FreeBSD Decision

James Phillips anti_spam256 at
Sat Jan 15 02:23:39 UTC 2011

> Message: 14
> Date: Fri, 14 Jan 2011 19:46:20 +0100
> From: Alessandro Baggi <alessandro.baggi at>
> Subject: FreeBSD Decision
> To: freebsd-questions at
> Message-ID: <4D3099FC.10807 at>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1;
> format=flowed
> Hi list, I don't want make a flame post but I would ask an
> objective 
> opinion, then not a camp opinion, about using FreeBSD or
> Debian Linux in 
> a production environment for solution as such as cluster of
> some 

> Mail Server (qmail), raid software, security support and
> hardware 
> support. 

I prefer Debian and lurk on the list because I want to use FreeBSD for my fileserver (which has been a multi-year project, still not in production). I originally chose BSD "for security", but have decided to stick with it to benefit from learning a slightly different way of doing things.

The main flame-worthy difference between the two is licensing: Linux uses the GPL, FreeBSD uses a simplified BSD license. You can probably find flame-wars about it on the Internet yourself :)

The culture between the two groups is also a little different. Debian actually has an IRC channel where users are encouraged to ask questions (#debian on Here, they prefer you use this mailing list. The difference may be that Debian has a larger community that can support an IRC channel.

The way packages get installed is different as well. Under Debian you are asked a series a questions (with user-settable verbosity), and many services are set up as automatically as is possible given your answers. Under BSD, services are installed disabled by default. This is annoying, but good for security. In theory you shouldn't be able to get it working unless you know what you are doing.

One thing to keep in mind is that BSD speaks a different POSIX "dialect" than most Linux distros (though that is likely true between Linux distros as well). This means things like NFS/NIS won't work without tweaking. One thing I also ran into is that md5sum (Debian) ~= md5 (BSD). I suppose you are supposed to use SHA2 these days anyway :P


James Phillips

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