Subject: Changing to NetBSD
To: None <>
From: Christian Baer <>
List: netbsd-users
Date: 10/23/2007 13:30:59
Hello Folks!

I know this is probably a rather trivial thing, so I'll *try* to make this
short. I am currently considering changing from Free- to NetBSD, mainly
because I need to run basicly the same software on different platforms -
and I really need it to work.

I don't need my OS to be geekish, follow some sort of a hype or help me
improve my sex life - although the last thing is always worth a look. :-)
I just need an OS to work, to just run and do its work, no fuss, just be
reliable. I realize that NetBSD can do this. I just wanted to make sure
that you understand, I am not following my gutt here, but am prepared to
see this through.

To make this absolutely clear: I don't want to start an OS-war. I do
not believe that FreeBSD sucks, stinks or anything else. Lets just say
that one might be better for some needs and the other better for different

The background:
I am one of the founders of two new companies in Germany. We don't
actually do IT-services, but we do use a fair amount of IT and it is
mission-critical. Amoung other things we store very sensitive (medical)
data on our customers. For this we have a new machine. However, for our
workplaces I have been digging up old machines where ever I could get
them (cheap). They don't need a lot of power as they won't be doing much
more complex jobs than text work (in the database) or research through the
web and the like. I decided by using older (but good) hardware we could
save a lot of money, even if the current hardware will be replaced some
time in the future. This has left me with an interesting zoo of all sorts
of different computers. Of course, most of them are i386 based (PII and
PIII) but there are also two Sun U60, one SGI Octane (not to sure if I can
use that yet), one Alpha (with 2x21264 but no RAM). Too bad that PA-RISC
isn't supported yet, because two days ago I got a call from a small
company a few towns away offering me two C3700s (for free) because they
wanted to toss them out. I'm gonna go and pick them up this afternoon.
Maybe I can use them in the future. I got kinda lucky on the Suns too:
They were for free because they didn't have any HDs. I guess the people
giving them away kinda forgot about the 2GB RAM in each of them. :-)

As you can imagine, I would like to run one OS (and one OS ONLY) on all of
these machines. Keeping three or four operating systems up to date isn't
what I want to spend my time doing. And since I got *lucky* enough to be
trusted with this work, everyone will be looking at me.

First of all, only the Suns and the i386s will be put into service. This
is where NetBSD comes in. I have been using FreeBSD for years now and was
really happy with it until a friend gave me a Sun to play with (about a
year ago). After cleaning it, I installed FreeBSD on it and I must say,
FreeBSD has been a bit of a pain on sparc64. Several programs don't work,
or won't even compile. Adding "-mcpu=ultrasparc" or "v9" when compiling
breaks a lot of things, although the worst case should be that nothing

I need to be able to run the following apps:

- Firefox & Thunderbird, both 2.x
- Keepassx
- mutt
- slrn
- tin
- inn
- some IM client (either Pidgin or Kopete)
- LaTeX
- OpenOffice

on *all* of the platforms (currently only i386 and sparc64). Not all of
the machines will actually run all of the software but I don't really want
to choose what computer I want to use for what (yet). Do all of those apps
run on both (all) platforms? On FreeBSD I had problems with Keepassx and
Pidgin, Firefox and Thunderbird have been broken for a while now. I didn't
try inn, LaTeX, tin and OO on sparc64 yet.

As far as I could read up until now, NetBSD has all the other
functionality I need. Some things are done with different tools, but
that's fine with me.

Oh, if I really do this, I might be asking the odd question about how
something that is done as xyz with FreeBSD works with NetBSD. :-)