BSD is dying

Paul Richards paul at
Thu Jul 28 15:13:34 BST 2005

On Thu, Jul 28, 2005 at 02:39:24PM +0100, Robert Watson wrote:
> On Thu, 28 Jul 2005, Paul Richards wrote:
> >and seems pretty much dead in the UK based on this list.
> >
> >Although I'm being a bit flippant, since this list has become totally 
> >inactive recently I've also been trawling job lists a lot in the last 
> >few months and BSD has vanished from the UK job market too.
> >
> >Anyone got any comments on how they see the state of BSD in general and 
> >FreeBSD in particular in the UK at the moment?
> Gosh, you guys are a depressing lot. :-)

Not really, just trying to do an assessment of where we are with
BSD in the UK. It's a very different place to the US commercially
since there is not a large software house industry like there is
in the US.  OS development takes place mostly in the US, in fact
software development generally does. In the UK we have ISPs, smaller
niche software houses and internal corporate Enterprise requirements.

FreeBSD was certainly first choise for ISPs 10 years ago, with all
the big players like Daemon, Easynet etc being predominantly BSD
based.  That certainly seems to be declining. The Netcraft stats
show less robus support for BSD than they used to.

My own experience working places over the last few years is that
there is a general trend at companies that were once die-hard BSD
fanatics to move towards Linux.  This reflects a new generation of
IT people now in their 20s who have grown up post Linux and have
heard of nothing else. Frankly, it's very difficult to convince
them that there's a good reason to switch from Linux to BSD. They're
Linux experts and for the general purpose usage that they need an
OS for there's no obvious benefit in them going for something they're
unfamiliar with.

The embedded market in the UK is harldy BSD based at all. It's
almost exclusively Linux/VxWorks.

The corporate market is lagging behind other sectors in terms of
open source anywa, still being largely Solaris/HPUx/AIX based however
that's starting to see some change as IBM/Sun embrace Linux more.

I don't think the thread has really been considering desktop, other
than as a peripheral discussion about Macs being really nice desktops
to use as Unix workstations if you don't want the hassle of keeping
it running yourself.

> The reason I've not been doing a lot of FreeBSD-related socializing and 
> talking in the UK is that I've been utterly exhausted supporting my 

Frankly, no-one's been doing much socialising, I was prompted to
start this thread because this list has gone from being a vibrant
forum of discussion both technical and social a few years ago to
being totally dead in the last 6 months.

Whereas in the past calls for conference/events was always met with
enthusiasm trying to get support for a UKUUG track resulted in
virtual silence. Where has everyone gone? Are there actually that
many people still out there?

There are an incredibly small number of jobs that even mention BSD,
perhaps 5-10 in the whole of the UK and it seems to be declining.
Where BSD is mentioned it's not typically as the main skill but as
a "nice to have", usually primarily requiring Linux/Solaris.  They
are always sysadmin jobs, if you're a developer then the chances
of developing on FreeBSD are negligible in the UK.

I'm not saying there are 0 companies out there, I know of a handful of
BSD based products, but I'm also aware that they constantly consider
switching to the more "mainstream" Linux sometime in the future.

I think a lack of a BSD job market could be a killing blow. Ten
years ago BSD experience counted highly because there were lots of
places interested in making use of BSD and having BSD skills was
considered a mark of ability. Times have changed, the people doing the
hiring now are mostly agents and they only look for the buzzwords they
recognise, BSD doesn't register with them and most of their clients
ask for Linux.

Having trawled the job lists for a few months it's all Linux.
Actually it's mostly not OS stuff at all but enterprise stuff like
SAP or J2EE since that's mostly the type of IT work that we get in
the UK. Given that most people in IT, once out of college, get
interested in things that allow them to eat that doesn't bode well
long term.

There's a difference between being depressing and taking a realistic
view of what the state of play is.


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