FreeBSD news and links (week 40)

I have some  news links an leftovers for you from (the) last (few) week(s):

1. PC-BSD 8.1 [Review]
We always wonder why is it that Microsoft makes us pay to use its OS, so why not shift to Linux or UNIX which are open source and free to use. No doubt Microsoft has made it very easy for lay man to use a PC but we all know Linux is more secure than Windows. Also, off late Linux developers are concentrating on GUI to make Linux easy to use.

FreeBSD – a UNIX like operating system has evolved from AT&T UNIX via Berkely Software Distribution. FreeBSD has a text installer. PC-BSD was founded by FreeBSD professional named Kris Moore in 2005. Kris Moore’s goal was to make FreeBSD easy for everyone to install on desktop. PC-BSD is aimed at users like you and me who are accustomed to Windows but would like a free OS. It has a graphical installation program which uses KDE SC graphical user interface.
Continues (thinkdigit.com)

2. EuroBSDCon Presentation on pc-sysinstal (PDF)
There was a lot of interest about the changes to the pc-sysinstall backend during Kris Moore’s presentation at EuroBSDCon. Continues (Dru’s blog)

There’s an interview with John Hixon from iXsystems on pc-sysinstall (potentially on FreeBSD): bsdtalk199

3. Ten ways Linux and BSD differ

I hear it all the time: people lumping together Linux and any of the BSDs. On occasion, I’ve even done it myself. Of course, there are plenty of similarities. Both are based on Unix and have mostly been developed by non-commercial organisations. They also share a common goal — to create the most useful, reliable operating system available. But there are also significant differences that shouldn’t be ignored, and I thought it would be worth highlighting them here.Continues (zdnet.co.uk)

4. New FreeNAS 0.8 alpha

First and foremost, we have a completely new GUI look and feel. We’ve imported dojango into the GUI to take advantage of Dojo JavaScript Toolkit. The flow of the interface is much nicer, it looks better, and we’ve added additional help to make it easier to use. We think you’ll like this new GUI. We’ve made dozens of improvements over the past few weeks to the GUI. We hope you like the new location for enabling shares. Contiunues (Warner’s blog)

5. Using Clonezilla with FreeNAS or Network Share to Backup a Hard Disk

6. pfSense router setup in VirtualBox

7. Bordeaux Software is looking for testers (and bloggers): Looking for someone to do a review


PC-BSD Q&A in this Week’s DistroWatch Issue

Jesse Smith from DistroWatch recently asked DistroWatch readers to submit questions about PC-BSD.  The questions, with Dru Lavigne’s answers, can be read in this week’s issue of Distrowatch.

The questions asked were:

  • What is your opinion on the differences between the BSD license and the GPL, and how it works for how BSD does things? Why would a developer choose a license which allows a commercial entity to use their code and make money from it without giving anything back (i.e. OS X)?
  • Going back to the basics, it’d be interesting to know why one might choose a BSD operating system over a Linux distro, and vice versa. What is/are the core function(s) of BSD, and what sets it apart from Linux (other than the different licensing schemes)?
  • What are some of the philosophical differences between the BSD kernel and Linux kernel coders? And can things like drivers be shared between the two camps?
  • Could you please compare and contrast BSD Ports and Linux package management?
  • I would appreciate hearing your insight into the Oracle/Google lawsuit, Java and patent issues. I would also love to hear about your perspective on some of the new upstart BSD distros that include installers and GNOME/KDE (PC-BSD, GhostBSD, GNOBSD).
  • I would love to try a BSD distro, and I like the look of PC-BSD, but I don’t want to download the large DVD image. Are there plans for a live CD edition any time soon? Perhaps one with Xfce or LXDE instead of KDE?
  • It is already possible to install ZFS from the GUI installer of PC-BSD. In fact I was able to establish a functioning mirrored “rootpool” using the installer with a minimum of fuss. The problem is that there is no default (suggested) file system layout that is specifically tailored to zpools (like there is in OpenSolaris) and you have to create your own, unlike the default (or suggested) UFS layout provided by the PC-BSD installer. This puts a premium on user knowledge. So I was wondering if future installers will have an even more “user-friendly” approach to ZFS installation, where ideal partition layouts are recommended by the installer?
  • Will there be any attempt to improve on the power and flexibility of the BTX bootloader that PC-BSD uses? Is it even conceivable that PC-BSD might incorporate GRUB 2? Right now it is supposed to be possible to install GRUB on PC-BSD, but I think people have had a lot trouble doing this, with GRUB 2 at any rate.
  • I’ve tried to install PC-BSD, but if it’s not video issues on my new machine it’s boot issues on the old one. What can a relative computer Luddite like myself (who’ll try something but probably never dig that deep into getting it to work) do to encourage better hardware compatibility on future releases?
  • I have been using PC-BSD and plain FreeBSD (with KDE) for quite a while. With FreeBSD you have the option of using it in “rolling-release style” by upgrading your ports on a regular basis. But you can restrict your port upgrades and just upgrade those ports that have security vulnerabilities if you like. Just run portaudit and it will tell you what needs upgrading. Now, as you know, PC-BSD is not a rolling release (unless you use the ports system with it and want to constantly upgrade). But I have noticed that the number of “system updates” in PC-BSD are very few and far between. They seem even fewer then just the security patches provided by FreeBSD (i.e. the portupgrades applied only to the vulnerable ports). So my question is, in light of these fewer system updates, is PC-BSD more insecure then FreeBSD? (I am assuming that one is not using the ports system with PC-BSD.) I realize that a lot of the vulnerabilities that portaudit reports are only relevant if you are using a server, but this is not universally true, and I can’t shake the feeling that PC-BSD is significantly behind the curve when it comes to providing package updates that eliminate security problems. If PC-BSD has a flaw relative to FreeBSD (or most Linux distros) this might be it.
  • Is there anything else you’d like to add about the PC-BSD project or BSD in general?

Read the answers: Interview (by Jesse Smith)

PC-BSD 8.1 review by linuxbsdos

linuxbsdos has a fairly positive review of PC-BSD 8.1, though there is still room for improvement:

“PC-BSD 8.1 was released on July 20, 2010, roughly five months after version 8.0 was released. Some of the suggestions made in the review of PC-BSD 8.0 have been carried out in this latest release. In fact, the changes were made within one month of that review being published. It is an encouraging example of how some distro developers respond to suggestions (or critical reviews).

While I still think that PC-BSD is not yet ready for the masses, it is coming along very well. This review will offer another detailed look at some of the good and bad sides of this FreeBSD-based distribution, with the attendant recommendations and suggestions for improvement.

Let me begin by looking at the bright side of this distribution…. ”

Read more: PC-BSD 8.1 review

FreeBSD quick news and links (04/08/2010)

PC-BSD Blog

Dru Lavigne has joined the PC-BSD team this month. The first thing she did, was setting up another blog: the PC-BSD Blog. She already posts BSD related posts on it.toolbox.com: A year in the life of  a BSD guru.

A new *BSD Planet Website

Edward launched AboutBSD recently as a new *BSD blogs agregating website. It won’t be a copy of blogs.freebsdish.org or news.bsdplanet.net, but it will also have some background info on the different BSD systems.

As for the goal for AboutBSD, I want to turn it into a planet website that aggregates how BSD system admins use BSD. So that new users or system admins can learn that BSD is flexible, powerful, and provides all the freedom one needs to deploy services on BSD.

FreeBSD/Linux Benchmarking (Phoronix)

PC-BSD Review: Strike that: now I’m a PC-BSD!

The review finishes with:

I would have no hesitation in recommending PC-BSD for desktop use. It has definitely been the best install experience for a desktop system I have had. It seems exactly tailored for someone like me, a developer in an office where we have tried to be operating-system-neutral as much as possible: most of our programmers do run PCs but we have weaned ourselves off any PC-only applications long ago (apart from specialist applications). As I mentioned in the previous blog, it is a smooth and pretty OS, and feels solid.

Whole review here

ZFS v15 imported into FreeBSD (head)

As announced before, ZFS v15 was successfuly imported into FreeBSD! For a time there was an option of importing just v15 or proceeding directly to v16 but the community has decided to first import the older version for reasons of stability and compatibility with Solaris 10 Update 8. (via)

Millions of home routers at risk.

According to new research delivered today here at the Black Hat security conference, millions of home routers may have a serious security flaw.

In his presentation at Black Hat, security researcher Craig Heffner detailed how an external attacker could gain full control of a user’s router and use that to gain access to the internal local area network (LAN). Though the implications are ominous, Heffner, also detailed a variety of steps users can take to protect themselves.

You should use pfSense instead:

Heffner also called on router vendors to build in DNS Rebinding mitigations into their routers directly.

“The only router software that I know of that does this now is pfSense

(Whole article here:  Millions of home routers at risk)

Foremay ships world’s largest 2TB SSD

This 2TB SSD should work on FreeBSD:

Foremay has introduced a 1TB 2.5? SATA solid-state drive alongside the industry-leading 2TB 3.5? SATA SSD, as the company expects to see an increased demand in SSD products for the enterprise.

The EC188 M-series model-V includes 200 MB/s read/write speeds, and can be used in the enterprise and workstation PCs.

Ideally, enterprise users will be able to utilize the EC188 M-series model-V, as it includes support for Microsoft Windows, Mac, several versions of Linux, OpenSolaris, Solaris, FreeBSD, HP-UX, Unix, and other operating systems…. Continues

Stopping SSH Brute Force attacks with PF on FreeBSD

Most people know that port 22 is used for SSH communication and due to this common knowledge, you get people using scripts to test for weak passwords. If you look into your /var/log/auth.log and you see tons of fails/errors from users not on your system or from invalid passwords for root, it means you have people trying to break into your system. Truthfully, anyone that puts a system online with port 22 open will see this happen to them.  It’s quite common and not direct attack against you, just scripts looking for IPs with port 22 open.

Now it goes without saying that you should make sure you have a strong password that take use of numbers, upper and low case letters and symbols. Doing this will go along way in preventing someone from breaking into your system. You should also ensure that people can’t remotely log in as root by making sure that you have ‘PermitRootLogin’ set to ‘no’ in your /etc/ssh/sshd_config file. This will ensure that no mater how many passwords they try for root they will never be able to log in.

Now you could just set your SSH server to run on a different port or have your firewall redirect a different port from the outside to the system, but what’s the fun in that when you can use a great tool like PF.

Read the whole howto: Stopping SSH Brute Force attacks with PF on FreeBSD

A Deadly Linux/UNIX Command in Action (Video)

The short and simple “rm -rf /” command is DISASTROUS.


Bordeaux 2.0.6 for FreeBSD and PC-BSD Released

The Bordeaux Technology Group released Bordeaux 2.0.6 for FreeBSD and PC-BSD. Bordeaux 2.0.6 is a maintenance release that fixes a number of small bugs and includes many new features.

Some of the changes are:

  • Wine 1.2 included,
  • Updated to the latest winetricks release,
  • Updated to the latest DIB Engine patch,
  • Added support for IrfanView 4.27,
  • Install the IrfanView Plug ins during the IrfanView Install,
  • Improved Internet Explorer 7 support,
  • Added Support for FireFox 3.6.3 and multimedia plugins,
  • Added Support for VLC 1.1.0,
  • Added Support for Google SketchUp 7.1 (NVIDIA Video Card Recommended),
  • Added many fixes for Steam,
  • More fixes to the Bordeaux UI and Cellar Manager.

Bordeaux 2.0.6 was built on FreeBSD 8, PC-BSD 8 and PC-BSD 7.1. A .sh installer is provided for FreeBSD and .pbi installers for PC-BSD.

Depending on sales, the Bordeau Group plans to add Pulse Audio to the next BSD release. So if you would like to have Pulse Audio in Wine on FreeBSD and PC-BSD make a purchase.

Read the full press release: Bordeaux 2.0.6 for FreeBSD and PC-BSD Released

I have just bought a copy of Bordeaux for PC-BSD/FreeBSD to support Tom and his team. They’re doing a great job building a bridge between *nix and the Windows world. Most of use still need/want to use some Windows programs Linux/PC-BSD/FreeBSD. If you’re interested, be quick as there’s a 50% off sale on. A copy costs only $10.

Find out more about Bordeau for FreeBSD/PC-BSD

The Bordeaux Technology Group is a software services and development company specializing in Windows compatibility software. Users of Linux systems from time to time find themselves in the need to run specialized Windows software. The Bordeaux suite enables access to these programs and data in a seamless and low cost manner without requiring licensing of Microsoft Technology.

PC-BSD 8.1 released

The PC-BSD Team has announced the availability of PC-BSD 8.1 (Hubble Edition), running FreeBSD 8.1-RELEASE, and KDE 4.4.5

Version 8.1 contains a number of enhancements and improvements. For a full list of changes, please refer to the changelog. Some of the notable changes are:

  • FreeBSD 8.1-Release
  • KDE 4.4.5
  • Numerous fixes to the installation backend
  • Support for creating dedicated disk GPT partitioning
  • Improved ZFS support
  • Bugfixes to desktop tools / utilities

Version 8.1 of PC-BSD is available for download from the mirrors, as well as via torrent from www.gotbsd.net.

FreeBSD quick news and links (28/06/2010)

PC-BSD Installer

The new PC-BSD installer (available as GUI and text installer), which is also able to install plain FreeBSD, has now been committed to the FreeBSD source tree. This video goes into the details of the installer.

Kris Moore: PC-SYSINSTALL – A new system installer backend for PC-BSD and FreeBSD

BSD Certification

The BSD Certification Group needs reviewers for the BSDA exam objectives.

BSDA Certification Exam can be taken at MeetBSD 2010, Cracow, Poland: BSDA Certification, Cracow

Help test ZFS v15

ZFS v15 brings in user and group quotas and help is needed to test, before it’s imported.

I would like to do a call for testing for my ZFS v15 patch.

As the user/group quotas feature is too much attractive for my needs, I couldn’t resist and have created (and debugged + tested) a ZFS v15 patch for head (applies cleanly against stable/8 as well).

It is a backport of several onnv-revisions, always consulting pjd’s p4 tree and includes four post-9396 related user/groupquota bugfixes. The bootcode (zfsimpl.h) is properly updated to support v15 as well, the python part is modified (paths, smb support, ioctls).  Continues

Nvidia Releases a Much Improved Video Driver

Nvidia announced on June 22nd the final and stable version of the 256.x proprietary driver for Nvidia graphics cards. Nvidia 256.35 incorporates lots of fixes and improvements, over previous releases. Unofficial GLX support was also added for a few OpenGL extensions, as well as Thermal Settings reporting improvements, Compiz fixes, many VDPAU improvements, and many more. Without further introduction, let’s take a look at some of the most important changes brought by the Nvidia 256.35 video driver (via)

Press Release

FreeBSD Developer position

iXsystems is looking for a Senior Software Engineer:

SR. SOFTWARE ENGINEER in San Jose, CA. FreeBSD driver & kernel dev; prog in C/C++, PHP, SQL/x86 assembly lang; eng group; tools/env & tech writing skills; Reqs: BSCS + 5 yrs. exp. (source)

iXsystems is the all-around FreeBSD company that builds FreeBSD certified servers and storage solutions, runs the FreeBSD Mall, and is the corporate sponsor of PC-BSD and FreeNAS.

New FreeBSD Committers

The following people have been awarded commit privileges in recent weeks:

  • Andrey V. Elsukov (source)
  • Matthew Fleming (source)
  • Ashish Shukla (ports)
  • Brendan Fabeny (ports)

BSD Can sponsored trip reports

The FreeBSD Foundation kindly sponsored a number of FreeBSD developers to attend BSDCan 2010 (videos here). These are links to some of the reports:

And one NetBSD link:

Testing NetBSD: Easy Does It

In a software project as large as NetBSD the interactions between different software components are not always immediately obvious to even the most skilled programmers. Tests help ensure that the system functions according to the desired criteria. Periodic automated runs of these tests with results visible on the web ensures both that tests are run in a regular fashion and that the results are available to all interested parties.

This short article explains the NetBSD test strategies and provides a brief overview of the enabling technologies. It also details how effortless it is to run the test suite and why doing so is in every developer’s, patch submitter’s and system administrator’s best interest. The intended audience is people with a keen interest in testing and quality assurance, and a desire to reduce personal headache. The article is written against NetBSD-current as of June 2010 and applies to what will eventually become NetBSD 6.

Read more: Automated Testing Framework (ATF)

CrossOver Office and Games for FreeBSD / PC-BSD

Tom Wickline has written a short introduction on CrossOver Office for FreeBSD / PC-BSD.

Codeweavers, the company behind CrossOver, is according to their website, the leading corporate backer of the Wine Project. Wine is an open source software initiative that is systematically re-implementing the Win32 API under Unix. Wine makes it possible for PCs running Unix-based operating systems (like OS X and Linux) to run Windows application as if natively.  CrossOver is comparible to Bordeaux.

Tom writes:

CrossOver for FreeBSD is a commercial variant of Wine released by  CodeWeavers with (currently) limited support for many of today’s most popular office application and games. CrossOver Office and Games for FreeBSD is tested for performance and stability with many of todays most popular games such as Guild Wars, Eve Online, and Steam games like Half-Life 2 and Portal. As well as many of todays most popular Office application such as Microsoft Office 97 to 2007, Quicken, Quickbooks, Photoshop, Internet Explorer and many other not mentioned applications.

Read Tom’s full review here:  An introduction to CrossOver Office and Games for FreeBSD

Links:

Bordeaux | Codeweavers

Thanks, Tom, for emailing me about your review.