How unclean is Linux, really?

Agi93

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Around the BSD community I see a lot of bashing on Linux for being such an unclean kernel with a chaotic system, and that FreeBSD has a much more organized process for software creation, distribution, and documentation. This is not to say I'm disagreeing with this and I want to start a flame war (that's the last thing I want). What I want to know is how relevant this bashing is right now, especially towards DIY BSD-like distros like Slackware or Arch Linux. A lot of the "Linux is so messy" stuff I've seen is from years ago or the 2.4 or previous kernels. Is all of this still relevant today? Has Linux cleaned up its act (by BSD standards) to be at least good enough to make a hardcore BSD person happy to rely on it?
 

gilinko

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I think the major part of the latest "flame wars" is the fact that Linus said in a interview that the kernel at the moment is growing to fast in size and it's new features are added using specific hardware without there beeing a generic driver first to fall back on.

I saw some figures that between the release of 2.6.28 and 2.6.32 the kernel grew in size with 7000 lines each day for a whole year! I do think that this is temporary as the addition of KMS(Kernel Mode Setting) and webcamera support is a huge job. And that it often need a special driver for a specific hardware version, which can change between versions of the same hardware(for instance for webcameras). This growth is probably why some BSD fans are thrashing the Linux kernel as the BSD kernel (I think) isn't allowed to grow past a fixed size(?), and that gives more generic drivers and more code review then what is done on Linux (relatively speaking).

Linus is trying to "clean it up" so to speak, but the balance has shifted in the core developers from a majority in code reviewers and architects to a lot more of feature and driver developers. So it's not the easiest of tasks.

In terms of stability. Sure it's not as stable as the BSD kernel, but that's not to say that it's unstable. The majority of the "unsableness" is probably located on the desktop when using early and new features of the kernel(like KMS). Slackware has always stayed on the stable side and not run the "bleeding edge" for stability reasons, and as such it's one of the most stable Linux distributions.

Depending on how you want to rely on it, I would suggest that if you want the BSD "layout" then slackware is a good choice. However updating the system is done close to manual. For simplicity(and lazines which I'm a huge fan of) I would go with RedHat as their updating service and support is excellent. When choosing to work with Linux or not, I would say that the Linux distribution(and the support behind it) matters more than the kernel in terms of stability.
 

aragon

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gilinko said:
the BSD kernel (I think) isn't allowed to grow past a fixed size(?)
Curious to see this elaborated. Never heard of it...

To the OP, you really need to try both. I dip my finger into the latest Linuxes now and then, and even after all these years no distribution matches the clean design of FreeBSD's file system layout, rc configuration, package management, and many kernel facilities like geom, ipfw, pf, md, and others. Of course this is a personal opinion shared by many, which is you need to try for yourself.

I don't think anyone can rightly say either is more stable. Both can be rock solid if setup well, and both have instability issues in some cases.

I choose FreeBSD on the merit of how pleasurable it is to setup, maintain, and get involved in contributing to it.
 

anomie

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Agi93 said:
Around the BSD community I see a lot of bashing on Linux for being such an unclean kernel with a chaotic system, and that FreeBSD has a much more organized process for software creation, distribution, and documentation.

One might argue that this is more or less by design. See The Cathedral and the Bazaar for an imperfect (for this comparison) but fairly useful analogy.


Agi93 said:
Has Linux cleaned up its act (by BSD standards) to be at least good enough to make a hardcore BSD person happy to rely on it?

I dunno. Linux kernel development continues at a dizzying pace, but that's a positive point in their eyes. IMO, some Linux distros absolutely suck; my livelihood depends on certain others. As always, YMMV.

(Hey, I think there's a Linux distro thread here somewhere if you look around. ;))
 

mk

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this is offtopic but i will go even further - anomie@ i hate you and myself every time i look at your signature!
 
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Agi93

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The Cathedral and the Bazaar makes the Bazaar setup (Linux) look really good compared to the Cathedral (BSD/UNIX) because of how fast the development can move. Then again, it does bring up how controlled the quality of Cathedral-style developed software is. This is why I love Slackware. It's in the bazaar, but it seems to be picking and choosing the gems out of the chaos and carefully making its way across the open source software world. It seems like a balance to me, but then again it is Linux, and therefore it is all the good and bad that comes with that. I really like FreeBSD, but there are a couple things it doesn't like about my hardware that make it a bit annoying, and I really like Slackware, but if Linux is so "unclean", I don't really know if I should trust it (even though all I do is some homework on my laptop---nothing like a critical server). What to do!?


And gilinko, is that rapid development a cause for alarm? I'm not really sure how to gauge the amount of stability, reliability, or speed that is compromised by this. By the way, what was wrong with Slackware in your opinion besides the fact that updating is more manual?
 
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Agi93

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gilinko

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Agi93 said:
And gilinko, is that rapid development a cause for alarm? I'm not really sure how to gauge the amount of stability, reliability, or speed that is compromised by this. By the way, what was wrong with Slackware in your opinion besides the fact that updating is more manual?

The quickly increasing amount of open bug reports regarding kernel core dumps since the introduction of KMS is staggering, but this is for the Ubuntu and Fedora distros which are bleeding edge distros. Plus that Linus himself has said in an interview(trying to locate the source now) that additions to the kernel is faster than he would like and that the review process isn't as fast as the new additions. So it's a temporary shift that will return to a more balanced level soon. It's just a side effect of development, but I would not say that it's a cause for concern.

But now we are talking bleeding edge development of the kernel. I would compare it to 9-Stable/-Current of FreeBSD. Slackware isn't bleeding edge, as it's goal is stability not a feature testing distro(like ubuntu and fedora) so compare it to the 8.0-RELEASE of FreeBSD.

My primary reason for choosing redhat(and to some extent fedora) is that I use high end simulation software that only supports RHEL but the up2date/yum repositories are quite well endowed with updated software, and the ability to purchase support which just isn't available for Slackware. And the RHEL releases are geared towards long term stability (7-8 years for each release)
 
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Agi93

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Beastie said:
Try it/them and choose based on what you need and want. You use an OS for what it can do for you.

I've used Linux for a couple of years (if you count the time with ubuntu when I just thought compiz was cool and didn't really learn that much) and I'm using FreeBSD right now. I guess I'll just have to think about this for a while. Maybe I should make a list of my needs/wants and write down how well each OS accomplishes them...

You know what, I'll do just that.
 

anomie

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mk said:
this is offtopic but i will go even further - anomie@ i hate you and myself every time i look at your signature!

Try to relax. It's just a movie.
 

Purple_Q

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I throw my two cents in the same lot; as long as I was a linux man, there are two simple quotes used in peoples signatures here (from links stated by the killasmurf above) that say much:

"If 386BSD had been available when I started on Linux, Linux would probably never had happened." Linus Torvalds (a statement from the very creator of linux!)

How about this one:
"You know what I found? Right in the kernel, in the heart of the operating system, I found a developer's comment that said, `Does this belong here?`" -- Simon Lok about linux kernel in 2005
Right from Simon Lok, of Lok Technologies.

I've shown these amongst many other things to a couple friends I know who use linux (Ubuntu unfortunately) quite religiously and don't really care to much about core system stuff ("just so long as it works" is the usual response). If that is your perspective, I suppose a linux distro isn't so "dirty". Otherwise, there ya have it :)

Note, *BSD is always *BSD. The Fedora way isn't the gentoo way, isn't the *buntu way, isn't the SuSe way, etc etc. :stud
--Q
 
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Agi93

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Purple_Q said:
I throw my two cents in the same lot; as long as I was a linux man, there are two simple quotes used in peoples signatures here (from links stated by the killasmurf above) that say much:

"If 386BSD had been available when I started on Linux, Linux would probably never had happened." Linus Torvalds (a statement from the very creator of linux!)

How about this one:
"You know what I found? Right in the kernel, in the heart of the operating system, I found a developer's comment that said, `Does this belong here?`" -- Simon Lok about linux kernel in 2005
Right from Simon Lok, of Lok Technologies.

I've shown these amongst many other things to a couple friends I know who use linux (Ubuntu unfortunately) quite religiously and don't really care to much about core system stuff ("just so long as it works" is the usual response). If that is your perspective, I suppose a linux distro isn't so "dirty". Otherwise, there ya have it :)

Note, *BSD is always *BSD. The Fedora way isn't the gentoo way, isn't the *buntu way, isn't the SuSe way, etc etc. :stud
--Q
It's quotes like those that scare me from going back to Linux, even if some things just don't really work with FreeBSD. I have noticed that Linux is trusted by many. Google uses it almost exclusively I think and even recently switched to ext4 (which I've heard some bad things about), the Brazilian and Spanish governments support it a lot, China's government computers depend on Linux, etc. But then again, FreeBSD is the base of Darwin, and Yahoo (and for a time Microsoft) use it on their servers.

Linux (at least Slackware) was working alright for me before, even though the poor documentation was annoying, but seeing quotes like the ones you posted scared me away from it and to freebsd. Hopefully I can just get things working on FreeBSD; that would simplify so much.
 

gilinko

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Agi93 said:
It's quotes like those that scare me from going back to Linux

That quote is only a small part of the section of text Linus said in a interview back in 1993 in Meta Magazine. The full text available here. But it boils down to when the first release of Linux, there was no 386BSD. He was unaware of it and it had not yet even been released as a unstable version when he released the first working example of the kernel.

They both are fun quotes for the *BSD world, but it has the impact of a cartoon in a newspaper on the core philosophy and development. If we would dig in the history of the *BSD's there would surely be some equal quotes there that might be as "disturbing" as those.
 

Alt

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When i starting, i tried to learn a *nix system, i started from Redhat 5.x, tried to install it, experimented with some stuff. Got some experience with very basic commands. Then i got promoted to a support job(in small ISP), which position gived me non-root login to working FreeBSD server. And i loved it, gaining more and more experience, growed to ISP sysadmin. Thats point where i loved FreeBSD.. I was supporting Slackware in other company and this was hell to me ;P These distros (redhat and slackware) are changed many from these years but i never return them, cus order and grace of FreeBSD is absolutely charming
 

inurneck

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This ended up to be hands down one of the best threads I have read on these forums, keep the information and links coming, good stuff thanks.
 
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