What is the Best Use case for FreeBSD vs someone's favorite Linux Flavor?

  • Posted January 14, 2015

I know BSD has been around for a long time now. I’ve been seeing mentions of it here and there. I noticed that Digital Ocean now offers FreeBSD as an option. I was wondering if anyone knew of any situations where FreeBSD would be a good fit, or if this is nothing more than just personal preference for some?


ZFS is a great feature for FreeBSD but IMO not really useful on DO (droplets have UFS by default). I think the top selling point of FreeBSD on DO is for jails. I’m getting ready to move my droplet over to FreeBSD and it’s mainly for jails.

If you’re not familiar with jails, it’s basically a really well secured chroot. It’s kind of what Docker is trying to do except it’s more secure, more mature and has been battle tested for the last decade or so. Plus you can archive your jails and move them to a local development server and have the exact same software stack as your droplet. If you’re really interested in FreeBSD check out the handbook and the podcast. The podcast has a great jails tutorial.

Thanks for the reply. I’ve never heard any of those. I’ll have to check those out. Do you know of any more simple uses?

In my opinion, killer features of FreeBSD are:

  1. Native ZFS support (I’m pretty sure you don’t need this on digitalocean)
  2. Kqueue support - so you can run applications that rely on this
  3. Netgraph support

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One of my favorite reasons is that the documentation is very complete, the OS is pretty secure and I feel there is alot more simplicity in using the FreeBSD operating system vs your favorite distros. Most operations you need to accomplish from file system navigation to building out IPSEC tunnels can be found inside the freebsd handbook.

The security offered by the system is rather complete. As mentioned before, jails are an amazing feature inherent to FreeBSD and the code sharing among the distributions allows some of the cool software developed by the OpenBSD team to get ported over. I am a huge fan of pf for firewalls, geli for full disk encryption and Mandatory Access Control.

If you are familiar with linux, the learning curve for BSD will not be very steep. One of the cool features about the DigitalOcean droplets is that your kernel is internal to the droplet. This allows you to easily perform tasks such as rebuilding your kernel or issuing a buildworld for OS upgrades or applying system patches.