BSD is dying

Paul Civati paul at
Fri Jul 29 01:41:46 BST 2005

Murray Stokely <murray at> wrote:

> > 1.  It's not an official service - this is not good for production use IMO
> I've just mailed the security officers to see what the status of this
> is.  I expected it to be fully official by now.

Wasn't aware of that, perhaps I just missed the announcement.

> > 3.  Not being a packaged system - no ability to revert changes
> Last I checked you couldn't revert MacOS X updates either, though I
> agree this is a major shortcoming. 

OS X is a desktop o/s.  Really.

Yes, I know they make a 'server' version but after one particularly 
nasty experience I wouldn't consider it for a server platform.

> Some binary delta compression
> technology for MacOS updates was taken from freebsd-update.

Cool indeed. :)

> > I don't have time to read the main freebsd-* lists so I don't know how
> > much discussion this has had, but I personally think every single file
> > (base o/s) needs to be part of a package and also a revised package
> That works a lot better for the Linux model where you don't have a
> base system. 

Debian has a base system, in 3.0 it was very much akin to a FreeBSD
base system and has only grown a little more in 3.1, I would quite
compare a Debian base install with a FreeBSD base install.

> You just have a bunch of GNU software that you cobble
> together and call a distribution.  It makes less sense if you've got a
> very mature suite of base system software tools that are kept in sync
> together with the kernel.

Yes, Debian and FreeBSD have quite different development models, big
deal.  There is nothing to stop us from grouping our tightly integrated 
mature suite of base system software tools into packages, nothing at all,
other than believing it can't be done.

(I am mostly talking here about binary updates for say RELENG_X_Y as you 
make a valid point that mixing and matching userland and kernel on FreeBSD 
can't really be done in the manner that Linux is used to).

Linux only have it easier because they have developed that way in the
first place so their tools are already grouped somewhat into packages.

What's to stop FreeBSD from grouping all the file-system utilities 
(fsck, newfs, tunefs, growfs, etc) into a file-system package?

What's to stop FreeBSD from grouping all the network utilities 
(ifconfig, netstat, route, etc) into a network utils package?

Nothing short of doing the work, unless I am missing something

Solaris is not a cobbled together bunch of GNU software, and they've
had a packaged based o/s since, well ever, otherwise their system o/s 
patching technology wouldn't exist.

To make it work well may require quite a fine grained collection of
packages, but I don't think that makes it no doable.

> The point of update systems provided by Apple or FreeBSD is to provide
> delta compression and only send the minimal amount of data to update

I will concede that is a very beneficial feature, but..

> Doesn't Debian just send a whole new copy of the binary over again.

We're in the broadband era now, I don't think it's a huge issue (okay
yes it does require the mirror infrastructure to serve it - but 
bandwidth is generally cheaper these days).

> It sounds like you are advocacating an 'update' requiring the download
> of 600MB of binaries or so, even if most of those binaries haven't
> changed at all except perhaps an encoded timestamp.

Who are we catering for with that consideration?  The low bandwidth
dialup user?  The one who is running a desktop FreeBSD system?  The
same user that I think we are all agreed is dying a death.

We need to be catering for the server o/s platform here, the market
share we can target, not the one that is dying off.

Anyhow, the transport mechanism is an aside really, I only said apt
because it's already written working well technology that could be
fairly easily slotted in.  I think my main point is that the whole
issue of a packaged base system needs to be addressed to correctly
facilitate binary updates nicely.


Paul Civati <paul(at)> 0870 321 2855
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