FreeBSD based systems – what would you call them?

The number of FreeBSD related operating systems is fortunately not as as high as the number of Linux distributions.

Most of you, if not all, will agree there are no FreeBSD distributions/distro’s due to the fact that FreeBSD is developed as a coherent operating system with a kernel and userland applications.

Existing FreeBSD based operating systems use the FreeBSD base and specialise in a certain field, e.g. DesktopBSD & PC-BSD concentrate on desktop use, pfSense and m0n0wall on routing/firewalling, AskoziaPBX on PBX systems etc etc. For more examples, check out this page.

Since these systems aren’t distro’s what would you call them? Please let me know on the poll below.

What would you call FreeBSD based operating systems?

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  1. Eric(heavensrevenge) says

    Well man, I don’t even know WHY your having this poll. It’s not like they aren’t already named…. the different BSD based systems are called “Flavours” FLAVOURS!! You’re right in not referring to them as a distro, as they are not. But they have already been decided, and I’ve read this somewhere in the handbook, that BSD systems, refer to other BSD systems as another flavour. Have you not seen this before or are you just going to sully a proper term to what your reader base wants to hear? I’d say, call them by their name, don’t let us decide, they are flavours and it has been that way for even before I got into the BSD’s 5 years ago. Yes this is a big chunk of feedback but I feel you apparently needed a good explanation from a very avid reader/RSS subscriber.

  2. says

    While they aren’t distributions in the sense that Linux has distributions, I think it’s still appropriate to call them distributions. We’ve taken to calling pfSense a customized distribution of FreeBSD, for lack of better terminology. We modify parts of almost the entire system, from removing items from world, custom kernel including several kernel patches with fixes specific to what we do that FreeBSD has not yet integrated, and adding numerous ports. Ditto for m0n0wall. I’m not as familiar with the details of PC-BSD, DesktopBSD, Askozia, and FreeNAS.

    Looking at the Wikipedia definition of “software distribution”, it fits all the projects listed in this post.
    “A software distribution is a bundle of a specific software (or a collection of multiple, even an entire operating system), already compiled and configured.”

  3. Gerard says

    @ Eric, yes I remember our email discussion about “flavours”. I tend to use “FreeBSD based (operating) systems” in my posts.
    I just wanted to find out what everybody else thinks, hence the poll

  4. says

    I think the term flavour is too akin to distribution, implying that the FreeBSD based system is sticking to FreeBSD when it could be a fork and they don’t incorporate new FreeBSD code. I voted derivative thinking that the project starts from FreeBSD but who knows where it will go. But there isn’t a perfect answer here.

  5. says

    I don’t like “flavors” because I think it’s usually used to refer to the “other” BSD’s (OpenBSD, etc.), which clearly are not FreeBSD based. I think that “variant” suggests a fork, so I don’t prefer it. “FreeBSD based operating systems” is the most correct, I guess, but long and awkward.

    “derivative” is the best by far and away.

  6. Felix Bianchi says

    I`m a veteran user of Linux DISTRIBUTIONS now starting to use the FreeBSD DERIVATIVE called DesktopBSD, and I really don`t care about the name DISTRIBUTION or DERIVATIVE because it`s irrelevant.

    My only goal is to migrate from Vector Linux to `Anything` BSD with the same wonderful XFCE window manager that I simply love. Yes, I want a FreeBSD derivative (or flavor, if you prefer) implemented as a complete desktop system, including the fast and stable XFCE graphical environment.

    Somebody knows a good FreeBSD-based system just like Vector Linux? (NOTE: FreeSBIE is not an option because it takes forever to boot. I hate that stupid live-CD!)

    Please no flames. It`s not a Linux forum… :))

    P.S. __ I don`t want to install XFCE by myself. I wanna be able to use it `right out of the box`, as in the splendid and very userfriendly Vector Linux.

  7. says

    I wouldn’t call it distribution because BSD already means Berkeley Software Distribution. And it’s rather easy to call those flavours because the other BSDs are in fact forks of BSD. So maybe it will not change the operating system itself, but then you wouldn’t say kilothings to kilobytes ;-)

    And if you want some more adequate definition of derivative,

    >The BSD operating systems are not clones, but open source derivatives of AT&T’s Research UNIX® operating system, which is also the ancestor of the modern UNIX System V. This may surprise you. How could that happen when AT&T has never released its code as open source?

    BSD is a free derivative of UNIX, todays BSDs are forks of this BSD, PCBSD is a flavour. I don’t think it’s a fork or derivative and distribution would be just redundant information.

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