Subject: Re: Why so many BSDs?
To: Martin Horcicka <>
From: Matt Curtin <>
List: netbsd-users
Date: 12/02/1999 11:53:50
>>>>> On Tue, 30 Nov 1999 08:27:11 +0100 (MET),
>>>>> Martin Horcicka <> said:

Martin> the thing I've never understood is why you are developing
Martin> three BSD systems separately - well, they are not too separate
Martin> because if one system implements a thing the other two will
Martin> probably port it.

There are so many BSDs for the same reason that there are so many
types of hammers.  There are tack hammers for little jobs, sledge
hammers for breaking stuff, framing hammers, drywall hammers, etc.

The need for OSes like MacOS vs BSD is as obvious as the need for tack
hammers vs. sledge hammers.  When you get into areas that have greater 
areas of overlap, it becomes a bit obvious.  In this area, we have the 
various BSDs.

The issue is the same: focus.  FreeBSD comes from a group that
initially maintained focus on a high-quality BSD operating system for
the IA32 architecture.  NetBSD comes from a group that is focused on
portability.  OpenBSD comes from a group more closely focused on

If you know how to use one, you have a pretty good idea how to use
them all, just as knowing how to use the typical 16 oz hammer will
give you a pretty good clue how to use the 22 oz framing hammer.  But
if you have a specific need, you might find that one satisfies that
need a bit better than the other.

Which BSD I use -- and even which OS I use -- isn't consistent for
every job.  Approach your needs with the mind of an engineer:
articulate your requirements, catalog your options, and make an
intelligent decision to use the one that will satisfy your needs the
best.  My environments are almost never any single OS.  At home, I use
IRIX, Solaris, OpenBSD, and FreeBSD.  Which is in use depends on the
purpose of the machine.

Wouldn't it be better if we all work together?  Well, assuming that we
don't work together is really a mistake.  Just because we fly
different banners and focus on different areas, we hold in common many
of the same higher-order objectives, which include sharing information
and providing free access to source code.  As such, by helping one
project, you help them all.  The "one size fits all" mentality that
permeates mainstream computing is really the backward way of looking
at things.  It's strange how no one seems to criticize Microsoft for
for having so many versions of Windows.  The fact that there is
WindowsN'T, Windoze 9x, and WinCE, aside from demonstrating other
things, is further support of our assertion that the "one size fits
all" view is unworkable.

Matt Curtin