[buug] ideal

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Sun Dec 10 18:27:13 PST 2000

begin Mark Handley quotation:

> Personally right now I think that Linux is a better desktop OS, and a
> worse server OS than FreeBSD.  They're both stable, and perform well,
> but Linux systems are more popular targets for crackers than FreeBSD
> systems, so if reliability is your main concern, then you might prefer
> FreeBSD.

Statistical illusion generated by the greater quantity of clueless
sysadmins and unmaintained systems on Linux.  If you limit the
comparison to systems maintained by competent, moderately paranoid
sysadmins, there is no inherent security difference.  Which isn't
surprising, given that the userspace daemons are literally identical,
and the kernels are in many ways similar.

> I also like the procedure for getting security advisories, etc.

Vague.  Any Linux distribution worth using has a well-run
security-advisory mechanism (typically, alert mailing lists).
(Also, here you make an argument, if anything, for OpenBSD more than you
do for FreeBSD.)

> The fact that the whole system (kernel + userspace) is developed
> and shipped together means that the whole process just seems well
> thought out.

Myth.  I respect the FreeBSD maintainer process mightily, but it has no
magic channel to (e.g.) the Apache team, any more than the other
platforms do.

> In general the FreeBSD development process seems to favor stability
> over features whereas Linux seems the other way round.

Misleading.  Again, any *ix server run by a competent sysadmin,
regardless of *ix flavour, will end up being pared down to eliminate
unnecessary code -- and the stability argument is now largely obsolete,
except in two or three areas (NFS, virtual memory, scheduler quality),
and even in those areas, the comparison is now close enough to be nearly 
consigned to religious devotion, rather than rational comparison.

> For a server the FreeBSD model is good, for the desktop the Linux
> model is probably better.

That is the FreeBSD mantra, these days -- but it is largely based on
outdated comparisons and silly red-herring assumptions that (e.g.)
fashionable desktop-related frills featured on some Linux distributions
make it impossible to omit them on server deployments, or otherwise make
Linux inherently unsuitable for servers.  Which is, again, religion
rather than rational discussion.

> If any of the journalling filesystems for Linux ever become
> rock-solid, this may tilt the balance in favor of Linux for some
> server uses, but they're not quite there yet.

And that is the other FreeBSD mantra.  Again, I respect mightily
McKusick's soft updates technique, despite the patent encumbrance that
leads me to decline to use it.  And theoretically, FFS's treatment of
metadata is safer than ext2's (expecially with soft updates enabled),
blah blah blah, but, in the real world, which is what really matters,
the theoretically always-impending catastrophic losses do not, in fact,
actually occur.

> You probably want to consider a hardware RAID solution.

Well, no shit.

> I'd personally stear clear of software RAID for mission critical
> solutions. 

I'd steer clear of it, period.

> Anyway, there's no good single answer to your question.


> For reliability on a small-to-medium sized system or cluster of
> systems, I'd go for FreeBSD.  For a large multiprocessor, I'd go for
> Solaris.

Those are respectable choices.

> But software availability may make the choice for you.

That should not be an issue, if he accurately reported his needs.

Cheers,                                      "Reality is not optional."
Rick Moen                                             -- Thomas Sowell
rick at linuxmafia.com

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