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    1: **Contents**
    3: [[!toc levels=3]]
    5: # What is NetBSD?
    7: NetBSD is a free, fast, secure, and highly portable Unix-like Open Source
    8: operating system. It is available for many platforms, from 64-bit x86 servers
    9: and PC desktop systems to embedded ARM and MIPS based devices. Its clean design
   10: and advanced features make it excellent in both production and research
   11: environments, and it is user-supported with complete source. Many applications
   12: are easily available through [pkgsrc](, the NetBSD Packages Collection.
   14: ## The story of NetBSD
   16: The first version of NetBSD (0.8) dates back to 1993 and springs from the 4.3BSD
   17: Lite operating system, a version of Unix developed at the University of
   18: California, Berkeley (BSD = Berkeley Software Distribution), and from the 386BSD
   19: system, the first BSD port to the Intel 386 CPU. In the following years,
   20: modifications from the 4.4BSD Lite release (the last release from the Berkeley
   21: group) were integrated into the system. The BSD branch of Unix has had a great
   22: importance and influence on the history of Unix-like operating systems, to which
   23: it has contributed many tools, ideas and improvements which are now standard:
   24: the vi editor, the C shell, job control, the Berkeley fast file system, reliable
   25: signals, support for virtual memory and TCP/IP, just to name a few. This
   26: tradition of research and development survives today in the BSD systems and, in
   27: particular, in NetBSD.
   29: ## NetBSD features
   31: NetBSD operates on a vast range of hardware platforms and is very portable. The
   32: full source to the NetBSD kernel and userland is available for all the supported
   33: platforms; please see the details on the official site of the [NetBSD
   34: Project](
   36: A detailed list of NetBSD features can be found at:
   37: <>.
   39: The basic features of NetBSD are:
   41:  * Code quality and correctness
   42:  * Portability to a wide range of hardware
   43:  * Secure defaults
   44:  * Adherence to industry standards
   45:  * Research and innovation
   47: These characteristics bring also indirect advantages. For example, if you work
   48: on just one platform you could think that you're not interested in portability.
   49: But portability is tied to code quality; without a well written and well
   50: organized code base it would be impossible to support a large number of
   51: platforms. And code quality is the base of any good and solid software system,
   52: though surprisingly few people seem to understand it.
   54: One of the key characteristics of NetBSD is that its developers are not
   55: satisfied with partial implementations. Some systems seem to have the philosophy
   56: of *If it works, it's right.* In that light NetBSD's philosophy could be
   57: described as *It doesn't work unless it's right*. Think about how many
   58: overgrown programs are collapsing under their own weight and "features"
   59: and you'll understand why NetBSD tries to avoid this situation at all costs.
   61: ## Supported platforms
   63: NetBSD supports many platforms, including the popular PC platform (i386 and
   64: amd64), ARM, SPARC and UltraSPARC, Alpha, Amiga, Atari, and m68k and PowerPC based
   65: Apple Macintosh machines. Technical details for all of them can be found on
   66: [the NetBSD site](
   68: ## NetBSD's target users
   70: The NetBSD site states that: *The NetBSD Project provides a freely available and
   71: redistributable system that professionals, hobbyists, and researchers can use in
   72: whatever manner they wish*. It is also an ideal system if you want to learn
   73: Unix, mainly because of its adherence to standards (one of the project goals)
   74: and because it works equally well on the latest PC hardware as well as on
   75: hardware which is considered obsolete by many other operating systems. To learn
   76: and use Unix you don't need to buy expensive hardware; you can use that old PC
   77: or Mac in your attic. It is important to note that although NetBSD runs on old
   78: hardware, modern hardware is well supported and care has been taken to ensure
   79: that supporting old machines does not inhibit performance on modern hardware. In
   80: addition, if you need a Unix system which runs consistently on a variety of
   81: platforms, NetBSD is probably your best choice.
   83: ## Applications for NetBSD
   85: Aside from the standard Unix productivity tools, editors, formatters, C/C++
   86: compilers and debuggers and so on that are included with the base system, there
   87: is a huge collection of packages (currently over 18,000) that can be installed
   88: both from source and in pre-compiled form. All the packages that you expect to
   89: find on a well configured system are available for NetBSD for free. The
   90: framework that makes this possible, pkgsrc, also includes a number of commercial
   91: applications. In addition, NetBSD provides binary emulation for various other
   92: \*nix operating systems, allowing you to run non-native applications. Linux
   93: emulation is probably the most relevant example. You can run the Linux versions
   94: of
   96:  * Matlab
   97:  * the Adobe Flash player plugin
   98:  * Acrobat Reader
   99:  * many other programs
  101: ## How to get NetBSD
  103: NetBSD is an Open Source operating system, and as such it is freely available
  104: for download from []( and its
  105: [mirrors](

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