BSDs and Linuxes: a matter of taste (and hardware)

Imagine this: You have a new computer. You are considering a Linux operation system as your main os. Then again, you have also heard that BSD distributions are viable as well. Here are the five things you should consider when you are making your os choice. Note that this is a checklist that I would use. Depending on your needs there might be something else worth considering.

1. How much time do you have?

You might be a seasoned veteran with BSDs and many Linuxes. Then again if you are not, then you should really make sure that you have enough time in your hands to learn the tricks of a new operation system. Learning BSDs or Linuxes can be hard or easy. It really depends on what your goals are. If you take something along the lines of Debian or Fedora then it is a lot less time consuming thanĀ  installing the Gentoo Linux. Likewise, Freebsd setup and install can be easy and fast if you go and choose the binary route. However, if you build everything from source with ports then it will obviously be more time consuming.

2. What is your hardware?

Your brand new hardware will more than likely run just about any Linux. Prepare for problems if you plan on running BSDs as their hardware support is a bit more ancient. Having a more outdated hardware support is something that you cannot attribute as a fault of any BSD developer team. The reality is that companies and large entities support Linux a lot more – and thus more drivers get ported to Linux kernel.

3. Are your a builder or a user?

In reality BSDs and Linuxes are both good for people who want to build things themselves. If you have something specific in mind then both will do. If you are a desktop user then it depends .Linuxes do win when it comes to typical desktop hardware support. Also, one thing to consider is that Linuxes also provide some tools and updates easier than BSDs. However, if you use BSDs you can of course take a look at ports collection and build your software from there. Another alternative is to build from source code by yourself.

4. Is it a computer for work or for home?

Now, I am not saying that Linuxes are de facto easier to use than BSDs – since it really depends upon a person. However, many people are often faster when setting up Linuxes than some variant of the BSDs.
Linuxes and BSDs also offer live mode cds/dvds where you can actually try before you decide. If you are unsure what you are about to install then always try before making a choice. If you can decide everything about the hardware of your computer then make sure it is BSD compatible. BSDs are great for working as long as the hardware is fully compatible. However, if you are in a position where you simply cannot function well without a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth gadgets then go and pick a Linux distribution. BSDs are good for many purposes but unfortunately they still lack when it comes to Bluetooth and Wi-Fi support.

5. Licenses.

Userland refers to the software that is not part of the core BSD releases

Linuxes are usually centered around GPL or similar, which do come with some sort of copyleft clause. Copyleft means that if you decide to make your own variation from something that was originally GPL then you must also use the GPL license and make your source code freely available to everyone. BSDs are built around BSD licenses, which does mean that you can do absolutely anything with the base code. A point to remember is that even though BSDs supply their core system using BSD licenses that is not necessarily the case when it comes to the userland. BSD userlands contain many programs that might have different licenses (and even GPL licenses) in place. If you are a user who is keen on knowing exactly what are the program licenses within your system then pay attention to what you are installing to your desktop on BSDs. and Linuxes alike.

Licenses are often more about philosophy and moral choices. Licenses surrounding Linuxes rarely stop you from doing anything you might pursue. The previous also applies to BSD licenses. To put it simply: Licenses are like roadmaps, which tell you how you can possibly get to some destination. However, roadmaps do come with some guidelines and instructions, which you have to follow if you want to reach your destination.Traditionally, there has been a lot of debate created by the differences between the licenses. However, it is often useless to debate if BSD licenses are superior to Linux licenses or vice versa. It really depends upon a specific user and his or hers opinions.