FreeBSD's problems as seen by the community

Timo Schoeler timo.schoeler at
Fri Jan 11 06:02:59 PST 2008

Hash: SHA512

Thus Gavin Atkinson <gavin.atkinson at> spake on Fri, 11
Jan 2008 11:13:28 +0000:

> 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.

Yes, and it worked for years. Do I really have to use the past tense?

> > 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.

Okay, we (I) chose a bad example, I apalogize deeply. As I wrote in
response to Oliver's eMail, I thought that almost all PeeCeeish sound
devices can be at least in a basic way addressed in a way similar VESA
<-> framebuffers.

> > 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
> - 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.

See my other emails, I seem to have been not too precise on this. It's
about time, efficiency, ressources etc. in general.

> > 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.

Bingo. That's what nobody would have said X years before.

> 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.

Second Bingo. And I second that it gets better again. The 5.x was a
deep valley to walk through, at least for me.

> 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.  

That sounds like the future I want to see. In general, I'm almost an
ascetic in those things, but it's enough to make me smile. Thanks.

> Gavin


PS: I appreciate the work of all the FreeBSD guys very very much, as it
keeps my (FreeBSD) machines running. I just wanted to point out some
weaknesses to *improve* things, and the thread was not started by me.

Unfortunately, doing what I tried is next to impossible on entities
like mailing lists. It's pathological, but it is the way it is. ;)

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