FreeBSD is to Linux as Monero is to Bitcoin
I know this may be a bit off topic, but to the extent we care about security and decentralized open software, I believe this is relevant…
Linux user here, almost 3 years on Qubes. After newfa*%ing LinuxMint for awhile, then trying to be cool with dual boot encrypted partitions + VirtualBox … I decided I was better off just trying Qubes. Luckily, my terminal "skills" were just enough to get me there, and I haven't looked back… Until now.
Just bought a new Ryzen Threadripper, intended for minting some sweet Monedo, running nodes on IPFS I2P TOR, rendering, music recording, big data, and home server type stuff. So, stick with Qubes? or try something else? Qubes isn't exactly a server distro. It doesnt always play well with PCI passthrough hardware. Also, this isn't my secure computing machine. But I do love VMs and containerization.
So I briefly tried Fedora Silverblue, with intent to play with Xen or KVM later on. But while setting up, I can't quite put my finger on it, I just didn't like it. So I looked around to see if another distro might better suit me. Enter the BSDs. Enter GPL licensing vs real freedom. Permit me a bit of stream of consciousness …
- I finally have enough background to understand the differences between kernel, desktop environments, GNU, "Linux distributions," and the infamous "2nd kernel" – systemd. I understand Firefox to be a fully open-source spyware browser. I see that corporate-govt interests have commandeered large parts of the GPL ecosystem. Philosophically, I never resonated with GPL, for the same reason I don't believe in proprietary software. When you release speech into public, you lose rights over its usage. No one has the right to violently censor ideas, tho we do have the right to stop crime and uphold contracts (general "licensing" doesn't meet the requirements of valid contract). In some ways, GPL is the communism of open-source. You force everyone to share equally by crying to daddy govt to violently punish those who don't reciprocate. In reality, this govt-corp appropriation of GPL dev was probably inevitable, due to the inherent flaws of the GPL itself. They have inserted large amounts of unnecessary complexity, code bloat, fractured components, lack of audits, and new security flaws being introduced faster than they can be patched. And who can keep up and compete in this environment? Small enterprise? Or the largest establishment players like Microsoft, Google, RedHat, IBM, etc etc… Despite these problems, Linux distros are still far preferable to MicroApple.
I don't know why I never found it before. But FreeBSD, OpenBSD, and other BSDs are where I intend to migrate all my computing. They mostly avoid the above problems by being actually free software with a highly permissive BSD license. Corporations don't have to "control" BSD in order to be useful for their needs. They simply modify it, close their version of the code, and then release products like Playstation, Netflix, MacOS, Citrix, and others. They still work and share with upstream as it is mutually beneficial to do so, but no company is trying to force something like the monstrosity that is systemd.
From everything Im reading (and experiencing now running FreeBSD), there is better security, far less bloat, better modularity, better file system, more audits, and an actual adherence to UNIX philosophy. Their documentation is phenomenal, and I've learned a ton about the components of operating systems, including "Linux," in the past week. There are tons of packages, and even Monero has FreeBSD binaries.
Each BSD is a full operating system, designed as an integrated unit, which makes the system more reliable. As opposed to "Linux distributions" which are a patchwork of various fragmented components. And most BSDs are unique, not "flavors" of eachother like Linux distros. FreeBSD has been doing containers and VMs for almost 2 decades now, way ahead of the Linux kernel. The ZFS file system has significant advantages over ext4.
TLDR: If you're concerned, like me, about Linux being co-opted by large corporations, if you' re looking for a secure open-source OS, if you want incredible documentation that not only explains what to do during setup, but why and the underlying components which comprise your OS, then check out FreeBSD, OpenBSD, and the other BSDs.