When discussing alternative operating systems to Microsoft's Windows or Apple's macOS, Linux often comes to mind. However, while Linux is a recreation of UNIX, FreeBSD is more a continuation. The free and open source operating system was initially developed by students of the University of California at Berkeley, which is why the BSD in its name means Berkeley Software Distribution.
FreeBSD runs in its own kernel and all the key components of the operating system have been developed to be part of a whole. This is where Linux differs most because Linux is just the kernel and the other components are supplied by third parties.
For more information about FreeBSD and its continuous development, TechRadar Pro He spoke with the Executive Director of the FreeBSD Foundation, Deb Goodkin.
- 1 What aspects of your work are you most excited about?
- 2 How does the FreeBSD Foundation work to support the development of FreeBSD?
- 3 How is FreeBSD the antithesis of Linux?
- 4 FreeBSD does not come with a default GUI. Why is this and how can users install their own GUI when running FreeBSD?
- 5 Can you tell us a little more about how BSD forms the macOS core?
- 6 Are there any future features or developments planned for FreeBSD that you can tell us?
- 7 What type of user should I consider trying FreeBSD?
What aspects of your work are you most excited about?
What excites me the most is getting a great financial contribution from a commercial user. Not only does it help us to continue the work we are doing, but it also validates the work that the community and the Foundation are doing.
On top of that, other aspects that excite me are working with this community, watching people grow within the community, advocating for FreeBSD, working with my team on developing new / improved ways to help the Project and the community, and to learn and grow constantly in my work.
How does the FreeBSD Foundation work to support the development of FreeBSD?
The purpose of the FreeBSD Foundation is to support the FreeBSD Project. Although we are a completely separate entity, we intervene to meet the critical needs of the project. To support the development of FreeBSD, we have software developers on staff to quickly intervene to correct errors, implement solutions to hardware problems and implement new features and functionalities. They also review many of the software changes, providing constructive comments to continually help improve the code. In addition, we provide FreeBSD infrastructure that is hosted worldwide and provide staff to monitor continuous integration and quality assurance efforts, to improve testing and code coverage.
I would be negligent if it did not include our promotional efforts to support the development of FreeBSD. We attend technical conferences around the world, giving FreeBSD talks and workshops, to recruit more users and contributors to the Project. Increasing the number of taxpayers allows more people to intervene to help in various areas of the Project, and this will help us with long-term sustainability. New users help test FreeBSD, with its various use cases, helping to identify problems or providing feedback on how to improve FreeBSD.
We rely 100% on donations to support these efforts, so we are constantly reaching out to commercial users and the community to give them a financial contribution.
How is FreeBSD the antithesis of Linux?
I wouldn't mean that FreeBSD is the antithesis of Linux, since we both have similarities and we are both similar to Unix. But the similarities make people think that FreeBSD is a Linux distribution However, this is not the case. FreeBSD descends from Unix developed at the University of California, Berkeley in the 1970s. Linux, on the other hand, was built as an open source alternative to UNIX. The similarities make it easier for Linux developers to get involved with FreeBSD.
There are currently more than 400 active developers and thousands of contributors. FreeBSD works on Intel / AMD x86 32-bit and 64-bit x86 processors, Arm and RISC-V, PowerPC, Sparc64 and MIPS 32 and 64-bit, and cloud providers such as AWS, Azure and GCP. There are tens of millions of systems implemented.
As with other BSDs, the FreeBSD base system is an integrated distribution of the operating system that is developed and launched as a coherent whole by a single team, which contrasts with the Linux approach of distributions that collect the core of a source , another's C library, another's user tools and so on.
FreeBSD operates under the Principle of Less Amazement. In other words, don't break the things that work. Because the operating system does not change without a good reason, if you are basing your code or product on it, it does not have to be constantly updated every time there is a new version of the operating system. It also makes the update relatively painless. The licensing model is probably the biggest difference between the two. Linux is under the GNU General Public License (GPL), which means in part that any work derived from a product launched under the GPL must also be supplied with the source code if requested. FreeBSD, on the other hand, is under the BSD license without copy. It is less restrictive: only binary distributions are allowed and are particularly useful for integrated platforms.
FreeBSD does not come with a default GUI. Why is this and how can users install their own GUI when running FreeBSD?
FreeBSD does not include a GUI in the initial installation, because it follows the philosophy of starting only with what you need to develop in FreeBSD. Since FreeBSD offers many GUIs through its collection of ports and packages, this allows the user to select the one they want to use.
Can you tell us a little more about how BSD forms the macOS core?
MacOS uses a significant amount of FreeBSD in its core and in its user country. More specifically, they use the network stack and a good number of users, such as libraries and utilities. For example, most of its command line is FreeBSD.
Are there any future features or developments planned for FreeBSD that you can tell us?
Some of the ongoing software development efforts include improving performance and scalability, increasing hardware support, adding OpenZFS Raid-Z expansion functionality, improving graphics and desktop support, improving OpenJDK in FreeBSD and improving the Wifi support In addition, interesting news from the University of Cambridge is emerging with its collaboration effort CHERI (Capability Hardware Enhanced RISC Instructions) with Arm to create a CHERI / ARM processor (You can find more here).
Other plans include increasing our promotional efforts, increasing FreeBSD workshops and FreeBSD conversations around the world.
What type of user should I consider trying FreeBSD?
There is no limitation on who should consider using FreeBSD! It is perfect for someone who cares about rock solid stability and high performance. You have ZFS to protect your data. FreeBSD has a community that is friendly, useful and accessible, and provides excellent documentation to find answers easily. There are more than 30,000 open source software packages that are easy to install, allowing you to easily configure your environment without many extras, and that includes many popular GUI options. Finally, our philosophy of not breaking things that work is very attractive.