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Recommended Host for BSDs
What is BSD Hosting?
BSD is a proven Operating System (OS) which has remained in development since its conception in the 1970’s, most recently through the Open Source system. Its communications protocols are used by almost all other Operating Systems upon the Internet.
Understanding exactly what BSD is involves understanding some of its long history although in essence the Operating System known as BSD is comprised of the following core components:
The BSD Kernel
A Kernel in software terms manages the raw Input/Output or I/O requests from software and translates them into data instructions that the Central Processing Unit or CPU can implement. The BSD Kernel manages system memory, device drivers, process scheduling and multi-processing.
There are different Open Source BSD kernels designed to achieve different tasks each possessing different capabilities but each having the following things in common.
The C Library
C is a widely used programming language which relies upon a standard library that may be used across different implementations of the code. API is short for Application Program Interface, which is a set of protocols and tools used in the creation of software applications.
Operating systems require utility programs such as shells (a type of interface between the Operating System and the user), file utilities (Anti-virus defrag programs, file managers &etc.) and program code compilers (Used to build an executable file from written code, for example code written in C).
The X Window System
This is a GUI or Graphic User Interface which provides a basic framework for the development of a GUI environment and is common on systems with a UNIX ancestor.
BSD is short for Berkeley Software Distribution which was a Unix Operating system originally designed and distributed at the University of California, Berkeley by CSRG (Computer Systems Research Group).
BSD was built upon a UNIX base code developed by AT&T Research but has undergone several iterations including a legal break from the AT&T UNIX code in 1992 (BSD 386 days) that saw the operating system code renamed entirely to BSD, dropping all reference to UNIX.
BSD operating systems all hail from the common original source code of AT&T’s Research UNIX operating system, the same closed source code that led to the modern iteration of UNIX System V.
The closed source AT&T code which was later developed into modern BSD was based in part on code tapes (yes tape, we’re going back that far) which contained the original code from CSRG in Berkeley, named BSD as stated above.
Most early BSD releases were built from user-generated programs, but this changed when CSRG were awarded a contract to develop and upgrade the communications protocols on ARPANET. ARPANET was the precursor to the modern internet and stands for Advanced Research Projects Agency Network.
It was essentially a packet switching network (Packet switching is a means of tidying all transmitting data in appropriately sized blocks thus making error correction and general usability much easier) but it was significantly the first network to utilise the TCP/IP protocol (TCP/IP stands for Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol).
Both Packet Switching and TCP/IP became the basis for the modern internet, a fact which places the development of BSD prominently in the historical development of modern operating systems.
When standalone UNIX operating systems, or systems based on Unix such as Sun Microsystems SunOS appeared they included the TCP/IP protocol formulated within early BSD.
For example, SunOS was developed from a licenced version of UNIX which implemented 4.2BSD.
AT&T’s first licenced UNIX systems (System III and then System V) included no networking capability at all, instead building upon the TCP/IP software within BSD and Berkeley’s additional csh shell and vi editor which were known at the Berkeley Extensions.
Following the development and release of an incomplete tape called Networking Tape 2 which was the BSD code with the proprietary AT&T code removed, 386BSD was developed by William F. Jolitz who coded the missing 20% of code necessary to make a viable Operating System, at the same time a group of ex Computer Systems Research Group coders formed Berkeley Software Design Inc. and released their version of a completed Operating System, also based on Networking Tape 2 but called BSD/386, later known as BSD/OS after the aforementioned legal action in 1992.
386BSD never became stable enough to be classed as a useful operating system for end users, but the code spawned several projects such as NetBSD and FreeBSD which in turn split off to form OpenBSD and Dragonfly BSD . Each of these BSD variants are available today.
Why Choose BSD?
BSD is developed in a rigorous manner utilising an Open Source, transparent system that not only keeps all released of BSD in one central repository, where current and historical releases are freely available.
The system utilises a tiered approach to development where contributors are overseen by experts in their chosen field known as ‘Committers’ all under the eye of a Principal Architect who retains quality control ability and a Core team who guide the direction of the their brand of BSD.
Four Open Source Flavors:
The different brands of BSD are designed to achieve different things, and here’s where selecting the right OS for your needs comes into play when you chose from the four Open Source packages available for download.
NetBSD has been into space, literally. It was by NASA on several missions due to its portability and compatibility with different hardware ranging from old non-Intel systems through to modern high end webservers.
OpenBSD runs on a wide number of platforms and tends to be the OS of choice for financial institutions and government departments requiring high transparency and system security. This package maintains a high level of ‘code purity’ making secure implementation far easier.
FreeBSD is the most widely used and user friendly of the BSD projects. It is used primarily by Web Content providers and runs on a number of platforms.
Dragonfly BSD Is aimed at the symmetrical multiprocessing market found in cluster systems. Cluster computing is the practice of connecting separate systems into one single entity with each node of that system set to perform the same task under the control and scheduling of the software.
GNU (General Public Licence)
All Open Source BSD packages are available under the GNU licence. This licence is intended to try and eliminate closed source software, which means that anyone can see that base cope upon which their OS is based and technically join in with the development of the software if they possess the relevant skillsets.
BSDs Hosting Frequently Asked Questions
Is BSD really free?
The four BSD variants listed above are really free. Free to download, free to use, free to repurpose or alter and free to redistribute.
Some versions of BSD even permit you to place their source code into commercial products, for free.
Can I use BSD on my desktop?
Whilst the software excels primarily as a server OS there is nothing stopping you from using it as a desktop OS.
What’s included in my BSD package?
You should take the time to read the documentation available on the website of your chosen package, but as a general guide you can expect the software to come with everything necessary to run a comprehensive Operating System.
Why should I use BSD?
If this article hasn’t already answered that question for you then here are a few final thoughts. BSD runs on multiple platforms, is considered to be very secure, is designed to ‘Just Work’ straight after installation and is essentially a free full featured UNIX system. If you’re looking for all that, then BSD is for you!