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Competition (was: Ports & Packages ...)

This got a bit longer than I thought it would, sorry. It's been brewing for a while, and not directed at anyone in particular.

On Wed, 24 Aug 2011, Jimmy Johansson wrote:

Nobody ever told me it was a competition.

What is the prize and isn't Apple competing too?

The prize is having an at least half-decent OS that runs on commonly available hardware. NetBSD is still in the race, for most values of "runs" and "commonly", but honestly by now I'm looking for alternatives for whenever the next hardware upgrade is due; I'm under no illusion that I could just grab whatever I find online at a good price and expect it to run. There's been far too much talk along the lines of "so and so graphics cards don't work, we don't have kernel support", and too much problems with e.g. wifi, for me to assume anything - other than that it will most likely continue to run fine for server duties on the platforms that core developers have access to.

(Xen, or some other virtualization is an option of course - use Linux (or whatever) for hardware support and install your favorite OS in a virtual machine - but that just seems the wrong way to go about things for desktop use.)

And in the thread that was just posted on -users, on whether NetBSD runs on platform X, the answer was "it's just a question of time and effort". Developer time and effort. So why does this community seem to think that it's somehow a bad thing trying to increase the pool of users and potential developers? Every time the issue comes up, people just say "ugh, don't like the hype" and go back to coding on their Macs.

Just yesterday, I mentioned the fact that I was running NetBSD in a chat, _on a system that itself runs NetBSD_, and was met with what I must assume have been a blank stare on the other end; and "...but why?". That's one guy who won't be trying out our favorite OS, no matter its technical merits.

Choosing your main OS isn't for most people a matter of dispassionately counting a platform's merits and drawbacks using some checklist, it is often a matter of minimizing mental effort by just going with what people around you are using, and being nudged by the occasional "hey, this stuff is really cool".

So lets talk to people about the stuff that is cool once in a while.

(and why not send some suggestions to -advocacy, it needs some traffic other than spam)

On a more serious note, as far as I know the NetBSD developers are more
focused on delivering a good, well designed and solid operating system
rather than competing with linux.

Just like every other developer community out there.. So why aren't you and I running AROS, Haiku or Plan9? Anything in particular that is wrong with their architecture?

I suspect not; at least for me the answer to the "but why" question above is as simple as that NetBSD was available on the platform I was using at the time, met the general idea of what I wanted ("free, unix"), and I knew about it. Clean design only mattered once I had multiple options that all seemed roughly similar; in my case I switched to, and back from, Debian.

I have used all of NetBSD, FreeBSD, and OpenBSD.
All of those projects have merit and I don't see any of them going away soon.

They'll all be around for a long time. The issue for me isn't so much whether NetBSD will magically disappear or stop working in a year or two, but the general experience (what hardware hoops do I have to jump through to make it run?) and long-term sustainability (what happens when the currently active generation of developers lose interest?).

I don't want to come off completely negative, there are several positive signs - GSoC projects means new developers get involved, the emips port looks really cool (and unique!), MP work on Xen, etc, etc. But we need some advocacy, and the attitudes towards that are IMHO weird.


If you don't shoot the bearers of bad news, people will keep bringing it to you.

I already have my asbestos suit on. Does the bulletproof vest go over or under it?


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