DesktopBSD 1.6 reviewed

raiden.net has a pretty nice review of the latest version of DesktopBSD, 1.6

DesktopBSD logoDesktopBSD, a derivative of Freebsd designed for desktop use, has come a long way since its early inception back in late 2005. Originally created as a way to bring the power of Freebsd as a desktop OS to new users, it has now blossomed into a desktop experience even the most hardened geek, or greenest novice can love. Back in April of last year we reviewed version 1.3 and gave it great marks overall, but with some need for improvement. So how does version 1.6 stack up against its predecessor? Has it improved any? Let’s find out.

…. cont.

and he concludes the article with:

So how do I rate DesktopBSD 1.6? I’d say it’s a lot better than previous versions. It strikes just the right balance between being friendly to the new user, and yet powerful and geek enough to satisfy the more seasoned user. The developers did a good job this time around and I think they should pat themselves on the back. There’s still room for improvement, but isn’t that true with any distro? But it’s not improvements to make it good, or even great. It’s already great. The next step up will be to make it exceptional. A hard rung to climb, but not if you’re determined to be the best there is out there, and DesktopBSD is easily on its way towards that goal!

The review can be read in its entirety here.

m0n0wall, an open source lightweight firewall

M0n0wall logo Jeff Goldman has done an interview with Manual Kasper, the creator of m0n0wall. Here it is: Manuel Kasper developed the embedded firewall software package m0n0wall back in 2002, he says, while experimenting with embedded x86-based computers.

Having just succeeded at stripping down FreeBSD enough to make it run on a Soekris net4501 board… and deploying it for use as a home firewall/NAT router, I wanted to go one step further, I wanted a nice, web-based interface to configure it, just like the commercial firewall boxes.

Kasper says he chose the name m0n0wall simply because “Mono” was his nickname in school.

I’m not sure why I replaced the o’s for zeros—perhaps because all domain names with normal o’s were already taken—and when I look at it now, it seems a bit silly/’31337′—but it has become a trademark anyway,

he says. And what started as a home project to make it easier to configure FreeBSD on the Soekris net4501 has grown rapidly.

At some point, I decided that it had become good enough that other people might want to have a look at it, so I posted a note about the first version on a mailing list,” Kasper says. “The interest in the project turned out to be big, so I created a dedicated web page and started releasing new versions with new features every few weeks.

Looking at the solution as a whole, Kasper says the best way to explain m0n0wall’s strengths is to look at the stability and reliability of FreeBSD.

m0n0wall, owing to the fact that it’s based on FreeBSD, inherits those qualities

Read the whole interview on isp-planet.com

Note: Manuel Kasper’s embedded FreeBSD-based firewall software package is especially attractive to WISPs and small ISPs.

m0n0wall-CMI project


Stumbled upon m0n0wall-CMI today, a web-based centralised management interface to manage m0n0wall devices remotely.

It’s the result of an internal needs inside the TI Automotive firm that is now given to open source community; This work is licensed under the BSD license.
This project is developed in PHP5 Oriented Object and packaged together with a developer documentation to ease the work of someone who would like to contribute to the code.

Current features:

    m0n0wall-CMI

  • Centralized interface to manage m0n0wall devices
  • m0n0wall version supported: 1.231;
  • Fetch/Restore m0n0wall configuration through HTTPS;
  • Manage Users/Groups;
  • Manage Aliases of m0n0wall;
  • Manage Global aliases common to all m0n0wall devices managed;
  • Manage Interfaces and VLANs;
  • Manage Firewall rules;
  • Manage NAT entries;
  • Manage ProxyARP;
  • Manage Static Routes;
  • Manage Syslog and SNMP settings;
  • Dump XML configuration from interface;
  • Import existing m0n0wall devices into database;

Sounds interesting, doesn’t it? Especially if you administer a couple of m0n0wall firewalls remotely. Check out the online demo version

FreeBSD and the Xbox (360)

Microsoft Xbox 360In this post I want to have a look at how the Microsoft Xbox (360) can be used in combination with FreeBSD

  1. Xbox running FreeBSD
  2. Xbox 360 as media streaming device
  3. Using FreeNAS with the Xbox 360

1. Xbox running FreeBSD

Some of you may be aware that since the middle of 2005 it is possible to run FreeBSD on the Microsoft Xbox and later also on the Xbox 360. To be honest, I don’t really see the point of porting an OS to a video game device – “are data centres full of Xboxes?” – but I also readily admit that it’s always good to see individuals offering up their time and contributing to make even better and more powerfull. Some may object that the FreeBSD-Xbox combination may be a good thing, for instance, for home-users who can use their old Xbox for PC-BSD / DesktopBSD or for scientists who can use Xboxes for cheap, high-power cluster computing. Anyhow, the opinions are quite divided.

This FreeBSD-Xbox project was originally started by Rink Springer (patching and coding) and Ed Schouten (reviewing patches and provision of details on certain Xbox internals).

FreeBSD/Xbox is supported in FreeBSD 6.x and 7.0. The framebuffer, Ethernet, sound and USB devices (such as an USB keyboard for the console) are all supported.

In order to help people in installing the FreeBSD/Xbox port, a combined install/liveCD has been created which can be downloaded here.

More information can be found on Xbox-Linux project page and on the FreeBSD Xbox platform page.

If interested in running FreeBSD on your Xbox console, these are the Xbox related ports that you may find useful:

2. Xbox 360 as media streaming device

Since Microsoft added Xvid codec support to the Xbox 360 last month (it supported UPnP for streaming already), this console can be turned into a fairly capable media streaming device.

There are many UpnP servers available, but only a few run on FreeBSD, e.g.

  • FUPPES – Free UPnP Entertainment Service
  • MediaTomb – note: doesn’t support Xbox 360 (yet)
  • uShare – Fork of GNU Media Server for GeeXboX

Both FUPPES and uShare have support for the Xbox 360. Whilst the first has more features, the latter is easier to get it up and running. For notes on how to install these two media servers, check out Falz’s howto.

3. Using FreeNAS with the Xbox 360

Want to enable your Xbox 360 to see your FreeNAS server? Easy!

PC-BSD vs DesktopBSD; similarities & differences


Similar to my m0n0wall vs pfSense; similarities & differences post, I thought I’d also post a “PC-BSD vs DesktopBSD; similarities & differences” overview since I get so much trafic from people trying to find out what the similarities and differences are.

A common misconception about DesktopBSD is that it is intended as a rival to PC-BSD as a BSD-based desktop distribution. Neither the DesktopBSD nor the PC-BSD project intend to rival each other; the two projects are completely independent with distinctive features and goals. PC-BSD has introduced a new package management (PBI) that lets you easily install packages, whereas DesktopBSD has developed a graphical utility that makes installing standard FreeBSD packages and ports easy. Let’s have a look at the similarities and the differences.

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m0n0wall vs pfSense; similarities & differences

pfSense logoA common misconception about pfSense is that it is intended as a rival to m0n0wall as a BSD-based firewall system, since they are similar in structure and goals. This is not the case; some developers even contribute to both projects. m0n0wall is targeted at a specific level of hardware platform, which is the Soekris or Wrap (a 486 133MHz with 64 or 128 Mb RAM and low power consumption). pfSense requires 128 Mb ram. Likewise, m0n0wall gets away with a >= 10Mb CF card, while pfSense really needs a 256Mb card or bigger.

M0n0wall logopfSense is better in that it has more features, however m0n0wall is better in that it is smaller and simpler. Which of the two, m0n0wall or pfSense, you need, just depends on your (system/business) requirements.

Interesting link: BSD Firewalling, pfSense and m0n0wall (PDF – paper delivered at BSDCan2006)