Why FreeBSD 8 won’t rewrite the book

A major release of an operating system typically brings significant changes that require users to learn new skills.

But backers of the open source FreeBSD 8 operating system say that’s not necessarily going to be the case with its next major version.

FreeBSD 8 is currently in its beta release cycle with a final release targeted for August. The new release will be the first major release since FreeBSD 7 in February 2008, with the most recent point update being the 7.2 release in May of this year.

While the jump to 8.0 might seem a big step, FreeBSD contributor and Absolute FreeBSD author pointed out that most users have little to worry about.

“FreeBSD has a two-tier development process,” Lucas told InternetNews.com. “This two-tear method lets our users be very conservative, using only well-tested and widely deployed code, while we can further improve the code and add new features.”

“The newest version of FreeBSD, including the changes that were made just minutes ago, is called FreeBSD-current,” he explained. “Any new features go into FreeBSD-current for community testing and further development. Every so often, we cut a major release from FreeBSD-current. This is a .0 release, such as 8.0.”

Lucas added that once 8.0 is released, FreeBSD-current will continue receiving new features and further development. Once those features are tested and debugged, they might be backported to FreeBSD 8. As a result, the latest FreeBSD 7.2 release is based on an older version of FreeBSD-current, but includes bugfixes and additional features that have been tested on the development version of FreeBSD.

Another longstanding focus of FreeBSD is on simplifying the technical task of migrating to new releases.

Matt Olander, CTO at enterprise hardware systems vendor iXsystems, told InternetNews.com that his firm will be working to help his customers migrate from older versions of the OS to the new release when it’s out.

But Olander, who also serves on the FreeBSD Project’s marketing and public relations teams, described FreeBSD as “notoriously famous” for its easy migration across versions, with successful migrations to FreeBSD 7.x from far older editions like 4.x.

That makes it easy to recommend to customers, he added.

“We will install whatever platform the customer chooses, although we’re certainly partial to BSDs and FreeBSD in particular,” Olander said. “Usually my first question, if I’m brought into discussions for an opportunity and the customer is using another operating system, is ‘Have you tried that on FreeBSD?’”

What’s new in FreeBSD 8

FreeBSD is one of the earliest open source operating system projects and is a direct descendant of the original, open source BSD work performed at the University of California, Berkeley. According to Lucas, the FreeBSD Project is driven largely by volunteers with very few actually working as paid developers on the effort.

“While the FreeBSD team has excellent communication skills, many of our people have lives and careers outside of FreeBSD,” Lucas said.

That certainly hasn’t stunted the new capabilities baked into FreeBSD 8, however, with the OS — often thought of as primarily a server-based operating system — offering big improvements that may benefit desktop users, too.

“FreeBSD 8.0 includes many new features and abilities over the 7.x series,” Kris Moore, founder of the PC-BSD project, told InternetNews.com. “On the desktop side of things, probably the most important feature will be the new USB stack, which greatly improves support for USB devices, and fixes lots of long-standing bugs. Improvements to drivers [and] speed improvements are also in the works.”

PC-BSD is a desktop derivative of FreeBSD that is currently owned by iXsystems.

“So far, we’ve seen some major improvements from the newer FreeBSD base, such as the USB fixes, greatly improved Wi-Fi support, and a significant desktop responsiveness improvement,” Moore said, adding that work on PC-BSD version 8, which will based on FreeBSD 8, has just begun.

Despite the improvements in FreeBSD 8, the project’s supporters reaffirmed that the idea is to keep disruption to a minimum.

“The FreeBSD team works hard to minimize user surprises,” Lucas said, adding that the fact makes his book still relevant, despite having been first published in 2002. “Absolute FreeBSD’s usefulness will decrease over time, as with any tech book, but I expect it to be useful for a few years yet.”

Source: internetnews.com (15-07-2009)

iXsystems releases iX-Apollo Extreme Series Workstation

iXsystems has unveiled the iX-Apollo Extreme Series, the first fully qualified PC-BSD workstation. The iX-Apollo Extreme Series ships with PC-BSD 7.x Pre-Installed and Pre-Configured. PC-BSD is a complete desktop operating system with a robust feature set including KDE 4.2.2. PC-BSD is inherently virus-resistant thereby offering stability, security and at the same time provides a comfortable user experience.

The iX-Apollo Extreme Series features the latest Intel Core i7 technology with support for up to eight logical cores. It utilizes up to 16GB of DDR3 memory, GigE LAN, 3D capable NVIDIA graphics. Additionally the iX-Apollo Extreme Series is powered by an ultra quiet 500 Watt power supply unit, which is equipped with universal input and active PFC. The power supply is also 80PLUS certified, making it efficient, eco-friendly, and less expensive to operate.

“The workstation gets more than 15,000 frames per second with effects turned off, and sees around 300 fps in Half-Life 2 with video settings maxed out. This Intel® Core™ i7 configuration is the best desktop experience I’ve had so far.  I downloaded Vavle’s Steam client and played Half-Life 2, Counter-Strike Source, and Left 4 Dead using PC-BSD.  I bought Half-Life 2 in 2004, but the Windows PC I had at the time could barely handle it. The load times alone made the game unplayable. Thanks to PC-BSD and some really nice hardware, I was finally able to enjoy the game the way it was intended,”

says James T. Nixon III, Webmaster, iXsystems.

“Aside from the amazing gaming performance, the workstation deploys desktop effects beautifully.  It sits quietly next to my television serving as a PC-BSD ‘Media Center’, making couch-computing the ‘only’ way to go!  Whether you’re writing a white paper in OpenOffice, watching movies with VLC, or enjoying the HD Flash videos on Hulu.com, PC-BSD continues to prove that anything is possible with the right hardware,”

says Ryan Hall, PC-BSD/iX-Apollo User.

FreeBSD Mall shipping FreeBSD version 7.2

iXsystems has announced that they’re selling FreeBSD CDs via their FreeBSD Mall store.ixsystems logo

The FreeBSD Mall started shipping FreeBSD® Version 7.2 this week. The four-disc CD set or dual-sided DVD is available for purchase at http://www.freebsdmall.com, either individually or on a subscription basis at a discounted price.

The FreeBSD Mall has a long tradition of providing a reliable source of software, documentation, and support to the open source community. We are pleased to be a primary distributor of FreeBSD software and services, including this latest release, FreeBSD® Version 7.2,

says Theresa Garner, General Manager, FreeBSD Mall.

FreeBSD’s new transparent superpage support is the result of several years of operating system research at Rice University, and brings the performance benefits of superpages to unmodified applications, a feature unique to FreeBSD. The FreeBSD® 7.2 release enhances FreeBSD’s position as a superior open source operating system due to the improved virtual memory efficiency and performance increases resulting from the use of superpages.

says Robert Watson, President of the FreeBSD Foundation.

FreeBSD® 7.2 is earning rave reviews from technical experts due to its facilitation of operating-system level virtualization that allows administrators to partition a FreeBSD-based computer system into several independent mini-systems called jails.

FreeBSD jails have been an integral part of our infrastructure for years. FreeBSD® 7.2 increases the utility of the FreeBSD jail by providing multi-ip support and the ability to pin jails processes to CPUs while maintaining the stability and robustness we’ve depended on FreeBSD to deliver,

says Josh Paetzel, System Administrator, Prometheus Research.

Links:
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PC-BSD 7.1 brings FreeBSD Warden to the desktop (update)

A number of online resources have writen about PC-BSD 7.1 referring to its speed, simplicity and ease-of-use. Internetnews.com writes how the Warden Project (FreeBSD Jails Management) can be used on PC-BSD.

The Warden is a powerful, yet easy to use tool which makes creating / managing jails easy. The Warden has features such as exporting / importing jails, automatic startup, and easy installation of packages or “Inmates”.

The Warden includes a GUI for PC-BSD desktops, as well as a command-line menu / syntax for remote administration via SSH. Inmate packages, such as AMP (Apache, MySQL, PHP) and others may be also downloaded from PBIDir and installed into jails managed by The Warden.

Though this feature may not be directly be used by home-users, it will be handy for admins of small companies that want the power and stability of FreeBSD and the easy PBI package installation of PC-BSD.

According to iXysystems (which since 2006 has ‘owned’ PC-BSD), “The Warden makes jail creation and management accessible to a greater number of users, and provides a secure and isolated environment for all sorts of uses, such as a mail server, database server, or webserver, to name a few. Warden configurations, called Inmates, can be used to instantly load pre-configured jails into the Warden.”

That’s pretty neat in my opinion and could be the use case that helps to but PC-BSD 7.2 on more enterprise desktops as an admin tool for FreeBSD servers.

Internetnews.com article

iXsystems’ most successful year ever

ixsystems logoiXsystems topped off its biggest revenue-producing year in history by taking home the Intel® Server Growth Award for 2008. iXsystems beat out a field of nearly 300 companies with an 82% increase in Intel® server sales over the previous year. On March 16, 2009, President and CEO Michael Lauth took the stage at the 2009 Intel Solutions Summit to accept the prestigious award on behalf of iXsystems.

States Lauth,

I am very proud of the iXsystems team for their performance in 2008. Intel®’s recognition of our growth exemplifies the dedication we have to quality, customer service, professionalism, and knowledge. Each person at iXsystems adds a unique quality to the customer’s experience. Our expert sales team consults with the customer to tailor an exact system to their unique specifications. The iXsystems professional production crew performs each detailed task with precision and care. Our knowledgeable support staff personalizes the support experience and makes each customer feel that their success is as important to us as it is to them.

To determine the recipient of the Intel® Server Growth Award, partners’ server sales are compared to sales from the previous year. A percentage growth measure is used to calculate growth for existing businesses.

This award distinguishes iXsystems as a leader in the server industry. iXsystems provides built-to-order rackmount server solutions, pre-configured server appliances, and storage solutions for Internet data centers, enterprise data centers, content delivery networks, and enterprise corporations.

The iXsystems team includes experienced leaders and engineers in open source server hardware, all with years of experience in developing Internet infrastructure-grade solutions. iXsystems’ excellent customer service and world-class product line are coupled with a streamlined manufacturing facility that has been in continuous production since 1996.

Source: prweb.com (06/04/2009)

Congratulations to Michael, Matt and the Team at iXsystems

4 CD FreeBSD 7.1 set @ freebsdmall.com

FreeBSD Logo4 disk FreeBSD 7.1  CD set is now available from freebsdmall.com.

FreeBSD 7.1 is the second release from the 7-STABLE branch which improves on the functionality of FreeBSD 7.0 and introduces some new features.

Some of the changes are:

  • The ULE scheduler is now the default in GENERIC kernels for amd64 and i386 architectures. The ULE scheduler significantly improves performance on multicore systems for many workloads.
  • Support for using DTrace inside the kernel has been imported from OpenSolaris. DTrace is a comprehensive dynamic tracing framework.
  • A new and much-improved NFS Lock Manager (NLM) client.
  • Boot loader changes allow, among other things, booting from USB devices and booting from GPT-labeled devices.
  • The cpuset(2) system call and cpuset(1) command have been added, providing an API for thread to CPU binding and CPU resource grouping and assignment.
  • am-utils has been updated from version 6.0.10p1 to version 6.1.5.
  • ISC BIND has been updated to version 9.4.2-P2.
  • awk has been updated from 1 May 2007 release to the 23 October 2007 release.
  • bzip2 has been updated from version 1.0.4 to version 1.0.5.
  • CVS has been updated to version 1.11.22.1.
  • hostapd has been updated to version 0.5.10 + radius ACL support.
  • libarchive has been updated to version 2.5.5.
  • ncurses library has been updated to version 5.6-20080503.
  • NTP has been updated to version 4.2.4p5.
  • OpenPAM has been updated from the Figwort release to the Hydrangea release.
  • OpenSSH has been updated from version 4.5p1 to version 5.1p1.
  • The resolver(3) library has been updated to one of ISC BIND 9.4.3.
  • sendmail has been updated from version 8.14.2 to version 8.14.3.
  • The timezone database has been updated from the tzdata2007h release to the tzdata2008h release.
  • wpa_supplicant has been updated to version 0.5.10 + syslog support.
  • The GNOME desktop environment has been updated from 2.20.1 to 2.22.
  • The KDE desktop environment has been updated from 3.5.8 to 3.5.10.

 

FreeBSD is an open source community project and can be downloaded for free. However, to support the Project, why not consider buying the CD set? FreeBSD Mall is owned by iXsystems, who support FreeBSD whereever they can (financially, servers and marketing).

Details and buy-link here.

BSDTalk interview with Michael Lauth, CEO of iXsystems

FreeBSD Podcasts

Will Backman from BSDTalk has a 17 minutes interview with Michael Lauth, CEO of iXsystems.

They talk about how iXsystems has build its business model around open source software and how open source software is being used internally as much as possible.

iXsystems offer PC-BSD laptops and desktops, FreeNAS base NAS servers etc

As a sidenote, BSDTalk is celebrating its 3rd birthday. Congratulations, Will. Keep this going!

BSDTalk 168 - Listen to the podcast: MP3 | OGG

FreeBSD 6.4 CDs/DVDs now shipping from FreeBSDMall

iXsystems have announced the availability of FreeBSD 6.4-based products through FreeBSD Mall, one of their subsidiaries. In addition to CD and DVD products, there’s a large collection of FreeBSD shirts, hats, jackets, boxer shorts, stickers, case-plates, coffee mugs, mouse pads, and other promotional materials.

FreeBSD is a free operating system developed by many volunteers. To help iXsystems promote FreeBSD, why not buy some of their product?

Announcement here