GuidesDifferentiating Among BSD Distros Page 2

Differentiating Among BSD Distros Page 2

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FreeBSD came to be one of the most popular BSD revisions after its early release through Walnut Creek CD-ROM, an early pioneer in distributing free and open source software on CD before the explosion of the Internet. Its primary platform is the x86 PC, including the current AMD and Intel 64-bit variants, though it also has a presence on Sun’s SPARC platform.

BSD History
Common Features
Mac OS X
Choosing a Desktop Solution
Choosing a Server Solution

The main focus for FreeBSD is performance, particularly of the TCP/IP stack with a
number of companies, including Yahoo, using FreeBSD as an Internet server platform. FreeBSD holds the unofficial record for transferring data, having achieved more than 2 Terabytes of data from one server running the OS. It follows from this statistic that
FreeBSD is also one of the most stable OSes available.

The developers of FreeBSD put a lot of effort into making the system as easy
to use as possible. Thus, FreeBSD has one of the easiest installs of all the Unix
platforms. Once the system has been installed, you can easily download, compile, and
install additional packages through the built-in ports system, a third-party solution
that automates the process. The Ports Collection downloads the necessary files, checks
the files for integrity, builds the application, and then installs the application. This
simplifies one of the most time-consuming aspects of deploying applications to different

FreeBSD at a Glance

Home Page
Platforms i386, Alpha, IA-64, AMD64, and UltraSPARC
Original Release December 1993
Focus High performance computing, ease of use, and stability


NetBSD was released a few months before FreeBSD. Unlike FreeBSD, which concentrated on the performance and best-quality
support for its main target platform, NetBSD was developed to support as wide a
platform base as possible. It would be difficult to list all available versions of
NetBSD, but it runs on more than 50 platforms, from mainstream ones, such as x86
and SPARC, to niche products like Sega’s Dreamcast and a number of hobbyist,
handheld, and embedded devices.

This portability gives NetBSD an edge. Although it gives the OS an air of disparity, the reality is different. The variety of platforms supported means the code is efficient
and secure, with a wide range of experience that improves the OS as a whole.

The range of support also means NetBSD runs on much more powerful hardware
than is supported by other distributions. Higher-end dedicated Unix workstations from Sun,
Hewlett-Packard, and the old Digital/Compaq Alpha platform can be used with NetBSD
to provide all of the stability and performance of the BSD platform while giving a new
lease of life to older available hardware.

The portability is also a major attraction as a deployment and re-development
choice for those building their own computers, or using one of the many embedded
hardware solutions. This keeps NetBSD as a popular choice in universities and science labs.

NetBSD at a Glance

Home Page
Platforms Just about all
Original Release December 1993
Focus Portability and stability

>> OpenBSD, Mac OS X

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