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Linux vs. FreeBSD vs. ????

Posted on 1997-02-11
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I've been searching 'comp.os.*' and 'comp.unix.*' for critical comparisons between the PC based Unix ports that are available -- Linux and FreeBSD in particular.  I haven't had much success!

I'm not after a great amount of detail. Just some general impressions by some who has tried both.

I'm planning on upgrading my disk and using the additional space to install Unix on some new partitions in addition to my current WIN95 operating system.

Want comparisons (pro/con) in the following areas:

1. Ability to co-exist and share files with WIN95 (separately bootable) ie can read and will not mess up the WIN95 file system!
2. Ease and flexability of installation
3. Stability on 486 based machines
4. Speed of operation
5. Compatability with commercial Unix systems

While not a Unix expert, I do know my way around operating systems in general.  So you don't need to pull any punches in responses...

Many thanks to anyone that can help with comments or pointers to
resources!

Steve Rohrer
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Question by:steve_r
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knowledge021097 earned 100 total points
ID: 1811886
1. Linux is more advanced in the WIN95 (FAT32) compadibility, but this type of code tends to be shared quickly between the two projects. Either one will coexist peacefully; this is, after all,
a fairly common request.

2. Linux defines the kernel.  The particular distribution defines everything else.  There is one FreeBSD distribution, there are many Linux distributions.  RedHat is notoriously easy to install,
and Linux supports more drivers than FreeBSD (not that it matters
as long as the ones YOU want are supported).

3. Both systems are perfectly stable on non-defective hardware.

4. Linux is marginally faster, but that's this week's answer.  Linux has notoriously fast context switch and system call entry times, but its networking was slow until the 2.0 networking rewrite.  The BSD crowd had the fastest networking on the planet, until Linux took the title (by a smidgen).  There are a few dated comparisons around (A 1996 Usenix paper comparing Solaris x86 2.4, Linux 1.2 and NetBSD I think) but there's been alot of water under the bridge since then.

5. Depends what you mean; source compadibility is a decreasing issue as almost everything that is distributed in that form has already been ported (generally this means trivial differences for Linux, and even fewer differences for FreeBSD).  iBCS provides
the ability to run SCO and Solaris/x86 binaries under FreeBSD and Linux.  FreeBSD also has Linux emulation.  Both are pretty POSIX compliant, and Linux is probably going to add a little extra crud to get X/Open UNIX(TM) certification, not that it has technical meaning.

For a forward-looking perspective, you have to consider trends.
Linux currently has an installed base of between 4 and 6 million
machines, (*BSD estimated at 500,000 - 1million) which is alot by Unix standards, and seems to be increasing rapidly. This means increased vendor support, increased driver availability, more beta testing and more development.
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