FreeBSD, 10 years on

I write this article a week after my 10th anniversary as a FreeBSD user.
I had heard of FreeBSD previously but had never tried it. The closest I had come to a flavour of BSD was unsuccessful attempts at downloading NetBSD on various modems ranging from 14.4k to 33.6 to install onto a Sun 3/60 in the late 90’s.
In the summer of 2002 I managed to obtain a DEC Alpha which I initially ran NT4 on & Redhat 7.2.
I performed a full install with Gnome & watched as the system crawled as it started X11, over the next couple of days It became more & more apparent that the system couldn’t handle it.
I was reading slashdot one night & saw FreeBSD 5.0 had just been announced & the Alpha was a supported platform so I decided to give it a try & downloaded an iso.
Installation went ok, I can’t remember if I had to restart the process because I’d said yes to test the X configuration in sysinstall or not but I do remember that managed to set my syscons font to swiss.
My background was DOS & Windows with several failed attempts at becoming a Linux users, I had some basic knowledge of the *nix user land but more dangerous than anything. Relying on search engines to find answers which in the case of Linux were either incorrect, outdated or didn’t apply to the distro I happen to be running at the time.
It quickly became apparent that this was not a problem on FreeBSD, everything pointed back to the handbook. Using the handbook with some pointers from IRC I made a lot of progress, far more than I had ever made with Linux, I was able to get GDM running, a BSD theme installed & switch window managers. The system also performed really fast, there was a clear noticeable difference between FreeBSD 5.0 & Redhat 7.2.
Using ports I was able to compile software with little effort & the clear divide of user land between base installed & user installed made it easy to track things down.
I ran the 5.0 release for a couple of weeks & was very happy with the progress I had made with configuring the system but I did run into lots of issues which I was told were bugs in FreeBSD 5.0 & it’s not really production ready so I re-installed 4.7 & stuck with the RELENG_4 branch until 4.11.
I was in love with FreeBSD, it was un-intrusive, well organised, well documented & empowering.
By the time version 5.3 was released I was hosting my first customers websites & email with it & have continued to do so for myself & other customers on many occasions since. 10 years on I am now working with many servers running FreeBSD around the world & I’m as happy with it as the first day that I installed it.