FreeBSD News: 3 years old

Well, this FreeBSD News website is 3 years old now. When I started out 3 years ago, I didn’t realise it was going to attrack so many (regular) visitors.

One big difference between Linux and FreeBSD is that there is a lot more Linux advocacy, whereas FreeBSD developers tend to concentrate on producing rock solid and stable code. Hopefully, this website has helped spread awareness of the FreeBSD operating system, also amongst Linux users.

FreeBSD was called “the unknown giant” by IBM back in 2005, and when I started posting news about FreeBSD, FreeBSD 6.1 was out. A lot has changed since. Some really neat features have been added (ZFS, DTrace, Superpages), VirtualBox and Chromium are running on FreeBSD) and FreeBSD 8.1 RC1 is out. FreeBSD is alive and kicking, and you can help spread the news too ;-)

Many thanks to those who have contacted me with links to news, product announcements (RootBSD, Netcraft, Bordeaux) and general feedback. Also, I’d like to show my appreciation to the 5 donors (esp. Edmondas Girkantas) who have kindly donated some funds in the last 3 years to help cover some of the costs running this website.

Being an analyst, I love numbers, statistics and trends. If you do too, here are some numbers for the last 3 years:

  • 1,008 posts were posted.
  • 791 comments were posted.
  • 335 different nicknames were used in the comments.
  • 44 post categories.
  • 47,442 spam blocked.

10 Most Popular Posts

  1. Flash 9 for FreeBSD 7.1 (howto)
  2. Differences between BSD and Linux
  3. Firefox 3 for FreeBSD
  4. FreeNAS supports Bittorrent
  5. FreeBSD flash player
  6. Install FreeBSD 8.0 from USB memory stick
  7. Running Google Chrome on FreeBSD
  8. Sun VirtualBox on FreeBSD
  9. DesktopBSD Live USB stick
  10. Embedded FreeBSD systems

Top 10 Commented Posts

  1. The Open Source community united – 34 comments
  2. FreeBSD flash player – 18 comments
  3. Zimbra on FreeBSD – petition – 17 comments
  4. Flash 9 for FreeBSD 7.1 (howto) – 11 comments
  5. Differences between BSD and Linux – 11 comments
  6. Why the BSDs get no love – 11 comments
  7. I’m faster than you! No I am! – 8 comments
  8. PC-BSD 7.0 Alpha – ready for testing – 8 comments
  9. FreeBSD based systems – what would you call them? – 8 comments
  10. PCBSD 7.0 Fibonacci alpha2 (video) – 8 comments

    Top 10 comment members

    1. kace (33)
    2. Oliver Herold (19)
    3. Eric (19)
    4. Mike (9)
    5. Oliver (9)
    6. gnemmi (9)
    7. Arab (7)
    8. Chris Buechler (7)
    9. Karl Fischer (7)
    10. Gonzalo Nemmi (7)


    FreeBSD 8.1 ports feature freeze starting soon

    In preparation for 8.1-RELEASE, the ports tree will be in feature freeze after release candidate 1 (RC1) is released, currently planned for June 11.

    If you have any commits with high impact planned, get them in the tree before then and if they require an experimental build, have a request for one in portmgr@ hands within the next few days.

    Note that this again will be a feature freeze and not a full freeze. Normal upgrade, new ports, and changes that only affect other branches will be allowed without prior approval but with the extra Feature safe: yes tag
    in the commit message. Any commit that is sweeping, i.e. touches a large number of ports, infrastructural changes, commits to ports with unusually high number of dependencies, and any other commit that requires the
    rebuilding of many packages will not be allowed without prior explicit approval from portmgr@ after that date.

    Source

    LLVM Clang integrated into FreeBSD 9-CURRENT

    LLVM  Clang, a BSD licenced compiler, is an alternative base compiler, with the general intention of it becoming the official FreeBSD base compiler.

    On June 9th, we are importing clang/LLVM into FreeBSD HEAD. We are going to import clang/LLVM sources and put those into contrib/llvm (~45MB) and the build infrastructure for it (lib/clang and usr.bin/clang). There’s also a small patch to hook it into the build.
    http://lists.freebsd.org/pipermail/freebsd-current/2010-June/017650.html

    LLVM Clang will bring some great benefits

    More over LLVM Clang on FreeBSD can be heard in an interview with Roman Divácký and Ed Schouten at BSD Can 2010: BSD Talk 191.

    FreeBSD Foundation announces jail based virtualization project

    The FreeBSD Foundation has selected another project for funding: FreeBSD Jail based virtualisation project, to be undertaken by Bjoern A. Zeeb:

    “We are pleased to announce that Bjoern A. Zeeb has been awarded a grant to improve FreeBSD’s jail based virtualization infrastructure and to continue to work on the virtual network stack. His employer, CK Software GmbH is matching the Foundation’s funding with hours.

    FreeBSD has been well known for its jail based virtualization during the last decade. With the import of the virtual network stack, FreeBSD’s operating system level virtualization has reached a new level.

    This project includes cleanup of two years of import work and development and, more notably, brings the infrastructure for a network stack teardown. Cleanly shutting down a network stack in FreeBSD will be the major challenge in the virtualization area to get the new feature to production ready quality for the 9.x release lifecycle.

    Further, the project includes generalization of the virtual network stack framework, factoring out common code. This will provide an infrastructure and will ease virtualization of further subsystems like SYSV/Posix IPC with minimal overhead. All further virtualized subsystems will immediately benefit from shared debugging facilities, an essential
    feature for early adopters of the new technology.

    “Improved jail based virtualization support, that continues to be very lightweight and as easily manageable as classic jails, will be a killer feature for the next few years,”

    said Bjoern A. Zeeb, FreeBSD developer. He also added,

    “It will allow people to partition their FreeBSD server, run simulations without racks of hardware, or provide thousands of virtual instances in hosting environments fairly easy and efficiently. While this follows the trend of green computing, it also adds to FreeBSD’s virtualization portfolio with Xen or other more heavyweight hypervisor support, which can be mixed with jails as needed.”

    While work in this area will have to continue, the funding for this project will end mid-July 2010.”

    I wish Bjoern all the best and hopefully we can try and use his work in FreeBSD 9.

    If you want to see the FreeBSD Foundation support and fund more of these sort of projects, you can help them by donating to the Foundation (I’m not affiliated to the Foundation)

    I’m a BSD

    Rick Jelliffe has written up his experience of installing FreeBSD and tweaking it so he could use it for every day use instead of Windows, Linux or Solaris: “I’m a BSD

    This is her verdict:

    But so far I am really enjoying it. BSD feels like UNIX, a welcome change from Linux. It seems much snappier than Windows. It doesn’t waste its resources on the zillion pre-loading applications, virus-checkers, etc. that bog Windows systems down. Nor does it have the dumb Windows roaming system enabled by default (my Windows PC would take over 2 hours to restart, recently, because of so-called “Roaming”: it actually prevented roaming!) KDE4 is pretty and seems to work well. The hardware and networking just work. The package system works well. There seem to be up-to-date versions of most applications.

    I will be interested to see how well the OS update system works (that was something that killed off Mandriva Community Edition for me, after several years of happy use.) FreeBSD has avoided the issues that I had with earlier versions of Mandriva Linux, Sabayon Linux, Mint Linux and OpenSolaris. However, each of them have a much better out-of-the-box configuration, particularly for the applications I use most: Firefox, Thunderbird, Java and OpenOffice.

    So I would see FreeBSD as being useful where you needed to use BSD servers for security, and wanted a SOE that would use the same support staff skills. If you don’t have BSD or UNIX skills on tap, or don’t have security requirements, you may find Linux a better choice: as I wrote at the head, I probably would be better off with a derivative BSD distribution aimed at the desktop, like PC-BSD.

    My reason for trying it, is first frustration with Windows (roaming, etc), second a desire for better performance, third I have lost patience with having to run virus checkers (and pay for them) for security which should be part of the base product, fourth just for interest, and fifth because I whinge in this blog a lot about technologies driven by the corporate agendas of vendors rather than by user requirements, and FreeBSD seems unattached to vendors (it has had a lot of funding from DARPA.)

    Anyway, I have a workable system on which I can do my normal jobs. But I estimate it will be taking about 3 working days to get it OK. Much of that time is not actual time: when loading from the disks I could attend to other work, of course. I don’t know if O’Reilly have a Missing Manual for FreeBSD, but it would have come in very handy. And I certainly have not worked on a BSD system that had package management like this, so there is a bit of learning there, which is OK. I am pretty excited by it, actually.

    FreeBSD has so much that inspires confidence, and it is pretty, robust and secure too, with more than a smattering of convenience: all the right stuff.

    Read Rick’s full post: I’m a BSD

    Interesting FreeBSD related projects: FreeWDE, mfsBSD and easyBSD

    Every now and then when browsing the web and hopping from one link to another you sometimes come across some interesting little projects. Recently I’ve found the following three that I want to share with you:

    FreeWDE – http://rop.gonggri.jp/?p=269

    FreeWDE is a “minimal install” FreeBSD image that you can write to a USB stick or SD-card. When booted from, FreeWDE will ask some questions and then create an AES-256 encrypted partition on the same device. It will then copy the operating system there. You call tell FreeWDE to additionally install an unencrypted FAT32 (Windows) partition which will make a USB stick or SD-card seem like a normal storage device to Windows or Mac machines. It can hold your camera’s pictures or be used for files that you want to move in and out of an offline encrypted system. You can set sizes for all these partitions as well as for the encrypted swap. You can also opt to mount /tmp and /var/log as tmpfs ramdisks.

    mfsBSDhttp://mfsbsd.vx.sk/

    This is a set of scripts that generates a bootable image (and/or ISO file), that creates a working minimal installation of FreeBSD.

    easyBSDhttp://www.fbsd-dev.org/v2/

    EasyBSD is a FreeBSD Post Installation script. Now I can imagine you are asking yourself, ‘What does that mean?’ EasyBSD is a modular automation script designed to assist in the extensive post installation process that is required in FreeBSD. The following are modules that are included with EasyBSD, Checks, Update, Security, Networking, Firewall, Recommended Ports, Tips and Tweaks, Daemon, and Universe.

    Are you aware of, or are you working on anything FreeBSD related that you want to share with the BSD Community? Why not announce it on this site?

    PC-BSD 8.1-BETA1 Released

    Hot on the heels of the FreeBSD 8.1-BETA1, Kris Moore has now prepared and released PC-BSD 8.1-BETA1. As most of you will now PC-BSD follows the FreeBSD release cycle and is pure FreeBSD, not a fork, clone or anything like that.

    The PC-BSD Team is pleased to announce the availability of PC-BSD 8.1-BETA1 (Hubble Edition), running FreeBSD 8.1-PRERELEASE, and KDE 4.4.4

    Version 8.1 contains a number of enhancements and improvements. For a full list of changes, please refer to the changelog. Some of the notable changes are:

    • FreeBSD 8.1-PreRelease
    • KDE 4.4.4
    • Numerous fixes to the installation backend
    • Support for creating dedicated disk GPT partitioning
    • Improved ZFS support
    • Bugfixes to desktop tools / utilities

    Please help us with the testing and leave any feedback on the Testing Mailinglist.

    PC-BSD Website | Download | Changelog | Release Notes