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Old 6th September 2013
scraft scraft is offline
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Default Is NetBSD dead?

Hi all!

Just recently decided to give a try to something new after continuous failures to rebuild FreeBSD using gcc4.9 (and with gcc4.9+gcc4.9libs in base system), since i don't like clang that much for its WebKit-ish ambiguity (the bigger code is - the more bugs it contain and the more possibilities to hide something[1] it has.)
Even with my custom, very hacked makefiles (and even some sources), it failed. There also were many mistakes (regressions?) in makefiles, which made my src.conf wrong (such as WITHOUT_OPENSSL; libarchive uses algorihms from OpenSSL lib, and if src.conf says not to build it, makefile is supposed to use libmd to build libarchive, but it uses libc instead, and libarchive fails to build, since libc in FreeBSD has no hash algo support. Some stuff connected with rpc, rpcgen and .x files also failed to build, perhaps because of WITHOUT_NIS. (so i removed rpc and got another portion of dependance errors, then returned it back...))

Anyways, i decided to look at the other BSD's, and very much liked the goals[2], priorities of NetBSD; their handbook^W manual is somewhat more friendly, explanatory and straightforward (it may have a soul, i think); their website... is quite well designed comparing to other BSDs. (not a criteria for choosing BSD indeed, but a criteria of how-fresh-the-project-is)
With portability goes not only code clarity, but also lack of code bloat, since VAX and some embedded hardware can't run Crysis better than IBM supercomputers can emulate neural networks.
With code clarity and lack of bloat goes safety and lack of dumb mistakes.
But there are problems.

NetBSD however seem old. They still use only mailing lists, which aren't very immune to spam[3][4][5][...] contrary to e.g. FreeBSD mailing lists. Development collaboration is a nice use case for mailing lists, but other than that...
They use CVS[6] (!?) which makes me unable to see the list of recent commits to compare frequency of them (there is rlog, but it doesn't work for me somewhy, and cvsweb lacks that feature).
I've heard some cries about lack of modularity in kernel and lack of SSP some time ago.
Some places[7][8] in documentation refer to 2003 and 2007.
And there is also no NetBSD advocates near me. According to bsdstats[9], it's abandoned.

So i ask - is it alive? If it's not, then does that matter really?

(Sorry for lexical\grammatical mistakes if there is any, i'm not as experienced in english speaking\writing as in reading.)
I'm only allowed to post url-s if i have 5 posts, (anti-bot measure i guess) yet i've already written my post with a lot of them, so i'll post them in old style:

References:
1. [HTTP]cm.bell-labs.com/who/ken/trust.html
2. [HTTP]www.netbsd.org/docs/guide/en/chap-intro.html
3. [HTTP]mail-index.netbsd.org/current-users/2013/08/30/msg023238.html
4. [HTTP]mail-index.netbsd.org/current-users/2013/08/24/msg023206.html
5. [HTTP]mail-index.netbsd.org/netbsd-users/2013/08/23/msg013188.html
6. [HTTP]cvsweb.netbsd.org
7. [HTTP]netbsd.org/docs/guide/en/chap-build.html
8. [HTTP]netbsd.org/docs/guide/en/chap-linux.html
9. [HTTP]bsdstats.org
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Old 6th September 2013
J65nko J65nko is offline
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Just like a website should not be a deciding factor to choose an OS, neither should that be the source code revision system or usage of mailing lists
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Old 6th September 2013
scraft scraft is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J65nko View Post
Just like a website should not be a deciding factor to choose an OS, neither should that be the source code revision system or usage of mailing lists
Not always. That may give some clues about which criterias they use to decide "what's right to have" and "what's wrong to have".
Knowing that: they use CVS, consequently they may adhere to traditions rather than reason, consequently NetBSD may be a bad choice^W^W not as perfect as i want it to be.

Well, in case CVS is as obsolete as i know. Not intending to start an holywar here...

Also, maybe it's just contributors afraid to propose using modern DVCS like Mercurial, GIT, Fossil... Though that does not explain why EdgeBSD forked from it, goals of these two projects do not seem to be contradictory. Maybe community is unable to find out what it thinks as a whole then.

Perhaps my perfectionism over what i use is a problem, too.
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Old 6th September 2013
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jggimi jggimi is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scraft View Post
...they may adhere to traditions rather than reason....
Hello, and welcome!

Some projects may have valid reasons to prefer a tool set you do not.
  1. I found this thread on the NetBSD pkgsrc mailing list that may interest you, it starts here.
  2. There are Fossil and Git mirrors available for you to use, so you can avoid CVS. See this and that.
I don't use NetBSD, so cannot comment on the project's choices. I use OpenBSD instead, and for that project I perceive the key reasons to use CVS are commit management procedures, complexity of migration to new tech, and risk avoidance. A recent discussion thread starts here.
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Old 6th September 2013
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According to The NetBSD Project website, the latest release is dated August 22, 2013, a mere 15 days ago. So, to answer your question directly, NetBSD is NOT dead.

Now as to why they use more mature tools than those you prefer, I cannot answer. My first guess would be that it is due to the breadth of platforms they support - not all platforms can run the latest tools, or keep up with the newest versions, especially with the limitations of a volunteer community. My second guess would be that it's a case of "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." The tools work for their needs, so why should they change entire infrastructures?

Beyond that, I'd recommend asking these questions on their mailing lists, if you really want official answers and opinions of the project members themselves. You may decide that NetBSD is not a good fit for your needs after that; then again, you may decide it is.

Good luck!
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Old 7th September 2013
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Just my two cents, but I think there is a lot of interesting development happening within NetBSD. They may not have the sheer number of Developers other projects may enjoy, but there are some great things that have come out of NetBSD's work.

Personally I think it is a great distribution because it is so flexible, for instance some work on porting ZFS is happening I believe, as well as LVM. Read up on RUMP kernels and the sshfs, also.

The fact that lua is now part of the base distribution is pretty neat also and the new npf firewall seems very cool. Again, just my two cents.
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Old 8th September 2013
scraft scraft is offline
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Thank you for answers.

Few things that i forgot to ask:
1. Do they generally keep their ports tree up to date? What's up with flags? There are many little useful flaggable things in FreeBSD ports, such as inclusion of patented subpixel rendering method in freetype.
2. Is it possible to use FreeBSD ports tree on NetBSD? I'm sure some software that i use - won't be there... That would also solve freshness\flags problems.
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Old 8th September 2013
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I can answer #2: The short answer is "No." NetBSD and FreeBSD were based on the same codebase, but have had 20 years of divergent development.

Since "freshness" seems to be of significant value to you, perhaps building packages from source is a solution for that particular concern?
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Old 8th September 2013
shep shep is offline
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I"ll throw my 2 cents into question #1.
NetBSD maintains a current and a quarterly release of package build scripts (aka pkgsrc). The quarterly releases serve as the base for binary package builds and while that quarterly release is active, the build scripts are tweaked.

That being said some of the more complex packages have not compiled for at least 2 quarterly cycles, eg. a native libreoffice. There is a libreoffice-bin that is essentially the linux version that runs under emulation. The other caveat is that even if it builds, it may not run. OpenOffice3.1.1 for 2013Q1 was an example.

If being able to build and contribute to a project has value to you or you are running some exotic hardware NetBSD might be a good choice. If your goal is to obtain a functional, final product and then use it, other OS's may get you to that goal faster and with less frustration.

I suggest that you browse the NetBSD ftp site for packages
2013Q2 packages for amd64
to get a sense if the applications you are interesting have successful binary builds.
Pkgsrc.se. Will tell you what is in current

Last edited by shep; 8th September 2013 at 10:06 PM. Reason: correct ftp link punctuation for clarity, spelling
Old 12th September 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scraft View Post
their website... is quite well designed comparing to other BSDs. (not a criteria for choosing BSD indeed, but a criteria of how-fresh-the-project-is)
Who really cares about website ?

For me, a well-designed website is just a criteria of how-bling-bling-the-project-is, and I prefer a poor website with a good OS rather than the reverse.
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Old 13th September 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LeFrettchen View Post
Who really cares about website ?

For me, a well-designed website is just a criteria of how-bling-bling-the-project-is, and I prefer a poor website with a good OS rather than the reverse.
Certainly hard to disagree with that in general. But for NetBSD specifically, I don't find the website to be blingy ... no serious graphics, looks uncluttered and staid, and it loads fairly well on a slow connection. There's also some reasonably good FAQ/HOWTO-like material there on selected topics, which helps make the site more useful.
Old 13th September 2013
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Well, I wasn't talking about a specific website, just in general.
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Old 14th September 2013
gpatrick gpatrick is offline
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This reply is coming from Firefox 22.0 on NetBSD 6.1 amd64.
Old 15th September 2013
Ninguem Ninguem is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NetBSD
Who are you calling dead?



Guess that answers that.
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Old 19th September 2013
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It's not dying & I hope it won't -as I hope for the other BSD flavors .. actually NetBSD saved my life many a time , for instance when I had issues installing and tweaking puffy on a DELL E6400 Laptop.
Old 22nd November 2013
Martillo Martillo is offline
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Well, the Spanish mirror has been put out of service... I have mailed the admin and it seems it is matter of storage space vs. traffic. He told me he tried to contact the NetBSD mirrors admin, but they did not respond. Maybe it is time for them to do it.
Old 26th November 2013
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Default The future of NetBSD

Maybe you are interested in reading about the progress of the project which, they say, is still in force today:

See the threads started in August ~ September about "The future of NetBSD":
lists.freebsd.org/pipermail/freebsd-chat/2006-August/thread.html#4152
Comments:
slashdot.org/story/06/08/31/0348243/the-future-of-netbsd
More:
trollaxor.com/2011/10/netbsd-designed-to-fail.html
Devastating:
julipedia.meroh.net/2013/06/self-interview-after-leaving-netbsd.html

Or you can visit the Phonorix site for further conclusions.


Shep said:
"If being able to build and contribute to a project has value to you or you are running some exotic hardware NetBSD might be a good choice."

That's why I stopped idealizing *nix systems and went back to Windows. The computing stopped being my main job and did not need a bulldozer to browse from home.

If you need to find more than one reason to use NetBSD probably do not need.
Old 28th November 2013
daemonfowl daemonfowl is offline
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Quote:
That's why I stopped idealizing *nix systems and went back to Windows
Even if windoze succeeds & all unices fail -which is an obvious impossibility- , I would never ever think of reconsidering suck a tech-trash.
Those threads were not valide at the time and now even more invalid as NetBSD 6 has grown bigger : it's a clean , secure , light , fast , scalable , easy , portable , .................................................. ................ and free OS.
It's alive within minix3 , within distros using pkgsrc .. within all unix-lovers.
(Just wondering why the edgeBSD folk started a new fork instead of focusing on NetBSD itself .. )
Old 28th November 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daemonfowl View Post
Even if windoze succeeds & all unices fail -which is an obvious impossibility- , I would never ever think of reconsidering suck a tech-trash.
Throwing shit on other systems is not the best way to praise NetBSD. It was one of the issues, along with the poor performance of the latest kernel versions, which left the Linux community. Open-source software is not just *nix.

Get Free OS? Even the birds are chained to the sky.

Do not take somethings out of context:

Quote:
The computing stopped being my main job and did not need a bulldozer to browse from home.
Feel good with NetBSD. ;^)

Last edited by divel; 28th November 2013 at 10:54 AM. Reason: Adding a note
Old 28th November 2013
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Quote:
trollaxor.com/2011/10/netbsd-designed-to-fail.html
Some reasonable pro-NetBSD replies in this thread..

Even though this dispute is turning into *yet another* holy war, the problem is obviously there. You can see by the amount of posts in each *BSD section on this forum how fewer people use NetBSD, once equal to FreeBSD and having given birth to OpenBSD. NetBSD is now loosing to Linux one of its strongholds, the embedded devices market.. This is shame, cause the NetBSD team has produced a lot of high quality code now borrowed into FreeBSD and other OSes. May be this means that producing an OS for such a broad variety of architectures is more demanding than the little NetBSD developers community can handle, so the usability suffers. I think some of the pre-6 releases are here to blame, although NetBSD 6 is really good indeed.
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