[nycbug-talk] "every bit as good as Linux"

Isaac Levy ike
Tue Sep 21 02:53:18 EDT 2004

Hi all,

Can someone say POSIX?  Or um, Berkeley Software Distribution?

It seems to me, ironically, that this 'Linux Base Standard' feels a lot 
like what BSD was before it was a full-blown OS... folks, this has all 
happened before.  Too bad this tech-writer printed nearly slanderous 
misinformation about the OS family that was at the ancient root of 
interoperability in computing.

"BSD stands for "Berkeley Software Distribution," the name first given 
to the University of California at Berkeley's own toolkit of 
enhancements for the UNIX operating system.  Created by the students 
and faculty, BSD was not part of UNIX itself, which was created by Bell 
Labs. Rather, it was a widely distributed package of software 
enhancements for UNIX -- a supplement that made the operating system, 
which was originally strictly a research vehicle, useful in the real 


On Sep 16, 2004, at 4:30 PM, michael wrote:

> Linux Standard Base Is Exactly What Platform Needs
> By Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols
> September 15, 2004
> "Take, for example, the open-source BSD operating systems: FreeBSD,
> OpenBSD and NetBSD. They're all good. You can argue, as I have, that in
> some ways they're every bit as good as Linux, if not better.
> Then why aren't more people running them? Why do we have a Linux
> Magazine but not a BSD Magazine? Well, it's simple, there are three of
> them. "

It goes on right after that to state something I can seriously dispute 

"There are some open-source applications, such as Apache and Samba, 
that will run on all of them. But if you want to make the most of each 
one, you need to write an application that will take advantage of their 
unique virtues. For most software development companies, or even most 
open-source programmers, that's just too much trouble for too small a 
potential market."

> Say What!?!  Yea, really... read the rest:
> http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1759,1646495,00.asp

WTF?  Write an application to take advantage of their unique virtues?  
I just don't understand where this guy is coming from.

OK, I really just wanted to get it up somewhere online here, that this 
writer is simply foolish, and here's why:

I'm a web application developer who works with Zope.  For those who 
don't know it, it's a huge open source application server, with nearly 
the complexity of a small operating system, that lives often in the 
realm of large enterprise software.  In my life as a Zope developer, I 
invariably compile tens of dozens of other softwares on a regular 
basis, and plug them into Zope in one way or another.

Now also, my work often takes me onto a UNIX which my client has 
selected for one reason or another, though I prefer to use the BSD's 
when it's my call, BECAUSE, all the software I use and write compiles 
the same from one BSD to another, period- and I can't say the same at 
all for Linux.

With that said, I install a LOT of apps, all the time, on lots of Open 
*NIX's.  Portability is very important to me.

For example, in the last 9 months I've built full-blown Zope-centered 
systems, with dozens of other supporting apps, on the following OS's,

For Clients:
- FreeBSD
- OpenBSD
- MacOSX Server
- Red Hat Linux
- Debian Linux
- Mandrake Linux
- SuSe Linux

For Dev/Personal/Fun uses:
- NetBSD
- OpenDarwin (straight)
- Dragonfly (recent release)

With that stated, I'm not trying to puff out my chest or start any 
flame wars, but I'm trying to illustrate that I know what the heck I'm 
talking about here with a handful of apps portability- and BSD wins, 
hands down.  Everything just compiles, and works together as it should- 
because of the ANCIENT adherence to POSIX guidelines, (yes, even when 
it hurts sometimes).

Lets talk Developer time and ROI- the reason behind this article:
On average, off the top of my head, I'd say that my work on BSD 
platforms took less than 1/2 the time for the same level of complexity 
on Linux- due to portability and compatibility issues.  I deal with too 
much software to remember tweaks and tricks for a given OS, and usually 
never build the same thing, therefore I encounter new problems with 
each project.
Most of the rest of that time on Linux is tracking down a missing 
library in userland for a given distro, installing things which are 
common to one Linux- and not another, and the joys of de-activating or 
de-installing daemons, which are often hacked beyond sane 
configurability, conflicting with something I'm needing to install.  
All of this, with some of the most poorly maintained and most 
inconsistent man pages in the UNIX world.
All of that is a waste of time I could spend making interesting or 
useful things, while eating away at my client's ROI.  In english, my 
client pays more and gets less- and I'm bored off my rocker with the 

I'm not trying to outwardly slam Linux here, as there are some really 
amazing ideas and code in there, but portability definitely isn't one 
of it's strong points.

This article is a foolish attempt to create buzz about an an idea from 
the Linux world, which is an ancient idea in BSD manifest in a thriving 
codebase in the BSD derived OS's.  BS like this is expected from the 
folks who write all that buzz-pulp to confuse and befuddle IT managers 
into buying crud they don't need- BUT, when a writer like this, lazily 
and rudely prints misinformation that is incorrect and negative towards 
the BSD's, the hair on my back stands up, and my claws come out.

If someone wants to flame, I'll simply be sending those to /dev/null

If you have something constructive to say about this, or if someone can 
shed some non-bs light on what the 'Linux Base Standard' actually is, 
I'm all ears- but this writer sure just did it some damage- and came 
off quite historically un-informed while doing so.

For anyone interested in more historical information about BSD and 

It's a fun read about history and process- with a lot of insight into 
how open standards evolved.  :)


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