My first exposure to UNIX was in college at Bowling Green State University (BGSU), where I worked for the University Computer Services department as a student Documentation Assistant. We had a DEC VAX 11/785 that was running 4.2 BSD. While I was there, it was upgraded to 4.3 BSD, and then to DEC Ultrix. The first set of Ultrix manuals that we received were the same as the 4.3 BSD set, except for the cover! Even the footer on every page still said 4.3 BSD! My favorite operating systems are all derived from UNIX. Like the VAX that was running the original Berkeley distributions, FreeBSD is based on the same source code. Mac OS X is actually based on the FreeBSD kernel, combined with the Mach micro-kernel. I also like Linux, which is an independently written kernel based on UNIX design principles.

FreeBSD and Linux

Since my first experiences with UNIX were with BSD, and Mac OS X is based on BSD UNIX, I have also developed an interest in the open-source operating system FreeBSD. I’m running on a home-built machine at home (I refuse to refer to this as a PC as this has too many negative connotations!) that I assembled myself. I’d been tracking FreeBSD 5.3-CURRENT for some time, as I’m using a serial ATA hard drive that wasn’t supported in the 4.9-STABLE branch. Right now I’m running Ubuntu. I’ve also got an aging Dell laptop with a couple of interchangeable hard drives. One of the drives has FreeBSD 5.2-Current, so that I can use 32-bit CardBus PC Cards. While its not a very fast machine by today’s standards, it runs just fine with FreeBSD! I used to use an old Intel Pentium Pro/200 HP Vectra with FreeBSD 4.9-STABLE as my print server. It was running lpd, with a print filter script to use GhostScript as a PostScript interpreter, using an Epson Stylus Color 850 inkjet printer for output. Since lpd was running as a network service, this combination effectively worked as a networked, color PostScript printer! The print filter script was based on the sample from Greg Lehey’s The Complete FreeBSD book, which I’ve found to be extremely helpful!