Debian GNU/kFreeBSD

This entry was posted by Saturday, 11 April, 2009
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Found at http://wiki.debian.org/Debian_GNU/kFreeBSD_why

Here are the reasons why we think Debian GNU/kFreeBSD could be preferred to other systems such as FreeBSD and Debian GNU/Linux.

They’re not absolute truths, nor do we expect everyone to agree with them. So please don’t engage in an endless discussion trying to convince someone that Debian GNU/kFreeBSD is the best. That kind of things do us more harm than good.

Why would you prefer Debian GNU/kFreeBSD to Debian GNU/Linux?

  • Cleaner or more standard kernel interfaces:
    • Single /dev implementation via devfs, instead of the 3 discordant ways of handling /dev that Linux provides.
    • OSS as the default sound system (i.e. the standard interface supported by almost every Unix-like system around).
    • OpenBSD Packet Filter (pf).
  • Other nice security features, like jails.

  • Support for NDIS drivers in the mainline kernel. On Linux, NdisWrapper is unlikely to make it into the mainline kernel.

  • Possible support for ZFS in the mainline kernel. Due to license and patent issues, ZFS is unlikely to appear on Linux.
  • kFreeBSD offers an alternative in case Linux is branded illegal by the SCO case or other threats. In legal terms, Linux sources are like a minefield. kFreeBSD is much less vulnerable to such attacks because of its less bazaar-like development model.
  • kFreeBSD developers often have more interest in merging new features rather than spawning forks all along (the port to Xbox is a very good example. See the responses from Linus Torvalds and kFreeBSD developers).

  • Some people say that kFreeBSD has better performance and/or stability (especially in disk/filesystem areas).
  • The FreeBSD kernel might support some hardware which Linux does not support and/or the FreeBSD kernel support might be better (less bugs).

Why would you prefer Debian GNU/kFreeBSD to FreeBSD?

  • If you like the Debian package system (or its package set) more than FreeBSD ports (just a matter of preference).
  • If you like GNU userland more than BSDish one (again, just a matter of preference).
  • If you don’t have anything against GPL or other copylefted free software licenses, you’ll appreciate that useful kernel modules like ext2fs driver, the upcoming reiserfs and xfs, or the upcoming ethernet driver for Xbox are (or will be) compiled in on the default kernel.
  • If you’re concerned about running a 100% free system, our commitment to the Debian Free Software Guidelines (DFSG) guarantees that Debian GNU/kFreeBSD doesn’t contain any non-free software. In fact, we have removed some non-free binary-only drivers that are contained in the upstream FreeBSD tree, like the ath driver.

Now I found this very interesing myself as I have used both systems and liked them both. I found debian to be better in respects for configureability via apt, and FreeBSD was equally good with its ports, though time consuming compiling somewhat. FBSD generally i found handled higher loads on production servers better, though to be fair that would be a HUGE serverload and for the most part Linux would do fine.

So if this happens, I would definately be one counted in having a nosey and giving it a go. However I do wonder if it would take off enough, and have enough support behind it to keep it going (and anyone whos in sysadmin hates trying to upgrade something no longer supported!)

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