My experience with FreeBSD began in late 2001, during my “OS hunting” phase, where I tried various open-source operating systems. Armed with an orange book titled “FreeBSD Unleashed,” my journey with the red trident started. You can refer to the book on Amazon.

I successfully installed FreeBSD on an old CPU with a generic CRT monitor and used an IBM metal keyboard to turn it into a server. This server was configured with PPP dial-up using a US-Robotics 56k modem and ISP services JARING and TMNet. By installing the Window Maker interface as the GUI, the server also ran Squid as a proxy and cache, and Samba for file sharing, allowing the sharing of movies, mp3s, and other files on the same network. This marked the beginning of my journey with FreeBSD, and even now, uses FreeBSD.

In the early 2000s, Yahoo! and Hotmail were among the users of FreeBSD as their operating system. At that time, many internet users relied on Netcraft to get technical information about websites, including their operating systems and web server applications.

Today, Netflix is frequently mentioned for using FreeBSD in their content delivery networks. For more information, refer to the Netflix Case Study.

There are many operating systems built on the FreeBSD kernel, such as the operating systems for the Nintendo Switch, Sony PlayStation, and a significant part of the macOS kernel. More information can be found in Apple’s documentation.

A Bit About FreeBSD

FreeBSD is an open-source operating system derived from UNIX, originating from the Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD) developed at the University of California, Berkeley. First released in 1993, FreeBSD combines features of networking, performance, and security. It is known for its robust performance, excellent networking capabilities, and advanced storage features.

Personal Experience

In my personal experience, the sound output on FreeBSD used to be better than on Linux, but FreeBSD is still not quite suitable as a desktop operating system. In the past, watching YouTube required installing a Flash plugin using Linux binary compatibility.

Although Linux now dominates the industry and desktop computing, FreeBSD remains a viable choice for basic uses. For example, the 6bone network project JARING.MY, the first Tunnel Broker IPv6 project by the Malaysian Advanced Network Integrated System (MANIS), also used FreeBSD. More details can be found in this GIAC paper.

The FreeBSD Community

There is a small group of FreeBSD developers who are also amateur radio operators. One notable name is Diane Bruce VA3DB, who is one of the authors of the CW daemon application. More information can be found on the FreeBSD Wiki.

Nowadays, there are many resources available to get started with FreeBSD, and the days of being told to “RTFM” are gone. Feel free to try FreeBSD if you’re interested. GB Network Solutions also now offers FreeBSD, as mentioned in their GB Cloud Blog.

If you have experience with FreeBSD, share it below.

Happy FreeBSD Day to all FreeBSD users!

#FreeBSD #FreeBSDday #FreeBSDfoundation


An amateur radio operator, military veteran, jack of all trades and master of none.

3 thoughts on “My First Experience with FreeBSD in 2001”
  1. Nice to read some warm words about FreeBSD! Just a few additions: FreeBSD -is- an actual UNIX, it’s not merely derived from Unix. Also, it served as the foundation for Apple’s Darwin, which in turn is the foundation of macOS and all those other Apple operating systems – the GPL was the main reason why Apple decided against using Linux. The Nintendo Switch and Sony Playstation 4 and 5 also use FreeBSD as the foundation of their respective operating systems. I’m pretty sure that I’ve also seen the one or the other proprietary network hardware boot a FreeBSD kernel in the past, Juniper’s JunOS was one of them, I think. And for a long time, ZFS only worked well on FreeBSD, which is one of the reasons why TrueNAS ans XigmaNAS (formerly NAS4Free) are based upon FreeBSD. So while the vanilla FreeBSD distribution might only occupy a small niche, there are some really big commercial and successful products built upon it – you just normally don’t see or interact directly with their FreeBSD foundation.

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