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Old 02-27-2021, 11:13 PM   #1
rng
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Why FreeBSD is less popular than Linux


I recently installed FreeBSD in VirtualBox using amd64 iso file. After installing base package, I used pkg utility to install xorg, xfce4, libreoffice, jdk, firefox etc. Commands needed to install were simple, e.g. "pkg install xfce" with minimal configuration needed! Recent versions of software got installed. Even smaller packages like axel, evince, viewnior etc are available and got easily installed.

It is very stable and works really smoothly and better than many Linux distributions (and I have tried many!). In terms of stability, dependency resolution and number of packages available, it seemed like Debian Stable Linux. I am wondering why FreeBSD is less popular than Linux. Thanks for your insight.

(One possible reason could be that dual or multiple booting seems more difficult with FreeBSD than with Linux).

Last edited by rng; 02-28-2021 at 07:50 AM.
 
Old 02-27-2021, 11:57 PM   #2
Turbocapitalist
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Much of that is historical and due to inertia. Around the time the Internet and the WWW were both growing exponentially, AT&T tied Berkeley up with lawsuits, leaving its future uncertain at the time. The B in BSD stands for Berkeley. Linus himself has mentioned publicly that if he had an alternative to Minix at the time he would probably used it and not written his own kernel. So as the Internet was growing, the option of BSD was not available and GNU/Linux was. Then by the time FreeBSD was released in late 1993, the ball was already rolling and when the WWW started growing, the ball picked up speed for GNU/Linux + Perl + MySQL.

Some of that inertia is changing now that external politics crush GNU and Linux. Notice what happened to the Linux Foundation and the Open Source Initiative. Notice that Linus got the boot from his own project and brought back on the sidelines. Notice with the MIT scandals, they distracted the press by throwing RMS under the bus. FreeBSD is not any less vulnerable but has been left out of some of that for now.

On the technical side, FreeBSD is a nice system even for the desktop. As you notice, all the normal desktop packages like XFCE4 are available for it. So at the upper levels, as a desktop user, you'd not notice much of any difference. If I recall correctly FreeBSD has a few forks and distros oriented towards desktop use. They might be of interest either in and of themselves or as a source for ideas on what to adjust.

Edit: PS. Less favorably, even 15 years ago, FreeBSD was mainly x86-based and looked down upon better architectures. They were also usually the tech bros spotted using Windows laptops at FOSS conferences as it was mainly a x86, server-oriented system back then AND many, but not all, of the common users were manipulated by M$ into being anti-GNU. That latter problem has played out in the microsofters running Netflix choosing FreeBSD for their infrastructure for, at the time, few other reasons.

Last edited by Turbocapitalist; 02-28-2021 at 12:09 AM.
 
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Old 02-28-2021, 12:11 AM   #3
rng
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Turbocapitalist View Post
Much of that is historical and due to inertia. Around the time the Internet and the WWW were both growing exponentially, AT&T tied Berkeley up with lawsuits, leaving its future uncertain at the time. The B in BSD stands for Berkeley. Linus himself has mentioned publicly that if he had an alternative to Minix at the time he would probably used it and not written his own kernel. So as the Internet was growing, the option of BSD was not available and GNU/Linux was. Then by the time FreeBSD was released in late 1993, the ball was already rolling and when the WWW started growing, the ball picked up speed for GNU/Linux + Perl + MySQL.

Some of that inertia is changing now that external politics crush GNU and Linux. Notice what happened to the Linux Foundation and the Open Source Initiative. Notice that Linus got the boot from his own project and brought back on the sidelines. Notice with the MIT scandals, they distracted the press by throwing RMS under the bus. FreeBSD is not any less vulnerable but has been left out of some of that for now.

On the technical side, FreeBSD is a nice system even for the desktop. As you notice, all the normal desktop packages like XFCE4 are available for it. So at the upper levels, as a desktop user, you'd not notice much of any difference. If I recall correctly FreeBSD has a few forks and distros oriented towards desktop use. They might be of interest either in and of themselves or as a source for ideas on what to adjust.

Edit: PS. Less favorably, even 15 years ago, FreeBSD was mainly x86-based and looked down upon better architectures. They were also usually the tech bros spotted using Windows laptops at FOSS conferences as it was mainly a x86, server-oriented system back then AND many, but not all, of the common users were manipulated by M$ into being anti-GNU. That latter problem has played out in the microsofters running Netflix choosing FreeBSD for their infrastructure for, at the time, few other reasons.
Very informative answer!

After installation of XFCE4, it does not feel at all that FreeBSD is not for desktops! Everything, including desktop icons and menus, work well.

Last edited by rng; 02-28-2021 at 12:13 AM.
 
Old 02-28-2021, 12:25 AM   #4
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When I looked at a BSD (many) years ago, I couldn't find any of the tools I was used to using. I'm predominantly a terminal user, and if the tool did exist it was somewhere else in the file tree, or it hadn't been ported at all. And grub didn't work, and slices didn't play well with (already) dual-booted disks, and ...

No doubt things are better these days, but the inertia mentioned above gets stronger with age, and I'm not getting any younger.
 
Old 02-28-2021, 12:28 AM   #5
rng
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Originally Posted by syg00 View Post
When I looked at a BSD (many) years ago, I couldn't find any of the tools I was used to using. I'm predominantly a terminal user, and if the tool did exist it was somewhere else in the file tree, or it hadn't been ported at all. And grub didn't work, and slices didn't play well with (already) dual-booted disks, and ...

No doubt things are better these days, but the inertia mentioned above gets stronger with age, and I'm not getting any younger.
Which Linux distribution are you using now?

Last edited by rng; 02-28-2021 at 12:45 AM.
 
Old 02-28-2021, 12:44 AM   #6
rng
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I believe OpenBSD and NetBSD are very different from FreeBSD, which has maximum number of packages and is also most popular.
 
Old 02-28-2021, 12:59 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rng View Post
I believe OpenBSD and NetBSD are very different from FreeBSD, which has maximum number of packages and is also most popular.
It is easy enough to verify that they are different operating systems. There are a number of authoritative timelines around, and the project history pages each have a little about the origins.

NetBSD started by splitting off from 386BSD at the beginning of the 1990s, then a year later FreeBSD started that way too. Then in 1995, NetBSD locked the accounts of one of their most talented but obnoxious developers, who responded by forking the code and starting OpenBSD. He made OpenBSD the first to publicly publish the whole code base for anonymous, read-only checkout. DragonFlyBSD split off from FreeBSD in the mid-2000s or there abouts to work on distributed processing.
 
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Old 02-28-2021, 01:31 AM   #8
rng
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It is easy enough to verify that they are different operating systems. There are a number of authoritative timelines around, and the project history pages each have a little about the origins.

NetBSD started by splitting off from 386BSD at the beginning of the 1990s, then a year later FreeBSD started that way too. Then in 1995, NetBSD locked the accounts of one of their most talented but obnoxious developers, who responded by forking the code and starting OpenBSD. He made OpenBSD the first to publicly publish the whole code base for anonymous, read-only checkout. DragonFlyBSD split off from FreeBSD in the mid-2000s or there abouts to work on distributed processing.
One may also mention about PC-BSD which was created for PC desktops but has now been withdrawn.
 
Old 02-28-2021, 01:43 AM   #9
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You may also find the following link interesting: http://www.over-yonder.net/~fullermd/rants/bsd4linux/01
 
Old 02-28-2021, 01:58 AM   #10
rng
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You may also find the following link interesting: http://www.over-yonder.net/~fullermd/rants/bsd4linux/01
Very interesting link! So many aspects and stories comparing FreeBSD and Linux.
 
Old 02-28-2021, 03:57 AM   #11
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FreeBSD is the heavyweight of the BSDs, literally, it uses Linux libraries to run Linux programs, (or did when I last used it).

The other 2 main BSDs, (Net & Open), compile the programs to run natively, & that is why there are fewer programs available to their users; however, all the main categories of programs are available.

A lot of what holds people back from running BSD is lack of drivers for modern peripherals, (it took a long time to have most wifi working).

BSD is definitely not for gamers, but works well as a regular desktop, & of course where it scores best, servers.
 
Old 02-28-2021, 04:31 AM   #12
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Anyone who has configured Linux kernel from scratch and FreeBSD kernel can tell Linux has much more fine tuning in it. No wonder Wall Street is running on Linux, they count microseconds there. I recall years ago someone posted on FreeBSD forums, complaining their Gentoo web server is near overloaded and they thought FreeBSD would perform better. The result was opposite to their expectations, Gentoo Linux was able to serve twice as many requests. "Damn penguin", they concluded, and started looking for hardware upgrade.
BTW, hotmail.com was running on FreeBSD until someone made it news, then MS quietly converted it to their own.
 
Old 02-28-2021, 05:27 AM   #13
Turbocapitalist
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BTW, hotmail.com was running on FreeBSD until someone made it news, then MS quietly converted it to their own.
Not so quietly, at least not initially. They made a big deal about the migration the first few times, especially the first attempt at the end of the 1990s. It did take several tries to move away from FreeBSD and each time it fell on its face because Windows was not up to the task. I think it may have been the third or fourth try which took, but by then M$ learned to be rather quiet about it.

http://www.unix-vs-nt.org/kirch/hotmail.html
https://archive.org/search.php?query...otmail.html%29
https://web.archive.org/web/20010803...h/hotmail.html

Edit: and one more: https://www.wired.com/1999/08/hotmai...ers-we-did-it/
Notice that back then the magazines were still allowed to call out M$ for its bad products and poor security.

Also wasn't the need like 20x the number of Windows machines compared to the old Solaris/FreeBSD setup?

Last edited by Turbocapitalist; 02-28-2021 at 05:38 AM.
 
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Old 02-28-2021, 08:01 AM   #14
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FreeBSD can be built from source like Gentoo Linux. Set 'CPUTYPE?=native' and compile away, 'make buildworld'.
Build everything in kernel if you wish, or specify what modules you want to be built (default is all).
Packages can be installed (compiled) from ports and customized for your needs.
Lots of fun there for a computer enthusiast.
 
Old 02-28-2021, 08:27 AM   #15
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I suggest you ask at the FreeBSD forums.
 
  


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