FreeBSD vs. Linux vs. Windows

Eli Scott sp0rkmail at
Wed Jun 25 19:04:50 PDT 2003

For people who don't want to read on about my opinion of Gentoo vs.
FreeBSD, I'll make one final appeal for pitting FreeBSD against Gentoo
Linux.  Gentoo is arguably the most configurable, powerful, and Advanced
linux distribution (aside from lfs) out there...and FreeBSD still kicks
its ass (in my opinion).  Both have a similar management system for 3rd
party apps, both have similar design philosophies, and so on.  In short:
I think the only chance linux has when pitted against FreeBSD is in
Gentoo.  Really, I think if we were to do a linux-FreeBSD showdown on
TechTV or otherwise, the only way to win over hard-core linux users and
impress the zealots is to run FreeBSD against a hard-core distro.  Gentoo
is pretty hardcore.  Anyway, just a thought.

Now, onto the meat..

On Tue, 24 Jun 2003, Thomas McIntyre wrote:

> What's the point of munging in all this automagic USE stuff?  One of
> freebsd's stregths the ease to a clean install w/o having to duel the
> installer.  Ports are great for a willingness to allow configuring,
> messing with makefiles, source -- whatever -- without having to be an
> action hero.

I would definately agree here.  I "Grew up" - so to speak - (freshman
year of college) on FreeBSD.  I learned how to hack port's Makefiles on my own,
and never found it too difficult.  I also tried Gentoo for the first time
then.  I was impressed by portage, but I feel more at home in ports.  I'm
masochistic, so I actually enjoy the 2-day system installs to have a
system that suits my needs completely...the sad thing is, I can install
FreeBSD, cvsup ports and system source, rebuild my kernel, make world,
and have the same ends in much less time.

I also like the fact that one is forced to LEARN SOMETHING if they install
Gentoo.  You don't just pop in the CD, click a few boxes and have a
running system.  You get to do all of the preliminary installation by
hand.  This is why I have any of my friends who want to install linux,
install Gentoo.  I've met too many linux users who get into the script
kiddie sindrome, where they think installing Redhat on their other
hardrive makes them immediately 31337 or, even worse, a linux guru.  One
of these days, I plan on making my own FreeBSD live CD based off of
FreeBSD From Scratch for my own uses (mainly just to see if I can do it).
Thats how much I *like* the Gentoo-style installation.  I personally think
FreeBSD can do it faster and more efficiently.

> Try minimizing Solaris or building your own packages for comparison.
> Not friendly.
> I also sympathize with question of Gentoo's build times.  First get
> the machine running, then tweak it -- an iterative approach is best.
> It's hard to understand why a working kernel isn't provided.

Its definately a power-user's distro.  Its for people who know exactly
what they want in their kernel, and don't want to mess with another
person's idea of a well-configured kernel.  I tend to sway in this
direction myself.  Personal preference, I guess.

I can't stand the linux kernel config.  I have to wade through menus that
seem set up in an anti-intuitive way just to configure my soundcard.  With
FreeBSD, I copy GENERIC, add a line, thats it.  I don't even have to use a
text editor if I don't want to, just append the line to the file.

> Hand configuring a kernel to get off the cdrom seems extreme.  And in
> light of the effort invested in Portage to chuck the stick shift, a
> little schizophrenic.

Again, power-user oriented.  The first thing I do in linux is configure a
new kernel, why not start out with the one i want?

> Last gripe is for sparc64 only.  If one wants to do all this command
> line bootstrapping, do it via working ssh daemon.  Anyone having to
> install gentoo sparc via a serial cable better know how to configure
> sshd by hand; else, it may be a long build.
> Still, one has to appreciate getting Linux based on source.  But your
> friends might want to consider dialing back the bragging a tad....

Gentoo it really about the only linux I'll allow on any of my systems.
I've got it on my main machine just to track linux development and compare
it to FreeBSD (it still doesn't match the speed and responsiveness of
FreeBSD, and frankly, none of the File Systems feel as nice on the user
as UFS2, and I say that after trying ext2, ext3, XFS, and jfs
experience yet).  I relate Gentoo to people as the best you'll get with
linux, after swimming through several hours of hell on the install.

I try to be pretty rounded as far as OS's go.  In the last three years
I've been actively interested in all things not windows, I've used
Solaris, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, NetBSD, OS X, Linux(Gentoo, Slackware, RedHat,
Mandrake, and Debian), and pretty much every version of Windows.  FreeBSD
won me over the first time I used it, and it's remained my favorite OS
out of all of the ones I mentioned.  I think OS X might come in second
place.  Anyway, I think my rambling should come to an end now...I'm sure
half of this stuff is of no intrest to the majority of you.


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