Miscellaneous FreeBSD news and links (FreeBSD, CloudSigma, DEF CON, Apple, vBSDCon)

These are a number of links to interesting news items and links you may want to check out:

FreeBSD 9.2 Feature Highlight: ZFS General Improvements

Along with the many user facing changes discussed previously, there are also a number of internal changes to ZFS that will be available with the release of FreeBSD 9.2. [freebsdnow]

 

FreeBSD Can Compete With Ubuntu Linux, Windows 8

The NVIDIA BSD performance is very good for OpenGL as shown in this article with a comparison of Windows 8 vs. Ubuntu 13.10 vs. FreeBSD 9.1. In fact, for some OpenGL workloads the Linux games are running faster on FreeBSD/PC-BSD 9.1 than Ubuntu!  [Phoronix]

 

CloudSigma’s new website

CloudSigma, which based in Zurich (Switzerland) and provide FreeBSD VPS services in Europe, has announced it has a new and more intuitive website. CloudSigma was founded to meet the growing need for a pure IaaS that places little or no restrictions on how its users deploy their computing resources.

 

Apple’s Operating System Guru Goes Back to His Roots

Hubbard left Apple last month to return to the world of open source UNIX, taking the chief technology officer post at a iXsystems, a company that offers servers and other data center hardware that runs FreeBSD. Apple was quite an education, and now, he wants to bring the “Apple approach” back to the open source game. [wired.com].

 

vBSDcon 2013 Registrations Open

In these most recent months, we have been developing the vBSDcon conference website hosted at www.vbsdcon.com.  It includes full details surrounding the schedule, agenda, and speakers for vBSDcon.  The most recent addition to the conference website is that registrations are now open!  [Announcement].

There’s also a new interview with Verisign CTO Burt Kaliski on BSDTalk (bsdtalk230).

 

DEF CON 21 Recap

Mike Biehn, an iXsystems employee and a veteran of DEF CON attended DEF CON 21  a few weeks ago. DEF CON 21 Recap.

 

 JabirOS 1.0.1 released

We’re pleased to announce new release of “The new JabirOS” after a long time! This version is based on FreeBSD 9.2-RC1. In this version , we’ve added  ”OpenBox” as default window manager and “SLiM” as default display manager. [jabirproject.org]

 

DNSSEC @ MDLUG.org

Michael W. Lucas’s talk about DNSSEC (about 20 mins into the video).

FreeBSD Powering Open-Source Wearable Computing: Viking OS

“Are you still clinging on to your Smartphone? Embrace the future with Viking. Smartphones are outdated.”

viking_os_freebsd

 

We have all heard of Google Glass and many geeks are eagerly waiting for the announcement when these glasses will be available to all.

You may not have heard about a software company called Brilliant Service which is based in Osaka, Japan, and has developed a new operating system dubbed Viking OS, designed for use in glasses. The company’s goal is to completely replace the cellphone.

The company calls smartphones outdated and their app development is in Objective-C, which in their eyes is “elegant, fun, and easy to program.” (PDF pamphlet)

However cool all this may sound, the most interesting fact about Viking OS (this is the current project name and will likely change in the future), and this is the reason why I post this: Viking OS is an head-mounted display (HMD) operating system for wearable computing, including smart glasses and is based on FreeBSD.

The company describes Viking OS as follows:

“Viking OS allows users to operate applications with ease by simple gestures and voice control. Users will experience stress-free AR (Augmented Reality) such as natural searching and navigating to a destination that they could not do with Smartphones. This hands-free interface will utilize information provision for active users who enjoy the outdoors and sports. The programming language for app development is Objective-C. This will invite developers world wide to participate in creating new content and user experiences for Viking OS.”

There has been some confusion, and so far Brilliant Service have not confirmed or denied whether or not Viking OS is based on BSD and in particular on FreeBSD.

viking_os_freebsd2

I have contacted Brilliant Service and Johannes Lundberg has confirmed that Viking OS is indeed based on FreeBSD and the reasons why:

A big factor is the BSD license. We want to keep some parts proprietary and also sell our operating system bundled with hardware. However, the business model is not yet fully decided. If we are going for OEM or if we also will control the hardware.

Among the different BSD derivatives FreeBSD seemed liked the logical choice. Other companies seem to wanna put Android in their smart glasses / HMD and even try to run Android smartphone apps on a HMD. We don’t want to depend on previous technology that will provide a lesser user experience but rather re-think from scratch, create a new system with new user experiences made possible by smart glasses with gesture control.

Interestingly, Viking OS is not based on FreeBSD 9, but on FreeBSD Current:

From version 10.0 there seem to be some big changes that make it the natural choice when thinking in the long perspective. Like for example the default compiler shifting to clang/llvm. Also, we are interested in alternatives to X11 like Wayland which I think will be included in future version of FreeBSD.
We are selling a prototype of our Viking OS + hardware now but the final product is scheduled for 2016 so by then FreeBSD 10 should be stable enough I think.

Embedded below is a demo of the FreeBSD-based Viking OS in action on a head-mounted display

A prototype of the Smart Glasses “Project VIKING” is now available for purchase through BTO (build to order).
This looks certainly like an interesting product.
Links:

FreeNAS 9.1 Screenshots, and Some Suggestions

freenas-ixsystems-new-logoFreeNAS 9.1 has been released. We have read the blog posts, the press releases, and we probably all agree that this FreeBSD based NAS is becoming better and better with each release. FreeNAS is still ‘growing up’ and new features are added to each new version.

Since FreeNAS is still changing so much, maybe be developers can do something about the GUI side of things, i.e. the Web Interface.

The goal of FreeNAS is to simplify complex admin tasks in the underlying FreeBSD (nanobsd) base through a poin-and-click Web Interface: volumes can be created, permissions changed, data sharing turned on/off, music/video streaming set up, and most, if not all, ZFS features are included.

All this makes FreeNAS a powerful network attached system (NAS), especially if you consider it is open source and free to download, but I think the Web Interface can still do with some TLC as it can be confusing and is not always newbie friendly.

  • There are 6 menu buttons (top left) linking to “System”, “Network”, “Storage”, “Sharing”, “Services”, “Plugins” and “Jails”. In the Menu tree, under this bar, you will see the same (and more) links, unnecessary duplication. If “Account” is one of the main menus, why is this then one on the right hand top side, and not on the left with the others?
  • When you close / log out of the FreeNAS Web Interface and go back in, the menu tree is left expanded as it was left. It looks nicer if the tree was collapsed each time you open up the GUI.
  • Every time options are saved or when you cancel a screen, the whole menu tree is reloaded/refreshed, which takes about 1-2 seconds. This could be due to some settings or limitation in the Django framework, but it is annoying.
  • When you go into some of the (sub)menus and make changes, a tab gets added to the tab bar (top right), next to “Reporting” | “Settings” | “System Information”. What is the point of this? You’re not going to use your NAS GUI for hours (usually). You make the changes and come out of it. There’s no need for these shortcuts.
  • For new users of FreeNAS, it would be helpful if there was a short introduction with some step-by-step instruction on the first screen to help them set up the basic things (User, Volume, Privileges etc). Yes, there’s the FreeNAS handbook with everything set out step-by-step, but judging from questions on the FreeNAS forums I guess there are more users that don’t read through the manual than those who do.

Conclusion

Personally, I prefer the old FreeNAS 0.7 horizontal menu. It was, and is now in NAS4Free, easy to use and straightforward, with no duplication. The other thing I like in NAS4Free, is that you can make all changes on the opened screen, i.e. there are no pop-up windows with yet more settings. 

I appreciate a NAS GUI is not something you need every day. In an ideal world you install and set up your NAS and let it then run (headless), but there are still some areas where FreeNAS should improve to avoid confusion and duplication.

 

Screenshots

If you have no need to install or use FreeNAS, but are still interested to see what it looks like, have a look at the screenshots below (click on the pictures to magnify).

Main Screen

FreeNAS 9.1 Screenshots

 

Account Information

FreeNAS 9.1 Screenshots

 

System Information

FreeNAS 9.1 Screenshots

 

Network Information

FreeNAS 9.1 Screenshots

 

Storage Information

FreeNAS 9.1 Screenshots

 

Sharing Protocols

FreeNAS 9.1 Screenshots

 

FreeNAS Services

FreeNAS 9.1 Screenshots

 

Plugins Administration

FreeNAS 9.1 Screenshots

 

FreeNAS Jails

FreeNAS 9.1 Screenshots

 

System Processes (Running)

FreeNAS 9.1 Screenshots

 

Add Duplication Task

FreeNAS 9.1 Screenshots

 

ZFS Volume Manager

FreeNAS 9.1 Screenshots

 

Add Replication (rsync) Task

FreeNAS 9.1 Screenshots

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FreeBSD based Orbis OS powering Sony PS4

vgleaks has discovered that the new Sony Playstation 4 will be powered by Orbis OS, a modified version of FreeBSD 9.0. The modifications include new or optimised drivers for AMD’s 8-core CPU and Radeon GPU combination. This is not something that FreeBSD currently supports in the form of a Catalyst driver, and indicates that Sony and AMD are working on this together.

I guess that Sony decided to use FreeBSD as the engine due to the more liberal BSD license. Unlike the Cell-based PS3, the PS4 is x86-64 based which makes it easier to use FreeBSD.

I think Sony’s choice of FreeBSD is an excellent one.

Sony_PS4-FreeBSD2

Sony_PS4-FreeBSD3

 

 

 

FreeBSD miscellaneous links (nginx, freebsd snapshots, HAST, virtio)

These are a couple of random FreeBSD related links you may find interesting:

How to Install Nginx on FreeBSD 9.x

nginx (pronounced “engine x”) is an open-source web server and a reverse proxy server for HTTP, SMTP, POP3, and IMAP protocols, with a strong focus on high concurrency, performance and low memory usage. [Read More - unixmen.com]

New FreeBSD snapshots and virtual machine disk images

New FreeBSD development branch installation ISOs and virtual machine
disk images have been uploaded to the FTP mirrors.

Read More - lists.freebsd.org]

Install HAST on FreeNAS

FreeNAS is awesome, but until recently it lacked HAST (Highly Available STorage). Fortunately now TrueNAS allows for this function to work. HAST is integrated into the FreeBSD base system, in turn HAST can be added into FreeNAS manually.

[Read More - hub.org]

Speed up FreeBSD KVM guests using Virtio

The virtio framework allows guest operating systems running under the Linux KVM hypervisor to take advantage of near-native I/O performance. It works by providing kernel drivers for the guest OS which only work from within a KVM host, exposing I/O functionality through a much thinner layer of code than the traditional full-on emulation of physical hardware. The less code there is between a virtualized guest OS and the host’s physical hardware, the faster things will go.

[Read More - area536.com]

Generating custom FreeBSD installation media

Generating a custom -current memstick image without all the debug feature enabled.

[Read More - blog.cochard.me]

Creating and starting VirtualBox machine with PowerShell

BSD Router Project provided a VBScript for starting MS Windows based virtualbox lab. But because this vbs script works only on XP, I had to found a more powerful solution: Why not discovering PowerShell and using the VirtualBox COM API ?

[Read More - blog.cochard.me]

 

Tor anonymity software for BSD – mailinglist

The New York City *BSD User Group has announced a mfreebsd-tor-logoailing list dedicated to running the Tor anonymity software on the BSDs.  The list aims to become a forum for BSD users and developers interested in improving the performance and expanding the use of the BSDs as a platform for Tor.

Tor is an open source public anonymity network that is utilized around the world for anonymity and to bypass internet censorship.  More information can be found at https://www.torproject.org.

At this point, the only BSD recommended by the Tor Project is FreeBSD 5.x or higher.  While there is an OpenBSD port, and a pkgsrc port for NetBSD and Dragonfly BSD, they are not considered recommended operating system platforms.  This is one issue the list could approach.

The user group believes the BSDs make an ideal platform for running Tor considering the stability and security track record of the operating systems.

If you’re interested, the mailing list is located at http://lists.nycbug.org/mailman/listinfo/tor-bsd.

(via G+)

Netflix’s new peering appliance uses FreeBSD

“FreeBSD is once again a core part of the internet infrastructure”

Netflix, an American provider of on-demand Internet streaming media in the United States, Canada and Latin America, has established its own content delivery network called “Open Connect”, and has posted the software and hardware design online.

The 4u chassis server systems that are being used, with more than 100TB of storage, run the nginx open source web server and run FreeBSD 9.0.

Read here how Netflix is using FreeBSD and what their reason is for this choice: Netflix’s New Peering Appliance Uses FreeBSD.

Thanks again to Charles Rapenne for the heads up.