Subject: Re: Thoughts on NetBSD and Debian Linux
To: Chris Frost , <>
From: Richard Rauch <>
List: netbsd-advocacy
Date: 05/13/2002 21:35:29

It's not clear what you are asking.  Do you want us to tell you which one
is ``better''?

 (a) This is netbsd-advocacy; guess which one is more poppular here.

 (b) It depends on what your interests, needs, and tastes are.

Or did you perhaps rather want a comparison, simply of how NetBSD feels
compared to Debian GNU/LINUX (as opposed to other GNU/LINUXen, and/or as
opposed to other BSD's)?

I had Debian GNU/LINUX installed on one of my machines for a while (it
was a dual-boot machine).  Mostly, I wanted to play with DRI; I was
disappointed to learn that I couldn't use DRI with the kernel that shipped
with that version, and never got around to updating LINUX.  I almost never
booted GNU/LINUX, anyway, since this was my main machine, and I feel more
comfortable under NetBSD.  Eventually, I upgraded my NetBSD installation
on that machine, and in the process decided to reclaim the GNU/LINUX

However, Debian GNU/LINUX felt ``okay'', if you ignore the binary-only
package system that they use. It didn't take me too long to get X
configured, though I remember being miffed at getting an overpowered
desktop/window-manager as the default (I expected my lovely minimalist
twm; instead I got something that looked like KDE, though I assume that it
wasn't actually installing KDE as a default).

I didn't spend enough time with GNU/LINUX to form opinions that I'd trust.
(Opinions, yes.  But not ones that I'd trust.)  Debian was, however,
recommended to me as the GNU/LINUX most akin to what I was used to in

Perhaps, since I wanted to explore the other side a bit, I should have
taken a more vastly different GNU/LINUX.  The goal, after all, wasn't to
find a GNU/LINUX to replace NetBSD, but rather to play with DRI and also
get a sense for how (at least some) GNU/LINUX systems are managed, as
opposed to how NetBSD is managed.

That said: Day to day use, if you don't have to muck around as your own
admin, is pretty similar between them.  THey're both UNIX-like OS's.  They
have similar baseline features, and by the time you're done installing
packages you can largely make one look like the other.  (Want TeX?  cd
/usr/pkgsrc/print/tetex && make update.  Or do the Debian apt-get
equivalent.)  Assuming that your hardware is supported, and you don't need
DRI, I don't think that you'll notice a lot of difference, once you've got
them set up and configured.

Development: Similar answer.  (Unless you mean development of the
operating systems themselves.  In that regard, you'll have to look at the
source code for the systems and form your own opinions.  (^&)

I'm using NetBSD because:

 (a) It suits nearly every need I have.

 (b) Principle: I like the priorities that the NetBSD project seems
     to have.  (This is also somewhat long-term pragmatism.)

 (c) Community.  (Small and generally open & friendly.)

Honestly, if not for those, I could substitute FreeBSD, or Debian
GNU/LINUX, and be approximately as happy (maybe a little moreso in some
ways, maybe a little less in others).

  ``I probably don't know what I'm talking about.''