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Fed up with Linux/Debian, moving all the things to FreeBSD!

November 30, 2023 — Nico Cartron


As part of my regular system updates, I decided to upgrade all of my servers - should they be at home or in a datacenter - to their latest versions.

  • Debian: 5 servers - mail server, 3 Raspberry PI (2 used as display for home automation, and 1 hosting Domoticz), DNS (Internal Recursive & Authoritative).
  • FreeBSD: 4 servers - OPNsense gateway, external DNS, web hosting, backups

The good

Needless to say, upgrading all my FreeBSD servers was uneventful, should it be for packages or the OS itself - I was running the latest patch level of 13.2-RELEASE.

The bad

Things then changed dramatically for the Linux-based servers:

Mail server

This mail server worked just fine, with a rather classical Postfix/Dovecot setup, but it was still running Debian 10, so I decided to upgrade to Debian 12 - doing 11 first of course.

The upgrade to 11 went OK, but after I upgraded to 12, before rebooting, I noticed some weird behaviors and error messages in the logs (which I can't find now), so I decided not to reboot, since I wasn't sure this wouldn't break.

Instead, I ordered an OpenBSD VM with the folks at OpenBSD.Amsterdam, which I wanted to try for a long time, and started setting up a new email system there. I have since then migrated my emails to that server.

I will soon reboot that Debian mail server to find out whether it would really have died or not :)

Internal DNS

Same scenario as above: I upgraded to Debian 11, and the system still works fine, however whenever I try to use apt, I'm greeted with

# apt update
apt: error while loading shared libraries: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory

I spent some time trying to figure out why the hell that library went missing, and also copying it from other systems, but no luck here either.

Since I had just finished setting up my new NAS with TrueNAS (therefore FreeBSD, and jails!), in replacement of my Synology NAS (whose OS/UI I came to dislike a lot), I am now moving this Debian setup to a new FreeBSD jail, running PowerDNS Recursor and Authoritative, as well as InfluxDB and Grafana (which were also running on that Debian).

Raspberry Pi "Screen" units

As said, those units are used as displays for my home automation: I have a 5 inches display attached to the Pi, in a special case. The Pi just launches Chromium in kiosk mode, and opens a Grafana dashboard.

I was running Debian 10 (Raspbian), so I upgraded first to 11, which went OK, but then the upgrade to 12 broke the display. I managed to make it work again on one of the Pi, but after hours spent on the other, with no luck, I finally decided to reinstall a fresh Raspbian, put back the kiosk script, and I was good to go.

Still it was super frustrating - those Pis will likely stay with Raspbian, as I don't necessarily want to spend my energy making FreeBSD work on them for such a small usecase.

Wrap Up

This post is in no way a rant against Linux / Debian. I still like it, but these days, my love for FreeBSD (and OpenBSD to a certain extent, since I'm only discovering it) keeps growing: it is just easier to maintain and update, and I have less time to spend on fixing things that should just work, like upgrading a system to a new version.

As said, there are still some of my systems that will run Linux, such as the Pis.

Tags: IT, FreeBSD

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