FreeBSD review and howtos from a Linux user

I recently decided to give the new 7.0 release of FreeBSD ago and was fairly impressed. I did use BSD along time ago on a home server for a few months but pretty much forgot everything about it from back then.

Firstly FreeBSD refers to both a kernel and userspace tools making it a whole operating system (userspace tools being the basic programs like shells and copy/move commands), this is different to Linux which is just a kernel and distros are technically called GNU/Linux to show that it is using the GNU userspace tools.

read further

I’m faster than you! No I am!

All FreeBSD interested people will remember the document that Kris Kennaway released (Introducing FreeBSD). In this paper he explains how dramatic improvements have been achieved in FreeBSD 7.0; especially with regards to SMP and SQL database querying (MySQL and PostgreSQL). According to his findings FreeBSD even outperformes Linux.

There’s always been a healthy competition between Linux and FreeBSD, but stating that FreeBSD is faster than Linux, that hurts….

After major improvements in SMP support in FreeBSD 7.0, benchmarks show it performing 15% better than the latest Linux kernels (PDF, see slides 17 to 19) on 8 CPUs under PostgreSQL and MySQL. While a couple of benchmarks are not conclusive evidence, it can be assumed that FreeBSD will once again be a serious performance contender.

Linux kernel developer Nick Piggin reran the benchmark and came to a different conclusion: In his benchmark Linux was faster than FreeBSD.

I’m not an expert, but what do you guys think of this? Is Nick doing a fair analysis and comparison? Anybody been using FreeBSD 7 in a “heavy duty” (SQL) environment who can comment on this?

GPL and BSD : impact

Very Grumpy Bunny has written a post comparing the GPLv2 and the BSD licence and explaining the difference when  applied to Amarok.

There are several BSD licenses, so many that you’ll typically see any particular license under BSD terms listed as a BSD-Style license. Example, the Vorbis and Theora codecs. The terms themselves are fairly simple.

#1: Anybody can access the source code
#2: Anybody can copy the source code
#3: Anybody can modify the source code
#4: Anybody can use the source code
#5: Anybody can relicense modified code

Sounds pretty simple, at least compared to the Gnu Public License. Here are the terms of say the GPLv2.

#1: Not everybody can access the source code.
#2: Everybody who can access the source code can copy the source code
#3: Everybody who can access the source code can modify the source code
#4: Everybody who modifies the source code must submit the changes back to the original author
#5: Everybody who modifies the source code must maintain the original license

That does seem a little bit more complex. Immediately we see that the GPL has restrictions placed on what can be done with the code. Ergo, the BSD-style license is more free… or is it?

Read the simplified terms of the BSD-License again. Note anything missing? Well, if you didn’t, here’s what is missing. Any changes that are made to the BSD code don’t have to be given back to the author. Anybody can take a segment of BSD code, do whatever they want with it, and never post any changes back, tell the author what they did, or anything else.

So, there is a critical difference between a BSD license, and a GPL style license. The BSD license adopts a care-free attitude about written software, while a GPL style license enforces restrictions around that software to make sure everybody benefits.

Whole post can be read here.

7 Linux/BSD firewalls reviewed (incl pfSense & m0n0wall)

Wayne Richardson reviewed in total 7 different Linux and BSD firewalls back in Nov 2007 (ClarckConnect, Endian, Gibraltar, IPCop, m0n0wall, pfSense, SmoothWall) and compared them on basis of the following categories: setup, web-gui, extensibility and speed.

Since this is a FreeBSD blog I’ll just quote (with his kind permission) what he wrote about pfSense and m0n0wall. If you’re interested in the whole article and want to see how the BSD firewalls compare to Linux firewall, please refer to Wayne’s article.

pfSense was named the best firewall with a 95% pass rate; m0nowall received a 77% mark and was the smallest of the bunch.
Continue reading

PC-BSD vs DesktopBSD; similarities & differences


Similar to my m0n0wall vs pfSense; similarities & differences post, I thought I’d also post a “PC-BSD vs DesktopBSD; similarities & differences” overview since I get so much trafic from people trying to find out what the similarities and differences are.

A common misconception about DesktopBSD is that it is intended as a rival to PC-BSD as a BSD-based desktop distribution. Neither the DesktopBSD nor the PC-BSD project intend to rival each other; the two projects are completely independent with distinctive features and goals. PC-BSD has introduced a new package management (PBI) that lets you easily install packages, whereas DesktopBSD has developed a graphical utility that makes installing standard FreeBSD packages and ports easy. Let’s have a look at the similarities and the differences.

Continue reading

m0n0wall vs pfSense; similarities & differences

pfSense logoA common misconception about pfSense is that it is intended as a rival to m0n0wall as a BSD-based firewall system, since they are similar in structure and goals. This is not the case; some developers even contribute to both projects. m0n0wall is targeted at a specific level of hardware platform, which is the Soekris or Wrap (a 486 133MHz with 64 or 128 Mb RAM and low power consumption). pfSense requires 128 Mb ram. Likewise, m0n0wall gets away with a >= 10Mb CF card, while pfSense really needs a 256Mb card or bigger.

M0n0wall logopfSense is better in that it has more features, however m0n0wall is better in that it is smaller and simpler. Which of the two, m0n0wall or pfSense, you need, just depends on your (system/business) requirements.

Interesting link: BSD Firewalling, pfSense and m0n0wall (PDF – paper delivered at BSDCan2006)

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