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)

pfSense 1.2 RC4 released

pfSense logo The pfSense development team is happy to bring you the final release candidate in the 1.2 series (RC4)! The FreeBSD based pfSense firewall is designed to be a secure and easy to setup firewall server appliance. pfSense 1.2 promises a number of great features to make setting up a firewall easier and faster.

RC4 will be the last 1.2 release candidate. The final 1.2 release will come before the end of the month.

This is a summary of the changes since RC3:
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m0n0wall tipped, screencasts and beta9

M0n0wall logoThe m0n0wall project now offers a couple of screencasts that walk you through different configuration steps of a m0n0wall. Since pfSense is based on m0n0wall, some of them apply to pfSense as well.

Carla Schroder from Serverwatch.com recommended m0n0wall in the Tip of the Trade series

m0n0wall is a specialized implementation of FreeBSD + pf designed for routers and firewalls. It weighs in at well under 10 megabytes, while still delivering a complete operating system, a firewall, Web administration, traffic shaping services, a DNS and a DHCP server, SNMP, support for DynDNS updates, and a whole lot more. m0n0wall offers a nice pointy-clicky interface for setting up your stout pf firewall, but for ultimate power, you must write rules the from scratch. more…

The 9th beta of M0n0wall 1.3 was released yesterday. This beta release corrects problems with large configuration files, fixes an issue with bridging interfaces that support hardware checksum offload, and adds a kernel patch to allow m0n0wall to boot on Nokia IP110/IP120/IP130 boxes.

PC-BSD PBI Creator 4.0 released

Version 4.0 of the PBI installation program has been released, which includes several new features:

  • New wizard screen during installation, allows user to select a custom installation directory.
  • Installer now displays disk space required for program, and available space on drive.
  • Internal integrity checker confirms that program data hasn’t been corrupted in transit
  • Installer now displays the application specific icon in toolbar during install.

PBI Developers can download version 4.0 from PBIDir. In addition, PBIs being built on the PC-BSD auto-build server will have this update applied automatically. Questions or comments about this latest release may be directed towards the PBI Developers list.