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FreeBSD is a Unix-like operating system which has grown out of the original BSD (Berkeley Software Distribution) of the early days of Unix.

What is FreeBSD?

FreeBSD is a Unix-like (for legal reasons it can't be called UNIX) operating system which has grown out of the original BSD (Berkeley System Development) operating system of the early days of Unix.

The history of FreeBSD

BSD was started back in 1977 by the studens and staff of Berkeley University, California, and rapidly took hold as one of the most widely used version of Unix, mainly in use on the east coast of America (the west coast was largely AT&T Unix).

In 1993, when BSD was starting to wind up and stop all development and support, a number of original BSD developers and enthusiastic individuals started work developing a good version of BSD to run on standard PC equipment.

Drawing on previous code from both 4.4BSD (the last version to be released) and 386BSD (an early attempt to get BSD running on PC hardware) they came up with the first version of FreeBSD.

Since then, FreeBSD has gone from strength to strength, and has benefitted from input from such giants as Apple, and SUN.

Who uses FreeBSD?

A number of other projects have spun off from FreeBSD, the most notable of which is DragonflyBSD, created by one of the original FreeBSD developers Matt Dillon, in an attempt to create a more easily clusterable operating system.

While not as popular as Linux, FreeBSD has a good following amongst server sysadmins, because the lightweight, streamlined code and kernel make for a good stable server platform. Desktop environments like KDE and Gnome are available for FreeBSD but aren't anywhere as well-rounded as the Linux offerings like Ubuntu etc.

The whole ethos of FreeBSD dates back to the early days of BSD and the filesystem structure reflects that - most of the directory tree is exactly the same as it was 30 years ago. This makes managing any of the BSD systems a nice easy job, as they are all laid out the same way.

Important links

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