Skip to main content.

Why NetBSD?

During the last years, I used to install a lot of different operating systems, looking for the system that fits best to my needs. For example, I tried Microsoft Windows NT (3.51, 4.0 and 5.0 and had a quick look at 5.1), several Linux distributions (e.g. SuSE Linux, RedHat Linux, Debian GNU/Linux and Mandrake Linux), FreeBSD and OpenBSD. We also tried to write our own operating system (we named it "Socratix"), but soon we noticed, that it was an impossible task for us to write a whole operating system (from scratch).

All those systems I tried have their particular advantages, but of course they all have their "native" disadvantages. And not allowing me to fix these disadvantages (e.g. the Debian Policy is such a disadvantage, I think), makes me become very frustrated of open source software (and the philosophy behind it). So after all, I decided to give NetBSD another try (I had installed NetBSD several times before, for testing reasons, but never get really close to it). After reading Federico Lupi's excellent NetBSD Guide I fetched the NetBSD distribution, created an iso image out of it and burned it onto a cd. Starting off the very straight-forward installation procedure, I was very pleased with NetBSD. It allows to me to do exactly what I want to do, nothing more, and nothing less. The base system is very clean and includes only the main parts of the system, so soon I decided to fetch a recent pkgsrc.tar.gz and installed some packages (I cannot live without perl ;-). The only thing I'm still missing about pkgsrc is a tool like portupgrade; it is currently been worked on, and e.g. pkg_hack does nearly everything portupgrade does, but you know It doesn't work unless it's right :-).

After all, I think the main reason for using NetBSD is its' clean design and clean development model. The problem with the mainstream operating systems such as GNU/Linux is that people always want to have the newest features, and so the main goal is to get this features implemented as soon as possible, without the need to get a clean implementation. With NetBSD, you may get this features up to one or two years later, after somebody worked out a clean and stable implementation and a lot of testing was done on it. And when you get it, you can be sure, it works! So, now you know, why I prefer NetBSD, and what about you? Are you still loosing time getting your Linux distribution to work? Tired of fixing Debian package dependencies everytime you type apt-get dist-upgrade? So, maybe you should give NetBSD a try, but beware of making the wrong decision: NetBSD is no mainstream operating system, so if you always want to get the latest (unstable) features, you're better off not choosing NetBSD to run your computer!

And last but not least: NetBSD rules :-).

Latest News

Enigmail works

4 Dec 04

I finally got EnigMail working with native Mozilla on NetBSD/i386 -current (latest Mozilla 1.5.1 from pkgsrc with enigmail 0.82.2). I uploaded the XPI files here. To install the XPI files, run Mozilla as root, open the directory that contains the three XPI files in the browser and click on the files to install them, in the following order: The IPC module, the enigmime package and finally the enigmail package. Finally start Mozilla and configure enigmail as mentioned on the EnigMail website.

NetBSD 1.6 book

30 Jan 03

As mentioned on the german publisher C&L has made available a book on NetBSD 1.6. The book covers NetBSD installation (i386, macppc and others), user administration, updating the system, kernel tuning, configuring the rc.d startup system, package management using pkg_install and the pkgsrc tree, configuring the X window system and using NetBSD in a networked environment (IPv4/6, DNS, NFS/NIS, FTP, Samba and the like).

Tips & Tricks

A collection of useful tips & tricks for the daily usage of NetBSD can be found here.

Drop me a note if you know of other useful tips and tricks that should be listed there.


I packaged a few applications for pkgsrc (the NetBSD package collection), some of them are listed here.

Due to lack of time and such, all of these packages are now maintained by other NetBSD contributors.

#netbsd FAQ

Back in the time when I was a #netbsd regular, we started an attempt to collect the most frequently asked questions and their corresponding answers. The result is visible here.

As you can see we weren't very successful with our attempt.