FreeBSD's problems as seen by the community

Gavin Atkinson gavin.atkinson at
Fri Jan 11 03:13:33 PST 2008

As much as I don't want to get involved in this thread, I feel I should
at least respond to this part of it.  If you are planning to respond to
this by trying to bring licensing issues up again, please do not waste
your time.  Take it to -chat@ or reply to me off-list.

On Fri, 2008-01-11 at 10:46 +0100, Timo Schšoeler wrote:

> Everybody works on his own stuff, to earn the merits (if there are any 
> besides 'glory'). The thing that is missing is satisfaction -- if you 
> can feel satisfaction that your code works, then it's regardless of 
> whether it was build by you or a team you were part of.

This is true.  Satisfaction that you have achieved and contributed
something is pretty much the only thing that a non-profit organisation
like FreeBSD can offer to people willing to work for free.

> 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?
> So why waste resources and write this driver? 'Because one can.' That's 
> a typical answer that might be given in only one context: There's no 
> real 'agenda' of where to go with FreeBSD.

I would really question this.  The guys who wrote the HD Audio driver
obviously needed it.  As somebody who was involved (in a small way) at
the very start with writing this driver, I can say that I was involved
with it because I *needed* it.  I need my laptop to be able to produce
sound, and without a driver for the sound card, I would have had to use
a different OS.  Have you never needed sound on any of your machines?  I
use FreeBSD on my desktop machines so need it there, but I also use
FreeBSD for streaming several radio stations over the Internet.  If the
HD audio driver didn't exist, I'd have to use a different OS there.

> As I wrote yesterday, 'If I want features, I run Linux.' I take a not so 
> stable OS and can connect my new USB Digital Camera to it, or my CardBus 
> HD Audio device, or whatever. The Linux guys import every single crappy 
> unneccessary driver into their kernel, that's why APIs are changing as 
> often as some developers change their underwear, and why Linux is NOT 
> stable.

I don't think FreeBSD will ever get to the point where "every single
crappy unnecessary driver is in the kernel".  Take a look inside GENERIC
- pretty much every single storage device controller and network card is
in there, and things like keyboard controllers for PS2 and USB, but very
little else.  Basically, almost everything in there is there to allow an
initial install to happen.  No sound, no drivers for 3D cards, no
drivers for lesser used filesystems.  Sure, they are available as
modules if you need them, but if you don't then I don't see why their
very existence is of any concern.  There seems to be quite a high
barrier for the inclusion of drivers into GENERIC.

> If I want a stable server that can (although not should) achieve very 
> high uptimes, I choose FreeBSD. However, this might change.

I would not deny that FreeBSD has some stability issues.  There are some
areas where serious work needs to be put in to improve reliability.  I
do not believe that the addition of a HD Audio driver, or the 'agenda'
through which it was included is to blame.  People develop code because
they want to, and people develop the code that they want to.  

> I simply doubt that todays FreeBSD's quality, robustness can keep pace 
> with the quality it had some years ago.

I think a couple of years ago this was true, but things are changing for
the better very quickly.  Peter Holm's stress testing suite, Kris
Kennaway's constant hammering of FreeBSD to breaking point and thorough
investigation of failure mode, and countless new individuals like myself
working in their own small way to improve the OS they care for have, in
my opinion, produced in FreeBSD 7 (and partially in later 6.x releases),
performance and stability that hasn't been seen since FreeBSD 4.  


More information about the freebsd-current mailing list