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Update: Maybe Linux Has It Wrong 2023-01-27


I think I found my dealbreaker. FreeBSD has three firewalls. You do not have to learn or use them all, but you should probably choose one and figure it out. My understanding is that IPF is outdated, IPFW is current and works but has a config syntax that is less "readable" than PF. Having looked at PF for a bit, it is capable of using tables to hold multiple addresses, but those tables seem to be less effective than ipset which is what you'd find in your average Linux distro. If you want to have large sets of addresses, and if you want to update them on the fly, iptables/ipset make PF look like ls. Hard no.

Maybe Linux Has It Wrong 2023-01-26


An operating system is the software that lets your computer [or device] run applications. Back in the 80's I had run DOS as my operating system. Then in the mid-90's I got my paws on one of these CD packs and tried Linux. Around the same time, Windows 95 was released with the kind of excitement that today is reserved for only Apple devices. As it turns out, over the years I was paid to professionally support some computer stuff, and it ended up being mostly Windows environments. Over those same years I tried plenty of Linux distributions and even some BSDs. Free, Open, and Net seem to be the most well-known BSDs, but there are others... some of which I believe are derived from one of the above-mentioned three. However, it is fair to say that professionally I have dealt with some non-Windowsy stuff, but those were the exception.

At home, I am the kind of wanker who spends more time than is sensible screwing with digital crap. I do my work day, then come home and park my ass in front of some digital thingy. I have slept in the same room as a BBS, and in a cage at a datacenter. So at home, I got to play with more non-Windowsy stuff than at work. Then when virtualization started to become popular it was much easier to fiddle with lots of operating systems. These days I mostly run Devuan as both my desktop and server OS of choice. I kind of cobble together my own desktop environment rather than use a pre-configured thing like XFCE or Gnome. This web site [currently] runs on nginx on Devuan, as does my prosody XMPP service.

poopingpenguin Stolen from here.

Recently though, I started thinking about looking at BSDs again. Specifically FreeBSD. In the reading I have done over the last few days I think I have kind of deciphered what it is that actually makes BSDs different. It is "How do the applications get on the machine?". See, in the Windows world, you get Microwank making the operating system. They include a few applications with Windows, they sell a few additional applications for a whack of money, and then they generally let developers known as "anybody" make and distribute the rest. I realize The Microsoft Store is not designed that way, but TMS is really just a failed attempt to copy Apple. Anyways, development of the applications people run on Windows is generally pretty disconnected from the development of the operating system. Linux is different in that the kernel is sort of worked on by one group of people, while the basic utility applications are made by mostly different people, and the applications are made by pretty well anybody. This Linux style is different from Windows, but BSD (I am speaking specifically of FreeBSD right now) is even more different. The kernel and base utilities are made [or at least quite micromanaged] by the same people... and then the applications are made by "anyone" but are still sort of micromanaged by the same folks who made the OS itself.

Applications are [mostly] installed as either ports, or as binaries using the pkg utility. Ports are sort of like having scripts that pull the source and compile an application, while pkg installs binaries similar to the way apt does in Debian based distros. So how is that different? Well, the developers of the OS are taking an active role in checking applications to ensure they work [or at least compile] properly on their OS. Something that doesn't really happen [to the same degree] in either Linux or Windows environments. It may seem like a subtle difference, but it cascades through other parts of the OS. In other attempts to enjoy BSDs I found that a few differences really irritated my Linux-centric way of doing things. One is that bash is available but sort of discouraged on BSDs. Another is that any non-base application will have its config files under /usr/local/etc instead of /etc. Clearly not something that should be hard to get used to, but one of the small irritations that were adding up for me. This time around I find myself thinking that I don't like having my configs there, but that I should at least give it a more-fair shake this time. So... I am gonna try it. Let's see what happens.

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