BSDs are free and open-source systems that are very popular among old-school admins. They are direct descendants of the traditional Unix system and offer many rock-solid features. However, despite their robust performance, BSD systems do not enjoy the widespread popularity of Linux. So many users wonder if switching from Linux to BSD is a good idea. This guide aims to shed some light on this.
What are BSDs?
BSDs are a group of POSIX-compliant operating systems derived from the original Unix. They follow proven development strategies and focus on stability and performance. When talking about BSDs, we generally refer to one of the three main BSD distributions: FreeBSD, NetBSD, and OpenBSD.
Although Linux and BSD systems are the same on many levels, there are notable differences. Most of them are by design. BSD systems are geared toward people who are technologically aware. They follow a structured set of principles that result in a more cohesive environment than Linux.
Linux vs. BSD: Design Strategy
Unlike Linux, BSD systems refer to both the kernel and the userland tools, so BSD developers are concerned not only with kernel development but also with user utilities.
This makes systems like FreeBSD much more coherent. It also feels more robust due to its planned development. On the other hand, most Linux distributions take the kernel from one place and add software from many different places. It’s one of the main reasons maintaining Linux distros is harder over time.
Linux vs. BSD: Hardware Support
When comparing Linux and BSDs, people often claim that BSDs lack support for many hardware. However, we’ve found this statement quite misleading. In fact, most BSDs support the same hardware as Linux. The problem arises only when you’re using legacy hardware.
On another note, most people today are running modest CPUs capable of running both Linux and BSDs. So unless you’re on ’80s hardware, BSDs should run just fine on your setup. You can always consult the BSD support list to make sure your systems are supported.
Linux vs. BSD: Community Support
The Linux community consists of millions of users and developers worldwide, so it’s easy to find support for most issues. However, not all of them are professional developers, so it’s often hard to find elegant solutions to complex problems.
The BSD community is much smaller compared to Linux, but most BSD users possess advanced knowledge of the system and its ecosystem. This makes it easy to find robust solutions engineered for handling complex issues.
Linux vs. BSD: Licensing
Licensing is a key difference between Linux and BSD distributions. Although both systems are open source, there are some practical limitations. The GNU GPL license shipped with Linux allows developers to modify and redistribute the OS. It also restricts the commercialization of free tools.
On the contrary, the BSD license that comes with BSD distributions is more permissive. It allows users to modify existing BSD products and market them as proprietary solutions. This is exactly what Apple does.
In a nutshell, the GPL license of Linux is more facilitating for end users. Meanwhile, the BSD license offers more freedom for developers.
Linux or BSD: Which One Is Better?
It depends on the user. People can always vouch for some of the features of their preferred operating system. However, once you gain perspective, you will find BSD systems make much more sense to you.
This is because, unlike Linux, BSDs were developed with a clear plan. They didn’t evolve rapidly like many popular Linux distributions and maintained a proven workflow. In contrast, Linux distros are constantly changing. This makes it hard to maintain performant yet coherent Linux environments for a long time.