[TUHS] Unix install & "standalone" package

Theodore Ts'o tytso at mit.edu
Sat Sep 9 00:58:01 AEST 2023

On Thu, Sep 07, 2023 at 10:05:37AM -0600, Warner Losh wrote:
> Yea. I find it easier :). But there's some better automation available in
> Linux for the 'complicated' situations.

Yeah, this is why most of the Linux distributions always use an
initramfs, at least by default, because it handles all (or at least
most) of these complicated sitautions automatically.  So this leads to
people assuming that Linux "requires" using a initramfs, when it would
be more accurate to say that most Linux distributions makes it super
easy to use an initramfs, and much more difficult (because the
documentation is a bit scattered, and many may be somewhat out of
date) to do things without an Linux distribution-engineered initramfs.

And the other clear difference between Linux and FreeBSD is that
things like initramfs tends to be distribution-specific, so there is
competition between distributions to see who can make a simpler/easier
installer and boot sequnce, and so market forces tends to strongly
encourage developers (who after all, tend to be experts and who don't
need the installer and boot up automation), to improve things much
more aggressively.  (And since there are product managers involved,
often features and time to market often trump issues like technical

The downside with this approach, though, is that distributions tend to
reinvent the wheel multiple times, and the initramfs infrastructures
are different.  So learning how things work in say, Debian, isn't
going to help you understand the fine details of how Fedora or Red Hat
Enterprise Linux works except at a very basic, high level.  And the
same is most definitely true if you compare the installers between
Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, etc.

FreeBSD has the advantage that it has a much more centralized
development model, especially as it relates to kernel/libc
integration, the installer, and the boot loader path.  But while there
is a certain amount of competitive forces of FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD,
et. al., improving and simplifying the boot loader, from an outsider
looking in, it would appear that those forces aren't quite as strong,
and the level of convergence beween the *BSD seems to be at least as
strong, if not stronger, in some areas, than between Linux


					- Ted

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