FreeBSD embedded systems

Talking about FreeBSD as an embedded operating system, did you know there are quite a few devices out there that use FreeBSD inside?

A variety of products are directly or indirectly based on FreeBSD. For instance, Juniper Networks routers (JUNOS), Ironport network security appliances (AsyncOS), Nokia’s firewall operating system (IPSO), NetApp’s OnTap GX, Panasas’s and Isilon Systems‘s cluster storage operating systems, NetASQ security appliances and St Bernard iPrism web filtering appliance.

If you’re aware of any more FreeBSD based appliances, please let us all know in the comments.

Juniper’s JUNOS FreeBSD based router operating system

Open, but not open source

JUNOS is the operating system running Juniper‘s routing and switching devices and has it’s roots in the open source FreeBSD operating system. The first version of JUNOS was available on 7 July 1998 and since then Juniper has been updating it with new features every quarter. The release of JUNOS 9.1 in May this year was the 38th consecutive release. Though Juniper is based on the open source FreeBSD, yet, JUNOS itself is not open source.

JUNOS software is, indeed, based on FreeBSD. Probably the most obvious benefit of using FreeBSD in our software is the Unix-like environment that comes with it. Customers can access a Unix shell and perform normal Unix commands that can be quite helpful with the regular upkeep of our routing platforms.

Almost everyone I talk to wants to know how we can continue to ship feature-rich releases every 90 days,” Bushong said. “Really, the biggest enabler is the fact that we focus our resources on a single operating system for our routing and switching platforms. We made a decision on day one that we wanted to develop and maintain a single operating system. By focusing on that one OS, we gain efficiency on both the development and the test sides of our R&D efforts, allowing us to implement something once, deploy it everywhere, test it once, qualify it everywhere.”

For our high-performance business customers, the network is critical to their success. Specifically, the performance and functionality of the operating system underlying the network is essential to delivering against their business goals.

More information and quotes can be found in a recent article on InternetNews.com (18/07/2008)

Video for BSD Project

FreeBSD was (and mainly still is) developed with server use in mind. Due to this and the fact that FreeBSD has only a relatively small market share, there’s a lack of multimedia device drivers for this operating system. This is unfortunate for projects such as PC-BSD and DesktopBSD that focus on desktop use.

The Video4Linux (V4L) project has produced a large number of device drivers available for multimedia cards, digital cameras, and USB devices. FreeBSD doesn’t support V4L, so much work will have to be repeated in re-writing new hardware drivers to make them run on FreeBSD. Most hardware which just ‘plugs-n-plays’ on Linux will never work on FreeBSD.

On 10 July 2008 the Video for BSD project was created on SourceForge. This project will implement a V4L compatible API and device drivers for the BSD systems, enabling FreeBSD users to run Linux video applications. The project’s goal is to provide an emulation layer that would let you recompile the Linux source code on FreeBSD, and provide a sufficiently complete emulation of the Linux kernel APIs so that device drivers can be used without significant modifications to their source code.

Similar to the Video for BSD project is the FreeBSD HDTV project.

More information on the Video for BSD project page or the SourceForge page

FreeBSD on the Openmoko

New systems and architectures running Linux, will run sooner of later NetBSD or FreeBSD. The now well-known Asus Eee PC is an example of this. When launched it ran Linux, but soon developers were offering up their night’s sleep to get FreeBSD to run on it. And with success.

Openmoko is a project that aims to develop 1) a Linux based open source operating system designed for mobile phones (similar to Google’s Android) and 2) open source hardware devices on which Openmoko Linux runs. Unlike most other mobile phone platforms, these phones are designed to provide end users with the ability to modify the operating system and software stack.

Openmoko shipped its first product, the Neo 1973 mobile phone on 9 July 2007; and then turned into a start-up company with one aim: create great mobile products using open source Openmoko Linux.

Openmoko uses the Linux kernel, together with a graphical user environment using the X.Org server, GTK+ toolkit, and the Matchbox window manager.

In addition to Linux, the NetBSD and FreeBSD kernels have been adapted to run on the platform or are under development.

For the latest information and FreeBSD installation instructions visit the Openmoko FreeBSD page.

iXsystems offers professional FreeBSD and PC-BSD support

iXsystems announced  on 08/07/08 the launch of its Professional Services Division for FreeBSD and PC-BSD. The new Professional Services Division will provide Professional Enterprise Grade support, consulting, and development for FreeBSD and PC-BSD.

Service offerings include desktop support such as installation and basic customization of the operating system. Software application support is also offered and includes assistance configuring and installing third-party applications, either through the FreeBSD ports and packages system or via Push-Button Installers (PBIs), graphical utilities to remove and install PC-BSD software in a simple to use, self-contained format.

Also included are more customized support offerings across a wide range of server-related issues such as kernel tuning and system optimization, device driver creation, kernel, userland, and embedded systems development, and a host of other services. iXsystems offers 8×5 PC-BSD and FreeBSD OS support and has a devoted Service Support Office and US-based Call Center to assist with technical support issues.

We feel that offering Enterprise Grade Support for FreeBSD and PC-BSD will remove one of the main barriers that the platforms face to expanding adoption. While there may be some companies that are capable of supporting them, there are none, to my knowledge, currently offering services and support on an Enterprise level specific to FreeBSD and PC-BSD

says Matthew Olander, CTO of iXsystems.

For more information, read the announcement or head over to the iXsystems Support page.

Did you know you can buy workstations with PC-BSD pre-installed from iXsystems?

FreeBSD servers uptime Poll

FreeBSD is known to be a very reliable and rock-solid server operating system; You only need to check netcraft.com for systems with the longest uptime, and you’ll notice that in today’s top there are 7 servers running FreeBSD out of the top 10 (stats correct 21/07/08).

Just out of interest, if you run a FreeBSD server, how long has your server been running without reboot? If you have more than 1 servers, let’s know about the server with the longest uptime.

When was your FreeBSD server rebooted last?

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The new FreeBSD Core Team (2008-2010)

One of the major differences between FreeBSD and Linux, is that FreeBSD is coherent operating system, and that the building of it is steered and managed by a Core Team.

The bi-annual election is over and the votes are in. The following FreeBSD developers form the core team until 2010:

  • Robert Watson (172 votes)
  • Peter Wemm (160)
  • Kris Kennaway (157)
  • Murray Stokely (134)
  • George V. Neville-Neil (126)
  • Brooks Davis (116)
  • Wilko Bulte (114)
  • Hiroki Sato (111)
  • Giorgos Keramidas (91)

Peter Wemm is rejoining the team after a two-year break, and Kris Kennaway is joining the team for the first time. Outgoing members are Wes Peters and Warner Losh.

Join me in congratulating these guys for all the hard work over the years and wishing them the best for the future to make FreeBSD the best operating system in the world.

The FreeBSD core team would be equivalent to the board of directors if the FreeBSD Project were a company. The primary task of the core team is to make sure the project, as a whole, is in good shape and is heading in the right directions. Inviting dedicated and responsible developers to join our group of committers is one of the functions of the core team, as is the recruitment of new core team members as others move on (source)

Robert Watson did a presentation at Google a little while ago, titled “How the FreeBSD Project works”. You can watch the video on Google Video.

Part of FreeBSD’s reputation for quality and reliability comes from the nature of its development organization–driven by a hundreds of highly skilled volunteers, from high school students to university professors. And unlike most open source projects, the FreeBSD Project has developers who have been working on the same source base for over twenty years. But how does this organization work? Who pays the bandwidth bills, runs the web servers, writes the documentation, writes the code, and calls the shots? And how can developers in a dozen time zones reach agreement on the time of day, let alone a kernel architecture? This presentation will attempt to provide, in 45 minutes, a brief if entertaining snapshot into what makes FreeBSD run

Will Backman from BSDTalk has interviewed a few FreeBSD Core Team members on the back of the BSDCan 2007 conference. This interview gives an insight into the Team, how it works, how it gets elected etc. Listen to his podcast here

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