Debian kFreeBSD, or “this is getting interesting”

I’ve been tracking the Debian kFreeBSD port for a while now, and it’s really starting to mature.

The latest “Squeeze” release of Debian aims to have a reasonably stable release of Debian running on top of the FreeBSD kernel.

I’ve done an install from the recent d-i.debian.org installer and things are really looking good, aside from a few niggly issues.

Why is this good ?

Well, an alternative kernel to run the Debian userspace atop of is never a bad thing in my mind. In the same way the Nexenta has utilised the OpenSolaris kernel to build a Debian userspace atop.

With a FreeBSD kernel and Debian userspace, I get all the tools that I need and some kernel specific features, such as “pf”, “zfs” and a number of things that the mainline Linux kernel doesn’t have.

Why is this bad ?

Well, as per the DFSG (Debian Free Software Guidelines) some code that isn’t freely licensed is being hacked out of the kFreeBSD kernel. Importantly for example Atheros WiFi device support and who knows what else.

This is not much different from Debian Linux releases (for example bnx2 ugliness) but it does kind of remove some of the benefits of a FreeBSD kernel.

In the end…

Of course, I’m probably just going to end up hacking the kernel builds to include all the proprietary firmware, because as a developer, sysadmin and user I don’t really give a shit about DFSG.

But that’s the beauty behind DFSG. It’s a “guideline”. I can choose to ignore it if I have enough gusto and know-how to do it.

Of course, this is part of what Mark Shuttleworth and Ubuntu’s entire selling point is.

Hmm, I spot a business model here. Kind of a must-make-funky-presentation-to-daft-venture-capitalists moment here. 😉

Author: roelf on September 23, 2010
Category: Uncategorized

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