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Chapter 1. Introduction

Table of Contents
1.1. FreeBSD in a Nutshell
1.2. A Brief History of FreeBSD
1.3. FreeBSD Project Goals
1.4. The FreeBSD Development Model
1.5. About the Current Release

FreeBSD is a 4.4BSD-Lite2 based operating system for Intel architecture (x86) and DEC Alpha based computer systems. For an overview of FreeBSD, see FreeBSD in a nutshell. For a history of the project, read a brief history of FreeBSD. To see a description of the latest release, read about the current release. If you are interested in contributing something to the FreeBSD project (code, equipment, sacks of unmarked bills), please see about contributing to FreeBSD.

1.1. FreeBSD in a Nutshell

FreeBSD is a state of the art operating system for computer systems based on both the Intel CPU architecture, which includes the 386 and 486 and Pentium processors (both SX and DX versions) and the DEC Alpha architecture. Intel compatible CPUs from AMD to Cyrix are supported as well. FreeBSD provides you with many advanced features previously available only on much more expensive computers. These features include:

FreeBSD is based on the 4.4BSD-Lite2 release from Computer Systems Research Group (CSRG) at the University of California at Berkeley, and carries on the distinguished tradition of BSD systems development. In addition to the fine work provided by CSRG, the FreeBSD Project has put in many thousands of hours in fine tuning the system for maximum performance and reliability in real-life load situations. As many of the commercial giants struggle to field PC operating systems with such features, performance and reliability, FreeBSD can offer them now!

The applications to which FreeBSD can be put are truly limited only by your own imagination. From software development to factory automation, inventory control to azimuth correction of remote satellite antennae; if it can be done with a commercial UNIX product then it is more than likely that you can do it with FreeBSD, too! FreeBSD also benefits significantly from the literally thousands of high quality applications developed by research centers and universities around the world, often available at little to no cost. Commercial applications are also available and appearing in greater numbers every day.

Because the source code for FreeBSD itself is generally available, the system can also be customized to an almost unheard of degree for special applications or projects, and in ways not generally possible with operating systems from most major commercial vendors. Here is just a sampling of some of the applications in which people are currently using FreeBSD:

FreeBSD is available in both source and binary form on CDROM and via anonymous ftp. See Obtaining FreeBSD for more details.