[TUHS] Why BSD didn't catch on more, and Linux did

Andy Kosela akosela at andykosela.com
Wed Feb 7 10:22:28 AEST 2018

On Tuesday, February 6, 2018, Theodore Ts'o <tytso at mit.edu> wrote:

> On Tue, Feb 06, 2018 at 02:13:51PM -0800, Dan Stromberg wrote:
> > 2) I think the main reason BSD nearly died, was the AT&T lawsuit.  At
> > the time, Linux appeared to be a safer bet legally.
> At the time of the AT&T lawsuit, most of the people who would be
> interested in using a Un*x-like system on their personal x86 systems
> probably wouldn't have been worried about their own personal legal
> liability.  The decision of corporations to use Linux was well *after*
> the AT&T lawsuit was resolved.
Exactly.  I always stress that the AT&T lawsuit's negative impact on
adoption of Open Source *BSDs is exaggerated.  Remember that back in the
early 90s both Linux and Net/FreeBSD were just hobbyist systems...  We were
all doing it as a hobby for fun.  No one was aware that this is going to
catch on in the enterprise...

I think that if somebody was already exposed to BSD code in the 80s it was
more natural for him to adopt open source *BSD.  Otherwise he went with
Linux.  Initially I think it was a little bit smaller and simpler too.

Until the decision of the really big corporate players like Oracle and IBM
to support Linux in the late 90s, both systems went head-to-head, and one
could even argue that *BSDs had a technical edge over Linux.

It all changed after year 2g when it became apparent that Linux is slowly
winning the battle for "hearts and minds".

We should be happy that hobbyist Open Source Unix systems have been so
widely adopted at all though; otherwise we would all be living in the NT

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