BSD is dying
rwatson at FreeBSD.org
Thu Jul 28 15:34:05 BST 2005
On Thu, 28 Jul 2005, Paul Richards wrote:
> There's a difference between being depressing and taking a realistic
> view of what the state of play is.
So maybe the real issue is that while there was a bubble in OS interest as
consumer and low-end hardware outpaced the OS vendors abilities to ship
software that could make use of it, there has now been a market correction
and the OS returns to being something that systems people care about, but
not so end users?
I think the question you're asking is really "Can or should something be
done, or is it Too Late?", and specifically, are people interested in BSD
motivated to do what the Linux crowd has done -- swimming upstream and
attempting to "sell" a product into a place where it wasn't really
welcome. I.e., will people print their own posters and turn up at trade
conferences saying "Run BSD, it's better, don't believe the hype". I've
not ever been convinced BSD ever did this well, and I always thought that
the Linux people didn't have a leg to stand on, but given that they were
quite effective, I suppose a leg to stand on isn't required, just
enthusiasm. Linux 2.6 is dramatically better than Linux 2.4, but the Hard
Linux Sell really too place based on the 2.2 and 2.4 kernels, which had
pretty terrible problems.
I'm willing to give it a try, but I've been putting my energy into the
core parts of the OS rather than other parts because that's where the
foundational work needed to take place to make FreeBSD 6.x a desirable
place to be. And I'm happy to tell people about it here, but since when I
joined there was little noise, I didn't feel it was the place to talk.
Something I would like to see, and I think it speaks to your points about
"sellable features" is more work in distributed management for headless
systems. FreeBSD has done very well in embedded, in ISP spaces, and so
on. We've done less well in clustering, and other systems have been
"catching up" in ISP space as their feature sets and reliability have
improved. A massive selling point for users like Yahoo! and others has
been our multi-host scalability: if you have ten, you can run one hundred,
or one thousand. I'd like us to improve our OS infrastructure to make
this something we take for granted and can sell specifically with. I.e.,
have the catch line "FreeBSD: 30 Systems -- Or 30,000". This is an area
where UNIX remains a strongly leader over systems like Windows, because
offering a completely terminal-oriented management model has let it live
in a distributed world much more comfortably. Parts that would be needed
- Taking PXE upgrades/installs from "possible but you have to know what
you're doing" to "trivial".
- Significant work into remote management tools and services. SNMP
integration is getting better, but is probably not what we need. Since
I don't have much information in this area, I don't have a
- Work to allow bundling and re-bundling of update and version management
components, as well as work on automated upgrade paths.
- Additional work to flesh out our directory service integration -- 5.x
brought in NSS, OpenPAM, Kerberos5 by default, etc, but while the
ingredients are there, the bundling and ease of use isn't.
- Integration of an advanced distributed file system. If necessary,
development of the necessary pieces to make it happen. I've always been
a big fan of AFS, but they've always had the same problem BSD has had:
superior technology bundled in a hard-to-use interface, developed,
managed, and promoted by people who are techies and kernel hackers at
heart. But maybe the NFSv4 bandwagon is the place to be.
- Some cleanup and retrofitting, replacement, or other activity of the
package management system.
- The Management Tool. No, not a web management interface, or SNMP. :-)
Robert N M Watson
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