Annotation of wikisrc/guide/intro.mdwn, revision 1.2
1.1 jdf 1: # What is NetBSD?
1.2 ! jdf 3: NetBSD is a free, fast, secure, and highly portable Unix-like Open Source
! 4: operating system. It is available for many platforms, from 64-bit x86 servers
! 5: and PC desktop systems to embedded ARM and MIPS based devices. Its clean design
! 6: and advanced features make it excellent in both production and research
! 7: environments, and it is user-supported with complete source. Many applications
1.1 jdf 8: are easily available through pkgsrc, the NetBSD Packages Collection.
10: ## The story of NetBSD
1.2 ! jdf 12: The first version of NetBSD (0.8) dates back to 1993 and springs from the 4.3BSD
! 13: Lite operating system, a version of Unix developed at the University of
! 14: California, Berkeley (BSD = Berkeley Software Distribution), and from the 386BSD
! 15: system, the first BSD port to the Intel 386 CPU. In the following years,
! 16: modifications from the 4.4BSD Lite release (the last release from the Berkeley
! 17: group) were integrated into the system. The BSD branch of Unix has had a great
! 18: importance and influence on the history of Unix-like operating systems, to which
! 19: it has contributed many tools, ideas and improvements which are now standard:
! 20: the vi editor, the C shell, job control, the Berkeley fast file system, reliable
! 21: signals, support for virtual memory and TCP/IP, just to name a few. This
! 22: tradition of research and development survives today in the BSD systems and, in
1.1 jdf 23: particular, in NetBSD.
25: ## NetBSD features
1.2 ! jdf 27: NetBSD operates on a vast range of hardware platforms and is very portable. The
! 28: full source to the NetBSD kernel and userland is available for all the supported
! 29: platforms; please see the details on the official site of the [NetBSD
1.1 jdf 30: Project](http://www.NetBSD.org/).
1.2 ! jdf 32: A detailed list of NetBSD features can be found at:
1.1 jdf 33: [http://www.NetBSD.org/about/features.html](http://www.NetBSD.org/about/features.html).
35: The basic features of NetBSD are:
37: * Code quality and correctness
38: * Portability to a wide range of hardware
39: * Secure defaults
40: * Adherence to industry standards
41: * Research and innovation
1.2 ! jdf 43: These characteristics bring also indirect advantages. For example, if you work
! 44: on just one platform you could think that you're not interested in portability.
! 45: But portability is tied to code quality; without a well written and well
! 46: organized code base it would be impossible to support a large number of
! 47: platforms. And code quality is the base of any good and solid software system,
1.1 jdf 48: though surprisingly few people seem to understand it.
1.2 ! jdf 50: One of the key characteristics of NetBSD is that its developers are not
! 51: satisfied with partial implementations. Some systems seem to have the philosophy
! 52: of *If it works, it's right.* In that light NetBSD's philosophy could be
! 53: described as *It doesn't work unless it's right*. Think about how many
1.1 jdf 54: overgrown programs are collapsing under their own weight and "features"
55: and you'll understand why NetBSD tries to avoid this situation at all costs.
57: ## Supported platforms
1.2 ! jdf 59: NetBSD supports many platforms, including the popular PC platform (i386 and
! 60: amd64), SPARC and UltraSPARC, Alpha, Amiga, Atari, and m68k and PowerPC based
1.1 jdf 61: Apple Macintosh machines. Technical details for all of them can be found on
62: [the NetBSD site](http://www.NetBSD.org/ports/).
64: ## NetBSD's target users
1.2 ! jdf 66: The NetBSD site states that: *The NetBSD Project provides a freely available and
! 67: redistributable system that professionals, hobbyists, and researchers can use in
! 68: whatever manner they wish*. It is also an ideal system if you want to learn
! 69: Unix, mainly because of its adherence to standards (one of the project goals)
! 70: and because it works equally well on the latest PC hardware as well as on
! 71: hardware which is considered obsolete by many other operating systems. To learn
! 72: and use Unix you don't need to buy expensive hardware; you can use that old PC
! 73: or Mac in your attic. It is important to note that although NetBSD runs on old
! 74: hardware, modern hardware is well supported and care has been taken to ensure
! 75: that supporting old machines does not inhibit performance on modern hardware. In
! 76: addition, if you need a Unix system which runs consistently on a variety of
1.1 jdf 77: platforms, NetBSD is probably your best choice.
79: ## Applications for NetBSD
1.2 ! jdf 81: Aside from the standard Unix productivity tools, editors, formatters, C/C++
! 82: compilers and debuggers and so on that are included with the base system, there
! 83: is a huge collection of packages (currently over 8,000) that can be installed
! 84: both from source and in pre-compiled form. All the packages that you expect to
! 85: find on a well configured system are available for NetBSD for free. The
! 86: framework that makes this possible, pkgsrc, also includes a number of commercial
! 87: applications. In addition, NetBSD provides binary emulation for various other
! 88: \*nix operating systems, allowing you to run non-native applications. Linux
! 89: emulation is probably the most relevant example. You can run the Linux versions
1.1 jdf 90: of
92: * Firefox
93: * the Adobe Flash player plugin
94: * Acrobat Reader
95: * many other programs
97: ## How to get NetBSD
1.2 ! jdf 99: NetBSD is an Open Source operating system, and as such it is freely available
! 100: for download from [ftp.NetBSD.org](ftp://ftp.NetBSD.org) and its
1.1 jdf 101: [mirrors](http://www.NetBSD.org/mirrors/).
1.2 ! jdf 103: There is no "official" supplier of NetBSD CD-ROMs but there are various
! 104: resellers. You can find the most up to date list on the relevant
1.1 jdf 105: [page](http://www.NetBSD.org/sites/cdroms.html) on the NetBSD site.
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