Selling FreeBSD

Paul Richards paul at
Thu Jun 5 17:48:12 BST 2003

On Thu, Jun 05, 2003 at 02:16:40PM +0100, Paul Robinson wrote:
> On Thu, Jun 05, 2003 at 01:48:08PM +0100, Andrew Hodgson wrote:
> > Sorry if this has been discussed a thousand times before, but Paul
> > Robinson's comment rang some bells with me. How does everyone feel about
> > the issue of promoting and advocating FreeBSD? Has anyone succeeded in
> > getting it implemented at work? Or in an educational setting?
> Well, the -advocacy list seems to be full of people slagging off Linux and 
> wanting to go out and make lots of noise about SCO not suing anybody over 
> code in the BSDs. Not a great pitch. I seem to remember that Paul Richards 
> went about selling FreeBSD in a very real sense, but recently I saw a mail 
> where he was looking for "normal" work, so I'm guessing it's not the 
> greatest money-earner in the world. As for getting it in at work - well, 

Yeah, I'm out of the FreeBSD business, though I do still have around 40
handbooks that I'm really desperate to get rid of because they cost a
lot of money to buy and I'd like to get some of it back :-) They
actually cost 20 quid, and I'm willing to sell them on at cost just to
get rid of them.

If I was to give an opinion on why FreeBSD didn't work as a business it
would quite simply be down to a lack of interest in the product. The
only people using it are "enthusiasts" who don't need commercial
services of any sort, they burn their own distributions, provide their
own support and do their own development. It's also hard to market, it
has no industry presence and no visible features that make it stand out
from the crowd for the *end-user*. Having an integrated build
environment and so forth are all advantages for the developer, the
person who just wants a working OS to to their work on doesn't care
about any of that. It also lags Linux in so many ways now too, no
working threads/Java, far fewer drivers especially for new/proprietary
hardware, virtually no proprietary application support and a generally
more hobbyies look to the way it's packaged. All those things are a big
problem commercially, but matter far less if at all to a developer who
just want to do their own thing and is looking for the best project.

Where Linux has beaten FreeBSD hands down has been in growing a
much wider interest, by which I mean, FreeBSD is mostly used by
developers, or aspiring developers, so all the time is spent on
new kernel features and other "hard" coding projects. Whereas Linux
has expanded it's community to include applications developers,
graphic designers etc and therefore there's a lot more polish above
the hood.

It's worth bearing in mind that the vast majority of people who sit in
front of a computer are users and not developers, that goes even for
people in the IT industry who want to get on and do their job, not play
with the OS. From that perspective Linux is moving forward and growing
it's base because it's appealing to the user, whereas FreeBSD is
appealing to the developer.

Tis a wise thing to know what is wanted, wiser still to know when
it has been achieved and wisest of all to know when it is unachievable
for then striving is folly. [Magician]

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