[TUHS] Dynamics between BSD and Linux

Larry McVoy lm at mcvoy.com
Fri Feb 2 13:44:48 AEST 2018

I think it's a culture thing.  My experience is formed somewhat from
recent interactions with Netflix but it goes all the way back to 386BSD
and the {Free,Net,Open}BSD after that.  Dragonfly might be an exception
but I haven't engaged with them enough to know. I've engaged with all
the other BSDs.  Or tried to.

There is an east coast culture and there is a west coast culture when it
comes to society (not talking about computers here).

The east coast is the ivy league, and it is about who you know.  Who your
family is.  Look at the Bush family, as much as George wanted to be a
Texan, he's east coast ivy league.  If you are in that club, you are in,
doesn't matter if you have talent or not, you are in.

The west coast doesn't have the prestige of all the east coast elites,
it's the new kid.  So on the west coast, all that anyone cares about is
can you get shit done?  You can be a nobody but if you make shit happen,
you are in.

Linux is like the west coast.  Maybe not so much today, but certainly
back at the start and for a long time, all that anyone cared about was
"is your code good".  And I think they still have that attitude though
it's somewhat harder to break in.

BSD is like the east coast, and still is to this day.  It's a club.  In
order to be in that club you have to be somebody that somebody knows.
I have to say that I think the BSD culture is pretty toxic.  It's an
old boy's club and that limits the success it can have.  Because, as we
all know, the people that move things forward are mostly the young unknown
kids that we send out to solve a problem that we think can't be solved.
And yet, once in a while they do solve one.  The BSD community seems to
only want proven people in their group, which is fine at one level, but
rules out the new people that solve the unsolvable.

Given the differences, and believe me, Linus and crew are aware of the
differences, the Linux guys aren't that interested in the BSD stuff.
Why should they be?  What does BSD bring to the table for Linux?

It's a bummer because BSD brings minimalism to the table.  You can run
a BSD machine in 128MB and it works.  Hell, it used to work great in 4MB.
Nanobsd and the other firewall distributions work well in low memory

Here's a personal example of the differences.  When I was looking at
working with Netflix I emailed McKuisik to ask him about some UFS stuff.
And this was me, I know Kirk, I've been to his house, had wine with him
and Eric.  No reply.  Ok, I'm old and washed up, I get it.

I emailed Linus about the Spectre/Meltdown stuff, asking him if I should
release some before/after LMbench results.  Got a reply in about 20
minutes where he outlined where things where, where they were going,
talked about his stuff getting to the intel CEO, etc, etc.  Linus and
I could be enemies because of Git/BK but Linus doesn't care about that,
he responded because I had a valid question.  

I've tried to have the same conversation with BSD people and I was 
ignored.  +1 Linux.

The BSD stuff isn't being taken seriously because the BSD people aren't
interested in taking new people seriously.  Which is a shame because the
work that Netflix and other BSD people have done is really cool.

I'd love to hear Ted's take, it might be very different.


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