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OpenSolaris Or FreeBSD? 405

Norsefire writes "I am in quite a predicament. I decided a while back to branch out and use a new operating system (currently running Debian). After a bit of searching (trying Gentoo, Gobo and Arch along the way), I decided to use something that isn't Linux. Long story short: I narrowed the choices down to OpenSolaris and FreeBSD, but now I'm stuck. OpenSolaris is commercially backed by Sun, has nice enterprise-y tools in the default install, and best of all, a mature implementation of ZFS. FreeBSD is backed by a foundation, has a minimal default install and a rather new (but recently improved in the 8.0 release) implementation of ZFS, however it offers the Ports Collection (I quite like the performance boost due to compiling from source, no matter how small it might be) and a bigger community than OpenSolaris. That is just a minimal mention of the differences. I would be interested to see what the Slashdot community thinks of these two operating systems."
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OpenSolaris Or FreeBSD?

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  • What? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 28, 2009 @06:17AM (#30253490)

    Those are commie Operating Systems you have there. Get some Windows 7 and be a good patriot.

    Just think about what you're saying in the future.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      C'mon ! Parent is funny not a Troll :) Mods try to have some second degree ...

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by multisync ( 218450 )

        C'mon ! Parent is funny not a Troll :) Mods try to have some second degree ...

        I abandoned the moderation system when they replaced the meta-mod system with the current thumbs up or down one. People abuse the moderation system now with impunity. If you criticize an example of piss-poor moderation, they slap you with Off Topic or Troll.

        Save yourself the frustration. Just browse at -1 and ignore the troll-mods.

  • Dual boot. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Lando242 ( 1322757 ) on Saturday November 28, 2009 @06:18AM (#30253496)
    Dual boot and use them both. Any other world endingly difficult questions you need answered for?
  • Go the whole hog... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Enter the Shoggoth ( 1362079 ) on Saturday November 28, 2009 @06:19AM (#30253504)

    Rather than playing with just another un*x clone, try something like Haiku [] or FreeVMS [] or my personal favourite Plan 9 []

    • by MROD ( 101561 ) on Saturday November 28, 2009 @06:37AM (#30253572) Homepage

      Ah, but OpenSolaris isn't a clone, it's one of the true heirs to the throne, a direct descendent of the original UNIX lineage.

      The *BSD family are now cousins to the original UNIX as all the original code was excised to make the 4.3BSD-lite codebase.

    • by Hurricane78 ( 562437 ) <deleted.slashdot@org> on Saturday November 28, 2009 @07:09AM (#30253674)

      Except that they look outdated for at least a decade, and that their paradigms also are outdated.

      I wish someone would come up with something new, that combines all good ideas of all OSes into a new basic architecture, after understanding that, creates some new, modern paradigms, and then re-builds all those good ideas from scratch into those new main paradigms.
      Which should in itself already result in a load of new possibilities. But some new functions of top, and you have a certain winner.

      The only problem is to get the resources to be able to pull something like that off. Because it is certainly possible. Hell I could do it, if I had the budget to hire the right people.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by jasonq ( 244142 )

        Hell I could get us to Mars, if I had the budget to hire the right people.

      • I hear ya. I was *hoping* that Google was going to do as much with their ChromeOS. Unfortunately, I'm not much intrigued with the tangent they have gone off on.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by smash ( 1351 )
        Well, problem is that what you propose will result in another 10-25 years worth of development and mistakes in implementation to get back to where we are today (in terms of stability, feature set, and correctness under real world operating conditions). During which time the "old, outdated" operating systems will have moved on and left you behind (HURD, I'm looking at you).

        What problems are you trying to solve? Re-writing code for the sake of rewriting code to make it look shiny or do shiny type things i

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by udippel ( 562132 )

        I wish someone would come up with something new, that combines all good ideas of all OSes into a new basic architecture, after understanding that, creates some new, modern paradigms, and then re-builds all those good ideas from scratch into those new main paradigms.

        It exists!
        Just visit your favourite computer shop and get yourself this shiny new W7-DVD.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Hatta ( 162192 )

        Except that they look outdated for at least a decade

        The upright bicycle has essentially used the same design for over 100 years, and nothing has come close to replacing it. Sometimes you just hit a sweet spot in design, I think UNIX is one of those spots. Sure some places need polish, but the underlying system is very capable and doesn't suffer much for being based on 30 year old ideas.

    • Re:FreeVMS (Score:5, Informative)

      by bpechter ( 2885 ) on Saturday November 28, 2009 @08:21AM (#30253864) Homepage

      Instead of FreeVMS which isn't ready for prime time... Get the OpenVMS hobbiest edition, load up SimH and run OpenVMS on a real emulated Vax. For fun you could boot OpenBSD, NetBSD or BSD4.x on the emulated Vax.

      As far as Solaris vs. BSD -- I run 'em both here. Solaris mostly on Sparc and BSD on x86. I've done Solaris x86
      and it's ok, but it's really fun to set up a jumpstart server and load up some old Sparcs.

      I've even got SunOS 4.1.4 up...

      Take a look at the software available on the [] site. A ton of VMS languages including C, ADA, Pascal, Macro32... TCP/IP and Clustering. []

    • A fair post. You could have made an excellent post, had you told us what you like about them, and what you don't like. I've played with a bunch of OS's now, and continue testing and playing. Solaris, for instance, is a nice strong contender in the server field, but it is much more limited as a desktop or workstation OS than most of the Linux flavors, due to a shortage of ported applications.

      I've tried Haiku - can't remember now why I passed it over. Probably as limited as Solaris as a desktop/workstatio

  • Why pick just one? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by argent ( 18001 ) <peter.slashdot@2006@taronga@com> on Saturday November 28, 2009 @06:23AM (#30253520) Homepage Journal

    If you just have to pick one, I would wait on this decision until the Oracle-Sun deal is through and see what Oracle does. I don't think either is likely to go away any time soon, though, and if OpenSolaris is really open source it *would* be forked if Oracle tried to close it.

    Given that you've already tried three different Linux distros, though, why not try both? You're going to be the best judge of what your requirements are.

    Disclaimer: I'm an ex-FreeBSD-committer, so I have a dog in the hunt.

    • by ivoras ( 455934 ) <ivoras @ f> on Saturday November 28, 2009 @01:25PM (#30255358) Homepage
      I'd say the problems we saw were the effects of unfortunate interactions between a kernel that was designed to be frugal on resources (e.g. because of its 20-something years heritage) and a kernel-level system (ZFS) which was designed on "resources be damned! full speed ahead!" principles. I know there have been efforts to throttle down ZFS memory greediness after it was imported but for some reasons they were not successful and eventually a newer version was imported and the resource limits were increased just in case. The problem is - ZFS is greedy in unexpected ways. Of course, there have always been users for which ZFS has always worked without any problems at all - on various architectures and amounts of RAM - but as far as I know there isn't any correlation between them that would be telling why they have it smooth and others cannot do anything with it without jumping hoops. Solaris and FreeBSD are different enough that "conventional wisdom" from one system isn't applicable to the other.

      I'd say that statistically, ZFS is now safe to use from the point of memory allocation failures simply because the number of user reports to it has fallen off dramatically after the new version and resource limit patches got in (which was significantly before 8.0-release so there was plenty of time to observe the effects).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 28, 2009 @06:27AM (#30253532)

    If you're looking to learn something new, OpenSolaris is the way I'd go. Lots of commercial enterprises use Solaris, so you're learning a skill that is of direct to a great many businesses.

    Of course, that's not to say that Solaris is the only Unix out there - I'm certain that FreeBSD is used in commercial enterprises as well, just not at as high a level as Solaris is. And, ultimately, learning the idiosyncrasies of more than one Unix environment means that you're well placed to adapt if (for example) you find yourself maintaining an AIX or HP-UX host - you've already had the pain of dealing with the differences between FreeBSD/Solaris and Linux, so the next step won't be quite so difficult.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      The subject line has it right. Without knowing what you plan to use the system for and in what kind of environment it will be in there is absolutely no way to advise you. Indeed the article itself reeks of flamebait.

      That said, I can say that I am extremely happy with FreeBSD, but I haven't played with OpenSolaris so I can't make any claims that FreeBSD is better. One of the reasons that I moved to FreeBSD (from Linux) was the more coherent administration. Every Linux distribution that I tried always ta

  • Performance boost? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by scsirob ( 246572 ) on Saturday November 28, 2009 @06:28AM (#30253536)

    I am always surprised when people make this claim about compiling from source giving a performance boost. Why would code compiled on your system run any faster than the same code on someone else's system?

    Unless you know how to tweak the compiler flags for this particular app (and know them better than the developer who distributes the binaries), the binary delivered with the distribution will be just as quick as the one you compile yourself.

    • by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Saturday November 28, 2009 @06:41AM (#30253582) Journal

      For x86, you may get a very slight boost, because binaries in conservative distros/OSes (like FreeBSD) are still typically compiled for i686. Turning SSE and other such stuff on can let gcc generate more optimal code, particularly when floating point is involved.

      On x64, it is of course quite meaningless.

      In practice, either way, it's not worth the hassle at all.

      • by spaceturtle ( 687994 ) on Saturday November 28, 2009 @07:06AM (#30253662)
        You can also gain some performance by tweaking code for different processor types, even if they have the same instruction set. One example would avoiding XOR swaps on CPUs that have instruction pipelining, which is independent of the instruction set. []

        This maybe wasn't the best example since XOR swaps are rarely useful anyway. I suspect that other things like word (mis)alignment and varying cache miss costs may be a factor for different processors.

        Gentoo claims that picking e.g. core2 over nocona can boost performance by 15% (which seems a bit much to me), so picking the right x86_64 variant is still something that is considered. Not something I worry about though, unless I am compiling from source anyway.

        • Gentoo claims that picking e.g. core2 over nocona can boost performance by 15% (which seems a bit much to me), so picking the right x86_64 variant is still something that is considered. Not something I worry about though, unless I am compiling from source anyway.

          Gentoo makes all sorts of outlandish claims which seldom stack up, in exchange for which you get an OS which if you don't keep it up to date religiously will ultimately suffer bitrot. Over time, emerge <package> becomes less and less reliable.

          (Yes, I have used Gentoo. For several years. I concluded at the end that the amount of work was greater than the benefit.)

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by caluml ( 551744 )

            (Yes, I have used Gentoo. For several years. I concluded at the end that the amount of work was greater than the benefit.)

            Me too. I love Gentoo, and think it's pretty much as close to my perfect distro as possible. Gentoo Hardened is brilliant.

            However, if you do what I do, and only update packages that have security issues, you'll find that suddenly one day, your profile has expired, and packages you need to bring it up to date have entered and left portage, meaning that you have to jump through hoops just to get Python working enough to update.

            Say anything about this, and you get the statement "Just do emerge world every

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by toddestan ( 632714 )

        i686? A lot of distributions are still compiled for i386. Ubuntu comes to mind, but the same with others like Debian. I suppose it allows for them to run on just about any PC built in the last 20 years, but how many people are trying to run modern, full featured distributions like Ubuntu on anything slower than a P2 nowadays?

    • by arcade ( 16638 ) on Saturday November 28, 2009 @06:57AM (#30253624) Homepage

      I only have my own anecdote about this, but I kind of like it.

      Back around '00, I had several computers (I still do, but that's beside the point). I had my main desktop, and I had this nice old Pentium 200. I also had a TV-card (Hauppage, I think). If I tried using the TV-card on my main desktop, it would be hellishly slow for doing other things. In addition to some of my screen being covered by the TV-window, of course.

      So, I installed the Hauppage card in the P200, which was running stock FreeBSD. It worked, sort of, but the machine was almost unusable for other things.

      I tuned the kernel, fiddled with compiler flags, and remade the world.

      And what do you think? The entire machine went from lurching slow to usable, while displaying TV. It was the "little extra boost" that was needed.

      Now, of course, I don't think it would be of much use to me in most cases these days - as machines have grown so extremely much faster since back then. But, it's the story I tell whenever people ask about performance boosts from recompiling everything.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        so you finally figured out how to enable the overlay mode after rebuilding everything? nice job

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I personally don't care about the little performance gain from the flags. BUT you can get a lot of performance and customization options if you compile it from source because there are many options available for you only if you compile it. A simple example: try installing pidgin from ports, and you will see a bunch of options you probably never saw before! You can disable networks you don't use, enable some underground ones, etc. Now try compiling apache and other server stuff...

      It is time consuming, but po

    • As I understand it, though the x86 instruction set is the standard, there are

      1- optional elements to it: MMX, SSE1/2/3/4... I assume one-size-fits-all code either shuns these subsets, or branches. Both cases diminish performance.

      2- Various underlying micro-architectures. So code compiled specifically for one will perform better than a generic compile: cache sizes/alignment, register count/swap...

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Klaus_1250 ( 987230 )

      Why would code compiled on your system run any faster than the same code on someone else's system?

      Because many pre-compiled packages use conservative optimization flags and may lack specific code paths for certain processors and instruction sets. They might also have chosen a compiler which doesn't produce the fastest code around. I'm not sure how it stands today, but a few years back, ICC produced code up to 30% faster than GCC or MSVC.

      The difference all depends on the type of application of course. Overall, you might only see a performance difference of 1-5%, but for specific parts of the application,

      • I'm not sure how it stands today, but a few years back, ICC produced code up to 30% faster than GCC or MSVC.
        That was my understanding, but it's 10 years old... What I do know is that now Clang [] is considered production ready for C and Objective-C code, and it produces *significantly* faster code than gcc at least. I expect ICC probably still beats it, but it's a good improvement.

    • by Bogtha ( 906264 )

      Why would code compiled on your system run any faster than the same code on someone else's system?

      Emphasis mine. You are making an unwarranted assumption - that it is the same code. When compiling a port, you can often set flags to change which functionality is compiled into the port. For example, if you are running a server, you can specify that support for X11 should be omitted. Generic binaries can't be as flexible.

    • by sqldr ( 838964 )

      Memory usage and load times with library linkage. It always amuses me when on certain systems, as a result of downloading KDE, it pulls in libraries which are linked against other libraries, which in turn are compiled with GTK support. I don't use GTK anywhere, and yet I have its code sitting in my memory, needlessly. If you compile it yourself, you don't have these needless dependencies.

      That said, the difference in loading times is negligible, and I haven't had an OCD approach to software installation f

  • by vanilla_face ( 1369183 ) on Saturday November 28, 2009 @06:30AM (#30253538)
    When it comes to things like flash, acroread, nvidia drivers, fluendo (multimedia plugins, DVD Player), skype etc being supported, having the commercial entity behind OpenSolaris does seem to help...I think behind the scenes Sun offer some sort of incentive to these companies to support OpenSolaris. I do like that FreeBSD is backed by a foundation though, it is much more reassuring to an open source project to know that its backing entity wont dump them the next day.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by lcs ( 61658 )

      I have to say that I really love OpenSolaris.It's polished, works out of the box with nvidia, has good Java support (LiveConnect actually works in Firefox) and the admin tools for stuff like zfs, zones, glassfish, fault management, system services etc are really excellent.

      The list of software packages is still a bit limited, but at least most important things are there. Blastwave, /contrib and /pending helps a lot.

      The thing that really bothers me, however, is the lack up security updates in /release. Th

  • by Zarhan ( 415465 ) on Saturday November 28, 2009 @06:30AM (#30253540)

    You didn't say what's your specific need. If you are just testing out different systems and doing some studying, then the correct answer is probably "Both". If you have specific need then would have been nice if you outlined that. FreeBSD is more towards a desktop, Solaris is more for servers, but you already know that. So if you aren't just doing this out of academic interest, would sure help to know your requirements (and why didn't the Linux flavors work out?).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 28, 2009 @06:34AM (#30253556)

    because you forgot to write down the most important part of your question: for which purpose is this server intended.

  • by h00manist ( 800926 ) on Saturday November 28, 2009 @06:35AM (#30253564) Journal
    I assume you are looking for a server. If it's for a desktop, more users and software help a lot. Although BSD and Solaris are more reliable indeed, the intricately, meticulously designed user-oriented design interface of Linux provides details and config files enough to entertain for generations. I have never tried out GnuStep [], however an open source nextstep-like interface seems promising.
  • Try both (Score:2, Interesting)

    Make a VM of each system and see what you like. The other question is what do you want to do with your system? Run it on your laptop? Use it as a web server? A directory server? Or something else?

    This is question is like being asked by a computer illiterate user "What kind of computer should I get?" I always ask "Well what do you want to do? If you want to surf the web, maybe type a paper or two, get a netbook, if you want to play games, get a desktop, if you need to carry it to school or work..." It

  • I've been using FreeBSD since somewhere around 1999-2000 and I've also played around a bit with various versions of Solaris and the way I look at it is:

    If you want to learn something that you can put on your resumé then Solaris is probably the better choice, likewise if you want mature ZFS support, other than that I'd have to say that FreeBSD is the better choice for most people but as a long time FreeBSD user I suspect I'm quite biased, FreeBSD has always made a lot of sense to me, it's well-organized

    • Re:My take on this (Score:4, Interesting)

      by CoolVibe ( 11466 ) on Saturday November 28, 2009 @07:03AM (#30253648) Journal
      I'd have to agree here. Although FreeBSD's ZFS support is getting quite good now. I'm using it on a production system and it hasn't let me down. It even saved my bacon a couple of times (yay, ZFS snapshots). I guess it depends on what you want to do. Both have strong features. OpenSolaris has Crossbow, but FreeBSD will have vimage soon. Both have Dtrace and ZFS. Solaris has zones, FreeBSD has jails. But I think FreeBSD is easier to tinker around with (personal opinion).
      • Exactly, I'm only using ZFS on FreeBSD for my home file server but it has run fine so far (and considering the issues I had with the combination of cheap consumer SATA disks + expensive RAID controller that I used before it would have to act up a lot to be worse than that (although I suspect if I had gone with better disks they wouldn't have been such a PITA)).

        As for the tinkering, yeah, I agree that FreeBSD feels a bit friendlier in that respect, I've also never had FreeBSD tell me that there are upgrades

  • I quite like the performance boost due to compiling from source, no matter how small it might be.

    While I generally agree... (I use Gentoo for years on multiple systems and love/hate it.)
    What if the boost is smaller than the resources it takes to compile it in the first place?

    If you once compiled gcc, glibc, kdelibs (or all of gnome) java (se) and ghc (with vmem requirements up to 8GB!) in a row, just to go from x.x.x.2 to x.x.x.3, you know what I am talking about. Here that can take a good day. And the gain from not simply keeping the old version is next to nothing, but often still required because of

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jimicus ( 737525 )

      Or you could use Debian and accept that your distribution hasn't been compiled with -Oevery silly little option for a fraction% improvement.

      • by caluml ( 551744 )

        Or you could use Debian and accept that your distribution hasn't been compiled with -Oevery silly little option for a fraction% improvement.

        This might surprise you, but I actually don't use Debian because I don't like it, not because it "hasn't been compiled with -Oevery silly little option for a fraction% improvement".

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by caluml ( 551744 )
      There needs to be a Gentoo Stable version of Gentoo, where packages update very infrequently, but people test the ebuilds to make sure that they work even if you're not updating from the version that was issued 15 minutes ago.
  • FreeBSD (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tgetzoya ( 827201 ) on Saturday November 28, 2009 @07:02AM (#30253644)
    I've used both as my primary desktop (each for a few months) and if you want to try something new, go with FreeBSD. OpenSolaris felt like GNU/Solaris, which it mostly is, with a few Sun coded things (I think it was libc and a few more of the libraries). FreeBSD was all about fine control: I found myself wanting to recompile the kernel and playing with rc scripts and asking my OpenBSD-using friend so many questions he demanded I switch to Linux:-D
    Plus, when you've spent a whole night figuring out why KDE won't compile correctly on feels good, like you've accomplished something.
  • by david.given ( 6740 ) <> on Saturday November 28, 2009 @07:05AM (#30253660) Homepage Journal

    Does ZFS on FreeBSD still suffer from random kernel panics when it gets low on memory?

    I'm particularly referring to this bit of documentation:

    To use ZFS, at least 1GB of memory is recommended (for all architectures) but more is helpful as ZFS needs *lots* of memory. Depending on your workload, it may be possible to use ZFS on systems with less memory, but it requires careful tuning to avoid panics from memory exhaustion in the kernel.

    Yeah, kernel infrastructure that can't cope with running out of memory. That fills me with confidence. Particularly I've run ZFS on OpenSolaris on a 48MB Pentium laptop and it coped fine.

    Unfortunately the FreeBSD ZFS pages are a wiki, which means they're badly organised and out of date. I have no idea when the above was written or whether it's still valid. Does anyone know?

  • OpenSolaris is Sun's desperate attempt to keep up with Linux. Sun had a great history but they just aren't as relevant anymore, there is little they have that redhat ( for example ) don't. Solaris just isn't in a position to make any kind of comeback at this point.

    It's pretty sad that Linux has taken market share from good companies like Sun at least as much as Microsoft.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gbjbaanb ( 229885 )

      Its a good point there. I work with a Microsoft shop but somewhere along the line they decided to support Oracle databases running on Redhat. Since then, I'd say the majority of our customers running Oracle have plumped for Redhat (the others won't until they upgrade). I wonder if Oracle will be trying to scrap this in favour of Solaris (not OpenSolaris surely) and charge lots of money, but I doubt any of them will migrate - migrating from Windows to Redhat makes a lot of sense, even if the cost is roughly

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by temojen ( 678985 )

      As a long-term Linux guy (since 1995) I think ZFS integration with Samba, iSCSI Targets, and Zones makes OpenSolaris relevant to me. I am now trying to learn Opensolaris so I can use these on a SOHO server. Sure in a year or two BTRFS may have RAID5-like redundancy, caching and intent logging on SSD, and these features, but OpenSolaris/ZFS has them now. I definitely won't be running any solaris on my netbook (kubuntu), laptop (WinXP), or Macs though.

      I think if the opensolaris community can produce a variant

  • Debian GNU/kFreeBSD (Score:5, Informative)

    by lord_rob the only on ( 859100 ) <shiva3003@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Saturday November 28, 2009 @07:24AM (#30253706)

    You are used to Debian ? Then try Debian GNU/kFreeBSD [].

    The Debian distro on top of a FreeBSD kernel.

  • From reading your post, it looks like you are looking to use a desktop OS (I may be wrong). Also it seems to me that you have tried various distros of linux but are rejecting them because it doesn't hhave ZFS.

    Therefore if we are to restrict our options to OpenBSD and FreeBSD i would lean towards FreeBSD simply due to the large no. of apps available through ports.Also i believe driver compatibility is a little better in FreeBSD, especially recently with nvidia cards.

    However as another poster said, th
    • by thegrassyknowl ( 762218 ) on Saturday November 28, 2009 @09:17AM (#30254076)

      Therefore if we are to restrict our options to OpenBSD and FreeBSD i would lean towards FreeBSD simply due to the large no. of apps available through ports.Also i believe driver compatibility is a little better in FreeBSD, especially recently with nvidia cards.

      FreeBSD only had NVidia on i386 kernels at least when I tried it on the desktop and quit about 2 months ago. You have the open source driver with works, but for decent multi head on a new model card you still need the closed source driver. OpenBSD has similar and (in my case) sometimes better hardware support. The Intel wireless card in my Dull laptop is supported on OpenBSD out of the box but FreeBSD still required me (at 8.0-RC1) to download a driver and munge with boot options to make it happen. Doable, but mildly annoying since it is the essentially the same driver with an extra PCI ID added to it to let it use the card.

      If you're building a kick-ass server then the choice is up to you. You can't go wrong with Slowlaris or *BSD. I like FreeBSD because it has jails. They take a little getting used to but they are great. It's particularly useful to be able to give people root in a jail to admin something and know they can't actually root any of the other jails or the host. Solaris has Zones. Linux has a suite of patches that can do jails but it's not mainstream yet, and I wouldn't trust it as far as I could throw it if I were trying to attach a patched kernel to a current distro.

      Solaris and FreeBSD have ZFS. Both are stable. Solaris has the slightly more mature support, but I've never seen FreeBSD lose data or kernel panic on me because of ZFS. There's a LOT of advantages to using ZFS. Quite a few are met with LVM on Linux or dynamic disks on Windows, but not all.

      OpenBSD is going to be more secure out of the box, until you start installing from ports or packages.

      Solaris is heavy. The default install was massive last time I tried it and it took forever to boot. Linux is even worse on size but fast to boot now (Ubuntu and Fedora at least have made huge advances in their latest releases). FreeBSD and OpenBSD can be shoehorned into very little space if needed without resorting to rolling your own distro, which can be advantageous.

      For hardware support, Linux is generally better than the alternatives. If you only have very new hardware then Windows 7 is going to have better support.

      Right; it should be clear as mud now that every system has its own advantages and disadvantages. It's like asking "should I choose a Porsche or a VW" (Ok since VW owns half of Porsche now...) Horses for courses as they say. You'd test drive the cars if you were looking to make sure they met your needs. Try the different operating systems on a sacrificial machine or VM. Stick with the choice that you feel comfortable with.

  • hm (Score:5, Informative)

    by Danzigism ( 881294 ) on Saturday November 28, 2009 @08:15AM (#30253836)
    Although I always enjoy the opportunity to recommend FreeBSD to somebody, I didn't really get an explanation of your needs. Are you going to be running servers? Desktop? Or just having fun? I imagine that you're just going to have some fun since you just want to learn something new. In that case I'd definitely go with FreeBSD. It is a great "learning" OS and is well documented thanks to the Handbook []. The /usr/ports collection has the source code for just about any piece of software you'd ever need, and the dependencies are all taken care of for you. You get some pretty awesome hardware support, server daemons are incredibly easy to configure, it is robust as all hell, doesn't use a lot of resources, can also make a great desktop OS, lots of smart people on IRC you can get help from, and countless amounts of other things. Additionally I'd go with FreeBSD because there are a large percentage of servers on the internet use this OS. If IT is your profession, it definitely won't hurt to learn FreeBSD. All you need to know is, /etc/rc.conf and /usr/ports. Then you just move on from there :-) Good luck!
  • by mangastudent ( 718064 ) on Saturday November 28, 2009 @08:31AM (#30253900)

    I'm using Debian stable right now as the solution for my particular requirements (development desktop that's a good Xen Dom0), but I'd much rather be using a BSD (the first machine I bare metaled was BSD 2.x onto a PDP-11/44 in 1981 (sic)) or Solaris (it took me most of a decade, but I eventually got over their switch to AT&T :-).

    The big problems with FreeBSD when I made my decision were no Dom0 support and an immature ZFS, and the problem I've always had with Solaris is solid mass storage device driver support, at least for vaguely affordable controllers that don't require a PCI-X bus. E.g. when I last checked nVidia SATA chipset support was iffy (which was odd since a classic workstation they shipped had a rebadged Tyan motherboard with a nVidia chipset; I've got two of those Tyans in prodution and they're rock solid ... with Windows XP :-( hey, I'm not willing to put my parents on Linux or whatever quite yet )).

    This may have improved since then, but be sure to check for problems in the field.

  • by syousef ( 465911 ) on Saturday November 28, 2009 @08:35AM (#30253914) Journal

    Without that information, all you'll get is a bunch of people suggesting their own pet projects.

    Even if you just want to learn and play you might want to have a goal. Do you want to learn to administer ZFS? You seem to be fixated on it.

  • Why? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by funkboy ( 71672 )

    What makes you want to blow away something you're already running & comfortable with? You give no reason for switching away from Debian.


    - For Linux, Debian is pretty much the granddaddy, and can likely be wrangled to do whatever you want. You seem the explorative type. If you're comfortable with Debian, figure out how to do whatever it is you're interested in on Debian and get on with it. Changing distros won't change your life.

    - For other OSs, you're blessed to live in t

  • Stick with Linux (Score:2, Interesting)

    I came from a SunOS background but used Linux based distributions at home (Slaskware was the easiest at the time).
    I the tried NetBSD and FreeBSD and they were okay, I found general responsiveness felt good, not necessarily faster, but more consistant, this was years before low lateny linux kernel.
    After about 9-12 months, I realised I was spending a lot of my time just trying to get iBCS, Wine and Linux compatibility working so I could be productive. I realised I wasn't gaining anything from running FreeBSD

  • by N9VLS ( 8026 ) on Saturday November 28, 2009 @08:50AM (#30253968)

    I'm quite happy with both OpenSolaris and FreeBSD as desktops, as well as servers.

    You didn't specify what your primary goals are for the system in question-- if you're looking for a general purpose web surfing/light development machine, OpenSolaris should be fine for you-- as long as you have at least a gigabyte of memory and a moderately fast processor.

    FreeBSD's a lot less resource intensive in my experience-- I'm currently supporting two sites that still have Pentium III/600-based servers with uptimes approaching a year each. (Last reboot for each was due to a multi-day power outage.)

    If you have VirtualBox installed, give both FreeBSD and OpenSolaris a whirl, see what you think.

  • Use CP/M (Score:5, Funny)

    by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Saturday November 28, 2009 @08:58AM (#30253996) Homepage

    Since you're not telling us what you're actually planning to do with the OS, might as well advice some random OS based on no reason whatsoever.

    • Re:Use CP/M (Score:4, Funny)

      by ignavus ( 213578 ) on Saturday November 28, 2009 @11:55PM (#30258910)

      Since you're not telling us what you're actually planning to do with the OS, might as well advice some random OS based on no reason whatsoever.

      I was favouring OS/360 myself. He sounded like he wanted a challenge.

      And Multics would have been my second choice.

      CP/M is a great idea, but too simple. Something BIG and totally irrelevant is called for here.

  • by smash ( 1351 )
    Test each in a VM and see what you think. I've run Solaris x86 back in the day (2.6) and compared to linux or bsd - its slow. It can handle load gracefully without stumbling, but if you're running a benchmark or relying on high throughput for fairly serialized tasks - its not really what its intended for.

    If you need the features (or paid sun support) though, go for it - but FreeBSD has most of the feature set these days and is much faster. Ports are also way easier than obtaining package X from source

"Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats." -- Howard Aiken