Faster performance, fewer machines for FreeBSD?

The need for speed in operating systems is never-ending.In the newly released FreeBSD 7.0, speed is a key improvement with gains of up to 1,500 percent at high load utilization over its predecessors in the FreeBSD 6.x branch.While performance improvements are a key aspect of FreeBSD, it’s not necessarily the most important new item in the free open source operating system.

“What is most important depends on what you want to do, of course,” Michael Lucas, FreeBSD contributor and author of Absolute FreeBSD, told InternetNews.com. “The performance improvements are quite astonishing and are what most people will notice first.”

This is a short interview with Michael Lucas (author of Absolute FreeBSD) and Matt Olander (CTO at iXsystems) on the release of FreeBSD 7.0.

Review of FreeBSD 7

This article is slightly dated – I presume it was written about 3-4 months ago, as it’s referring to the pending release of FreeBSD 7.0 in December, but it was put on freesoftwaremagazine.org only yesterday (05/03).

Still an interesting read. The article deals with the ULE scheduler, improved performance, DTrace and finstall (FreeBSD new installer)

FreeBSD has come a long way and has created great technical solutions to tough problems. The new scheduler will offer performance gains for years to come. New architectures are being added frequently, including Sun Microsystems Niagra processors, Apple Mac Books (and Mac-mini), and even an initial port to the Xbox platform.

The future is bright for FreeBSD and I’m certainly looking forward to the pending 7.0 release and beyond. The 7.1 release will see the ULE scheduler enabled by default and should also see the inclusion of the new installer into the mainstream releases. The multi-processor scalability will continue with the next goal of linear scalability on sixteen cores. There are now more than seventeen thousand ports and, with the new and improved performance, FreeBSD makes a formidable desktop and server operating system.

Full article can be found here.

First look at FreeBSD 7.0

FreeBSD LogoIn case you’ve not seen the “First look at FreeBSD 7.0″ article on distrowatch: The author used FreeBSD attempted to set up a FBSD 4.x system up a few years ago, and was quite disillusioned.

After configuring the X window and launching KDE, I was greeted with something that only a computing masochist could find enjoyable – no mouse or sound, unsightly jagged fonts, lack of a graphical package manager and other configuration tools… It took hours of searching and following “geeky” documentation before I was able to load the correct kernel modules for the USB mouse, install prettier fonts and set up anti-aliasing – all by editing obscure configuration files in Vim. Needless to say, the first impressions weren’t good. Despite an obviously elegant system with a large number of packages available for installation, the tedium of setting it up as a desktop system was discouraging, to say the least.

He was surprised to see how FreeBSD has improved and transformed over the years to a much more friendlier system and concludes with:

So would FreeBSD 7.0 make a decent desktop system? I haven’t run it long enough to be able to answer the question, but from my initial testing I would be perfectly happy to give it a more intensive try. It certainly looks like a nicely crafted system, with extreme attention to detail – at least when it comes to the kernel and userland. The new package management utilities and improvements in security handling are also impressive. But don’t expect to insert the FreeBSD CD and boot into a gorgeous graphical environment – that’s not what the FreeBSD development team had set out to achieve. Luckily, with projects like PC-BSD or DesktopBSD, one can have the best of both worlds – the speed, stability and reliability of BSD, combined with an intuitive installer, package management and system configuration tools of the Linux world. If you don’t fall into the “geek” category of computer users, you can always trust the two above-mentioned projects to deliver the goods.

Read the whole review here.

Has anybody else, among you, my readers, upgraded to / installed to FreeBSD 7.0 yet? It would be nice to hear from you.

BSD Conferences 2008

A few years ago, BSD enthusiast used to meet at Linux expos, but now there are couple of BSD-only conferences, which are getting bigger by the year. NYCBSDCon is back this year and there’s even new BSD conference in Barcelona this year.

Dates have been confirmed for EuroBSDCon 2008 and NYCBSDCon:

EuroBSD 2008 Conference

The seventh annual European BSD Conference, EuroBSDCon 2008, will take place at the University of Strasbourg, Strasbourg (France) on 18 – 19 October 2008. This conference is aimed at developers and users of all BSD flavors, including FreeBSD of course. A variety of full and half-day tutorials will precede the conference.

Feel free to subscribe to the announcement mailing list to be kept informed if interested of changes as they are announced. Questions regarding the conference can be sent to the organizing committee at 2008 [AT@] eurobsdcon [dot.] org.

NYCBSDCon 2008 ConferenceAfter an unfortunate hiatus in 2007, rest assured that NYCBSDCon will be happening over the weekend of 11-12 October 2008 at Columbia University, New York City, with a similar format to the 2006 conference. The organisers are looking forward to hosting the conference again, and hping the conference is going to be an exciting meeting place for *BSD users, sysadmins and developers from all the projects.

BSDCan 2008 will be held on 16-17 May 2008 at University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada, and will be preceeded by two days of Tutorials on 14-15 May 2008. If interested, subscribe to the announce mailing list to be notified of more details and information.

AsiaBSDCon 2008 will be held from 27-30 March at the Tokyo University of Science, Tokyo, Japan

In summary:

  • BSDCan 2008 – 16-17 May – University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada
  • AsiaBSDCon 2008 – 27-30 March – Tokyo University of Science, Tokyo, Japan
  • EuroBSDCon 2008 – 18-19 October – University of Strasbourg, Strasbourg, France
  • NYCBSDCon 2008 – 11-12 October – Columbia University, New York City, USA

BSD releases – week 9

Week 9 has been an interesting one for FreeBSD and FBSD based operating systems: FreeBSD 7.0 and pfSense 1.2 were released and there were some minor releases: FreeNAS 0.686.2 and m0n0wall 1.3b10.

FreeNAS 0.686.2

Majors changes:

  • Add ability to set a CIFS/SMB share read only.

Minors changes:

  • Add m4a/m4p support in MediaTomb configuration file.
  • Add /usr/bin/bc – An arbitrary precision calculator language

Bug fixes:

  • GID was not displayed correct on ‘Access/Groups’ WebGUI page.
  • Use inadyn-mt to 02.01.13 because all newer ones causes a core dump.

Permanent restrictions:

  • It is not possible to format a SoftRAID disk with MSDOS FAT16/32.
  • It is not possible to encrypt a disk partition, only complete disks are supported.

The latest version can be downloaded here.

On an additional note, the FreeNAS team have started porting FreeNAS to FreeBSD 7.0. This means  some big changes:

  • ZFS (Sun ZetaByte File System) will be included
  • The Web Interface will undergo a full review, especially the disk management/mount point process for permitting real share configuration (with permission and quotas support).

I’ve been using FreeNAS for a month now and I’m excited about the upcoming FBSD 7.0 based version.  Keep up the good work!

m0n0wall 1.3b10

m0n0wall beta version 1.3b10 is ready; no new features have been added, but the base has moved to FreeBSD 6.3 and a few issues have been fixed; most notably:

  • PPPoE/PPTP client auto-reconnect
  • DHCP client (should hopefully not lose its lease anymore)
  • IPsec NAT-T fragments
  • intermediate SSL CA certificates now accepted

For the change log and the download links, http://m0n0.ch/wall/beta.php

FreeBSD 7.0 DVDs

Eric A. emailed me yesterday saying he was creating a FreeBSD 7.0 DVD since the installation was quite cumbersome when he had to juggle CDs constantly. His DVD combines the 4 CDs into 1 bootable installation DVD ISO image which is now available on bittorrent:

Today I Dru Lavigne wrote that she has done the same (independently). On her blog she describes how to make a FreeBSD 7.0 DVD ISO yourself. It’s up to you: have some fun creating your own ISO or go to bittorrent and download Eric’s ISO.

It would be nice if the FreeBSD developers would release future versions as DVD ISO too. Just a humble request to any FBSD developer is reading this ;-)