BSD Unix: Power to the people, from the code

This article by Andrew Leonard talks about how the BSD operating system came about to be a dominant player in the open source world. Hear about the story of Bill Joy, Marshall Kirk McKusick, and other big influences and the origins at the University of California, Berkeley.


How Berkeley hackers built the Net’s most fabled free operating system on the ashes of the ’60s — and then lost the lead to Linux.

By the time Bill Joy arrived in Berkeley, Calif., in 1975 to attend graduate school, the fabled capital of leftist radicalism was a bit ragged around the edges. If the 21-year-old programming wunderkind had glanced at the headlines blasting out of the local alternative weeklies, he might have wondered just what kind of insane mess he had gotten himself into. In San Francisco, Patty Hearst was on trial for a bank robbery committed while the newspaper heiress was toting machine guns for the Symbionese Liberation Army. In Oakland, the Weather Underground botched a bombing of a Defense Department building. Even the reliable bugaboo of CIA recruitment on the University of California’s Berkeley campus failed to generate more than a token protest.

Berkeley was burned out, its radical energy wasting away in infantile terrorism, conspiracy theorizing and drug overdoses. The Free Speech Movement that had galvanized the university in the ’60s belonged to another geological age. Ken Thompson, co-creator of the Unix operating system, graduated from Berkeley in 1966 with a degree in electrical engineering. He returned to the university from Bell Labs for a sabbatical in 1975. But the campus on which he had once walked to class through clouds of tear gas had changed. That year, says Thompson, Berkeley “had turned into the most politically apathetic place I’d seen.”

But it was the right place for Joy. “He never looked at those [alternative] papers,” says John Gage, a close friend of Joy’s during the Berkeley years and later at Sun Microsystems, a company co-founded by Joy. Today, Joy calls himself a “staunch Democrat” and has recently carved out a new niche as a techno-skeptical doomsayer, but in the ’70s he was, by his own description, “not an activist.” Joy chose to attend UC-Berkeley instead of Stanford or MIT not because he was attracted by its politics or countercultural reputation but because the computer science department’s hardware was so obsolete that he figured he’d have no choice but to confine his research efforts to studying computing theory — which was exactly what he wanted to do.

[Read more…]

The difference between /sbin, /bin, /usr/sbin, and /user/bin

/u/evidentlycat gives a great explanation of the difference between /sbin, /bin, /usr/sbin, and /usr/bin on /r/BSD.

I use the terms “dynamically linked” and “statically linked”. A statically linked executable is independent: it does not load a separate C library, instead, the executable itself contains copies of code it uses from the C library, and interfaces with the kernel entirely by itself through syscalls. A dynamically linked executable loads an external library from a file and calls functions in it.

bin is for binaries which are useful for users without elevated privileges. /bin contains statically-linked binaries which are “fundamental to both single and multi-user environments” according to hier(7). They may be used in the tiny installer ramdisk. Most things in /usr/bin are dynamically linked and all of them are inaccessible in the installer.

sbin is for superuser binaries and daemons, i.e. things not useful to users without elevated privileges. Everything in /sbin is statically linked and accessible in the installer. Most things in /usr/sbin are dynamically linked and all of them are inaccessible in the installer….

Original post from /u/evidentlycat:

Official documentation on filesystem layout:

The Most Popular BSD Stories Of 2014

Michael Larabel of has published an article rounding up the most popular BSD stories in 2014. Grab a cup of coffee and reflect on one of BSD’s biggest years:

Over the past week or so I’ve shared many top ten / year-end lists of our most popular open-source content on Phoronix. Most of the focus has been on our majority Linux focus while in this article is a look at the top ten BSD articles on Phoronix from 2014.

In 2014 saw the forking of OpenSSL to LibreSSL, the release of FreeBSD 10.0 and 10.1, KMS/DRM graphics driver improvements for BSD, the continued progress of PC-BSD in being an easy FreeBSD desktop platform, and many other advancements. Here’s the ten most viewed BSD articles on Phoronix for 2014:

The 10 Best Features Of FreeBSD 10.0
With a bit of luck FreeBSD 10.0 will be released in the next few days so here’s a look at the arguably ten best features of this next major BSD operating system release.

My 10 Minute Experience With PC-BSD 10.0
With FreeBSD 10.0 having been released and the final release of the PC-BSD 10.0 coming this week, I decided to try out the PC-BSD 10.0-RC5 ahead of the final release. While I intended to run some benchmarks of FreeBSD/PC-BSD 10.0 against its predecessor and compared to Linux distributions, this initial PC-BSD 10.0 encounter was cut short after about ten minutes.

PC-BSD Is Developing Its Own Desktop Environment
The PC-BSD project is developing its own desktop environment from scratch! The ultimate plan is for Lumina to become a full-featured, open-source desktop environment that may ultimately replace KDE as its default desktop environment.

OpenBSD Foundation At Risk Of Shutting Down
The OpenBSD Foundation is running into a situation of lack of funding to the point that they can’t even cover their electricity costs and may be forced to suspend or reduce their operations without additional help.

FreeBSD 10.0 Has Finally Been Released
It’s been delayed by many months but the official release of FreeBSD 10.0 has shipped today!

FreeBSD Receives A Million Dollar Donation
The FreeBSD has received their largest ever single donation: $1,000,000 USD.

KMS Drivers Break The Console In FreeBSD 10
While FreeBSD 10.0 is exciting for finally having an AMD Radeon DRM/KMS driver as one of the major features of the new OS, the quality isn’t yet on par with the open-source graphics support found on Linux from where the code was originally ported.

OpenBSD Drops Support For Loadable Kernel Modules
Interestingly the OpenBSD developers have decided to remove support for loadable kernel modules from the BSD distribution’s next release.

Radeon Now Work Well On PC-BSD, But USB Mouse Support Is Iffy
Since last month’s release of FreeBSD 10.0 and PC-BSD 10.0 that followed, many Phoronix readers have been asking about benchmarks of this major BSD operating system update that’s home to many new features. Here’s an update on my FreeBSD/PC-BSD 10.0 testing thus far.

OpenSSL Forked By OpenBSD Into LibreSSL
Following the fallout from the OpenSSL Heartbleed bug, OpenBSD developers have decided to fork the OpenSSL code-base to create LibreSSL.

Original post:



This blog post by

openBSDOpenBSD and FreeBSD are both great OS that I admire and use. OpenBSD is considered more secure since it is its main goal, but FreeBSD can be tweaked to be pretty well hardened as well. Depending on the forums or to who we ask, we will have different opinions. But what are the facts? Which OS is more secure and why?

I am not asking the question about which one is globally better, as “better” has a different meaning depending on the context and the needs (ISP routers, datafreebsd-logo-largebase servers, home gateway, desktop system, storage server or appliance, etc…). On some enterprises doing a major OS upgrade every 6 months or every year is doable, on others, it’s not possible at all. Also, it depends if one needs performance for streaming (Netflix), or if security is a top priority for a redondant firewall. Everyone needs is different, and both OS are highly useful.

If we strictly focus on security, how FreeBSD compares to OpenBSD security wise? In what follows, we will dig into memory protection, system and network security features, and default “out of the box” security. The purpose is to give unbiased facts, to compare point by point both OS. I am not trying to find the “best” OS and discredit the other, I love and use both :-) Let us try to find out the integrated security features of both OS, the visit continues below!

Check out the full comparison here –

BSD Magazine November 2014


In this November issue of BSD Magazine, Tiago presents an article on how to use PPoE Concentrator Dual-Stack. Rob Somerville has articles on how to use GIMP, and the difference between geeks and nerds. In addition, Craig S. Wright shows us how to use 100+ UNIX commands, and Michael Ortega introduces Acunetix Web Vulnerability Scanner.

Download it from this link: