FreeBSD 5.3 nearing completion
techAdmin
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Joined: 26 Sep 2003
Posts: 3918
Location: East Coast, West Coast? I know it's one of them.
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Since I'm thinking of moving to freeBSD for my primary OS, it's good to see that freeBSD is getting to release a major upgrade, to 5.3. Here is the freeBSD status report for May-June 2004.

One really nice feature of this story is that our very own webhosters, pair.com are once again contributing in a major, non trivial way to support the freeBSD OS's they use for their servers, and which form a large part of the reason their hosting networks are rated among the most reliable in the world.. to the tune of over $20,000 too, very nice, we won't be using anyone else in the near or far future until we find a company that we like even more, and which gives back as much or more [fat chance of that, of course] to the open source/free software scene.
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andy
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Joined: 15 Oct 2004
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Free BSD is a really fantastic OS, but it's a little bit rough on the desktop.

For a server OS, it's hard to beat. Super fast, more secure than linux by default, source based rather than binary based, *amazingly simple* package management system, overall rock solid. If I were to have a large implementation to deploy, FreeBSD would be on the back end all the way.

The problems come in when you try to use even slightly newish hardware, use "unimportant" hardware like sound cards or nice video cards, etc etc. This OS will support pretty much any NIC that you could dig up at the MIT flea market, but try getting it to run a medium to high end sound card that came out a year ago... better go with linux or windows for that.

The best thing about FreeBSD AFAIK is the ports system. The "ports" system is FreeBSD's package management system. It is a directory that has categories of software, and then subdirectories with each individual software package in those. Simply go into the directory of the package you would like to install, and act like you are in a untarballed source dir. Do a ./configure and that will check what you have installed etc. and download the source. Then type make install and bam, you have your package.

One thing that took a bit of getting used to for me (read as "i was an idiot and screwed up several installs because I didn't read the documentation") was the fact that they used the much more flexible old school UNIX style disk organization that has 1 more level of partitioning than linux/windows. For example:

Linux/Windows:
Hard drive 0 has 3 partitions
Hard drive 1 has 2 partitions

so you would have:
/dev/hda1
/dev/hda2
/dev/hda3
/dev/hdb1
/dev/hdb2

UNIX style system
Hard drive 0 has 3 disk slices, 2 partitions on one, 3 partitions on two, and 1 partition on three.
Hard drive 1 has 1 disk slice with one partition

So you would have:
/dev/ad0s1a
/dev/ad0s1b
/dev/ad0s2a
/dev/ad0s2b
/dev/ad0s2c
/dev/ad0s3a
/dev/ad1s1a

so the ad represents that it is an IDE drive. the number after that tells which one it is so ad0 is Hard Drive 0. The next number indicates which disk slice it is, and the letter indicates what partition of that slice it is. It's really not complicated, but it looks rather intimidating when you first look at it. The great thing about this is it will allow you to have a full install with a seperate swap partition and other partitions on one partition according to Windows and Linux if you are dual booting.
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techAdmin
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Joined: 26 Sep 2003
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Location: East Coast, West Coast? I know it's one of them.
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Hey Andy thanks for the info on freeBSD, I had since posting that decided not to go the freeBSD route, despite having been advised to do so elsewhere [why is it people have such a hard time being objective about their advice?]. The Linux 2.6 kernel is so radically improved re desktop useability that to me there is no question of going any other route, why handicap myself after all?

I've found that what you say is exactly correct. In survey after survey, the absolute top web hosters in terms of reliability and uptime are running freeBSD, it's like clockwork, that's why all my sites are hosted on freeBSD servers, I really never have any major issues, and laugh every time I read in other forum, oh, my hoster did this, my site went down, my hoster deleted my site and can't get it back up [all real topics from the last few months]. When I read these I have to almost laugh out loud, since my firsthand, uneducated but realworld experience completely confirms what you are saying.

Pair.com remains my absolute top choice, it doesn't hurt that they are also a prominent mirror site for many large open source projects, such as debian, they donate money to the freeBSD developers to keep them going, they only run freeBSD, dual processor servers, all the real thing, no toys. Plus they are independent, not connected to or owned by any other company, which means that they are completely free to put their money where their mouths are, and they do.

I'm glad I didn't go the freeBSD for my desktop, I'm liking Yoper so far, I'll see how it goes, that project is still quite new, and has a lot [to put it mildly] of rough edges too, but I think most can be worked through.
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