Annotation of wikisrc/guide/intro.mdwn, revision 1.2

1.1       jdf         1: # What is NetBSD?
                      2: 
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.
                      9: 
                     10: ## The story of NetBSD
                     11: 
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.
                     24: 
                     25: ## NetBSD features
                     26: 
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/).
                     31: 
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).
                     34: 
                     35: The basic features of NetBSD are:
                     36: 
                     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
                     42: 
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.
                     49: 
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.
                     56: 
                     57: ## Supported platforms
                     58: 
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/).
                     63: 
                     64: ## NetBSD's target users
                     65: 
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.
                     78: 
                     79: ## Applications for NetBSD
                     80: 
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
                     91: 
                     92:  * Firefox
                     93:  * the Adobe Flash player plugin
                     94:  * Acrobat Reader
                     95:  * many other programs
                     96: 
                     97: ## How to get NetBSD
                     98: 
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/).
                    102: 
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.
                    106: 

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