See also: Operating Systems | BSD Distributions | UNIX-like | POSIX

Logo: topicbsd.gif

Abbreviation: Berkeley Software Distribution

A series of open-source, UNIX-like operating systems that carry a similar system design and license. Porting applications between BSD systems is often very easy as well as to and from other Unices like Solaris or Linux. There are a variety of BSD Distributions available, often for free.


Who uses BSD?

Companies all over the world use BSD software to help their own software work better. Hundreds of programs are available for free to BSD users and more are being developed all the time.

Although few Apple customers will ever truly interact with the robust BSD core, Mac OS X‘s core, “Darwin” is a variation on FreeBSD. This has made Darwin the most popular UNIX in the world since Apple Computer, Inc.’s growth over the last few years. BSD’s other most famous aspect is as Yahoo!‘s Web server of choice for years due to its reliability and uptime.

It also powers hundreds of other backbone servers and many ISPs.

Linux and BSD

BSD shares some things in common with its younger and more famous counterpart, Linux, including its POSIX compliance, UNIX nature, capability as a server OS, and its speed. But there are some differences:

  • BSD developers generally eschew the GNU GPL license, preferring their revised BSD license.
  • BSD does not try to include all the latest features, and focuses more on security and being bug-free. It is, therefore, often more reliable as compared to Linux.
  • BSD is based on actual UNIX systems where Linux is a UNIX clone. This was an initial negative facet of the Linux OS but, as its use and popularity grew, Linux has begun to replace many traditional true UNIX systems, often making it the standard by which other UNIX systems are judged.

Note for beginners

Most distributions are not for casual computer users. Although a lively and intelligent BSD community welcomes newcomers, UNIX knowledge and a familiarity with the command line and UNIX systems is recommended before attempting to work with BSD. Investment in a good book is ideal.


BSD was developed in the late 1970s by researchers at the University of California, Berkley (UCB) as a set of extensions to the original AT&T UNIX system. Some of the key features included the visual editor vi and TCP/IP sockets code. The BSD tools, along with the early GNU utilities were amongst the first open source programs. BSD eventually evolved into a complete operating system, however, and many enhancements were rolled back into AT&T’s UNIX and are now considered standard on UNIX-like systems the world over.


BSD also has a very cute mascot, much like the Linux penguin, named for a “daemon,” or developer-speak for a running program. Why a devil?


The father of the contemporary BSD distributions, BSDi, is now bound with FreeBSD.
BSD/OS will be discontinued: Wind River terminating BSD/OS


TakeDown.NET -> “BSD