What kind of FreeBSD Installer do you like? (Poll)

We wrote about the latest developments with regards to FreeBSD’s default installer (sysinstall).

It would be interesting to see what kind of installer you prefer. GUI or text/ncurses based?

Feel free to leave any comments below.

What kind of FreeBSD installer do you prefer?

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Available: GhostBSD 2.0 x86 beta

The GhostBSD developers have released a new version of GhostBSD: GhostBSD 2.0 beta:

This release is a Live CD with out an installer.The reason we do that is so we can offer out a working version to find bugs before the final release. Some great news for this release of GhostBSD 2.0 will now be support auto mount of USB Devices! [...]

Some of the new changes to the release: was our logo(tell us if you like), bug fixes, New live file system, and more improvements to GDM(no more white screens during booting).GhostBSD is based upon FreeBSD 8.2 rc3. On the Ghostbsd 2.0 release you will find Gnome 2.32, Rhythmbox 0.12.8_3, Pidgin 2.7.7, Firefox 3.6 and Thunderbird 3.0.11.(source)

GhostBSD will be using the bxPKG package installed. Bxpkg is package manager developed by Kostas Petrikas that let’s you install uninstall and manage pkg packages.

Jared Barneck has written a quick review: GhostBSD 2.0 Beta 2 – A FreeBSD LiveCD.

BSD Magazine 2011/02: ZFS and FreeBSD

A new issue of the free BSD Magazine is available: ZFS and FreeBSD

Table of contents:

ZFS and FreeBSD

The Zettabyte Filesystem (ZFS) is one of the most advanced open source filesystems available today. Its design implements several revolutionary ideas with focus on data consistency, performance and ease of use.

FreeNAS

FreeNAS is a very interesting project with a history spanningapproximately 5 years. It’s a fusion of FreeBSD with a webgui andembedded device framework, which creates a NAS device basedon FreeBSD, fully manageable from a web-browser out of a PCwith an x86 or AMD64 architecture.

Network transparent rate limitation with ipfw

In this article I will explain how to setup a transparent bridge between your LAN and your Firewall/router. With “transparent” I mean that you won’t need to do any change on your network in order to use it.

Building an iSCSI storage with BSD

Highly loaded databases need a fast and reliable storage solution, something like a big server with many hard drives, probably with 4, 8, or 16 drives. Also, many 1U servers do not have the necessary storage capacity to offer services that need it.

How to setup a USB Memory stick for installing a pfSense SoHo Firewall/Router

This article covers the installation and initial configuration of a pfSense Firewall / Router on a small form factor PC.

Mutt On OS X

Whenever my boss walks by my desk, he can’t help but ask, „Why do you insist on using the command line for everything? Are you stuck in the 1970’s or something?”…

The Missing Links to Strategic Implementation

In regards to growth and strategy, the father of management and strategy, Peter Drucker was wont to say, “Everything must degenerate into work if anything is to happen.”

Browser Wars

With the rise of the Internet, there has been a considerable increase in the number of web browsers available for BSD platforms.

Interview with Dan Langille

BSDCan 2011 – An interview with Dan Langille, who will give you a closer look at the upcoming conference.

PC-SYSINSTALL – A new system installer backend for PC-BSD & FreeBSD

A presentation from BSDCan 2010 is an example of what you can expect from this years Conference.

Download BSD Magazine 2011/02: FreeBSD & ZFS

FreeBSD installers. BSDInstall and pc-sysinstall to merge

Most readers here will agree that FreeBSD would benefit from an updated installer with more functionalities. One of many reasons e.g. is support for the Zetabyte File System (ZFS). A number of FreeBSD users even think that FreeBSD can do with a more attractive installer (me included).

I’m aware of the reasons why many FreeBSD users prefer a text-based installer, but I think a GUI installer is nicer. Please don’t start a flame war ;-) Remember, for new users, first impressions count…..

FreeBSD sysinstall

Over the last couple of  years there have been a few projects endeavouring to create a user friendly graphical installer for FreeBSD. As far as I’m aware these have now been discontinued. Two of which are:

Kris Moore, the founder of the PC-BSD Project, saw the need for an alternative installer for his project and created pc-sysinstall, a visually more pleasing installer with more advanced features than FreeBSD’s sysinstall. There’s an article in this month’s BSD Magazine (FreeBSD and ZFS) with some background and technical details of pc-sysinstall.


Last year work was undertaken by iXsystems to port PC-BSD’s graphical pc-sysinstall to a text-based installer as a replacement for the current sysinstall FreeBSD installer: txt-sysinstall, but this hasn’t been worked on for the last nine months. Will Backman has an interview with John Hixson on this: bsdtalk 199.

I was somewhat disappointed when Nathan Whitehorn (nwhitehorn@) announced his BSD Install project. Instead of working with the guys from iXsystems/PC-BSD and improving pc-sysinstall/txt-sysinstall he deciced to create BSD Install to replace FreeBSD’s current installer:

This project started because we have never, in three major releases, shipped an installer on PowerPC capable of installing a booting system without absurd amounts of handholding and use of external tools. This is especially galling when we have tools in the base (gpart, newfs, and tar) fully capable of doing this. As it turns out, by the time you’ve written a shell script to combine these things, you’re well on your way to deciding to write a new installer.

The goal of this project then, was to maximally reuse existing tools and to make the installer a chain of easily modifiable or replaceable components so that future installer-tinkerers will not run away in terror as quickly as I and many others have from sysinstall and libdisk.

PC-BSD pc-sysinstall

Choice and competion are a good thing, but sometimes cooperation towards a common goal is the better option.

Nathan recently emailed (FreeBSD Installer Roadmap) that he is now together with Josh Paetzel and  Warner Losh, both from iXsystems, and it was agreed to merge the BSD Install frontend with the pc-sysinstall backend:

After some discussion with M. Warner Losh and Josh Paetzel of iXsystems, we’ve come up with the following roadmap for an installer for 9.0. Over the next month, we intend to try to adapt bsdinstall as the front-end for the more featureful, but lacking a terminal-compatible user interface, pc-sysinstall. This implies that the user interface and installation flow for the hybrid installer will be extremely similar to what is currently available in bsdinstall, so please continue sending feedback and bug reports on it. What will be different is the backend code, which will allow use of additional features not currently present in bsdinstall, such as ZFS installation.

I’m happy that the two teams/projects are working together now to create the best installer for the upcoming FreeBSD 9.0.

It is my personal opinion, but I think FreeBSD should come with a graphical installer by default. However, when launched there should be an option to exit the GUI and continue with the text based installer for those who prefer this.

As most of you will know there’s also a BSD Installer which is used by pfSenseDragonflyBSD and previously by FreeNAS.

If you want, please take part in the “what FreeBSD Installer do you like” poll.

Virtualbox 4.0.4 for FreeBSD (CFT)

A call for testing has gone out for VirtualBox 4.0.4.  The latest version in ports is 3.2.12 (/usr/ports/emulators/virtualbox-ose) so it’s nice a number of devs working to get this port updated. 4.0.4 is the most recent stable version, released on 17 Feb.

A few of you have probably wondered what happened to our VirtualBox efforts for FreeBSD. Well it took a bit longer then expected and a few problems were found that needed to be resolved first but most of the things are looking fine now and almost all patches have been pushed upstream with 4.0.4 so here we are now.

We will continue to work on VirtualBox for FreeBSD and upstream is also very helpful to us but we could need a few more hands to better keep up with the work and especially improve and fix the Guest Additions. So if you want to help please contact us or have a look at our Todo list.

If you have a spare PC, please let the devs have your feedback.

More info and a list with current developers can be found on: VirtualBox 4.0.4 for FreeBSD

About VirtualBox: VirtualBox is a general-purpose full virtualizer for x86 hardware, targeted at server, desktop and embedded use maintained by Oracle.

“RAIDZilla”, a FreeNAS based, advanced featured NAS appliance

FreeNAS 8 is shaping up nicely (FreeNAS 8.0-BETA available) and developers at iXsystems are putting in a lot of time and work into it. Apart from working on the software side, iXsystems also offers a FreeNAS based appliance, the iX-2120.

I had a chat with Matt Olander, CTO of iXsystems, about a new FreeNAS appliance they’re working on, internally codenamed ‘RAIDZilla’. When launched, it will get a corporate name in line with some of their other products, probably something like iX-NAS XXXX.

“RAIDZilla” is a combination of specially developed hardware running FreeNAS. iXsystems is building an inexpensive, standardised and fast NAS appliance with easy to use management tools. RAIDZilla runs FreeNAS with some closed-source goodies such as like drive failure detection, notification, auto-replacement option and NFS head failover, along with array duplication so both head units can write to the same array.

By providing both the hardware platform and an optimised operating system, iXsystems is able to maximise the appliance’s reliability and speed, as well as to provide a good user experience. iXsystems plans to open-source the closed-coded features in the future.

The big thing about the new iX-NAS, especially enterprises will be interested in this, is that it’s going to be available in Europe as well. A main distributor is getting set up to finish FreeNAS builds in Belgium, and there will be opportunities for VARs (value added resellers) and integrators to sell units at retail price after a channel partner discount and earn additional income providing consultation, setup, and deployment services. If you’re interested, please contact Matt (matt at ixsystems dot com).

There’s a post on the iX blog with an interview between Corey Vixie and Doug White, Senior Test Engineer at iXsystems about RAIDZilla: Doug White on RAIDZilla.

  • What exactly is RAIDZilla?
  • What makes it different than FreeNAS?
  • What does the software platform look like?
  • What about the hardware?
  • Tell me about ‘Head Redundancy’?
  • Speaking of cool features, a little bird mentioned something about Fusion-IO cards being an option
  • So, just how fast is very fast?

I’m looking forward to the launch of this appliance and will let you know when it’s available.

Available: New FreeNAS 8 snapshot (r5788)

The guys from iXsystems have released a new beta snapshot for FreeNAS 8. This image based on r5788 of the SVN repo is very close to being Release Candidate status.

Some of the highlights and new additions are:

  • The TreeMenu GUI is now the default (the old GUI is still available)
  • There’s a far better GUI for managing ownership/group/permissions of volumes and datasets.
  • Dynamic DNS should work.
  • ZFS parameters per dataset have been added
  • A bug that was preventing the system from seeing all available disks has been fixed.
  • FTP is now working.

Be aware, there are still some known issues:

  • AFP generates bogus configs.
  • iSCSI configs don’t work in some environments.
  • Link Aggregation setup is still a bit twitchy, the GUI doesn’t reboot the system even though in some cases that is needed.  Have the console nearby to play with the networking configs.

The latest beta can be downloaded from FreeNAS page on sourceforge.

Should you come across any bugs or quirks, please mail them to the new FreeNAS Testing Mailinglist: https://lists.sourceforge.net/lists/listinfo/freenas-testing

Links: FreeNAS website | Download FreeNAS | Release Notes

FreeNAS is an embedded open source NAS (Network-Attached Storage) distribution based on FreeBSD, supporting the following protocols: CIFS (samba), FTP, NFS, TFTP, AFP, RSYNC, Unison, iSCSI (initiator and target) and UPnP. It supports Software RAID (0,1,5), ZFS, disk encryption, S.M.A.R.T/email monitoring with a web browsers configuration interface.

Debian meets FreeBSD: Debian 6.0 debuts FreeBSD version

After two years in the making, Debian 6.0, code-named “Squeeze”, was announced earlier this week. It features the KDE Desktop and Applications, the GNOME, Xfce, and LXDE desktop environments.

Debian GNU/Linux supports a number of nice architectures which include: 32-bit PC / Intel IA-32, 64-bit PC / Intel EM64T / x86-64, Motorola/IBM PowerPC, Sun/Oracle SPARC, MIPS, Intel Itanium, IBM S/390, and ARM EABI.

Debian 6.0 is different in two ways from previous versions: 1) all non-open source firmware modules have been taken from the kernel and can be downloaded seperately, permitting completely “free” installations, i.e. it comes with a completely free-as-in-freedom Linux kernel, and 2) in addition to Debian GNU/Linux, Debian GNU/kFreeBSD is introduced as a technology preview with a version of the FreeBSD kernel in the Debian userspace.

FreeBSD, meet Debian

The Debian GNU/kFreeBSD technology previews are currently available only on x86 platforms: 32-bit PC (kfreebsd-i386) and 64-bit PC (kfreebsd-amd64). The FreeBSD releases offer “strong” support for common server software, combining “the existing features of Linux-based Debian versions with the unique features known from the BSD world,” says the project. However, the project goes on to note that “some advanced desktop features are not yet supported.”

It would be interesting to see when the GNU/kFreeBSD versions comes out with ZFS and those sort of goodies.

I’ll install and test Debian GNU/kFreeBSD over the next few weeks and let you know. In the meantime, Gary Sims, from Learning FreeNAS, as posted some screenshots.

Maybe the developers can make the name a bit simpler. Debian GNU/kFreeBSD technology preview or Debian GNU/kFreeBSD is such a mouth full. What about Debian 6.0 (FreeBSD)?

The release notes and installation manual have been posted, and installation images may be downloaded right now via bittorrent or HTTP.

Link: Debian GNU/kFreeBSD website