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I am a Linux user, I mainly use RedHatArc and ubuntu/debian. I want to start using Unix's for servers instead of Fed/Cent. I have tried but never successfully installed FreeBSD. I haven't tried NetBSD yet (DLing the ISO now), and have not gotten a copy of OpenBSD in my hands yet.

I was hoping to get some input from various Unix users here on the applicable differences with the free Unix's. Not so much the differences in the actually implementations, but more the best end uses for each one.

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

Well, it's a super generalization but:

NetBSD if you need to support an uncommon platform, high network performance.

FreeBSD for a "balanced" system: desktop/server, probably the biggest community, lots of information about it.

OpenBSD: security, maybe not the pinnacle of performance.

Generally all three share innovations amongst themselves so this is kind of a forced answer.


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pretty much what I was looking for, I know it was a gross simplification. being that i didn't know what would be what I needed, this kind of thing at least points me where to start. – Jimsmithkka Aug 14 '09 at 19:49

Um...depends on what you're trying to do. What server are you trying to set up?

99% of the time the best answer is "whichever you're most comfortable administrating that also fits your needs".

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i was looking more for what most are using each for/what are they best suted for. Similar for linuxes i've used: Ubuntu/Debian is good for end users, RedHatArc is good for servers, gentoo is good for programmers...etc. Unless this is a bad way of looking at things in general. – Jimsmithkka Aug 14 '09 at 16:08
+1 "whichever you're most comfortable administrating that also fits your needs"...I think thats a great and correct answer – cop1152 Aug 14 '09 at 16:10
@Jimsmithkka: I think that for most administrators, there's not much difference among distros for servers. They just have different paradigms for some tasks...updates, for examples. But whenever that fails you end up having to install from source anyway. Linux is Linux...the same kernel, different clothes on each distro. They're all "capable" for server chores. If you have a particular task at hand maybe others could comment more, but in vaguely general's whatever you're comfortable with and used to. – Bart Silverstrim Aug 14 '09 at 17:14
Pretty much always whatever you're most comfortable with – Ben Quick Aug 14 '09 at 21:40


Do you have needs that Linux can't fulfill? Do you simply want the perceived prestige of running a true Unix? Is a PHB trying to tell you how to do your job?

The only true Unixes left in the marketplace are HP-UX, SCO, AIX and Solaris. The BSD products listed in this thread are not Unix -- they are merely "Unix-like".

In all fairness, all of the Unixes have been so deeply impacted by Linux and other GNU code, that they are much less "True Unix" than they were 10 years ago.

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the only real Unix experience I have had is with cli in Mac OS X 10, and some very limited stuff in a lab OpenBSD install. I feel that I should have some more time on a Unix environment with regard to some of the inner works. – Jimsmithkka Aug 14 '09 at 19:51
'real' UNIX isn't worth any more than linux these days. A knowledge of unix like systems is useful, as is a knowledge of a particular UNIX like OS. – Cian Aug 14 '09 at 20:04

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