Subject: Re: Document: What's the difference between Linux and BSD?
To: Peter Seebach <>
From: Greg Lehey <>
List: netbsd-advocacy
Date: 04/27/2000 14:02:43
On Wednesday, 26 April 2000 at 23:07:35 -0500, Peter Seebach wrote:
> In message <>, Greg Lehey writes:
>> 1.  Have I forgotten something?
> BSD/OS.  I know we're "distant cousins" or whatever, but we're definitely
> a live branch of BSD Unix, with active development, market niches, etcetera.
> There are a bunch of things listing the three open-source systems, but
> not listing BSD/OS; this may confuse people when they see just-occasional
> references to the 4th member of the family.  Even if we're widely thought to
> be the black sheep.  ;-)

Hmm.  I didn't forget BSD/OS, but this was supposed to be a comparison
of open source operating systems.  I see I somehow managed to drop the
mention of the name, though.  I've fixed it now with a better
description of where it fits in.  Let me know if that's enough.

> Somewhat related: A reason to use BSD would be that you want to
> develop a product based on a system, and may not want to use a
> completely open source model.

Good one.  I've added that as well, as well as a brief discussion of
the main difference.

> At some point, you may want to point to "", which will eventually be
> something of a BSD, Inc., page for BSD info.

Tell me when.  Currently it just redirects to

> I believe there's a company doing commercial support for OpenBSD, as
> opposed to mere consulting, and Walnut Creek has an existing support
> deal for FreeBSD, although this is, as I understand it, folding into
> BSDI's old support group.

It was also my understanding that the WC group wasn't exactly overloaded.

> (And no, for the curious, no one is losing jobs as a result of the
> merger; the big outcome has been a hiring spree.)

Yes, I've noticed :-)

>> 2.  Is it accurate?
> Mostly - but, for instance, note that BSD/OS is not "open source", even though
> it's clearly a BSD kernel.
> I would not call the BSD systems "derivatives of AT&T's UNIX".  In fact,
> the entire point of the Lite stuff is that there is *no* derivation, in a
> legal/copyright sense, which is why BSD is allowed to exist.

I wasn't talking in a legal or copyright sense.  A lot of the code in
BSD is also in System V, and Research UNIX editions 8 to 10 were
derived from 4.1cBSD.  I think we can let this one stand.

> If you compare AT&T UNIX(tm) to BSD, in practice, the systems diverged from
> about V7 - BSD is more like V7 than it is like System III or V.

That's why :-)

>> I'm trying as much as possible to show the BSD camps as a united
>> front.  I'm also not trying to knock Linux: any reasons to move to BSD
>> must be well-founded, and quite honestly I haven't found too many.
>> But I hope that, when I'm finished, I'll have a document which will be
>> useful to the BSD community as a whole.
> I think the key to understanding the BSD "family" is that we're essentially
> siblings.  Siblings don't necessarily get along, but they have a lot in
> common, and may band together abruptly if they see outsiders "attacking"
> members of the family.
> You might want to compare all four of the BSD's, when talking about the
> differences; BSD/OS is something of a cross in goals between NetBSD and
> FreeBSD; the product has a lot of the "it's right or we aren't shipping"
> attitude of NetBSD, and yet, it isn't going for nearly as many platforms
> as NetBSD.  A BSDi higher-up might give a better explanation of our official
> goals.

I don't want to differentiate too much.  There's a perception in the
Linux world that the BSD projects are fragmented and belligerent, and
I don't want to help that perception at all.  Just enough to explain
why there are so many.

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