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The PacBSD team is pleased to announce our first installation images under the PacBSD name, are available for download. PacBSD, formerly named ArchBSD, is a lightweight BSD system, based on FreeBSD but using Pacman as the package manager and the Arch Build System instead of the ports tree. We also have a packaged base system which allows us to offer updates to the base system instead of just user installed packages. On Top of using pacman over pkg and the ABS over ports, users have a choice of using either the FreeBSD init system and OpenRC. We also offer users a choice of core utilities, GNU coreutils and BSD coreutils, so users can use the tools they are most comfortable with. Currently PacBSD only supports the amd64 architecture, but as time goes on we plan on adding support for others.


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    I am not sure whether such systems are good or bad news. BSD was not plagued by the extreme fragmentation that Linux had for a long time. But both the number of BSD operating systems and the number of *BSD distributions seems to be growing quite a bit.

    Not to undermine the work of the PacBSD team. Besides my worry, this is of course excellent work.

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      It is also interesting that a few of these *BSD distros are no longer actually distributable under a permissive license like BSD/MIT. pacman is GPL software (GPLv2 with “or later” clause). Of course GNU coreutils is as well.

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      I never quite understood the reason for projects like these:

      Why would I use one of these patchwork BSDs over the fully integrated operating system of FreeBSD? What do pacman and ABS have over FreeBSD’s pkg and Ports tree?

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        Why would I use one of these patchwork BSDs

        Because, at least for Debian and Gentoo, they’re not patchwork BSDs. They’re, uh, distros. (Ordinarily they’d be Linux distros, but, well.) It’s not an attempt to cobble together a weird GNU-ey BSD; it’s an attempt to provide an alternate kernel with a familiar userland environment. Since you can swap out e.g. desktop environments, syslogs or (ideally) init systems, this isn’t a huge stretch.

        There are a variety of technical benefits, as well (chasing down unnoticed kernel-isms and the like), which in my opinion should be sufficient justification even if nobody used them, but that’s not usually the stated purpose.

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          The BSDs provide a full operating system, not just a kernel. I called the projects above “patchwork BSDs” because they don’t take the whole FreeBSD operating system and build on top if it, but instead just take the kernel and combine that with different userspace tools. This is of course how Linux distributions are assembled.

          Being a BSD-curious Arch Linux user I’m quite familiar with pacman and ABS. And while I don’t see much difference in functionality between pacman and pkg, the FreeBSD’s tooling around ports seems much better than Arch’s for ABS. Therefore I’m was wondering why one would build a BSD “distribution” on seemingly inferior tooling.

          The benefits you mentioned might be a nice byproduct, but they’re usually not the motivation for people to a start project like this.