What is BSD?

There is a close relation between BSD and Linux. They are both UNIX® clones, sort of like distant cousins. BSD stands for Berkeley Software Distribution because it was developed at University of California at Berkley in 1977. Since 1970's, the source code for Unix was included with the releases to allow further development. The changes done at Berkley became known as BSD. Although every version and adaptation of Unix is important, the 1984 release of BSD known as 4.2BSD became popular and commonly used within universities.

In 1985, William Jolitz and Lynne Jolitz adapted the source code of BSD to work on the i386 microprocessor under the name 386BSD.

In 1991, Brad Grantham, Lawrence Kesteloot and Chris Caputo ported 386BSD to Mac under the name MacBSD. In 1992, BSD was running on Mac II systems.

In May 1993, NetBSD 0.8 was first released. NetBSD was the first royalty-free Unix —like OS. Around the same time, Allen Briggs and Michael Finch started to merge NetBSD 0.8 and MacBSD to avoid possible feuds. By the time NetBSD 1.0 came around, the NetBSD/mac68k project was established. See list of distributions based on NetBSD.

In November of 1993, Nate Williams, Rod Grimes and Jordan Hubbard released FreeBSD 1.0 for x86 microprocessors based on 4.4BSD-Lite (1995) with components of the Unofficial 386BSD Patchkit, which they had developed for William Jolitz's OS. Jordan Hubbard is also credited for FreeBSD Ports, a command line package manager to install programs via the Makefilemacro. See list of distributions based on FreeBSD.

In October 1995, Theo de Raadt (a former core team and co-founder of NetBSD, who asked to leave the organization) first released OpenBSD 2.0 as a fork of NetBSD. See list of distributions based on OpenBSD.

In November 2000, Apple used BSD as the base for Mac OS X (2001), known as Darwin. This has been Apple's best decision ever. Many new Mac users have found Apple as a new source of Unix or a clone.

In July 2003, Matthew Dillon started DragonFly BSD, which is fork of FreeBSD 4.x and belongs in the same class as Linux being based on Unix ideals and APIs. See list of distributions based on DragonFly BSD.

Installing BSD:

Before trying to install BSD, get a full inventory of what your computer system has. You might have to help the installer recognize the hardware. Also make sure that your hardware manufacturer supports the distribution of your choice — either based on NetBSD, FreeBSD, OpenBSD or DragonFly BSD.

There are many ways to install BSD (from a CD-ROM, FTP, HTTP, NFS, a DOS partition, etc.). If you are a beginner or lazy (as I am), do the installation from a CD-ROM. Just put the CD-ROM in its drive, wait and boot. Do NOT forget that the installation will format the partition where you install the OS. If you want to test BSD without doing any changes or formating your HDD, get a copy of any live CD-ROM like FreeSBIE.

A simple way to install BSD is to create two main disk partitions, a /swap and a system native (like ext2 or ext3). As an old rule of thumb (not relevant with today's technology), make the /swap partition (virtual memory, written to HDD) twice size of RAM that your PC has. For example, if the PC has 256 MB of RAM, assign 512 MB for /swap. The rest of the HDD should be partitioned as native (Unix File System or UFS). To create the partitions, refer to the manual included with the system that you are installing.

List of Distributions Based on NetBSD (1993)

List of Distributions Based on FreeBSD (1993)

List of Distributions Based on OpenBSD (1995)

List of Distributions Based on DragonFly BSD (2003)

Some of the information mentioned in this page was partially taken from IBM DeveloperWorks.