Subject: Re: Why so many BSDs?
To: Dave Barr <>
From: Curt Sampson <>
List: netbsd-users
Date: 12/03/1999 12:05:51
On Wed, 1 Dec 1999, Dave Barr wrote:

> 3. Given the same criteria that Theo no doubt uses to get
>    the 240 or 260 number, one cannot say that there is only
>    3 versions of BSD.  You'd have to get a number in the
>    60-100 range.  (add all the *BSD flavors, multiply all the
>    branches they have, multiply all the architectures they
>    support....

That's a bit much. NetBSD running on, say, a VAX, sparc and i386
are all compiled from the same source, excepting the MD kernel
parts and perhaps the odd utility here and there, and produced and
released by the same people. Without using uname or compiling
non-portable code, it's very difficult even to tell which one you're
using. This is even sillier than saying that Red Hat from Red Hat
and Red Hat from cheapbytes are different distributions. (At least
the latter two differ in *some* way, if only the extra software
that comes with it.)

While I agree with you that one can go too far with counting
different distributions, this is a ludicrous example. 

Christian Gruber makes a really good point about the sort of
stability and predictability you want in a commercial environment.
Having now worked with Linux in production applications, I've got
to say that the number of distributions out there is a real problem;
it's very hard to know what you're getting, especially in terms of
libraries and kernel versions (or at least I find it so, after the
quite stable single-source-tree build system of BSDs).

If I were deploying Linux in an Enterprise on a wide basis, I'd
seriously consider rolling my own distribution. I've found the bugs
in what's out there pretty frustrating (RH 6.1 makes NetBSD 1.4.0
look like a fantastic release), and upgrading bits here and there
on hundreds of machines would be quite a nightmare. It wouldn't be
cheap to do, but then again, your basic Red Hat support contract
is $45K/year.

Curt Sampson  <>   917 532 4208   De gustibus, aut bene aut nihil.
The most widely ported operating system in the world: