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 **Contents**  This page was moved to:
   [The NetBSD Guide - What is NetBSD?](//www.NetBSD.org/docs/guide/en/chap-intro.html)
 [[!toc levels=3]]  
   
 # What is NetBSD?  
   
 NetBSD is a free, fast, secure, and highly portable Unix-like Open Source  
 operating system. It is available for many platforms, from 64-bit x86 servers  
 and PC desktop systems to embedded ARM and MIPS based devices. Its clean design  
 and advanced features make it excellent in both production and research  
 environments, and it is user-supported with complete source. Many applications  
 are easily available through [pkgsrc](http://pkgsrc.org), the NetBSD Packages Collection.  
   
 ## The story of NetBSD  
   
 The first version of NetBSD (0.8) dates back to 1993 and springs from the 4.3BSD  
 Lite operating system, a version of Unix developed at the University of  
 California, Berkeley (BSD = Berkeley Software Distribution), and from the 386BSD  
 system, the first BSD port to the Intel 386 CPU. In the following years,  
 modifications from the 4.4BSD Lite release (the last release from the Berkeley  
 group) were integrated into the system. The BSD branch of Unix has had a great  
 importance and influence on the history of Unix-like operating systems, to which  
 it has contributed many tools, ideas and improvements which are now standard:  
 the vi editor, the C shell, job control, the Berkeley fast file system, reliable  
 signals, support for virtual memory and TCP/IP, just to name a few. This  
 tradition of research and development survives today in the BSD systems and, in  
 particular, in NetBSD.  
   
 ## NetBSD features  
   
 NetBSD operates on a vast range of hardware platforms and is very portable. The  
 full source to the NetBSD kernel and userland is available for all the supported  
 platforms; please see the details on the official site of the [NetBSD  
 Project](http://www.NetBSD.org/).  
   
 A detailed list of NetBSD features can be found at:  
 <http://www.NetBSD.org/about/features.html>.  
   
 The basic features of NetBSD are:  
   
  * Code quality and correctness  
  * Portability to a wide range of hardware  
  * Secure defaults  
  * Adherence to industry standards  
  * Research and innovation  
   
 These characteristics bring also indirect advantages. For example, if you work  
 on just one platform you could think that you're not interested in portability.  
 But portability is tied to code quality; without a well written and well  
 organized code base it would be impossible to support a large number of  
 platforms. And code quality is the base of any good and solid software system,  
 though surprisingly few people seem to understand it.  
   
 One of the key characteristics of NetBSD is that its developers are not  
 satisfied with partial implementations. Some systems seem to have the philosophy  
 of *If it works, it's right.* In that light NetBSD's philosophy could be  
 described as *It doesn't work unless it's right*. Think about how many  
 overgrown programs are collapsing under their own weight and "features"  
 and you'll understand why NetBSD tries to avoid this situation at all costs.  
   
 ## Supported platforms  
   
 NetBSD supports many platforms, including the popular PC platform (i386 and  
 amd64), ARM, SPARC and UltraSPARC, Alpha, Amiga, Atari, and m68k and PowerPC based  
 Apple Macintosh machines. Technical details for all of them can be found on  
 [the NetBSD site](http://www.NetBSD.org/ports/).  
   
 ## NetBSD's target users  
   
 The NetBSD site states that: *The NetBSD Project provides a freely available and  
 redistributable system that professionals, hobbyists, and researchers can use in  
 whatever manner they wish*. It is also an ideal system if you want to learn  
 Unix, mainly because of its adherence to standards (one of the project goals)  
 and because it works equally well on the latest PC hardware as well as on  
 hardware which is considered obsolete by many other operating systems. To learn  
 and use Unix you don't need to buy expensive hardware; you can use that old PC  
 or Mac in your attic. It is important to note that although NetBSD runs on old  
 hardware, modern hardware is well supported and care has been taken to ensure  
 that supporting old machines does not inhibit performance on modern hardware. In  
 addition, if you need a Unix system which runs consistently on a variety of  
 platforms, NetBSD is probably your best choice.  
   
 ## Applications for NetBSD  
   
 Aside from the standard Unix productivity tools, editors, formatters, C/C++  
 compilers and debuggers and so on that are included with the base system, there  
 is a huge collection of packages (currently over 18,000) that can be installed  
 both from source and in pre-compiled form. All the packages that you expect to  
 find on a well configured system are available for NetBSD for free. The  
 framework that makes this possible, pkgsrc, also includes a number of commercial  
 applications. In addition, NetBSD provides binary emulation for various other  
 \*nix operating systems, allowing you to run non-native applications. Linux  
 emulation is probably the most relevant example. You can run the Linux versions  
 of  
   
  * Matlab  
  * the Adobe Flash player plugin  
  * Acrobat Reader  
  * many other programs  
   
 ## How to get NetBSD  
   
 NetBSD is an Open Source operating system, and as such it is freely available  
 for download from [cdn.NetBSD.org](http://cdn.NetBSD.org) and its  
 [mirrors](http://www.NetBSD.org/mirrors/).  
   

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