Linux vs FreeBSD vs OpenSolaris

I found this excerpt from this blog I was going through "One of the more interesting aspects of the three OSes is the amount of similarities between them. Once you get past the different naming conventions, each OS takes fairly similar paths toward implementing the different concepts."
I decided to try all these UNIX variants too. I have already been using Kubuntu, Linux Distribution. It was time to try Solaris and freeBSD. I got freeBSD7 DVD with an IT Magazine. I ordered for OpenSolaris DVD via their home site. I also download Mandriva 2008 Spring Linux Distribution.

With all these 3 DVD's in hand I felt like a real tester who going to test the distributions in and out. ;) I first tried installing freeBSD7 from the DVD. Being familiar with Linux installation, I assumed freeBSD installation will be similar to it. But to my dismay, I was struggling in the installation process. Keyboard, mouse, and other hardware detection was quite ok. When it came to Hard Disk partition, freeBSD did not present me with any Graphical partitioner. I did not want to risk destroying my data, so I withdrew the installation process itself. Now I felt freeBSD is not that easy to play with or I am not upto the level to try this distribution.
Next comes OpenSolaris. After failing freeBSD test, I took out the OpenSolaris DVD. The DVD consisted of Belenix live CD, Nexenta Install, Schillix Live CD. Inserting the DVD during boot presented me with lotssss of options like, Nexenta Install (32 bit), Nexenta Install (No milestone), Belenix 32 -bit, Belenix Live CD, Schillix 32-bit, etc. There were around 12-15 options to choose from. I chose Nexenta Install 32-bit and loading began. Like freeBSD, same kind of install menu came up. Keyboard, mouse, and other hardware detection was quite ok here also. I faced the same problem of Hard-disk partitioning here also. OpenSolaris does have GUI partitioner but that some how failed to load saying "you do not have any 'solaris2' partition." Here too I did not want to risk my data so I withdrew the installation.

Next comes Mandriva Linux Distribution. 2008 Spring had lot to offer and I have DVD which has both Gnome & KDE. I inserted the DVD. The grub loader took control and showed a neat graphical menu with just few required options. I chose 'Install ... ' and same procedure like other two previous installations followed, but it was much better. I had no problem in partitioning my hard-disk and creating swap partition too. Jus few clicks and options Mandriva took control and started its job. The installation was done in 30mins. Everything was smooth and cool.
But here also the biggest problem I faced was that Mandriva by default enables IPv6 and this makes your broadband much slower than dial-up. This took me time to sort out.

I as an END-USER concluded,
  • freeBSD, OpenSolaris are little difficult to install
  • I need less option to choose from, as am not a 'real-geek' to know how many cylinders, tracks are present on my hard-disk.
  • Linux can be rightly given status of 'Desktop-OS'
I am bit biased and prefer Linux to other two OS. Many might feel OpenSolaris is better because it has some cool things like DTrace, ZFS and many might like freeBSD too.
But one thing is common to all. They have given M$ run for money. :)


Anonymous said...

I had a different problem with OpenSolaris and it's partitioner. It was hellbent on trashing my Ubuntu partition... I ended up deleting my Linux swap and partitioning manually to get it to work, but as you said, you aren't a hardcore geek, and as you probably aren't a developer it wouldn't matter what OS you used

Amit M Surana said...

I agree for a normal user any OS is good enough.

OpenSolaris is not as easy to Install like Linux. I ended up forfeiting the installation and using Mandriva instead. :)

Anonymous said...

Jajaja , remember linux in 1998. fdisk , partition types , 82 swap , 83 ext2.

Josh M said...

your main problem is that your one of the new breed created by ubuntu - not that its a bad thing...

ubuntu is made to be easier than any other linux distro around, but its also stripped of a lot, and doesnt run like a normal linux or unix variant.

its a great desktop OS for ppl who dont understand linux, but for a true *nix user, its not always very satisfying...

if you had installed, say, slackware, gentoo, debian, or another more traditional form of linux, you might even find FreeBSD's installer as simple...

personally I thought opensolaris was neat and solaris 10 too...

Amit M Surana said...

@josh m
I partly agree to your points.
I am an Ubuntu User. I really like the Desktop OS. But again I am one who enjoys trying new stuffs too.

Right now, If you see that all Linux Distros are trying to make everything easy for users irrespective of a Dev or Novice. Hence I felt Solaris n freeBSD installations were quite diffi.

Ashok `ScriptDevil` Gautham said...

The fact that you couldnt install freeBSD and Solaris and saying gnu/linux was better off is not acceptable.. Well, I use archlinux and OpenSolaris. I have used freeBSD in the past. Fear of not having a graphical partitioner is lame. What would you have done if you were to install something like Arch or for that matter the non live cd install of gentoo. I suggest you learn to use CFDisk or FDisk. This would do you some good. Anyway.. All the best for your F/OSS adventures :D

Amit M Surana said...

This is where Linux distro's have upper hand over freeBSD or OpenSolaris or etc.
To attract not only devs but also end-users (novice), the distro needs all GUI and easy to install interface.
I agree that asking for GUI is lame but in the long run an easy-to-use distro wins over others.

Anonymous said...

This blog was trully a wast of my time.

Next please show some guts and perseverance and actually look further than:

Aah a scary bunce of letters.

Amit S said...

The blog might not provide you with what you wanted. But I have just mentioned my experience.
And FYI, what will you tell a Windows guy who wanna try FreeBSD. Want him to look beyond GUI and 'next-next-next-click-Installation' of programs.
Its all about one's experience and need to use any OS.

Anonymous said...

hi, I tried a long time ago... to install freebsd (5) and the installer send to hell my windows particion... netc, pcbsd (1.3)... but the installer hangs and no continued installing...
It is so dificultal to make a better partitioning tool? not as beuty as mandriva has... but some that not let you make a mistake erasing your data...
I instaled and used, ubuntu, puppy, mandriva one, mandriva free, rad hat, opensuse pclinux and no one was so difficult to partition the hard drive... you can use "partition logic" to do the work, in graphical environment and is free too...
Enrique from México

Marcelo said...

FreeBSD and OpenSolaris can install one End-User!
Only read the text on the screen, and select "automatic" and the work is done.

Marcelo unixmarcelo(at)

Amit S said...

@marcelo. I did finally install OpenSolaris in my Computer. But I was not too fond of it, as it was not of any special purpose to me.
As an average user that time, I was satisfied with Linux :)

But thanks for this point. I will add it in the article, might be useful to many users !

Anonymous said...

software - binary compatibilty +++
driver - no binary compatibility ---
but don't matter much because of many choices of drivers, manufacturers and prices.
sadly m$oft decides to implement DRM like activation. which pretty much killed videocard upgrades, etc. hence killing the pc gaming industry.

software - no binary compatibility ---
driver - no binary compatibility---
however has open source ideals (freedom)+++
but any loud-mouthed freedom idealist who pushes the viral freedom license (or lobbies petitions) a bit too much might risk of pissing device manufacturers from releasing specs and binary drivers. then your super lean desktop machine can only run on older hardwares or on slow emulated virtual machines. you think it is easy for another hardware manufacturer to dethrone ati/nvidia. look at how crappy GPUs are,from intel (despite making fabulous CPUs).

software - no binary compatibilty ---
driver - no binary compatibility---
however has coolness factor+++
apple machines on windows requires drivers from apple although manufacturers are nvidia, etc. therefore, always at the mercy of apple's good intentions for supporting a competitor's os. which obstructs one's freedom of upgrading, say to a newer windows os.

software - binary compatibility+++
driver - binary compatibility+++
device manufacturers should flock to this os
as it allows device writers to make one build and concentrate on newer product lines. look at how fast ati abandonned their older products like r200 once r300 support appears on linux. things are little better
for nvidia, pushing older cards to legacy driver support which rebuilds yearly for newer kernel upgrades. but all these hinges on sun's free compiler. god only knows what happens if opensolaris were to be build with gcc with its changing ABI.

windows have/had it all and blew it with its activation. opensolaris almost have it all except fan base.

Amit S said...

Hey @above that was a neat analysis. :)

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