Help PLZ

Damien Elmes resolve at
Tue Aug 28 19:19:01 EST 2001

hi matt,

Matthew Hawkins <matthew at> writes:

> On Tue, 28 Aug 2001, jeremy at wrote:
> > I think it may have been true that BSD once had some superior
> > functionality, but Linux has stolen it since then.
> Depends where you're talking about.  The VM subsystem in FreeBSD 4.x
> certainly beat the pants off Linux 2.2, and they've been having all
> sorts of "fun" trying to better it in 2.4.  It's always been the case
> that binaries are smaller on disk and in memory on BSD, so it's useful
> in embedded systems.

i'd be interested to know what affects the memory and disk size which
makes BSD executables smaller. i've heard about the VM system being
superior, but a speed increase in that regard isn't enough to sway me
from all the other nifty features of debian and linux in general.

i can certainly see places where BSD would be an advantage, though.
i've played with freebsd and openbsd before; i gave up when a
particular linux package (couldn't remember which) wouldn't compile.
that's just me being impatient, though.

> There's no doubt Debian's package management system beats the pants off
> any BSD.  It beats the pants off anything, period, IMO.  One thing I do
> like about FreeBSD's ports collection though is (if you install from
> source) you're downloading and installing the original source tarball.
> This gives a few benefits, first any proxy cache along the way can hold
> the original source tarball and save you time & money.  Secondly you can
> compile locally with any extra optimisation flags to gcc you like, so
> that application performs the best it can on the target machine (rather
> than being compiled for generic, lowest-common-denominator system
> upstream).  Thirdly, you can stay up-to-date with applications with a
> simple cvsup, no need to wait two years for the next release of your
> favourite Linux distribution.  FreeBSD ports have maintainers like
> Debian packages have maintainers, hence you get all the benefits of
> having a responsible person making sure that application works.

forgive me if you were aware of this, but to do something similar in
debian, it's:

apt-get install pentium-builder # makes it easy to compile with
                                # optimisations

and then:

apt-get source -b package 

which will build a package from source.

> One other thing I've noticed about ports is that in most cases it's more
> uptodate than even unstable Debian, I've compiled the latest mozilla
> from source and run it three weeks before it appears in sid, for example.
> This is sometimes a help (quicker bugfixes) and sometimes a hindrance
> (quicker bugs)

unstable is usually pretty up to date, but as you mentioned, sometimes
things take a while to make it in. a lot of major packages, like
mozilla, emacs21, etc, have a line you can drop into
/etc/apt/sources.list to make the latest "bleeding-edge" version

> Hmm, other things... FreeBSD has a Linux ABI compatibility option, so
> Linux binaries run on FreeBSD.  Not emulation, natively.  This means you
> can get the best of both worlds in terms of applications.  The ffs has
> an option called softupdates which is an alternative to metadata
> journaling, permitting safe updating without the speed sacrifice of
> synchronous updates or the complexity of journaling.  This makes FreeBSD
> much better to use as a mail server (for example) than Linux.

this is nifty. i'm about to try out ext3 actually, it's backwards
compatible with ext2, can be added to an existing ext2 filesystem, and
just looks cool :-)

> One thing I don't like is rigid mentality, "we run redhat here" "the
> earth is flat"; refuse outright any other suggestions, not on technical
> (de)merits but sheer blind prejudice.  The scientist in me cannot accept
> that one solution is the only one, be all and end all.  Hell, even NT
> has some nice features (fast threading, binding applications or drivers
> in SMP systems to a particular CPU, component-based architecture) 

i've heard that a) the threading is really broken in NT, which would
explain why it's fast, and b) that linux *can* bind tasks to a
particular CPU. i might be imagining that, though.

> are worth something.  Is a shovel better than a hammer?  You must first
> ask who is wielding it and what experience they have, and what the heck
> the job is.

definitely. that's why i use both emacs and vim where appropriate :-)


Damien Elmes
resolve at

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