FreeBSD news and links (week 40)

I have some  news links an leftovers for you from (the) last (few) week(s):

1. PC-BSD 8.1 [Review]
We always wonder why is it that Microsoft makes us pay to use its OS, so why not shift to Linux or UNIX which are open source and free to use. No doubt Microsoft has made it very easy for lay man to use a PC but we all know Linux is more secure than Windows. Also, off late Linux developers are concentrating on GUI to make Linux easy to use.

FreeBSD – a UNIX like operating system has evolved from AT&T UNIX via Berkely Software Distribution. FreeBSD has a text installer. PC-BSD was founded by FreeBSD professional named Kris Moore in 2005. Kris Moore’s goal was to make FreeBSD easy for everyone to install on desktop. PC-BSD is aimed at users like you and me who are accustomed to Windows but would like a free OS. It has a graphical installation program which uses KDE SC graphical user interface.
Continues (thinkdigit.com)

2. EuroBSDCon Presentation on pc-sysinstal (PDF)
There was a lot of interest about the changes to the pc-sysinstall backend during Kris Moore’s presentation at EuroBSDCon. Continues (Dru’s blog)

There’s an interview with John Hixon from iXsystems on pc-sysinstall (potentially on FreeBSD): bsdtalk199

3. Ten ways Linux and BSD differ

I hear it all the time: people lumping together Linux and any of the BSDs. On occasion, I’ve even done it myself. Of course, there are plenty of similarities. Both are based on Unix and have mostly been developed by non-commercial organisations. They also share a common goal — to create the most useful, reliable operating system available. But there are also significant differences that shouldn’t be ignored, and I thought it would be worth highlighting them here.Continues (zdnet.co.uk)

4. New FreeNAS 0.8 alpha

First and foremost, we have a completely new GUI look and feel. We’ve imported dojango into the GUI to take advantage of Dojo JavaScript Toolkit. The flow of the interface is much nicer, it looks better, and we’ve added additional help to make it easier to use. We think you’ll like this new GUI. We’ve made dozens of improvements over the past few weeks to the GUI. We hope you like the new location for enabling shares. Contiunues (Warner’s blog)

5. Using Clonezilla with FreeNAS or Network Share to Backup a Hard Disk

6. pfSense router setup in VirtualBox

7. Bordeaux Software is looking for testers (and bloggers): Looking for someone to do a review


FreeBSD gets USB 3.0 Support

It seems FreeBSD is receiving support for USB 3.0. From the commit bit:

Commit initial version of new XHCI driver which was written from scratch. This driver adds support for USB3.0 devices. The XHCI interface is also backwards compatible to USB2.0 and USB1.0 and will eventually replace the OHCI/UHCI and EHCI drivers.

There will be follow-up commits during the coming week to link the driver into the default kernel build and add missing USB3.0 functionality in the USB core. Currently only the driver files are committed.

Getting started with FreeBSD 8.1

Juliet Kemp from serverwatch.com has tried, used and reviewed FreeBSD 8.1. Though she had some issues with installing the operating system, she agrees that if you want stability and control over your system, FreeBSD is definitely to be considered:

FreeBSD is definitely not as user friendly as modern Linuxes — you’ll need to be a lot more familiar with what’s going on under the hood and perhaps more prepared to have a couple of goes at the installation. The packaging system works well, however, and the number of available packages is comparable with, for example, Debian.

If you want close control over your system and the software you install, FreeBSD is a decent choice. But be aware that if you’re a current Linux user, you’ll have a bit of a learning curve in front of you. This is not to say either style is better or worse, just different, and adjusting to differences takes time. Having said that, I got a working desktop system and a couple of server applications up and running within a few hours, and a lot of that was download time. It’s a powerful and functional member of the UNIX-like family, and reviewing it has certainly interested me enough to keep on experimenting with it. If she’d installed FreeBSD with the PC-BSD installer (pc-sysinstall) things would have been easier ;-)

Full review here: Getting Started with FreeBSD 8.1

FreeBSD Security Advisory (bzip2)

The FreeBSD Security Team have identified a little bug in FreeBSD with the integer overflow in bzip2 decompression:

I. Background

“The bzip2/bunzip2 utilities and the libbz2 library compress and decompress files using an algorithm based on the Burrows-Wheeler transform. They are generally slower than Lempel-Ziv compressors such as gzip, but usually
provide a greater compression ratio.

II. Problem Description

When decompressing data, the run-length encoded values are not adequately sanity-checked, allowing for an integer overflow.

III. Impact

An attacker who can cause maliciously chosen inputs to be decompressed can cause the decompressor to crash. It is suspected that such an attacker can cause arbitrary code to be executed, but this is not known for certain.

Note that some utilities, including the tar archiver and the bspatch binary patching utility (used in portsnap and freebsd-update) decompress bzip2-compressed data internally; system administrators should assume that their systems will at some point decompress bzip2-compressed data even if they never explicitly invoke the bunzip2 utility.”

To avoid potential problems, you need to upgrade.

How is FreeBSD 9.0 shaping up?

In the pas few years, Ivan Voras kept the world up-to-date as to what was brewing for the ‘next’ major FreeBSD release (FreeBSD 7FreeBSD 8). He’s doing the same for FreeBSD 9.0: What’s cooking for FreeBSD 9

It’s still early to talk about FreeBSD 9.0 release but so far there have been some interesting developments in the systems and a nice core featureset is shaping up. I’m still maintaining the “What’s cooking” page and this post is basically an (incomplete) summary of it at this point in time.

Of course, in addition to these features, there are non-stop modifications to all parts of the system, from drivers for new hardware to overall performance enhancements. (source)

Other ways (though with more technical discussions) to stay up-to-date with FreeBSD’s development are: