Microsoft backed Barrelfish OS goes “open source”

Microsoft has released the first snapshot of the Barrelfish operating system, an operating system written especifically for multicore environments.

The Barrelfish team, a group of researchers from Microsoft Research Cambridge and the technology university ETH Zurich, says it is “motivated by two closely related trends in hardware design: first, the rapidly growing number of cores, which leads to a scalability challenge, and second, the increasing diversity in computer hardware, requiring the OS to manage and exploit heterogeneous hardware resources.”

Tthe project has been under way for about two years and builds on ideas researchers have had for years about how system will evolve to keep up with hardware advancements.

In Barrelfish, each core has its own kernel and does not share memory as it does in Windows or Linux. Instead, the cores communicate by passing messages, what researchers term a “multikernel” model.

Barrelfish is still in a research phase and its code released under the 3-clause BSD-style Open Source licence.  The software is free to download.

We all know how Microsoft has dealt with and treated opens source software in the past. Michael Kerner, from, remarks:

As a BSD style license and without any clear open/public source code repository, this isn’t an open source operating system like Linux or even say FreeBSD. The way I see it, open source here is a means of distribution and a way for people to openly see what the researcher have done and not necessarily as a means of collaboration or contribution.

Report from EuroBSDCon 2009

eurobsdcon2009Nik Clayton, site reliability engineer at Google,  has written up an account of what he’s seen, heard and done at EuroBSDCon 2009.

I’m no stranger to EuroBSDCon. After attending several very successful conferences in the US, three FreeBSD contributors and I decided that Europe needed a BSD conference too. In November 2001 we were proud to host 160 or so delegates in the first European BSD Conference. Over the last couple of years I haven’t been able to keep as up to date with the latest developments in the BSD world, so I was very interested to attendEuroBSDCon 2009, organised in collaboration with the UK Unix User Group.

With the conference split in to several tracks it was impossible to attend every talk, so I decided to focus primarily on those that talked about how BSD systems were helping people solve problems in the real world. Links to all the papers, slides, and in some cases audio from the presentations can be found at conference schedule page.

The first talk I attended was “How FreeBSD Finds Oil,” given by Harrison Grundy. Harrison runs a consultancy company in the US providing clustered computing systems to oil and gas companies.

Continues here…

Links to audio files, pdf’s and slideshows can be found here.

Most reliable hosting sites – September 2009

netcraft logoNetcraft‘s monthly reliability monitoring showed a bit of a mixed picture in September. Linux took the number 1 place.  IN the top10 FreeBSD took places 3, 7 and 10.

DataPipe (who use FreeBSD) was one of the most reliable hosting company sites in August, and only narrowly missed out on the same achievement in September. DataPipe has shown some good results over the past six months, notching up five top-ten appearances, including three first places.

All the details here.

FreeBSD: Like Linux

Kuvaton has a picture of operating systems, comparing them with cars. Or should I say, a picture of cars compared with operating systems?

FreeBSD: Like Linux but takes more cargo on the expense of being less customable.


I like the VMS one. What do you think of these comparisons? OK, fair or ridiculous?

This picture reminds me of the OS user mugshots that I posted a while back.

EuroBSDCon 2009 – audio files, slides and PDFs

eurobsdcon2009If you’ve been unable to visit the recent EuroBSDCon 2009 in Cambridge (UK), you can now check out the slides, papers and audio recordings. The files and schedules can be found here.

My photos can be seen here and Rodrigo Osorio’s here.

Next year, the 9th edition of EuroBSDCon will be held in Karlsruhe, Germany (October 2010). For news, updates and call for papers, check out

Download ports simultaneously with multiple connections (howto)

freebsd_axelWe have already referred to a very useful FreeBSD tip (How to use Meta Ports to install group of ports) on before, and there’s another great howto:

Download ports simultaneously with multiple connections

By default, ports uses 1 connection to download and thus unbearably slow when a server rate limit the connection. Alternatively, we can tell ports to use external utility in order to open multiple connections and download simultaneously.

Go here to see how you can download FreeBSD ports simultaneously with Axel.

Axel tries to accelerate HTTP/FTP downloading process by using multiple connections for one file. It can use multiple mirrors for a download. Axel has no dependencies and is lightweight, so it might be useful as a wget clone on byte-critical systems.