Future of FreeBSD 7.0 and up

John Nielsen lists at jnielsen.net
Wed Feb 28 20:02:37 UTC 2007

On Wednesday 28 February 2007 14:26, Dwight Smith wrote:
> My name is Dwight Smith, and I only had a question or two in terms of the
> future useability of FreeBSD. I have used it on and off and found it to be
> a great UNIX operating system for servers, but my only major concern was
> the amount of time it takes to prepare a server such as an Apache Server
> with PHP and MySQL support as opposed to a Linux system which is what I am
> currently using now as well as my company. I guess my question is that will
> the ease of building or installing software for FreeBSD ever streamline to
> where you do not have to do as many steps and text config file entries?

If you don't need any customizations, "pkg_add -r packagename" will 
automatically download and install almost everything available in the ports 
system. It will even get the newest version appropriate for the version of 
FreeBSD you are running.

If you prefer to compile from source or need a non-default setting, going into 
the relevant directory in the ports tree and typing "make install clean" will 
again do everything automatically. In most cases the same command will also 
present you with an easy-to-use menu of options available for the port, if 

Which of those one-line commands strikes you as being less than easy from the 
point of view of a systems administrator, developer, technical end-user or 
Computer Coordinator?

If you have concerns about a specific piece of software, sending a message to 
this or another appropriate list or directly to the port's maintainer will 
typically yield good information, and if you have ideas for improvements they 
should be well received in the appropriate forum.

> What had me curious to asking this is this article I read about a review on
> FreeBSD 6.2 (http://www.softwareinreview.com/cms/content/view/67/) The
> reviewer had a lot of criticisms that seemed harsh, but at the same time
> raised some valid points. I only ask this question as I would like to see
> FreeBSD get the same recognition as Linux as FreeBSD is a powerful OS that
> should not be overshadowed and I hope it doesn't cause it saved my IT job
> many a times when a server crashes and I have to piece together an old PII
> with 32 MB RAM and install FreeBSD with Samba. So thanks in advance for
> your attention in this and I wish all of you the best.

My initial take on that review is that the reviewer had an earlier bad 
experience with FreeBSD (perhaps as a result of failing to understand that 
5.0 and 5.1 were developer preview releases), tried installing 6.2 once on a 
single system, ran down his pre-existing checklist of complaints to see if 
any of them had magically been fixed (as a result, perhaps, of the FreeBSD 
developer community reading his mind and finding themselves in agreement), 
did little if any troubleshooting of the hardware compatibility issues he 
mentioned (even reporting such occurences is a good way to contribute to a 
volunteer-based project), and wrote the whole thing off as being stagnant.

Some of his points and recommendations might have merit, but many seem to be 
the writer's wishlist for making FreeBSD into something it isn't (some hybrid 
of Gentoo and Fedora, perhaps). That and his general attitude of hopeless 
negativism[1] make it hard to take his review seriously.

Personally, FreeBSD 6.2 is the best OS I have ever used and I find it 
extremely well-suited to my needs and tastes for both server and desktop use. 
The only way to see if that is the case for you is to try it (again). If 
there are shortcomings, be proactive about reporting them. FreeBSD's user 
community is one of its biggest strengths.


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