Linux and BSD are two of the most highly regarded server operating systems in the world, mainly for their security, flexibility, and open source development. In reality, both terms broadly refer to multiple operating systems, and it is not possible to compare the two without confusing some of their variants. There are, however, general similarities and differences.
1. Licensing – Linux and most Linux distributions are famously licensed under the GPL, which allows for a wide range of freedoms for software. You can modify, download, rewrite, redistribute, and even sell it, but it comes with a clause that dictates you must release any derivatives under the same license. A BSD style license has no such requirement, essentially allowing the developer to integrate proprietary code into the operating system.
2. Kernel – Linux is technically only the kernel of an operating system, whereas BSD was originally an operating system as a whole. The distributions of Linux all use a variation of the base kernel, and the variants of BSD all use portions of the original code. BSD and Linux both use monolithic kernels.
3. Package management – BSD variants such as FreeBSD rely heavily on the Ports system, which often compiles packages from source. Most Linux distributions use binary-based package management systems. One notable exception is Gentoo, which uses a Ports-like system called Portage.
In part two of this comparison, we will look at 3 more differences between Linux and BSD.