Subject: Re: FreeBSD ELF emulation
To: Cliff Crawford <>
From: Feico Dillema <>
List: current-users
Date: 12/10/1999 12:01:41
On Thu, Dec 09, 1999 at 09:01:06PM -0500, Cliff Crawford wrote:
> * Feico Dillema <> menulis:
> > A friend of mine is considering ordering a commercial software package
> > that is available for linux and freebsd, but is also considering
> > switching OS from FreeBSD to NetBSD.
> Btw, what differences are there between the intel port of NetBSD, and
> FreeBSD?  Why would someone want to switch from FreeBSD to NetBSD?
> I'm not looking to start a flame war or anything, I'm just curious.

The impression at our department is growing that starting with FreeBSD-3.0,
FreeBSD has lost a lot of stability. Annoyance started with the many
3.x releases that were not very stable (relatively speaking). Whether 
it's market pressure for features or whatever, but it looks like their 
release management has been going down-hill a bit. I sincerely hope I'm 
wrong on this, and that this is a temporary thing, that can be blamed partly 
also on our somewhat less common hardware (HP Kayaks with 2 processors,
so it might be SMP related problems). Maybe, FreeBSD going
multi-architecture now is a cause of problems that NetBSD has run into
in its past already. 

The person in question tracks FreeBSD-Stable branch and last week for
the second time managed to panic his machine by simply trying to 
mount a floppy disk. This is just one of such annoyances of a series
he experienced this year. When I arrived at this department I was 
essentially the only NetBSD user. Initially I tried to install
FreeBSD on the Kayak as there were no other NetBSD users (anymore), 
but after some small annoyances I chose to stick with the system
in which I knew my way around best. That saved me more time than
the second processor would have. I've been tracking -current somewhat
on that machine, and I've never had any stability problems. That provides
contrast to the problems others have here with FreeBSD-Stable.

I've always believed FreeBSD was a fine choice, and I never argued
with FreeBSD users to switch to NetBSD as the choice between them
(when it comes to Intel hardware) was mainly one of personal preference.
Several people here have used NetBSD in the past, but switched to
FreeBSD when there was basically no non-Intel hardware around here
anymore, and FreeBSD used to have support for more Intel hardware.
Except for SMP support, this argument has become less and less
valid over time.  I've only argued with people (non-*BSD users) that 
can only defend their choice of OS with non-technical arguments or
myths (license, easier-to-use against easier-to-learn and such).

We have two servers that I'm co-responsible for. The oldest runs
FreeBSD-2.2.8, has been rock-solid for a long time and I'd never
argue for changing it's OS but we won't upgrade it to a more
recent FreeBSD version either. Our second server has been setup
for IPv6 access, and runs NetBSD-more-or-less-current with
integrated IPv6 support. We expected bleeding-edge problems
there, but the machine has been remarkably stable so far.

So, it is nothing very specific. Just the overall perception is 
growing here that when you have no specific techniacl reasons to 
choose for FreeBSD, NetBSD might be the better choice. Non-technical
reasons for me to stick to NetBSD are also that it's a smaller
community, which makes it easier to track what's going on (i.e.
I can track -current mailinglist and still have some time for other
things). Also, the response time to problem reports is generally
very good (even to stupid questions like mine here that started
this thread ;-} ).