Subject: Re: Linux and FreeBSD support (was Re: RealAudio)
To: Todd Vierling <>
From: Dave Burgess <>
List: current-users
Date: 10/31/1997 21:16:25
> On Thu, 30 Oct 1997, Tom T. Thai wrote:
> : get lots of twisting going! :)  I am getting tired of seeing all this
> : support out there for Linux and FreeBSD but no native support for NetBSD.
> Not to support this trend, but to explain why vendors make products for
> FreeBSD and Linux instead of NetBSD/i386:

I sent a message to the folks at Unix Review magazine today.  They
suggested a press release announcing the release of version 1.3 would be
well received and could be listed in the back with the rest of the
software and hardware release notes.  

> - FreeBSD and Linux have a bit more commercial support behind them.
>   How many vendors now make fully supported Linux based OSes now?

Enough that what they are selling probably shouldn't be called Linux

> - FreeBSD and Linux have a bit more "oompfh" behind them when it comes to
>   making new system releases.  (How long has it been between NetBSD 1.2 and
>   1.3?)  This "looks good" in the corporate eye, even if "version" is
>   really only a buzzword.

We have more things to coordinate.  This naturally takes more time.
Obviously not as much time as we've been taking - but it does take more

> - NetBSD/i386 is perfectly capable of running both FreeBSD and Linux/x86
>   binaries almost flawlessly.  (Hence why many vendors make a "statically
>   linked" version--usually Linux, because FreeBSD can run it too.)

This is fine with me.  As long as we can trust the Linux folks to not
gratuitously break the compatibility mode every few months.

> - NetBSD/i386 can add the FreeBSD and Linux shared libraries for free, if
>   the application is not statically linked.  I'm actually cobbling together
>   library bundles I'll put up for ftp shortly for just this purpose, in the
>   spirit of FreeBSD's linux_lib package.

These are probably going to be a bugaboo to keep current.

My final reason:

 - Most people simply do not know that NetBSD is out there.  I regularly
   pound on the authors of magazine articles who make specious claims
   like "Linux is the only free Unix-style operating system...."  It has
   helped some.  The guy that writes the PC Unix column in Unix Review
   wrote a very nice article about NetBSD about two years ago.  If we
   had followed it up with the kind of advocacy that the Linux zealots
   have always produced, NetBSD would be a more commonly used system.  A
   few of them have even started referring to "Linux, FreeBSD, and the
   other BSD derived operating systems", although that doesn't really 
   help either.  Most of them think we're just running BSDI.  A few
   don't even realize that the BSD software is just a 'cost free' as the

> Binary compatibility, though tiresome at times, is a very real and very
> useful thing.  Be glad it exists, because it's (IMHO) the biggest feature
> NetBSD can tout, and a significant one at that.

But no one even knows about the OS, let alone one of its most
significant features.  We have the same problem lots of other good ideas
have - we can't afford to advertise, which means we don't get the
installed base which makes it so we don't have to advertise any more.

Dave Burgess                   Network Engineer - Nebraska On-Ramp, Inc.
*bsd FAQ Maintainer / SysAdmin for the NetBSD system in my spare bedroom
"Just because something is stupid doesn't mean there isn't someone that 
doesn't want to do it...."