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<!-- $Id: nutshell.sgml,v 1.13 1997-08-12 09:18:08 asami Exp $ -->
<!-- The FreeBSD Documentation Project -->

<sect><heading>FreeBSD in a Nutshell<label id="nutshell"></heading>

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

    <itemize>
      <item><bf>Preemptive multitasking</bf> with dynamic priority
	adjustment to ensure smooth and fair sharing of the
	computer between applications and users.</item>
      <item><bf>Multiuser</bf> access means that many people can use a
	FreeBSD system simultaneously for a variety of things.  System
	peripherals such as printers and tape drives are also properly
	SHARED BETWEEN ALL users on the system.</item>
      <item>Complete <bf>TCP/IP networking</bf> including SLIP, PPP, NFS
	and NIS support.  This means that your FreeBSD machine can
	inter-operate easily with other systems as well act as an enterprise
	server, providing vital functions such as NFS (remote file access) and
	e-mail services or putting your organization on the Internet
	with WWW, ftp, routing and firewall (security) services.</item>
      <item><bf>Memory protection</bf> ensures that applications (or
	users) cannot interfere with each other.  One application
	crashing will not affect others in any way.</item>
      <item>FreeBSD is a <bf>32-bit</bf> operating system and was designed
	as such from the ground up.</item>
      <item>The industry standard <bf>X Window System</bf> (X11R6)
	provides a graphical user interface (GUI) for the cost of a
	common VGA card and monitor and comes with full sources.</item>
      <item><bf>Binary compatibility</bf> with many programs built for SCO,
	BSDI, NetBSD, Linux and 386BSD.</item>
      <item>Hundreds of <bf>ready-to-run</bf> applications are
	available from the
	FreeBSD <bf>ports</bf> and <bf>packages</bf>
	collection.  Why search the net when you can find it all
	right here?</item>
      <item>Thousands of additional and <bf>easy-to-port</bf> applications
      	available on the Internet.  FreeBSD is source code compatible
	with most popular commercial Unix systems and thus most
	applications require few, if any, changes to compile.</item>
      <item>Demand paged <bf>virtual memory</bf> and `merged VM/buffer cache'
	design efficiently satisfies applications with large appetites
	for memory while still maintaining interactive response to other
	users.</item>
      <item><bf>Shared libraries</bf> (the Unix equivalent of
        MS-Windows DLLs) provide for efficient use of disk space
        and memory.</item>
      <item>A full compliment of <bf>C</bf>, <bf>C++</bf> and
        <bf>Fortran</bf> development tools.  Many additional
        languages for advanced research and development are
        also available in the ports and packages collection.</item>
      <item><bf>Source code</bf> for the entire system means you have
	the greatest degree of control over your environment.  Why be
	locked into a proprietary solution and at the mercy of your vendor
	when you can have a truly Open System?</item>
      <item>Extensive <bf>on-line documentation</bf>.</item>
      <item><bf>And many more!</bf></item>
    </itemize>

      FreeBSD is based on the 4.4BSD-Lite 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 <bf>now</bf>!

      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:

    <itemize>
      <item><bf>Internet Services:</bf> The robust TCP/IP networking
	built into FreeBSD makes it an ideal platform for a
	variety of Internet services such as:
	<itemize>
	  <item>FTP servers</item>
	  <item>World Wide Web servers</item>
	  <item>Gopher servers</item>
	  <item>Electronic Mail servers</item>
	  <item>USENET News</item>
	  <item>Bulletin Board Systems</item>
	  <item>And more...</item>
	</itemize>
	You can easily start out small with an inexpensive 386
	class PC and upgrade as your enterprise grows.</item>
      <item><bf>Education:</bf> Are you a student of computer science
	or a related engineering field?  There is no better way
	of learning about operating systems, computer
	architecture and networking than the hands on, under the
	hood experience that FreeBSD can provide.  A number of
	freely available CAD, mathematical and graphic design
	packages also make it highly useful to those who's
	primary interest in a computer is to get <em>other</em>
	work done!</item>
      <item><bf>Research:</bf> With source code for the entire system
	available, FreeBSD is an excellent platform for research
	in operating systems as well as other branches of
	computer science.  FreeBSD's freely available nature also
	makes it possible for remote groups to collaborate on
	ideas or shared development without having to worry about
	special licensing agreements or limitations on what
	may be discussed in open forums.</item>
      <item><bf>Networking:</bf> Need a new router?  A name server
	(DNS)?  A firewall to keep people out of your internal
	network?  FreeBSD can easily turn that unused 386 or 486 PC
	sitting in the corner into an advanced router with
	sophisticated packet filtering capabilities. </item>
      <item><bf>X Window workstation:</bf> FreeBSD is a fine
	choice for an inexpensive X terminal solution, either
	using the freely available XFree86 server or one
	of the excellent commercial servers provided by X Inside.  
        Unlike an X
	terminal, FreeBSD allows many applications to be run
	locally, if desired, thus relieving the burden on a
	central server.  FreeBSD can even boot
	"diskless", making individual workstations even cheaper
	and easier to administer.</item>
      <item><bf>Software Development:</bf> The basic FreeBSD system
	comes with a full compliment of development tools
	including  the renowned GNU C/C++ compiler and
	debugger. </item>
    </itemize>

FreeBSD is available in both source and binary form on CDROM and
via anonymous ftp.  See <ref id="mirrors" name="Obtaining FreeBSD"> 
for more details.