Subject: Re: Merging Net/Free/Open-BSD together against Linux
To: Alicia da Conceicao <>
From: Jordan K. Hubbard <>
List: port-i386
Date: 11/25/1998 03:54:07
> I've just recently returned from Comdex in Las Vegas.  While I was there,
> I conducted a number of interviews, with a number of organizations and
> individuals for Internet Paper.  Based on the responses I have received,
> as well as information from other sources including the web, mailing
> lists, news sources, and other publications, it would appear that Linux
> (which is already the most popular ix86 Unix OS) is gaining in some of
> its growth at the expensive of BSD based Unixes, including NetBSD.  More
> alarming, this trend appears to be predominate among new Unix adoptees.

Hmmmm.  I don't recall you stopping by and talking to us FreeBSD folks
at our booth just outside the Linux pavilion (a rather strategic
location as it turns out, just as an FYI to any NetBSD folks
contemplating a presence next year), but if you had we could have
certainly presented you with a somewhat brighter picture for BSD than
the one you evidently have.

I do not know what NetBSD's growth figures for the last year look
like, but I can say conclusively that if we over here in FreeBSD were
to attempt to grow any faster than we are now at this stage, we'd
probably all be fleeing for higher ground.  To my knowledge, at least,
all of the free Unixen have been doing quite well this last year and
Linux's success has hardly hurt us, quite the opposite in fact.  In
response to the infamous "Halloween memo", I recently made some
comments about how their actions have actually broken ground and
opened some markets previously closed to us and you may find it
interesting reading: (soon to be
the start of a more official advocacy page just as soon as I can get
Nik to commit the bloody thing).

As far as mergers are concerned, all I can say is that the last 97
times (at least) that this issue was raised, we made little progress
and managed to generate far more heat than light in the process.  What
would the merged product be called?  Who would be "in charge" of the
final result?  What about the differences in overall direction and
philosophy between the various *BSD camps?  Who's "vision" for BSD is
chosen as the principal direction?  These are far from unimportant or
trivially answerable questions, and I can easily envision a scenario
where a merged frankenstein BSD goes stumbling across the landscape to
its subsequent destruction as it attempts, in a state of extreme
schizophrenia, to execute multiple incompatible goals at once.

I think we could do a lot of things to grab defeat from the jaws of
victory, but why? :-) Trust me, Linux may appear to be an
all-consuming juggernaut right now (and underestimating it is
certainly not on my agenda) but it certainly doesn't appear to be
doing our rate of growth any harm.  As I said, were any more rapid an
influx of users to occur, we'd probably start choking on them.

In many ways, though superficially admirable for its sheer numbers,
the Linux user base resembles 2000 people at a rock concert in a field
built to hold 500 people and with only one portable toilet available.
Many IRC and email based free tech support forums have completely
broken down and a substantial percentage of their vaunted commercial
"tech support" organzations are seem to be failing to provide adequate
satisfaction just judging by all the posted complaints.

Be careful for what you wish for, Alicia.  Sometimes you get more than
you wanted. :-)

- Jordan