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    1: # What is NetBSD?
    2: 
    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 
    8: are easily available through pkgsrc, the NetBSD Packages Collection.
    9: 
   10: ## The story of NetBSD
   11: 
   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 
   23: particular, in NetBSD.
   24: 
   25: ## NetBSD features
   26: 
   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 
   30: Project](http://www.NetBSD.org/).
   31: 
   32: A detailed list of NetBSD features can be found at: 
   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: 
   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, 
   48: though surprisingly few people seem to understand it.
   49: 
   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 
   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: 
   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 
   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: 
   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 
   77: platforms, NetBSD is probably your best choice.
   78: 
   79: ## Applications for NetBSD
   80: 
   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 
   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: 
   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 
  101: [mirrors](http://www.NetBSD.org/mirrors/).
  102: 
  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 
  105: [page](http://www.NetBSD.org/sites/cdroms.html) on the NetBSD site.
  106: 

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