Comparison: Linux vs FreeBSD (Bsd) oses

by on June 11, 2006 · 54 comments· LAST UPDATED August 24, 2007

in , ,

If you would like to compare FreeBSD and Linux, then keep in mind following points:

* SMP support

* Portability

* Reliability/robust

* Performance

* Security

* Filesystem

* Support (community and vendor)

* Clean code and well documented API

* Amount of software/applications

* 3rd party apps support

FeatureFreeBSDLinux
SMP supportGood (v5.x/6.x+)Very Good (2.6+)
Reliability/robustVery GoodGood
PerformanceVery GoodGood
Security (out of box)Very goodGood
FilesystemGoodGood
Oracle/ERP appsNot supportedVery good
Package managementExcellent (ports & binary)Depends on distribution (Debian - excellent, RPM based - ok (go for yum))
Dell/IBM/HP server supportN/A (FreeBSD works with these vendors systems; at least I have very good experience with HP boxes)Very good
Support (community and vendor)GoodGood

Based upon my personal experience I recommend FreeBSD for Internet server (webserver or mail servers). They are extremely stable. FreeBSD is known to handle heavy load efficiently.

However, if you are looking to run 4 or 8 way SMP server or Oracle database server, use Linux (go for RHEL or Suse enterprise Linux). Linux has excellent support from these vendors.

In addition, OpenBSD is my choice for firewall/NAT/DMZ. :D If anyone has more information, just comment it below.

Further reading:

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{ 54 comments… read them below or add one }

1 thrift June 11, 2006 at 9:49 pm

Performance: SMP belongs in performance, given this FBSD shouldn’t be given a “very good” score in performance. Also how does FBSD handle things like NUMA and InfiniBand?

Reliability: Explain. Linux has things like heartbeat monitor, cluster IP aliasing, EVMS, and DRBD support. I’m not saying FBSD is worse, but i see no reasoning for it being better.

Security: FBSD!=OpenBSD. This is very much distro specific for out of the box, but I don’t see any reason FBSD is more secure by default. See RHEL4 using SELINUX by default as well as SuSe10 offering SELINUX or apparmor.

Filesystem: Does FBSD even have anything like LVM/EVMS? How about FS choice? On the Linux side there is ext2,ext3,XFS,reiser,JFS,etc. Can FBSD handle and NTFS FS?

Package Management: Having used RPM and apt quite a bit, I can say with a lot of confidence that both RPM and APT are Very Good. RPM by itself doesn’t handle the network side like apt and ports do, but i don’t know a distro that doesn’t have a tool to handle that. up2date, yast, etc. All have the ability to do updates automagically while resolving dependencys, holding back things like the kernel, and verifying RPM signatures(see security).

Support: The oracle section belongs in here. I’m sure there are plenty of others, how do things like Domino, eDirectory, etc. work on FBSD? Given my fun finding a lot of Linux drivers(non enterprise hardware) and not seeing anything about FBSD at those manufacturers sites….I’d give Linux what you gave it and FBSD a “poor”.

This all depends on application of the server, but if you’re talking about an enterprise server..I think more research is needed.

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2 nixCraft June 12, 2006 at 12:29 am

Performance: SMP belongs in performance, given this FBSD shouldn’t be given a “very good” score in performance. Also how does FBSD handle things like NUMA and InfiniBand?`

SMP – as I said Linux has best support. However note that freebsd also started to support NUMA and other stuff. But linux is winner at this time and I have already said it (v. good) :D

Performance – In term of networking, . Take P4 with 1 GiG and put both Linux and FreeBSD. You will see FreeBSD as a winner. Take look at any big site or large hosting provider all runs on FreeBSD, yahoo, pair hosting to name a few.

Even if your card is configured for 100Mbps under Linux TCP/IP stack will never pump up 100Mbps. You need to patch up default kernel (which is not included by both RHEL and Suse) with web100 (http://www.web100.org/) project, which was created to produce a complete host-software environment that will run common TCP applications at 100% of the available bandwidth, regardless of the magnitude of a network’s capability.

On the other hand without any patchs freebsd was able to utilize 98% of 100Mbps and that is why biggest ftp server always use FreeBSD other BSD oses ;)

Reliability: Explain. Linux has things like heartbeat monitor, cluster IP aliasing, EVMS, and DRBD support. I’m not saying FBSD is worse, but i see no reasoning for it being better.

FreeBSD has all these things :) just take a look at this configuration
Building a High-performance Computing Cluster Using FreeBSD: http://people.freebsd.org/~brooks/papers/bsdcon2003/fbsdcluster/
http://redundancy.redundancy.org/fbsd_lb.html
This project also runs on FreeBSD and Sun Solaris: http://linux-ha.org/HomePage ;)

Security: FBSD!=OpenBSD. This is very much distro specific for out of the box, but I don’t see any reason FBSD is more secure by default. See RHEL4 using SELINUX by default as well as SuSe10 offering SELINUX or apparmor.

FreeBSD has been the subject of a massive auditing project for several years. Just look at CERT security advisor and you will get idea (linux vs freebsd). I will give you one example, use nmap to scan both RHEL and FreeBSD boxes or send unlimited icmp request, freebsd by default limits the incoming packets where Linux don’t have such facility until and unless iptables is configured. There other area where FreeBSD offers out of box security to block root login for all services, for linux you need to configure those things.

SELINUX is good :)

Filesystem: Does FBSD even have anything like LVM/EVMS? How about FS choice? On the Linux side there is ext2,ext3,XFS,reiser,JFS,etc. Can FBSD handle and NTFS FS?

FreeBSD support LVM, it is called The Vinum Volume Manager, see http://www.freebsd.org/doc/en_US.ISO8859-1/books/handbook/vinum-vinum.html

Yes FreeBSD has driver for NTFS, FreeBSD also support wild verity of file systems. Yes freebsd can mount and use ext2/3 etc file system.

To be frank JFS or RFS are not included in default installation (there are JFS/RFS patchs avilable for freebsd) for security reasons. FreeBSD FFS and UFS file system are quite efficient.

Package Management: Having used RPM and apt quite a bit, I can say with a lot of confidence that both RPM and APT are Very Good. RPM by itself doesn’t handle the network side like apt and ports do, but i don’t know a distro that doesn’t have a tool to handle that. up2date, yast, etc. All have the ability to do updates automagically while resolving dependencys, holding back things like the kernel, and verifying RPM signatures(see security).

FreeBSD package management is out of box, you don’t have to configure yum or something and yes it is fully audited. FreeBSD does security check and verification before installing any packages.

What do you do when rpm database gets corrupted? RPM is worest format to manage. Ask any experienced UNIX admin and he will either recommend to use apt-get or port system.

Support: The oracle section belongs in here. I’m sure there are plenty of others, how do things like Domino, eDirectory, etc. work on FBSD? Given my fun finding a lot of Linux drivers(non enterprise hardware) and not seeing anything about FBSD at those manufacturers sites….

As I said earlier when it comes to Oracle or ERP or Domino all works on Linux (although you can find out tricks that enables to install all these application uunder FreeBSD using linux binary mode, I have personally installed
Mathematica, MATLAB, Oracle, Sap R/3 and other on FreeBSD see http://www.freebsd.org/doc/en_US.ISO8859-1/books/handbook/linuxemu.html )

I’d give Linux what you gave it and FBSD a “poor”.

I’d never give both of these oses poor. Oh yea, just take a look at sites with longest running systems (uptime): http://uptime.netcraft.net/up/today/top.avg.html BSD/FreeBSD are know to run for 2-3 years w/o reboot. I don’t see any Linux server there ;)

What I say is if you need rock solid internet server go for FreeBSD. If you want to run, Oracle/ERP and other stuff go for RHEL/Suse.

PS: next time do some research before writing out comment ;)

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3 tom June 12, 2006 at 12:38 am

Chill out guys ;)

BTW, LinuxTitli you have provided nice information. Thanks for clearing all those doubts raised by thrift.

I will defiantly give a try to FreeBSD.

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4 lkb-hosting June 12, 2006 at 12:51 am

@thrift,

Security: FBSD!=OpenBSD. This is very much distro specific for out of the box, but I don’t see any reason FBSD is more secure by default. See RHEL4 using SELINUX by default as well as SuSe10 offering SELINUX or apparmor.

Ever heard of TrustedBSD Project http://www.trustedbsd.org/

We have turned off SELINUX from all RHEL servers due to problem for both Oracle and Squid server :(

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5 polkaroo June 12, 2006 at 5:51 am

What do you mean Linux’s IP stack can’t handle a full 100 Mbps connection? That’s trash talk… I can do it easy with the standard kernel, and I can get 100 MB/s + on gigabit (again, stock kernel) just fine thank you.

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6 thrift June 12, 2006 at 6:40 am

Thanks LinuxTitli,

What I wanted was a why, and you gave that pretty definatively. I don’t agree with all of your points though.

I’m going to have to look more deeply at this web100. Mainly I don’t know as of yet why it wouldn’t be included with the stock kernel if it does give full bandwidth. Is this is a feature vs performance thing I wonder?

As far as reliability goes, you show linux, bsd, and solaris all have a lot of support for high availability. I still don’t see any reason BSD is more reliable. As for Netcraft…analogy!=data. If analogy’s are what you want a company I work for who barely knows how to spell Linux had a Linux firewall up and running for several years without a reboot. In my own experience on any of the UNIX’s I’ve used it’s been hardware/power failure before the OS went out.

On the security end both rhel and sles both have firewalls that can be turned on. I think rhel wants to do it by default whereas sles may leave it off out of the box for one reason or another(they do have a security module in YaST that can enable it and a bunch of other stuff with a couple clicks).

As for the switching to root thing, that’s handled differently per distribution, some block it, some don’t, I don’t have a list on hand, but I wouldn’t be suprised to find rhel and sles do block it.

and as to the auditing, that’s not really saying much, Linux is constantly undergoing code audits as well.

I’m going to have to look into reiser to see what you mean about it being a possible security issue. Could you elaborate?

rhel and sles both have you setup packagement as part of the install(to their commerical sources). As for what to do when the rpm database becomes corrupt, well for one I’ve never had mine go corrupt unless I did something stupid(like kill rpm mid package install), BUT RHEL and SUSE both backup the rpm database in cron by default and you can also simply remove the database files /var/lib/rpm and i believe the command is rpm –rebuilddb to rebuild it . I’ve had 100% success restoring the RPM database this way.

@lkb-hosting
Just as there is a trustedbsd.org there are linux distros that target to the common criteria, check out SLES who has mantained EAL4+ since SLES8. I can’t even find a CC rating for FBSD/TrustedBSD on any hardware platform. There are at least 4 Linux distributions with the same goals as TrustedBSD.

I know, SELINUX is a pain(although it does do it’s job). Check out Novell’s AppArmor, it will be shipping with SLES10. It’s much easier to configure in short.

Anyway I didn’t mean to make that seem like a flame by suggesting more research was needed, but you were publishing a comparison without showing any data.

Even with the data given though I think there is more parity than you are suggesting between the two OSes.

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7 lkb-hosting June 12, 2006 at 11:36 am

@polkaroo,

From the web100 site, “While the national high-performance network infrastructure has grown tremendously both in bandwidth and accessibility, it is still common for applications, hosts, researchers and other users to be unable to take full advantage of this new and improved infrastructure. Without expert attention from network engineers, users are unlikely to achieve even 10 Mbps single stream TCP transfers, despite the fact that the underlying network infrastructure can support data rates of 100Mbps or more. On unloaded networks, this poor performance can be attributed primarily to two factors: host system software (principally TCP) that is optimized for low bandwidth environments, and the lack of effective instrumentation and tools to diagnose performance issues…”

Try to transfer 10GB+ file and you will notice the difference. Web100 patch is for heavy data transfer network servers. I have configured Web100 very busy ftp server that distributes patches to client. Before Web100 and all /proc networking tweaking the speed was less that 10Mbps. After Web100 the speed was improved.

Therefore, it does TCP buffer tuning for you and gives you the best performance. If you are using normal web or small ftp server no need to use web100 patch.

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8 nixCraft June 12, 2006 at 12:16 pm

thrift, first please don’t consider this is a flame war, it is just that we are discussing the things and that is the main point behind this blog and site :)

FreeBSD, and Linux are obviously benefiting from each other :D as both are Open source oses.

I’m going to have to look more deeply at this web100. Mainly I don’t know as of yet why it wouldn’t be included with the stock kernel if it does give full bandwidth.

Yup, you need to do little experiment with web100 and you will see what I mean. It tunes the network buffer and other stuff automatically (generally, we play with /proc to improve network under Linux); however it may breaks few things, for example after applying patch for one of our server VMware networking failed.

I have also talked with one of developer and chance are it may be merged soon with Linux kernel tree (you know Linus takes his time before something getting into tree, remember UML stuff).

Is this is a feature vs performance thing I wonder?
Yup network performance, FreeBSD, can have notably higher performance than Linux (w/o web100 patch). However, In many cases, there is little or no difference in performance (for normal server such as http). In some cases, Linux may perform better than FreeBSD.

I’m going to have to look into reiser to see what you mean about it being a possible security issue. Could you elaborate?

Softupdate considered as more secure than reiser fs. Here is link:
http://lists.freebsd.org/pipermail/freebsd-current/2004-October/040904.html

Once again, I will say both Oses are excellent and capable of doing all the things (since you raised the question if FreeBSD can do this and that…).

It is just matter of personal choice or may be I am too comfortable with FreeBSD. I work for large web hosting company and here we run not just one or two servers but over 100+ servers and clusters using FreeBSD. In this environment, FreeBSD fits perfectly for us.

Each situation is different and unique, so the solution is. For the average user, the difference between FreeBSD and Linux is surprisingly small. However it is always hard to answer the question:

Which should I use, BSD or Linux? That is why I created the above table.


Finally, If you already use an open source operating system, and you are happy with it, there is probably no good reason to change.

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9 Anonymous June 12, 2006 at 12:24 pm

FreeBSD vs Linux: Competition is a good thing for users. Both are free.

My rule:
–> If you want easy to use free UNIX like os go for Linux (Debian).
–> If you want rock solid stable free UNIX go for FreeBSD (though solaris is free now)

Just my 2 cents

Cheers

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10 A boy from Washington, DC June 12, 2006 at 12:33 pm

This is an old flamebait argument. Select the os for job what you know. Don’t use it FreeBSD/Linux because LinuxTitli or thrift ;)

Other day I was @ webhostingtalk and most guys out there prefers FreeBSD over Red Hat/Centos:
http://www.webhostingtalk.com/showthread.php?t=516629

My major problem with Linux is too many different distros. Too many different kernel versions and kernel branches patchs and so on. With FreeBSD you get one os. That is why I prefer FreeBSD.

FreeBSD is well documented, and its handbook is the best one (as compare to Debian).

*Beware* hardware support is not as good as Linux.

Good luck with FreeBSD

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11 metamind July 18, 2006 at 11:31 am

Is there any data on the hardware support issue?

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12 nixCraft July 18, 2006 at 1:56 pm
13 Anthony July 28, 2006 at 1:19 pm

Any one know of a comparison with more details?

Sincerely,

Anthony

http://www.kyliptix.com

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14 villain August 10, 2006 at 3:32 pm

When it comes down to it if someone asked me id say if youre new go with linux once youre familiar try fbsd however i have grown to enjoy linux over fbsd

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15 fbsd_user November 9, 2006 at 12:37 am

Hi there..
freebsd is ownage period
then come the rest
apple would be nowhere without freebsd

windows has tcp things based on freebsd code

freebsd has fedora and debian linux environment support

for home usage it seems to me by far the best choice, as i hate unstable OS’es. For instance, when im booting my windows to play some stupid game, i became too chicken to enable my network connection. :)

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16 sam December 22, 2006 at 6:44 pm

BSD > Linux in reliability, end of discussion, do some research if you dont believe me
OpenBSD > Linux in security out of the box
BSD > Linux in cleanly, solidly, written code
NetBSD = Linux in portability (running on many architectures)
Linux > BSD in amount of software/applications written for it.
Linux has more full 3d acceleration support.

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17 nixCraft December 22, 2006 at 10:13 pm

Well done sam!

Appreciate your post!

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18 jerry April 19, 2007 at 12:15 am

Hello

Just my story… First OS I have used was IRIX… then Debian Linux for 7 years. It is not bad, but as I got more and more experienced I increasingly felt that Debian is created by incompetent people. So then I switched to FreeBSD. Developers are much more intelligent and professional. I used it for 2 years but all the new stuff first hits Linux and I got tired of waiting for everything to be imitated by BSD. That’s not to say they do it any worse, in fact usually the BSD implementations draw on the experiments gained by Linux, so they avoid the mistakes and get the design right the first time. But it’s still annoying to wait years so I went back to Linux. This time, the commercial rPath Linux (basically Red Hat) and I found great minds as with FreeBSD. I recommend everyone to try both, you will eventually all go settle for Linux but the experience will make you smarter.

As for OpenBSD being secure, this is probably the biggest marketing lie in IT even surpassing Sun’s recent desperate and grandiose nonsense ads. Before believing what they say, you should go and read the code they write. Basically they take other projects and break them. OpenBGPd, OpenNTPd, OpenFTPd, and so on case in point. Stop spreading their lies and check out the changes they made to these projects or the NetBSD kernel itself they forked from. They are a bunch of monkeys. Basically the project is for people who got kicked out from the other BSDs because they were incompetent. If you’re simply hard to deal with but are a programmer wizard, the leaders will tolerate you. You are only booted if your code is not good to be worth dealing with you. OpenBSD will welcome you then…

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19 McDaniel May 23, 2007 at 12:34 pm

jerry thumbs up to you!!!!

1. Can anyone understand that the security of a System is largely not contigent on the System itself but on the system administrator.Good to think about the -jail, chroot, Selinux, and the likes …. but the experience of a system administrator counts beyond all that resource(just like in programming where a bad design + a good language gives a bad output conversely a good design + a fair language would give a good output…)
So as Jerry said “As for OpenBSD being secure, this is probably the biggest marketing lie in IT even surpassing Sun’s recent desperate and grandiose nonsense ads.”, all that rumor of OpenBSD’s security is just a marketing gimmick

2. Talking about the Reliability of Linux I feel y’ll not tried Slackware before. It will give FreeBSD a run for its glory ( it is more stable than FreeBSD) and its performance is off the hook. Patrick carefully selects the distros for stability and reliability and speed optimized to the i686 level. I have gone around most of the Linux distribution- RedHat, Fedora, RHEL, Debian, Ubuntu, Gentoo, and Slack- and I have worked with FreeBSD and Solaris. I’ll say yea FreeBSD is stable with some speed but you give slackware a shot – it is equally stable,mature and fast in performance. I think it should represent LINUX.

3. Talking about the linux kernel coping with high load I feel with the new Linux VM any load down.

Check this BENCHMARK OUT I feel that will clear out some doubts

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

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20 nixCraft May 23, 2007 at 1:06 pm

McDaniel,

Nice BENCHMARK url!

Appreciate your post!

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21 Jack July 27, 2007 at 4:21 pm

It was hard for me to leave Linux for FreeBSD. However, 3 major vendors, one twice, and the other two each once, could not make one of our sites stand up under Fedora, RH, or CentOS. Of course we tried ourselves too by hawking the experts on WHT and setups from the reviews. The RackSpace salesman never responded to my e-mails again after we had a conference with an engineer and the engineer learned about our site, thus they are one that didn’t participate. Our last conversation they were talking several servers to balance the load.

We learned about FreeBSD quite by accident when we made an emergency move. I didn’t even know what I was getting on. It turned out to be FreeBSD 4.x and for the first time in months the side didn’t get terribly slow with processes crashing past 9 AM. I did some more Googling and found some obscure posts about a guy that bought a new server to upgrade a game site. Then just to mess around he setup FreeBSD just to see what the OS was like. He found he didn’t need a hardware upgrade. I learned IPower has between 600 and 700 sites on each server. They are FreeBSD with no performance problems.

Still, with all of the benchmarks and mind-share pointing the other way it was very hard for me. But until the loads exceeded 17, there was no perceptible change in userland performance. We’ve done a log of tweaking since and made huge gains in reducing CPU utilization. We’ve learned that our experience is very often opposite the reviews. Upgrading to Apache 2.2 and PHP 5.1 took a massive load off our CPUs and there is barely any penalty going from MySQL 4.x to 5.x. With both we needed to change from the default install to have it keep up with the requests per second up.

The server is a weather site that today serves 20,000 unique visitors/hour. 2/3rds of the bandwidth is inbound assembling information from around the world. It’s heavy into MySQL and generates weather maps for users. When we were getting buried on Linux our volumes were 5,000-6,000. The box? A now old Opteron 246 dual processor with SCSI raid array and 4 gigs. We ended up inside of the SAVVIS Texas NOC because everybody else told us to get lost because of our traffic. Even being inside SAVVIS didn’t work at first. It took them 3 weeks to find a spot in the DC for us that could keep up. We’ve added one other high-traffic site to the same server, and it performs well even though it might not be the smartest thing we ever did. Since moving to FreeBSD, we server watching has long since disappeared from our day.

Yesterday I bought a new 4 processor server for a new business we are starting. The temptation to go Linux because of the better 64 bit support by control panel vendors. I didn’t though. I went FreeBSD. I don’t have time for risk and the moment and KNOW I won’t have any problems with FreeBSD. What made me feel better is when talking to the server vendor in the SAVVIS Texas NOC was most of their techs prefer FreeBSD and they have a lot of depth in FreeBSD due to the number of mission critical sites they support.

PS:We contacted one of the large Linux vendors for a hardware quote that initially scoffed at FreeBSD and failed to make Linux stand up under the load before. He was not happy when we left because he had hired a 3rd party out of desperation because he had never seen anything like this before. When we contacted him this last time, he told us he put on a few FreeBSD servers but said they really don’t know how to manage them well so he contracts their support for tough issues. The reason he has the servers is they encountered the same problem they had with us later with two other customers.

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22 nixCraft July 27, 2007 at 5:42 pm

Jack,

Nice to hear power of FreeBSD :) Overall my experience is also quite good with FreeBSD.

Appreciate your post!

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23 shawn September 17, 2007 at 7:37 am

I’ve been using Linux since the mid 90’s and have always loved it. Recently I decided to give FreeBSD a go, and I am sooo glad I did. The one thing that’s always bothered me about Linux is how disjointed it feels. It feels like a bunch of random parts glued together to form a whole – quite clunky and in many cases, unpredictable. FreeBSD on the other hand feels so much smoother – like everything was created by the same team. I’ve also found that administration is much more intuitive, probably due, in some part, to the outstanding manual.

Don’t get me wrong. I really like certain Linux distros, (Debian, Slackware, etc), but there are far too many inexperienced developers working on important components in Linux.

Try FreeBSD and you will NOT be disappointed.

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24 Pranav Peshwe September 29, 2007 at 5:42 pm

Agree with Shawn, FreeBSD comes as a solid coherent package and works smooth. Linux(the distro) looks assembled. It might be the closely knit team or, even the release model of FBSD making the difference, i don’t know. Of course, looking at their kernels, linux is far more dynamic and, has incorporated better support for latest h/w than FBSD has. Not to forget virtualization support, software suspend, tickless kernel etc. in linux.
Its always said ‘Linux is grown. FreeBSD is designed’. Linus himself does not deny the first statement – http://kerneltrap.org/node/11
Another comparison of BSD and Linux worth reading is made here – http://www.over-yonder.net/~fullermd/rants/bsd4linux/bsd4linux1.php

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25 Tim October 9, 2007 at 8:05 pm

(in response to comment 1)

NTFS? Are you serious?

If this is a discussion of the performance of Linux and FBSD as a server, then lets face it ntfs support really isn’t that important for most people. If we are talking about dual-booting, system rescue, etc., then that is another story. Linux has many implemented features that are very useful. But not every feature is useful to everyone. Whether or not your *nix runs on your game console or your toaster isn’t too impressive in the server room.

I am a Linux user, but I sometimes tire of users enumerating features as if each one were the holy grail of computing. BSD is sometimes more streamlined and simplified, in certain situations that can make it a more powerful solution.

But in the end, its not just “size” that matters (here the quantifiable advantage offered by your os choice) but what you do with it. If you have a strat but can’t play a note on the violin, it won’t help. No violin will compensate for your lack of talent.

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26 tothaa November 16, 2007 at 2:56 pm

Hi,
I think you can get much support for Linux via its larger community.

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27 flyer November 26, 2007 at 9:30 am

Hi

Interesting blog.

I have been using freebsd most of my life as a System Administrator on the Internet (20+ yrs), but have often had to work on, install, setup and administer almost all the various Unix’s out there. (you work with what the client wants at times, even when they don’t know what they are talking about)

After reading all the comments above, reading and looking at the graphs in the benchmark (thank you McDaniel), I still have to say my reasons for FreeBSD over any other OS on the planet are the following (not neccesarily in order)

1. Stable – all the FBSD machines I administer have runtimes triple or more than any of my Linux machines (various distributions)
2. 1 Source tree – this is my biggest problem with Linux when I go looking for apps – too damn many of them for all the different releases, patches, variation, etc…. FreeBSD, whether we are talking kernal source or application source, is a one stop shop and from both an administration and stability standpoint that is critical in production servers.
3. Best overall load capability, almost across the board, especially at high load and in swap situations. I have had identical machines side by side with Linux and FBSD and you see the slowdown much sooner on the linux box than you do on the FBSD box. Especially when you start swapping, although recently Linux has gotten better with thier swap engine – since they switched to a BSD style one :)
4. Secure “out of the box” (unless you enable something stupid during install), even without the firewall running. I have never had this experience with linux.
5. MUCH better NFS support and SPEED. Sorry Tim but in many instances NFS is used and needs to be fast. FBSD kicks everyones butt in disk access, NFS speed, security and stability – not to mention just plain old network speed right out of the box without having to apply patches.
6. Support – I and the people I know have needed less support for FreeBSD than any Linux distro. The support needed was primarily related to the divergent source trees that I mention in #2. When I needed support, either from the community in general or FreeBSD support, accurate and reliable information has always been available in a matter of a couple of emails and 24-72 hours. I attribute this as a plus and credit it to the single source tree and the fact that everyone developing for FreeBSD is developing for one OS distro instead of 5-15 different linux distro’s.

In the end, as said many times in this blog, it primarily comes down to the administrator/operator of the machine, thier comfort level/preference administering whichever OS and the specific pupose of the machine.

IMHO though, having administered in all aspects both, unless you really, really, really need linux for a specific reason or application, where it is the clear winner or the only supported, use FreeBSD.

In the long run you will be a much, much, much happier person and have a much, much, much more stable system.

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28 Tom January 18, 2008 at 7:38 am

@Jerry
Wow you are dense aren’t you?

Only two remote holes in the default install, in more than 10 years!

http://www.openbsd.org/

Tell me how thats not secure again?

End of story.

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29 Jason March 21, 2008 at 6:38 am

Hey, nice synopsis.

I personally am a fan of BSD. For my purposes, the ports tree is an excellent package manager. As for the SMP/performance issues, the latest STABLE release of FreeBSD (7.0) is a major improvement. According to the official website, version 7.0 actually is a 15% improvement over the SMP performance of the current linux kernel.
http://www.freebsd.org/releases/7.0R/announce.html

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30 flyer March 26, 2008 at 12:23 am

Here is real world one for ppl to consider.

I administer 2 exactly duplicate machines, hardware wise.

The first one is running Redhat Enterprise Linux 2.6.18el5_x86_64 – this is one of our “front-end” boxes, i.e. DNS, WEB, FTP, Etc..

The other is running FreeBSD 6.2-Release and is our SQL and NFS server.

As I said, both machines are hardware wise, a mirror of each other.

A few weeks ago we were playing around doing some large database table manipulations and such. Things that just chewed up all the available memory on whatever machine it was running on irregardless of the OS.

As we usually don’t like running “client” style apps on the SQL/NFS server we started running this on the front-end linux box.

All our boxes are monitored by a ping utility from another machine that pings them once a minute. Within 5-6 minutes of starting the job on the front-end linux machine, the machine started “missing” pings and the load according to top was up over 8. 2 minutes later the load was up over 12 and still climbing. Attempts to log into the box via SSH were timing out. Web sessions were taking 60 plus seconds to respond, if they responded at all. Just pressing enter on one of the local terminals took 10+ seconds to get a prompt returned. Typing on a terminal had a noticable lag.

Perplexed we killed the job and figured we would try it on another machine, this time on the FBSD SQL/NFS server. Although we were now local to the SQL server instead of coming from another machine, the app doing the work does not know this and is still making an ethernet connection to the sql server via standard TCP/IP, not the local socket.

On the FBSD machine, the machines utilitzation never got above 8, we were always able to log in via ssh and although the sql and NFS services provided by this machine to other machines slowed down a slight but noticible amount, they always responded in a resonable amount of time.

In looking at the top’s on both machines we noticed that on the linux machine the second processor stopped being utilized once the machines utilization went past about 5 or 6. Once past that the second processors usage dropped to under 1%, first processor was pegged at 100%, swap usage started to go through the roof and the machine heading downhill fast.

On the FBSD machine the second processor was always in use and although we were swapping (as expected) it was not excessive.

I don’t know if this is a problem with Redhat specific distros but it sure seems to me like FBSD is the clear winner when it comes to stablity and specifically the SMP engine (even pre 7.0), since it seems the Linxux SMP implementation is pretty easy to break and once it breaks it seems to take the swap engine with it.

We tried this test with subtle variations 5 times, all results were the same – suprisingly a windows box also outperformed linux in this arena – although it did take 4 times as long to complete as the FBSD box :)

FBSD rocks – nuff said :)

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31 fhj52 January 12, 2009 at 5:22 am

flyer 03.26.08,
“load balancing” between the multiple CPU must not have been engaged. IIRC, that is a RHEL thing to not enable load balancing by default on SMP kernel.
For what it is worth, proc load 8 is nothing to bring a server down unless it is really old, old hardware. Even then, I have my doubts(I have run with load 3x that) …something is amiss.

LinuxTitli,
I read a bunch of these comments and IMHO there is only one that matters: use the OS best suited to task at hand.
I *must* add to that: CONFIGURE IT PROPERLY and if one does not know how, HIRE someone who does. Lots of good geeks need good jobs, ;).


From the brief experience I have had with FreeBSD and OpenBSD recently(FreeBSD 7.1 & openBSD 4.4), I would not use either(or clones thereof) for the desktop at this time( they are even further behind than Linux for that application|task. …). Maybe in some years to come …
I am also relatively disappointed in the default command line setup for *BSD. I don’t know what these people do all day but I do not believe they sit in front of an 80 column black & white screen with 24 lines of text! …. WITH would they think anybody else on the planet would want that too? A terminal can be setup to run very efficiently(easy to use) without X but none of these people have bothered to make that happen for the default install or even provide options, all the time knowing that the end-user, their customer, is most likely to only be using the command line interface(CLI). I don’t get it. :/

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32 Don Allen February 5, 2009 at 9:57 pm

I agree with the comments of fhj52 in his last paragraph. I recently tried FreeBSD 7.1 on a couple of Lenovo laptops and a Lenovo workstation. It’s quite nice in a lot of ways, but I ran in to a number of problems.

1. I do my backups on SATA disks in USB shoeboxes. Coming from Linux, the disks had ext2 filesystems (I use ext2 rather than ext3 because it’s somewhat faster and Linux doesn’t crash, so don’t need to worry about fsck’ing). FreeBSD 7.1 has a bug in ext2 support that kills the system (I experienced multiple crashes due to this).

2. Converted the backup disks to UFS2. Tried to copy one to another and killed the system (this was the one where I threw up my hands, said “the hell with this” and went back to Linux). If you look at the bug database, there are many open bugs against the USB subsystem, many multiple years old.

3. Many ports don’t work if you use make -j build, so port builds can take forever even on an smp system.

4. Gnucash takes much too long to start (some issue with dynamic linking).

5. Couldn’t get a 3com wireless card to work, whereas it was no problem in Linux (Gentoo or Ubuntu).

Etc. FreeBSD may be nice for servers, but its small desktop/laptop user community obviously has impacted the extent to which it supports this wider hardware world and its reliability in that world. I hope that changes, because I agree with other comments about the professional feel of the system, as opposed to Linux, a lot of which feels like hackery (but it works!). But FreeBSD was of no use to me, because of the problems mentioned above, and I’m now running Linux again.

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33 Erick August 20, 2009 at 11:21 pm

This blog has truly become a handy resource. Loved all the info. But I’m very keen on a 64 bit OS due to Postgresql issues. Will the latest FreeBSD 7 64 bit be stable enough? CentOS 5 64 bit is stable enough, but we do have performance issues that everyone talks about and I have been told on the Postgresql mailing list that I should try FreeBSD. I am only interested in 64 bit though. Appreciate experiences. Thanks!

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34 nixCraft August 21, 2009 at 2:33 am

I don’t have any problem with running Postgresql under 64bit FreeBSD v7.2p2.

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35 Erick August 20, 2009 at 11:23 pm

Btw, in my comment 33 above, I am interested only in running a webserver with FreeBSD — which will also run the mail server Exim and the db server Postgresql on the same server — and NOT a private desktop machine, do I don’t care if people don’t find it as nice as Mac OSX etc.

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36 dheeraj suthar December 4, 2009 at 5:26 pm

I doubt your contention on freebsd support to Dell systems. I felt totally helpless when installing free bsd 8.0 on my Dell XPS studio where it totally refused to recognise any on my DVD/CD or usb media. Its strange as it booted in to sysinstall from the DVD itself. Where with all linuxes I tried be it Red hat debian or ubuntu their came no such problem. If you have solution then please share or else keep the freebsd out of dell laptops.

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37 nixCraft December 4, 2009 at 6:01 pm

This post is about servers and not about laptops.

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38 Tad January 15, 2010 at 11:40 am

“never give both of these oses poor. Oh yea, just take a look at sites with longest running systems (uptime): http://uptime.netcraft.net/up/today/top.avg.html BSD/FreeBSD are know to run for 2-3 years w/o reboot. I don’t see any Linux server there ;)

Look now…No any FreeBSD… Only windows-servers….

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39 Nullone October 15, 2010 at 4:44 pm

The top web hosting server is 1659 1703 1489 Windows Server 2003 Microsoft-IIS/6.0
Since (1703 + 1489)/2= 1596 <1559, so that server has been there for at least 1659*3=4977 days = 13.64 years, which started at 2010-13.64= 1996.

Can you believe M$ Windows 2003 was installed at AD 1996?????

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40 Nullone October 15, 2010 at 4:50 pm

The shortest uptime days for that netcraft sertver is 1703+1489=3192days= 8.75 years.

Since netcraft said the avg uptime was 1659 days, so let’s say there are x (x>=1) more rebootings, so the total runing days=1659x(2+x) >= 4977 days = 13.64 years.

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41 Djuragan March 16, 2010 at 9:48 pm

Hello Cyberciti.
I don’t know when this article posted, since your remove the post date & year. Mysql performance reasons maybe ?
I did a deeper search on google and found this benchmarking, clearly FreeBsd got raped by Linux Ubuntu ! :D
FreeBSD 8.0 vs. Ubuntu 9.10 /b>
http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=article&item=freebsd8_ubuntu910&num=2
What do you think about those benchmarking ? please give us some “enlightenment”
Thanks.

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42 Erick March 17, 2010 at 6:49 am

FreeBSD “got raped” by Ubuntu? What’re you smoking? FreeBSD will rock the shite out of even more established Linuxes such as Red Hat, let alone playful dribble like Ubuntu which is meant for home use. And btw the article you linked to is not working.

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43 aa March 27, 2010 at 7:41 pm

i have 2 decades experience for unices (the first was sco)

freebsd has no matches for non-clustered server, horse-work, heavy weight tasks.
not even by solaris with his own sparc machine with 10x cost
(at the time it was properly named: slow-laris)

security wise, in practical use, contrary to popular believes, freebsd is equal with its’ cousin: openbsd; with far better performance, flexibility and convenience.
(some even argued that openbsd’s secuirty is too much exagregated / overrated).

Unlike linux, bsd-family doesn’t have much (if any at all) advertisement budget.
All big companies spent much money and done marketing bloats to polish Linux’s image as a stable, powerful and reliable option for the enterprise.
I simply suspect that they are lie, since to my experience, linux based server is quite a fragile system (particularly on heavy duty networking or disk extensive tasks).

for desktop you can also use freebsd. but i suggest to use linux to expand your horizon.
heck you might better use windows anyway for desktop. X-system just too sluggish.
unix never meant to use or handle graphics. now they have gone too far :(

linux compared to freebsd just like programming visual-basic vs c++
neither better than the other, conceptually.

just my 2c

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44 hug June 16, 2010 at 6:48 am

theory says that there are no diferences between theory and practice
practice says there are diferences between theory and practice
benchmark says that there are differences between freebsd and linux
experience says that freebsd outperform linux whatever the benchmark have said

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45 Anonymous July 12, 2010 at 1:16 am

“FreeBSD “got raped” by Ubuntu? What’re you smoking? FreeBSD will rock the shite out of even more established Linuxes such as Red Hat, let alone playful dribble like Ubuntu which is meant for home use. And btw the article you linked to is not working.”
The link’s working for me, and it shows FreeBSD ahead of Ubuntu in everything. ;)

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46 Anonymous July 12, 2010 at 1:17 am

“FreeBSD “got raped” by Ubuntu? What’re you smoking? FreeBSD will rock the shite out of even more established Linuxes such as Red Hat, let alone playful dribble like Ubuntu which is meant for home use. And btw the article you linked to is not working.”
The link is working right now, and it shows FreeBSD ahead of Ubuntu on every benchmark.

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47 kickass September 17, 2010 at 11:10 pm

I agree that linux isn’t nearly as fast and robust as bsd in handling network loads. but, for a typical user, it has perfect amount of stability, security, and ease of use. many people aren’t very comfortable using bsd because there aren’t nearly as many bsd users to support them contrary to linux, which gives linux a major advantage.

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48 GHead October 1, 2010 at 10:26 am

For performance and stability my vote to solaris 10 RISC

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49 aa October 24, 2010 at 3:04 pm

FYI. Bill Joy is considered as one of the founding father of both *BSD and Solaris. Solaris supposed to be better (commercially) backed enterprises system (including all the red tapes), but community based *BSD have more giant developers/brains behind them.

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50 ben November 3, 2010 at 2:08 pm

Thank you for this good article. I’m using RedHat now, and is considering switch to CentOS or Ubuntu server, this article give me a very clear direction — FreeBSD!!
After couple days of trial, I’ve found the port tree is really a convenient tool.

Thanks!!
Is there any quick guide for securing FreeBSD server?

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51 Penguin December 8, 2010 at 2:51 pm

FreeBSD or OpenBSD securiy out of the box is not better than Linux or Windows!
How do you find the is performance on FreeBSD better than Linux? Are you a FreeBSD user?
Binary packages on FreeBSD are crap. Also how usable are ports is question too? Every to weeks building an OO is a boring job in the third millenium.
Average Linux community support is VERY GOOD. For FreeBSD is so so. There are many questions about KDE problems which never get an answer for example.
FreeBSD is not more stable than Debian for example. How do you find that is FreeBSD more stable?

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52 Meh June 22, 2011 at 2:06 am

At the end of the day BSD license wins :)

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53 chron July 16, 2011 at 12:02 pm

I am a non-biased user of ( to name a few ) GNU/Linux, OpenBSD, and FreeBSD. There are strengths and weaknesses in all operating systems. None are perfect. Just take a look at the aforementioned CERT advisories. The BSDs come out on top because they are older, more mature and have been source code audited for about 30 years. To quote Bruce Schneier “Complexity is the enemy of security.” I began using Linux back in 1998. I also have used OpenBSD since around 2.1 and recently began using FreeBSD heavily for my workstations and desktop machines. I have used every imaginable Linux distro, starting with Slackware back in the day. Using Red Hat, and for years Debian was my choice OS. Then I discovered Gentoo, because of the mainstream’s poor support of 64bit multi-lib and I ended up loving the source based way of doing things. I ended up trying all of them Sorcerer, Source Mage, Lunar, Rock, Crux, and even LFS. I supposed it would be a good time to mention that I have worked as an occupation with Linux HPC supporting customers with clusters of over 5000 nodes. I have also worked in security and have a well rounded technical background, working for companies such as VA Linux Systems, LinuxNetworX, IBM, and Honeywell. Linux has become fat. Too many binary “blobs” have made it into the source tree. Too many things make it into the kernel these days. FreeBSD is a rock-solid, stable, heavily audited operating system. I prefer it from both a security, stability, and sound minded point-of-view. However, if you need bleeding edge hardware support, and in the HPC world this is critical … you are going to want Linux. Everything has its purpose … except for Microsoft products. ;o)

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54 Chris September 4, 2011 at 12:05 am

I have been until about 18 months ago a very freebsd specific user for servers. However it has become apparent from my own experience that freebsd is weak in certian areas. These areas I feel are, the filesystem, the firewall, and hardware compatibility. If you have a problem with hardware not working right and go to the freebsd message lists, the most likely response will be to go out and buy more expensive hardware, yet the kit you have may work fine on windows and linux. This alone turns a lot of people off freebsd, as easier and cheaper to change OS than hardware. Firewall, iptables I feel is superior to both PF and ipfw. Not to mention Freebsd is currently on a obselete version of PF even in the CURRENT branch. Filesystem , ufs is defenitly compared to ext3 and ntfs, yet the latter 2 have journaling protection as well so ufs is effectively ancient sort of like fat32. zfs had promise until I tried it on a production server and that server has issues like processes locking up in zfs state and poor i/o performance. Not to mention it has took freebsd many years to even get things like cubic congestion avoidance, and a disk scheduler albeit only round robin whilst linux has multiple ones. However I still use freebsd primarily as I love the ports system, it is generally more stable, and I feel I can tune/control it more than linux. But sadly for certian things I have to use linux as freebsd performs poorly in certian situations. The problem that I see with freebsd is they ar e sort of like firefox development, regular core os releases and concentrating on development usage scenarios (typically desktop), they seem to have lost some focus on the server side of the market as back in freebsd4 days, freebsd was miles ahead of linux.

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