On Thu, Aug 06, 2009 at 02:46:05AM +0100, Frank Shute wrote:
> BSD=Berkeley Software Distribution AKA distro of Unix

That's not the same as saying that FreeBSD is a "distribution".  FreeBSD
is not called "a BSD of Unix", after all.  It's a "BSD Unix system" or
"BSD Unix OS", or simply a "BSD Unix".  The difference is that "BSD"
refers to the point of origin in this case, and the ancestral codebase,
and the license.

A "Linux distribution" is Linux, bundled up with other software, to
produce a OS package for distribution.  A "BSD Unix" system, on the other
hand, is a Unix system of the BSD tradition.  The term BSD originally
referred to the fact that a set of software was distributed together
under the auspices of UC Berkeley.  Since FreeBSD, NetBSD, and OpenBSD
are not distributed by UC Berkeley's Computer Systems Research Group any
longer, the term "BSD" now just refers a family relation of sorts, and is
a term of tradition rather than a literal statement about the nature of
the software's character in some way.

One might say it's a "software distribution package", of course, but in
colloquial usage, the abbreviated "distro" or "distribution" without any
more specific reference to the context of the term has a meaning
particular to the Linux-based operating system distribution model, where
there's a core component common across many operating system variants and
those variations are known as "distributions" of the common core.  When
the term "distribution" is used without more specific context, it is
generally understood to mean "a particular variant software bundle among
many such options built around a common core component that, altogether,
makes a unique operating system".  FreeBSD, however, is not such a thing
at all.  It is a complete operating system developed as a whole.

. . . so while there may be *some* sense of truth in your explanation for
why it's "a distribution", I don't think that's really a meaningful
definition for purposes of enabling clear communication about the nature
of the FreeBSD OS and its development project, and I sympathize with
those who say "It's an operating system, not a distro."

DesktopBSD and PC-BSD, on the other hand . . .

I've been far too pedantic for one email on such an inconsequential
subject.  I'll stop now.

Chad Perrin [ original content licensed OWL: http://owl.apotheon.org ]
Quoth H. L. Mencken: "Democracy is the theory that the common people
know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard."

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