Matt Fuller has made a fascinating and cogent comparison of the BSD (mostly FreeBSD) and Linux operating systems from the point of view of a FreeBSD user. His essay made me realize that, had I known five years ago about the arguments for using FreeBSD (or any BSD, for that matter) vs. Linux, I probably would have chosen FreeBSD as my OS of choice.
So why am I still using Linux? Three reasons:
- I’ve already started down the road of learning various Linux distros, particularly Ubuntu.
- The need for BSD users to install nearly all programs from source is too far over my head at this point for me to want to use it as my primary OS, at least until I am more confident in my programming and general *nix skills.
- I still want a thorough understanding of the Linux model through use, as it’s far more popular (numbers-wise) than any of the BSDs.
Sabayon or Gentoo (or possibly Arch) will take over from Ubuntu as my main OS over the next few years so I can become more proficient with building from source, and once my competence is at a high enough level, I’ll end up a FreeBSD or PC-BSD user. Most of the programs I am using or eying on Ubuntu are already or easily could be ported to BSD, so that’s not a big issue. I also suspect that the stricter engineering philosophy behind BSD will give me a different and possibly better playground for honing my hacking skills.
Also, new page on the site! As I come across various useful programs, I will try to do them justice with a short-to-long review and a screenshot, both for your edification and for my (poor) memory skills. If you want to recommend a program for review, you can comment on the Software Reviews page or e-mail me, and I will do my best to oblige you with a review.
UPDATE: As it’s pretty clear that this is by far the most popular post here so far, I thought I’d take the chance to clarify a few points:
- Do I think that BSD is better than Linux (or vice versa)? No — I think they are different, and they both bring a valuable perspective to the table, but I think that BSD would suit my personality better, or at least be a highly valuable OS to learn well.
- I do not intend to bash Ubuntu — it is a well-put-together piece of software that almost always (for me, at least) works right out of the box, and I highly respect the many talented contributors it has attracted over the years. Right now Ubuntu is perfect for me, but I know that at some point in the future I will notice that too much of the true functionality of the software is masked for simplicity’s sake, and for me to hone my skills any further, I will need to move on. (I suspect that I will eventually be using KDE for the same reason.)
- Will I recant and come back to the Linux fold? / Will I convert and stay always in the *BSD fold? Probably no to both. I like to experiment, and so I’ll probably always have both somewhere near me. Besides — nobody does everything perfect, and until they do, I’ll use the tool that best fits the task at hand.
I’m amazed at how popular this post was (it was something like #5 in a Google search for “bsd vs linux” for a short while), and I wanted to add some more substantial commentary for those who probably thought they’d see more than “read this other guy’s article, it’s awesome!” 😉