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Date:      Sat, 20 Aug 2011 04:01:29 -0500
From:      "Zane C. B-H." <>
To:        Evan Busch <>
Subject:   Re: A quality operating system
Message-ID:  <>
In-Reply-To: <>
References:  <>

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On Fri, 19 Aug 2011 23:47:04 -0500
Evan Busch <> wrote:

> Hi,
> I make decisions about hardware and software for those who work
> with me.
> Talking with my second in command this morning, we reached a
> quandary. Ron is completely pro-Linux and pro-Windows, and against
> FreeBSD.
> What is odd about this is that he's the biggest UNIX fanatic I know,
> not only all types of UNIX (dating back quite some time) but also
> all Unix-like OSen.
> I told him I was considering FreeBSD because of greater stability
> and security.
> He asked me a question that stopped me dead:
> "What is a quality operating system?"
> In his view, and now mine, a quality operating system is reliable,
> streamlined and clearly organized.
> Over the past few years, FreeBSD has drifted off-course in this
> department, in his view.
> Let me share the points he made that I consider valid (I have
> deleted two as trivial, and added one of my own):
> (1) Lack of direction.
> FreeBSD is still not sure whether it is a desktop OS, or a server
> OS. It is easy for the developers to say "well, it's whatever you
> want," but this makes the configuration process more involved. This
> works against people who have to use these operating systems to get
> anything done.

There is no difference between the two, only what one uses it as.
> In his view, a crucial metric here is the ability to estimate time
> required for any task. It may be a wide window, but it should not be
> as wide as "anywhere from 30 minutes to 96 hours." In his
> experience, FreeBSD varies widely on this front because in the name
> of keeping options open, standardization of interface and process
> has been deprecated.

This makes zero sense with out any further information.

> (2) Geek culture.
> Geek culture is the oldest clique on the internet. Their goal is to
> make friends with no one who is not like them. As a result, they
> specialize in the arcane, disorganized and ambiguous. This forces
> people to go through the same hoops they went through. This makes
> them happy, and drives away people who need to use operating
> systems to achieve real-world results. They reduce a community to
> hobbyists only.
> (3) Horrible documentation.
> This is my specialty and has been since the early 1980s. The FreeBSD
> documentation is wordy, disorganized, inconsistent and highly
> selective in what it mentions. It is not the product of
> professionals but it also not the product of volunteers with a
> focus on communication. It seems pro-forma, as in, "it's in the
> documentation, so don't bother me." The web site compounds this
> error by pointing us in multiple directions instead of to a
> singular resource. It is bad enough that man pages are separate
> from your main documentation tree, but now you have doubled or
> trebled the workload required of you without any benefit to the end
> user.

I find it questionable if the person saying this has ever dealt with
either Windows or Linux in any notable manner. Windows has
documentation and lots of it. Every single bit of it extremely
disorganized. In general with Linux I've found it is generally
missing lots of information when it is present at all.

> (4) Elitism.
> To a developer, looking at some inconsistent or buggy interface and
> thinking, "If they can't do this, they don't belong using FreeBSD
> anyway" is too easy of a thought. Yet it looks to me like this
> happens quite a bit, and "this is for the elite" has become the
> default orientation. This is problematic in that there are people
> out there who are every bit as smart as you, or smarter, but are
> not specialized in computers. They want to use computers to achieve
> results; you may want to play around with your computer as an
> activity, but that is not so for everyone.

Inconsistent and/or buggy? With out context this is pointless.

> (5) Hostile community.
> For the last several weeks, I have been observing the FreeBSD
> community. Two things stand out: many legitimate questions go
> ignored, and for others, response is hostile resulting in either
> incorrect answers, haughty snubs, and in many cases, a refusal to
> admit when the problem is FreeBSD and not the user. In particular,
> the community is oblivious to interfaces and chunks of code that
> have illogical or inconsistent interfaces, are buggy, or whose
> function does not correspond to what is documented (even in the
> manpages).

And this person likes Linux?

> (6) Selective fixes.
> I am guilty of this too, sometimes, but when you hope to build an
> operating system, it is a poor idea. Programmers work on what they
> want to work on. This leaves much of the unexciting stuff in a
> literal non-working state, and the entire community oblivious to it
> or uncaring. As Ron detailed, huge parts of FreeBSD are like buried
> land mines just waiting to detonate. They are details that can
> invoke that 30 minute to 96 hour time period instantly, usually
> right before you need to get something done.

No context...

> (7) Disorganized website.
> The part of the FreeBSD project that should set the tone for the
> community, the FreeBSD website, reflects every one of these
> criticisms. It is inconsistent and often disorganized; there is no
> clear path; resources are duplicated and squirreled away instead of
> organized and made into a process for others to follow. It is
> arcane, nuanced and cryptic for the purpose of keeping the
> community elitist, hobbyist and hostile to outsiders.

This person has not likely ever delved into Microsoft's documentation
much before.

> In addition, huge portions of it break on a regular basis and seem
> to go unnoticed. The attitude of "that's for beginners, so we don't
> need it" persists even there. With the graphic design of the
> website I have no problem, but the arrangement of resources on it
> reflects a lack of presence of mind, or paying attention to the
> user experience.
> All of this adds up to a quality operating system in theory that
> does not translate into quality in reality.
> You alienate users and place the burden upon them to sort through
> your mess, then sneer at them.
> You alienate business, professional and artistic users with your
> insistence on hobbyism. These people have full lives; 48 hour
> sessions of trying to configure audio drivers, network cards or
> drive arrays are not in their interest.

When you come to a new system, expect to learn new things. Although
if you spent 48 hours on something like that it means one's basic
unix skills are sorely lacking and would be problematic under any

> Even when you get big parts of the operating system correct, it's
> the thousand little details that have been forgotten, ignored or
> snootily written off that add up to many hours of frustration for
> the end user. This is not necessary frustration, and they get
> nothing out of it. It seems to exist because of the emotional and
> social attitudes of the FreeBSD team.
> Sadly, Ron is right. FreeBSD is not right for us, or any others who
> care about using an operating system as a means to an end. FreeBSD
> is a hobby and you have to use it because you like using it for the
> purpose of using it, and anything else will be incidental.

Nothing was critized in any worthwhile manner. It was all a bunch of
throw away statements either lacking any context or detail to be taken
> <snip>

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