my thoughts on FreeBSD

Tim Hammerquist tim+freebsd-advocacy at
Mon Mar 1 19:00:55 PST 2004

Matt Jarjoura wrote:
> Again, repeating on a message from an earlier email I sent out on the
> list... if RedHat and SUSE are good enough that ISPs are using them,
> instead of saying how silly ISPs are to turn their heads away from
> FreeBSD, we NEED to be looking at what exactly RedHat & SUSE have that
> FreeBSD doesn't.  I doubt it's the cushy corporate backing, although
> Novel will certainly have the inroads necessary to see a lot of old
> Unix machines replaced with their SUSE/Novel boxes.

My local ADSL ISP makes most of their money from corporate customers.
Home connectivity is merely for pocket change.  Talking to the admins
(as well as some netcraft snooping) reveals that they run two OSes on
their web servers: FreeBSD and Redhat.

The reason for FreeBSD (they said) is stability.  The reason behind
Redhat is three-fold: stability (452-day uptime on the mail server),
loyalty (most servers at the center started out on Redhat many years
ago), and the CEO claims to be an old-school kernel hacker.  (However,
a quick `grep -r` for his name in the 2.6.3 kernel source gives a $? ==
1, so...)

> A) RedHat and SUSE both have GUI installers.  -- Honestly, how
> important is it that FreeBSD remain a TUI-only menu based
> installation-??  Sure it's simple, but screen-shots of it sure don't
> appear appetizing to ISPs in a 2 week window.
> I am not saying FreeBSD should be focused on Desktop users, but server
> admins are starting to get a lot more "desktop-like" features from Mac
> OS X Server, Win 2k3, even RH and SUSE.  Bandwidth for running X11
> over SSH isn't a problem like it used to be.

I'm certain that GUI installers aren't the reason for my ISP's use of
Redhat, since the mail server's still running a (patched) 2.0.40 kernel.
Redhat only started using a GUI installer during the 2.4 kernel series.

I've seen several people mention how quickly (and under which states of
consciousness) they can navigate /stand/sysinstall and it reminded me of
my experience with the Linux kernel config front-ends.

I like sysinstall for the same reason I prefer Linux' "menuconfig"
interface, but that doesn't make it well-designed.  In fact, I've
noticed several problems with the interactivity and menu hierarchies of
both sysinstall and the Linux config systems.

I'll continue using Linux' menuconfig interface as well as FreeBSD's
sysinstall, glazing over when GUI apps are endorsed.  It's just the way
I am.  But that doesn't mean I wouldn't mind seeing some robust feature
dependency checking in menuconfig (as found in the xconfig interface).
Nor would I mind in the least if sysinstall allowed me to gracefully
break out of a distribution installation.

IOW, just because a tool is good doesn't mean there's no room for

Just my US$0.02,
Tim Hammerquist

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