FreeBSD's problems as seen by the community

Oliver Fromme olli at
Fri Jan 11 02:58:13 PST 2008

Timo Schoeler wrote:
 > [...]

While I agree with many of your points, I need to write a
small comment on this one:

 > FreeBSD is everywhere and nowhere at the same time. As was stated in 
 >, I should run ultra stable on servers, as it *used to be*. 
 > It no longer is. Instead, there are drivers written for HD Audio... Is 
 > there something I missed? Logic or Cubase already ported to FreeBSD? No?

FreeBSD supported soundcards from day one, in the good old
days of the 8bit SoundBlaster cards.

Today, many computers (especially laptops) come with HD
audio hardware that works only in HD mode.  It requires
an HD audio driver to do anything more than a square wave
beep.  Without the HD audio driver, I wouldn't be able
to play any sound on most of my newer computers, which
is why I am very grateful to the people (Ariff and others)
who worked on that driver.  I certainly would not want to
switch to a different OS just because of sound support.

 > So why waste resources and write this driver? 'Because one can.'

I think the real answer is:  You cannot prevent anyone
from writing a piece of software, no matter how useless
or ridiculous it might be for the majority of users.  If
there's someone who wants to write a driver for a USB
christmas tree or for a bluetooth canned laughter device
 -- he will do it, and you can't keep him from doing it.
It will even go into the CVS tree (though probably not
into GENERIC) if the source is clean, style(9)-compliant
and well maintained.  But even if it doesn't go into the
tree, that's not a big deal.  For example, for several
years I maintained some patches that improved syscons
(kern/15436).  They didn't go into CVS, but they worked
fine for me and a few others.

You can't tell people how to waste their resources in their
free time.  They waste it on whatever they want, no matter
what the FreeBSD project tells them, no matter if there's
a strong leader or not.

Of course, things are a little different when certain
pieces of software are sponsored (like the TrustedBSD
stuff), or when they are done for other purposes than
for pure fun, e.g. as part of a students project.
That's how things like IPFW and DUMMYNET came to life,

 > The problem is, that when people start to migrate *away* from FreeBSD 
 > (like was stated in, where some guy's company could no 
 > longer justify to recommend FreeBSD to their customers, because they had 
 > way too many problems with it), then a chain reaction is started.

Actually I think that issue is overrated
(I don't even think is the largest German BSD
community, but that's a different story).  It's true that
there are certainly problems, as the OP explained in his
initial posting.  Those problems do exist; I've been a
victim of one or another myself.  But I don't think that
significant amounts of FreeBSD people are now running away
from it.  Especially long-time FreeBSD people should know
better than to run away.  Everybody who's been following
FreeBSD seriously for a few years or more should know how
to produce _good_ bug reports and get them to the attention
of developers, especially when they're critical and affect
many people.  Several of the PRs submitted by myself are
still open and idle, but those are simply not critical
enough to waste time hunting developers.  All of my PRs
that I regard as critical have been taken care of.

Personally I've always looked in the directions of other
OS projects (Linux, NetBSD, OpenBSD, and recently Dragon-
Fly), and even tried them out sometimes on spare machines
or just within qemu.  None of them convinced me enough to
replace FreeBSD for production use, though, for various
reasons.  In fact there were instances when certain pieces
of hardware were reliably supported by FreeBSD, but not
at all by Linux.  (I should tell those stories on chat at .)

Well, to get at least a little bit on-topic here, let me
say that I think that -current seems to be in a very good
state today.  I've been mostly following the -stable
branches on the machines I'm responsible for, but I also
give -current a try every now and then, just to get a feel
for what's happening at the "bleeding edge".

Best regards

Oliver Fromme, secnetix GmbH & Co. KG, Marktplatz 29, 85567 Grafing b. M.
Handelsregister: Registergericht Muenchen, HRA 74606,  Geschäftsfuehrung:
secnetix Verwaltungsgesellsch. mbH, Handelsregister: Registergericht Mün-
chen, HRB 125758,  Geschäftsführer: Maik Bachmann, Olaf Erb, Ralf Gebhart

FreeBSD-Dienstleistungen, -Produkte und mehr:

C++: "an octopus made by nailing extra legs onto a dog"
        -- Steve Taylor, 1998

More information about the freebsd-current mailing list