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Date:      Sat, 24 Jan 2004 16:26:51 -0500
From:      Jesse Guardiani <>
Subject:   Re: Why BSD?
Message-ID:  <buunut$43h$>
References:  <>

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Jeff Elkins wrote:

> This is not a troll.
> I've installed FreeBSD 5.2 on a spare SCSI drive and am compiling kernels,
> updating ports, etc,etc. Thus far, other than some minor hassles, it's
> equivilent to my Debian sid.
> I have to ask: Why FreeBSD rather than Linux?
> Honest question.

For me, this question has been answered twice in different attempts to "give
linux a try". I'm a Sys Admin, and we run FreeBSD almost exclusively at work.
However, every new employee we hire walks into the building with an attitude
that Linux is somehow better than FreeBSD because they're heard so much about
it and haven't heard anything about FreeBSD. So, on two separate occasions, I
decided to "give linux a try". Both ended miserably:

Occasion 1.) I bought a new laptop. I was having trouble getting suspend and
             resume to work under FreeBSD, so I decided to "give linux a try".

             I decided on Debian linux ("woody" originally, and later "unstable"
             and finally the "testing" branch). Installation went smoothly,
             but I immediately ran into massive problems with the console driver.

             4 or 5 lines of text were "hidden" below the bottom of my LCD.
             Very frustrating. I later found out that I couldn't use DRI/DRM
             with Debian because the version of XFree86 wasn't current enough.

             I ran into many many other problems, but some of these may have
             simply been due to the "learning curve" for a new O/S. gpm behaved
             badly, difficult to install wireless drivers, etc...

             Pros: Great packaging system. Upgrades were comparatively as
                   easy as FreeBSD, once you learned a few tricks - like upping
                   the amount of RAM the package tools could use. Binary security
                   updates were a great feature that FreeBSD is only now attempting
                   to implement.

             Cons: Very difficult to actually figure out how to use new software.
                   Incredible lack of `man` pages, which are replaced by terrible
                   and usually unintelligible `info` pages.

                   Excruciatingly out-of-date packages. It takes *years* for
                   new releases to come out, and even the testing branch (most
                   unstable branch they have) lags months behind other
                   distributions in some areas (like XFree86).

             Switched back to FreeBSD. Installed 5.1-RELEASE. Toughed it out
             and got suspend-resume working. Couldn't be happier. This laptop is
             still in service and happily runs FreeBSD 5.2-RELEASE every day.

Occasion 2.) Got sick of Win 98 SE on my wife's computer, so I decided to "give
             Linux a second chance".

             This time I WANTED to go with Red Hat, since it's arguably the most popular
             Linux distro. However, one look at their new licensing made me change
             my mind in favor of Gentoo - The most BSD-like Linux distro.

             Maybe I was doing something wrong, but I couldn't find an automated
             install process. I had to read a text file and copy and paste install
             commands by HAND to get Gentoo installed. This was painful and tedious.
             It took probably 4 hours to install. Their motto is "freedom of choice"
             or something similar. Well where is my freedom to choose a quick install???

             Pros: Very nice BSD-like portage system. Top notch.

             Cons: Terrible install process. Took forever.

             Just as I got X11 installed and configured, my dog hit the "reset"
             button on my case. The computer wasn't even DOING anything. It
             was just sitting at a command prompt. However, upon rebooting the
             machine my ReiserFS filesystem was TOTALY hosed. This NEVER happens
             under FreeBSD. At this point there was NO WAY I was going to wade
             through another 4 hour install session, so I gave up and installed
             FreeBSD 5.2-RC1 (now upgraded to -RELEASE).

Now, maybe I just got unlucky both times. It happens. I know. Even FreeBSD acts
strange on some hardware. And maybe one day I'll give Linux a 3rd chance, but it
isn't today, and probably won't be anytime soon.

Also, the enormous number of Linux distros makes Linux very unappealing to me.
I've heard Linux described as "Managed Chaos" before, and I agree. It just doesn't
compliment my way of doing things very well. But hey, maybe it will for you.

YMMV. Hope the above rant helps a little.

Also, here's an article I found a few weeks ago that is very in-line with my
experiences using *BSD and Linux:

Jesse Guardiani, Systems Administrator
WingNET Internet Services,
P.O. Box 2605 // Cleveland, TN 37320-2605
423-559-LINK (v)  423-559-5145 (f)

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