UNIX history family tree

unix_family_history_tree_1600x1200

This is an interesting picture (or desktop background 1600×1200) showing the history of UNIX, incl Linux and the BSD’s

Unfortunately I can’t remember where I found this. If you know, please let me know and I add the source.

Click to enlarge

FreeBSD based systems – what would you call them?

The number of FreeBSD related operating systems is fortunately not as as high as the number of Linux distributions.

Most of you, if not all, will agree there are no FreeBSD distributions/distro’s due to the fact that FreeBSD is developed as a coherent operating system with a kernel and userland applications.

Existing FreeBSD based operating systems use the FreeBSD base and specialise in a certain field, e.g. DesktopBSD & PC-BSD concentrate on desktop use, pfSense and m0n0wall on routing/firewalling, AskoziaPBX on PBX systems etc etc. For more examples, check out this page.

Since these systems aren’t distro’s what would you call them? Please let me know on the poll below.

What would you call FreeBSD based operating systems?

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RootBSD – FreeBSD based VPS hosting (Xen & Jails)

RootBSD.com logoFreeBSD is one of the most stable server operating systems available today and is very well suited for a hosting environment. Many tools and software  packages are available on FreeBSD to create and run (Web 2.0) websites, including Apache, Lighttpd, Perl, Python, MySQL, PostgreSQL, Ruby on Rails etc. Used for powering many established websites such as Yahoo!, FreeBSD has proven to be an ultra-reliable platform for companies hosting sites with high hosting demands.

RootBSD is such a hosting provider that offers dedicated server hosting and virtual private servers (VPS) running on FreeBSD servers.

RootBSD was established with one simple goal in mind: to provide reliable BSD-based hosting services to hobbyists, advanced professionals and businesses. RootBSD has achieved this and much more as it has become the hosting provider of choice for many and has started to gain somewhat of a following over the past year in the FreeBSD community. RootBSD also sponsors many FreeBSD developers with free hosting services.

A few highlights of the RootBSD service:

  • Virtual hosting (Xen-based and Jail-based) and dedictated hosting
  • RootBSD deploys VPSs on Xen which is fully virtualised, unlike jail-based hosting that most providers use. RootBSD also offers jails-based VPS hosting.
  • Most recent stable FreeBSD release available; currently FreeBSD 7.0, while other providers are still using FreeBSD 6.3 (e.g. Verio)
  • Entry-level packages aimed at hobbyists start at only $20/month
  • Clean and attractive website. The geeky, black-’n-green looking website was replaced by a much more professional looking “FreeBSD coloured” website last May.

The benefits of full virtualisation under Xen are that

  • the VPS envrionment is separated from the host system which lets customers fully customise their environment. In a jail the guest VPS runs off the kernel of the host system, meaning you cannot change the kernel.
  • jails use a virtualised network stack that works fine for most services but doesn’t let the user do some more advanced things like firewalling, virtual network devices, VPN tunnels, etc.

As far as I’m aware, RootBSD is the only FreeBSD hosting provider that is offering a VPS service virtualized under Xen. If you or your business requires a flexible, cheap and fully-controlled webhosting, RootBSD should definitely be considered.

FreeBSD News – quick links (week 27)

These are a few links to FreeBSD howtos published this week that may be of interest to those who don’t mind “getting their hands dirty”.

Managing jails

This document is an introduction to basic FreeBSD jails also called ‘fat jails’. We discuss an easy jail installation process. We will do some basic jail configuration and show you how to manage the jail environment. This document wil not cover building ‘chroot jails’ in a jail.

Link

Step by step install WordPress Multi Users (WPMU) in FreeBSD

A client need to install wordpress multi user to teach their employee about blog. They want it installed in their server, running FreeBSD 7 stable.

Here’s a step by step to install wpmu in FreeBSD, might be useful for someone

Link

How FreeBSD makes vulnerability auditing easy: portaudit

There are a number of things I like about FreeBSD, more than any Linux distribution I’ve ever used. Some of those are advantages shared by no Linux distribution I’ve used, and some are advantages shared by a few Linux distributions but not others — but no Linux distribution shares all of these advantages (even discounting things no Linux distribution has, like a BSD-licensed kernel).

Link

OS X Snow Leopard to use FreeBSD ULE Scheduler?

MAC OSX snow leopard desktop When Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO, first unveiled the next version of OS X, 10.6 Snow Leopard, there have been a lot of rumours on the internet and blogosphere about the proposed evolutionary nature of 10.6 over 10.5. What did Steve exactly mean? Snow Leopard will take a break from adding new features but will be streamlined and its core improved for enhanced performance instead.

“Grand Central,” a new set of technologies built into Snow Leopard, brings unrivaled support for multicore systems to Mac OS X. More cores, not faster clock speeds, drive performance increases in today’s processors. Grand Central takes full advantage by making all of Mac OS X multicore aware and optimizing it for allocating tasks across multiple cores and processors. Grand Central also makes it much easier for developers to create programs that squeeze every last drop of power from multicore systems. (source: apple.com)

It’s well known that Apple’s OS X has strong FreeBSD roots and still borrows from ongoing FreeBSD developments.

The history of OS X and the XNU Kernel, the features promised in Snow Leopard, and the design and architecture of the ULE scheduler all point to a high likelihood of Apple using a redesigned thread scheduler that is either an implementation of the ULE scheduler or at least based around it in OS X 10.6.

On Neosmart.net we read:

The FreeBSD project has long been working on alternative scheduler intended to replace the default and aging 4BSD scheduler: the ULE scheduler. ULE is now scheduled to become the default scheduler in the upcoming FreeBSD 7.1 release. ULE has shown significant improvements in multi-core environments, and was designed from the ground up to provide increased SMP scalability. Most importantly is ULE’s overhauled support for per-processor queuing of tasks and the ability to set CPU affinity per-processor-per-thread.

If Apple were to implement a form of the ULE scheduler in OS X 10.6, Snow Leopard would be a formidable OS indeed. Using ULE guarantees huge performance benefits for multi-threaded applications, and would help address the second point listed above: the SMT affinity options provided in ULE would make creating an SDK intended to allow developers to use multiple cores efficiently and evenly quite easy. OS X has always been close to the FreeBSD project, and something like this is a natural fit for an OS looking for improvements to SMP/SMT performance.

What do you think? Is it likely Apple will adapt the ULE scheduler or is this complete nonsense?

Link: ULE Scheduler (scribd.com)

Firefox 3 for FreeBSD

firefox logoMozilla Firefox 3 is now available for FreeBSD.

Firefox is an award winning, free, open-source web browser for many platforms and is based on the Mozilla codebase. It is small, fast and easy to use, and offers many advanced features:

  • Popup Blocking
  • Tabbed Browsing
  • Live Bookmarks (ie. RSS)
  • Extensions
  • Theme
  • FastFind
  • Improved Security

To install Firefox3 from the commandline in FreeBSD, PC-BSD or DesktopBSD enter:

portsnap fetch extract (if this is the first time you're using portsnap)
portsnap fetch update
cd /usr/ports/www/firefox3 && make install clean

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.