Update your FreeBSD software with care

Chad Perrin explains step-by-step on TechRepublic how to keep a FreeBSD system up-to-date:

Certain operating systems make this easier than others, as do certain applications. FreeBSD in particular offers specific explanations of gotchas and difficulties that might affect users when software is updated, and also makes it easy to audit installed software for vulnerabilities. In cases where a test network and the resources of research in depth are unreasonable expectations, the key to ensuring upgrades go smoothly without breaking things is to have a step by step process for updating that makes minimal research easy to perform and directions for solving updating problems before they affect your system easy to find and follow. Thanks to the UPDATING notes provided by the FreeBSD Ports system, such a process is easy to develop.

The way I handle software updates on FreeBSD starts when I install FreeBSD. Once the OS is installed, I also install the /usr/ports/ports-mgmt/portupgrade port. This is a set of scripts that automate and simplify the user interface to the Ports system. You can read more about it and how to get it set up in the FreeBSD Handbook. Next, I use the portinstall command provided with portupgrade to install the portaudit tool. You can find information about it, too, in the FreeBSD Handbook.

Then, every time I need to update software, I follow a procedure that looks something like this:

Continues

AsiaBSDCon 2010

The FreeBSD Foundation is pleased to once again be a sponsor of AsiaBSDCon 2010. This conference will be held in Tokyo, March 11-14, 2010

The conference is for anyone developing, deploying and using systems based on FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, DragonFlyBSD, Darwin and MacOS X. AsiaBSDCon is a technical conference and aims to collect the best technical papers and presentations available to ensure that the latest developments in our open source community are shared with the widest possible audience.

FreeBSD 8.0-RC3 released

The FreeBSD Project has released the third of the Release Candidates for the FreeBSD-8.0 release cycle.

The third and hopefully last of the Release Candidates for the FreeBSD 8.0 release cycle is now available. Unless something catastrophic comes up within the next couple of days we will begin the final builds for 8.0-RELEASE.

Images for amd64/i386 are available from ftp.freebsd.org. Upgrade instructions can be found here.

FreeBSD FIFO resource leak

Researches Chitti Nimmagadda and Dorr H. Clark of Santa Clara University seem to have discovered and reported a bug in usr/src/sys/fs/fifofs/fifo_vnops.c of FreeBSD 8.0-STABLE release as reported on the FreeBSD bugs mailinglist.

We believe we have identified a significant resource leak present in 6.x, 7.x, and 8.x. We believe this is a regression versus FreeBSD 4.x which appears to do the Right Thing ™.

We have a test program (see below) which will run the system out of sockets by repeated exercise of the failing code path in the kernel.

Our proposed fix is applied to the file usr/src/sys/fs/fifofs/fifo_vnops.c

If interested in (FreeBSD) code, have a look here for more info.

LIOKS’ FreeBSD tutorials & tips for beginners

Liok has put 3 tutorials together for FreeBSD novices:

I often hear from people who don’t use FreeBSD that it’s an operating system only dedicated to server/production purposes.
In a way, yes, FreeBSD is not as user-friendly than popular Linux distributions and it’s sometimes hard to get what you want working the way you want but I don’t think that people who use FreeBSD would be satisfied with an apt-get everything_you_need-any-version ;)
Computers are now expected to browse the web correctly, allowing you to watch youtube video, play flash games and be flooded by plugin-based ads..
Of course, FreeBSD can!

On taking FreeBSD seriously

freebsd_logo-100x100Pongoewin found himself frustrated with Windows 7 at work and decided to take FreeBSD for a spin:

I found myself frustrated with Windows 7 at work. It’s a fairly decent system, and a craptonne better than Vista in both performance and resource usage on the old desktop I have (a Pentium 4/2.66 with a gig of RAM). But it was still slow, and I had heard that FreeBSD was fast approaching the ‘usable’ state for a desktop role. So, I decided to take it for a spin.

Firstly, your experience may vary wildly from mine; I spent the entire weekend compiling everything (including the kernel and all of KDE) to my own liking (and optimisation). And disclaimer: this is on a new ATA-133 drive that actually beats older SATA drives on sustained speed (the very definition of ‘win’).

He goes on comparing Windows – FreeBSD with regards to the following topics:

  • Installation
  • Productivity
  • Office Stuff
  • Email
  • Media
  • IM
  • Other stuff

He concludes by saying:

It’s not really different from Windows, but it’s free and you have more options.

Windows has buggy apps. OS X has buggy apps. FreeBSD has buggy apps. It’s all really a matter of preference. Windows is more tweaked for the beginning computer user, and as such has a lot of safeguards built-in. This is a Good Thing(TM) for new users, but it gets dreadful and annoying to people like me. OS X has its strong points, but it can be wildly random. And randomness is one thing all IT people hate — because it’s nigh-on-impossible to pin down exactly where the problem lies. FreeBSD…what can I say. It’s grown so much from the days of 5.x when I started to run it on servers. And overall, though it may not be as user-friendly as Ubuntu, it certainly packs a mean punch, and anyone who isn’t afraid to learn, is able to devote a bit of time to read the FreeBSD Handbook and other interesting manuals, and get their hands a bit “dirty” with computer knowledge should seriously consider using it as a desktop — especially Linux users looking for more. I’d liken running FreeBSD on a computer to performing maintenance on your car; most people don’t want to do it, but the ones who do save time, money, and have the feeling of a job well done.

Well, that’s Pongoewin’s verdict. What are your experiences with FreeBSD on the desktop, or with PC-BSD, that’s especially geared for desktop use?