Friday, June 19, 2009

We are the Knights who say *Nix

Once again I'm turning to the blog to explore an intense intellectual discourse that started on Twitter/FriendFeed and deserves to be explored even further, without the interruption of some inane restaurant reviews or such!

Unlike all the other posts/rants on the topic of Linux vs. Windows vs. FreeBSD this one will explore my take on the issue from my point of view.

JohnnyCanuck RT @pluc: First day at inpix. Removing Vista, installing Ubuntu. -- You gotta love this guy!

schultzter @JohnnyCanuck Their web site is a bit sluggish - he should probably upgrade to FreeBSD or Slackware and ditch the Ubuntu bloat :)

JohnnyCanuck @schultzter Unbuntu s probably the most polished distro avail with plenty of drivers & great apps. If it'll run Vista, Linux will scream

JohnnyCanuck @schultzter The more Linux remains geeky & the roll your own distro/driver mentality prevails, Linux is bound to fail. Just look at netbooks

schultzter @JohnnyCanuck LSB and freedesktop.org will take care of that, why not geeky & mainstream?! What am I looking at netbooks for?!

JohnnyCanuck @schultzter netbooks are the only mainstream Linux success story out there. How many FreeBSd machines can you pick at CostCo?

schultzter @JohnnyCanuck i'm confused, are you saying linux is a success or failure?! not many (any?) netbooks shipping with linux these days!

JohnnyCanuck @schultzter Asus eeePC have been the only real success 4 Linux out of the box. http://tinyurl.com/6egq7h too much distro squable elsewhere

JohnnyCanuck @schultzter You know what 140 characters is pretty crap for debates. Blog it and we'll have a good old fashion party in the comments...

schultzter @JohnnyCanuck Can I just post a link chain to these tweets or do I have to get all fancy like last time? :)

JohnnyCanuck @schultzter I think you should be fancy anytime you can!

So the question is: should you bet on FreeBSD or a Linux distro (and which one)?

I was set to find-out what was the market share held by FreeBSD and Linux. We know that Microsoft claims anywhere from 100% down to a low 95% (actually, I think at one point their buddies at IDC suggested it could be as low as 70% for servers). The problem is that it's hard to track something that's given away and shared freely.

We could look at forum and social media chatter, but we'd need to make sure we take a long enough sample to smooth out the hype periods. The iPhone isn't close to de-throning the Blackberry, but during WWDC you'd think everyone in the world had and/or wanted an iPhone!!!

Instead I choose to look at Netcraft's Most Reliable Hosting Company Sites in May 2009 report and add a healthy dose of logical argumentation (i.e.: assumptions).

What we see here, is that of the top ten at least three are FreeBSD and at least three are Linux while only at least two are Windows (so nyah nyah Mr. Gates). If we look at the offerings of the two unknown we can see they both offer Windows and Linux and one also offers FreeBSD.

Note that Apple's OS X isn't really in the server space, although they do offer one server in their Mac line-up they don't show-up on Netcraft's list and I think it's safe to say if you're buying a Mac you're not going to put anything other than OS X on it!

The Netcraft report can be interpretted in one of three ways:

FreeBSD runs the majority of servers on the internet but it's un-reliable and therefore doesn't show-up in the top ten proportional to it's market share.
I don't think any of the Fat Dads, even me, would honestly argue that most of the servers out there run FreeBSD - we may wish they did, but honestly I don't think they do.
FreeBSD runs as many servers as Linux does and it's just as reliable, hence they show-up just as frequencly and equivalent to their market share.
This is the compromise interpretation which the Fat Dads might be willing to grudgingly accept, but as we're about to see they probably won't like the alternative.
FreeBSD runs a minority of the servers on the internet but it's very reliable and therefore shows-up in the top ten in greater proportion than it's market share.
This is my personal opinion and probably the opinion of everyone who runs FreeBSD - a very wise bunch of people and you're probably best to listen to their opinions.

So there you have it, no doubt about it, FreeBSD is the better operating system!

The other thing to remember is when we're talking about FreeBSD we're talking about an operating system. When we talk about Linux we're talking about the kernel, you need to consider the distribution as well. Some distros, like Slackware, try to keep things as lean and clean as possible but leave the operator with a lot of work to do. Other distros, like Ubuntu, try to do everything for you and often leave you wondering what's the difference between Windows?! And then there's those distros that build on one of the indepedant distros that just give you a different base language or different default applications or different media.

And the last thing to remember is that FreeBSD is Unix whereas Linux is only Unix-like!

Cross-posted on 2FatDads at We are the Knights who say *Nix