FreeBSD & Linux distro

Jerry McAllister jerrymc at
Tue Feb 19 16:40:37 UTC 2008

On Tue, Feb 19, 2008 at 09:14:04AM -0700, Chad Perrin wrote:


A good rundown of some of the differences.
Maybe you can put this on a web page and get it added to lists
of comparrisons.


> On Tue, Feb 19, 2008 at 05:14:45AM -0800, Lone Wolf wrote:
> > But according to Wikipedia, FreeBSD is able to run Linux compatible software without any problems  (exception for  Linux Kernel 2.6) 
> > I can't run Linux software on FreeBSD?
> > 
> "Linux" is technically the name of an OS kernel.  FreeBSD has a different
> kernel -- the FreeBSD kernel.
> Various Linux distributions include different lineups of default basic
> userland software and OS infrastructure, but they tend to have a lot of
> the core stuff in common (in particular the GNU toolset).  FreeBSD shares
> a few tools in common with most Linux systems (GCC, for instance), but
> many of the basic userland and other core system tools are developed in
> tandem with the FreeBSD kernel, and are specific to FreeBSD.
> Both Linux distributions and FreeBSD aspire (to varying degrees and in
> different ways) to a generalized Unix system design.  FreeBSD is very
> much a descendant of the BSD Unix design (obviously) while Linux
> distributions tend more toward the SysV family of Unix.  Because there is
> sort of a common Platonic ideal of Unix, however, they do tend to share a
> lot in common.  Also, because Linux systems are not strictly descended
> from either the BSD Unix family or the SysV Unix family of operating
> systems, it differs from both approaches, and borrows a bit from both.
> It borrows a lot of code from the various BSD Unix systems, too, since
> three of the four major modern branches of BSD Unix are released under
> the BSD license.
> In my experience:
>   FreeBSD tends to be more stable than Linux distributions.  I'm sure
>   some of this is attributable to the fact that the core OS is all
>   developed as part of a greater whole, with exceptions for only a few of
>   the core tools (like GCC).  If those tools could be replaced with
>   FreeBSD specific equivalents, or at least non-GNU equivalents, this
>   might even improve further over Linux distributions, which are put
>   together from collections of available software developed with no
>   significant cooperation (other than the GNU toolset itself, whose
>   development isn't even coordinated with Linux kernel development).
>   FreeBSD tends to be easier to work with "under the hood" than Linux
>   distributions.  This is in large part due to the more unified design
>   process of FreeBSD, but also seems to be a result of some other forces
>   at work, since there are characteristics of FreeBSD system
>   configuration and design that do not seem related to the fact it's more
>   of a coordinated effort, but still contribute to greater ease of use.
>   Most Linux distributions default to bash as the shell, while FreeBSD's
>   default is (t)csh.  This is a difference that occasionally catches new
>   immigrants to FreeBSD from the Linux world off-guard.  It's not a bad
>   thing, though.  For one thing, as far as I'm aware there are fewer
>   dependencies for tcsh than for bash, so it's less likely to break if
>   some underlying piece of software gets a bad update.
>   Linux distributions, because they're basically just a kernel and a
>   bunch of disparate pieces of software collected into a running whole,
>   tend to include everything outside the kernel in a single software
>   management system.  FreeBSD differentiates between a "core" or "base"
>   system and the ports system, which is the general software management
>   system equivalent to the software management systems of Linux
>   distributions.  Because of this, your choice of software management
>   system isn't so much a part of the identity of the OS you are using
>   with FreeBSD, whereas with a Linux-based OS (aka "distribution"), your
>   OS is differentiated from others of the same family by default install
>   configuration, distribution project management of software archives,
>   and the software management system.
>   The FreeBSD community tends to be more knowledgeable and professional,
>   and less crazy in its approach to OS advocacy, than the communities for
>   most Linux distributions.
>   FreeBSD documentation is some of the best OS documentation in the
>   world.  One of the reasons I made the switch is that I noticed I was
>   actually using official FreeBSD documentation for working with my
>   Linux-based systems as often as I was using the official documentation
>   that came with, or from, my Linux distribution.  The distro-specific
>   documentation wasn't as good as the FreeBSD-specific documentation, and
>   the distro-agnostic Linux-based system documentation wasn't as coherent
>   as similar FreeBSD documentation -- even though the distro-agnostic
>   documentation and FreeBSD's equivalent OS-nonspecific documentation was
>   almost identical in terms of the sort of software it covered.  Once in
>   a while I miss the slightly greater manpage coverage of Debian, but for
>   the most part FreeBSD's documentation wins without breaking a sweat.
>   The single most stable software management system in the Linux world
>   that I've ever used was Debian's APT.  It's slightly less stable than
>   the FreeBSD ports system, and the software tends to be a step behind
>   FreeBSD's in terms of version numbers available, too.
> Hopefully that helps.  It's probably more than you wanted to read.
> -- 
> CCD CopyWrite Chad Perrin [ ]
> Rudy Giuliani: "You have free speech so I can be heard."
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