[RndTbl] NetBSD, OpenBSD, FreeBSD, yikes!

Sean Cody sean at tinfoilhat.ca
Tue Dec 5 10:09:09 CST 2006

NetBSD, runs on everything used to be the place to go for  
experimental stuff (ie. new takes on network stack etc).
Now it pretty much just runs on everything but is very fugly (IMHO)  
and layout is a bit different relative to the other two.
You want anything outside of generic then you will end up living with  
LKMs (loadable kernel modules), not exactly a smart idea for security  
conscious installations.

FreeBSD is the place to go for desktop friendly or experimental stuff.
It is too bloated (IMHO) for edge lying based networking services but  
internally it is really high performance relative the other two BSDs.
Since you can use 'windows drivers' on Free this makes it desktop  
friendly but not necessarily 'free software' friendly.
Like NetBSD it is kernel module happy.  If you need support for  
cutting edge gear that will tolerate vendor NDA's (which I only do  
because I have to) then go here.

OpenBSD, can be a bit of a dog in high perf environments (ie. high  
volume file serving) but largely my preference of the three.
It is very small and clean and the ports tree has matured a hell of a  
lot over the past few releases.
It is the place to go for secure services and experimental security  
(here meaning solid but not yet widely adopted) and is the home for  
OpenSSH, PF, spamd, OpenNTPD, etc.
Anything you learn in Open will be directly applicable to Free and  
Net (with exception of PAM which is kind of dumb and therefore not in  

If there is some REALLY STRANGE reason you must have Apache 2, then  
I'll give you a reserved recommendation for FreeBSD (though enable PF).
Apache 2 would work on Open but it isn't 'out of the box' due to the  
extra restrictions 'recently' introduced into the Apache licensing.

Otherwise if it lives on the Internet I would only recommend OpenBSD.
I would suggest Open regardless, but then again I'm biased.

On 5-Dec-06, at 9:43 AM, Montana Quiring wrote:

> I've been playing with Solaris over the past year but I would like to
> get more experience with UNIX.
> There seems to be three (correct me if I'm wrong) main players in the
> BSD playing field.
> Can someone briefly give a semi-layman, semi-tech explaination of the
> differences between NetBSD, OpenBSD and FreeBSD?
>> From reading their web pages and googling they all seem to pride
> themselves on security. I think it's NetBSD that prides its self on
> having the most portability and tightly written code, the downside
> being they are not the most current when it comes to supporting new
> hardware, etc.
> I'm looking to use a BSD to create a secure web server and maybe
> OpenLDAP as well. This would be for a production environment and not
> just tinkering. Xen compatability would also be a bonus.
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