An update

I know, I’ve not been posting a lot and regularly lately. However, this is not because I’ve lost interest in FreeBSD or in running this website ;-).

It’s because I’ve been working on some very interesting things in the background; I’ll be launching something new for this website, and some other FreeBSD related websites soon.

If you’re eager to know what I’ve been working on and willing to give me your valuable feedback and ideas, drop me an email (gvanessen[@at]gmail[.dot]com) and you’ll be the first to find out and to get a peak-preview.

Thanks for your interest and feedback.

Getting started with FreeBSD 8.1

Juliet Kemp from serverwatch.com has tried, used and reviewed FreeBSD 8.1. Though she had some issues with installing the operating system, she agrees that if you want stability and control over your system, FreeBSD is definitely to be considered:

FreeBSD is definitely not as user friendly as modern Linuxes — you’ll need to be a lot more familiar with what’s going on under the hood and perhaps more prepared to have a couple of goes at the installation. The packaging system works well, however, and the number of available packages is comparable with, for example, Debian.

If you want close control over your system and the software you install, FreeBSD is a decent choice. But be aware that if you’re a current Linux user, you’ll have a bit of a learning curve in front of you. This is not to say either style is better or worse, just different, and adjusting to differences takes time. Having said that, I got a working desktop system and a couple of server applications up and running within a few hours, and a lot of that was download time. It’s a powerful and functional member of the UNIX-like family, and reviewing it has certainly interested me enough to keep on experimenting with it. If she’d installed FreeBSD with the PC-BSD installer (pc-sysinstall) things would have been easier ;-)

Full review here: Getting Started with FreeBSD 8.1

FreeBSD Security Advisory (bzip2)

The FreeBSD Security Team have identified a little bug in FreeBSD with the integer overflow in bzip2 decompression:

I. Background

“The bzip2/bunzip2 utilities and the libbz2 library compress and decompress files using an algorithm based on the Burrows-Wheeler transform. They are generally slower than Lempel-Ziv compressors such as gzip, but usually
provide a greater compression ratio.

II. Problem Description

When decompressing data, the run-length encoded values are not adequately sanity-checked, allowing for an integer overflow.

III. Impact

An attacker who can cause maliciously chosen inputs to be decompressed can cause the decompressor to crash. It is suspected that such an attacker can cause arbitrary code to be executed, but this is not known for certain.

Note that some utilities, including the tar archiver and the bspatch binary patching utility (used in portsnap and freebsd-update) decompress bzip2-compressed data internally; system administrators should assume that their systems will at some point decompress bzip2-compressed data even if they never explicitly invoke the bunzip2 utility.”

To avoid potential problems, you need to upgrade.

How is FreeBSD 9.0 shaping up?

In the pas few years, Ivan Voras kept the world up-to-date as to what was brewing for the ‘next’ major FreeBSD release (FreeBSD 7FreeBSD 8). He’s doing the same for FreeBSD 9.0: What’s cooking for FreeBSD 9

It’s still early to talk about FreeBSD 9.0 release but so far there have been some interesting developments in the systems and a nice core featureset is shaping up. I’m still maintaining the “What’s cooking” page and this post is basically an (incomplete) summary of it at this point in time.

Of course, in addition to these features, there are non-stop modifications to all parts of the system, from drivers for new hardware to overall performance enhancements. (source)

Other ways (though with more technical discussions) to stay up-to-date with FreeBSD’s development are:

Miscelaneous FreeBSD news and links

Below some links to news articles and blogposts relating to FreeBSD, it’s development and future:

1. NeoRouter 1.1.2 released for FreeBSD (via)

NeoRouter is a cross-platform remote access and VPN solution, that helps you manage and connect to all your computers from anywhere. It gracefully integrates Remote Access, File Sharing, Virtual Private Network, User and Access Management.

Advantages:

  • cross-platform and zero-config
  • peer-to-peer (P2P) connection
  • Roaming user profile
  • built-in ACL and firewall
  • free

2. HOWTO: FreeBSD Binary Upgrade (base system + packages)

FreeBSD power user Vermaden has created an easy to follow howto enabling you to easily upgrade your FreeBSD base system and packages: FreeBSD Binary Upgrade

3. OpenJDK6 IcedTea Java plugin for FreeBSD

Request for help and testing:

Due to a lot of user request I’ve started working on a port for the OpenJDK6 IcedTea Java plugin which works with Firefox 3.6. As I never used the Java plugin and I’m not very experienced in the Java world I need some help.

Some parts of the port are taken from java/openjdk6 and pkgsrc

Source: OpenJDK6 IcedTea Java plugin for FreeBSD

4. Debian GNU/kFreeBSD Becomes More Interesting

Phoronix looks at Debian GNU/kFreeBSD again:

Since last year we have been talking about Debian GNU/kFreeBSD, one of the official ports for Debian 6.0 “Squeeze” that will bring a 32-bit and 64-bit FreeBSD kernel as an option to using the Linux kernel. Debain GNU/kFreeBSD still has the Debian user-land complete with its massive package repository and apt-get support, but the FreeBSD kernel is running underneath instead of Linux. Debian GNU/kFreeBSD has matured a lot over the past year and most recently it has switched to using the FreeBSD 8.1 kernel by default and also now supports ZFS file-systems.

In January of this year was our first time benchmarking Debian GNU/kFreeBSD when it was using the FreeBSD 7.2 kernel. With that initial testing, in 18 of our 27 benchmarks Debian GNU/Linux was still faster than Debian GNU/kFreeBSD. We delivered a much larger comparison a week later when comparing the Debian variant to Fedora, FreeBSD 7.2/8.0, OpenBSD, and OpenSolaris. Debian GNU/kFreeBSD performed about average.

[...]

Debian GNU/kFreeBSD though has continued advancing since that point. When trying out the latest daily installer image of Debian GNU/kFreeBSD this week, there is not only the FreeBSD 8.1 kernel available, but it’s now used by default. This Debian port is no longer using a Debian 7.x kernel by default but it’s moved up to match the latest upstream FreeBSD stable release that’s available.

[...]

Not only is Debian GNU/kFreeBSD more exciting for its new default kernel, but now it has ZFS file-system support too. Added to the kFreeBSD repository recently was a zfsutils package that provides the support for using and setting up ZFS file-systems.

Source: Debian GNU/kFreeBSD Becomes More Interesting

5. Glibc finally free software

Glibc is now free under the BSD license:

Fedora Engineering Manager Tom ‘spot’ Callaway has announced that glibc , the GNU C Library, is finally free software after working with Oracle to get Sun code from 1985 placed under an unrestricted licence. Glibc is typically included with most programs that are compiled with the GNU C compiler…. more

6. FreeBSD Nvidia driver 256.53 available

You can download the latest Nvidia graphics card drivers from FreeBSD direct from the NVidia website

7. Microsoft Patents Operating System Shutdown

How rediculous is this:

“Microsoft just received confirmation of a patent that hands the company the intellectual property of shutting an operating system down.” (continues)

What do you think. Will this have any implications for FreeBSD?

8. NetApp and Oracle lift ZFS patent cloud
A long running legal battle between NetApp and Sun Microsystems, which centered on the open source ZFS filesystem, has come to an end. NetApp has announced that it has agreed with Oracle to dismiss patent litigation.

More

9. Latest Version of BSD Certification DVD Available (via)

The latest version of the BSD Certification Study DVD is now available. Besides being a handy study reference, the DVD is a useful tool as it contains the latest versions of the 4 BSDs plus their documentation.

Full Announcement