1. 46
  1.  

  2. 23

    It’s a bit depressing that I have to praise this articles’ basic journalistic quality - in that the writer of the piece presented both the criticism and the response. Don’t get me wrong, it’s really basic, but so many articles simply skip this step. It would be easier to just present the researcher’s findings, saying “none of these bugs have been fixed”, and let the clicks roll in.

    1. 16

      It seems BSD is dying (2002) for almost 20 years…

      Remember the hilarious Jason Dixon’s presentations BSD is Dying (2007) and BSD is still dying (2009).

      1. 11

        I think I mostly agree with the premise here.. I tried freebsd but I hard time being happy with it compared to simply using a systemd-less linux like void or alpine.

        OpenBSD on the other hand fascinates me, mostly because of the security focus and overall simplicity, I think part of that idea of focused goals is the same reason I’ve been starting to keep up with DragonFlyBSD development, the drive to do something different than the mainstream can be a strong motivator of interest.

        But realistically, I dont see something like FreeNAS dying anytime soon, some of my IT friends swear only by it.

        1. 20

          I love running FreeBSD. I run Void whenever I have to run Linux, but honestly running FreeBSD is so much fun. The system makes so much sense, there are so few running processes. Configs are kept in the right places, packages that are installed just work, upgrades almost never broke anything, and in general there was a lot less fiddliness. I want to run Void from time to time to get the new and shiny (without having to build it for a custom platform), but in both Debian and Void (the systems I run), packages are of varying quality, and upgrades are always stressful (though Void’s running release nature makes it less so). FreeBSD’s consistency also makes me feel a lot less scared about opening it up and fiddling with the insides (such as trying my hand at creating my own rc unit runner or something), whereas with Linux I often feel like I’m peering at the edge of a Rube Goldberg machine.

          Oh and don’t get me started on the FreeBSD Handbook and manpages. Talk about documentation done right.

          1. 7

            “Rube Goldberg machine” is a great description for much of the Linux world. Especially Debian-style packages with their incredibly complex configuration hooks and menus and stuff.

            My favorite feature of pkgng is that packages do not add post-install actions to other packages :)

            1. 1

              I still can’t get over the fact that installing a deb service on a Debian based distribution, starts the service automatically? Why was that ever considering a good design decision?

              I personally run Gentoo and Void. I had FreeBSD running really well on an older X1 carbon about two years back, but the hardware failed on the X1. I do use FreeBSD on my VPS for my openvpn server, but it seems like FreeBSD is the only one supported on major VPSes (Digital Ocean, Vultr). I wish there was better VPS support for at least OpenBSD.

            2. 2

              Dont get me wrong, I like FreeBSD, I’ve just never felt the same fascination towards it that I do with OpenBSD, DragonflyBSD, Haiku, ReactOS or Harvey. But perhaps thats a good thing?

              I guess the main thing Is I’ve never been in a situation where I didn’t need to use linux / windows and couldn’t use OpenBSD.

              1. 6

                FreeBSD seems to do less in-house experimental stuff that gets press. Dragonfly has the single-system image clustering long-term vision, OpenBSD is much more aggressive about ripping out and/or rewriting parts of the core system, etc.

                I do feel most comfortable with the medium-term organizational future of FreeBSD though. It seems to have the highest bus factor and strongest institutional backing. Dragonfly’s bus factor is pretty clearly 1: Matthew Dillon does the vast majority of development. OpenBSD’s is slightly higher, but I’m not entirely confident it would survive Theo leaving the project. While I don’t think any single person leaving FreeBSD would be fatal.

                1. 4

                  I’m not entirely confident it would survive Theo leaving the project

                  There is no reason to worry about that: http://marc.info/?l=openbsd-misc&m=137609553004700&w=2

                  1. 2

                    FreeBSD seems to do less in-house experimental stuff that gets press

                    The problem is with the press here. CloudABI is the most amazing innovation I’ve seen in the Unix world, and everyone is sleeping on it ;(

              2. 4

                I tried freebsd but I hard time being happy with it compared to simply using a systemd-less linux like void or alpine.

                The Linux distro that’s closest to the *BSD world is Gentoo - they even named their package management system “Portage” because it’s inspired by *BSD ports.

                1. 2

                  As a long time OpenBSD & Gentoo user (they were my introduction to BSD & Linux respectively and I’ve run both on servers & desktops for years), I strongly disagree. If I wanted to experience BSD on Linux, Gentoo would be the last thing I’d look at.

                  1. 1

                    If I wanted to experience BSD on Linux, Gentoo would be the last thing I’d look at.

                    Then you are way off the mark, because the closest thing to *BSD ports in the Linux world is Gentoo’s Portage and OpenRC is the natural evolution of FreeBSD’s init scripts.

                    1. 6

                      Over the past decade, I’ve used ports once or twice. Currently I don’t have a copy of the ports tree. At this day and age, ports & package management are among the least interesting properties of an operating system (if only because they all do it well enough, and they all still suck). OpenRC might be ok, but the flavor of init scripts doesn’t exactly define the system either.

                      My idea of BSD does not entail spending hours fucking with configs and compiling third party packages to make a usable system. Maybe FreeBSD is like that? If so, I’m quite disappointed.

              3. 3

                I’m also very happy with the (relative) easy of use OpenBSD.

                I missed the existence of Void. Is there any real advantage over Debian besides no-systemd?

                1. 8

                  To each its own poison. But I like void because

                  • It is a rolling distro, if you are into that kind of stuff.
                  • It has packages for openbsd programs variants e.g. netcat, ksh and doas.
                  • the default network setup uses dhcpcd hooks and wpa_supplicant, so you can avoid networkmanager
                  • it has a muslc variant, but many packages are not available for that
                  • $ fortune -o void

                  The tools for package cross compile and image building are pretty awesome too.

                  1. 3

                    While there are more packages for the glibc variant than the musl variant, I would not characterise this as “not many packages”. Musl is quite well supported and it’s really only a relatively small number of things which are missing.

                    1. 2

                      Thanks!, will try it next time when OpenBSD isn’t suitable.

                    2. 6

                      Void has good support for ZFS, which I appreciate (unlike say Arch where there’s only unofficial support and where the integration is far from ideal). Void also has an option to use musl libc rather than glibc.

                      1. 5

                        Void has great build system. It builds packages using user namespaces (or chroot on older kernels) so builds are isolated and can run without higher privileges. Build system is also quite hackable and I heard that it’s easy to add new packages.

                        1. 1

                          Never tried adding a package, but modifying a package in my local build repository was painless. (specifically dwm and st)

                        2. 3

                          Things I find enjoyable about Void:

                          • Rolling release makes upgrades less harrowing (you catch small problems quickly and early)
                          • High quality packages compared to other minimalist Linux distros
                          • Truly minimalist. The fish shell package uses Python for a few things but does not have an explicit Python dependency. The system doesn’t even come with a crond (which is fine, the few scripts I have running that need one I just put in a script with a sleep).
                          • Has a well maintained musl-libc version. I’m running musl void on a media PC right now, and when I have nothing running but X, the entire system uses ~120MB of RAM (which is fantastic because the system isn’t too powerful).

                          That said, my go-to is FreeBSD (haven’t gotten a chance to try OpenBSD yet, but it’s high on my list).

                          1. 1

                            I’d use void, but I prefer rc.d a lot. It’s why I like FreeBSD. It’s so great to use daemon_option= to do stuff like having a firewall for client only, to easily run multiple uwsgi applications, multiple instances, with different, of tor (for relays, doesn’t really make sense for client), use the dnscrypt_proxy_resolver to set the resolver, set general flags, etc.

                            For so many services all one needs to do is to set a couple of basic options and it’s just nice to have that in a central point where it makes sense. It’s so much easier to see how configuration relates if it’s at one single point. I know it doesn’t make sense for all things, but when I have a server, running a few services working together it’s perfect. Also somehow for the desktop it feels nicer, because it can be used a bit like how GUI system management tools are used.

                            In Linux land one has Alpine, but I am not sure how well it works on a desktop. Void and Alpine have a lot in common, even though Alpine seems more targeted at server and is used a lot for containers.

                            For advantages: If you like runit, LibreSSL and simplicity you might like it more than Debian.

                            However I am using FreeBSD these days, because I’d consider it closer to Linux in other areas, than OpenBSD. These days there is nothing that prevents me from switching to OpenBSD or DragonFly though. So it’s about choosing which advantages/disadvantages you choose. OpenBSD is simpler, DragonFly is faster and has recent Intel drivers, etc.

                            For security: On the desktop I think other than me doing something stupid, the by far biggest attack vector is a bug in the browser or other desktop client application, and I think neither OS will safe me from that on its own. Now that’s not to say it’s meaningless or that mitigations don’t work or that it’s the same on servers, but it’s more that this is my threat model for the system and use case.

                          2. 3

                            If something was dying, then nobody would talk about it, and thus the general answer to the article titled “is x dying” is no.

                            1. 5

                              Most companies going bankrupt and projects getting terminated have customers or users right up to the point of termination. So, no. Need a different metric.

                            2. 3

                              I didn’t see any mention of ZFS or FreeNAS. Also, I don’t quite get why potential security issues lead directly to the conclusion that the BSDs are dying. If poor security led to failure, than Microsoft remains inexplicable.

                              1. 3

                                i remember mr. poettering saying that bsds aren’t relevant anymore in 2011: https://bsd.slashdot.org/story/11/07/16/0020243/lennart-poettering-bsd-isnt-relevant-anymore

                                guess they are still here.

                                1. 3

                                  “Lennart explains that he thinks BSD support is holding back a lot of Free Software development”

                                  I can think of something else which is holding back a lot of Free Software development.

                                  1. 1

                                    Poettering’s approach to software development seems to make it clear that he doesn’t see any value in the continued existence of the BSDs. I think that they are an important part of the larger open *Nix world/ecosystem and that Linux benefits from their existence so long as there remains some degree of compatibility. I will say that I think the BSDs’ use of a permissive rather than reciprocal licence I think had been bad for them in the long run.

                                    1. 1

                                      I don’t think that it’s not about the *Nix world/ecosystem or that Poettering just doesn’t care about BSDs. His attitude seems to be more like that people and distros not wanting to buy in on systemd and/or pulseaudio or in general his software or designs are irrelevant - or approaches that aren’t compatible with his. I think the wrong statements he made leading to uselessd disproving them and OpenRC disproving a lot of them as well made that clear.

                                      Now people have different opinions about systemd, but from my experience projects ignoring the rest of the world tend to turn out bad on multiple levels. Other than that portability often (not always) is an indicator for code quality as well.

                                      But going a bit off topic. What I want to say is that even though BSDs are mentioned the statement also targets every distribution not relying on systemd. It’s just that most of them aren’t exactly “mainstream”, which is why I think they are ignored and not mentioned.