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:

BSD Magazine (August 2013): ZFS Boot Environments

BSD_08_2013-1August’s issue of the BSD Magazine is now available: ZFS Boot Environments (free PDF download).

This issue of BSD Magazine is dedicated to boot environments, including the article on ZFS Boot Environments by Kris Moore. Moreover, you can read articles about email gateway, service spawner, web programming, PKGNG and Apache THRIFT.

From the Table of Contents:

  • Quis custodiet ipsos custodes (Who will guard the guards themselves)?
  • Apache THRIFT: A much needed tutorial
  • A closer look at the changes in PC-BSD/TrueOS 9.2 – Part 1 – ZFS Boot Environments
  • An email gateway with FreeBSD to prevent malware and undesirable messages
  • The Service Spawner
  • FreeBSD Programming Primer – Part 7
  • PKGNG: The future of packages on FreeBSD and PC-BSD

Download and read ZFS Boot Environments

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 Foundation Newsletter – August 2013

The FreeBSD Foundation has published its Semi-Annual Newsletter with the following subjects:

This newsletter give a nice overview of what projects the Foundation has been supporting and what direction the FreeBSD project is moving at.

FreeBSD 9.2-RC1 available

freebsd_logo_textGlen Barber has announced the first release candidate build for the FreeBSD 9.2:

The first release candidate builds of the 9.2-RELEASE release cycle
are now available on the FTP servers for the amd64, i386, ia64, powerpc,
powerpc64, and sparc64 architectures.

Changes between -BETA2 and -RC1 include:

  • Expand the list of devices claimed by cxgbe(4).
  • Fix a panic in the racct code when munlock(2) is called with incorrect values.
  • Remove ctl(4) from GENERIC. ctladm(8) now automatically loads the corresponding module as necessary. This reduces the default memory footprint and allows FreeBSD to work on i386 machines with 128 MB of RAM out of the box.
  • Fix zfs send -D hang after processing requiring a CTRL+C to interrupt.

Announcement | FreeBSD 9.2 Release Schedule | FreeBSD Website

FreeNAS 9.1.0 released

freenas-ixsystems-new-logoiXsystems has announced the availability of FreeNAS 9.1:

“The FreeNAS development team is delighted to announce the general release of FreeNAS 9.1.0. This release offers massive improvements to the usability, extensibility, stability, and performance of FreeNAS. Everything from the web user interface, plugin management system, base operating system, ZFS file system, and even the source control used to manage the project have been substantially improved. “

There are many new features and upgrades in this new release which is based on FreeBSD 9-STABLE, some of which are:

  • User interface overhaul
  • (ZFS) Volume creation wizard
  • New encryption interface
  • Revamped plugin system
  • Multiple jails and jail types
  • Support of PC-BSD PBI packages
  • ZFS feature flags
  • LZ4 compression
  • TRIM support
  • Enhanced failed drive notifications
  • Improved memory use
  • Performance and stability enhancements from the yet unreleased FreeBSD 10
  • Code available on Github

You can download FreeNAS 9.1 from the FreeNAS download page. Make use you select the correct tab as FreeNAS 8.3 is selected by default.