back to article FreeBSD 13.1 is out for everything from PowerPC to x86-64

The latest version of FreeBSD, 13.1, was released this week for both 32 and 64-bit forms of x86, Arm, POWER – and 64-bit RISC-V. FreeBSD is one of the oldest open-source Unixes that's still actively maintained and is directly descended from the original BSD Unix developed at the University of California at Berkeley in the …

  1. Ace2 Bronze badge

    Berkeley *Standard* Distribution?

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      No, software. Software, including things like TCP/IP, that was developed at Berkeley to work with the then AT&T Unix™. Over time this became so extensive that effectively replaced the original OS, though it took years of going through the courts for this to be establised.

      1. Ace2 Bronze badge

        The article says Berkeley System Distribution. Wikipedia says Software or Standard.

        1. VoiceOfTruth

          If I look at the source code for 386BSD in /usr/doc/vmunix/blurb.t I see 'The Third Berkeley Software Distribution'.

          I don't think that I have never seen Berkeley System Distribution. I have seen Software and Standard, and even a couple of times Source (but I think this is a later idea).

        2. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Devil

          System, Software, or Standard?

          Within the COPYRIGHT file that is part of FreeBSD's source, it says 'Berkeley Software Distribution ("BSD")' when talking about the software, so I can assume that this is the correct term.

          Wikipedia is usually accurate but also frequently NOT and so always my skeptic hat remains on, especially for topics that are in any way controversial or in any way debatable.

          (/me has been using FreeBSD since right before version 4.8 was released (my first upgrade experience), best overall platform for doing POSIX application development in my bombastic opinion)

          Icon, because, BSD

      2. An_Old_Dog Bronze badge

        BSD acronym & "standard"

        IIRC, Berkeley got money from the US Department of Defense to produce a standard version of Unix for military use. So, "standard" within the DoD, even if "standard" wasn't what the S in "BSD" stood for.

    2. coconuthead

      meaning of acronym

      Page vii of "The Design and Implementation of the 4.3BSD UNIX Operating System" says it is "Berkeley Software Distribution". The second listed author of this book is Marshall Kirk McKusick, who I think was project leader – first author is Sam Leffler.

      This tallies with my own recollection from the 1980s.

      (It was widely referred to as "berserkly". For the Brits here, Berkeley is pronounced to rhyme with "perk", not like Berkeley Square in London.)

  2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Might be my next print server

    I'm looking for something to run on an RPi so that I can move my printer from the desktop. This should be possible in theory with Linux on an RPi but, unfortunately, the printer drivers (Samsung FWIW, it was free at the time works fine with MacOS) can't be installed on the Pi and the quality without them isn't acceptable. It looks like the BSD drivers are in a better state.

    BSD is a server OS, which is why it likes to own the partition (it has its own volume manager which has meant flexible volumes for years).

    No licence flim-flam, stable as a rock. What's not to like?

  3. F. Frederick Skitty

    "FreeBSD is the oldest open-source Unix that's still actively maintained"

    Incorrect. NetBSD was founded before FreeBSD, and also made its first release before FreeBSD.

    1. jayp1418

      Yes. Next NetBSD release is coming with lot of upgrades to graphics and wifi drivers.

      1. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

        Wifi?

        Finally.

        The woeful wifi support for more than a select few cards is a pity. As is the poor support for non-intel LAN adaptors.

        What's infuriating is the folks on the forums, who, when asked about network hardware not on the golden list, instruct the asker to "stop using poor-quality hardware, and get a proper Intel Lan adaptor/weird-but-supported wifi card"

        The LAN thing is particularly grating, as BSD (in pfSense form) utterly fails at gigabit internet with non-Intel cards, yet these "low-quality" cards work fine under Linux.

        1. VoiceOfTruth

          Re: Wifi?

          -> when asked about network hardware not on the golden list

          You mean the hardware compatibility list? That is what it is for.

          -> The LAN thing is particularly grating, as BSD (in pfSense form) utterly fails at gigabit internet with non-Intel cards

          Is that all the BSDs or NetBSD in particular? I calling that out because I had gigabit networking on FreeBSD over a decade ago. Broadcom cards work fine, and there are many others. Take a look at the GENERIC kernel file here: https://github.com/freebsd/freebsd-src/blob/main/sys/amd64/conf/GENERIC.

          -> yet these "low-quality" cards work fine under Linux

          Some of them are low quality cards. I used Realtek fast ethernet cards almost 20 years ago. They work but they cost about £6 at the time. They can't be that high quality at the price.

    2. _andrew

      That depends on whether you consider NetBSD forking (founding) itself from the Patchkit work (ostensibly to focus on support for non-PC hardware) means that it is older than the project that it forked from. That will depend on whether you think of FreeBSD starting when the name was changed (a recognition that 386BSD was never going to incorporate the patchkit into a new release) or before then, when the project of supporting and developing 386BSD started.

      (I had a nice little 386BSD 80486 workstation at the time, forked to NetBSD for a while, before switching back to FreeBSD a bit later. The rest of the research group were Decstations, X-terminals and a couple of big Sun and Sony boxes, while a few weird, feeble networked PCs running DOS or Windows were starting to invade.)

  4. VoiceOfTruth

    FreeBSD is the best all round UNIX today

    -> What you can't do is put FreeBSD's root file system in one PC partition, its home file system in a different PC partition and so on, as you can with virtually every normal Linux distro.

    Not sure about that or what you did or what you are trying to achieve. I would like to see some clarification.

    -> In our testing, in a VirtualBox VM, trying to install onto ZFS failed

    Again, not sure what you are doing here. I tested FreeBSD + ZFS in VB and it works fine.

    -> dedicate the entire PC to FreeBSD

    Agree.

    -> don't try to dual-boot it with anything else.

    If you are new to FreeBSD, I agree. But you can dual boot FreeBSD. If you know what you are doing it is straightforward, otherwise it is more involved.

    -> For all that it's a mature OS, it has a lot of rough edges, far more than any modern Linux.

    I disagree. It is a very clean and tidy OS for people who know what they are doing. In comparison, systemd on Linux is more confusing that the whole of FreeBSD.

    1. Rich 2

      Re: FreeBSD is the best all round UNIX today

      “ For all that it's a mature OS, it has a lot of rough edges, far more than any modern Linux.”

      I also disagree. I used OpenBSD for a long time and configuring and administering it was massively simpler than Linux. And it just works. No rough edges at all

      1. An_Old_Dog Bronze badge

        Rough Edges

        I love OpenBSD, but neither it nor FreeBSD is completely smooth. OpenBSD/i386 v7.0 does not boot on my Eee PC 900 (Celeron M), though v6.9 and 7.1 do. Installing OpenBSD requires you to manually create disc device entries.

        FreeBSD's installer can become confused if you don't do things "just so", and you can get into a place where it won't let you fix things. Further, as good, and as well-illustrated as the FreeBSD installation process is, the semantics of using the partitioner are not documented, nor easily discoverable by me, though that might now be fixed.

        My Eee PC 1000H netbook dual-boots OpenBSD and FreeBSD.

        1. VoiceOfTruth

          Re: Rough Edges

          -> FreeBSD's installer can become confused if you don't do things "just so"

          Sure, I've seen this. As I became more experienced I didn't make mistakes with the installer. But it's true, if you don't do it right the installer can get confused.

          I very occasionally look at OpenBSD. I understand what they are doing. I remember the good old days of mknod. Some people may criticise it, but it is also a good way to learn.

        2. Arthur the cat Silver badge

          Re: Rough Edges

          OpenBSD/i386 v7.0 does not boot on my Eee PC 900

          Coincidentally I found my old Eee 900 that I'd forgotten about in a drawer and tried to install FreeBSD 13.0 (32 bit of course) on it and it just worked. I was amazed. Vastly underpowered for most uses, but as a little network capable box I can carry around to debug and configure smart network kit it's brilliant.

    2. keithpeter Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: FreeBSD is the best all round UNIX today

      "It is a very clean and tidy OS for people who know what they are doing. "

      I'd say FreeBSD makes quite a lot of sense even if you don't already have a ton of experience with the system but have messed with a linux install.

      I'm posting this off a 'gonzo install' of FreeBSD i386 on an old Thinkpad X60. Just followed the prompts in the installer. I added Xorg, xpdf and firefox after the installer completed where is asks if you want to alter the system using a prompt. Just 'man pkg' to work out how to add binary packages.

      Only had to google a couple of things...

      * What on earth is the 'regulatory domain' for the UK?

      * How to add my user to the wheel group so I can start Xorg

      I'm using a network cable into the router and accepted the dhcp dialog in the installer. The twm window manager has that awful default setup with the huge long xterm window so just installed fluxbox and all good.

      1. VoiceOfTruth

        Re: FreeBSD is the best all round UNIX today

        Ha ha! The wheel group. I still remember my first time installing FreeBSD. I had one monitor which I had to share between 3 machines. I plugged it into and installed FreeBSD, then plugged it back in to my usual machine. I could telnet it (telnet was still pretty common back then [pre 2000]). I logged in and could not su. It was then that I learned about the wheel group.

        Then the shell. I tried csh for a very short time but could not tab auto complete - something I took for granted with bash. So I installed bash. A couple of years later (literally years) I learned about set autocomplete. It's in the man page, but who reads the man page for a shell? Well I did but years later.

        I emailed somebody at the FreeBSD web site or on a news group saying "why isn't this by default in .cshrc?". At some point later it was added to the default .cshrc, I don't know whether it was me that prompted that change, and it's not even important. The fact is it was changed and I have used tcsh as my default shell on FreeBSD for about 20 years.

        I am sure we all have some war stories.

        1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

          Re: FreeBSD is the best all round UNIX today

          who reads the man page for a shell?

          Those of us who started out in Unix 40 years ago read the man page for everything.

          That's one of my pet peeves about Linux, that the man pages are often either not there or just say "see info file".

          1. An_Old_Dog Bronze badge

            Re: FreeBSD is the best all round UNIX today

            The BSDers write usually-great man pages. Always look there first for info on *BSD.

          2. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Bronze badge

            Re: FreeBSD is the best all round UNIX today

            > Those of us who started out in Unix 40 years ago read the man page for everything.

            Perhaps I started too late, then. I started a mere 34 years ago. :-D

      2. Toe Knee

        Re: FreeBSD is the best all round UNIX today

        @keithpeter

        “Regulatory Domain”(s) usually indicate transmission power and frequency regulations for WiFi devices. Every country is different.

        Pro Tip: if you’re in the US, setting for Bolivia (BO) allows you to use the same spectrum, but with a noticeably higher transmission power. It’s all in the milliwatts, but sometimes every little bit you can squeeze out helps. Be sure your device can handle the extra power, though…

      3. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: FreeBSD is the best all round UNIX today

        I'm not aware that Xorg requires you to be in the wheel group, at least not from half a year ago when I last updated my ports. VirtualBox requires you be in 'operator' as I recall, and there are a few other things like wireshark that have group membership requirements. (Linux typically has some similar things like that)

        But... THAT brings up one o the best features of FreeBSD: You can NOT su to root unless you are a member of wheel (gid 0). So, I typically do everything (including running 'startx') as a user NOT a member of wheel. This means I must su to a user that IS in wheel, then to root (2 step process) but if your system is ever compromised by an application running in your user context, it would be that much more difficult to gain root access.

        1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

          Re: FreeBSD is the best all round UNIX today

          I'm not aware that Xorg requires you to be in the wheel group

          You need to be in the video group with the modern graphics drivers.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: FreeBSD is the best all round UNIX today

        The 'regulatory domain' for the UK is probably 'GB'. Because this is the UK and we don't like things to make sense.

        That's why motorists from Northern Ireland drive around with 'GB' on their license plates even though Northern Ireland is not in Great Britain.

        That's why Olympic athletes from Northern Ireland are in TeamGB even though Northern Ireland is not in Great Britain.

        That's why Northern Ireland's rugby players come out for 'Ireland' in the Six Nations despite Northern Ireland being in the UK.

        That's why the 'Bank of England' is the central bank for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland but is not called the 'Bank of the United Kingdom'.

        That's why 'English law' applies in England and Wales but not in Scotland or Northern Ireland.

        That's why some people speak of 'British Citizenship' even though Britain is neither a legal order or a nation state.

        Don't ask why, just memorise the vagaries.

    3. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: FreeBSD is the best all round UNIX today

      -> What you can't do is put FreeBSD's root file system in one PC partition, its home file system in a different PC partition and so on, as you can with virtually every normal Linux distro.

      Not sure about that or what you did or what you are trying to achieve. I would like to see some clarification.

      Early on I used to put / /usr, /var, and /home on different UFS slices, not quite the same as partitions but effectively that's what they are. Since UFS+J the need to keep frequently written partitions separate is much less important, sort of like using EXT4 in Linux... though on my server I still did it that way for uber reliability and easier recovery (the remainder of the disk is a ~1.5Tb ZFS partition). So yeah depending on how you set things up, you can boot from ZFS, have it all in one UFS+J 'slice', or use separate slices for different mounted directories.

      -> In our testing, in a VirtualBox VM, trying to install onto ZFS failed

      Again, not sure what you are doing here. I tested FreeBSD + ZFS in VB and it works fine..

      I also have not had difficulty with this sort of thing, though I have yet not tried building a 13.1 system in VirtualBox. Maybe their VirtualBox drive was emulating IDE instead of SATA ? Though I am pretty sure that this has still worked for me (using IDE emulation), just that did not perform as well if I remember correctly.

      Still there is one pair of facts that come out of their experience: First, you kinda need to read the handbook before proceeding with an install, and understand what it is you are doing. Second, you can always start over.

      1. VoiceOfTruth

        Re: FreeBSD is the best all round UNIX today

        -> I have yet not tried building a 13.1 system in VirtualBox

        I just tried it, it's a fair test. It built with no problems at all:

        >>> World built in 10111 seconds, ncpu: 2, make -j2

        -> Maybe their VirtualBox drive was emulating IDE instead of SATA

        That is the default for VB for FreeBSD. You can use either, or something else. I usually set this to SATA.

        So, I have just put any fears to rest about FreeBSD 13.1 not being able to use ZFS in VB. I did a new install, allocating 4GB of RAM. I changed two things from the defaults - the number of CPUs to 2, and disk size to 72GB. Apart from that, the FreeBSD install was with default options all the way through.

    4. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      Re: FreeBSD is the best all round UNIX today

      "-> What you can't do is put FreeBSD's root file system in one PC partition, its home file system in a different PC partition and so on, as you can with virtually every normal Linux distro.

      Not sure about that or what you did or what you are trying to achieve. I would like to see some clarification.

      You're right to query that. You can indeed do exactly what he says you can't. WIth A UEFI install, that is even the default.

      With an MBR install, the BSD partitioning is the default, because of the crappy MBR restrictions, but you still can do it that severely restricted way "like with virtually every normal Linux distro" if you want, but why would you want to?

      https://forums.theregister.com/forum/all/2022/05/20/freebsd_131/#c_4464187

    5. Graham Perrin

      Re: FreeBSD is the best all round UNIX today

      > … I tested FreeBSD + ZFS in VB and it works fine. …

      Other people report the same. No problem installing FreeBSD 13.1-RELEASE to ZFS (the default) in VirtualBox.

      I wonder why Liam Proven chose i386 for the guest. Maybe that was a factor.

      (Was the host not amd64? I wonder.)

    6. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Bronze badge

      Re: FreeBSD is the best all round UNIX today

      > Not sure about that or what you did or what you are trying to achieve. I would like to see some clarification.

      I have a fairly standard VBox config for OS testing: 4000MB RAM, 16GB disk, 2 cores, 3D acceleration on.

      FreeBSD 13.1 install failed after formatting the disk. I accepted all the defaults.

      I was recently trying GhostBSD on hardware, and encountered a similar issue: in a 16GB primary partition, ZFS creation succeeded, installation succeeded, but it would not boot. GRUB couldn't not find it or read it. Trying to read the partition with Ubuntu ZFS nearly destroyed my Ubuntu system.

      So I nuked it and reinstalled with UFS, which GRUB could read and could boot. *But* the GhostBSD installer leaves root with slight FS corruption and won't boot, which is described in a support post somewhere. You need to boot off the live medium again and `fsck -f` root, then it will boot.

      I do not know the problem I had, but on a 16GB virtual HD, 13.1 would not install on ZFS. So I tried UFS and it worked. So that's what I wrote.

      No, I did not read the handbook. No, I did not consult man pages. I just went ahead and tried with all defaults, like a naïve user might well do, and it failed.

      I consider this a "rough edge". The experience of trying to install FreeBSD today is comparable to installing Linux in about 1997-1998: complex, fiddly, lots of things to watch out for, tiny missteps that will break the system.

      It works and it's better than it was. It's about 20 years since I first tried to install FreeBSD and it was _horrible_ then.

      But I feel that the state of the art in UNIX installation today is either Ubuntu or Apple macOS, and that's what every xNix should aspire to match.

      > If you are new to FreeBSD, I agree. But you can dual boot FreeBSD. If you know what you are doing it is straightforward, otherwise it is more involved.

      I've done it. I know it can be done. But it is *way* too hard.

      > I disagree. It is a very clean and tidy OS for people who know what they are doing.

      FreeBSD enthusiasts always do. I disagree. I assess OSes for a living. I have been working with xNix since Xenix on a 286 in 1988. I have used or worked on about a dozen different xNixes, counting all of Linux as one (1).

      I want to like FreeBSD more, but for me, even now, the installation and setup experience is very suboptimal. I expect more integration with the host system, and if that means discarding BSD partitioning standards and embracing MBR or GPT instead, well tough. Do it, or get a negative mark in one of my reviews.

      I submit that I do know what I am doing, but mainly, I know the PC and PC standards, and unlike a lot of people, I like them.

      I have been a VAX sysadmin, I have fixed AS/400s and PDP-11s and S/36 boxes. I have networks Macs to VAX and got Netware and NT 3.1 working together. I have extensive heterogeneous cross-platform experience. I am not normally an xBSD user, though. BSD has cultural baggage that it would be a better OS if it let go of and became more flexible.

      I fully appreciate that this mindset is alien and somewhat incomprehensible to BSD folk, from about 2 decades of experience.

      I feel that this means BSD folk need broader experience.

  5. werdsmith Silver badge

    FreeBSD. Where I get time I will be looking at this as a possible escape from the toxicity of Linux. I’m not talking about the usability or functionality, I mean the stigma of the Linux world.

    1. VoiceOfTruth

      Can you explain what you mean by stigma? My criticisms of Linux are mostly concerned with duplication of effort, and (sometimes) making things unnecessarily complicated. I have one or two other criticisms, but I don't have a stigma about Linux.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Imagine yourself being lectured in a condescending and sanctimonious fashion by Jeff Albertson.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "My criticisms of Linux are mostly concerned with duplication of effort"

        Do you not have the same criticisms of duplication of effort in the BSDs? Is there less effort involved in producing a BSD than in a Linux distro?

        The BSDs all maintain their own kernel development whereas Linux distros take a kernel from the single Linux kernel team. An LTS type distro such as Debian will run with a kernel for the life of the release (current Debian is 5.10 although 5.15 is also an LTS kernel and 5.17 is the latest stable). Does this give them more work in keeping an old kernel updated? I don't see why it should providing it's an LTS version that the kernel team is still supporting.

        A Linux distro takes its libraries and applications from various upstream sources and has to keep the various versions in-line so they plat nicely with each other. Is this different in effort or even in nature from the ways the BSDs do things? While the basic Unix libraries and utilities have their own heritage different to the GNU versions other material will be taken from the same upstream projects in both cases.

        I think it's time to take another look at a BSD if only as a backstop against systemd worming its way so far into Linux as make Devuan unsustainable.

        1. VoiceOfTruth

          -> Do you not have the same criticisms of duplication of effort in the BSDs?

          No. There are four main BSD OSs - Free, Net, Open, and Dragon. That's 4, not 4,000. These 4 have distinct purposes, they do not try to be all things to all beasties, although some people do use them for all purposes. I have used FreeBSD for desktops, servers, and firewalls (this being a specialised form of server). Some people tend to use OpenBSD for firewalls rather than desktops. NetBSD is for as many different architectures as possible, FreeBSD supports several but not as many. How many Linux distros are there out there aiming to be the king of the Linux desktop?

          Other people and companies create products based on one of these, and usually they acknowledge it (e.g. Xinuos OpenServer 'is built on FreeBSD') rather than saying it is a new BSD 'distro'.

          -> Is there less effort involved in producing a BSD than in a Linux distro?

          There is some overlap but they are separate and distinct. It's not just changing the package manager and having some groovy new wallpaper and saying 'look at our new distro which is the same as somebody else's distro except for the wallpaper'.

          systemd is rotten. It is not easy for a beginner to understand. It is not pleasant to use. And despite the repeated denials over the years, it is creeping in its stated mission. It seems to me that Linux has become a platform for running systemd, rather than systemd being a tool for Linux. It will eventually be looked back on as one of the worst things to ever happen to Linux. When enough people wake up...

        2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          The BSDs all have the same userland and library paths. That makes admin a whole lot easier. In practice, however, you're only likely to come across FreeBSD and OpenBSD, with NetBSD being a niche for those with very exotic hardware.

          Package management has gone through several evolutions, but make install from the relevant port directory always works.

          Every time I have to do some admin on a Linux system it seems like things have changed just enough to annoy me. Then there's all the fun of Debian vs. RedHat vs. SuSE vs. Gentoo, etc. and all the buggering around with packages that distros seem to love.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      perceived toxicity

      'toxicity' comes from only a handful of people, In My Bombastic Opinion. But you can pretty much assume that BSD's Init system will not become systemd, nor will it have native Pulse Audio in lieu of OSS audio (which in my opinion should still be the standard for Linux). There is a port for Wayland, sort of experimental from what I gather, but it shall not be installed on any of MY systems. But it is there if you insist on it, right?

      I recently DL'd an Ubuntu distro (the 'supported' Linux for a particular SoC system board) and it had WAYLAND on it. I was _NOT_ amused. Fortunately, use of package deletion and re-installation with Xorg fixed it. unfortunately did not fix the hardware incompatibilities with a particular LCD panel, however. I still have not tried loading FBSD on it. It's for a customer after all... but if I have to support a different Linux image maybe FBSD would actually work with that LCD panel... ?

  6. DougMac

    "standard pc?"

    So, I've only used PCs since the 286 days, I ignored the original PC.

    But what does ctrl-left arrow and ctrl-right arrow do?

    Can't be that standard, if I've never used them?

    Seems there's some bias about, FreeBSD is weird because it doesn't do things this one way the author is used to.

    I've had too much horror with multi-boot OS that I would never attempt it, windows, linux, BeOS, whatever strange thing you wanted to do.

    I'd always would devote a hard drive to a different OS no-matter-what. Its not a big deal that FreeBSD partitioning wants to take over the disk instead of try to cooperate with windows, which is just going to blast it away at Microsoft's next whim next upgrade.

    1. DarkwavePunk

      Re: "standard pc?"

      I have no idea what that <Ctrl>-<Left Cursor> etc thing means either. In most KSH derivatives beginning of line and end of line are <ctrl>-a or <ctrl>-e, or word at a time forward/backward <esc>-f or <esc-b>.

      *edit (before I've even posted* - looks like the latter. Never knew. Then again I'm the type that uses <ctrl>-p instinctively instead of the up arrow.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "standard pc?"

      > But what does ctrl-left arrow and ctrl-right arrow do?

      I suspect the author is referring to commandline maneuvering with bash (Linux default) rather than csh (FreeBSD default) shell.

      I don't use those particular key combinations either but a quick experiment shows moving cursor around word-at-a-time.

      In any case, if you want the bash shell as well with your FreeBSD, it's installed easily enough, e.g. 'pkg install bash'. I've had it on my FreeBSD systems for years.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: "standard pc?"

        Must admit, I generally use csh at the command line and only use bash when I need looped command or running scripts. I never noticed that bash had word move left/right with ctrl-arrow keys. But then the first thing I do with a new install is set the key repeat rate to some I find comfortable, which is 3-4 times faster than the default. Likewise, I shorten the delay before key repeat starts. Been doing that since I first discovered FreeBSD 4.3.

        Oh, and I've never had an issue with dual or even triple booting. Just always install Windows first because it WILL trash your other OSs :-) Not tried with anything newer than Win7 mind, things might have changed with Windows since then, but the fact FreeBSD uses only one partition and allocates it's slices inside actually makes it much easier and safer to multiboot.

      2. Jamie Jones Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: "standard pc?"

        word backwards and word forwards in tcsh on freebsd by default is escape b and escape f appropriately, though they can be bound to ctrl-left / ctrl-right if required by the bindkey command in the .cshrc.

        So, yes, hardly a valid OS criticism.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    For the young people born in the 21st century

    ...When you run Linux on a non-PC machine, such as a Raspberry Pi, it makes the computer act a bit like a PC. When you run FreeBSD on a PC, it makes a PC act a bit more like a Sun workstation or a DEC minicomputer...

    We, the grey bearded ones, know that Linux was created by PC people who wanted to play with Unix while FreeBSD was created by Unix people who wanted to play with a PC. Those were the days!

  8. ColonelClaw

    Question

    Do Apple still use bits of FreeBSD in OSX? If so, what sort of things?

    1. Rich 2

      Re: Question

      As far as I know, Mac OS X is basically BSD so I would think it uses quite a bit of it

    2. VoiceOfTruth

      Re: Question

      A lot of the tools under /usr. A couple of examples:

      strings /bin/ls

      $FreeBSD: src/bin/ls/ls.c,v 1.66 2002/09/21 01:28:36 wollman Exp $

      strings /usr/bin/compress

      $FreeBSD: src/usr.bin/compress/zopen.c,v 1.17 2011/09/28 08:47:17 bz Exp $

      /etc/services

      # $FreeBSD: src/etc/services,v 1.89 2002/12/17 23:59:10 eric Exp $

      There's quite a lot of FreeBSD goodies if you look around.

    3. Len
      Headmaster

      Re: Question

      MacOS is not BSD, it’s mainly userland that was originally lifted from BSD. That means that superficially the interfaces show some resemblance (to people like me who use FreeBSD on the server and macOS on the desktop) and both are POSIX compliant.

      Under the hood, however, BSD and macOS are wildly different. The kernel is different (the XNU Kernel in macOS is hybrid whereas the FreeBSD kernel is monolithic), the whole hardware layer is different (unfortunately, otherwise macOS drivers could be used on BSD) and many newer developments were developed separately in macOS and BSD. You could not take a FreeBSD binary and run it on macOS, though it would probably be a lot easier to recompile a FreeBSD application for macOS than it would be for Windows.

      Probably most famously copied from FreeBSD is the network stack. Nearly every OS (including Windows) was at some point heavily leaning on the TCP/IP network code from the BSDs as they were the first to have serious IPv4+IPv6 dual stack network support. That was the result of the KAME project and the code was released under a BSD license in 2006 so world+dog could include with just an attribution.

      1. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

        userland

        Yes, on macOS I need to use the freebsd.org online docs to get the correct command syntax, where it differs from the GNU syntax (e.g. find is different). But I need to use the apple.com online docs to discover how to do most things the macOS way (e.g. don't mess with the path).

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Question

        Even back in W95 the BSD stack was acknowledged somewhere or other, along with HP, probably the bits of the latter's New Wave which were subsumed into it.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Question

          Wasn't there a time when the Microsoft world used the Wollongong IP stack? Or was that before WIndows?

          God, this makes me feel old :).

      3. LDS Silver badge

        the whole hardware layer is different (unfortunately)

        It's not unfortunately, it's by design "otherwise macOS drivers could be used on BSD)" - Apple don't want to make drivers designed for Apple systems to be available on any other system.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: the whole hardware layer is different (unfortunately)

          That doesn't make much sense. Theoretically having a motive is no proof of having done something.

          Even the motive doesn't sound very convincing. I very much doubt Apple cares much about whether the macOS drivers that HP developed for its printers could also be used on a *BSD. Over 90% of all *BSD installs will be for servers, an area Apple is not interested in playing a role in.

          You can't use Windows driver for *BSD either. That's not because Microsoft worries about their drivers being used on *BSD, it's because the way Windows interfaces with the hardware layer is very different to *BSD and driver developers have to follow the philosophies and choices of the Hardware Abstraction Layer in the OS.

          The origins of macOS can be traced back to NeXTSTEP which was exclusively built for the m68k architecture (i386 came much later). Instead of BIOS, macOS used OpenFirmware and later UEFI. Those are all underlying technical choices which, once driver developers get involved, shape the type of drivers that are required.

          Under the hood there are many fundamental differences between macOS and FreeBSD (even if both are a flavour of UNIX) and so drivers are different. For a long time driver developers wishing to develop drivers for macOS had to program against I/O Kit, nowadays it's DriverKit. Both are created specifically to help driver developers deal with the macOS specific design choices regarding power management, memory management, multitasking and multiprocessing, plug and play, dynamic loading etc.

          To develop drivers for FreeBSD one needs to use entirely different documentation because the design choices are very different for the *BSDs. They are much more traditional UNIX and will look more familiar to Linux developers than macOS developers.

      4. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Question

        I'd have thought that BSD binaries would probably run on MacOS with the same kind of ABI shim that lets Linux binaries run on FreeBSD. But, in practice, it's easier to build them or get packages from MacPorts.

    4. Hi Wreck

      Re: Question

      Mac OS is the Mach (Carnegie Mellon) kernel with BSD Unix tacked on top. Linux is more System V (original AT&T). You can see the differences with the myriad of options in “ps” (ps aux vs. ps -efl) and “ls”. It gets muddled at times, though. Apple seems to want to excise itself of any of the GNU stuff (switching to zsh from bash, clang from gcc, etc.). Mind you, as long as eMacs works, I’m a happy camper.

    5. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Question

      The kernel is different but much of the "system" is the same, the driver model is also different. However, as MacOS is very much a consumer OS, most people will never use the command line or see the system files.

      Apple has added some cruft to try and make things more "secure". In practice this can mean some tinkering so that you can admin your own system.

  9. standbythree

    It was news to me too, but apparently some shells come configured to use ctrl-left and crtl-right to do the same as ctrl-a and ctrl-e. Who knew. But every shell that can be run in Linux can also be run on FreeBSD so it seems like a weird point to use as a criticism of the whole OS.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      I'd have expected CTRL-left and CTRL-right to switch between shells/sessions. Keybindings in many Linux installs have been broken since the Windows convention for copy and paste was adopted. Not sure how you interrupt a process now that CTRL-C is used to copy…

  10. Len

    About the word 'distro'

    The word distro as used in the Linux world is not entirely applicable to the BSD space.

    With Linux there are a bunch of people working on a kernel and only on a kernel. Completely separate companies and teams then take that kernel, take stuff from other companies and projects, develop some stuff themselves and pack it all neatly together as a distro. That distro is then a full OS.

    That separation doesn't exist with FreeBSD. The same people that work on the kernel also work on the rest of the base OS. FreeBSD is a whole OS, not just a kernel. Imagine if Linus Torvalds and team would create their own distro on top of the kernel and release it themselves. This is some times considered one of the benefits of the BSDs versus the various Linux distros as everything fits together much better because it was all designed by the same people with the same goal. Not everyone would notice this (straight away or ever) but I suppose the deeper you dig into the workings of FreeBSD vs a Linux distro the more you'd notice.

    1. JamesTGrant

      Re: About the word 'distro'

      I didn’t know this - excellent info!

    2. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: About the word 'distro'

      Also, the likes of TrueNAS and PFSense are "variants" rather than distros. They take FreeBSD and modify / add stuff.

    3. Man inna barrel Bronze badge

      Re: About the word 'distro'

      Strictly speaking, we should say GNU/Linux. Linux is the kernel and hardware drivers; GNU is the userspace.

      When I ran FreeBSD for a while, I found the basic userspace documentation much better than GNU. The boot scripts were cleaner and more easy to configure. Bear in mind that I was trying FreeBSD as an experiment, having run a few GNU/Linux distros prior to that.

  11. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Bill Jolitz

    I'm sorry to hear of the death of Bill Jolitz. I remember reading the long series of articles about porting to the 386. I think they were in Dr Dobbs.

    1. John Gamble

      Re: Bill Jolitz

      Yes, they were. I could have sworn the articles were from the mid or late 1980s, but apparently not:

      "In 1990, William and I wrote up a document entitled “386BSD: A Modest Proposal”, outlining the basic specifications of a port of Berkeley Unix to the 386. We approached Jon Erickson at Dr. Dobbs Journal, the premiere hard technology magazine at the time, to write a series of articles documenting the process and code of the port. Dr. Dobb’s Journal focused on MS-DOS at the time but Jon felt this was an excellent opportunity to expand his readership to Unix that would run on 386 hardware."

      From his obituary written by Lynne Greer Jolitz.

  12. MattPDev

    I really wanted to use FreeBSD as my regual OS and still hope to get involved in some way. Unfortunately my new-build PC was too modern and drivers didn't exist in 13.0 for 11th Gen Intel Graphics. I tried Manjaro for a couple of weeks but inevitably ended up back on Windows because it just works.

    It's still on my todo list, it looks a lot more interesting than the Linux monster.

    1. Len
      Happy

      Personally I’ve never tried FreeBSD as desktop OS, it’s server only for me. But, if it helps, the FreeBSD forum is more or less dedicated to people who want to use FreeBSD as a desktop OS for daily use.

      FreeBSD developers have their own places where they gather, server admins another. Desktop users have the forum.

      Also, considering TrueNAS is built on FreeBSD and can be installed on commodity hardware, their forum is sometimes a good place to look for troubleshooting hardware compatibility issues.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Yes, drivers for leading and bleeding edge hardware is forever the bane of FOSS OSs. The OEMs will rarely, if ever provide drivers or information for those wanting to write drivers. Things are improving, slowly, especially in Linux-land, but if you want the latest kit, Windows is the only option.

    3. Jamie Jones Silver badge
  13. jayp1418

    BSDs are cool again. Hope to see next NetBSD release in coming month

  14. Paul Johnston

    Question

    Anyone got thoughts on the version of OpenSSL being 1.1.1?

    Seems Linux is moving to version 3 and we for one are having issues with it and our Palo Alto boxes.

    Cheers Paul J

    1. VoiceOfTruth

      Re: Question

      From the OpenSSL web site: It is the intention that the large majority of applications will work unchanged with OpenSSL 3.0 if those applications previously worked with OpenSSL 1.1.1. However this is not guaranteed and some changes may be required in some cases.

      I imagine that the more things that move to 3 the more problems and incompatibilities you will see. That's just the way things work. Rather like any major change, I would like to see others go through the pain first. 1.1.1 is still supported until September 2023.

      1. -tim
        Boffin

        Re: Question

        openssl 3 is removing some of the older broken encryption by default. That means talking to ancient un-updated equipment won't work out of the box if ever. We keep a version of ssh 6.6 compiled with open ssl 1.0.1 called ssh1 for those rare cases but web things are getting harder. We have used haproxy 1.8 configured to talk to old ssl backends also linked to older openssl which lets us use modern browsers with old hardware and old hardware with new web sites. We use the odd mixes for devices that can't phone home for firmware updates because they can't do modern ssl/tls but we have to configure per host and play dns and cert games to get that to work.

        openssl skipped version 2 because of the protocol 1 vs protocol 2 version issue.

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Question

      Didn't BSD switch to LibreSSL a while back because of the problems with OpenSSL?

      1. VoiceOfTruth

        Re: Question

        I don't think so. OpenSSL is still installed as part of the base OS. It is not a stub:

        bsd131bw:~ % openssl version

        OpenSSL 1.1.1o-freebsd 3 May 2022

      2. Jamie Jones Silver badge

        Re: Question

        openBSD maintain LibreSSL, and they switched to it.

        FreeBSD remained with openSSL, but libressl is available for ports that require it (e.g. openNTP)

  15. karlkarl Silver badge

    "Installing FreeBSD is a little bit like installing Linux was in the 1990s"

    You pretty much hold down the enter button. How is that similar to Linux in the 1990's?! Might just be me but I found it fairly horrific back then (certainly compared to DOS haha).

    Even in the space-year 3043 we will see command line installs long after Wayland or even X12 are replaced.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Joke

      "Even in the space-year 3043 we will see command line installs long after Wayland or even X12 are replaced."

      You don't normally replace stuff that's not actually ready. Or do think the dev timeline is going to be brought forward?

  16. Jamie Jones Silver badge

    Your comments on partitioning are completely wrong.

    The other thing to point out is a more subtle difference, and one we've found that BSD types don't really get. Linux is a native PC OS: it was first developed on x86 PCs, and only later ported to other architectures. It feels at home on a PC. It uses standard PC partition types, it happily co-exists with other OSes, it uses native screen resolutions and control keys and other things as a matter of course.

    FreeBSD, like the other BSDs, is different. It is not native to the PC, and while it runs fine, it expects a substantial primary partition to itself, inside which it builds its own partitioning system.

    You have just touted a severe handicap of Linux as an advantage: How it has to use standard "MBR" partition types. That meant (before UEFI) the horrible hack for extended partitions (or whatever it was called) was needed for more than 4 linux partitions.

    FreeBSD (due to it's history) has it's own native BSD partitioning system. The advantage here was that one "PC" partition can hold multiple freebsd partitions.

    It made PC based installs much cleaner, but HAS ALWAYS BEEN OPTIONAL. Indeed, with UEFI, BSD partitioning is not used by default. It can still be used if you want, but without the stupid MBR restrictions, there's no longer any need.

    .

    The restrictions you cite do not exist.

    You can (and always can) ignore MBR, EFI completely, and dedicate the whole raw disk to FreeBSD - that's what I do on my servers, and that would (obviously) make dual booting more tricky (as you allude to)

    However, the default FreeBSD install in the MBR era used the MBR disk format, and used one MBR partition for it's own partitions. You allude to this too, but seem to think this was fixed.

    There was nothing stopping you using two or more MBR partitons for the same FreeBSD install. - Freebsds built in partitioning scheme doesn't have to be used.

    You could easily install FreeBSD the same crappy way Linux is installed on MBR: assign a few MBR partitions to FreeBSD, and don't use freebsds own partitioning within it.

    You could also mix and match MBR partitions at will - the point is, you rarely saw it that way because it was a restriction.

    So, the first sata/ata disk device is ada0.

    "MBR" partitioning is referred to as "slices" (i.e. slice 0-3), and freebsds own partitioning uses a single letter.

    A mounted device could therefore be any of the following combinations, depending upon whether MBR was used, and whether BSD partitioning was used (your choice)

    No partitioning, use the whole disk as one:

    ada0

    Use MBR partitioning, but not freebsd partitioning (like linux)

    ada0s1

    ada0s2 ..

    Use freebsd partitioning within an MBR partition:

    ada0s1a

    ada0s1b

    ada0s1c..

    ada0s2a .. (if required)

    Use FreeBSD partitioning on a raw disk:

    ada0a

    ada0b

    ada0c ...

    ... nothing stopping you mix and matching:

    ada0s1a /

    ada0s1d /usr

    ada0s1e /var

    ada0s2 /home

    ada1 /archive

    etc.

    Of course, with EFI, the restrictions of MBR no longer exist, so FreeBSD defaults to using a "PC partition" as a freebsd partition, and doesn't use the BSD native partitioning at all (though you still could if you wanted to)

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