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scrottie (4167)

scrottie
  scott@slowass.net
http://slowass.net/

My email address is scott@slowass.net. Spam me harder! *moan*

Journal of scrottie (4167)

Thursday March 10, 2005
09:25 PM

An alternate vision for NetBSD

[ #23596 ]
Recently it was announced that NetBSD is adding PAM (pluggable authentication modules) to core. This comes not long after a new logo for NetBSD was announced - a logo confusingly invocative of RedFlag Linux.

Flaws in PAM account for a disproporationate number of security problems in Linux. Throwing away their numbering system, throwing away their excellent logo in favor of something generic and not even unique... what the hell is wrong with them?

More recently, a widely circulated article spawning from a NetBSD user group that questioned the continued relavency of NetBSD. This should shed some light on what the heck is going on with NetBSD.

Quoting from near the beginning of that article, Ten years ago neither Windows or Linux were serious competitors both in the functionality and stability axes. Now both offer more features than we do, and they have behind them the resources of very large commercial organizations.. It looks at Microsoft Windows, which has longer and longer release cycles. It looks at FreeBSD, whose quest for advanced features such as fine grained kernel locking is preventing them from releasing a production quality system. Then they look at OpenBSD and cite lack of development manpower and its mismanagement. And, according to this article, Linux keeps re-writing major portions of the kernel and has stability issues.

I should stop for a moment and say I'm a long time NetBSD user, running it since 0.9. I just barely missed when NetBSD and FreeBSD were both still 386BSD. Linux was maybe 1.0 at this time and was completely unusable for anything except a toy - Minix was more mature. So I'm not just taking a chance to berate NetBSD unneccesarily - this is from the heart.

Reading their list of complaints with other operations that justify the existance of NetBSD, you'd think the plan was to keep the code stable, and keep developers working on core features such as stability in lieu of going on a feature hunting quest. But to quote this article, We have our work cut out for us and we need work hard in the areas we are behind in order to remain relevant. They're planning on doing the exact opposite. They're going to cram in more features, work on major projects such as the fine grained locking they say is making FreeBSD not production quality, which will naturally expand release cycles. They're going to work hard to catch up to Windows, Linux, and FreeBSD's instability and code churn. So in other words, because Windows, Linux, and FreeBSD all have lots of features but also serious code churn and resultant stability issues, it's only natural that NetBSD does exactly the same thing. ARGH! I kind of suspected NetBSD priorities had been slipping - I have a Sparc I have to admin that goes offline when it can't recover from too many device goofiness and has to be hard booted. I have two Macs that crash for no reason I can tell (too hard to attach a serial debugger to a Mac). And NetBSD 2.0 on x86 just had way too many of those little glitches that really make your stomach churn. I've started migrating away from NetBSD until I - or they - can deal with some of this stuff. But now it's pretty apparent I won't be going back to NetBSD. I won't be able to. And it isn't for lack of features - this blows my mind, but Linux is actually getting to the point where it's more stable than NetBSD through Linux slowly improving and NetBSD slowly declining. It appears that this point passed some time ago and no one really noticed it... after too many years of the Linux camp thinking Linux is stable when it isn't and years of NetBSD being used to being stable, it kind of makes sence if the roles were reversed it would go unnoticed.

-scott
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  • > Throwing away their numbering system

    I think they wanted to be able to use three numbers: major, minor, patch. To stick with a leading "1.", that would mean release numbers like "1.7.1.2".

    > throwing away their excellent logo

    Are you referring to the WWII image? It is too complicated to shrink to a small size. Some people don't like the association with war.

    I'm not a big fan of the new logo, but I don't really care that much about it either.

    > They're going to cram in more features

    I wo