Initial Impression of FreeBSD 7.0

Written by Mark Sanborn: Mar 10, 2008

If you have heard about Linux or currently using it you are probably aware that it was derived from Unix. Linux is not the only variant derived from Unix. There has been a number of Unix variants one of which is, FreeBSD.

Since FreeBSD recently announced a new release I thought I would give it a try. When they released FreeBSD 7.0 they had claimed that it performed at least 15% faster than the latest Linux kernel. For such as substantial increase in performance I just had to give it a try. Here is how it went.

Disclaimer: At the time of writing I am new to FreeBSD and my knowledge is limited. I have only used/installed FreeBSD one other time prior to this. I also come from a strong Linux background so I may be a bit biased. Expect to see a few comments like, why doesn’t this work like Linux? But I will try to keep them minimized. :)

What I noticed right away

  • FreeBSD uses a text install which I found was very quick and easy to use.

  • The default shell is not BASH but rather csh. (I changed this immediately). I actually asked a few people why FreeBSD does this and the response was similar to this: csh is very minimal and standalone. It is easer to support and is not as thirdparty. BASH contains libraries so if you are isntalling FreeBSD as a minimal installation it is not included. Fortunately for me BASH was is easy to install and configure.

  • FreeBSD is very similar to a Linux ditribution I used to use called Gentoo.

  • FreeBSD is ment to be a compile everything OS; although, they do have binary installs via the pkg_add utility.

  • The minimal install is VERY light.

What I like so far

  • One complete operating system rather than a Linux kernel and many different distributions. FreeBSD does not need multiple distros since you are essentially building from the ground up. You are creating your OWN distro.

  • They claim FreeBSD is faster than linux. I hope to put this to the test in later posts.

  • The kernel config is a small text file.

  • Rebuilding the Kernel was a little easier than Linux due to the small configuration.

What I don’t like

  • I tend to be impatient when it comes to installing things. Compile time is annoying but in the end is a blessing.

  • It takes a long time to install.

  • The default shell is csh.

  • I havn’t gotten used to the way FreeBSD names their devices.

Future comparison tests

In the future I plan to make a few posts on the speed/ease/configuration/maintenance of both a Linux server and FreeBSD server. If you are curious how FreeBSD compares to Linux on a specific application or service please let me know in the comments and I will do my best to write a fair comparison of the two.

  • Hard Drive Benchmarking

  • Linux Apache vs FreeBSD Apache

  • PHP

  • MySQL load tests

  • FTP Load tests

  • Ease of configuration of LAMP / FAMP

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