About the NetBSD Project

What is the NetBSD Project?

The NetBSD Project is an international collaborative effort of a large group of people, to produce a freely available and redistributable UNIX-like operating system, NetBSD. In addition to our own work, NetBSD contains a variety of other free software, including 4.4BSD Lite2 from the University of California, Berkeley.

One of the primary focuses of the NetBSD project has been to make the base OS highly portable. This has resulted in NetBSD being ported to a large number of hardware platforms. NetBSD is also interoperable, implementing many standard APIs and network protocols, and emulating many other systems' ABIs.

NetBSD is distributed in three forms: formal releases, maintenance branches, and NetBSD-current. Formal releases are done periodically and include well-tested binaries, source code, and installation tools. Maintenance branches usually provide bug and security fixes and minor enhancements. NetBSD-current is a nightly distribution of the latest development sources, meant for people who want the absolute latest software, and don't mind an occasional bug.

NetBSD is largely supported by users, via online chat and forums, mailing lists, and direct contributions. If you're having a problem, it's likely that someone will have seen it before and will be able to help you.

The NetBSD Foundation is incorporated in the United States as a tax-exempt corporation (under Section 501(c)(3) of the US Internal Revenue Code) that devotes itself to the traditional goals and spirit of the NetBSD Project and owns the trademark of the word NetBSD.

Read more about the history of NetBSD.

The NetBSD Project's goals

A project has no point if it doesn't have goals. Thankfully, the NetBSD Project has enough goals to keep it busy for quite some time. Generally speaking, the NetBSD Project:

In summary: The NetBSD Project provides a freely available and redistributable system that professionals, hobbyists, and researchers can use in whatever manner they wish.

People often ask for a list of differences between NetBSD and other freely available unix systems. It would not be appropriate to try to explain the goals and philosophy behind other projects here - we suggest you check each site for their goals, and make your own decision.

Why the name?

The BSD in our name is an obvious recognition of our heritage as a derivative of 4.4BSD and 386BSD.

Our contributors communicate primarily via email and Internet-based chat systems; many of us have never met each other in person. We also use a remote source code management system called CVS which enables a large number of developers to do independent work on the same source tree easily. We believe that the Internet was an enabling technology that made NetBSD possible. The Net in our name was thus chosen as a tribute to the Internet.

The people who make NetBSD happen

A large number of people have put a lot of time and effort into making the NetBSD operating system what it is today, either by developing the system itself, supporting its development, or simply using it. Those people can be broken down into the following groups:

Additionally, without the University of California, Berkeley's Computer Systems Research Group and the many contributors to the Berkeley Software Distributions, the NetBSD Project surely would not exist. We thank them for their efforts.