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Date:      Mon, 19 Aug 1996 20:05:05 -0700 (PDT)
From:      Doug White <>
To:        Sfakianakis Mike <>
Subject:   Re: Help needed!
Message-ID:  <>
In-Reply-To: <>

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On Mon, 19 Aug 1996, Sfakianakis Mike wrote:

>      I've already decided to experiment in some new O.S. -beyond  boring
> DOS and Windows- and play around with some of them, specially those from
> the big Unix family. Just because of that i am contacting you today to
> give me some usefull information (if possible).

Let's see what we can do.

>      I am very much interested in focusing the main differences among the
> very well known distributions of Linux (RedHat, Slakware, etc) and your
> system, but mainly advantages and disadvantages comparing them. I've read
> a lot through the Web and various ftp sites around the world (how_to's,
> FAQ's, README's, installation_info's etc) about how well one system
> operates under certain conditions, new features and many others, but didn't
> manage to find such a document.Finally, what i am trying to answer with
> this e-mail is : "Why a user must install O.system A and not B or C .."

It's hard to answer this question since it often falls to personal
preference, and thus degenerates to flamewars and other unpleasantries.  

>      Please consider a lot of aspects, not only stability and robustness,
> things that already are No 1 in my mind. :)

We'll try.  FYI stability and robustness are #1 priorities in FreeBSD as

> There are also some questions i have for you, concerning mostly the latest
> version of your system :
> 1. Just read that FreeBSD supports all versions of CPU's from Pentium down-to
>    386SX (not recommended)
>    P6 included? (if Y up to 200Mhz?)
>    How about CPU's from other than Intel manufacteurs? (AMD, Cyrix, TI,..)?

FreeBSD supports the i386 architecture.  This includes Intel processors
that are 386 & 486 compatible, such as the Pentium and the Pentium Pro. 
Other manufacturers, AMD and Cyrix specifically, are also supported.  I
don't know about TI.  The support doesn't imply that FreeBSD contains
optimizations for those processors, only that it will run on them.

> 2. Does your O.S. support multi/parallel processing machines. If N (till now)
>    would you include this in next versions?

Not currently.  Work is going on to get SMP into FreeBSD, and a mailing
list is available for those interested in the project.

> 3. How often (middle case) a new version arrives? How far improved is it
>    usually, comparing with the previous one? (i mean how much a user is
>    'pushed' to change and invest in the new one?)

A new RELEASE is put out every 6 months or so.  It is a _really_ good idea
to upgrade to RELEASEs since they are very stable and are well-tested.  

Intermittiently, SNAPshots are made available.  SNAPs are built from the
current FreeBSD development.  They are usually built when development,
referred to as the -current branch, comes to a point where a critical
component has been upgraded and needs beta-testing, or where -current hits
a decent level of stability.  Or for the adventurous, you can track
-current directly and run at the 'bleeding edge'.  

> 4. How easy is it to upgrade from one version to another? (again concerning
>    the middle case). Does it only include re-compiling of the kernel?

RELEASEs and SNAPs are upgraded from the install program, which involved
copying over new system components and rebuilding the kernel.  THe only
changes that have to be made by the user are to the configurations in
/etc and to rebuild the kernel.

> 5. What kind of s/w written for Linux is it possible to run under FreeBSD?
>    Does it works as an emulation or are they s/w compatible 100%? (just in
>    case of the emulation, how fast -in really terms- this is?)

Linux emulation is available.  It's not 100% totally compatible, but will
run the vast majority of Linux programs.  AFAIK, there is no performance
penalty for using the emulator.  Obviously, it is much prefereable to
port & recompile those programs directly to FreeBSD, but the emulator is
available should you need it (for Java-enabled Netscape for instance).

> 6. How about running (2) or more O.S. under the same machine? How safe can
>    such a disk/system be? Do you provide something like LILO in the Linux
>    case, for doing the thing during bootup?

Yes.  We provide a utility called 'booteasy' to do multi-boots, but you
can use whatever you like (including LILO).  I personally use OS/2's Boot
Manager and have no ill effects.

> 7. I know there are a lot of organisations and individuals out there, already
>    using your O.S. Can you provide me a list with the main - already know -
>    sites or big organisations belonging to your 'club'?

THe list is large.  Our primary user and supporter is Walnut Creek CDROM,
maintainer of the ever-popular and FreeBSD's home site.  A
partial list is available on our Web site at in the

> 8. How tricky can a installation through ftp be comparing this of a CD?
>    Cd provided includes the latest version of the s/w or just the stable one?

CDs are built for the RELEASE and SNAPshots.  You can 'subscribe' to the
CDS, which means that when a new one is released it is automatically
mailed and billed to your credit card.  The RELEASEs and SNAPs are two
different subscriptions, so if  you don't intend to closely track FreeBSD
you can just subscribe to the RELEASEs and get those.

> 9. Give me some good reasons for such a lot of scientific personnel to be
>    involved in a process like this of implementing such a good O.S. with
>    no profit at all, ro am i wrong? Can this be true in world like this?
>    (please extend your mind beyond the obvious answer of science-funs)

Here are some of my reasons:

1)  It's a public service to the Internet community.  The Internet is
built on a history of free public access, and a public operating system
developed over the Net fits well with this philosophy.

2)  That a group of people (with diverse backgrounds) can build a OS to
take on the best commerical operating systems and surpass them for no

Here are a few things I snapped from the web site:

Education: Are you a student of computer science or a related engineering
field? There is no better way of learning about operating systems,
computer architecture and networks than the hands on, under the hood
experience that FreeBSD can provide. A number of freely available CAD,
mathematical and graphic design packages also make it highly useful to
those who's primary interest in a computer is to get other work done!

Research: With source code for the entire system available, FreeBSD is an
excellent platform for research in operating systems as well as other
branches of computer science.  FreeBSD's freely available nature also
makes it possible for remote groups to collaborate on ideas or shared
development without having to worry about special licensing agreements, or
with limitations on what can be discussed in certain forums. 

1.3. FreeBSD Project goals

Contributed by Jordan K. Hubbard <jkh@FreeBSD.ORG> .

The goals of the FreeBSD Project are to provide software that may be used
for any purpose and without strings attached. Many of us have a
significant investment in the code (and project) and would certainly not
mind a little financial renumeration now and then, but we're definitely
not prepared to insist on it. We believe that our first and foremost
"mission"  is to provide code to any and all comers, and for whatever
purpose, so that the code gets the widest possible use and provides the
widest possible benefit. This is, I believe, one of the most fundamental
goals of Free Software and one that we enthusiastically support. 

I hope this give some insight.

>    Forgive me about any errata in my language.

Your handle of the English language is excellent.  

>    Looking forward to hearing from you soon.

Hope this helps.  Please write us if you have more questions.

Doug White                              | University of Oregon  
Internet:    | Residence Networking Assistant    | Computer Science Major

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