[nycbug-talk] BSD in the enterprise....

Isaac Levy ike
Tue Jun 1 10:49:51 EDT 2004

Hi Nigel, All,

I know I'm a bit late responding here, but I really wanted to add some 
ikestyle history here about BSD's in 'Corporate' enviornnments.

First things first, BSD and Linux come from different places, (and btw 
I'm not interested on starting some flame war here re. BSD vs. Linux).
The BSD's, ancestrally, come directly from early UNIX systems dating 
back to the original Bell Labs UNIX of 69'.  Various UNIX'es, in the 
latter third of the 20th century, defined what was computing in 
corporate environments.  Unix has been a part of large corporate 
environments as long as computers have dominated the corporate working 

It was the PC revolution which changed the corporate computing 
landscape.  The gradual switch from mainframe servers, to heavy use of 
client/workstation computers in the corporate workplace, (and now back 
to an interesting balance of the two).  UNIX systems size and relative 
complexity was more than any sane PC could handle at the time, which is 
why UNIX has a hardcore reputation living in big iron.  PC operating 
systems and software had to be re-thunk, (much like many chandheld and 
embedded devices today [think cellphones]).

Microsoft has dominated the PC Corporate desktop/workstation from the 
start, and with that, as the internet moves us back into a networked 
WORLD, the server is again taking the spotlight- (though not nearly the 
singular role it had in past decades).  With this change, MS Server 
products came to dominate the corporate server landscape based on the 
fact that they already run the PC systems that people came to touch, 
see, and rely on.

But, with that, UNIX has never gone away- and in fact, various *nix'es 
matured and grew technologically well in advance of MS, in order to 
compete with the massive marketing/market resources of MS (and others).

Rewind to 1990-ish, PC systems have passed a threshold where UNIX can 
sanely run on a PC chipset- the mature Berleley Software Distribution 
for UNIX is given a Kernel (all it needed to become a full OS), and 
Linux rose out of PC hackers.
This is a fundamental difference between Linux and BSD, Linux comes 
from PC (x86) hackers creating an arguably POSIX compliant UNIX OS, and 
The BSD's come from OLD Unix being re-born for the PC (x86).

At this point in time, the chipsets for most servers is the same as 
most desktop PC's out there, (I'm talking about the masses of machines 
out there), primarily driven by the internet boom.  Linux gained 
mindshare as being a new frontier, and has championed the formalization 
of Open Source for the last decade, being pushed into new environments, 
and embraced by exited entrepreneurs as much as by hackers.  BSD on the 
other hand, has simply been put into service in many mission-critical 
environments I've seen- no fuss, no mascot logos in sight, and often in 
BIG or old iron.

On May 29, 2004, at 2:03 AM, Nigel Clarke wrote:

> What will it take to have *BSD in use in corporate environments? Linux
> was not successful until companies like Solaris and IBM started to
> endorse it. When I say successful, I'm speaking of making it into
> corporate environments.

Here's the basics of why- with all due respect to a lot of intelligent 
people, the majority of the corporate world are NOT techies- but rely 
almost completely on technology.  With this, their IT decisions are 
guided by trust and reputation, as well as clear marketing.  The BSD's 
have survived on technical merit, which says a lot.  (Even in the 70's, 
Ken Thompson was quoted noting something about all the UNIX marketing 
hype being good for all UNIXes back then).

IBM's dependancy/hate relationship with Microsoft is WAY to big to 
tackle here, but in a nutshell, they have been carrying the Linux 
battle flag as a way to escape being under Microsoft's thumb- (after 
their own failed OS).

> One of the other advantages that Linux offers is that it is economical.
> That and stable vendor support make it an easy decision for management.

There are noteworthy strengths and weaknesses for both the BSD and 
Linux families, but I'm really interested here in what you speak of 
when you speak of stable vendor support?  I understand that IBM is 
perceived as a stable choice, but have you seen this undermine any 
other unix system out there?

> How does BSD compare? How will BSD make it into corporate environments?

Short answer- it's already in there, and BSD's tight UNIX ancestors 
have arguably shaped the core of corporate computing since the 


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