space.