Posted Nov 14, 2012 3:41 UTC (Wed) by mrshiny (subscriber, #4266)
Parent article: Crowding out OpenBSD
BSD may have been a source of experimentation in the past, when it was a mature and flexible environment for doing so, but is there any experimentation that can't be done on Linux?
* Filesystems: Linux has like a bajillion filesystems. I think experimentation in that department is quite healthy and I'm not sure that another posix system is a better candidate for this kind of work.
* Kernels: There have been many prominent forks of the Linux kernel or experimental features. The Realtime kernels are a good example. Otherwise, for even more drastic experimentation, it seems that even writing a basic kernel which serves as a proof of concept is pretty darn hard. See Hurd, Minix.
* Security: The Linux kernel has tons of security features including some that were subjects of quite a bit of security research, eg, SELinux.
* Packaging: There are a handful of BSDs, but orders of magnitude more Linux distros, all of which experiment with packaging and userland configurations.
* Totally different things: Android, Wi-Fi routers, TVs, BluRay players, GPS devices, servers, workstations, mainframes, basically any form factor and any architecture you want has a fork of Linux. Some of those forks are pretty different from each other.
In some ways, Linux is a sort of monoculture. But in other ways, it certainly is not. I'll be as disappointed when OpenBSD dies as I would be when Gentoo Linux dies, or Slackware, or Mandrake/Mandriva/WhateverItsCalled dies. Every major project that has had a significant number of users at some point has been responsible for advancing things. But they die because they stopped being relevant, and because their mission was picked up by other projects.