A quality operating system

Matthew Seaman m.seaman at infracaninophile.co.uk
Sat Sep 3 09:59:29 UTC 2011

On 03/09/2011 10:17, Allen wrote:
> Try that on any version of BSD before PC-BSD came around. I get that a
> lot of BSD people are programmers and like looking at source code, but
> personally, not being a coder, I don't CARE what flags something uses....

However, I, as a systems administrator that has to herd a bunch of
servers and get maximum performance out of them care very much indeed
exactly what flags and so forth are used to compile software.  Even in
these days of multi-gigabyte RAM and terabyte disk, keeping application
memory usage as slim as possible and stripping out pointless processes
is important for good performance.

I saw a comment once on -- I think is was the BIND mailing list -- where
an admin said that anyone using software to provide a commercial service
really should be compiling it themselves, rather than using the default
packages that come with their OS precisely because it gives you this
control.  What struck me was that he clearly wasn't a FreeBSD user.
With the FreeBSD ports you can tune everything to your requirements, and
still benefit from the advantages of using the OSes package management

Linux distros that tout themselves as Server OSes I find frustrating.
Really they pretty much all come out of the box setup for desktop use.
Who cares about wireless networking on a server that's going to be wired
into a rack for its entire life?  Or automounting removable media?  Or
GUIs?  Stripping out the pointless fluff and turning off all the
software that defaults to on really does negate the convenience of their

> I think if FreeBSD had an all purpose patching tool, it would be a lot
> better. I mean sure, you use freebsd-update and it updates the base
> system, but anything you use on the machine is usually a port of some
> sort, and doing those.... When I first started using FreeBSD, I was
> looking at how to install patches for security, and I was like WTF I
> have to do what? I'm not quite sure why no one has ever made a tool that
> grabs all security patches and installs them for you, but they should.
> It would be REALLY nice if FreeBSD had freebsd-update that worked on
> ports too, because the process of updating those, it IS a little much.
> I've been using FreeBSD since 4.0 and to be 100% Honest, I've never once
> managed to actually upgrade a system. And that's while sitting with the
> FreeBSD.org Docs sitting open on another machine going down the list of
> what I was supposed to do. It was time consuming, and compiling
> things.... Again, not a programmer.

Yeah.  Ports and base being distinct is a big deal in FreeBSD-land.  But
you are right to the extent that it would be useful to be able to use
much the same tools to manage both.  There's been fairly regular
mutterings over the years about making the base system install something
like pkgs, but nothing has ever come of it.

There's also an interesting thread over on the freebsd-ports@ mailing
list about going in almost completely the other direction -- making a
software packaging system that is OS agnostic, so (for instance) all of
*BSD could effectively use the same "ports" tree.  Oh, and have much
better capabilities for dealing with binary packages, and are which in
which FreeBSD is really quite weak.



Dr Matthew J Seaman MA, D.Phil.                   7 Priory Courtyard
                                                  Flat 3
PGP: http://www.infracaninophile.co.uk/pgpkey     Ramsgate
JID: matthew at infracaninophile.co.uk               Kent, CT11 9PW

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