Why FreeBSD not popular on hardware vendors

Julien Cigar jcigar at ulb.ac.be
Thu Dec 11 05:39:38 PST 2008

Just to share my point of view :

I use FreeBSD only since 6.2, before that I was a long-time Debian user.
For the little experience I have with it I must admit that it looks
pretty solid and a perfect choice for a "server" (for proof: I replaced
almost all my Debian boxes with FreeBSD, both at work and at home) :
things like ports, GEOM, PF, Jails, ... are a pleasure to use, altough
some things are missing (no software RAID 5 (no, no gvinum please), no
"grow" mode as in mdadm, etc).

As a desktop I'm a little more reserved. I had a lot of problems with my
pc at home for example (but not only): 
- on almost all my machines I have problems with CD/DVD drives, mostly
things like READ_BIG timeout, etc. I tried almost everything (disabling
ACPI, DMA, upgrading the drive BIOS, etc), disabling DMA resolved some
problems, but it's still impossible to burn a DVD for example.
- my mouse (a Logitec MX 300, USB) is still undetected at boot. Every
time I have to unplug/plug it after boot. Not a big deal I admit, but
- USB mass storage plug/unplug sometimes causes system panic. I know
that this is a well known bug that require some rearchitecting and that
a proper umount has always been the way to umount a drive, but,
honestly, you cannot seriously convince someone to use FreeBSD with
things like this ...
- Altough ports are fantastic, building things like OpenOffice or ... is
just inhuman, especially when you cannot use -j for building ports (but
it's being resolved I think). Of course there are packages, but it's far
less friendly to use (and manage) than apt-get/dpkg.


On Thu, 2008-12-11 at 13:36 +0100, Polytropon wrote:
> On Thu, 11 Dec 2008 07:19:14 -0500, Jerry <gesbbb at yahoo.com> wrote:
> > Define: 'Actual Work'? What you are referring to is that it meets your
> > criteria. Everyone's work platform might not be so narrow.
> ometimes, "actual work" may be entertainment, gaming, or
> programming obscure hardware platforms. :-)
> > I use FreeBSD for may things; however, it is by no means a perfect
> > system. There are just too many things that either don't work, or don't
> > work well.
> I may say this: At home, I'm using FreeBSD exclusively since
> approx. 2000 (at least since release 4.0). Here everything
> worked without any (!) problems, no need for problem reports.
> At work, FreeBSD and Solaris are present. For some fields of
> use, I would not FreeBSD instead of Solaris. However, I found
> no operating system that could replace FreeBSD in the fields
> where I use it.
> As in many other topics, this is only my very individual point
> of view. 
> I do see "FreeBSD's problems" in most cases where hardware
> support isn't up to date, but that's mainly a thing of the
> hardware manufactureres that (a) build black boxes or (b)
> do not use existing standards, so accessing their hardware
> is a problem. Other problems are usual entertainment stuff
> that seems to hook that deeply into the operating system that
> it leads into problems - yes, I'm talking about "Flash"
> especially.
> Hardware vendors are mostly interested in operating systems
> that already have a huge market share. Allthough FreeBSD is
> a very professional OS and has a growing usage share, its
> market share isn't that big, so it is considered to be
> unimportant. Furthermore, FreeBSD is considered to be an
> OS for servers, allthough it scales very well from desktops
> over mixed forms to servers. And servers usually don't contain
> bleeding edge GPUs and strange WLAN USB sticks, so that's why
> the support isn't that good.
> Personally, I'd prefer an OS that supports a narrow subset
> of hardware excellently and efficiently instead of an OS that
> claims to support everything, supports most things poorly
> and through "binary blobs" where you can't be sure what it
> actually does.
Julien Cigar
Belgian Biodiversity Platform
Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB)
Campus de la Plaine CP 257
Bâtiment NO, Bureau 4 N4 115C (Niveau 4)
Boulevard du Triomphe, entrée ULB 2
B-1050 Bruxelles
Mail: jcigar at ulb.ac.be
@biobel: http://biobel.biodiversity.be/person/show/471
Tel : 02 650 57 52

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