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Table of contents
Linux vs BSD: A Tale of Two Systems
1. Origins and Philosophy
2. Licensing
3. Usage and Applications
4. System Management
Frequently Asked Questions
Is BSD a Linux distribution?
Can Linux software run on BSD?
Which is better, Linux or BSD?
Last Updated: Mar 27, 2024

Difference Between Linux and BSD

Author Gunjan Batra
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Anubhav Sinha
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25 Jun, 2024 @ 01:30 PM


Linux and BSD (Berkeley Software Distribution) are two popular categories of open-source operating systems. Both stem from a common ancestor - Unix, yet they differ significantly in their philosophy, licensing, and usage. 

Difference Between Linux and BSD

This article will shed light on these differences and help you understand which system might suit your needs the best.

Linux vs BSD: A Tale of Two Systems

1. Origins and Philosophy

While both Linux and BSD are open-source and Unix-like, they diverge when it comes to their origins and philosophies. Linux is a kernel, developed by Linus Torvalds, around which different distributions (like Ubuntu, Fedora, etc.) are built. It adopts a modular approach, with each distribution tailoring the system as per its goals.

BSD, on the other hand, is a complete operating system, originally derived from the Unix operating system at the University of California, Berkeley. It is more consistent than Linux, as the entire system (kernel, system tools, libraries) is developed as a single whole by the same group.

2. Licensing

Linux uses the General Public License (GPL), which is copyleft, meaning any modifications to the source code must be made available to the public. This ensures a collaborative environment where improvements are shared.

BSD uses the BSD license, which is permissive. This means you can modify the source code and not release the changes to the public, allowing companies to incorporate BSD code into proprietary software.

3. Usage and Applications

Linux has gained widespread popularity and is used on a vast array of systems, from servers to smartphones (Android is built on the Linux kernel), to supercomputers. Its versatile nature and vibrant community make it a go-to choice for many applications.

BSD, while not as universally used as Linux, holds its own in certain areas. For example, it's the basis for many robust, enterprise-level systems, including the Darwin kernel for Apple's macOS and iOS.

4. System Management

In Linux, system management varies between distributions, from package management to system initialization. For instance, Debian uses apt, Fedora uses dnf, and Arch Linux uses pacman for package management.

In BSD, since it's developed as a complete system, system management is consistent across its variants (like FreeBSD, OpenBSD, NetBSD). They all use the same style of start-up scripts and the same package management system (pkg for binary packages or ports for compiling from source).

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is BSD a Linux distribution?

No, BSD is not a Linux distribution. They are both open-source, Unix-like systems but have different origins, licenses, and philosophies.

Can Linux software run on BSD?

Generally, yes. BSD systems include a compatibility layer for running Linux binaries, but it might not work for all software.

Which is better, Linux or BSD?

It depends on your needs. Linux is versatile and widely supported, while BSD provides consistency and is suitable for robust, enterprise-level solutions.


The choice between Linux and BSD can largely depend on your specific needs, philosophy alignment, and comfort level with each system's nuances. Linux offers widespread use, a plethora of distributions, and a vibrant community. On the other hand, BSD provides a consistent environment with its whole-system development approach, and its permissive license has led to its use in many commercial systems. As they are both open-source, you can try them out and see which works best for your needs.

Also read : Features of linux operating system

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