Monday, April 11, 2005

News from BSD Land

I have several short stories to report from BSD land. First, the DragonFly BSD project released DragonFly BSD 1.2 last Friday. DragonFly BSD is a continuation of the FreeBSD 4.x branch by a separate development team. I downloaded and tried the new release, since the single .iso boots as a live CD. This is a nice feature, as it lets you test your hardware's compatibility before installing the OS. I have no plans to run this OS in production, but I might deploy a test system in my lab.

Did you ever wonder why certain Linux users are so adamant about calling their OS "GNU/Linux"? This is especially true of Debian users. To understand why, you should understand the history of the GNU HURD kernel. The HURD was the original kernel on which free software would run. The HURD wasn't making much progress when the Linux kernel arrived, so people starting running GNU utilities on the Linux kernel. People who remembered the HURD kernel and the importance of the GNU utilities prefer to say "GNU/Linux," to differentiate that setup from "GNU/HURD."

Today I saw that the Debian GNU/kFreeBSD project is making progress. This is a system where GNU userland tools run on top of the FreeBSD kernel, specifically 5.3 RELEASE. Yesterday a live CD for version 1.1 of the project appeared here. The installation instructions don't seem too complicated. The Gentoo/*BSD project is a similar endeavor, except they have not yet released any files.

To those who ask "why?", I reply "why not?" Should enough people decide they do not like additional Linux kernel development problems, they could try replacing the Linux kernel with FreeBSD. I think it makes more sense for converts to simply run FreeBSD, since the BSDs' userlands are more tightly integrated with the kernel than Linux. Still, projects like these extend the envelope of operating system understanding and show innovation.

No comments: