Debian unleashes inner devil

Debian unleashes inner devil

Summary: The Debian project has announced that it is adding two new FreeBSD kernels to the unstable and experimental archive under the name of Debian GNU/kFreeBSD.

TOPICS: Open Source, Linux

The Debian project has announced that it is adding two new FreeBSD kernels to the unstable and experimental archive under the name of Debian GNU/kFreeBSD.

The announcement came over the weekend in a posting to the Debian developer announce list, and gives Debian users a choice of between Linux and FreeBSD kernels for the first time.

Logo of the Debian GNU/kFreeBSD project (Credit: Debian/Debian Open Use Logo Licence).

Initial reactions of "why? what the?!!?" to this announcement were pre-empted by the kFreeBSD team, who have listed the reasons for the project's existence.

A niche where I can see kFreeBSD gaining traction is for people interested in *BSD operating systems but put off by the BSD userland. For instance, the top command in Linux and BSD has the same objective but the BSD instance needs to be explicitly told to sort by CPU usage which the Linux instance does by default. And if you haven't used BSD before and want to play with the routing table, check your head in for reprogramming at the door.

One can always come at it from the other side (install as much of a GNU userland as possible on FreeBSD), but most Linux users are likely to prefer a binary package manager to BSD's ports system.

Debian is not the only option for having a BSD kernel wrapped inside of a traditional Linux distribution, with Gentoo having the Gentoo/Alt project.

In the coming years, I for one would like to see a Debian BSD/Linux distribution — a BSD userland with Linux kernel — for no other reason other than completing the set of userland and kernel combinations.

Topics: Open Source, Linux


Chris started his journalistic adventure in 2006 as the Editor of Builder AU after originally joining CBS as a programmer. After a Canadian sojourn, he returned in 2011 as the Editor of TechRepublic Australia, and is now the Australian Editor of ZDNet.

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  • Good news

    Im a free software developer by pleasure and sometimes by profession so I dont have much use for BSD but this is still great news.

    But anything which helps further technology and cooperation is good.

    To those who ask why, I ask why not?
    To those who ask " what the?" I ask, did you not think that Gnu/Solaris or Gnu/BSD would happen? The very nature of the Gnu-Linux system seems to indicate that changing the kernel is a doable option.

    To those who cant grasp the concepts, I think this Gnu-Linux interactive map is a great primer:

    From their wiki:
    # If you're concerned about running a 100% free system, our commitment to the Debian Free Software Guidelines (DFSG) guarantees that Debian GNU/kFreeBSD doesn't contain any non-free software. In fact, we have removed some non-free binary-only drivers that are contained in the upstream FreeBSD tree, like the ath driver.

    Hats off to them.

    I love the name too... Debian GNU/kFreeBSD .. it just slides off the tongue!

    Before I realzed thaty the k in kFreeBSD was because only the kernel of the complete FreeBSD operating system is used, i thought they were paying tribute to the old wacky KDE knaming kschemes.

    As a Debian and Gnu user, NOTHING is forcing me to use this (so i fail to see how this would affect me or Gnu-Linux negatively) but the fact that they did this might just convince me to spend some time on it one weekend.
    I havent touched BSD once this decade (8 months left to get to it!)

    I wish them the best of luck.
  • #@&^!!! Leenux weenies!

    What's so hard about the *BSD userland? Can't quite see the point of kFreeBSD... just go with the entire FreeBSD OS (or OpenBSD/NetBSD) and be done with it.