32 votes

Switching from Linux to BSD: What do you miss?

There seems to be a trend lately of people switching over to BSD operating systems. Having read some blog posts on the matter and now given the recent system-d controversy, I'm genuinely curious to give FreeBSD or OpenBSD a go as my main OS.

For those who have switched over to BSD, what are some problems you've encountered and/or what are some things you miss?

15 comments

  1. [7]
    apoctr
    (edited )
    Link
    What I dislike about OpenBSD can be summarised into three bullet points: Less available games Worse performance Less available software What I miss most of all, and perhaps surprisingly keep a...

    What I dislike about OpenBSD can be summarised into three bullet points:

    • Less available games
    • Worse performance
    • Less available software

    What I miss most of all, and perhaps surprisingly keep a Linux partition around for, is games. While Linux has natively supported games via Steam/GOG/internet and support for emulated games via Proton/Wine, OpenBSD supports neither. A focus on security also means worse performance, which doesn't help for playing games that remain.

    Due to differences in filepaths, OS-specific code, etc. it can be harder to get Linux software to compile or work on OpenBSD if it's not in the official repos (e.g. polybar). But for the most part every non-game program I want to use is packaged for OpenBSD (and FreeBSD, I hear, has much better software support).

    And finally OpenBSD focuses significantly on being as secure as possible, which means they don't make as many optimisations for speed/performance gains if it means less security. For example on my laptop multithreading was disabled by default (enabled by sticking hw.smt=1 into /etc/sysctl.conf). This is another area in which FreeBSD, which does not focus so strongly on security, outperforms OpenBSD.

    Dislike of systemd was not my reason for switching from Linux to OpenBSD, and if that is a significant reason you're thinking of switching perhaps consider trying a distro such as Gentoo or Void which support init systems such as openrc, runit or s6.

    Of course there's plenty of positives I've found having switched to OpenBSD, otherwise I wouldn't be running it as my main OS, but you didn't ask for those so I'll spare you another few paragraphs :).

    17 votes
    1. [2]
      Avion
      Link Parent
      If you don't mind, I'd be interested in why you switched to OpenBSD

      If you don't mind, I'd be interested in why you switched to OpenBSD

      11 votes
      1. apoctr
        Link Parent
        OpenBSD is an entire OS developed by one group of devs, unlike the intertwined nature of the separately developed GNU OS and Linux kernel that form most Linux distributions, and that means that...

        OpenBSD is an entire OS developed by one group of devs, unlike the intertwined nature of the separately developed GNU OS and Linux kernel that form most Linux distributions, and that means that everything is developed with the same ethos/principles/goals, giving the OS a more designed and "purpose-built" feel, which I like.

        One of the big reasons is also what makes running it on my laptop a little painful at times, their focus on security in the kernel, userland, OS. Their code tends to be very clean, concise and makes use of more security features like their self-made pledge(2) and unveil(2) (although again, this impacts negatively on performance, although not too much). They're the guys responsible for LibreSSL and OpenSSH and other cool software.

        Their documentation is excellent, and they're constantly trying to improve them further. This extends to things beyond manpages for just programs, for example take a look at afterboot(8) and intro.

        There's other small things that contribute, probably some big ones I forgot while typing this up. But by and large I feel much more at home on OpenBSD than I do when using Linux. There's no one big "wow" factor, though.

        16 votes
    2. [2]
      yama
      Link Parent
      I think that seems to be a solution for a lot of people. Void is gaining popularity as the "lean distro" ala Arch. Thanks for mentioning this, this is really good to know. I feel like you wouldn't...

      consider trying a distro such as Gentoo or Void which support init systems such as openrc, runit or s6

      I think that seems to be a solution for a lot of people. Void is gaining popularity as the "lean distro" ala Arch.

      For example on my laptop multithreading was disabled by default (enabled by sticking hw.smt=1 into /etc/sysctl.conf)

      Thanks for mentioning this, this is really good to know. I feel like you wouldn't know about this stuff unless you read the entire manual, or just asked around...

      3 votes
      1. apoctr
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        Void is also one of the more "BSD-like" Linux distros, IIRC having been founded by NetBSD maintainers, having BSD software like sndio, libressl and doas available, and using BSD licenses over GPL....

        Void is gaining popularity as the "lean distro" ala Arch.

        Void is also one of the more "BSD-like" Linux distros, IIRC having been founded by NetBSD maintainers, having BSD software like sndio, libressl and doas available, and using BSD licenses over GPL.

        I feel like you wouldn't know about this stuff unless you read the entire manual, or just asked around...

        It was announced on one of the mailing lists at the time, then reported on by a few news sites. But indeed I found out about it from someone casually mentioning it on their blog a short while after I'd installed OpenBSD. It is documented in the sysctl(2) manpage as "Disabled by default" as you suspected.

        2 votes
    3. [2]
      wallace
      Link Parent
      I have a bunch of qualms with OpenBSD, especially compared to FreeBSD. Xenocara dropped support for xorg.conf configuration as well as launching xorg as an unprivileged user rather than in xenodm,...

      I have a bunch of qualms with OpenBSD, especially compared to FreeBSD. Xenocara dropped support for xorg.conf configuration as well as launching xorg as an unprivileged user rather than in xenodm, both in the name of security. Basic X11 apps like xedit were broken for a few releases, and with the most recent release, the installer is unable to handle any partition schemes other than the default 6-partition layout (specifically, in my case, I couldn't use a one-partition system. The devs admitted it was a bug, but they didn't seem too keen on fixing it, because again, 6 the 6 partition default is more secure for permission-separating reasons and thus not worth supporting). Overall, they feel more like a hobbyist OS akin to 9front working towards security through obscurity.

      But I do love that default fvwm style.

      1 vote
      1. apoctr
        Link Parent
        Not sure if you're saying OpenBSD or 9front focus on security by obscurity, but if it's OpenBSD I'd say that's overly harsh. There is a lot of work put into their OS to tighten security, not just...

        Overall, they feel more like a hobbyist OS akin to 9front working towards security through obscurity.

        Not sure if you're saying OpenBSD or 9front focus on security by obscurity, but if it's OpenBSD I'd say that's overly harsh. There is a lot of work put into their OS to tighten security, not just through "obscurity" measures by a mile. For example the restrictions on memory with wxallowed mount options that necessitate a multi-partition layout.

        But I do love that default fvwm style.

        It horrified me.

        1 vote
  2. [2]
    unknown user
    Link
    I could not get FreeBSD to suspend / resume with X, and that was the sole reason why I came back to Linux after a year of FreeBSD. When I asked people online they told me they had it working, and...

    I could not get FreeBSD to suspend / resume with X, and that was the sole reason why I came back to Linux after a year of FreeBSD. When I asked people online they told me they had it working, and when I went to the wiki it said it wouldn't work, but the page where it lists the laptops and whether or not it works, many do work.

    I liked the simplicity of configuration, the neat UI of pkg, the / - /usr/local distinction, the uniformity of base tools (albeit GNU tools are more advanced and I wouldn't give them up now), and the good docs online and offline. I didn't like the suspend resume story and the licence (I support the Free Software movement).

    Edit: I failed to include my actual answer clearly: hardware support and specifically suspend/resume for FreeBSD and WiFi for OpenBSD. I don't want to use a dongle which I will lose every week anyways and which will occupy one of the two USB ports of my laptop.

    7 votes
    1. apoctr
      Link Parent
      Ah, that's something I forgot to mention. Intel don't allow OpenBSD to provide any installation media with their firmware installed, so during the install process if you need that firmware for...

      and WiFi for OpenBSD.

      Ah, that's something I forgot to mention. Intel don't allow OpenBSD to provide any installation media with their firmware installed, so during the install process if you need that firmware for WiFi and don't have access to ethernet you need to do everything locally.

      However once OpenBSD is installed, they provide the necessary firmware files on their site that can be downloaded externally and then installed with fw_update. After doing this, WiFi worked well since for me.

      But if you're using a WiFi dongle, I suppose OpenBSD just flat out don't support your WiFi card so you're SOL.

      7 votes
  3. Elronnd
    Link
    I installed freebsd. It performed significantly worse than linux (which in turn was slightly faster than windows). It didn't seem to support transferring more than 100kb/s or so over my wifi card,...

    I installed freebsd. It performed significantly worse than linux (which in turn was slightly faster than windows). It didn't seem to support transferring more than 100kb/s or so over my wifi card, so I had to dump it. I'm told there will be changes to the driver in 12.1; I'll try it again then. Linux's driver for my wifi card, on the other hand, consistently caused kernel panics, so I'm currently stuck high and dry on windows.

    6 votes
  4. [3]
    knocklessmonster
    Link
    I found wifi performance generally lacks. I set a laptop up with FreeBSD and it was slow to download anything, using an ath9K driver. The software selection for what I wanted was okay, this was a...

    I found wifi performance generally lacks. I set a laptop up with FreeBSD and it was slow to download anything, using an ath9K driver. The software selection for what I wanted was okay, this was a laptop I was mostly going to use for free software stuff and school work, but I couldn't download any of it in a reasonable timeframe

    2 votes
    1. [2]
      Akir
      Link Parent
      I find it somewhat ironic that so many people have had WiFi issues. The reason why I tried BSD in the first place (years and years ago, before it was even called WiFi) was because of their support...

      I find it somewhat ironic that so many people have had WiFi issues. The reason why I tried BSD in the first place (years and years ago, before it was even called WiFi) was because of their support for wireless networking cards. OpenBSD was the first FOSS OS to have support for wireless networking, to the best of my knowledge.

      At the same time, I completely understand having a BSD not completely support all of your hardware. You can get BSD running on a toaster, but that doesn't mean it supports using the heating elements. I think at this point BSD will never become more than a server OS, but I don't think that's a bad thing either. Linux has passed the "good enough" point for about every purpose long ago.

      2 votes
      1. knocklessmonster
        Link Parent
        Mybwifi chipset is fully supported, when I looked into itbit was just that FreeBSD has slow wifi, or just that driver. I flashed custom BIOS to both of my laptops to switch my wifi chipsets for...

        Mybwifi chipset is fully supported, when I looked into itbit was just that FreeBSD has slow wifi, or just that driver. I flashed custom BIOS to both of my laptops to switch my wifi chipsets for this reason.

        I think a lot of the issue is the lack of open-source drivers and platform support for newer chips.

        2 votes
  5. vord
    Link
    I run a FreeBSD server at home, but I will probably switch back to Linux when I go to repave. Biggest reason is probably Docker. While jails are nice, they lack the wider community support that...

    I run a FreeBSD server at home, but I will probably switch back to Linux when I go to repave.

    Biggest reason is probably Docker. While jails are nice, they lack the wider community support that has built up around Linux containerization.

    2 votes
  6. davidb
    Link
    I use FreeNAS at home and at work as a backup and file storage server and it has been running reliably for me for years now. I've tried multiple times over the past 5 or so years with FreeBSD on...

    I use FreeNAS at home and at work as a backup and file storage server and it has been running reliably for me for years now.

    I've tried multiple times over the past 5 or so years with FreeBSD on my laptop as my primary OS and always find myself installing so many Linux programs from ports that it just doesn't make sense to keep going with it, particularly given performance issues with those programs. It may also be that I'm too familiar with GNU/Linux to switch and come at it with bias from the start. At this point, I really just want an OS that works (performs well, rarely breaks, supports tiling window manager, don't have to think about it) and as annoying as it is from time to time, Arch Linux still seems to be the best option for me.

    2 votes