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What Is FreeBSD?

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Diving into the world of operating systems, it becomes apparent that there is a sea of options. Among them, a standout is FreeBSD. It is not as widely known as Windows or MacOS, but it holds its ground firmly in the realm of open-source software.

What is FreeBSD?

FreeBSD is an advanced operating system for a variety of platforms. It is derived from BSD, the version of UNIX developed at the University of California, Berkeley. FreeBSD is developed under an open source license, which makes it free to use and modify.

History of FreeBSD

The journey of FreeBSD started in 1993, when it was branched from the 386BSD project. The project’s founders, Bill and Lynne Jolitz, were unable to continue their work on 386BSD, which led to a group of users creating a new version, which they named FreeBSD.

Features of FreeBSD

  • Virtualization: bhyve

FreeBSD uses bhyve for virtualization, which allows for the creation and management of guest operating systems on a FreeBSD host. The lightweight and efficient design of bhyve supports a diverse range of guest operating systems.

  • Kernels

FreeBSD boasts a monolithic kernel, which means that the entire operating system runs in kernel space. This results in high performance and efficiency. The kernel provides all basic OS services, including process and memory management, I/O, filesystems, and networking.

  • Jails

The concept of ‘Jails’ in FreeBSD provides a robust and lightweight environment for process isolation. Each jail operates as an independent system with its own files, users, and permissions. This feature enhances the security and flexibility of system resources.

  • Operating System Compatibility

FreeBSD shows remarkable compatibility with other operating systems. It has the ability to run Linux, Windows, and other system binaries. This compatibility feature extends the utility of FreeBSD, making it a versatile platform for various applications.

  • Encryption

FreeBSD offers robust encryption features. It supports several cryptographic systems and libraries, providing secure storage and transmission of data. The GELI disk encryption feature in FreeBSD ensures the integrity and confidentiality of stored data.

  • Z File System

The Z File System (ZFS) is a revolutionary file system feature in FreeBSD. It integrates the traditional file system with volume management, providing high storage capacity and efficient data management. ZFS also includes built-in snapshots and data integrity verification.

  • Shells

FreeBSD provides various command-line shells, offering flexibility to users. Popular shells like Bourne Shell (sh), C Shell (csh), and Bourne Again Shell (bash) are available. Each shell comes with its own set of features and syntax, catering to different user preferences.

  • Porting

Porting, a significant feature of FreeBSD, refers to the process of adapting software so that it can run on different platforms. FreeBSD’s Ports collection contains thousands of ready-to-install applications. This extensive collection makes it easy to install and manage software.

  • Networking

FreeBSD excels in networking capabilities. It offers a wide range of network tools and services, from basic network setup to advanced server configurations. FreeBSD’s robust and efficient networking stack makes it an ideal choice for network servers.

  • Community Support

The open-source nature of FreeBSD has fostered a vibrant community of developers and users. This community provides valuable support, contributing to the development, testing, and improvement of the system. The FreeBSD community is a great resource for learning, troubleshooting, and collaboration.

What is FreeBSD Used For?

FreeBSD is used in many different environments. It is commonly used in network servers, where its stability and security features are highly valued. It is also used in embedded systems, where its small footprint and efficient operation are important.

Advantages of FreeBSD

  • Open source

FreeBSD is completely open-source. This means that anyone can use, modify, and distribute it. This openness leads to a vibrant community of developers and users who contribute to its development and improvement.

  • Stable

FreeBSD is known for its stability. This makes it an ideal choice for servers and other systems that require high uptime.

Disadvantages of FreeBSD

  • Less user-friendly

FreeBSD can be less user-friendly than other operating systems. It requires a certain level of technical knowledge to install and configure.

  • Limited software availability

While FreeBSD supports a wide range of software, some applications are not available or may require additional configuration to run.


FreeBSD is a powerful, versatile operating system that offers many advantages for those willing to learn its intricacies. With a strong focus on reliability, security, and performance, it is a compelling choice for many different types of systems. Despite some drawbacks, the benefits of FreeBSD make it well worth considering for anyone in search of a robust, open-source operating system.

Next Steps

Building an efficient and effective IT team requires a centralized solution that acts as your core service deliver tool. NinjaOne enables IT teams to monitor, manage, secure, and support all their devices, wherever they are, without the need for complex on-premises infrastructure.

Learn more about NinjaOne Endpoint Management, check out a live tour, or start your free trial of the NinjaOne platform.

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