1. Discovering FreeBSD
Introduction to FreeBSD

This book is designed for the new user and new system administrator of FreeBSD. This was written to help those who have no real UNIX background easily get started using FreeBSD. No matter what application, whether as a desktop system, or installed as a Internet server, FreeBSD has the power and the flexibility required to meet even the most demanding situations. FreeBSD, however, requires more of an administrative approach than most over-the-counter operating systems. Yet, because of this approach, FreeBSD requires less administration per functionality than Windows 95 and certainly several other operating systems. Given the correct approach, managing a FreeBSD system is simple and can be quite fun.

Even if you are just using FreeBSD as a desktop machine, it has the full power of a server and you are the new system administrator. Its hard to imagine yourself as a ``system administrator'' on a single Win95 machine, but technically it is a system, and you do administrate it. The reason it seems odd to call yourself a system administrator is because only one person can use a Win95 computer at a time.

FreeBSD is a multi-user system: Several people can access the same computer at the same time. This includes more than the ``File Serving'' capabilities of WinNT and Novell Servers. The users connected to the FreeBSD machine have access all their normal functionality as though they were actually at the server console. Users can even interact if they choose. FreeBSD also gives you much more control over the system than DOS or Windows 95. You have the ability to modify system parameters ``live'', not just edit the configuration file and have the changes take affect after you have rebooted. For example, you can change the IP address of your machine and then test immediately to see if it is working. You don't have to wait 5 minutes for your computer to reboot to see if a change has worked.

More and more as the Internet becomes a part of our lives and shapes the way we do business, companies and individuals are looking for economical ways of enhancing their abilities. Companies, in particular, are now in the position of providing Internet and intranet services to attract customers and improve business processes. At the same time, although hardware costs are coming down, software and support costs are steadily increasing. For the individual, the Internet is an entrepreneur's paradise. However, as they start up, they have to find inexpensive ways to provide the same range of services as large businesses on a budget that barely permits purchasing the hardware.

In a sense, UNIX is the touchstone of the Internet. There is now a strong emphasis on the standard protocols of the Internet---TCP/IP, DNS, HTTP, FTP, SMTP, POP3, IMAP, and the rest of the alphabet soup--- and most of those standards were developed or refined on the UNIX operating system. FreeBSD addresses both issues: It's based on one of the standards of the UNIX world, BSD 4.4, optimized for common, inexpensive Intel-based hardware, and (as the name implies) it's free.

Internet protocols are some of the strongest and most reliable features of FreeBSD. FreeBSD has many powerful WWW, DNS, and E-mail servers available. It also has a wide variety of TCP/IP related software available.

FreeBSD has may practical applications:

  • Server Applications

    • Run a "turnkey" WWW server.

    • Handle Internet E-Mail(including Pop3 E-Mail and IMAP protocols).

    • Domain Name Service.

    • Allow dial-up access to the Internet through PPP.

    • Allow Windows 3.x and Win95 users to map network drives and share server resources.

    • Act as a network router.

    • Be an Internet firewall or gateway.

    • Network file sharing with a Novell server.

    • Translate network addresses, allowing you to conserve your registered IP addresses.

    • An affordable UNIX X Window Workstation.

    • Run a wide range of FreeBSD Desktop applications:

      • Word Processing

      • Spreadsheets

      • Database processing

      • Personal finance

      • Multi-media

      • Video conferencing

    • Run applications from other platforms:

      • Linux

      • BSDi

      • SCO

      • Windows 3.1/DOS

      • Windows 95/NT

    • Provide security control for a single user.

  • Plus, lots of other company specific applications.


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