Future of FreeBSD

Poul-Henning Kamp phk at phk.freebsd.dk
Sat Apr 10 04:09:32 PDT 2004

In message <20040410115135.GA20807 at norsu.kameli.org>, "Atte Peltomaki" writes:

>It still leaves me wonder - why is the user/developer-base so hostile
>towards any critique on the system?

I don't think we are.

The problem is that most of us know and have known for a long time
about these deficiencies and we really wish to get them fixed, only,
we have 20 other things we need to do first, one of which is "earn
a living" another being "play with our children".

What we have is a resource-shortage, that stresses out the overworked
developers, and that results in crappy attitudes.

But you are right that the Future of FreeBSD needs to be pondered.

Right now, 5.3 does not look like it will be what we have expected
and promised to deliver for 5-stable, and I don't see the miracle
which will that happen this summer.

But the world is also remakably different from when we started
FreeBSD 10 years and five major releases ago.  Back then, the
"competition" was WIN3.11 and practically anything we did was a
success by definition.

Today the competition is Linux, and despite all the perforations
they tend to inflict in their own feet, they are serious competition
for us.

So we have to decide what we are as a project:

Is FreeBSD a hobby project which delivers what it can, when it can,
based on whatever people contribute when they have time ?

Or is FreeBSD as a project serious about being a qualified competitor
in the operating system market ?

In the first case, our users will have to get used to an entirely
different sort of delivery and deliverable.

In the second case, it is time that our users take the Kennedy test:

	Ask not what FreeBSD can do for you,
	ask what you can do for FreeBSD.

We cannot expect to continue to compete with the probably close to
one hundred full-time developers Linux has unless we manage to get
at least a handful of our own developers funded full time.

And let me get that 100% straight:  There are to my knowlege not
one single FreeBSD developer who is employed to work full time on
the things FreeBSD needs done.

We do have a number of key developers who are employed by companies
using FreeBSD and they get to spend a lot of time on the problems
their companies see as important to FreeBSD.

What we don't have an IBM, a RedHat or OSDL.org who are willing to
employg developers to work full time on the problems that are
important to FreeBSD.

So in my view, the future of FreeBSD is pretty much in the hands
of all the users out there who are "serious about FreeBSD", how
about you persuade your FreeBSD using employer to donate a small
sum to the FreeBSD Foundation every month ?

Imagine if some of our users sent $1/month for each FreeBSD machine
they were running.

30,000 machines under such a programme and we would have a handful
of our best people full-time developing FreeBSD and a person in
the Foundation to deal with the fund-raising and paperwork.

And I don't think it will be that hard to explain that "somebody
needs to work on the operating system and they also need food to
eat" if the amount of money we ask for is $1/month.

How about that ?

It is my hope is that my project:


will become the icebreaker for this change.


Poul-Henning Kamp       | UNIX since Zilog Zeus 3.20
phk at FreeBSD.ORG         | TCP/IP since RFC 956
FreeBSD committer       | BSD since 4.3-tahoe    
Never attribute to malice what can adequately be explained by incompetence.

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