I recall reading a comparison of NetBSD and FreeBSD a few years back, and in 2000 (okay many) it looked like NetBSD forked processes better, while FreeBSD threaded better, and so, for Apache 1 NetBSD seemed a little better.

Since then It seems that FreeBSD supported SMP first but then NetBSD claimed to support it better, until FreeBSD again improved. ETC.

Also I personally found that though people say FreeBSD supports the standard PC hardware better, NetBSD had wider device support at one time and more options for various clone type PCI cards, like BT848s or Tulip Ethernet Clones etc.

Has anyone seen updated comparisons?

I'm not talking about a user walk through of what X desktop system is default etc. I'm talking about talking points with graphs and charts about what happens to latency or memory use or speed when you fork a 1mb process N times. You know when N is < 15 one might look like the clear winner until you see a different curve after 15 and the other is the winner.


I'm trying to get a feel for the current stance between the BSDs. I get the odd feeling that NetBSD sort of shifted focus once they dropped the old logo of conquering a pile of old machines.

  • It'd be great to understand why the forking N 1MB processes microbenchmark is important; if you're wondering how NetBSD/FreeBSD work with your application then just test them with your application :-) – user135 Jul 23 '09 at 10:07
  • 1
    This might be better off on serverfault.com. – ConcernedOfTunbridgeWells Jul 23 '09 at 11:20
  • @GrahamLee I think reading a comparison is a first step over testing your application. And no, if you're interested in a particular application I wouldn't be first writing an test and article on a generic comparison. You can use existing generic comparisons to extrapolate about your application though. IE forking latency and Apache 1. – dlamblin May 21 '12 at 18:46

Are you looking for something like this?

  • I looked at that as well, but it's from 2003. All the BSD variants are numerous revisions ahead =\ – John T Jul 23 '09 at 8:03
  • The newest I could find though. Maybe email the guy and ask if he knows of a newer comparison or has been thinking about repeating this one? – Stefan Thyberg Jul 23 '09 at 8:25

See this posting on serverfault for some links to web resources on BSD. It also has links to documentation and benchmarks on the SMP improvements in the FreeBSD 7.x kernel. The devs claim it is better than a fairly recent 2.6 kernel and show benchmarks on an 8 core box.


Wikipedia has an entire article devoted to the comparison of the *BSDs.

Here is a good kernel trap article comparing NetBSD to FreeBSD.

And here's another straight from the FreeBSD website.

  • Thanks, but the technical comparison comes down to technology tag-soup. It's literally <100 words 70% of which are similar between NetBSD and FreeBSD. – dlamblin Jul 23 '09 at 7:45
  • hmm... i can't seem to find much on openbsd whatsoever. It is the newer of the 3, but it is also approximately 13 years old. Maybe they put the other 2 head to head because they were released the same year. Updated post with benchmarks regardless. – John T Jul 23 '09 at 7:52

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.