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NetBSD is a free, secure, and highly portable Unix-like Open Source operating system available for many platforms, from 64-bit Opteron machines and desktop systems to handheld and embedded devices. Its clean design and advanced features make it excellent in both production and research environments, and it is user-supported with complete source. Many applications are easily available through The NetBSD Packages Collection.
Would you recommend the product? yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 10
Clean, small footprint, rock solid, great build system.
Hard installation and configuration. Desktop configuration will take a while.
I used this product on my old laptop since January. It made a fine system although it was minimal. I never bothered to build KDE or other massive programs. I did have openoffice for typing things for school.
One thing I list as positive is the build system because of how wonderful it is. I loved being able to build the entire release from another system (and with one command). One reason this was important to me was that the laptop was underpowered and the chip for sound in my Thinkpad needed a non-standard hack to work well. I could apply the patch and then build my own release CD with ease. So upgrading to 3.0 from the earlier system was painless and I didn't have to lose sound during the process.
Again, I can't help but mention how painless upgrading NetBSD can be. Once you have an installation in place, keeping it up to date it very easy. That's especially true if you're comfortable building from source but even if you're not, you just need to wait for the next formal release and use the install CD and it will upgrade everything without affecting your setup.
One negative is that you should be very comfortable with the command line. The system has an admin tool called "sushi" which is menu based (command line still) but I find it to be more of a hinderance than a help. In almost every case you will find it easier to do something from the command line.
Also, you will likely need to use pkgsrc to get what many people consider 'essential' utilities. NetBSD does not come with bash (or tcsh) or vim. It does come with other shells and nvi -- so you won't be completely in the dark but if you depend on certain functionality you may need to install the programs you are used to.
Still, for all the work at the command line you benefit a lot. My router could fit comfortably on a 2 gig disk (and make it look empty). It is stable to the point where you almost forget it is there. And it makes good use of system resources -- getting out of the way and making them available to what you are actually working on.