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Wow, I totally had the same experience with FreeBSD about 15 years ago. I have no idea if it persists on modern hardware, though.

Does anyone have a good explanation for this?

At that time the FreeBSDs scheduler was much better than Linux'. I had the same feeling about FreeBSDs responsiveness.

I had a similar perception with Solaris on SPARC. It was slower overall but more responsive when interacting on the shell. Sometimes I had high load (10 or more) and did not notice when using a shell in a terminal.

I think Linux got much better since then. I don't feel the difference on current FreeBSD, Solaris or Linux installations.

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