FreeBSD in 2007 – a review

2007 is over. It was a very successful year for open source software and another 12 interesting months have passed for FreeBSD. In this post I want to look back at 2007 and see how FreeBSD faired, what happened in “FreeBSD land” and how FreeBSD based operating systems have developed. This post will be a sort of summary of the messages I posted during 2007.

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We’ll be looking at:

Start of this blog

Around April last year I was toying with the idea of starting a FreeBSD related news blog with the view to raise more awareness of FreeBSD and show it’s a perfect alternative to Linux. My first post was on 17 May 2007 and since then visitor numbers have rapidly gone up and feedback from visitors indicates that there’s definitely interest in such a blog. With the continuing growth of my WordPress.com hosted blog, I wanted to get some more flexibility and the ability to install plugins and scripts. Hence my move to Bluehost/FreeBSDOS (BTW, if you’re looking for cheap and reliable webhosting, I can really recommend them).

FreeBSD in 2007

FreeBSD LogoUnfortunately 2007 didn’t see the final release of FreeBSD 7.0; just 4 beta’s and a RC1. Well, maybe not “unfortunately”, because a top-quality product is better than a rushed-out flaky one that needs to be fixed and patched soon after its release. FreeBSD 7.0 incorporates some new and exciting technologies which will put this version a-par with, if not ahead of, Linux. Exciting stuff.

The FreeBSD Foundation have issued their quarterly newsletters (Q2, Q3, Q4), keeping the world up-to-date with the latest developments and news. The Foundation received a lot of coverage online and in the blogosphere with their Absolute FreeBSD book auction and their fund raising drive. The 2007 fundraising goal was $250.000, but a total of $403,511 was achieved. Well done.

There are already a couple of Linux related magazines for sale in stores, but BSD magazines aren’t available currently. “An interesting opportunity“, Software Media LLC/LP Magazine must have thought. They will issue first issue at the beginning of Q2 2008 and will contain an article by Dru Lavigne and Jan Stedehouder (Jan used and reviewed both PC-BSD and DesktopBSD for a month in his PC-BSB: the first 30 days and DesktopBSD: the first 30 days series).

Conference-wise, the ‘normal’ BSD conferences (BSDCan, EuroBSD, MeetBSD) were held, with a new one in Turkey (BSDConTR).
CONTINUED

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RoFreeSBIE 1.3 Released

rofreesbie.pngRoFreeSBIE 1.3 is a new release from the project developing an installable live DVD, based on the latest FreeBSD and designed for desktop use (This version is based on FreeBSD-6.3-PRERELEASE).

RoFreeSBIE 1.3 has improved startup scripts, backup and restore scripts. Using backup and restore scripts you can save all system settings to a floppy or an USB storage device and retrieve them at the next startup. Almost all possible settings can be saved (network configuration, firewall etc). RoFreeBSIE – the mobile desktop.

This version also comes with some new features:

  • the possibility to activate and deactivate Nvidia drivers on the fly.
  • a new installer (from the DesktopBSD project)
  • Xorg 7.3, KDE 3.5.7, latest Nvidia drivers, new startup scripts, new scripts for mounting removable media.

Download here

RoFreeSBIE 1.3 RC4 Released

Dan Angelescu has announced the availability of a public release candidate of RoFreeSBIE 1.3, a FreeBSD-based live DVD:

rofreesbie.pngRoFreeSBIE 1.3RC4 has been released. It is based on FreeBSD 6.2-STABLE based. It has improved start-up, backup and restore scripts. Using backup and restore scripts you can save the system settings to a floppy or an USB storage device and restore them at start-up. Almost all settings can be restored (network configuration, firewall, even menus on the desktop or the way system logs in). It includes also a unique feature – the possibility to activate and deactivate NVIDIA drivers on the fly. Also thanks to the DesktopBSD project and its developer, Peter Hofer, a new graphical installer has been included. Many bugs have been corrected and the final release will be available soon.

What is FreeBSD?

This website deals with the FreeBSD Operating System, but what is FreeBSD?

FreeBSD (FBSD) is an advanced Unix-like operating system developed by the FreeBSD Project. FBSD is one of the most reliable, robust and secure operating systems in the world. It is free, open source and powers some of the internet’s largest web servers, including Yahoo’s and Sony’s (more companies). Rock-solid stability and the ability to perform extremely well under heavy workloads makes this operating system a popular choice among Internet Service Providers and Web hosting companies. A cohesive userland and kernel, the ports system and regular OS upgrades are the strengths of this OS.

FreeBSD is derived from the Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD), the version of UNIX developed at the University of California at Berkeley between 1975 and 1993. FreeBSD is not a UNIX clone. Historically and technically, it has greater rights than UNIX System V to be called UNIX. Legally, it may not be called UNIX, since UNIX is now a registered trade mark of The Open Group.

FreeBSD runs on Intel processors as well as on DEC Alpha, Sun UltraSPARC processors, Itanium (IA-64) and AMD64 processors and soon on Suns Niagara servers (FreeBSD 7).

FreeBSD is an operating system that is very flexible and can therefore be used for various purposes:

  • FreeBSD – (web)servers
  • FreeNAS – Network Attached Storage servers
  • DragonFly BSD – Powering cluster computing
  • PC-BSD and DesktopBSD – Desktop
  • M0n0wall and pfSense – Firewall
  • Frenzy – portable system administrator toolkit
  • FreeSBIE and RoFreeSBIE- Live CDs

Stability, flexibility and security are what is needed for a good operating system, and FreeBSD has them all, whether you use it on your desktop or as server. There’s an interesting article on IBM’s website “Why FreeBSD” dealing with the strong points of FreeBSD.

A list of FreeBSD based operating systems

FreeBSD is an advanced operating system for x86 compatible (including Pentium® and Athlon), amd64 compatible (including Opteron, Athlon 64, and EM64T), UltraSPARC, IA-64, PC-98 and ARM architectures. It is derived from BSD, the version of UNIX® developed at the University of California, Berkeley. It is developed and maintained by a large team of individuals. Additional platforms are in various stages of development.

PC-BSD has been designed with the “casual” computer user in mind. Installing the system is simply a matter of a few clicks and a few minutes for the installation process to finish. Hardware such as video, sound, network and other devices will be auto-detected and available at the first system startup. Home users will immediately feel comfortable with PC-BSD’s desktop interface, with KDE 3.5 running under the hood. Software installation has also been designed to be as painless as possible, simply double-click and software will be installed.

DesktopBSD aims at being a stable and powerful operating system for desktop users. DesktopBSD combines the stability of FreeBSD, the usability and functionality of KDE and the simplicity of specially developed software to provide a system that’s easy to use and install.

m0n0wall is a project aimed at creating a complete, embedded firewall software package that, when used together with an embedded PC, provides all the important features of commercial firewall boxes (including ease of use) at a fraction of the price (free software). m0n0wall is based on a bare-bones version of FreeBSD, along with a web server, PHP and a few other utilities. The entire system configuration is stored in one single XML text file to keep things transparent. m0n0wall is probably the first UNIX system that has its boot-time configuration done with PHP, rather than the usual shell scripts, and that has the entire system configuration stored in XML format.

pfSense is an open source firewall derived from the m0n0wall operating system platform with radically different goals such as using OpenBSD’s ported Packet Filter, FreeBSD 6.1 ALTQ (HFSC) for excellent packet queueing and finally an integrated package management system for extending the environment with new features.

FreeNAS is a free NAS (Network-Attached Storage) server, supporting: CIFS (samba), FTP, NFS, RSYNC protocols, local user authentication, Software RAID (0,1,5) with a Full WEB configuration interface. FreeNAS takes less than 32MB once installed on Compact Flash, hard drive or USB key. The minimal FreeBSD distribution, Web interface, PHP scripts and documentation are based on M0n0wall.

Freesbie is a LiveCD based on the FreeBSD Operating system, or even easier, a FreeBSD-based operating system that works directly from a CD, without touching your hard drive.

RoFreeSBIE is a Live DVD/CD installable on hark disk. Its goal is to promote FreeBSD and make it an educational tool and a mobile desktop too.

Frenzy is a “portable system administrator toolkit,” LiveCD based on FreeBSD. It generally contains software for hardware tests, file system check, security check and network setup and analysis.

More and more up-to-date information can be found on the FreeBSD systems page.