May 28, 2012

Miss Amiga? Try DragonFly!

Amiga users are the longest-suffering technology loyalists that the computing industry has ever seen. Though once the best solution for 3D and special effects work, the operating system has long since been superseded as mainstream options, such as x86 hardware and new Mac and Windows operating systems, have become more powerful.

For instance, AmigaOS only gained support for memory paging in 2008, with AmigaOS 4.1, and USB 2.0 in 2011, with AmigaOS 4.1u3. That's over a decade after the USB standard was released, and three years after its successor, USB 3.0, was finalized. Amiga support for modern operating design and peripheral hardware is, to say the least, beyond hope.

On top of that, AmigaOS only supports dead, 32-bit processor architectures. AmigaOS 3.9 supports the Motorola 68k series up to the 68060 (released in 1994). AmigaOS 4, while slightly more modern, only runs on older P.A. Semi PA6T, Freescale e600, and IBM 750 parts. At best, AmigaOS is a decade behind.

So what is an Amiga user to do? If you're at all familiar with Unix or FreeBSD, there is one option out there that Amigans can look to—as long as they're okay with rock-hard stability, modern operating system design, and pervasive 64-bit support.

May 15, 2012

Why I Gave Up on OpenBSD

Having been an OpenBSD user since OpenBSD 2.7 was released in 2006, I—until recently—administrated several OpenBSD deployments and wrote utilities for the operating system.

Excited about the imminent release of OpenBSD 5.1, I thought to ask OpenBSD owner Theo de Raadt some questions about upgrading from OpenBSD 4.9. I knew Theo was infamous for his short temper, so I made sure to pose my questions intelligently. I sent the email and went to bed.

Let me tell you, I was not prepared for Theo's response.

May 1, 2012

FreeBSD X: Berkeley Unix, Apple Quality

The various Berkeley Software Distribution operating systems, having been nearly destroyed in an ugly lawsuit with AT&T, have had a challenging past. FreeBSD has been the only non-commercial Berkeley unix to have had any measure of real success and, to this day, the hangover of its early legal woes still stymies its popular use outside of industry despite improvements to its codebase.

The infamous AT&T/BSD lawsuits caused FreeBSD to jettison two-thirds of its codebase and start over from scratch, knocking its feature-set back several years, causing it to be bought out and divested by hopeful investors and only reaching robustness with code infusions from two commercial unix systems, BSD/OS and Mac OS X.

So as FreeBSD heads toward its milestone tenth release, it is Apple's platform that has been the center of gravity for the demonic operating system, largely in part by Apple's open-source efforts that have been more and more contributing code back into the main FreeBSD development branch. It obviously won't be long until the two are completely merged—so when thinking of 2014 and FreeBSD 10, starting thinking “FreeBSD X.”

But first, how did we get here? What did BSD/OS contribute or, more importantly, how did it take away from FreeBSD? And what exactly does FreeBSD 10 look like? What is Apple's role in the operating system? Important questions to be answered, picking up from after the lawsuits…