[PLUG] Anyone using / can advise on FreeBSD/NetBSD?

Amarendra Godbole amarendra.godbole at gmail.com
Tue Jul 19 11:30:30 IST 2011

On Tue, Jul 19, 2011 at 10:49 AM, Arun Khan <knura9 at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Tue, Jul 19, 2011 at 7:14 AM, Amarendra Godbole
> <amarendra.godbole at gmail.com> wrote:
>> What good is efficiency when it sacrifices stability and reliability?
> I find the statement to be contradictory - suggesting that Linux is
> efficient but not stable or reliable.
> IMO, all three have to co-exist.

Let me make it clear at the outset  - Linux here refers to the kernel,
and the GNU userland, and not just the kernel, since both are required
for a stable, reliable and robust system.

"Have to" may not necessarily mean "does". ;-) I don't trust code that
has a feature-bloat, and tries to support everything under the sun,
including all possible languages known to mankind (for eg., why do you
think setlocale() exists at the start in every single GNU userland
utility?). Overall the S/N ratio for anything in linux is very low due
to the additional baggage it carries. Additionally, large corporations
who contribute people to the kernel may have their say (which is why
they have the people there in the first place).

>> I find Linux code to be bloated, untested, and added at whim of a
>> developer or two who has/have clout. All Linux h/w drivers are
>> typically "blobs" - written by the device manufacturer, and used
>> "as-is". I doubt if a serious scrutiny of these happens, since Linux
>> requires to support all known h/w to mankind in its race to world
>> domination.
> Please quantify your statement about "All Linux h/w drivers are
>  typically "blobs" - written by the device manufacturer,"

came up with a google search. You get a binary rpm with install and
un-install options. Emulex mostly wrote the source, and I don't know
if its available (I guess not - since it will give away their
secrets). Many hardware vendors choose to keep their specs secret, and
make a binary driver available for linux. Your choice is to use it
"as-is". This is how Linux derives it huge support for hardware -
vendors keep specs secret, and give out binary blobs, and also commit
to upgrade those as the versions of the kernel progress. They get
business, and a over-inflated ego of supporting open source.

Also look at http://damien.bergamini.free.fr/packages/openbsd/iwn-firmware-5.6.tgz
where the wireless driver firmware for Intel WiFi Link
4965/5000/1000/6000 IEEE 802.11a/g/n wireless network device is
available. Intel does not make specs available, so if I have to have
this wireless card supported in OpenBSD, I must use these blobs which
come straight from intel. I do not have the source code for these, and
I am sure Linux uses the same blobs.

I have no idea about NetBSD or FreeBSD, but OpenBSD moved away from
this blob-culture, simply because it was too difficult to trust these
binary blobs. As a result the supported h/w list is narrow. Vendors
who are willing to open their h/w specs do get a driver written by the
OpenBSD developers.

> Wow, if this were true then users would not be struggling to install
> or run Linux with their cutting edge hardware or get their USB dongle
> to get detected or work with xyz service etc.  One could simply press
> F6 and plop in the "manufacturer's" driver CD.

I'd rate OpenBSD generic driver support far better than Linux's from
my experience.

> The development model of the OSs in discussion are different.   I
> either case end users have the "freedom" to choose.   About a couple
> of years ago, I seriously considered FreeBSD as a NFS server for a
> client (NFS server being better on FreeBSD).   The server had a
> Chelsio 10Gb (2 port) NIC.  After doing some search I found that
> FreeBSD supported the card but users had reported problems with the
> driver (stability).   I opted for CentOS 5 that has native support
> (FOSS driver) for the card.

http://service.chelsio.com/drivers/ All drivers contributed by Chelsio
- so they decide whom should they work with (compat). Also note the
copyright rests with Chelsio, so they can at their will discontinue
the support any time.

> I use various flavors of Linux distributions (which amongst themselves
> have their own pros/cons) as well as FreeBSD (to a lesser extent).
> My latest discovery is DragonFlyBSD and plan to give it a spin.

Understand that I am not saying Linux is bad -- if you have no choice,
you have no choice, as you example in the Chelsio case above
demonstrates. If I were you, and if this were a customer case, I'd
have done the same thing. It, however, does not make Linux more
stable, or reliable, or robust.

The smartness lies in "using the right tool for the job" - OpenBSD is
right for me so long, and I plan to continue using it. It also
contains a lot less philosophical baggage than Linux. ;-)

Have fun with whatever OS you choose - and that's the bottom line.


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