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#1 2004-02-27 21:29:50

LB06
Member
From: The Netherlands
Registered: 2003-10-29
Posts: 435

How does Arch compare to FreeBSD?

Hi all,

I'm very happy with Arch Linux, but I'm also interested in FreeBSD. I read a lot about FreeBSD (vs. Linux) in general and here's a summary: FreeBSD is faster, more coherent and easier to maintain. Linux supports more hardware and multimedia stuff and is for n00bs(just a common rant, don't pay attention to this).

FreeBSD advocats are proud of the performance, but doesn't Arch and some other distro's offer equal or even better performance, especially with linux 2.6? And I'm also wondering what they mean with 'more coherent'. After some investigation, the only evidence for this are some vague statements that Linux is just a loosely assembled piece of software and that there's a distinct difference between the base system and third party apps(/usr/local/). I don't really see an advantage in having base and rest separated. Nor do I fully understand what they mean with loosely assembled. What really shocked me was that FreeBSD people don't seem to know Linux can also be easy to maintain. E.g. pacman, portage, abs, dpkg/apt, yum, apt-rpm,etc.

Please don't take this as a flame or rant or anything like that. It's written from a Linux-user point of view, because, well, I am one. Don't get me wrong, I'm really interested in trying FreeBSD, but I'm just having a critical look at it. If I do someting, I want to do it for a reason. So what are your opinions about FreeBSD? Have I overlooked something or don't you agree with me at all? I'd love to hear your opinions. Sorry for my bad English.

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#2 2004-02-27 23:19:44

mico
Member
From: Slovenia
Registered: 2004-02-08
Posts: 241

Re: How does Arch compare to FreeBSD?

On my machine Arch linux is about as fast as FreeBSD 5.2 or maybe even a bit faster. Both are significantly faster than most other linux distros I installed before.

For home desktop I'd choose linux, for something else that needs to be really really stable and reliable maybe I would consider a *BSD (freeBSD, OpenBSD, ...), but even then I would probably choose linux. There are a lot of different linux distros and you can easily pick one that is best suited for your needs.

There is still one thing I admire about FreeBSD: the great number of up-to-date packages and ports available. I think only debian repositories can match that huge collection. I just hope Arch linux  will also have that much packages in official repositories one day.

I also prefer the freebsd way of loading modules to that horrible /etc/modules.conf, but Arch linux has even easier way - the line in /etc/rc.conf

What I find most annoying about FreeBSD is the lack of runlevels.

I also don't like some filesystem mounting and partiotion related things, I think the boot loader is much worse than lilo, I don't see any point in the wheel group, etc, etc - but all this is maybe just because I'm more used to linux big_smile

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#3 2004-02-28 17:09:40

kritoke
Member
From: Texas, USA
Registered: 2003-08-01
Posts: 211
Website

Re: How does Arch compare to FreeBSD?

Arch linux will also have that much packages in official repositories one day.

The amount of packages that Arch has now compared to when I first used it is astounding.  I used to complain and build packages that weren't in arch, now it is getting much harder to find new things to make packages for.  So I think eventually there will be a lot of packages, even though last time I checked a lot of people still want to keep it very small and simple, otherwise you can really get into a lot of chaos maintaining thousands of packages.

Kritoke


http://counter.li.org/ Registered Linux User #318963 kritoke@jabber.org

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#4 2004-02-28 20:39:12

andy
Member
From: Germany
Registered: 2002-10-11
Posts: 374

Re: How does Arch compare to FreeBSD?

About the coherency : very simple put
- Linux is just the kernel, the rest comes from GNU and other third parties. The distros assemble that.
- *BSD is the whole OS, including kernel and everything in /usr (but not /usr/local )

A little more detailed : FreeBSD prvides next to the kernel also the C-library, all the programs like "ls" "cp" etc. and, more importantly, if there are kernel functions that require user land tools, they are automaticallly in the OS. However, there are programs in the core OS that are not written by the *BSD teams - most prominently gcc.
And to demonstrate that further : all the extra packages that are available for the BSD's usually get installed into /usr/local - like KDE and Gnome - to demonstrate that these packages are not part of the core OS. But they are so easily installed, though.

In general I rather compare one of the BSD's with a specific Linux distro - not with Linux in general - especially since then you actually compare whole OS's.

Apart from the coherency : if you feel comfortable with Arch you will feel comfortable with the BSD's. The simple configuration and boot process are very similar. In fact, AL was inspired by the BSDs (if I interpret the various documentations correclty :-) ). Also, I think the percentage of BSD users (former or current) in the Arch community is very high. I myself use FreeBSD and OpenBSD quite a bit - and if it wasn't for AL, a linux kernel may be booted very rarely at home ;-)

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#5 2004-02-29 10:07:59

LB06
Member
From: The Netherlands
Registered: 2003-10-29
Posts: 435

Re: How does Arch compare to FreeBSD?

andy wrote:

About the coherency : very simple put
- Linux is just the kernel, the rest comes from GNU and other third parties. The distros assemble that.
- *BSD is the whole OS, including kernel and everything in /usr (but not /usr/local )

A little more detailed : FreeBSD prvides next to the kernel also the C-library, all the programs like "ls" "cp" etc. and, more importantly, if there are kernel functions that require user land tools, they are automaticallly in the OS. However, there are programs in the core OS that are not written by the *BSD teams - most prominently gcc.
And to demonstrate that further : all the extra packages that are available for the BSD's usually get installed into /usr/local - like KDE and Gnome - to demonstrate that these packages are not part of the core OS. But they are so easily installed, though.

But what are the advantages for the end-user? BSD people are always raving about this coherency, but I still don't get the point.

Anyway, thanks for enlightening me smile

edit: Another question: is FreeBSD suited for desktop use? E.g. will it be difficult to watch a DVD or get sound up and running?

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#6 2004-02-29 18:51:26

LB06
Member
From: The Netherlands
Registered: 2003-10-29
Posts: 435

Re: How does Arch compare to FreeBSD?

Isn't it also possible to install binary packages with pkg_add?

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#7 2004-02-29 19:18:24

scottro
Member
From: NYC
Registered: 2002-10-11
Posts: 454
Website

Re: How does Arch compare to FreeBSD?

Yes, you can do binary packages--the trouble is, that especially if you've updated world that you will sometimes run into incompatible libraries and the like.

Having a broadband connection and a reasonably decent machine, I almost always use ports.

As for the desktop issue--I use FreeBSD as my desktop (5.2) and it's fairly easy. Sometimes, you have to play to get things to work, but, for example, getting flash and java to work in linux-opera was easy--getting them to work in native (that is FreeBSD, not Linux emulation) is something I've not yet accomplished.  :-(

To the end user, I think the biggest difference is going to be the fact that Arch is binary and FreeBSD is source.  Once you get the initial configurations done, keeping Arch updated is far quicker and easier.

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#8 2004-03-01 00:37:10

Bobonov
Member
From: Roma - Italy
Registered: 2003-05-07
Posts: 295

Re: How does Arch compare to FreeBSD?

bsd and linux are two "different kind of unix"

It is not only a question on how the system manage package or how easy is to do the configuration.

Some  other important aspect are to be take in consideration.

As far as I know bsd is know to be more stable and secure than linux.
This is done taking a loooong  time to test the code. On one side this is good on other side this is bad. Sometime hardware and new functionality takes "ages" to be implemented in the kernel.

Another aspect is  performance.

Some time ago I found an article about  a comaprison of the scalability between kernel 2.4, 2.6, netbsd, freebsd, and openbsd

http://bulk.fefe.de/scalability/

Maybe it can be of some interest in the discussion.

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#9 2004-03-01 10:28:17

andy
Member
From: Germany
Registered: 2002-10-11
Posts: 374

Re: How does Arch compare to FreeBSD?

LB06 wrote:

But what are the advantages for the end-user? BSD people are always raving about this coherency, but I still don't get the point.

Well, for the end-user, there may not be that much of an advantage. For an admin, there is the advantage of having less headaches in configuring the system. However, depending on the Linux-distro, this is also true for the specific distro. As an example : the devfs/udev trouble would be not as bad in the BSD's since the tools would automatically be in the OS. But as you said, this is not really an end-user problem but rather and admin problem.

Bobonov wrote:

Some time ago I found an article about a comaprison of the scalability between kernel 2.4, 2.6, netbsd, freebsd, and openbsd

http://bulk.fefe.de/scalability/

This benchmark is highly controversial. And if you know the BSD's you will see why : He was using development versions of the BSD's comparable to early versions of the Linux kernel branches 2.5.X or 2.7.X

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#10 2004-03-03 01:58:01

Bobonov
Member
From: Roma - Italy
Registered: 2003-05-07
Posts: 295

Re: How does Arch compare to FreeBSD?

[Oct 22 2003] I was asked many times to also benchmark FreeBSD 4-STABLE, because people thought it was more optimized than the unstable development branch FreeBSD 5-CURRENT. Yesterday I downloaded the ISO and today I installed and benchmarked 4.9-RC3. As for NetBSD, I plotted the graphs for 4.9 against the graphs for 5.1-CURRENT. Here are the results:

This is from the site, at the end of the page comparison with stable and unstable version are there, by looking the main test an this you can have also this comparision.

At the end there are some other test and correction.

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#11 2004-03-03 20:44:48

LB06
Member
From: The Netherlands
Registered: 2003-10-29
Posts: 435

Re: How does Arch compare to FreeBSD?

Thank you for all these answers smile. I've also read that scalability benchmark, but that doesn't really represent desktop performance, does it?

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#12 2004-03-04 00:23:39

andy
Member
From: Germany
Registered: 2002-10-11
Posts: 374

Re: How does Arch compare to FreeBSD?

@Bonobov: intersting - so he did look into some of his mistakes - but still ignores others (Just look at all the updates he had to make). He still doesn't seem to get what "CURRENT" in BSD terminology means. He seems to be surprised that when switching to NetBSD-CURRENT breaks certain things and improves others  - well d'oh, it's development. And he still hasn't used OpenBSD 3.4-STABLE (or RELEASE). I read from one OpenBSD core developer someplace that the snapshot he installed may have very well been in the middle of some internal changes .... go figure ... enough ranting ... just everybody reading these benchmarks should first learn how the BSD work.

@LB06 : benchmarks hardly ever measure any real life performance ;-) ... they always "claim" to do something like that. But the only thing a benchmark is measuting is the performance of the benchmark itself. If you draw any conclusions from benchmarks you better know EXACTLY how the benchmark works and what it all means.

Just an example :
I myself have run benchmarks myself for a very specific problem I am intersted in. Within that benchmark I can present numbers for which an Athlon 750Mhz outperfroms a 2Ghz P4. But this is a very specific case, and taking these numbers from me without knowing the details would be foolish.

I hope I got the point across ... I guess I have been working too much with benchmarks ;-)

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#13 2004-03-28 15:24:48

whol
Member
Registered: 2004-02-04
Posts: 155

Re: How does Arch compare to FreeBSD?

I tend to think of FreeBSD as a mainframe OS optimized for Intel chips.  Ideal for small, but busy, systems.  For example, powering a website or a small call center.  I would run a hotel on FreeBSD, but not on Linux.

Linux is more cutting edge, more personal, more happening.  If you want to pull images off your digital camera or memory stick, go with linux.  If you don't mind ocassionaly rebooting, go with linux.  The experts will disagree with me on rebooting, but one of my two Arch boxes still locks up from some mysterious HD problem, something it did not do when running Windows or FreeBSD.

The advances in the 2.6 kernel supposedly finally give linux a performance edge over FreeBSD, perhaps thats just on multiprocessor systems.  There is a reason Hotmail (before Microsoft bought them) an Yahoo run on FreeBSD.  Not to mention Walnut Creek.  You'll often find the biggest or busiest websites running FreeBSD.

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#14 2004-03-28 16:20:16

mico
Member
From: Slovenia
Registered: 2004-02-08
Posts: 241

Re: How does Arch compare to FreeBSD?

whol wrote:

There is a reason Hotmail (before Microsoft bought them) an Yahoo run on FreeBSD.  Not to mention Walnut Creek.  You'll often find the biggest or busiest websites running FreeBSD.

True, although the same could be said about linux. Many big websites use linux - google.com for example.

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#15 2004-03-28 18:26:39

whol
Member
Registered: 2004-02-04
Posts: 155

Re: How does Arch compare to FreeBSD?

I *think* Google uses linux because linux has superior clustering ability.  I don't think I've ever heard of a FreeBSD cluster.  And of course you've got to love Googles mainterance plan:

http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/pulpit20030410.html

"As a result, whenever a server fails at Google, THEY DO NOTHING.  They don't replace the broken machine.  They don't remove the broken machine.  They don't even turn it off.  In an army of drones, it isn't worth the cost of labor to locate and replace the bad machines.  Hundreds, maybe thousands of machines lie dead, uncounted among the 10,000 plus."

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