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Debian, Gentoo, FreeBSD, GNU/kFreeBSD

Gentoo/FreeBSD logo by Marius Morawski

To shed some light and get around the confusion that seems to have taken quite a bit of people who came to ask me what I think about Debian adding GNU/kFreeBSD to the main archive, I’d like to point out, once again, that Gentoo/FreeBSD has never been the same class of project as Debian’s GNU/kFreeBSD port. Interestingly enough, I already said this before more than three years ago.

Debian’s GNU/kFreeBSD uses the FreeBSD kernel but keeps the GNU userland, which means the GNU C Library (glibc), the GNU utilities (coreutils) and so on so forth; on the other hand, Gentoo/FreeBSD uses both the vanilla FreeBSD kernel, and mostly vanilla userland. With mostly I mean that some parts of the standard FreeBSD userland are replaced, with either compatible, selectable or updated packages. For instance instead of shipping sendmail or the ISC dhcp packages as part of the base system, Gentoo/FreeBSD leaves them to be installed as extra packages, just like you’d do with Gentoo. And you can choose whichever cron software you’d like instead of using the single default provided by the system.

But, if a software is designed to build on FreeBSD, it usually builds just as fine on Gentoo/FreeBSD; rarely there are troubles, and most of the time the trouble are with different GCC versions. On the other hand, GNU/kFreeBSD require most of the system-dependant code to be ported, xine already has undergone this at least a couple of time for instance.

I sincerely am glad to see that Debian finally came to the point of accepting GNU/kFreeBSD into main; on the other hand, I have no big interest on it beside as a proof of concept; there are things that are not currently supported by glibc even on Linux, like SCTP, which on FreeBSD are provided by the standard C library; I’m not sure if they are going to port the Linux SCTP library to kFreeBSD or if they decided to implement the interface inside glibc. If that last one is the case, though, I’d be glad because it would finally mean that the code wouldn’t be left as stale.

So please, don’t mix in Gentoo/FreeBSD with Debian’s GNU/kFreeBSD. And don’t even try to call it Gentoo GNU/FreeBSD like the Wikipedia people tried to do.

Comments 6
  1. Thanks for the clarification, as I didn’t know myself. I prefer the Gentoo approach. Replacing a quality BSD userland with GNU seems like the wrong way to go. Now if Debian started stripping out GNU userland in favor of BSD, I’d be interested.

  2. As much as I too enjoy a good BSD userland, we’re not really talking about just replacing the BSD userland with GNU, as much as replacing the kernel of a typical Debian system with that of FreeBSD.All the advantages of a Debian system, with FreeBSD’s kernel in place of Linux, with, in time, support for some of FreeBSD’s most popular (kernel-specific) features.

  3. I’ve seen you write stuff like “if a software is” on several blog entries.If a software what?”A piece of software” or maybe “Software”But not “a software”That ain’t good English, it’s right up there with “source codes.” The plural of “source code” *is* “source code.”Learn it, love it, do it.

  4. As much as I would like to point out the “Don’t feed the trolls” sign, I’d also like to make it known that _this is a blog_. It’s not a repository of well-written absolute articles. I don’t proofread, re-read or correct posts.Why? Because I’m not getting even a dime out of what I write here and the time I invest in this is just for the glory. Thus, why I don’t care whether it’s always properly spelled English.I still think I end up in the upper half of the blogs, when it comes to grammar, anyway, given I’m not a native English speaker myself.

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