Blogs for “the other BSDs”: NetBSD, OpenBSD and DragonFlyBSD

This blog, FreeBSD – the unknown Giant, as the title suggests, covers only FreeBSD related stories and updates. However, over the last few months, I have received emails from my some readers asking why I don’t write about the “other BSDs”, such as OpenBSD, NetBSD and DragonflyBSD.

Well, the answer is quite simple: “There’s no need to!” No, not because they’re not worth writing about, they certainly are, but because there are already some quality blogs dedicated to each of these BSD operating systems.  Hence my reason for not, or only occasionally, writing about then. Since these blogs are regularly updated with news, howtos and information on made progress, I’ve decided not to just copy, paste and republish what’s on those blogs.

To find out more about OpenBSD, visit the OpenBSD Journal. The DragonflyBSD digest is updated regularly with news relating to DragonflyBSD, and lately a lot on the progress of the newly created and much promising Hammer File System (HammerFS), whilst Hubert’s NetBSD blog brings the latest and greatest with regards to NetBSD.

Of course there are more many blogs and websites tracking the “big four”, but these are the best as far as I’m aware.

FreeBSD events and conferences calendar

There are several conferences and expo’s where FreeBSD is promoted (and this seems to be increasing by the year). To keep track of when and where these are, I have set up a public calendar listing all FreeBSD related events, such as conferences, meetings, hackatons etc. This calendar is on Google Calendar (GCal) and is accessible to everybody.

  • Name: FreeBSD events and conferences calendar
  • Description: FreeBSD related conferences, trade shows, meetings and events that are of interest for users of FreeBSD and FreeBSD-based operating systems

If you already use Google Calandar, you can easily add the FreeBSD events calendar to yours (to find it, do a search for “FreeBSD”). Alternatively, those not using GCal, can view the calendar here.

Are you aware of any events where FreeBSD or any FreeBSD based operating systems are promoted that aren’t listed yet? Please let me know.

There are already two similar calendars but they aren’t maintained any longer. Hence my decision to start AND maintain another one.

Links: Google Calendar | FreeBSD GCal

Book: Network Administration with FreeBSD

Network Administration with FreeBSDA new book has been added to the “FreeBSD library”: “Network Administration with FreeBSD” by Babak Farrokhi.

This 280 page book is about the building, securing, and maintaining of networks with the FreeBSD operating system, and deals with the following topics

  1. Set up and manage networking on FreeBSD
  2. Virtualization with FreeBSD Jails, IPFW and PF
  3. Configure interfaces, protocols, and routing

Network Administrators looking for skills beyond installation and configuration of FreeBSD may find this book useful.

The following description has been taken from the Amazon page:

This book is a guide to FreeBSD for network administrators; therefore it does not cover basic installation and configuration of FreeBSD, but is about using FreeBSD to build, secure, and maintain networks. After introducing the basic tools for monitoring the performance and security of the system the book moves on to cover using jails-FreeBSD virtual environments-to secure your network.

Then it shows how to overcome the different bottlenecks that you may meet depending on the services you are running by tweaking different parameters to maintain a high performance from your FreeBSD server.

Next it covers using the ifconfig utility to configure interfaces with different layer protocols and about connectivity testing and debugging tools.

After covering using User PPP or Kernel PPP for Point-to-Point Protocol network configuration it explains basic IP forwarding in FreeBSD and the use of the built-in routing daemons, routed and route6d, which support RIPv1, RIPv2, RIPng, and RDISC.

Next it covers the OpenOSPFD and OpenBGPD daemons that you can install to run OSPF and BGP on your host.Then it covers setup and configuration of IPFW and PF, and finally looks at some important internet services and how to set them up on your FreeBSD server

A short review by Murray Stokely can be found here.

For more information and the best deals, visit:

Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.ca | Amazon.de | Amazon.fr

Two FreeBSD howtos (kernel module & gmirror)

Writing a kernel module for FreeBSD

FreeBSD 7.0 has already been released. If you are a real hacker, the best way to jump in and learn it is hacking together an introductory kernel module. In this article I’ll implement a very basic module that prints a message when it is loaded, and another when it is unloaded. I’ll also cover the mechanics of compiling our module using standard tools and rebuilding the stock FreeBSD kernel. Let’s do it!

source: Free Software Magazine (19/06/2008)

Adding gmirror to an existing installation

This article describes how a RAID-1 cluster was created on FreeBSD 7.0-STABLE box using gmirror.

Source: FreeBSD Diary (24/09/2008)

pfSense book naming contest

pfSense project logoChris Buechler, one of the pfSense Core Team members, has been working for several months on a pfSense Handbook which will be completed in the next 5-6 weeks and for sale from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. around late August to early September.

The book will contain about 300-400 pages and a work in progress table of contents can be found here.

The title hasn’t been decided on for definite. Chris is open for suggestions from the community, so if you have a good title in mind, you can leave your suggestion in the comments section.

Last week I mentioned I was having some redirection problems, but they’re all sorted now, thanks to Chris’ help and suggestions. Many thanks Chris.

Firefox 3 with FreeBSD technologies

firefox logoFirefox 3 is released and got off to a fantastic start: more than 8 million downloads within 24 hours, peaking at 17.000 downloads a minute.

Everybody browsing the internet uses (unconsciously) FreeBSD technology, such as TCP/IP, and a few only know that Firefox 3 comes integrated with some exciting FreeBSD technologies.

Murray Stokely has summarised:

The most widely publicized is probably the addition of Jason Evan’s memory allocator, jemalloc (link 1, link 2) written for FreeBSD 7.0 which has been included into Firefox to reduce memory fragmentation.

Another FreeBSD technology widely adopted by other products utilizing binary updates is Colin Percival’s bspatch client-side binary patching code. Kris Kennaway also notes that the ISC is hosting its FireFox mirrors on FreeBSD 7.0 machines to handle the unprecedented download demand as the Mozilla Foundation attempts to break a world record for downloads in a day.

FreeBSD press release and congratulations of Mozilla:

One of the FreeBSD technologies used by Firefox 3 is the new memory allocator, “jemalloc”, hich was written by FreeBSD developer Jason Evans for the FreeBSD 7 operating system. jemalloc is a fast, efficient memory allocator with excellent performance on multiprocessor machines. Though already a part of the FreeBSD 7 operating system, the Mozilla project has chosen to also incorporate it directly inside the Firefox 3 browser to improve memory performance and reduce memory use on other operating systems with legacy memory allocators. According to the blog of Firefox developer Stuart Parmenter, “Our automated tests on Windows Vista showed a 22% drop in memory usage when we turned jemalloc on.” Commenting on the Linux version of the browser, he wrote, “We saw a good performance increase and a drop in memory.”

BSDFund – supporting BSD related projects

BSDFund LogoThe FreeBSD Foundation is a non-profit organisation dedicated to supporting the FreeBSD Project. This reasonably well-known foundation in the BSD world supports projects which further the development of the FreeBSD operating system (conferences, grants, hardware etc).

Also NetBSD and OpenBSD have their own foundation. These foundations tend to support bigger projects (although they do give travel grants), but there’s also a smaller, lesser known, US non-profit organisation whose mission is to assist and fund BSD-related open source projects, events and travel: BSD Fund.

To be honest I had never heard of this fund until I read about it on Oliver H’s blog. The man behind the BSD Fund is Michael Dexter who’s also one of the guys behind BSD Talk.

Despite the excellent work of the FreeBSD and NetBSD Foundations, there are still individuals and cross-BSD projects that do not have the legal infrastructure to receive tax-deductible donations.

The BSD Fund is negotiating to fund a variety of broad and specific projects but is beginning with conference and travel grants. The Fund raises money through direct donations, grant applications and reward credit cards.

The BSD Fund’s partner organization has given over half a million dollars to open source projects, events and travel over the past seven years. The BSD Fund gives new focus and drive to this effort to help the next thirty years of BSD software development be as successful as the first.

BSD Fund website