Instead of freebsd. com, why not...

Anthony Atkielski atkielski.anthony at
Mon Feb 14 22:06:28 PST 2005

Johnson David writes:

> Except for Sun "enterprise servers" and Apple's offerings, every server I
> have seen has been a PC. I guess that makes me part of the unwashed masses.

It just means that your experience is recent.  PC hardware is cheap and
plentiful, and it is powerful enough for servers, so it is often used in
that capacity.  It's not ideal hardware for a server, but today's PCs
have enough horsepower to fulfill this role, and they are very

In the past, servers were likely to be proprietary hardware.

> When I go to and other similar sites, I see that
> everything they sell is a PC. That 1U is a PC. That 4U is a PC. That tower
> is a PC. They may not be client PCs, but PCs they are.

The operating system and the environment make all the difference.  ATMs
are usually PCs, but that doesn't mean that understanding PCs is
equivalent to understanding ATMs.

> Servers and clients have converged.

No, they are just as different as they have always been.  You have to
look beyond mere hardware.  There are differences in operating systems,
applications, use patterns, constraints, and environment.

> To make a long story short, If I can have the same hardware on the
> desktop as I do the server, why can't I have the same software as
> well?

You can, if you want to convert your desktop into a server, or convert
your server into a desktop.  But for a server role, you must run server
software, and for a desktop role, you must run desktop software.
Occasionally there are hardware constraints, too.

> The mindset that needs to change is that we need to keep around an
> artificial distinction between clients and servers.

The distinction is not artificial; it's a critical and real distinction
that many people today just don't understand.

I've worked on all these types of systems, and their differences are as
clear as black and white to me.

> UNIX moved people away from mainframes to minis.

No, it filled in a gap between the two.  Mainframes are still in use.

> And then it moved them away from minis to micros.

No, minicomputers are still in use.

> At the same time, micros were getting more and more powerful. We have
> reached there is little difference between the server and the client.

The difference is just as large now as it has always been.

> You're starting to get a bit insulting here.

It's difficult to describe the problem without at least adumbrating the
ignorance of recent generations of so-called IT professionals.  They are
so clueless in so many domains that it's scary sometimes.

> I am in no way suggesting that FreeBSD be taken off the server,
> so stop acting like that's what I said.

I didn't mention you at all.

> But what if we don't run to run junk on the desktop?

Then you run something better.  That's when you spring for Windows 200x
instead of a dusty old copy of Windows 98.

> What is there to sacrifice?

Many of the requirements of servers and clients are in direct conflict.
Desktops require a GUI, but GUI just gets in the way on a server.
Desktops must be inexpensive, but the reliability requirements of
servers cost money.  Desktops must be user-friendly, but servers must be
secure.  And so on.

> I realize that I could certainly tune FreeBSD for one or the other,
> but I fail to understand why tuning it one way prevents you from
> tuning it the other.

Some things are consequences of the fundamental design of an OS, and
cannot be changed through tuning.

> Because I don't have a freaking server!

The fact that you don't have a server doesn't mean that FreeBSD should
be promoted on the desktop in preference to its server role.

> I want to use FreeBSD because that is what I want to use!

Great, but not a very persuasive argument if you are trying to encourage
others to use it.

> FreeBSD is perfectly capable of being a desktop system, so why
> shouldn't I be allowed to use it as such?

You're _allowed_ to use anything.

> What is so wrong about doing this?


> Why can't I come home in the evening to find something other than the
> crappy Windows I've been using at work?

You can.

> You can have my FreeBSD desktop when you pry it out of my cold dead
> hands!

I can see that this is a strongly emotional issue for you.
Unfortunately, that's a handicap when you are trying to advocate a
system to unemotional third parties.  Your last few statements above
would cause you to be written off immediately if you were presenting
FreeBSD to a committee of corporate IT managers, for example.  They
aren't interested in your deep love for FreeBSD; they are only
interested in cogent and objective arguments that explain why they
should adopt it.

You cannot advocate with emotion.  I've seen lots of geeks crash and
burn this way while trying to negotiate with other people who see
computers only as tools.


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