What are some real world uses of FreeBSD

MacBH928

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I understand how its different from Linux, but I was interested to know why would anyone find this the typical OS to run over say Linux or Windows so much so it is being actively developed??

My other question is, since FreeBSD is FOSS like Linux, why is it not as popular and has as many different distros?

UPDATE: In my research I found out THIS video that basically answers all my questions and clarify things. I have not finished all of it yet but the summary of it seems more like this, both are more or less the same but:

FreeBSD Is a project kept around because people behind it love it and enthusiastic about it. It is geared more towards enterprise, dedicated uses, and elite programmers. Its not even competing as a replacement for MacOS/Windows.

Linux is created and maintained by people who believe in FOSS philosophy and to combat propriety software. Linux is made with the average consumer in mind. It is intended to replace Windows and MacOS.
 
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millerj123

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I understand how its different from Linux, but I was interested to know why would anyone find this the typical OS to run over say Linux or Windows so much so it is being actively developed??

My other question is, since FreeBSD is FOSS like Linux, why is it not as popular and has as many different distros?
I'm not sure I follow your first question at all, and I don't think there's any one reason to answer your second. You'd really need to go back to look at what was happening in the early 90s.

We used SUN servers for production, but quickly found that some power users wanted a hosted playground, so we went with the 2.x releases of FreeBSD. Most of us also played around with various Linux distros, and up until a few years ago I had both the book and disks for Slackware. I still have my 4 cds of the 2.2.6 release of FreeBSD, not that I'd try installing it on anything at this point.
 
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mmomega

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FreeBSD has many more uses but I just listed a few below that I actively use daily.

FreeNAS - I use this at two offices, a NAS Operating system
pfSense - I use this at 3 offices, firewall / router software
Darwin, macOS base - all Macs use it
QNAP's Operating System - I use this at home on my personal NAS
Nintendo Switch OS
PlayStations OS
Panasonic TV's OS

I use versions of Linux as well such as
Ubuntu - as the base OS on a small home computer to run PiHole and Home Assistant
FreePBX - at an office for the telephone system
Synology OS - at one of the offices on a NAS
UnRaid - at an office as a NAS OS

Behind Windows, FreeBSD is my 2nd most used operating system, Linux 3rd, macOS 4th...even though it is still FreeBSD technically.
 

SandboxGeneral

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My FreeBSD usage also includes FreeNAS and pfSense. One of these days I'll install it for desktop use as I've never used it that way before.
 

MacBH928

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FreeBSD has many more uses but I just listed a few below that I actively use daily.

FreeNAS - I use this at two offices, a NAS Operating system
pfSense - I use this at 3 offices, firewall / router software
Darwin, macOS base - all Macs use it
QNAP's Operating System - I use this at home on my personal NAS
Nintendo Switch OS
PlayStations OS
Panasonic TV's OS

I use versions of Linux as well such as
Ubuntu - as the base OS on a small home computer to run PiHole and Home Assistant
FreePBX - at an office for the telephone system
Synology OS - at one of the offices on a NAS
UnRaid - at an office as a NAS OS

Behind Windows, FreeBSD is my 2nd most used operating system, Linux 3rd, macOS 4th...even though it is still FreeBSD technically.
What I understand from you is that FreeBSD is used as a core to build a modified/custom OS of your own? Isn't that what Google did with Linux when they created Android?
 

SandboxGeneral

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What I understand from you is that FreeBSD is used as a core to build a modified/custom OS of your own? Isn't that what Google did with Linux when they created Android?
It can be used as a core system, just as the Linux kernel is. Or it can be a personal desktop too, just as Linux distros, Windows and macOS are desktops.
 
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konqerror

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BSD-based software is often preferred by companies over Linux and GNU software on the basis that the BSD license allows them to convert the software into proprietary versions. There is no requirement to release the source code, like Linux's GPL license does. They can add proprietary code, like drivers, and ship/sell the software without having to release their proprietary code. It allows a company to keep their BSD-derived code under a different license with terms that benefit them (e.g. Apple Public Source License).

This is why macOS is based off BSD and includes many BSD components.

That acts as a disadvantage too. By requiring the accessibility the of changes to Linux, companies are basically required to contribute their improvements back to the community, via code licensed such that others can use, leading to a more robust ecosystem.
 
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MacBH928

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It can be used as a core system, just as the Linux kernel is. Or it can be a personal desktop too, just as Linux distros, Windows and macOS are desktops.
What are some arguments to use FreeBSD over Linux?

BSD-based software is often preferred by companies over Linux and GNU software on the basis that the BSD license allows them to convert the software into proprietary versions. There is no requirement to release the source code, like Linux's GPL license does. They can add proprietary code, like drivers, and ship/sell the software without having to release their proprietary code. It allows a company to keep their BSD-derived code under a different license with terms that benefit them (e.g. Apple Public Source License).

This is why macOS is based off BSD and includes many BSD components.

That acts as a disadvantage too. By requiring the accessibility the of changes to Linux, companies are basically required to contribute their improvements back to the community, via code licensed such that others can use, leading to a more robust ecosystem.
Now I see. I thought Linux allowed you to add proprietary code and sell it. So do companies who decide to choose FreeBSD to build their software, just pick it up and build on it, or do they actually implement future upgrades/updates to their software?(MacOS, Playstation)

I didn't get the last part, companies that "fork" the FreeBSD has to give their code back to the FreeBSD community?
 

SandboxGeneral

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What are some arguments to use FreeBSD over Linux?
A BSD user should chime in and answer that question. I've never used it as a regular PC operating system before, so I can't speak intelligently on why BSD would be a user's choice over Linux.

One thing I do know about BSD is that it is the grandfather of macOS which descended from NextStep which came out of BSD. BSD came from Bell Labs Unix system and Linux came out of that. So BSD and Linux are cousins if you will.

There was even a brief period in the early 1980s where Microsoft had an Unix-based OS they called Xenix.

One thing to understand about Linux is that Linux isn't actually an operating system per se, rather it's plainly the kernel that distributions build upon to form an operating system. In common parlance, however, Linux is referred to as an operating system because it's easier to say.
 

konqerror

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Now I see. I thought Linux allowed you to add proprietary code and sell it. So do companies who decide to choose FreeBSD to build their software, just pick it up and build on it, or do they actually implement future upgrades/updates to their software?(MacOS, Playstation)

I didn't get the last part, companies that "fork" the FreeBSD has to give their code back to the FreeBSD community?
As a gross oversimplification, any changes or additions the code of to GPL software (like Linux) or programs that incorporate GPL code, become GPL themselves. Then anybody who buys or downloads a product with GPL software has to be given the GPL source code. They can then use that code in their own projects, under the terms of the GPL.

BSD software has no requirement to do this. So the Sony Playstation can incorporate Sony's changes which will remain secret or proprietary forever (or rather until copyright expires). BSD code is released back to the community only because the vendor feels it is a good thing to do, not because they have to.
 

millerj123

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One thing I do know about BSD is that it is the grandfather of macOS which descended from NextStep which came out of BSD. BSD came from Bell Labs Unix system and Linux came out of that. So BSD and Linux are cousins if you will.

There was even a brief period in the early 1980s where Microsoft had an Unix-based OS they called Xenix.

One thing to understand about Linux is that Linux isn't actually an operating system per se, rather it's plainly the kernel that distributions build upon to form an operating system. In common parlance, however, Linux is referred to as an operating system because it's easier to say.
I agree, mostly. Andy Tannenbaum(sp?) was teaching with Minix. Linus Torvalds wanted a system he could play with on the 386 architecture. He made heavy use of the GNU tools already underway by Richard Stalman.

@MacBH928, this is literally something you could just read about: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Linux

You can also read at the FreeBSD page (https://www.freebsd.org) the history and philosophical reasons the licensing makes a difference.

Hotmail was built on FreeBSD servers, and many of us had great glee when it was purchased by Microsoft, and when ported to NT or whichever server OS they had at the time, immediately crashed under load. For a long time, people at Microsoft were unable to use their own tools according to best practices, or even their own guidelines.

The GPL says: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNU_General_Public_License
For further reading: https://resources.whitesourcesoftware.com/blog-whitesource/top-10-gpl-license-questions-answered

The BSD license: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BSD_licenses

Now, your actual question "What are some arguments to use FreeBSD over Linux?" has changed over time. for many years now, the answer is "use what someone you know is using, so they can provide support"

I personally don't use either. At home, my MacBookPro just works. My family uses Windows, and I support that. Professionally, I use any OS my employer has, and get to see all the dark underbelly of all of them. Although, it's been over 10 years since I've supported any FreeBSD type installation, but I still support Linux. Maybe that says something?
 

MacUser2525

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A BSD user should chime in and answer that question. I've never used it as a regular PC operating system before, so I can't speak intelligently on why BSD would be a user's choice over Linux.

One thing I do know about BSD is that it is the grandfather of macOS which descended from NextStep which came out of BSD. BSD came from Bell Labs Unix system and Linux came out of that. So BSD and Linux are cousins if you will.

There was even a brief period in the early 1980s where Microsoft had an Unix-based OS they called Xenix.

One thing to understand about Linux is that Linux isn't actually an operating system per se, rather it's plainly the kernel that distributions build upon to form an operating system. In common parlance, however, Linux is referred to as an operating system because it's easier to say.
Linux or really the GNU tools that allowed it to be built and take all the credit for was started by Richard Stallman being gaged about a password system being installed on the computers where worked with them at MIT. He set out to free the software and proceeded to replace the Unix tools he was used to, he called it the GNU Project (GNU = GNU is Not Unix). A youngster came along from Finland and used the GNU tools the compilers and editors ... to create a clone of something he had worked with called minix, a operating system kernel. He (Linus got all the credit) Richard Stallman not much at all the way it is always referred to. Linux is the kernel that boots the operating system on the computer, the GNU tools allow you to use it for a useful purpose. One without the other is useless until the GNU Project gets the kernel they have had in development for ages (HURD) to be workable as a base of their own to use for an operating system.

BSD refers to Berkeley System Derivative the variant of UNIX it was based on after the shake out in that particular field left it as the only one standing and usable. Due to its licensing actually making it possible for others to use the software. The BSD licence allows use of the code unlike the others who tried to lock it down with no use except with restrictive terms and payments made. It was an interesting time in computers.
 

MacBH928

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One thing I do know about BSD is that it is the grandfather of macOS which descended from NextStep which came out of BSD. BSD came from Bell Labs Unix system and Linux came out of that. So BSD and Linux are cousins if you will.
This is exactly what I am trying to figure out from this thread. If both are "cousins" why do we need both if they do the same thing?
Another thing I don't get, is why Linux is so much more popular than FreeBSD although both are FOSS.


As a gross oversimplification, any changes or additions the code of to GPL software (like Linux) or programs that incorporate GPL code, become GPL themselves. Then anybody who buys or downloads a product with GPL software has to be given the GPL source code. They can then use that code in their own projects, under the terms of the GPL.
Thats very interesting. I never knew this, so its like a pay it forward thing. I will only let you use my code if you let others use your code. I guess I finally figured why no company sells Linux based system or a fork of it. I can see Richard Stallman with a big grin in that GPL agreement.

I agree, mostly. Andy Tannenbaum(sp?) was teaching with Minix. Linus Torvalds wanted a system he could play with on the 386 architecture. He made heavy use of the GNU tools already underway by Richard Stalman.

@MacBH928, this is literally something you could just read about: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Linux

You can also read at the FreeBSD page (https://www.freebsd.org) the history and philosophical reasons the licensing makes a difference.

Hotmail was built on FreeBSD servers, and many of us had great glee when it was purchased by Microsoft, and when ported to NT or whichever server OS they had at the time, immediately crashed under load. For a long time, people at Microsoft were unable to use their own tools according to best practices, or even their own guidelines.

The GPL says: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNU_General_Public_License
For further reading: https://resources.whitesourcesoftware.com/blog-whitesource/top-10-gpl-license-questions-answered

The BSD license: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BSD_licenses

Now, your actual question "What are some arguments to use FreeBSD over Linux?" has changed over time. for many years now, the answer is "use what someone you know is using, so they can provide support"

I personally don't use either. At home, my MacBookPro just works. My family uses Windows, and I support that. Professionally, I use any OS my employer has, and get to see all the dark underbelly of all of them. Although, it's been over 10 years since I've supported any FreeBSD type installation, but I still support Linux. Maybe that says something?
I have read about them but I still don't get why there is a need for both, since both are extremely similar. I understand the difference in licensing, but since FreeBSD believe in the FOSS model, it just makes more sense to combine efforts?

Linux or really the GNU tools that allowed it to be built and take all the credit for was started by Richard Stallman being gaged about a password system being installed on the computers where worked with them at MIT. He set out to free the software and proceeded to replace the Unix tools he was used to, he called it the GNU Project (GNU = GNU is Not Unix). A youngster came along from Finland and used the GNU tools the compilers and editors ... to create a clone of something he had worked with called minix, a operating system kernel. He (Linus got all the credit) Richard Stallman not much at all the way it is always referred to. Linux is the kernel that boots the operating system on the computer, the GNU tools allow you to use it for a useful purpose. One without the other is useless until the GNU Project gets the kernel they have had in development for ages (HURD) to be workable as a base of their own to use for an operating system.

BSD refers to Berkeley System Derivative the variant of UNIX it was based on after the shake out in that particular field left it as the only one standing and usable. Due to its licensing actually making it possible for others to use the software. The BSD licence allows use of the code unlike the others who tried to lock it down with no use except with restrictive terms and payments made. It was an interesting time in computers.
Why does GNU even bother by creating their own kernel, after decades shouldn't they give up? Linux is here, polished, and popular. Why reinvent the wheel?
 

Allyance

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I was a Verio reseller of their virtual hosting services for many years. I had four virtual servers I used for various clients. The all used FreeBSD. I never really had to learn very many commands, all functioned fairly well. Verio sold out, and I moved onto another hosting company.
 

millerj123

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This is exactly what I am trying to figure out from this thread. If both are "cousins" why do we need both if they do the same thing?
Another thing I don't get, is why Linux is so much more popular than FreeBSD although both are FOSS.

Thats very interesting. I never knew this, so its like a pay it forward thing. I will only let you use my code if you let others use your code. I guess I finally figured why no company sells Linux based system or a fork of it. I can see Richard Stallman with a big grin in that GPL agreement.

I have read about them but I still don't get why there is a need for both, since both are extremely similar. I understand the difference in licensing, but since FreeBSD believe in the FOSS model, it just makes more sense to combine efforts?

Why does GNU even bother by creating their own kernel, after decades shouldn't they give up? Linux is here, polished, and popular. Why reinvent the wheel?
"We" don't need anything.

The linux team focused on supporting as much hardware as possible, under the GPL. NetBSD had the same goals, but with the BSD license. FreeBSD focused on being rock stable, and was very useful on the server side.

Ah, good luck getting any two developers happily working on the same thing. Why are you so concerned that people want to do what they want to do?

The beauty is you can use and contribute to any of them as you will, for whatever reasons you have. So can anyone else.

Also, it's not even "both". Here's a list of Linux distributions:

For that matter: https://www.ubuntupit.com/freebsd-vs-linux-20-things-to-know-about-both-the-system/
 
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topcat001

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As a frequent user of both OpenBSD (I've also contributed code to OpenBSD) and FreeBSD I can chime in:

I like Linux, and use the Manjaro and the Arch distributions these days on my personal machines. However, this is to ensure hardware compatibility particularly on laptops, and to work on software which needs to be tested on Linux.

My preferred environment is OpenBSD (another BSD variant OS). I have some older machines on which I use it. When the hardware is supported, there is nothing quite like it. Small, clean, and elegant UNIX system. I mostly do low level programming and research and all of it works here.

On newer machines, particularly with nvidia graphics, I'll use FreeBSD. It's nearly as clean as OpenBSD, and maintains a traditional UNIX philosophy, but is more performance optimised and has better hardware support. Also more software is available.

I also have several Macs and use macos on those. The experience is reminiscent of my beloved SiliconGraphics O2 machine which I used for many years while in Uni (and still miss very much). macos has a similar degree of refinement and hardware/software integration.

Just some thoughts :)
 

mmomega

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What I understand from you is that FreeBSD is used as a core to build a modified/custom OS of your own? Isn't that what Google did with Linux when they created Android?
I did not put that much time or energy into researching the coreOS or the purpose of the Operating System. I was simply putting in time and research into a product that fulfilled a particular need.

For myself, it began with enjoying building systems and wanting a feature rich NAS system.
I had Synology systems in place but were looking for future upgrades. So the Synology's were the main backup NAS at an office, and I then made a FreeNAS backup for one office and an unRAID at another.

I sold my personal Synology DS1515+ 5-Bay to my company and replaced my home NAS to a QNAP 9-Bay.

I was then using Meraki Firewalls and Routers at 4 offices for operating those individual office systems as well as their super simple site to site VPN because I need to tie all of these together.
I have moved on to pfSense at each location and have quite a bit of the "features" I was wanting.
I was tired of continuously outgrowing my firewall every 1-2 years.
These were multi-thousand dollar Meraki Routers that have fairly extremely low Site-to-site VPN throughput, add in Intrusion Detection and Intrusion Prevention Systems and now it is cutting down throughput and bandwidth almost in 3rd to half.
My pfSense Router gave me my lower initial cost of purchase as well as being able to completely handle the type of workloads I throw at them for years and years to come, and with about 1/4 of the initial upfront cost.
Then Meraki wants several thousand per year for them to keep the router, even working. If you didn't pay your sub, your network dies. and it is a paperweight.


And then I mentioned how I found out pretty much all of my kids video game systems us FreeBSD as the core OS to run the system.

This is about it with me.
When I need a solution for a problem. I find that. get it in place to take care of the problem.

After-wards, if I am still more interested in learning more, I may dive in to a particular new solution I found to understand even more, especially if I set it up to be a "work-horse-solution" for the office.

I just do not normally have the time for this once the solution is found. I am typically moving on to solving the next problem.
So we can all continue receiving paychecks.

I apology that I am not available to fully answer your questions. I can just share my personal stories and may you can pull from it what makes sense with you.
 

Mikael H

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This is exactly what I am trying to figure out from this thread. If both are "cousins" why do we need both if they do the same thing?
Another thing I don't get, is why Linux is so much more popular than FreeBSD although both are FOSS.
Nobody "needs" both. But we have options, which is a good thing.
Linux based operating systems see a lot more use and therefore development, meaning better hardware support for newer and especially end-user-oriented devices. Nowadays, with some Linux software becoming more dependent on features buried in systemd, such specific software also gets harder to port to other Unix-like systems. And of course software that depends on specific kernel support rather than abstracted APIs will require more work to be successfully ported.

If you're interested in the difference in mindset behind the BSDs and Linux-based systems, I recommend this link: https://www.over-yonder.net/~fullermd/rants/bsd4linux/01
 

TiggrToo

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Out there...way out there
There was even a brief period in the early 1980s where Microsoft had an Unix-based OS they called Xenix.
Ah the good old days. I still remember cutting my teeth on Xenix way back in the 1980s. Gave me a good grounding for when I convinced the company I worked for to invest in some Motorola servers with System V/88 onboard, linked together using UUCP over the telephone line with an Informix 4GL database application powering their main application.

But I digress.

Now I'm using MacOS (aka FreeBSD) I've enjoyed getting back into the command line significantly more than I ever did with Linux. Really not 100% sure why that is, given that in reality they're close brothers, but that's where I am. Even refound my love of vi again (been 10+ years since I last worked on Unix and my fingers still remember the shortcuts).
 

MacBH928

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I posted this as an update in the first post:

In my research I found out THIS video that basically answers all my questions and clarify things. I have not finished all of it yet but the summary of it seems more like this, both are more or less the same but:

FreeBSD Is a project kept around because people behind it love it and enthusiastic about it. It is geared more towards enterprise, dedicated uses, and elite programmers. Its not even competing as a replacement for MacOS/Windows.

Linux is created and maintained by people who believe in FOSS philosophy and to combat propriety software. Linux is made with the average consumer in mind. It is intended to replace Windows and MacOS.

"We" don't need anything.

The linux team focused on supporting as much hardware as possible, under the GPL. NetBSD had the same goals, but with the BSD license. FreeBSD focused on being rock stable, and was very useful on the server side.

Ah, good luck getting any two developers happily working on the same thing. Why are you so concerned that people want to do what they want to do?

The beauty is you can use and contribute to any of them as you will, for whatever reasons you have. So can anyone else.

Also, it's not even "both". Here's a list of Linux distributions:

For that matter: https://www.ubuntupit.com/freebsd-vs-linux-20-things-to-know-about-both-the-system/
Nobody "needs" both. But we have options, which is a good thing.
Linux based operating systems see a lot more use and therefore development, meaning better hardware support for newer and especially end-user-oriented devices. Nowadays, with some Linux software becoming more dependent on features buried in systemd, such specific software also gets harder to port to other Unix-like systems. And of course software that depends on specific kernel support rather than abstracted APIs will require more work to be successfully ported.

If you're interested in the difference in mindset behind the BSDs and Linux-based systems, I recommend this link: https://www.over-yonder.net/~fullermd/rants/bsd4linux/01

The fact both exists made me wonder for its reasons. Usually when 2 products are offered there is some sort of a reason of differentiation. Something as huge as an operating system project built by contribution, makes you wonder why they put the effort to keep both when they are extremely similar.

I am just trying to learn here, not arguing for one or the other. I didn't imagine its all about licensing. Thanks for the links.
 

Mikael H

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The fact both exists made me wonder for its reasons. Usually when 2 products are offered there is some sort of a reason of differentiation. Something as huge as an operating system project built by contribution, makes you wonder why they put the effort to keep both when they are extremely similar.

I am just trying to learn here, not arguing for one or the other. I didn't imagine its all about licensing. Thanks for the links.
Well, licensing and philosophy and attempts to be relevant to a specific segment of the market. It’s a bit like how you can buy sporty cars from several manufacturers, or how you can buy wheeled, motorized vehicles with different intended purposes (e.g. transporting people as comfortably as possible vs capacity to transport people over as rough terrain as possible).
 

MacBH928

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Well, licensing and philosophy and attempts to be relevant to a specific segment of the market. It’s a bit like how you can buy sporty cars from several manufacturers, or how you can buy wheeled, motorized vehicles with different intended purposes (e.g. transporting people as comfortably as possible vs capacity to transport people over as rough terrain as possible).
Usually yes when there is a business behind it profiting, but in this case the two are too similar to be spending hours of one's time into a volunteer based product. One or the other will do, its just a personal taste from what I can tell. Thanks for the link.

By now, one things I would like to see is Linux enthusiasts pushing Linux to its furthest showing its powers against FreeBSD and the opposite by FreeBSD enthusiasts. Something tells me FreeBSD will be more solid and powerful, but this is just gut feeling.
 
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