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The BSD daemon is an IT term for a kind of conceptual mascot for variations of the open source UNIX operating system classed as Berkeley Software Distribution or BSD designs. This icon and symbol of Berkeley Software Distribution programs is nicknamed Beastie, and has been depicted by graphic artists. The copyright for the BSD daemon and images is held by an early BSD developer.
In the general sense, the IT term daemon refers to a computer program that is not under the control of a user. In the case of the BSD daemon, a play on words has produced the idea that Beastie is a demon, a red creature with horns and pitchfork. The BSD daemon has been used in various operating system manuals, and as a logo. Its use helps to characterize the open source philosophy by which developers worked on BSD projects over several decades, from the 1970s until today.
Beastie also represents the kind of playful aspect that developers brought to the table as they worked on various UNIX projects and other BSD designs. The creation of the BSD daemon blends a kind of artistic and technical expertise, as in the case of ASCII art renderings. It’s interesting to note that although early developers of the UNIX operating system released the source code, which allowed for Berkeley Software Distribution projects, BSD later became mired in litigation with the original UNIX creator. This often complicated story details how even common operating systems like UNIX, which are more geared to professional use then consumer facing sales, can produce tricky legal situations regarding intellectual property.