I am a newbie

Cordula's Web cpghost at cordula.ws
Wed Dec 24 20:24:24 PST 2003

> My name is Robert. I am 13 and I want to use a bsd distro because my
> of best friend uses it and he says you can really get into it deeper

Hi Robert,

welcome to FreeBSD! It's great that you're so enthusiastic about
using FreeBSD. This is the same motivation that keeps us working
on (or playing with, or even developing [for]) FreeBSD. It's fun
and useful too.

By sending a mail to freebsd-questions at freebsd.org (or the shorter
address questions at freebsd.org), you're actually e-mailing literally
thousands of people all around the world.  Some of us are developing
(programming) the system itself, other develop programs that you can
run within FreeBSD, and a lot of us are using FreeBSD for fun or

With so many people reading your mail, you can't expect that they all
use the same e-mail reader, don't you? Some e-mail readers are
text-oriented (no nice flashy GUI), and it is awful to have to
decypher mails with lines longer than about 70 characters or
so. Please tell your mail program to wrap long lines, so we can all
read you more easily.

Furthermore, it is much easier to read mails that are structured in
paragraphs. If someone can comment on something, or reply to a
question, they can do so immediately at the right position (like this
reply). So please break up long paragraphs in smaller logical units.

> than any closed OS like Windows and its stability is greater than
> any other OS in the world.

One great thing about FreeBSD, is that it comes with full source
code. This is fantastic if you're a programmer. By simply reading
the source code, you can understand how the system works. It's
like peeking under the hood of a car. A closed source OS would
be like a box that you can't open, so you're dependant upon what
the vendor says. You can't adjust this box to do things that
the manufacturer didn't anticipate. With an open source OS,
you can not only see exactly what's going on behind the scenes,
you can also change things, sometimes break them, but more often
make them better or enhance them.

As for stability, FreeBSD is rock solid. Many internet service
providers (including very big ones), and companies are using FreeBSD
on their big servers. They are relying upon this stability, because
they can't afford the downtime caused by crashes. They are also not
willing to put up with virus-related vulnerabilities that are common
in another OS.

> Well I am in high school and I would like to do something with BSD
> for my high school project and impress the whole school with how
> deep I can get into your OS by controlling a robot or making an
> interface like the one my friend made for programming a simple
> robot.

FreeBSD is a great system for school projects. I assume that this
project includes some programming. With FreeBSD, you can pick your
programming language (we've got a lot of them in /usr/ports/lang), and
immediatly start hacking [hacking in the sense of programming, of
course, _not_ cracking].

Something like controlling a robot requires that you do a lot
of reading though, but it's fun! :-)

> None of my other freinds in school even know about UNIX or BSD or
> any of tat.

That's sad, but true. You could get acquainted to FreeBSD, and then
show it to friends. They may even like it, and start playing with it
too. It's up to you to help spread the word ;)

> purist.  I am no sure totally what he means by OS purism? What does
> it mean to be a purist and like BSD so much because of this belief?

Perhaps someone who likes an OS without any bells 'n whistles?
"Purist" is not defined in the Jargon Dictionary http://www.jargon.org/
Why won't you ask him what he means?

> Also I was checking out BSD on the web at the OS world and I dont
> get something. I dont get why you guys call your OS FREEBSD when
> OPENBSD is free as well. I just dont see why there is two different
> OS's here within BSD. What is the difference. Which one should I get
> into.

All three BSD flavors:


started from a common parent, called 4.4BSD Lite, released by
the University of California at Berkeley. 4.4BSD Lite is not
an active project anymore, but the three BSDs are well supported
by enthusiasts. All BSDs share a common core, but the three
projects differ in their goals and mentalities.

FreeBSD's main goal (well, one of their goals) is to provide
the best OS for PC-hardware (though other CPU types are supported
as well), lots of ports, etc...

OpenBSD's goal is more focused on security. FreeBSD is secure
too, but the OpenBSD folks are particularly focused on finding
even the slightest bug before it can be exploited by crackers.

NetBSD's goal is to support as many different platforms (processor
types) as possible. You won't find any other OS in the world that
you can run on more machine types.

All BSDs have a lot in common, and the three projects are
cooperating by sharing their experiences.

So, at the end of the day, it's your call what OS you would use.
For a newbie, FreeBSD is certainly the better choice. People
using OpenBSD or NetBSD have generally already some experience
with FreeBSD, and would be able to fix problems on their own,
should they arise.

> I just want to see what makes Unix so special and powerful and not
> crash ever you know?

Unix' design is perhaps it's best asset and the reason why it is so
stable. Compared to other OSes, there is a clear separation between
userland programs (the programs you run), and the kernel. If there is
a problem in a userland program, this won't affect the kernel, only
the process running this program (i.e. the process will be killed, but
that wounldn't affect the stability of the system).  Other OSes
integrate their favorite programs in the kernel (for speed, or by poor
design), so if there's a bug in one of these programs, they'll crash
the complete OS.

Unix is also very mature. It's been around since the 1970-s! The
first BSD releases started around 1978, and have been continously
improved upon in all those years.

Because BSD was originally developed in a university setup (think: few
very expensive computers, and a lot of student accounts sharing this
computer), it was subject to heavy ponding by all those students who
were eager to obtain 'root' privileges. This helped tremendously to
make BSD more secure. There are other reasons too, but you'll have
to figure them out yourself :)

> need help now. Please?  Will you guys write back to me so I dont
> have to do something stupid and get involved with an OS I dont want
> to and get lost in thte wrong thingz?

You could start by browsing

The Handbook is required reading for every FreeBSD user.
There are some introductory documents too:


Then, grab FreeBSD, install it on a spare harddisk, and start playing.
After you get more comfortable with the OS, you could start learning
to write small programs. The more you dive in, the more enjoying the
experience will be.

> ............Robert, Hillsboro OR USA.

Happy hacking!

Cordula's Web. http://www.cordula.ws/

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