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Moving to BSD Without Leaving Linux

by Chris Coleman

When making the switch from Linux to BSD, you might be worried about all the applications you already have for Linux and whether they will work on BSD.

Most Linux applications come with the source code and can easily be recompiled for BSD, but what about the binary-only applications that you heavily rely on? Fear not, Linux binaries are extremely well-supported in BSD. The Linux compatibilty layer is built into the kernel, so applications run as fast as on BSD as on Linux and most run without any modifications.

Bill Swingle's article "Running Linux Applications on FreeBSD" shows the basics of how to use Linux binary compatibility. NetBSD, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, and BSD/OS all contain Linux compatibility layers and are very similar to use.

If your compatibility needs are more advanced than that, Michael Lucas explains how to do "Linux Compatibility the Hard Way" and practically has Linux and BSD running at the same time.

He takes dual-booting Linux and BSD to a new level and truly lets you take advantage of BSD without leaving Linux behind.

If you happened to wonder how BSD achieves this level of compatibility, Emmanuel Dreyfus takes you through the adventure of implementing the Linux Compatibility Layer on NetBSD for the PowerPC Platform. In this five-part series, he details challenges he faced and the bugs that were uncovered during the process.

Comment on this articleWhat is your favorite Linux app that you want to run on BSD?
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I've seen the Linux compatibility layer do some pretty amazing stuff, including using the Linux binary of VMWare to run a copy of Windows 2000. The Linux binary of Netscape 4.x has been a popular application among FreeBSD users, because it allows them to access the many plug-ins that have only been available in Linux format, especially Flash.

Give BSD a chance, I think you will be happy with the results, and you won't have to leave your Linux apps behind.

Chris Coleman is the Open Source Editor for the O'Reilly Network and is actively involved with community projects such as and Daemon News.

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