Is BSD Taking the Spotlight Away From Linux?

by Chris Coleman

On March 24th, BSD accomplished what Linux has been promising for years now. They put the power of Unix into a desktop system and made it available
to the masses.

The launch of Mac OS X is turning Apple into the largest distributor of Unix, and more specifically BSD Unix. Now anyone with a desire to run Unix can purchase it for about the same cost as a Microsoft operating system. For the regular user, it looks and acts just like a MacOS user would expect. However, all the features that make it Unix are easily tapped into by the developers and power users who want to take the OS to its limits.

Now, BSD is poised to take over another segment the Linux crowd has been vying for -- the embedded market. Embedded Linux has been a hot topic of late, as new companies are trying to get into the market space.

However, the business-unfriendly GPL has played a key role in keeping Linux from being adopted by major players in the embedded arena. Especially in embedded systems, retailers don't want to be forced to make their code changes available. When you have to heavily adapt the software to work with your hardware and internal systems, the viral GPL can make keeping your code safe impossible. Instead they have chosen the more intellectual-property-friendly BSD license to protect their business interests, while leveraging the Open Source community.

Wind River (Nasdaq:WIND), already an international player in the embedded systems market, announced today the purchase of BSD/OS from BSDi (not the company, just the rights to the software). The remainder of what was BSDi will be spun off into a hardware company called iXsystems. Inc. More information on that is available here. The new company will sell high-end server machines pre-loaded with BSD/OS and FreeBSD.

As part of the deal, Wind River has hired Jordan Hubbard to become their principal technologist for FreeBSD. Jordan is one of founders of FreeBSD and has been the chief PR representative for the project. According to Jordan, FreeBSD will remain unchanged; however, Wind River promises expanded funding for the project -- the primary thing that has been holding it back.

However, the license isn't the only reason BSD was chosen. Wind River executives said there were three reasons. First, that BSD has unparalleled technology. Second, that they love the way the open source BSD is organized compared to the disarray of the multitude of Linux Distributions. And third, the BSD license is very business friendly. It allows customers to build applications without losing intellectual property.

It also allows Wind River to build a seamless solution, combining all of its internal software properties to meet customer needs. When asked why it chose BSD over the other options, the company replied, "Frankly there was no contest."

Wind River will continue to market BSD/OS and leverage FreeBSD as a means
accelerating development and innovation. With Jordan Hubbard on board,
will be able to utilize the 2.5 million users and developers of

With Wind River targeting the embedded market, and Apple putting BSD on
Desktop, BSD's future looks really bright.