Released: VirtualBSD 8.1

It’s been awhile since the last release of VirtualBSD, but Reece Tarbert has announced the availability of VirtualBSD 8.1.

VirtualBSD is a desktop ready FreeBSD 8.1 RELEASE, in the form of a VMware appliance, based on the Xfce 4.6 Desktop Environment. Many of the most common and useful applications are ready to run, and the desktop has been styled to resemble a certain OS from Cupertino.

Due to the nature of VirtualBSD being a virtual machine, there are a few issue with regards to upgrading, updating and adding software, as Reece mentions. These may be some shortcoming, but, hey, it’s a great way to explore FreeBSD.

FreeBSD Foundation End-of-Year Newsletter (2010)

The FreeBSD Foundation has published its annual End-of-Year Newsletter which contains examples of how they have supported and funded the FreeBSD Project and community in 2010.

Table of contents:

Full newsletter: FreeBSD Foundation end-of year newsletter (2010)

It’s not too late to make a donation to the Foundation for 2010. The Foundation thanks everyone for their support so far and any donations made.

BSD Fund has announced it is contributing $3,600 (twitter @bsdfund)

New FreeBSD Foundation Project: Feed-Forward Clock Synchronization

The FreeBSD Foundation has announced that Julien Ridoux and Darryl Veitch at the University of Melbourne have been awarded a grant to implement support of feed-forward clock synchronization algorithms.

“The Network Time Protocol (NTP) is widely used for synchronization over the network and the ntpd daemon is the current reference synchronization algorithm. The system clock in FreeBSD is currently designed with ntpd in mind, leading to strong feedback coupling between the kernel and the synchronization daemon.

The RADclock is an example of an alternative class of synchronization algorithms based on feed-forward principles. This project will provide the core support for feed-forward algorithms, so that alternatives to ntpd can be developed and tested. The central motivation for this is the strong potential of such approaches for highly robust and accurate synchronization.

Beyond this, virtualization is one of the next major challenges faced by time keeping systems. The current feedback synchronization model is complex and introduces its own dynamics, an approach that is not suited to the requirements of virtualization. Feed-forward based synchronization offers a cleaner and simpler approach, which is capable of providing accurate time keeping over live migration of virtual machines.” (source: FreeBSD Foundation Blog)

If you want to see FreeBSD prosper further in 2011, why not make a donation to the FreeBSD Foundation to help them fund more projects? Currently there are roughly 280 less donors than last year and the Foundation is still $136.000 away from the set $350.000 goal. Any donation, however small will make a difference. (I am not affiliated with the Foundation)

FreeBSD 8.2-BETA1 Released

The FreeBSD Release Engineering Team has released FreeBSD 8.2 Beta 1 and 7.4 Beta 1of its popular free UNIX derivative. The first betas will be followed by two release candidates. The final versions of FreeBSD 7.4 and FreeBSD 8.2 are scheduled for the 24th of January.

More information about the development progress can be found in the official release announcement and on the Release Engineering wiki pages: FreeBSD 7.4 wiki and FreeBSD 8.2 wiki. FreeBSD 7.4 Beta 1 and 8.2 Beta 1 are available for download here.

FreeBSD quick news: Amazon EC2, OpenBSD and FBI

Some exciting and eyebrow raising news items:

FreeBSD on Amazon EC2

FreeBSD developer Colin Percival announced on his blog that FreeBSD 9-CURRENT now runs on Amazon EC2:

One of my largest complaints about Amazon EC2 ever since it launched has been my inability to run FreeBSD on it. Judging from the feedback I received to two earlier blog posts, I haven’t been alone. The problems keeping FreeBSD out of EC2 have always been more FreeBSD-related than Amazon-related, however, and over the past month I’ve been hacking away at FreeBSD’s Xen code, to the point where I can say something I’ve been waiting to say for a long time: FreeBSD now runs on Amazon EC2.

There are some caveats to this. First, at the moment only FreeBSD 9.0-CURRENT can run under EC2; I haven’t merged bug fixes back to the stable branches. Second, at the moment FreeBSD only runs on t1.micro instances, for reasons I can’t discuss (NDA) but hope will be resolved soon. Third, this code hasn’t received very much testing and is almost certain to have more serious bugs, so it should be approached as an experimental, not-ready-for-production-use system for now. Full post

OpenBSD & the FBI

Theo de Raadt, project leader of the OpenBSD project, has made an email public that reveals that the FBI built a backdoor into OpenBSD’s ipsec about a decade ago.

As of yet it’s not known if any of the revelations/allegations are true and if any other operating systems are affected. We will have to wait until developers have reviewed the code. What do you think about all this? Please drop a comment at the bottom.

This subject has been picked up by many websites and blogs. Here’s a selection:

  • FBI Poked Spy Hole in OpenBSD, Says Former Contractor – technewsworld.com
  • FBI ‘planted backdoor’ in OpenBSD – theregister.com
  • FBI Accused Of Decade-Old Cryptography Code Conspiracy – forbes.com
  • Developer claims FBI implemented backdoors in OpenBSD – itwire.com


Interview with Tom Grove (GroveITC.com)

Previously I mentioned that Tom Grove from Grove ITC kindly sold freebsdnews.com. I’ve (GvE) done a little interview about Tom’s (TG) interest and how he uses FreeBSD etc.

GvE: Can you tell a bit about yourself and your background?

TG: Currently I am am working in the R&D department of the largest mobile broadcasting company in the world.  I am constantly working with cutting edge technologies; both in the IT world and television world.  I attended Carlow University here in Pittsburgh after secondary school.  As for hobbies, I enjoy spending time with my wife, stepson and daughter.  I also love to play golf and racquetball as often as possible and I’ve started dabbling in the world of microcontrollers in the last year or two.

GvE: You’re running Grove IT Consulting. Can you tell us a bit more about it?

TG: Currently Grove IT Consulting is a side business that I started about two years ago.  I was generating enough business via word of mouth and friends that I needed to start to look a little more official.  I finally decided to put together a plan, get a business phone number, website and such and market a little.  I am the sole employee at this point and don’t necessarily want this to grow too large.  It’s just nice to make a little extra money doing something one enjoys.

GvE: You’re using FreeBSD. How did you find out about FreeBSD and when did you start using it? Do you use any other BSD’s or Linux?

TG: I started using FreeBSD back in the early 4.x days.  When I was a teenager I had some friends that invited me to some 2600 meetings in a town near Pittsburgh.  There were a bunch of really cool nerds there that helped me get into the world of Linux and the BSDs.  We worked on everything from OpenBSD to FreeBSD and Slackware to Debian. After that I was hooked on *nix.  When I graduated I made certain to find a job that allowed me to use it.  For the majority of my professional career I have been lucky enough to use Linux and FreeBSD on a daily basis.

GvE: How do you use FreeBSD? Is it used on your own servers and desktops? Do you install it on customer’s PC’s / Servers?

TG: I used to use FreeBSD as a desktop, however, I needed to run a few things that it couldn’t support.  Now I am running a Mac (don’t forget, Jordan Hubbard is their lead Unix Engieer now).  However, I make sure to stay up on my FreeBSD skills because we run FreeBSD on our mail servers, VPN server, Samba servers, print servers, and LDAP servers to name a few.  Whenever I get an opportunity to get FreeBSD on a box I do it.

FreeBSD has been so rock solid over the years for me that I have come to trust it in the harshest environments and for the most intense services.

I’ve also used FreeBSD to create custom routers based on embedded devices from Soekris Engineering.  I’ve used it to create appliances for various things and just love the architecture.  There is a beauty in knowing that things are always where one would expect them.

GvE: Is there anything that you’d like to see changed in or added to FreeBSD to make things easier and better for you?

TG: I would love to see FreeBSD get more support from the business community.  There are times when it is just not viable to use FreeBSD.  Either some device is not supported or some CTO hasn’t heard of it so it mustn’t be good.  It would be great to see businesses like Google, NetApp and Juniper really step up and let everyone know how they use and how much the use FreeBSD.  It would also be great to see companies like that donate more code back to the project.

GvE: Is there anything you’d like to say about your company, FreeBSD or anything else?

TG: First, thanks for what you do, Gerard.  FreeBSD evangelism is an incredibly important task and you do a great job at creating a buzz about it.  Also, if you are located in the western Pennsylvania area and have technical needs get in touch with me at http://www.groveitc.com or support[at]groveitc[dot]com.  FreeBSD, No Bikeshed!

Thanks, Tom, for selling the domain and giving your time for these questions.

Released: FreeBSD 8.2-BETA1 and 7.4-BETA1

The first of the test builds for the FreeBSD 8.2/7.4 Release Cycle is now available for amd64, i386, ia64, pc98, and sparc64 architectures. Files suitable for creating installation media or doing FTP based installs through the network should be on most of the FreeBSD mirror sites.

Read the announcement: FreeBSD 8.2/7.4-BETA1 Available