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NetBSDOpenBSD
GENERAL FEATURESA free (as in freedom) UNIX-like system from the BSD family, that first appeared publicly on April 20th, 1993 (NetBSD 0.8). Together with its twin project FreeBSD, built from 386BSD foundations. It is recognized for its outstanding portability.A free (as in freedom) UNIX-like system from the BSD family. Created in 1995 as a NetBSD fork, which aimed at stronger security. The founder and leader of the OS is an expert in the computer security domain, a Canadian programmer Theo de Raadt. Familiarize yourself with OpenBSD's project goals.

OpenBSD's mascot is Puffy — fish from Tetraodontidae family, often confused with Diodontidae family. Learn more about fascinating residents of Red Sea.

TECHNICAL INFO
Supported architecturesacorn26, acorn32, algor, alpha, amd64, amiga, amigappc, arc, arm32, atari, bebox, cats, cesfic, cobalt, dreamcast, evbarm, evbmips, evbppc, evbsh3, ews4800mips, hp300, hp700, hpcarm, hpcmips, hpcsh, i386, ibmnws, iyonix, luna68k, mac68k, macppc, mipsco, mmeye, mvme68k, mvmeppc, netwinder, news68k, newsmips, next68k, ofppc, pc532, playstation2, pmax, pmppc, prep, sandpoint, sbmips, sgimips, sh3, sh5, shark, sparc, sparc64, sun2, sun3, vax, x68k, xen, zaurus

The full platforms description.

Installation from CD-ROM: i386, amd64, macppc, sparc, sparc64.

Installation only from FTP: alpha, armish, hp300, hppa, landisk, luna88k, mac68k, mvme68k, mvme88k, sgi, vax, zaurus.

In preparation: aviion, hppa64, solbourne, romp.

The full platforms description. OpenBSD server hardware compatibility list.

SMP is supported only on i386 i amd64 platforms, on rest smp.mp kernel runs but utilizes only one CPU. 8.12 — Does OpenBSD support SMP?

Minimal hardware requirementsThe minimum requirements are 386-family processor (math coprocessor not required), 4 MB RAM memory (16 MB recommended) and 50 MB HDD space. See example partitioning scheme.

List of supported hardware.

For the most popular i386 platform, Intel 80386 processor or compatible is enough. At last 16 RAM. See HDD requirements for other platforms.

Hardware requirements for other platforms are available in the platforms description.

The list of supported laptops.

Software freedom statusFree as in freedom. Most code is BSD licensed, some components are GPL licensed. Nonfree software may be installed via Pkgsrc package system.Free as in freedom. Most code is BSD licensed, some components are GPL licensed. Nonfree software may be installed via ports mechanism.

No ATI and NVIDIA closed binary drivers (called blob) are available.

INSTALLATION
Installer - overall(3) Simple text installer. Like FreeBSD's installer, the NetBSD's installer displays dialog windows.(1) OpenBSD installer is pure text-based. It does not display any dialog windows (like NetBSD's and FreeBSD's installers). Its working is mainly asking questions user.

Movies
OpenBSD installation on OSVids. Full disk OpenBSD installation by Marcin Wilk. Quick OpenBSD installation and configuration on You Tube.

Package selection(3) The system is divided into components, which are called distributions sets in the NetBSD's terminology.(3) System is divided into components, which are called distributions sets in the OpenBSD's terminology.
Predefined package groups(0) During the installation we choose only the system's components (by selecting the distributions sets in two modes: "Full installation" or "Custom installation"). This is why there are no predefined choices like "KDE/GNOME Workstation", "FTP Server", "Firewall/Router", like in many Linux distributions. After finishing the installation, additional software may be added from the pkgsrc.(0) During installation we choose only system's components (by selecting distributions sets, thanks to "all" option, it is possible to mark all distribution sets at once). This is why there are no predefined choices like "KDE/GNOME Workstation", "FTP Server", "Firewall/router", like in many Linux distributions. After finishing installation, additional software may be added from ports.
Expert mode install(1) Installation in expert mode only. Some knowledge about partitioning is required. Thanks to the installer windows, using fdisk and disklabel is not as crude and unfriendly as in OpenBSD. In fact partitioning is the only hard stage that can cause trouble. The installation process is described in details in the handbook. (0) Installation in expert mode only. Deep knowledge about partitioning (fdisk and disklabel familiarity). In fact partitioning is the only hard stage that can make trouble. However one should remember that OpenBSD is one of the most well documented systems and installation process is also described in details in FAQ.
Graphical installer(2) There is no official one. Unofficial graphical installers: ECBSD (in development), it is based on QT library, OFInst.(0) There is no graphical installer.
Installer speed(9) If one knows exactly how to divide the hard drive (the number and types of disk partitions), the overall time of installation is shorter than 10 minutes (this is obviously in case of CD installation, if we install from FTP it can take longer, depending on the network bandwitch).(9) If one knows exactly, how to divide the hard drive (the number and types of disk partitions), the overall time of installation is shorter than 10 minutes (this is obviously in case of CD installation, if we install from FTP it can take longer, depending on the network bandwitch).
CONFIGURATION
Graphical system management(0) No graphical tools. One of course can use wizards from environments like: KDE, GNOME, XFCE.(0) No graphical tools. One of course can use wizards from environments like: KDE, GNOME, XFCE.
Console-based system management(1) There is no text tools in base system. Some text tools in pkgsrc.(0) No text tools. Administration is possible only by manually editing configuration files in /etc directory.
PACKAGE SYSTEM
Number of packages(7) Currently there is more than 7000 packages available for NetBSD. Including wip (work in progress) packages, which are not yet finished but usable, the total number of packages is increasing to more than 9000. There is an ability to emulate many systems. Commercial software.(4) About 4200 ports and 4000 ready to installation binary packages.

In emulation mode it is possible to run compiled programs from systems: SVR4 (Solaris), FreeBSD, Linux, BSDI, SunOS, i HP-UX.

Package management, automatic dependency resolving(5) In contrast to the FreeBSD and OpenBSD, in the NetBSD terminology word "port" means platform and has nothing to do with ports collection. In NetBSD pkgsrc is called Packages Collection (in short or The NetBSD Packages Collection in full). pkgsrc allow you to install the additional software directly from the source code. The advantage is ability to customize all settings to one's preferences. The disadvantage is sometimes long compilation time, especially for such big programs like KDE or GNOME. Installing software is trivial. All you have to do is go to a proper directory in pkgsrc and type make install (for example: # cd /usr/pkgsrc/wm/ratpoison/; make install for installing ratpoison window manager).

Precompiled binary packages do not give us such flexibility, but installation time is much shorter (installing ratpoison is as simple as # pkg_add -v ratpoison, provided that PKG_PATH variable is set). In both cases, dependencies are automatically resolved. Pkgsrc is of course a multiplatform application.

Pkgsrc installation time can be shortened by downloading and unpacking pkgsrc.tar.gz file (current version) or pkgsrc-2008Q1.tar.gz file (stable version) to /usr. Regular pkgsrc updating is important.

(7) The FreeBSD ports system has been borrowed in the project. Currently the development of both projects goes separately so the systems are not compatible, but they are quite similar.

Ports allow you to install the additional software directly from the source code. Installing software is trivial. You have to go to proper directory in ports and type make install (for example: # cd /usr/ports/x11/ratpoison/; make install for ratpoison window manager installation).The advantage is ability to customize all settings to one's preferences (flavors and subpackages). The disadvantage is sometimes long compilation time, especially for such big programs like KDE or GNOME.

Precompiled binary packages do not give such flexibility, but installation time is much shorter (ratpoison window manager installation: # pkg_add -v ratpoison, PKG_PATH variable should be set). In both cases dependencies are automatically resolved. It is very easy to print outdated packages # /usr/ports/infrastructure/build/out-of-date script and update all of them # pkg_add -u. There is also a possibility to mark the upgrade without actually performing it # pkg_add -n package_name.

The ports need to be regularly upgraded through cvs or much faster cvsup. One may download and uncompress ports.tar.gz file to shorten port's installation time. You can fetch stable version of this file from main FTP server or from mirrors (recommended). For OpenBSD current users snapshot of unstable ports version is also available. Example cvsup server is cvsup.uk.openbsd.org, and cvs is anoncvs@anoncvs1.ca.openbsd.org:/cvs. Full lists of cvsup and cvs servers are available.

Ports are well documented. Pages man ports(7) and bsd.port.mk(5) are also available online.

Graphical package management tools(0) No graphical tool for software installation.(1) PortBrowser
EFFICIENCY
System boot-up speed(4) About 40 seconds, it depends on hardware configuration. Clear and rich commented BSD startup scripts. All not essential services are disabled by default and if one want to use them, has to manually activate them.

See how to compile kernel, to gain maximum performance, shorten booting time and remove support of redundant devices. More information in the handbook chapter that describes kernel compilation.

(3) About 50 seconds, dependent on the hardware configuration. Clear and rich commented BSD startup scripts. All not essential services all disabled by default and if are needed must be manually enabled.

In contrast to NetBSD, compiling custom kernel for better performance and shorter booting time is not recommended. It is strongly advised to use default kernel and patch branch.

System responsiveness(7) For the best performance, pkgsrc gives ability to tweak compilation flags. Please read the proper handbook chapter and description of cpuflags package that helps to discover to find proper compilation flags.(4) Tweaking compilation flags for better performance is strongly not recommended.
STABILITY/SECURITY
Popularity(1) Around 80 position on DistroWatch ranking.

See popularity of BSD flavors on Wikipedia.

(3) Around 45 position on DistroWatch ranking.

See popularity of BSD flavors on Wikipedia.

Security focus(9) The security level is very high. Both system and pkgsrc vulnerability database are regularly updated.

One can activate CGD (CryptoGraphic Disk Driver), to enable encryption of data transfer when writing and reading from HDD. More information can be found in guide and in Inside NetBSD's CGD article. A combination of CGD and Vnode Disk Driver called CGF (CryptoGraphicFile) is also possible to set up. This can be useful for notebook systems.

Additionally there is a possibility to use a sysjail tool which is designed to be close FreeBSD jails replacement.

Some interesting comparisons between NetBSD and other systems in terms of security can be found in the Wikipedia entry: Comparison of operating systems (security). And here are the NetBSD security statistics by Secunia. Many NetBSD's security features is described in Recent Security Enhancements in NetBSD article.

(9) OpenBSD includes a lot of mechanisms increasing the security level in the system. To name a few:

Additionally there is a possibility to use a sysjail tool which is designed to be close FreeBSD jails replacement.

In contrast to other operating system creators, OpenBSD's developers do not make an assumption that the user is a computer security expert. The system is fully secured out-of-the-box. Laborious tweaking and security hardening is not necessary. There's been only two remote holes in the default install, in more than 10 years! That's why the OpenBSD motto is "Secure by Default".

The programmers react fast for any security dangers publishing the patches soon after the problem is found. Also software in ports is updated if security vulnerabilities are found. This is result of one of OpenBSD's assumptions — "Do not let serious problems sit unsolved."

Some interesting comparisons between OpenBSD and other systems in terms of security can be found on the Wikipedia entry: Comparison of operating systems (security). And here are the OpenBSD security statistics by the respected Secunia company.

Stability and maturity(9) The NetBSD's developers track and implement well known standards, system is mature, stable and well designed. (9) System is mature and stable, its reliability is very high. OpenBSD's developers track and implement standards: ANSI, POSIX and partialy X/Open.
INTERNATIONALIZATION
Does the installer support multiple languages?(4) Yes. Available languages are: English, French, German, Polish and Spanish.(0) The installer is only in English language.
Is the system localized after installation?(2) TODO(2) ?
Is manual system localization easy?(1) TODO(1) ?
APPLICATIONS/NETWORK
Support for restricted formats(6) How to use the 5.1 surround sound with NetBSD. The restricted components in pkgsrc: See also multimedia and audio categories. (3) The restricted components in ports: See also multimedia section from OpenBSD FAQ and categories: multimedia, audio.

No ATI and NVIDIA closed binary drivers (called blob) are available.

Sagem DSL modem support(3) There is a uEagle 1.5 driver for the BSD-family systems.(3) There is uEagle 1.5 driver for BSD-family systems.
Alcatel DSL modem support(3) There is a driver for the BSD-family systems.(3) Driver for BSD-family systems.
Wireless support(4) Supported network cards (section Network interfaces):

Guide Using WaveLAN IEEE under NetBSD. Wireless networking — WiFi drivers. Compare wireless drivers.

(6) Wireless Ethernet Adapters for i386 platform. List of supported wireless devices is separate for each platform. Compare wireless drivers.

Each system gets a mark from 0 (min) to 9 (max). In most cases the description precises the mark. A question mark (?) means that we do not have any information about certain feature.