projects to better support FreeBSD sysadmins

Craig Rodrigues rodrigc at
Wed Jan 14 02:33:30 UTC 2015

On Tue, Jan 13, 2015 at 02:14:24PM -0900, Royce Williams wrote:
> At face value, the main project list is heavily weighted towards
> relatively esoteric OS features. The Foundation list is heavily
> weighted towards advocacy and communication (as it should be).


Thank you for your post and your analysis.  I agree with everything
you wrote.  My observation is that the FreeBSD developer community
is heavily skewed towards kernel developers and systems developers.
That's why the project list which you mentioned in the
FreeBSD status report has a lot of items for kernel and OS features.

However, FreeBSD has always been more than just a kernel.  The project
sells itself as a provider of a fully usable and integrated operating system.
The kernel is only one component of a fully usable system.

For a while, I worked for Jordan Hubbard at iXsystems, and
when I talked with him, the sense I got is that in the early
days of the project, the focus was much more on having a fully usable
and integrated operating system than it is today.  The early project
founders were much more pragmatic about getting things done and having a usable
system.  They chose the BSD license for practicality, but were not afraid
to use GNU things if there was no equivalently functional BSD licensed tool.
The project was not just focused on
adding esoteric OS and kernel features.  For example, things
like sysinstall, which tried to have a fully integrated menu
for configuring the system, was a big deal in the early 1990's
compared to the competition.  Today, the state of the art has
advanced, and sysinstall looks quite primitive, but the ideas for what
it was trying to accomplish are valid.  However, it was an attempt
at improving usability.

Unfortunately, in recent years, when Kris Moore tried
to integrate newer installer work that he wrote,
he was constantly pushed away because
his code depends on 3rd party libraries such as Qt, which are not
in the base system.  Kris's work is very nice.  I've used his installer
in PC-BSD both in desktop and server modes.
It's a shame that Kris did all this work and was basically told to get lost.
The end result is that Kris had to go and form a separate PC-BSD project instead of being
able to improve FreeBSD itself.  The bsdinstall installer that
we have today in the base system does work, but it actually *lacks* features
in comparision to sysinstall which is a 1990's era tool!!

Unfortunately, I think the project has lots its way and gone away from its roots
in the areas of having a usable operating system and has veered towards
esoteric OS and system features.   I agree with you that refocusing Foundation efforts
more towards improving usability would be a very good thing.

Craig Rodrigues
rodrigc at

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