BSD is dying

Paul Robinson paul at
Thu Jul 28 13:55:28 BST 2005

On Thu, Jul 28, 2005 at 12:46:31PM +0100, Paul Civati wrote:

> 1.  Yes OS X take up is high.  Why?  Because it's a pretty, fairly easy
> to use desktop o/s with all the available apps just ready to drop in
> and go, but also with the underlying power of UNIX there for people
> who want it.  People are busy.  When people are busy they can't be arsed
> to faff about installing the latest KDE or OpenOffice, what have you.

I understand that. Trust me, after all the c**p I gave the OS X
switchers last year, and all the schtick I took at Christmas when I took
delivery of my iBook, I understand it very well.

My point is that a lot of people have got fed up fighting and working
away, and realised that they can get a laptop or a computer to work just
the way they want, with immense support, a decent (and for us, highly
familiar) Unix system under the hood, and plenty of customisability,
just by giving a website $1000 and giving in.

My point last year was that this would kill the BSD community as
'talent' would walk off to play with the new low-hanging baubles.

My point in my earlier post, is that this has now happened. We're living
with the consequences.

I'm also arguing that this might not be such a bad thing.

> 2.  People *are* using FreeBSD, I suppose moreso in ISP/hosting type
> environments where the techs know what they're doing, see what the 
> benefits are, and they are benefits that can make significant impact
> that won't so much be applicable to other environments (read, more 
> generalised corporate businesses).

Yup, and if I can get FreeBSD onto a system, I will do so. I am no
longer in a position to insist that vendors support FreeBSD though, as
they are viewing it as a niche market. Can't blame them. Good job things
roll OK under Linux emulation (mostly).

>  a) SMP - yes, we're getting there now, explanation on this in point (4)

95% of sys admins aren't bothered by SMP performance. 

>  b) Enhanced file-systems - logging/journalled/etc

95% of sys admins are now getting more involved in metadata management
than they are worrying about journalling. Honest.

>  c) Binary updates - sorry but buildworld doesn't cut it for production

As a bolt-on to that, the freebsd-update stuff doesn't help with version
bumps - I have to buildworld to go 5.3 -> 5.4. When I installed Tiger, I
watched a spinning ball and a progress bar for 30 minutes.

We could go back to package management and the stuff that was written
like 3 years ago mostly by the likes of Jordan, me, god knows who. No
momentum to produce because we were all busy, and everybody argued about
what was needed. I think that argument is going to be resolved RSN.

> I personally think Linux take up in corporate environments is not a
> bad thing, once an organisation is open to one highly recognised open
> source o/s then getting another lesser known in there (*BSD) is easier.

Providing it offers something Linux doesn't. Can we make a list of what
that is, in terms that PHBs will take up? We don't have as much
certification, standardisation, commercial support, mindshare, or media
share as Linux. In short, we lose on every, single, solitary count.

So, we either start to win again, or we give up. Is there enough
momentum within the UK to make that happen? When Ruby on Rails came
along a few months ago, everybody was 'WOW'. When Linux first came
along, much the same reaction. When OS X came long, same thing. What is
there coming up in FreeBSD that is going to capture the imagination?

Paul Robinson

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