OPEN SOURCE OPERATING SYSTEM FreeBSD has hit its 20th birthday.
FreeBSD has over the years seen its mainstream popularity dwindle as the Linux kernel and the many distributions that use it have seen rapid development. However FreeBSD turned 20 on 19 June and it continues to run vital network infrastructure services.
FreeBSD introduced a number of innovations that have been adopted by some Linux distributions. In particular FreeBSD's Ports collection, which builds software from source code rather than pre-packaged binaries, was copied by Gentoo Linux with its portage system.
FreeBSD is also known for having one of the most robust internet networking stacks and is frequently used by researchers and industry as the basis for simulation and production systems. Monowall and Pfsense are popular FreeBSD based distributions intended for use in network appliances that feature everything from firewalls to virtual private networks and even ADSL bonding in an easy to use system.
While FreeBSD isn't the only free, widely distributed variant of BSD Unix, it is unlike OpenBSD, which tries to be the most secure operating system, and NetBSD, which tries to run on anything with a micro-processor, and has become the standard for general purpose BSD.
However FreeBSD isn't just about networking and daemons, as in recent years desktop BSD Unix distributions based on FreeBSD have popped up, with PC-BSD being perhaps the most well known.
FreeBSD, due to its performance and licensing, is used by commercial companies such as Citrix, Netapp and Juniper.
In recent years even the Linux community has started to warm to parts of FreeBSD, with Debian offering a version of its distribution that uses the FreeBSD kernel. Despite the running gag of whether BSD is dead or not, given its industry support, it is likely to rumble on for decades to come. µ
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