FreeBSD user David Delony speaks about the history of the operating system, its uses, as well as what’s in store for the future.
Takeaway: FreeBSD is widely used in numerous everyday application.
Despite its age, it still pops up in places you wouldn’t expect. If you use an Apple device, chat on WhatsApp or watch a movie on Netflix, you’re interacting with FreeBSD. Here we take a look at this Unix-like operating system.
FreeBSD has its roots in the original BSD version of Unix that was first created in 1977 by Bill Joy, who would later co-found Sun Microsystems. We’ve covered the history of BSD in general in detail in another article.
FreeBSD, as well as all the other major BSD variants, including NetBSD, are descended from 386BSD, the first BSD version to run on PC hardware. For various reasons William Jolitz, the creator of 386BSD, stalled on the project. Other groups stepped in with their own modifications, known as “patchkits.” The group that would become FreeBSD was one of them.
A lawsuit by AT&T asserting copyright over the BSD code distracted the community, but the terms were worked out and FreeBSD moved to the BSD 4.4 “Lite” codebase that had no AT&T code in version 2.0.
FreeBSD got a lot of attention in the ’90s, being used to run a number of ISPs and websites. Yahoo was a notable user. The current version of FreeBSD is 10, and it’s still going strong, even as the computer world has changed.