FreeBSD Quarterly Status Report (Q4/2007)

There’s a new issue of the FreeBSD Foundation newsletter (Q4)/

The innovation of the past lives on in FreeBSD. From SMP and network scalability to innovations in security APIs and wireless networking, the technology of FreeBSD is making an impact on our world. What future piece of BSD technology will help foster a new public commodity like the Internet? I can’t say, but the past shows us that investing in open source OS development and its commercial use pays large dividends. The two testimonials in this newsletter from Isilon and Network Appliance show this process at work.

In this issue:

  • Letter From the Vice President
  • End-of-Year Fundraising Drive
  • Foundation Mailing List
  • First Copy of Absolute FreeBSD Auction
  • FreeBSD Testimonial from Isilon Systems
  • FreeBSD Testimonial from NetApp
  • Improving the Hardware Performance Counter Support Project
  • EuroBSDCon 2007
  • 2007 Grant and Travel Grant Recipients
  • Financials

GPL vs BSD, a matter of sustainability

Both licensing models have been around for a very long time. I don’t know which predates which, but it really doesn’t matter. The spirit behind both licenses is very similar: free software is good. But they realize this idea in different ways.

In the GPL license you have the four freedoms: to run the software, to have the source code, to distribute the software, to distribute your modifications to the software.

The BSD license is different, because it gives *you* the right to distribute the software, but it does not oblige you to make sure that the next guy has any such right.

Read this interesting article here

DesktopBSD vs PC-BSD

Jan Stedehouder has almost finished his DesktopBSD – the first 30 days series and the following are his observations with regards to how PC-BSD and DesktopBSD compare:

Today may be a good day to at least do a formal comparison between DesktopBSD and PC-BSD. I guess it can’t be avoided. Two FreeBSD-based open source desktops with similar goals, but finding different solutions.

The similarities between PC-BSD and DesktopBSD are there of course. Both use a graphical installer to assist the new user with getting FreeBSD on his/her system and both have chosen for the KDE desktop. DesktopBSD allows to boot into a live environment before actually dedicating it to your harddrive, while PC-BSD ships with Compiz Fusion.

The default software collections are different as well. DesktopBSD has chosen for Firefox, Thunderbird and Pidgin. A choice that makes sense as these applications are well-known and used on Windows and Linux. PC-BSD seems to stick more to KDE-based programs like Konquerer, Kontact and Konversation. However, these are minor differences.

DesktopBSD sets itself apart through the DesktopBSD tools and particularly the Package Manager. This graphical frontend for the packages and ports collection provides an easy tool for installing, upgrading and managing the software on your system. Working with Package Manager shouldn’t be a problem for Linux users that have experience with similar tools (Synaptic, Adept, Portage).

For PC-BSD the PBI’s are unique. The work on the PBI Build Server is progressing and that will result in a far larger collection of packages. This should contribute to a wider adoption of PC-BSD among people who used to work under Windows, since the PBI system emulates their “double-click-and-install” experience the most.

There is no need to try to figure out which one is better. I just marvel at both developments and I can see they both provide an answer to the needs of different groups of users. I can imagine a future where the DesktopBSD tools are enhanced to allow installing and managing PBI’s for FreeBSD-based systems, even if only for PC-BSD systems.

FreeBSD ports tree unfrozen

For those who haven’t noticed the announcement on the ports mailinglist, or noticed the flood of commits that started already before the announcement, the ports tree has been thawed, with the usual restrictions.

Interesting note:

Please also take into account that the 7.0 release won’t be for several weeks yet, so we really need you all to be careful about what you commit as we tags might need to be slipped later.

Full announcement (11/12/2007)

Genesis Software develops FreeBSD-based radars

Genesis Software engineers design, manufacture and customise computer equipment connected to radar receivers for research institutions and universities. The radars measure wind speed and meteor flux and these scientific radar systems are exported around the world.

This blog is not about radars or weather science, but the interesting fact is that FreeBSD is the operating system of choice for Adelaide company Genesis Software’s radar systems. FreeBSD has been used ever since research and development on the radars began eight years ago.

Computerworld Australia has interviewed software and network engineer Daniel O’Connor about the use of FreeBSD as their system of choice.

These are some interesting quotes from the article:

Some systems rely on modem access for connectivity and FreeBSD allows us to log in remotely. It’s very stable and we’ve had boxes up for more than two years. It’s free so you can experiment with it and it’s easy to develop for. We’ve used FreeBSD from the beginning since about 1996 and it has served us well.

There are other companies that make research radars but we’re probably unique worldwide. The software we develop gets information from the receivers and processes it. It’s also used for monitoring the systems. Skiymet meteor radar measures thousands of meteors every day.

Most radars can be configured via the command line or a GUI application but most of it is network administration which the customers don’t need to touch. We’re working on a more sophisticated version which will mark the beginning of automatic configuration.

Genesis Software also takes advantage FreeBSD’s “ports” system for software updates:

The radars might dial up once or twice a day and for updates we use a subset of the ports tree and make a customer release tree.

Internally, Genesis Software uses FreeBSD for network services including mail and file serving with developers using it on their workstations:

It’s effective, secure, easy to set up, and has lots of software available. It’s a mistake to trim everything to ‘one size fits all’ which is the same thing as Microsoft. The more diverse systems are, the less likely you are to end up with the monoculture effect where one virus wipes out your whole office. It doesn’t matter what choice it is but just one is not good.

Read the whole article here

LinuxReality Podcast: M0n0wall and pfSense

LinuxReality.com (a site with Linux related podcasts – similar to the BSD focused bsdtalk.blogspot.com) has posted a podcast (episode 84) that focuses on Linux and (network) security. In this episode Paul Asadoorian and Larry Pesce of the Pauldotcom Security Weekly Podcast are interviewed.

Amongst the many things discussed, M0n0wall and pfSense are also mentioned.

Download the podcast: MP3 or OGG