FreeBSD

When it comes to computer operating systems people get very passionate as to which one is best. We’ve all heard the Mac vs. Windows arguments for desktop/laptop computers. I’m not going to go there, at least not in this post. I am going to tell you which operating system is best for servers. FreeBSD.

FreeBSD is an advanced operating system that has versions for most current computer hardware including: x86 compatible (including Pentium® and Athlon™), amd64 compatible (including Opteron™, Athlon™64, and EM64T), ARM, IA-64, PowerPC, PC-98 and UltraSPARC® architectures. FreeBSD is derived from BSD, the version of UNIX® developed at the University of California, Berkeley.

My experience with FreeBSD is with web servers but I’m sure it will work equally as well with mail servers, DNS servers, file servers, etc. When I purchased my first web server over 10 years ago I specified that it run FreeBSD. At the time I was amazed by the file server run by Walnut Creek CDROM. In 1998 it was downloading 750GB a day and maintained 3,600 simultaneous connections on a single 200 MHz Pentium Pro machine with 1GB RAM using FreeBSD. My first server ran over 6 years without being rebooted and was only restarted because of a power failure to the hosting facility.

FreeBSD’s competition in the server OS market comes mostly from Windows Server and Linux. I honestly don’t know why anyone runs Windows Server. It is expensive (about $700), slow, insecure and unreliable. How many times have you seen a “Blue Screen” on an advertising screen? Unless you absolutely need to run an application that only runs under Windows I would stay away. Linux is far superior to Windows but falls short of FreeBSD. Like FreeBSD Linux is free but it falls short on performance and security in a server environment.

I imagine that many people choose Windows Server because they are comfortable with Windows. FreeBSD does have a learning curve but it really isn’t that steep and once you start using it you will be amazed at just how powerful it is! So many things that you need an application for with Windows you can just do at the command line in FreeBSD.

Installing FreeBSD is simple, just go to freebsd.org and download a bootable floppy, CD or Thumbdrive image. My server is capable of running th 64-bit version of FreeBSD but I chose the 32-bit i386 version. The 64-bit version allows you to use more than 4GB of memory at the cost that some applications don’t have 64-bit versions yet. To install just boot your server with the bootable media and answer a few simple questions, the most important being your internet settings. The installer will go online and download and install the most current version of FreeBSD. You can change your settings at anytime by typing “sysinstall” at the command line to bring up the configuration menu.

One of the most powerful features of FreeBSD is its Ports Collection. The Ports Collection contains over 22,000 free software applications for FreeBSD. To install the Apache22 web server on your new FreeBSD box you would just go to that port: “cd /usr/ports/www/Apache22” then to install type: “make install clean”. FreeBSD will download the source code for the software, compile it, install it and clean up after itself. If options are available a menu will appear during the install.

If you are looking to set up any kind of Internet server give FreeBSD a try and don’t look back.

Ok, I know this image is a little dirty but I love it and couldn’t write about FreeBSD without including it.

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