FreeBSD is a cost free operating system based on the BSD 4.4-lite release from Computer Systems Research Group at the University of California at Berkeley. FreeBSD requires an ISA, EISA, VESA, or PCI based computer with an Intel 80386SX to Pentium CPU (or compatible AMD or Cyrix CPU) with 4 megabytes of RAM and 60MB of disk space.
Cost free in this case means there is no license fee to use the software and the software source code is available free of charge to anybody who wants it.
Some of FBSD's features are: preemptive multitasking with dynamic priority adjustment to ensure smooth and fair sharing of the computer between applications and users; multi-user access - peripherals such as printers and tape drives can be shared between all users; complete TCP/IP networking including SLIP, PPP, NFS and NIS; and memory protection, demand-paged virtual memory with a merged VM/buffer cache design. FBSD was designed as a 32-bit operating system. X Window Systems (X11R6) provides a graphical user interface. Binary compatibility with many programs built for SCO, BSDI, NetBSD, 386BSD, and Linux is provided. Thousands of ready-to-run 3rd party applications are in the FBSD ports collection. FBSD is source code compatible with most popular commercial Unix systems and thus most applications require few, if any, changes to compile. Shared libraries, a full compliment of C, C++, Fortran and Perl development tools and many other programming languages are included. Source code for the entire system is available.
FBSD is not a commercial operating system. There are no people getting paid to support the source code which makes up the system. FreeBSD was developed, maintained and is being enhanced by a core group of dedicated volunteers. The source code is freely available to all and is the vehicle used to upgrade in place to new versions as they are released. FBSD is just one flavor of many Unix like operating systems.
FBSD's popularity is based on its speed of processing a large number of simultaneous TCP/IP connections, its code stability over the other flavors of Unix like operating systems, the large selection of pre-packaged 3rd party software applications which can run on it and most important the lack of any licenses fees to use it.
FBSD is like having a complete workshop with all the tools and materials needed to build a Ferrari race car. The user needs to put forth the effort to learn how to use the equipment to form the materials into the parts needed to build the race car. If you have the patience and persistence, them over time you can learn to build yourself a very fast and reliable operation system that runs like a Ferrari race car.
FBSD was not and is not targeted at commercial users, even though many ISP do use it as the main workhorse of their environments. Basically FBSD is targeted at the advanced technical computer hobbyist, or the computer hobbyist who is technically inclined and wants to leave the Microsoft world.
On-line documentation is available, but leaves a lot to be desired. It is inefficient in conveying any useful meaning, due to its lack of background explanation information tying the system components together.
All the official FBSD documentation (IE: the handbook & the individual command manuals) are written as ‘reference materials’ for users who already have an in-depth programmers knowledge of FBSD or its common heritage with other Unix-like operating systems. These sources are not learning aids for the newbie.
It became very apparent to me that some kind of user-friendly step-by-step configuration instructions based on a working example containing full and comprehensive documentation was needed. To that end I have written this FBSD Installer Guide. The documentation style used here has been in common use in the IBM mainframe environment for 25+ years. It has a proven track record, makes common sense, and presents the information in a logical progression of steps which build upon each other, giving the reader background information about the interrelationships of the operating system software components necessary to achieve an understandable functional solution -- a real follow-your-nose type of approach.
The author is not claiming to be a professional technical book writer or to be an expert on all subjects concerning the FreeBSD operating system. But the author does have 30 years of professional Computer Data Processing experience and witnessed the birth of the ‘personal computer industry’ and the ‘public Internet’ first hand as well as major participation in the integrating of these new technologies into many commercial businesses during his career as an Independent Data Processing Consultant. The contents of this Installer Guide can be considered as originating from an individual who has the background and experience to be an authority on the subject.
This FreeBSD Installer Guide is an public domain HOW-TO. This content may be reproduced, in any form or by any means, and used by all without permission in writing from the author.