I’m going to be visiting southern California again, during Thanksgiving week. This is the first time since 2004ish that I’ve been there. The same rule applies: I will not move back to the People’s Republik of California.
If anyone reading this is in that area and wants to get in touch, now’s the time to let me know. If you need to talk to me in private, try the contact page link in the right-hand column of this Website.
In other news, attaching electrodes to the outside of two people’s scalps (one of whom is dead) and running 200 microvolts through them will not allow the living person to receive answers to questions audibly asked just before the voltage is turned on from the dead person’s brain. If you agree with me, you may find the pseudoscience thriller TV series Fringe a bit ridiculous for your taste.
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In addition to its excellent mailing list support and some of the best OS user documentation in the world, FreeBSD now has its own forum site.
Coming soon from iXsystems is the Invincibook, a new laptop designed with physical ruggedness and excellent performance in mind, and it comes with FreeBSD installed as its default operating system. If they’d just put a trackpoint on the thing, I’d probably be out on a street corner right now selling my ass for the money to buy one of these things. Even without the trackpoint, I want one. Lord knows, I’ve waited long enough for properly working ACPI support on a laptop running an OS that doesn’t make me gag. Considering reports of dropping quality in Thinkpad production under Lenovo’s management, something like this couldn’t come at a better time.
A slew of 2008 Google Summer of Code projects have been completed. This is kind of “old news”, in that it hasn’t been summer for a while, but this is stuff that is going into CVS/SVN for FreeBSD very soon. One of the most exciting items in the list, for me, is the BSD-licensed text processing tools porting project. The most notable point of progress is grep: “At the moment, BSD grep seems to be ready and highly compatible with the GNU version.” Another one that catches my eye is the port license auditing infrastructure project, of course.
Someone over at the BSD subreddit expressed ignorance of what this FreeBSD thing is. I typed up a quick explanation. The following is quoted from that:
FreeBSD is one of several modern, direct descendants of the original 1970s BSD Unix — the university offshoot of the (even more original) 1969 Bell Labs Unix. FreeBSD, NetBSD, and OpenBSD are pretty much universally recognized as the “big three” BSD Unix systems now available. They are, in many ways, more Unixy than the commercial UNIX systems many IT pros think of when they hear the term “Unix”.
Many people compare FreeBSD to Linux (I’m pretty sure you’ve heard of Linux), which makes a certain amount of sense since the user experience can be very, very similar to most Linux distributions. FreeBSD has more of a reputation for stability, security, poor software support, and poor hardware support than Linux, though, and many consider it to be a better server platform than the majority of Linux distributions, and a worse desktop platform than at least some Linux distributions. In my experience, the poor hardware support reputation is mostly undeserved, and the poor software support reputation is pretty much entirely undeserved, but FreeBSD suffers from less effective marketing than Linux-based systems due to a comparative lack of religious fervor (relative to the Ubuntu and Gentoo distributions of Linux, for example).
Part of the reason for that less effective marketing is surely the zealousness of GPL advocacy, thanks in part to the efforts of the FSF and GNU project; the Linux kernel and most of the core userland stuff in most Linux distributions is all distributed under the terms of the GPL. By contrast, the BSD Unix systems have BSD licensed kernels and most of the base system’s core userland stuff for these OSes is similarly licensed, and copyfree advocacy is notably less common, voluble, and strident at this time.