The first time I told my girlfriend that I had FreeBSD, she asked me if it was contagious. Actually, in some ways it is. To judge from the growing number of subscribers to the FreeBSD mailing lists, it is definitely spreading. Although the Linux contagion has spread farther and faster, FreeBSD looks like it's here to stay. We are, of course, talking about an operating systems, not diseases (even though Microsoft claims that Linux is "viral"). As the name implies, FreeBSD is indeed free - you can download it and hand out free copies to all and sundry without infringing anybody's copyright. One point that needs to be clarified from the outset - FreeBSD is not a Linux distro. Yes, on the surface, FreeBSD looks similar. You could, in fact, kidnap a Linux geek and sit him or her down in front of a FreeBSD box, and chances are he or she would happily play for days without realizing that anything was amiss. Most of the usual Linux toys will run fine on FreeBSD, including such perennial favorites as KDE, Gnome, OpenOffice, Gimp, MPlayer, Mozilla, Mutt, Postfix, Perl, Python and Emacs, to name a few.