Happy Birthday to FreeBSD! You’re 20 today! Woo Hoo!

Happy Birthday to FreeBSD! You’re 20 today! Woo Hoo!

Henry Dalziel | Latest InfoSec News, Pentesting Distros | June 21, 2013

Happy Birthday To You
Happy Birthday To You
Happy Birthday Dear FreeBSD!
Happy Birthday To You

Starting in 1993, FreeBSD is now 20 years old. If the Operating System was a human FreeBSD could order her first beer in Iceland, Japan or Paraguay where the legal drinking age, is, ahem, 20. Random information aside, we blog a lot about Linux Distro’s, and heck one of our posts was even mentioned on the mighty PaulDotCom show; (link is a a video snippet of our shout-out) and we are therefore delighted to promote the institution that is FreeBSD.

What is the ‘BSD’ bit in Free?
Let’s get this out of the way, what is the ‘BSD’ bit all about? It’s a bit like the myth of what ‘php’ really means, (some still say ‘personal home pages’) but our understanding is that BSD is an acronym for ‘Berkeley Software Distribution’. If we are wrong then please correct us in the comments below.

The Journey
FreeBSD’s journey into acceptance was almost instant, with the first release being November 1993 and FreeBSD 1.1 became very popular. The developers were sued over concerns about the BSD Net/2 source code by Unix System Laboratories. That was all settled when the developers re-wrote chunks of the code. AT&T have a connection but we’re not quite sure how they used to fit in – please add your creative comments below!

We’re not sure of FreeBSD has always been a non-profit but in any event, it is now. The FreeBSD Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that obviously supports the Operating System.

What’s are the differences between FreeBSD and Linux?
No point re-inventing the wheel since Tech Republic have done a great job explaining the differences, but if you don’t want to click here’s a summary:

1. Licenses: Linux is licensed under the GNU General Public License (GNU GPL or GPL) whilst BSD is in fact actually more ‘open’. Here’s a real simple summary: the BSD license does NOT require the user to make sure the next person who uses the OS is the same whereas GPL Linux does.

2. Ownership and Control: No one actually controls FreeBSD whilst Linux is controlled by the creator and developer, a genius named Linus Torvalds.

3. Difference between a Kernel and an Operating System: FreeBSD develops the entire operating system, whereas the Linux project focuses exclusively on the kernel.

4. The difference is UNIX too! Say what! OK! FreeBSD are closely related to UNIX – think of it as a direct relative, whilst Linux is a cousin on UNIX, rather more distantly related. To be precise Linux is closer to Minix which used to be related to UNIX. Still with me? Good, because the last piece to understand is that Linux got the ‘L’ from Linus’ first name when it was derived from Minix. (See point two for Linus Torvalds).

5. It’s all about the Base: BSD has it, Linux doesn’t really. Whereas Linux is an amalgamation of smaller sub-systems that join to become one, BSD has a base system that is the system.

6. It’s all in the upgrades: Because of the way BSD has been built you can upgrade your entire OS to the most latest and greatest version by a single command, Linux requires the execution of a built-in package management system.

7. ‘The Devil likes Prada (and Linux)’: If you want cutting-edge technology and most fashionable then stick with Linux, FreeBSD does not have an easy to adopt upgrade mechanism. That might sound controversial and it probably is. If you think otherwise please leave a comment – we’d like your input and we will stand corrected with our ‘caps in our hands!’

8. Hardware support: Linux has an open-arm policy to hardware, FreeBSD does not. Simple as that.

What about security?
We are after all an information security training organization and should in truth have better working knowledge of FreeBSD, but what we do know is that Linux for the most part is very safe to operate. Proof? 80% of the Internet runs on Linux servers and not Windows – that is a good enough statement for us. FreeBSD provides several security-related features owed to in part by something called ACL’s, an abbreviation for Access Control Lists that stems from the TrustedBSD project.

Last word
We are new to BSD and FreeBSD so bear with us if we have made errors. We’d like to blog more about the BSD Operating System, especially with regards to its’ security features so watch this space for updates. What is your experience like with BSD? Positive? Let us know in the comments below and thanks for reading this!

Leave a comment or reply below...thanks!