FreeBSD, Linux, Windows, and Solaris are four very powerful operating systems for any company offering dedicated hosting services (I know most of you are groaning at the thought of including windows in this category, but it is true), yet alone for workstation or company server use; however their kernels are very different. From a code base perspective they share nearly zero common parts and the Kernel development and coding process is very different in each case.
Diomidis Spinellis's publication titled "A Tale of Four Kernels" does a great job of exploring this topic and delving deep into the constructs of each kernel, how they differ and yet still manage to perform at very similar levels.
Diomidis's work is very interesting and well worth a read. I will ask him for permission to post his publication on FreeBSD Forums. However for those of you that have not had a chance to read it. I will highlight a few of his points:
Two of the Operating systems (FreeBSD and Linux) were developed as open source projects while the other two Solaris (now OpenSolaris) and the NT based Windows Research Kernel (WRK) were developed as proprietary operating systems.
Interestingly FreeBSD was developed by close to 220 committers working in a non hierarchical group (CITE) while Linux has developers that are organized within a four tier pyramid with thousands of developers contributing, most of them at the lower two tiers with patches to subsystems. Linus Torvalds and a few trusted Coders who assist him is responsible for incorporating the patches into the Linux tree.
Diomidis Spinellis. A tale of four kernels. In Wilhem Schäfer, Matthew B. Dwyer, and Volker Gruhn, editors, ICSE '08: Proceedings of the 30th International Conference on Software Engineering, pages 381–390, New York, May 2008. Association for Computing Machinery. (doi:10.1145/1368088.1368140)
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