Linux vs. BSD: Which Should You Use?

Danny Stieben 13-01-2015

At MakeUseOf, we cover Linux quite a bit as the “alternative” to Windows and Mac OS X. However, those aren’t the only three operating systems out there — there’s also the BSD family of Unix-like operating systems, which are technically speaking different from Linux.


In the name of fair competition, it’s time that we gave BSD operating systems some recognition as well. And there’s no better way to do that than to compare them against Linux. What’s different about BSD operating systems, and should you be running it instead of Linux? How does Linux and the best BSD desktop OS, PC-BSD, compare on the desktop?

How Linux and BSD are Similar

Let’s take care of the similarities first, of which there are plenty. Both operating systems are open source and Unix-like, so a lot of the same programs and utilities run on both of them. Even on the desktop, both operating systems will look similar as they both typically run the same desktop environments, including but not limited to GNOME and KDE. Firefox, GIMP, and many other popular open source applications also run on both systems.

So when you only try to look for big, noticeable differences, you’re not going to find any. It’s really down to smaller, behind-the-scenes details and the consequences thereof that make the difference.

Kernel vs. Operating System

First of all, “Linux” is actually just the kernel that bridges the gap between software and hardware What Is a Kernel in Linux and How Do You Check Your Version? Linux is an operating system, right? Well, not exactly! It's actually a kernel. But what is the Linux kernel? Read More . Linux distributions are made by groups of people (or organizations) who bundle the kernel together with whatever overlaying software they’d like. Thankfully, the fact that every Linux distribution has certain things in common (the Linux kernel, among other things) allows for software that’s simply written for “Linux” to work on most distributions.

BSD, on the other hand, is usually an entire operating system and not just the kernel. There are multiple BSD operating systems that do have differences among themselves, but it’s easier and pretty correct to just collectively call them the BSD family as they all come from BSD Unix.


Unix Heritage

Which brings me to my next point: BSD operating systems are more “Unix” than Linux is. Because of legal reasons, operating systems in the BSD family cannot actually call themselves Unix but just Unix-like, but they have a long lineage of Unix heritage. The BSD operating systems, along with AIX, HP-UX, Solaris, and even Mac OS X (via Darwin, which is based on BSD) can trace their roots all the way back to the original creation of Unix.

On the other hand, Linux joins Minix as the only two operating systems that are Unix-like and inspired by Unix, but don’t have any actual ties to the original Unix.


Then there’s the difference in licensing that Linux and the BSD family use. While both use open source licenses Open Source Software Licenses: Which Should You Use? Did you know that not all open source licenses are the same? Read More , Linux uses the GPL which favors users by forcing developers to release any of their modifications to GPL-licensed software as open source and with the same license.

The BSD family uses the BSD license, which favors developers by allowing them to take open source software, make modifications to it, and then keep it proprietary if they wish rather than forcing them to release their changes as open source (although they still could if they wanted).


It’s because of the BSD license that Apple could use various BSD bits (including from FreeBSD) and create Mac OS X as a mixed source product. Google was able to create Android despite using and modifying the Linux kernel (and other GPL-licensed software) because they release the mobile operating system as open source and don’t have a problem with doing so.

Vendor Support

Finally, if you’re comparing Linux and BSD as a desktop operating system, you have to look at vendor support. When you exclude Mac OS X (as it’s technically BSD, but from a user’s perspective we consider them separate), then vendor support isn’t that great for BSD operating systems. It’s not bad, but Linux has it better. Out of the two, the chances are higher that software will be written for Linux rather than a BSD operating system. Graphics drivers are better Open Source AMD Graphics Are Now Awesome, Here's How To Get Them The AMD proprietary driver on Linux is fast but buggy, and the open source driver has now become awesome Read More and more numerous on Linux (both proprietary and open source), and in turn there are far more games available on Linux than BSD.

PC-BSD, which is based on FreeBSD and is the easiest BSD operating system to install for desktop purposes, is certainly usable and looks similar to Linux thanks to the use of the same desktop environments. However, once you try to do more and more, you’ll start to find its limits.

Although Mac OS X has quite a few things going for it that other BSD operating systems do not, it’s still not an easy win for Mac OS X when compared to Linux Mac OS X Yosemite, From The Perspective Of A Linux User Mac OS X is used as the poster child for a clean and elegant interface. As a Linux writer, it's my duty to make comparisons amongst Linux distros, but also against the competition. Read More .


Technological Advantages of BSD

However, the different BSD kernels have many different implementations of various technologies, some of which are proven to be superior to Linux. FreeBSD is known for having a fantastic networking stack, and OpenBSD is known for being about as secure as humanly possible. NetBSD can run on more architectures than even Linux can, including a toaster. So BSD operating systems aren’t bad from a technical perspective, but there’s simply less support for them by third-party developers than for Linux. With enough support, you can do whatever you’d like on an operating system.

On The Desktop, Stick With Linux

In the end, most users will want to stick to Linux for their desktops as there are multiple reasons why Linux is better Unix vs. Linux: The Differences Between and Why It Matters Before the creation of Linux, the computing world was dominated by Unix. What's the difference between Linux and Unix? Read More on the desktop. However, if this article has made you more curious about BSD operating systems, then feel free to try some out in a virtual machine or on a spare computer. It never hurts to know what’s out there.

What features of BSD operating systems do you like that they have or do better than Linux? Why would you pick one or the other? Let us know in the comments!

Image Credit: Forrestal_PL


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  1. Arny
    November 2, 2017 at 10:09 am

    "Linux joins Minix as the only two operating systems that are Unix-like and inspired by Unix, but don’t have any actual ties to the original Unix."

    This is not correct, there have been a few other Unix clones beside the two. Examples I can tell from the top of the head are Idris, Venix and Coherent. They are mostly dead now (some got integrated into other products); Coherent has been made open source though.

    • Avery Freeman
      June 25, 2019 at 3:57 pm

      Redox immediately came to mind when I read this...

  2. Tim Darron
    September 18, 2017 at 3:37 am

    I use Slackware on my older single or double cores and OpenBSD on my 4 core machine.
    Occasionaly I use FreeBSD which is equivalent to OpenBSD with Linux compat.

  3. Chris
    September 15, 2017 at 1:29 pm

    I have used GhostBSD for over a month and its great.
    -All the information you will ever need to know is in the handbook which is a live document.
    -The install was easy, and it detected my hardware without any problems.
    -It runs very smoothly on older computer
    -Easy self explanatory process to install software
    -Very efficient use of pc resources
    -So far crashes or bugs are unheard of.
    -The range of software support is limited
    -There are some items on Linux that are unavailable to Freebsd
    -Lack of awareness of this system

  4. Beep
    August 26, 2017 at 3:28 am

    Linux kernel was hacked in recent century, I wouldn't trust anything being pumped out of mainstream GPL. Even RMS is against the efforts of the Linux kernel considering how they have been abusing the free world, Linux is becoming more and more of a closed source os even the boot initialization now uses something donated by M$. Why do we still bother with Linux?

    On the other hand BSD and Libre can coexist much more efficiently than Linux, you can even run your Libre software under BSD. Just don't tell RMS that :P

  5. Patrick
    October 26, 2016 at 5:02 pm

    I struggled for a week to get various Linux distros up and running on my computer (Dell XPS 8900). I had to add code to the grub just to even boot into the OS without freezing/crashing.

    TrueOS (PC-BSD) installed with no fuss, no errors. In fact, I haven't had any errors with Wine, where with Linux I had numerous issues and crashes. From what I'm read, I'm not the only person to have trouble with Linux using the XPS 8900.

    I'm just happy to have something finally WORK.

  6. digitalcrow
    September 11, 2016 at 5:29 am

    About the hardware support linux has some problems for example i always had problems with broadcom intergrated wifi adapter on linux it simply wont work at all with the proprietary drivers most of the time has not even been detected you must be lucky.
    If you try the firmware installation version on ubuntu you'll have much slower speeds and many disconnections.
    About Mac Osx: If you exclude the proprietary libraries/software of a mac you will find that this system rocks and also has a very good level on performance on games, also is the most stable operating system i have ever seen stable in applications and as an operating system !
    If bsd has the same traits as mac osx then it should be more popular than linux !
    Also i can't get why linux applications games couldn't be available on bsd if they are open source.

    • Avery Freeman
      June 25, 2019 at 4:00 pm

      If they're open source, it might just be a matter of compiling them. Why not find the source tree, download, and compile yourself? If you're on FreeBSD there's a chance someone might have automated the process for you and put it in the ports tree.

  7. mzs
    March 2, 2016 at 6:33 am

    I have been using FreeBSD on desktops and it works fine... Laptop is still a hit or miss depending upon the hardware, you cannot blame the OS for this as many laptops are still manufactured with MS windows in mind, GNU/Linux had the same problem but is recovering as distributions like Ubuntu become mainstream...

    My reasons to *try* FreeBSD(starting with PC-BSD and GhostBSD) were that it was most closest in terms of packages(~25k) which is similar to Debian(they split packages so ~50k). The ZFS file system... nuff said!

    I enjoyed the experience and have since moved to using actual FreeBSD full time. Love the simple and intuitive way it is organized. :)

    • Sebastien
      July 18, 2016 at 8:38 pm

      how did you get a safe version of those bsds? most don't have https{sercure!} downloads?

      • Razvan
        October 12, 2016 at 2:09 pm

        Why do you need an HTTPS download site? You can get the file by any mean(even getting a disk from a secret agent :) ) and then you compare the checksum with the one on the developer's site (this one may be secure). If you got the same SHA/MD5, etc, then you can proceed with installation, otherwise from one reason or another, your ISO is corrupted.

  8. redox
    January 19, 2016 at 12:56 am

    Actually, Linux can run on just about any architecture as well. They do have poorer support for certain architectures such as M68K and sh3, but for nearly every other architecture, from MIPS to PA-RISC to IA32, Linux has superior support. BSD hasn't even received SMP until recent times.

    Many distributions offer source based package management. Slackware offers the choice to manually configure "slackbuilds", Gentoo and Exherbo offer portage and paludis respectably. In terms of pure FPU/ALU and graphics stack code, Linux is superior, and therefore better for HPC, but also in part due to greater traction with developers, and better cluster management. Security also favors Linux, grsec and apparmor tends to be far more secure than anything OpenBSD has offered. Hardware support very blatantly goes in favor of Linux as well, but in sacrifice of bloating the kernel. Dependency resolution makes it a lot easier for Linux users to access a larger array of software without needing to deal with manualy installing dependencies. Of course, you also have the option to manually configure and update the world file yourself, especially in barebones configurations like portage and slackbuilds.

    Networking is primarily the worst part of Linux; little is benefited out of complexity in this aspect. pf is superior to iptables/iproute2 especially in the performance department and configurability. nftables might be able to bridge the gap, but it is still quite unfortunate that Linux has such a lackluster network stack in comparison. Another area where BSD is superior is the support for ZFS, which is a great filesystem with a great number of features whilst maintaining good small-file speeds and very scalable across multiple drives. BSD kernels are far lighter and actually quite well audited, but at the expense of not rolling out as fast and not having as many features. BSD users are also not locked to using the GNU userland, which is huge and cumbersome, although the GNU utils are higher performing and are bulletproof in design.

    In the end, BSD is great and has its place in scalable barebones server configurations, but Linux simply has the upper hand in modern hardware where usage latency and thoroughput is most important, and is likely not comparable with any other OS. Both Linux and BSD has a lot of catching up to do, but so as long as people have the option to free OSes it is great for everyone.

  9. Anonymous
    October 20, 2015 at 8:12 pm

    After 10 years of using FreeBSD as a desktop, I installed current Debian on my son's computer. Sometimes, I used another linux distro. Anyway, feeling little bit funny about linux...
    Now few lines about the differences:

    FreeBSD: handbook, forum.
    Linux: google for your problem.
    You don't need any step_by_step guide in BSD. You have handbook.

    F: very easy to configure, compile and install.
    L: none AFAIK. Download source, read options, set them as needed, compile, install and before and after each step, pray..

    F: 24k pre-compiled native packages + any linux binary (even n-vidia proprietary driver also availagle as binary package)
    L: twice as much as FreeBSD.

    F: take care what you're buying. Very good care.
    L: almost any piece of hw will work.

    System maintenance:
    I gave up to take care of my son's debian computer. I love the clean FBSD way. Though you may say it is quite the same.

    I don't need new games. I'm happy with 3D support of bsd ati gpu driver. Penguins are mess to me. I run some web servers for educational purposes. Make your choice by yourselves.

    • Crokopass
      December 8, 2015 at 6:38 pm

      Actually different Linux distros have different handbooks because, well, they are pretty different. E.g. good luck trying to use Gentoo with Debian instructions.
      Can't say anything about Debian per se, but Arch which I use has awesome wiki and forums.
      What is that? Automatic package construction? There are solutions to do that in Linux. Even in Debian - checkinstall, AFAIK.
      In Arch we have a thingie called PKGBUILD, which is basically instruction for package construction which someone has to write only once and then everyone can use. There's also AUR (Arch User Repository) that hosts PKGBUILDs so you can install non-packaged software the same way as packages (with AUR package manager like pacaur).

      And don't get me wrong, please, I myself would, I think, feel uncomfortable and 'funny' in BSD and wouldn't be able to grasp all of the details right away.
      I feel like a fulltime moron when I have to use someone's Windows, that's for sure...

  10. dukeofurl
    May 28, 2015 at 8:19 am

    It would be just awesome if there were graphics that were of size to be actually readable in this article.

  11. eddiejames
    April 29, 2015 at 8:33 pm

    I use Linux, FreeBSD, Windows and have fooled around with Hackintosh (on an AMD system). All are viable systems. The Primary reason for favoring FreeBSD over Linux at this time is systemd has not infiltrated "BSD" and does not seem likely to so do anytime soon.

  12. Adalbert
    March 8, 2015 at 4:49 pm

    There was/is just yet another option: OpenSolaris/OpenIndiana!

  13. Grimbrow
    March 2, 2015 at 2:30 am

    Well, for what it's worth, before I read this article I didn't know BSD was an option, so now I'm off to learn more about it. I've just stuck my toe into the Linux pool, so finding out their is/was another option is pretty cool to me, so thanks for the article.

  14. Sum Yung Gai
    January 20, 2015 at 6:39 pm

    Sigh...the Linux vs. BSD holy wars are just plain dumb. Both are Free Software systems that work well. Pick whichever one you think works the best for your situation and have at it.

    Which one do I use? I use both. My desktop workstation runs Ubuntu for multimedia presentations. My firewall strategy is OpenBSD-based. For server applications, I will use either FreeBSD or a GNU/Linux distro, depending on the job at hand and which platform my research shows would be best for that workload. To me, the Penguin and the Daemon are both welcome.


    • Gordon Dickens
      January 21, 2015 at 12:59 am

      Right on Sum Yung Gai!

    • AbbeyWord
      January 21, 2015 at 1:48 am

      The reason they (Linux vs BSD holy wars) are just plain dumb, SYG, is because they are fostered by idiots who are just plain dumb--dumber than a box of rocks. My suspicion is that these (possibly) carbon-based life-forms only know one thing about ANY operating system: how to spell "OS".
      Think there's no such thing as Artificial Intelligence? Just read these numbskulls' rants.

  15. Lionel Debroux
    January 20, 2015 at 6:41 am

    OpenBSD is known for _pretending_ to be all about security, but actually belatedly or weakly implementing security measures. PaXTeam and spender, the makers of PaX+grsecurity, regularly single out OpenBSD's false security posture, spender recently did once again on his grsecurity Twitter. OpenBSD's W^X is a weaker reinvention of a proven wheel from elsewhere, OpenBSD only got ASLR years after Linux, Windows, MacOS X and several others provided it, etc.
    Another fact is that while NetBSD is the most portable BSD, Linux runs on far more architectures (both instruction set architectures, and platforms, as in sets of hardware devices accompanying CPUs) than NetBSD does ;)

  16. abbeyword
    January 18, 2015 at 3:04 pm

    If you want to learn at the knee of THE master, you can't do any better than searching out the writings of Dru Lavigne: "...A prolific author, she has written for O'Reilly, TechRepublic, DNSStuff, and OpenLogic, contributed to Linux Hacks and Hacking Linux Exposed, and is author of BSD Hacks and The Best of FreeBSD Basics. Her third and latest book, The Definitive Guide to PC-BSD..." {straight from the pages of where we all go for The Word: Wikipedia}.

    BSD is way under-used. Perhaps that's why it's so good; maybe it's best it stay that way.

    • Sebastien
      July 18, 2016 at 8:46 pm for NSA shell called ix

  17. Jaime
    January 17, 2015 at 4:16 pm

    Very interesting article and comments. I didn't know PC-BSD had such popularity. I'll try it out.

  18. Gordon Dickens
    January 17, 2015 at 11:53 am

    I primarily run Linux both for servers and desktop applications. However, I also sometimes use FreeBSD. For me, the primary and possibly the only advantage of FreeBSD is the Ports Collection. Personally, I would never use FreeBSD as a desktop, however, it does make a great server and the Ports Collection makes compiling applications from scratch profoundly simple and easy. For example, I especially like FreeBSD as an email and/or web server. With any Linux distribution, it is not a straight forward procedure to change compile time parameters and recompile a complicated application. With Linux, I usually end up in dependency hell for a while before I can get it done... However, with FreeBSD, its incredibly simple. For example, if you want to reconfigure and compile the exim mail server, its as easy as:

    cd /usr/ports/mail/exim
    make config
    make install clean

    Also, FreeBSD comes with a very good package manager, pkg, which can be used to install 99% of your software just like you do with Linux using yum, apt-get, zypper, etc. However, when you need to customize compile time parameters, then there is nothing as easy and straight forward to use as FreeBSD.

    Nobody, has mentioned this and so I thought that I would point this out.

  19. jacek
    January 17, 2015 at 3:04 am

    I run FreeBSD with ZFS on my servers and Linux or Hackintosh on my laptops. I never was able to make sleep work using BSD on the laptop and it works out of the box on Linux and with some work using MacOSX on a non Apple laptop. I just do not want to shutdown the laptop I want to close the lid. Until BSD variants fix sleep/hibernation they are useless in modern portable

    • dragonmouth
      January 17, 2015 at 4:42 pm

      Where is it written that BSD MUST work "in modern portable world"? MVS and AIX are "useless in modern portable world" but they are viable and quite popular O/Ss.

    • Tom
      May 1, 2015 at 6:02 pm

      Too bad I can't get my laptop to sleep/hibernate even with Ubuntu, and it's a Lenovo T61P which was supposed to be perfect in the portable/Linux regard...

    • Sebastien
      July 18, 2016 at 9:09 pm

      'Till they offer a spin that isn't ripe for LEA intercept, count me out They're known fronts. Open is probably good though.

  20. Joshua
    January 16, 2015 at 3:35 pm

    I have been a huge fan and user of both PC-BSD and FreeBSD over the last 8 years. However, in the last 18 months I have begun doing everything on mostly Debian Wheezy and/or Ubuntu.

    The BSD teams haven't done enough to encourage the use of their operating systems when it comes to blog posts, support topics, and in many other faucets. If I want to know how to setup an email server, ftp servers, mail server, etc there are countless excellent step-by-step walkthroughs available online that people have written. Trying to do the same thing on a BSD operating system can be like pulling teeth at times as there aren't as many people caring to write about them anymore which is really sad as I love FreeBSD.

    I think Ubuntu was the primary reason that BSD is now fairly dead. They have a marketing team, support (both commercial and a HUGE base of people writing blogs and tutorials), drivers, and now even every type of hardware for Linux in particular (phones, tablets, servers, desktops (think Chromebooks)), and so much more.

    Even the top most reliable hosting companies as determined by NetCraft have driven out BSD and nearly every single one of them says Linux now. The old "BSD is so much more stable than Linux and easier to use" is no longer the case.

    While the BSD licensing is far better than GPL, the GPL isn't really much of a problem as people thought it would be. I wish I could go back to using BSD operating systems but I just don't see it happening for me.

    • dragonmouth
      January 17, 2015 at 4:39 pm

      "The BSD teams haven’t done enough to encourage the use of their operating systems when it comes to blog posts, support topics, and in many other faucets."
      BSD today is where Linux was 10-12 years ago.
      BTW - the word is "facets" not "faucets." Water comes out of "faucets."

      "Trying to do the same thing (set up servers) on a BSD operating system can be like pulling teeth at times "
      Maybe you should get together with Gordon Dickens. He seems to have no problems setting up servers using FreeBSD.

      "I think Ubuntu was the primary reason that BSD is now fairly dead."
      On the contrary, BSD is more alive the ever and expanding. Ubuntu, or rather Canonical, is a cancer of the Linux world.

      "The old “BSD is so much more stable than Linux and easier to use” is no longer the case."
      Only half of that statement is true. BSD is more stable than Linux. It was never easier to use. Maybe at some point in the future it will be.

      "I wish I could go back to using BSD operating systems but I just don’t see it happening for me."
      It may not be happening for you, but it is happening for many others. You can't generalize based on your experience.

    • Bruno
      January 24, 2015 at 5:10 pm

      You both are wrong.
      1- BSD today is where Linux was 5 years ago.
      2- Fedora and Red Hat are the cancer of Linux world.
      3- FreeBSD is more easy to use than Linux. You never will see dependency problem like Debian-based "Requires libc6 >= xyz" because the libc is part of the OS, not part of another OS like GNU libc is for Linux and any Linux distro distributes any version and don't think about compatibility between another distros.
      4- NetBSD + Linux is the most used operating system. Thanks to Android, the non-GNU/Linux :D. FreeBSD + Mach is more used than any GNU/Linux distro. Thanks do Mac OS X.
      Deal with it.

    • Satanicus
      April 6, 2015 at 1:34 am

      All the applications that you mention for Linux can be installed on BSD using the procedured used in Linux. So your statement is only true if you're not capable of installing them yourself and need the distro maintainers to do it for you.

      Linux for Dummies (Ubuntu) is a good choice in that case.

  21. Eli Cummings
    January 16, 2015 at 2:43 pm

    For the majority of Linux users, BSD is irrelevant.
    For the majority of computer users, Linux is irrelevant.
    From a user standpoint, the most important element of an operating system is driver availability. (Windows is nothing if not a huge repository of drivers and Linux hardware support is much better than when I started using Linux).

    Software functionality is pretty much the same across all operating systems (as long ignores all the subjective preferences).

    There is no Linux vs. BSD unless one is "fan" of one or the other. If Linux is working for you don't bother changing anything. If BSD is working for you do the same. The only reason to consider BSD is if you have some specific requirements that BSD offers. The design philosophy is irrelevant unless one is again an acolyte of a particular design philosophy.

    There are always tradeoffs but it would be a hard case to make that by using Linux one is giving up much of anything by not switching to BSD.

    Oh and one more thing. The technical definition of "operating system" is not important. Computer users respond to the interface and even on that level it's amazing how many people have an emotional attachment to their desktop of choice.

    But then one is hard pressed to think of any technology from cars to food processors to which people become attached but rarely does it have much to do with the actual function of the technology.

    Motorized leather seats and seat warmers are nicer in a car than cloth seats with manual adjustments but neither are deal breakers if one is trying to go from A to B.

    • Avery Freeman
      June 25, 2019 at 4:10 pm

      Thank you for this pragmatic comment.

      One OS I wish were covered more often is Illumos OS, based on OpenSolaris. I use OmniOS for my file server and it has stability and amazing features enabled by default that put most Linux distros and (to a lesser extent) FreeBSD to shame for this purpose.

      Most 'native' OpenZFS (including network sharing commands that actually work), boot environments, windows domain support NOT based on Samba are the big 3 reasons I switched.

  22. Miklos
    January 16, 2015 at 6:03 am

    This article is written by someone who has no knowledge in the field and/or is seriously Linux biased. There is 3D accelerated drivers for Intel, Nvidia and AMD - which is 99% of the vendor specific drivers people worry about in a desktop system.

    PC-BSD can do the same as any Linux can - saying it's limited is complete nonsense. In fact PC-BSD/FreeBSD can run 32bit Linux binaries, and often faster than Linux itself can (think gaming).

    If you are interested in any of the many BSD OS' - ignore this garbage article.

  23. Norly Butters
    January 15, 2015 at 5:53 am

    I use OpenBSD on my laptop. It's great. In general, hardware support is limited, but in the case of my laptop that's not an issue (everything works.) Proprietary software is generally not available but I do not care. Performance is slower than Linux in many areas, but this is more than offset by the quality of the code and the simplicity of administering the machine.

  24. dragonbite
    January 14, 2015 at 3:44 pm

    I still don't fully understand the difference between BSD as an "operating system" and Linux as a "kernel".

    What makes up the "operating system" that is not in the "kernel"?

    • blistovmhz
      January 14, 2015 at 9:02 pm

      The definition of "operating system" is a bit loaded. Defining the kernel first is easier. The kernel provides an abstraction layer (communication) between the hardware and the user. It does not typically provide a UI. It is the first program loaded by your computer when it boots up, and all your software relies on it to communicate with the hardware, and provide feedback from the hardware to the user-space.
      The OS can then be defined as all the software necessary to provide communication between the kernel and the user. This typically includes a UI of some sort, hardware control applications and libraries, and often a package manager.

    • devnexen
      January 14, 2015 at 11:23 pm

      To me an OS is the kernel + the userland. Win and Mac OS brought confusion that the UI is a mandatory part of the OS but it is not.

    • Satanicus
      April 6, 2015 at 1:18 am

      devnexen, you seem to be confusing UI with GUI.

      Even if it's just a remote shell, a sensor, or just a power button every OS needs a way to interact with the user.

  25. mary
    January 14, 2015 at 1:23 pm

    I have been using PC-BSD on my laptop and have not had any real issues with it at all. It's come a long way and definitely is worth considering, if you have a 64-bit desktop/laptop. They've got the AppCafe which allows you to install myriad programs/apps. Jails, an excellent backup utility, etc. make PC-BSD a very viable OS for the desktop. It now defaults to ZFS, so a 64-bit system is needed.

  26. dragonmouth
    January 13, 2015 at 8:26 pm

    "PC-BSD, .... is certainly usable ....However, once you try to do more and more, you’ll start to find its limits."
    Can you be more specific about the PC-BSD limitations?

    • Matthew Hughes
      January 14, 2015 at 12:08 am

      I used to use PC-BSD on a near-daily basis. It was my main OS for the entirety of 2008, and I did most of my sixth-form projects on it. It's certainly capable, but has some pretty major drawbacks.
      Namely (at the time, at least), driver compatibility issues, and a shortage of software. PC-BSD uses a command-line package manager, as well as a software manager vaguely reminiscent of the Apple App store. It lacked a lot of useful utilities.
      Although, I add, my knowledge of PC-BSD is about seven years out of date. It's almost certain that things have moved on a bit since then.

    • ksym
      January 15, 2015 at 1:31 pm

      I don't mean to sound demeaning, but if the "technical advantages" of BSD is just "superior network stack" or "superior security", then in general there are NO meaningful advantages in using BSD _at_ _all_

      This article just picks top ten "BSD. vs. Linux" tidbits from all over the net and lists them on after another. But this information is not useful at all.

      Why did this article not mention any of the features provided by FreeBSD? Features like ZFS, multiple routing tables, better process scheduling and resource management for interactivity (you can't livelock yourself out of the system), superior audio subsystem (in-kernel mixer etc)?

      Also, why did this article not mention the real differences, which are the design philosophy? To solve a problem *BSDs try to make a single, elegant solution with longish, highly critical peer review process, whereas Linux community produces a lot of competing crap with little peer-review and then let distro makers choose what they want (and thus sometimes things might even get peer reviewed).