Instead of freebsd. com, why not...

Johnson David DavidJohnson at
Tue Feb 15 10:48:20 PST 2005

From: Anthony Atkielski [mailto:atkielski.anthony at]
> I'm beginning to understand the problem, though.  It has occurred to me
> that most people using computers today have never seen any computers
> except PCs (and perhaps the occasional Mac).  They assume that the
> entire world of IT is on the desktop.  They also assume that any
> operating system that isn't ideal for the desktop is somehow not manly
> or sexy enough to warrant consideration.  They don't realize that server
> and mainframe operating systems are much more difficult to write and
> must satisfy much more stringent criteria for reliability, stability,
> performance, and uptime.  To them, any suggestion that an OS may not be
> suited to the desktop is tantamount to saying that the OS is worthless.

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.
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.

Let's take a look at one, the iNET860. It has an identical CPU to the one in
my home desktop system.  Identical RAM type. Same SATA drives, but in a RAID
configuration. It has an Intel Pro/1000 while I have an Intel Pro/100 at
home. The mobo chipset is different, but not substantially. The available
ports are substantially the same. Oh, here's a difference: No audio or video
cards! The point is, while the iNET860 is optimized for a server, the basic
architecture is still that of a PC. I could very well slap in a PCI video
card and run FreeBSD, Linux or WindowsXP from it!

Servers and clients have converged. The differences between the two are not
in architecture, power or flexibility, but in optimization. One has RAID
while the other had 3D video. One might have four- or eight-way SMP, while
the other usually maxes out at dual CPUs. One tends to use more reliable
(and expensive) components than the other. Etc, etc.

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?

> Maybe this mindset needs to be changed.  Most of the heavy-duty work in
> the world is done by servers and mainframes, not desktops.  Most of the
> best operating systems in the world are mainframe and server operating
> systems, not desktop operating systems.  And there's no shame in an
> operating system being better at server work than at desktop work; on
> the contrary, a good server operating system has considerably more
> prestige than a good desktop operating system ... at least in the eyes
> of IT professionals who have been around a while.

The mindset that needs to change is that we need to keep around an
artificial distinction between clients and servers. UNIX moved people away
from mainframes to minis. And then it moved them away from minis to micros.
At the same time, micros were getting more and more powerful. We have
reached there is little difference between the server and the client.

> Unfortuately, since so many people know and understand only desktops,
> they tend to equate non-desktop with non-existence, and so they get
> emotional when someone points out that their favorite OS may not be the
> ideal desktop OS.  They are interested in UNIX, but only insofar as it
> runs on a desktop, since anything that doesn't run on a desktop is only
> half an operating system, in their eyes.

You're starting to get a bit insulting here. I am in no way suggesting that
FreeBSD be taken off the server, so stop acting like that's what I said.
Putting FreeBSD on the desktop IN NO WAY affects it on the server. 

> You can run any piece of junk on a desktop.

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

> You can do both if you are willing to sacrifice a little on each.  "Jack
> of all trades, master of none."  That's the Microsoft philosophy: try to
> push your OS as the solution to everything.  But even they can't get the
> concept to work.  Servers and clients are just too different.  You need
> the right tool for the right job.

What is there to sacrifice? No one has explained this yet to me. Is ULE
somehow inappropriate for the desktop (while Windows' scheduler is)? Does
the system break if I choose not to install apache or sendmail? 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.

> This is excellent evidence of the mindset I mentioned above.  Why are
> people advocating FreeBSD on the desktop, but not on servers?  FreeBSD
> shines on servers.  It is not a substitute for Windows on the desktop.

Because I don't have a freaking server! I want to use FreeBSD because that
is what I want to use! If I wanted to Windows or OSX or Linux, I would be
using Windows or OSX or Linux instead. FreeBSD is perfectly capable of being
a desktop system, so why shouldn't I be allowed to use it as such? 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 have my FreeBSD desktop when you pry it out of my cold dead hands!


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