DowJones.com/WSJ: Beyond Linux, Free Systems Help Build The Web

“HERE’s a little-known fact about the world’s busiest Web site:
It runs on a piece of free software. And it isn’t the free
operating system called Linux.”

To serve nearly 80 million people each month, Yahoo! Inc.
operates about 1,000 computers that run on FreeBSD, a program
distributed without charge over the Internet.
FreeBSD is the
most popular in a trio of free operating systems — all
historically linked to the University of California at Berkeley —
that are quietly playing a major role in the evolution of the

“But the role of FreeBSD and its cousins shows how free programs
keep changing the software world and creating headaches for big
established players. Sun Microsystems Inc., a leader in managing
big Web sites, is carefully watching the growth of Linux and other
free programs. And Microsoft faces a particularly significant
challenge, since the Redmond, Wash., company wants its forthcoming
Windows 2000 to dominate the “dot-com” world where the freebies are