Why do you guys use BSD?


Hi, all. My name is John Paul Wohlscheid. I’m a writer for It’s FOSS. We usually write about Linux but are starting to cover BSD topics. (Yes, there is a TrueOS review in the works.)

I recently published an interview with the lead dev of MidnightBSD. Since the majority of our readers are Linux users, several people commented asking why people would use BSD over Linux, especially when there is so much more support for Linux, especially in terms of hardware and applications.

I’m here to get your side. I’m working on an article about why people should use BSD. Why do you guys use BSD over Linux? Why have some of you left Linux for BSD? Why should a person leaving Windows take a look at BSD before Linux?

All answers have a chance of being quoted in the future article.

Thanks in advance for your help?


For those NOT on telegram, john was there a week or so ago.

This is a legitimate question

JohnBlood, I’ll assume you did read the comments from the other evening as well.


Why using BSD?

Install it once. Keep one and the same installation up-to-date. No need to reinstall. Ever. Over decades.


That doesn’t answer my question. A Linux user could say the same. My question is what makes BSD better.


Yes, I did. I will make use of that information, as well.


I’m assuming you want more than “It’s not Linux and no systemd”? Yes that is just kidding.

Better is in the eye of the beholder.

For me, I’ve been a FreeBSD user for a long time as my home desktop (probably 3.3 or so). I went through Linux distributions early on in the “need specific version of Soundblaster card to use a CDROM”, went through a.out to ELF transition, RedHat from probably their first or second release, still use Linux at work.

So why BSD at home? It’s always felt more whole to me, not just a kernel and whatever applications someone decides they should tack on. It’s had some growing pains (4.x to 5.x with SMP changes was interesting), but overall I’ve had good stability with it for everything I use it for. email, web, photo editing, home brew pf firewall for home network. I’ve kept user data on a separate device from the OS and have migrated forwards without much effort.
That brought me over to TrueOS which I describe as FreeBSD12-CURRENT with a desktop installation. I’m getting newer hardware support (releases behind current I’ve played safe by not using latest gen hardware) which is important for laptops, plus the bonus of a ZFS based installation. ZFS (technically OpenZFS) by itself is a win, but “root on ZFS” is even better. System upgrade by creating a new boot environment, upgrade into the new one, boot it, if it has issues, roll back a boot environment and you’re back to where you started. Upgrades done right.

All online communities (user supported help) have their issues, but my experience with the BSDs folks are a little less antagonistic. Of course a lot depends on how one asks for help, but I’ve seen too many that kill participation at the outset.

Lots of smart folks in both camps, heck there are a few cross pollinators with commit bits (ALC is one that jumps out at me), just different ideas on doing things which is good overall.

License. I like the BSD license better; I understand the reasoning behind the iterations of GPL/LGPL, just not sure I completely agree with them. As a pure user they don’t matter, but if one writes software for a living, they do.

Executive summary: OpenZFS, better stability under my workloads on my hardware, feels like a more cohesive distribution, and lets face, a daemon is a better mascot then a penguin. :slight_smile:

A little more about the technical side and the cross pollination. The current BSDs target different needs. OpenBSD security, FreeBSD more desktop/server, NetBSD “run on anything and everything”, DragonFlyBSD scaling and performance. The good ideas from each often cross over and provide inspiration for the others.

Stability: Linux is stable; what gets me is the upgrades that sometimes snowball and you wind up effectively upgrading everything. I like more control in what and why I upgrade.


Obviously, our definitions of ‘better’ are not the same.

I had to administer RedHat and Debian servers. And BSD server. Guess, which one is still running, and which ones had to be reinstalled when major version upgrades were due.

BSD doesn’t have to be ‘better’. Linux-based is not better or worse than BSD, mostly.

What I want is long term reliability.

Regarding Graphical Desktop:

Think of it this way: Most people liked Windows 7. But they won’t be able much longer to use it. The
same happens with distributions of GNU/Linux. BSD is long-term reliable.

Another example may be Mac OS X and its versions. Most people agree that Snow Leopard was the nicest version. But they have to take, what their distributor decides. Think of GNOME 3 and Mint.
And what became of OS X server? Where is it now?

All these things that I don’t like with Microsoft and Apple, I get again with Linux-based distributions. I don’t want that.

You ask, what’s better. Better is, what doesn’t need to be replaced based on others’ decisions.

What other criteria could exist? Is the sound more or less soundy and the mouse more or less mousy? No. It’s not technology. It’s policy. The rest is equal.

Policy-Example: ZFS is here to stay. What about btrfs?

I’m not talking about ZFS and btrfs licences here. Only: Will it still be there when I need it again?


Yes. I forgot the stupid penguin.

It makes the whole Linux community look like children with their toy-of-the-day.

I’m using GNU/Linux sometimes.

I started using it in 1993 (before SuSE existed). But when they came up with this penguin, my first thought was: I’m not a child. Why do they make me look like one, when I use Linux?

Linux kernel compiling on a 486-intel was fun. This kind of fun is mostly gone. A little bit sad.


Almost every Linux users I have talked to has installed at a minimum 3 different distributions. One guy even had a keychain of bootable Linux flashdrives because he couldn’t find one that fit him, but he knew he wanted to use Linux just not sure which one or why.

Constantly installing and uninstalling Ubuntu, Mint, Fedora, Scientific, Ubos, 4M, scratch, pardus, Arch, CentOS, RedHat, Suse, etc… I’m not even sure which one is better than the other, or what purpose one serves next to the other.

In *BSD they all have different philosophies and we follow the philosophies that agree with our own. I like the philosophy of BSD for the desktop so I follow TrueOS which is pretty much FreeBSD with a few modifications. Some people are really into security and they follow OpenBSD some are really into hardening FreeBSD so they follow HardenedBSD. I don’t see that clear of a choice in choosing a Linux.

Why I use BSD?

  1. ZFS is a first class citizen providing reliability
  2. UFS provides speed
  3. It does everything I need it to do
  4. It’s a complete operating system (not just a kernel)
  5. Great community
  6. Not controlled by one guy
  7. Boot Environments
  8. Beastie is a much cooler mascot
  9. Lumina-DE


Dear John, glad to see you here. I love to read your posts and reviews on itsfoss.com.

Before moving to BSD, I was a fan and user of Arch and Manjaro. Please correct me if I were wrong. But the main difference might be because BSD is more Unix, it applies and follows the Unix philosophy of simplicity and efficiency. Please don’t take me wrong, I didn’t means that Linux is not simple and efficient.

Let me gave some examples, I love to experimenting and testing many OS in VirtualBox on my production laptop. With Arch, sometimes I need to set 2 CPU for some other OS in order to make it work smoothly. But in BSD, I have never touched the CPU number. I use the default 1 CPU and all of them work smoothly.

Even sometimes I still feel device compatibility get better support in Linux, but I believe BSD could do this too in future.

All of these are my personal opinion and I did not have any intention to offend anyone. Please apology if anyone feel offended by my words.


Fo me I think ZFS and boot environments are really important features and several time have saved considerable effort in getting the system back very quickly after a problem like a failed update. I do run Linux systems Antergos and Ubuntu but they both seem to be problematic, Many times Antergos was not bootable after an update (I left the install CD in the drive because of this) and Ubuntu requires a reboot after being on the lock screen overnight, likely a problem withGnome3/Wayland. It is just nice to have the stability of BSD, on the other hand there are some apps that have problems on BSD (Skype, Arduino and a 32bit Linux only printer driver) so Linux is still necessary.


The main reason that I switched to FreeBSD / PC-BSD / TrueOS was because of zfs. zfs support on Linux is better than it used to be, but the fact that it’s not built into the kernel causes all kinds of problems (especially if you try to use it for the OS), and the fact that zfs on linux does not yet support basic features like zfs allow is incredibly annoying. Now, I also prefer the BSD license and FreeBSD’s development model to the GPL and Linux’s development model, but that didn’t have anything to do with why I switched.

I do find it extremely annoying when something is supported by Linux and not FreeBSD such that if Linux had first class zfs support, I might switch back, but FreeBSD keeps improving, and I don’t expect to see zfs working as well on Linux as it does on FreeBSD any time soon. And of course, stuff like systemd makes Linux look less and less appetizing. Really, the only reason I see to use Linux at this point over FreeBSD is when something is better supported on Linux, which does happen sometimes because of how much larger the Linux user base is - especially for desktops.

But with stuff like FreeBSD’s jails, I really don’t see much reason to do any server stuff on Linux - especially if you’re talking about really common stuff like running nginx. It’s just the desktop stuff that sometimes make me wish that I were using Linux. But unfortunately, every OS has problems as a desktop, so it’s just a question of picking the one that’s least painful. And right now, that’s FreeBSD / TrueOS.


I came from Mac OS that I liked for the user-centered ease of use, but got disappointed seeing ‘the Mac’ becoming more and more a proprietary system. While in the past Apple tried to get everything working they now implement protectionism to get it working only with Apple stuff like iphones, ipads … What I mean is: in the past when I saved a video they asked for the video’s format, now they ask if it is intended for iPhone, iPad etc.
Another thing: I have backup my files to a Time-Capsule then where they got rotten. So I installed a FreeNAS and was impressed by it’s reliability. As you know FreeNAS is based on FreeBSD, so I thought I should give it a try. It took me many days before I succeded to install FreeBSD with a Desktop. I searched for an easier way and came to PC-BSD. I bought a laptop for it but it was not possible to install PC-BSD on it for the laptop was too new. Same with GhostBSD, OpenIndiana, OpenBSD … I played with Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Manjaro, elementaryos … but I wanted ZFS for data-savety and so I was glad as TrueOS came up, based on FreeBSD 12.0, which seams to be the only BSD that supports my HW at the moment.
And I fall in love with Lumina.
Conclusion: I like TrueOS for ZFS, BEs, Lumina and I am looking forward to see it getting the ease-of-use of MacOS Snow Leopard. Therefore it has to work right out of the box, allowing a newbe to feel like an experienced administrator.
edit: I forgot to mention that TrueOS has a small but great community.


I came from …/ Windows 7 / Windows 10 / mac OS / ubuntu / PCBSD /TrueOS. I enjoyed using all of them. I loved using the mac. It was easy to use it and maintain the system performance, but for my work and my needs of simplifying my regular work i switched my main platform to Ubuntu. After experiencing many difficulties, due of the File-system.

I started reaching and came across webcast explaining Solaris and zfs , which really impressed me … all the features. I started using PCBSD as a test maschine, never used longer 6 month.

Ones i started using FreeNAS at work. I decided to use FreeNAS at home, too and TrueOS was the next step making Home Network powered by BSD. TrueOS had all features i was looking for and that a read of the books. Port tree and pkg (similar to apt on ubuntu), stable File-system zfs and BE in order to keep my work on going.

I am waiting to see a Firewall or Network router System, powered maybe with TrueOS that i can use to replace my home router, too. :slight_smile:


To understand my later decisions a bit of background; I started out as a dev back in the day when you had to write your own floppy I/O to use it. Trim the floppy head manually every now and then, when one could read a display on the hard drive showing the head/track info as it accessed the drive. Went through needing to compile your LAN driver under Netware 2.xx up to 4.x, through all versions of windows (1-10), touched upon MAC and Unices and ended up sticking to Linux in -94 to have a stable environment to avoid the blue screen of death.

Since then I’ve tried maybe 100 different distros. Being a dev of complete office solutions one’s attention has a different direction than let’s say amusement. Data reliability which includes security is however vital. Being through so much development of many O/S’s and applications I notice trends where things start to change for the worse. Most things are getting better, but there are indications of change in attitude.

One of the things that scared me with Linux dev has been the attitude of making radical changes for me without giving me the option to follow or not. For seemingly having less and less insight into the ramifications of changes that, in my view, does not make for a more and more stable environment. In other words I got the feeling it is not heading in a future direction I’m comfortable with.

Now I’m not talking about all dev, or even the majority, but with certain areas, such as systemd, constant increase of services I may or may not care about but have to fight to keep out. Which makes me uncomfortable enough to look for something closer to my needs.

ZFS is one of those major improvements which is closely developed, boot environments, jail, are in my view superior to Linux in general. Yeah, I would like certain things like the GUI to be more flexible like KDE but I’d rather deal with that and feel that my future looks better with TrueOS/FreeBSD.

You ask what is better which might not be the right question. If it was me I would ask why would I use it instead of Linux. And I do use Linux server installs for various needs as virtual servers under SmartOS.


Why do I use TrueOS?
Because I can!
For me it is a question of freedom.
I am not a developer but a user who wants the confirmation that there is more than one way to utilize the hardware available to me at the moment.
TrueOS with the Lumina desktop environment is my main system and seems to have the potential to be it for the foreseeable future.


Juniper Routers, switches and, SRX firewalls are powered by BSD. I just bought a Layer3 juniper switch for my house, and it’s awesome! Comes with policy options, and firewall capabilities.


pfSense is a firewall appliance based on FreeBSD that works nicely.

@bsdisgood I has the right question; the title of this thread hints at it, so maybe the question is really:
Why do you use BSD over something else and why is it better for you?


that sounds really great. I was looking into openbsd and Netshell, which looks really great. Well i think their is only one developer maintaining it, currently.

Groot: What is model name of the Juniper switch, that you bought.

mer: PfSense and Opnsense are nice, but can’ t make my mind up regarding the hardware that i could use.
What Hardware are you using to run it.


I bought one of their (NetGate) SG2440. It’s probably overkill for my home network, but the form factor, preinstalled and tested plus year of service was worth it. If you go with pfSense, anything preloaded should only come from netgate (pfsense.org, follow the Products link). There are a few things being sold as pfSense that aren’t.