Subject: Re: Why did NetBSD and FreeBSD diverge?
To: Terry Lambert <>
From: Brett Glass <>
List: netbsd-advocacy
Date: 01/19/2001 21:51:56
At 11:58 AM 1/19/2001, Terry Lambert wrote:

>Brett is a nice example here; if I had to psycho-analyze him
>(which I don't have the credentials to do, despite having helped
>several people study for a Master's in Psychiatric Socialwork,
>and having read everything they've read), I'd say that Brett is
>still here because FreeBSD is the closest social organization to
>what he wants to have come into existance.  He can agree or he
>can disagree, that's only my opinion right now, with the evidence
>at hand.

Actually, there are other social structures that I'd prefer for an 
open source operating system project. I work with the BSDs because
they are technologically sophisticated and their licensing (unlike
that of Linux) is ethical. I am greatly concerned about the BSDs'
reliance on the GNU toolchain and (in some cases) on GNU userland
utilities. FreeBSD uses the most GNU software, and this disturbs
me because it puts it most at the mercy of an organization whose 
agenda requires the ultimate destruction of all alternatives -- 
including all of the BSDs.

I work with FreeBSD a fair amount of the time because it has 
features that I often need. (When size or simplicity is an issue, 
I use NetBSD or OpenBSD, because they remain closer to the
KISS philosophy that was prevalent at CSRG. Also, I can 
squash their kernels and userlands into a smaller space, which
is helpful for some of the embedded applications I do.) I
monitor these lists because I need to keep informed about
features, security advisories, etc. I participate in the
conversations here because I can sometimes be helpful to fellow 
users and administrators and often learn things. The pissing
contests I endure on the lists are their biggest drawback.

I'd like to influence the future direction and philosophy
of FreeBSD, but even simple and seemingly obvious suggestions
in these areas seem to be met with strong resistance. The 
"leaders" are so territorial and resistant to outside 
suggestions that they'll reject ideas that come from outside 
the core group -- and, in particular, from me because
I've been labeled as "dangerous." So, my best success has come
when I've been able to get one of those leaders to say, "That's
a great idea; glad I thought of it!" Unfortunately, the kinds
of ideas that can be introduced via this technique are
limited. The absolute WORST way to bring up an idea, I've
found, is on the mailing lists -- which is a shame because 
they're the community's primary avenues of communication. 

I'd like to be able to make suggestions directly rather than
being forced to adopt "stealth" techniques, but it doesn't
seem possible with the current social climate or leadership.
The egos are too strong and the combative nature of some of
the key players prevents it. I hold out a faint hope that 
there could be open, honest, relaxed, and less ego-laden
discussion, but sure don't see it on the horizon anytime soon,
at least for FreeBSD.