FreeBSD 7, DragonFly's status

Rahul Siddharthan rsidd120 at
Wed Feb 27 21:25:55 PST 2008

"Dmitri Nikulin" wrote:
>At the risk of sounding like a troll, may I ask, if FreeBSD 7 has high
>performance, high stability and remains reasonably clean and
>maintainable, doesn't that partly invalidate the reasons DragonFly was

Matt disputes the maintainability part of FreeBSD, but that is for the
FreeBSD folks to worry about.  

Speaking for myself, I'd much prefer to use a BSD -- I used FreeBSD 
and DragonFly for quite a while -- but currently use Linux despite
its bloat and other issues. 

There is one single overriding reason why I don't use FreeBSD:
removable media.  It is utterly absurd that, in 2008, you can't
reliably use USB memory sticks without panicking the system.  If you
complain on the FreeBSD lists, they'll tell you that it's your own
damn fault for not unmounting it first, and not keeping it physically
stable so that it doesn't accidentally jiggle, or whatever.  They also
say the problem runs so deep, and involves so many layers, written
over the last 15 years, that it can't be fixed.  Says Warner Losh: "If
it were easy, one of the dozen or so people that have tried to fix it
in the past 8 years would have succeeded."

On the same thread, somebody pointed out that the issue had been fixed
in DragonFly, and Matt commented on what was involved.

There was NO follow-up.  Nobody in FreeBSD-land is interested in
sorting out the issue.  Well, that's up to them, but I need my USB
media.  The "unmount first" advice was ok in floppy days -- it is
difficult to accidentally remove a floppy -- but USB is physically
much less stable.

It's not just USB mass storage media -- I have had problems with USB
audio, USB-to-serial converters, etc.  The entire USB stack is flaky,
and maybe, as Warner says, the flakiness extends deep into the system.

Maybe this doesn't apply so much to servers.  If you really want to
run FreeBSD, you can ensure nobody inserts/removes USB devices or
otherwise fiddles with the system.  For a desktop/laptop user it's
another matter.

So to me DragonFly, when it supports your hardware, seems the more
stable system.  But, as you say, AMD64 is low-priority, and SMP isn't
done.  (Matt says the infrastructure is all there but someone has to
step up and fill in the gaps, ie take subsystems out of the BGL.)
That excludes most newer computers, which are at least dual-core (most
servers are multi-core now) and nearly always are 64-bit.

I'm still keeping an eye on DragonFly, and hope to run it again one of
these days.  I think the biggest problem in FreeBSD that DragonFly
fixes is attitude.  Matt, and the others, don't brush aside problem
reports saying "it can't be done" or "that's not the true BSD way".


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