NEWBIE: guidence for MS-Windows replacement.

NEWBIE: guidence for MS-Windows replacement.

Post by DG » Tue, 07 Oct 2003 03:09:12

I'm evaluating *nix as a replacement for MS-Windows. My criteria is (in
order of importance):
1) Stability
2) fewest bugs
3) largest set of applications
4) ease of maintence
I've started with FreeBSD (UNIX based) and SuSE (Linux based).
I'd appreciate any guidence that could save me some time.

thanks for the help,

NEWBIE: guidence for MS-Windows replacement.

Post by jpd » Tue, 07 Oct 2003 04:04:32

Get a good book on un*x in general. Taking the time to get to know your
unix-like operating system of choice is the biggest timesaver of all.

IMAO, FreeBSD (4.*, stay off 5.* until it hits 5.2) is quite stable.
And since the 2.4.something in-flight vm change I simply don't trust
the linux camp anymore. This, ofcourse, is higly personal.

SuSE I now can regret to say I have first-hand experience with, and I
don't like it. Neither do I redhat. The latter has a *** habit of
running almost-but-not-completely-compatible software that Breaks Stuff.
Debian seems much better in not breaking things, (first hand experience
as well) and I've heard good things about slackware too. But the rest of
the linux discussion belongs, ofcourse, in c.o.l.a. That is not this group.

Last thing I'll say is that most distributions come with --each spiffier
than the other-- ``configuration aids'' which invariably make me wish
for the FreeBSD system, as that is much more transparant and less prone
to faillure. The above only holds if you have invested in getting to
know the system. If you didn't, you can now trash your system using a
mouse as well, and still not understand what's gone wrong.

Fewest bugs, well, all I'll say about that is that the *BSD camps have
this habit of trying to do things _well_ instead of doing them as spiffy
as possible. This contributes to their stability. FreeBSD included.

On software: I could say that FreeBSD has a rather huge (9000+ entries)
ports collection and can run most linux binaries as well. You'd think
it'd beat ``linux'' in a DSW on that point.

But I have a much better point to make: You should, and I mean that,
select on what you need, because you'll personally never ever run 9000+
titles. So decide what tasks you want to get done using your system
of choice, and see if you can tick off the list with suitable software.

Do tell what your findings are, and why.

j p d (at) d s b (dot) t u d e l f t (dot) n l .


NEWBIE: guidence for MS-Windows replacement.

Post by Daniel Rud » Tue, 07 Oct 2003 07:42:11

omewhere around the time of 10/05/2003 11:09, the world stopped and
listened as DG contributed this to humanity:

Well, I've used both FreeBSD and Linux, and I made my choice a long time
ago. As a FreeBSD advocate, my argument is biased, so just keep that in
mind. :-)

1. Stability. FreeBSD is highly stable. Most system crashes that I've
had were hardware related, or something stupid that I did. Even when
the power goes out and the systems were running, on the reboot, most
disk errors are recovered automaticly. I have soft updates turned on,
so that's probably why. But, for what it's worth, there are FreeBSD
machines out there that have uptimes measured in *YEARS*. Uptime is the
time between reboots. A reboot can happen for any reason. The current
production release of FreeBSD is 4.8, and 4.9 is comming out soon. Stay
away from the 5.x until around 5.2 or 5.3 as the 5.x is currently in
development. The current 5.x release is 5.1.

2. Fewest Bugs. It is very rare that I run into bugs or problems in
FreeBSD. Most of my questions have to do with how to do something.
I've used Linux, and I've had some issues with it. Seems most of the
Linux community hack their software together, so there may be a number
of bugs and security holes in not only the the base system, but many of
the applications as well. All Linux really is is just a kernel. The
userland is GNU which is controlled by the Free Software Foundation.
Linux is piecemail in which you have to go to different sources to get
all of the software that you need. There are distributions that come
with everything that you need though. But, they are not all that
compatibile with each other.

2.5. Another aspect of Linux is that there are over 200 plus
distributions of Linux, each one with their own philosiphy on how to do
things, which supports the piecemail argument above. Some of the more
popular ones are SuSE, Redhat, Debian, Slackware, Gentoo, Caldera (SCO),
Mandrake, and others. One very recent one was put together by the
Chinese government is called Red Dragon Linux. The problem with this is
that the Liunx base is becoming fractured, with different distro vendors
doing things differently. So software that was compiled under one
distro, may not work correctly on a different distro. There are
movements withing the Linux community to rectify this, one of which is
called UnitedLinux.

As for *BSD, there are currently only 5 flavors, depending on what you
want to do. MacOS X for the Apple Macintosh is based on FreeBSD.
There is OpenBSD which is the most secure OS that you can get. (It
probably has an NSA certification by now.) There is NetBSD which has
been ported to anything with a CPU. It supports over 50 platforms.
Then there is BSD/OS which is the commercial version of BSD.
Unfortunately, Wind River Systems, who currently owns it, has announced
that they will be discontinuing it. Finally, there is FreeBSD which is
optimized for performance on IA32, IA64, Alpha, PC98, and UltraSPARC

3. Applications. FreeBSD has over 9000 ported applications that can be
loaded onto the machine by either binary packages or download the
sourcecode and compiling. Furthermore, using ABI (Alternate Binary
Interface), you can run most Linux native binaries directly, as well as
SVR4 (Sun X86) and IBNSC2 (SCO) binaries. There is also WINE, which is
a Windows Emulator for running MS Windows apps. The one th

NEWBIE: guidence for MS-Windows replacement.

Post by Michel Tal » Tue, 07 Oct 2003 08:45:15

aniel Rudy < XXXX@XXXXX.COM > wrote in
news:771gb.9693$ XXXX@XXXXX.COM :


such arguments are particularly inelegant, and will not serve BSD in
any way. Nobody cares of the SCO lawsuit, the only probable issue of
this dispute is that SCO will get out of business well before the
lawsuit is settled. Moreover, in view of the completely weird arguments
SCO is using, they could as well sue the BSD camp on similarly
fantasmatic intellectual property issues. You can see that as a
ridiculous tactic from Microsoft and Sun (which have recently paid Unix
licenses to SCO in order to provide them fresh cash) to retard the
progress of Linux against them. FreeBSD is not a target because it
doesn't appear on the radar, period.

I think that one needs to concentrate on factual issues to defend
- good performance
- good stability
- ease of administration and upgrade
A good Linux distro, like Debian also offers almost equivalent features,
but, using both, it seems to me that FreeBSD is slightly better on
the three points. Linux is extremely stable, but the performance is not
always perfect, especially under load. It still suffers from an
imperfect vm sytem. It may be that kernel 2.6 closes the gap. Debian has
an extremely reputed packaging system, which indeed allows very easy
automatic upgrades. On the other hand it is less flexible than the
FreeBSD ports system, and you pay the price with very outdated softs in
the stable series. If you want up to date softs you have to run Debian
unstable or less serious distros like Redhat, and you indeed get
instabilities in the deal. FreeBSD offers a very good mix between very
recent softs, ease of installation and upgrade and stability.

On the other hand Linux has killer features like journalled filesystems
that FreeBSD misses. With the advent of enormous disks, doing an fsck
becomes rapidly out of question. Whatever FreeBSD fanatics have to say
about softupdates, there exists cases in which a full fsck is needed to
restore the filesystem. In particular because if you turn write cache
off on the hard disk you kill performances to an unacceptable level, and
if you turn it on, all the beautiful softupdates guarantees are in
effect void. It is clear that journalled filesystems are rapidly
becoming not only a bonus, but a necessity. Moreover filesystem design
is evolving into much more than only storing files on disk, as Hans
Reiser particularly stresses. Similarly Linux always gets the most
recent Java jdk much sooner than FreeBSD. If you are a Java developer,
it is clear that you have better luck with Windows, Mac OS X or Linux.
Moreover all those recent applications and in particular Java require
efficient threading system. This is not the case in FreeBSD-4. In
CURRENT, new sophisticated threading sytems are developed, but at
present, it is not clear they are stable and have radically better
performance. Linux has several years of advance in this domain.
Anyways, for a lot of people, these particular features are not
decisive, and the real advantages of FreeBSD are of more concrete


NEWBIE: guidence for MS-Windows replacement.

Post by Daniel Rud » Tue, 07 Oct 2003 10:11:42

Somewhere around the time of 10/05/2003 16:45, the world stopped and
listened as Michel Talon contributed this to humanity:

Point taken, but, as the original poster asked for guidance. Being
there is a current legal action against IBM (and possibly SGI) for Linux
contributions, I feel that it is relevent that the poster be aware of it
if at some future date the court rules in favor of SCO. Granted, I
agree that SCO's claims are fantastic and frivirlous, but none the less,
there is a court case pending.

I strongly agree with this assesment.

Daniel Rudy

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NEWBIE: guidence for MS-Windows replacement.

Post by Ted Spradl » Tue, 07 Oct 2003 13:22:38

On Sun, 05 Oct 2003 18:09:12 GMT

! and 2 are easy. Not sure about 3, though. How many different
applications do you personally have time to try, let alone actually use
regularly? 9000 packages in the ports collection is kinda misleading.
There's a whole lot of redundancies and trivialities, and no one person
cares about all, most, or even half of 'em. What matters is the
applications that *you* need to do *your* work.

Question 4 is the big bag of snakes, because it's really ultimately an
esthetic question: what somes easily to me may not come easily to you,
and vice versa. You might want to take a look at Eric S Raymond's new
book, ~esr/writings/taoup/html/, particularly chapters
1, 2, and 3. Raymond is heavily biased, of course, and I generally
disagree with his interpretation of history, and even more so with his
interpretation of the future in chapter 20, but he does a good job of
explaining the Unix Culture. That's the culture that I'm comfortable
with, but very obviously, the vast majority of people prefer the
Microsoft Windows culture. I'm helpless in that milieu, so I worry that
someone who is comfortable there will be equally helpless with Unix.

I think that lying to start a war is a worse sin than lying about
boinking an intern, don't you?

NEWBIE: guidence for MS-Windows replacement.

Post by Preston Cr » Thu, 09 Oct 2003 03:19:05


These two issues are the only thing that has held me back from switching to
FreeBSD (and I've tried to switch a number of times over the years). I need
Java and it's just better supported under Linux. So I stick with SuSE.