Subject: Hmmm....
To: None <current-users@NetBSD.ORG>
From: John S. Dyson <>
List: current-users
Date: 07/02/1995 14:18:10
>   This is the crux of the issue - NetBSD is a research and development
>   platform, FreeBSD is a users platform.
              ^^^^^^^ Believe it or not, more machine independent
OS level work is/has been done on FreeBSD!!!

>That's vastly over-simplified.  Users want several things: features,
>stability, and support; and there are trade-offs between all of them.
>Since this has already turned into a political argument, I don't feel
>too bad about saying the following...
>For stability, I have no doubt that NetBSD is better.  All you have to
>do is look back at things like PPP totally failing on FreeBSD 2.0
>systems, or the massive VM instabilities in the same release.  (This
>is sometimes excused by the release being `rushed' by legal issues,
>but it's worth noting that our own 1.0 release happened earlier,
>resolved similar legal issues, and has proven fairly reliable -- and
>it runs on several architectures.)

Charles -- 

	As usual, your explainations are biased, uninformed, and grossly
over-simplified.  Firstly, today -- I can take down a FreeBSD, NetBSD, Linux,
or BSDI system using the standard programmers API -- no problem.  FreeBSD V2.0
is behind us -- and we admit, not very stable.  The comment about
"VM instabilities" is only partially true.  The standard MACH-Based Net/2 and
4.4 Lite VM systems are so pathetically broken and/or inefficient (and
actually mostly the results of a feasibility study), I cannot believe that
ANYONE would release an OS based upon that platform.  We needed to make the
transition to the 4.4 Lite stuff and we could not simply drop in the 1.1.5 code.
The new code was almost totally re-engineered and reworked to be truly traceable
directly to 4.4 Lite.  The stuff is complicated and we took the challenge
(unlike NetBSD and others) to fix the VM system.  If you (Charles) would
have coorperated and been less ivory tower, we would BOTH have been a much
better OS than either individually.  You know that Research and Development
is important for the future viability of a project -- don't you?  Being
glorified code maintainers only keeps the status quo.

	For others looking at my response -- I am not pompus, unlike the
addressee of this note.  There is only one "correct" way to do things, and
that is the way to make things work properly.  Substance is much more
important than someones self appointed definition of "form".  It appears that
FreeBSD is the only FREE version of *BSD actually attempting to improve the
BSD U**X platform.  As an example, TAILQ, CIRCLEQ, etc are good things IMHO,
but are mostly superficial (the FreeBSD VM system uses them, because they are
good).  However, there are so many things that can be improved in the code
base other than effectively running the code through indent and adding
copyright messages to the top of files.  Ohh... one thing that I do think
is a *major* accomplishment is the 64 bit code that Chris is doing...
Good Job!!! Hooray!!! :-).

	Things being worked on right now on FreeBSD include, a significanly
shrunk down VM system with further elimination of left-overs from MACH.  A
reworked VFS layering (per the suggestions in the source code), and
appropriate modifications of the pagers.  SMP support IS an active project,
and the Sparc code runs also (on our VM system -- you know, the alleged
machine dependent one :-)).  You know, alot of the original code is
not properly scalable and we have been attempting to get rid of alot of
the O(n^2) type stuff in the system.  There is alot of improvement yet to
come!!!  When memory is cheaper and disks are bigger -- we will need
to be able to manage these things more efficiently, and FreeBSD is
looking forward.

>For support, it's pretty much a toss-up.  It was pretty clear from
>several users' comments that the perceived `support' for NetBSD was
>better for a long time.  There was a big push in the FreeBSD camp to
>change this perception.  The result, as far as I can tell, is a large
>barrage of `Oh; that's an interesting bug.'-like responses and no real
>improvement in useful content.  (This is not to say that our `support'
>couldn't be improved, but it already compares favorably.)

	Dismissing FreeBSD again...  We are improving the perception, actually
the support was always OK... It was mostly the perception that was
faulty.  But of course, support is still improving.  You know, since FreeBSD
has so many users -- it is definitely difficult to keep up at times.  Often,
the same question is asked many many times!!!

>For features, it depends on what you want.  NetBSD currently runs on
>11 architectures, with more coming, and has binary compatibility with
>7 other OSes (and that's not counting BSDI compatibility and WINE, and
>the work being done on DOSEMU).  It runs most Linux and SCO software
>almost entirely transparently, which means you can use commercial
>software on it.  (I know many people who not only do this, but rely on
>it.)  So far, the only `interesting' foreign program that FreeBSD has
	How do you know???  Been spying on all of the other failed attempts???

>run is the Linux version of DOOM.

>For device drivers, FreeBSD is currently a little `better' on PCs.
>But this has come at a cost -- GPLed code and other aggressive
>licensing terms, and in some cases extremely poor code -- which the
>NetBSD `core' group (which is, collectively, the system architect) is
>unwilling to incur.

	I know that the code will work much better after you add
your copyright or run the code through indent :-).  BTW, I am suprised
that you haven't fixed a significant oversight in the machine independent SCSI
subsystem yet... (just a for instance.)  I guess those TAILQs are really
important!!!  (BTW, we haven't fully fixed it yet -- I think.)  You probably
won't manifest the problem until you port one of our drivers...

>BTW, it's also worth noting that major components (not the least of
>which is the shared library system) were taken wholesale from NetBSD
>to be used in FreeBSD.  In fact, early on, they incorporated the
>NetBSD 0.8 source tree almost verbatim.  Don't get the impression that
>they developed a dancing frog by themselves.

	At that time, the distinction was a bit less -- BTW, how
many contributions did you make to the patchkit???  I'll bet that there
were current FreeBSDers that made contributions also...  Hummm, wasn't
there also some input from BSDI users????   I know that
it is difficult to tell what goes from FreeBSD to NetBSD, but lots does.
Some with new/modified Copyrights!!!  I will be the first to admit, that
if I like a piece of software, and it is not unethical, immoral, or illegal to
take it -- I will, and EVEN give proper attribution!!!

>It's really a matter of goals.  The FreeBSD team is trying to compete
>with Linux at a feature level.  The only way to compete with fast,
>sloppy coding at a feature level is to do fast, sloppy coding yourself
>(unless you have a lot of money).  The NetBSD group, by and large,

Well, that is not very nice.  Good excuse for a lack of progress on
your part -- dismiss others work!!!

>refuses to do this.  While this means that, at any given time, NetBSD
>is likely to not have some feature or other that Linux or FreeBSD has,
>it means that, in general, the existing features are much more robust.
>And in some cases (notably, the binary emulations, and to a lesser
>extent the ports to other architectures), this careful plodding has
				I interpret this as being slow!!!

>made significant new features so much easier to write that we have
>vastly surpassed any other system.

FreeBSD has been careful and plodding on the architecture ports because
the platform needs / needed to be upgraded.  If you want slow, lumbering
performance on a system ready for the '80s use NetBSD!!!  It might even
help a '90s system run like an '80s system!!!  (It isn't really that bad
I know -- just trying to make a point.)

>In short, if what you really, really want is to have a Wombat 2000
>driver yesterday, and that's all you care about, then perhaps you

You mean for example an Adaptec 2940???  Or really good performance???

>*should* consider using a different system.  (Honestly, though, you
>should consider using DOS/Windows in that case, since it supports more
>PC hardware than any other OS.)  But if what you want is a (usually
>B-)) reliable, evolving system, with significant care put into its
                ^^^^^^^^ slowly.
>design, and written with a sharp eye toward portability and code
>reuse, then you probably want NetBSD.

No, probably FreeBSD, and if you really need performance on another
architecture -- port and modify for compatibility the low level code
while moving it from NetBSD to FreeBSD.  Just be sure to give proper
attribution in the files!!! 

Sorry that some people have been offended -- but FreeBSD or NetBSD bashing
is not nice -- and you will find very little NetBSD bashing recently in the
FreeBSD mailing lists.  FreeBSDers are human too.  I really thought that
some people were growing up.  I'll shut up now.  Any future negative responses
to this by NetBSD partisans will be indicative of their mean-spiritedness.

On a note of reconciliation, I would request that certain individuals
learn to acknowlege the contributions of others without spite. I know that
there have been many contributions made by the NetBSD team and contributors
to both the FreeBSD and NetBSD platforms.  But I thought that it is time to
give some feedback on the mean spiritedness that I have been reading.