Explaining FreeBSD features

Erich Dollansky oceanare at pacific.net.sg
Wed Jun 22 00:58:35 GMT 2005


Ted Mittelstaedt wrote:
>>Let's say this:
>>Multi-threaded SMP architecture capable of executing the kernel 
>>in parallel on multiple processors, and with kernel preemption, 
>>allowing high priority kernel tasks to preempt other kernel 
>>activity, reducing latency. This includes a multi-threaded 
>>network stack and a multi-threaded virtual memory subsystem. 
>>With FreeBSD 6.x, support for a fully parallel VFS allows the 
>>UFS file system to run on multiple processors simultaneously, 
>>permitting load sharing of CPU-intensive I/O optimization.
>>In the real world, that ought to sound more like:
>>FreeBSD includes support for symmetric multiprocessing and 
>>multithreading. This makes the kernel lock down levels of 
>>interfaces and buffers, minimizing the chance of threads on 
>>different processors blocking each other, to give maximum 
>>performance on multiprocessor systems.
The same old question pops up: what is the target audience.
> You see, the problem is that FreeBSD is not a general computer
> operating system product.  It is a very specific product in fact.
What is then the difference to Windows in this case?

> FreeBSD is targeted at 2 main groups of people:
FreeBSD is used by the two groups. But it is not said that it could not 
be used by the third group.

> 3) People who barely know how to push a button who have a problem
> they need to fix with a computer operating system, and they
> really don't care if they understand how the fix works as long
> as it works.
I do not think that it the design of Windows which makes it target. It 
is the kind of support people with no knowledge get which makes it.
> This gives rise to a rather serious Catch-22 with FreeBSD:
> You need to really understand intimately how FreeBSD works
> and how computer software that runs on it works in order to
> get it to work well enough for you to learn intimately how it
> works.
I do not think so.

If people with no knowledge would get proper answers when they run into 
problems instead of the hint to read the manual would help a lot here.

Those people will end in your group 2 which got the system setup by 
someone else.

> Windows and Linux solved this Catch-22 by dumbing-down the
> interface to their operating systems.  Thus, an ignoramus
> can get up and running with both of these systems, and that
> person can remain fat, dumb, and happy, completely ignorant
> of what he is doing, and those systems will still work enough
> to get the job done.  It may be a half-assed fix, but it is
> better than nothing.
What is the difference to FreeBSD if the system is running once?

> FreeBSD by contrast, long ago decided not to do this.  For
> starters, if you dumbed-down the FreeBSD interface, then to
> most people FreeBSD wouldn't be any different than Linux
> or Windows, so why mess with it?  But, most importantly, a
> dumbed-down interface gets in the way of a knowledgeable person,
> and over time becomes a tremendous liability.
There is no need for an interface like this if the people starting with 
no computer knowledge would get proper help just to get the machine up 
and running.

> With FreeBSD, the only way that a newbie can break the Catch-22 is
> old-fashioned mental elbow grease.  In short, by learning a bit
> at a time, expanding on that, and repeating the process.  It is a
> long slow way to get to know anything, but once you get there, you
> really do know everything in intimate detail.
Let it tell me this way. I have a neighbour who has a Ph.D. in biology. 
If she would give me the same answer when it comes to gardening, I would 
stop gardening as I do not want to know the background. All I want to 
know is how I can get rid of a special kind of pest.


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