for BSD torrents

There’s a great BSD torrent website that I want to bring to your attention. It’s where you can download FreeBSD 7.0, PC-BSD 1.5 and FreeSBIE 2.0.1 CD images via the Bittorrent protocol.

This site was originally started in 2007 shortly after the FreeBSD Project took their official server off-line. We originally ran on a dedicated server which ran its own tracker and a seeder. The Project recently started up a new official torrent server. So, we now run on a web host and link to official torrents (FreeBSD and others).

Consistent with our original goals, we’ll still put up torrents for FreeBSD-based OS’s that need it by using a third-party tracker. PC-BSD and FreeSBIE are both in this category now. Seeders for those torrents are greatly needed! If you’re able to contribute to the community by seeding, it will be even better if you are able to have an open, listening port for your torrent client.

Check it out and help seeding:

In the spotlight: HamFreeSBIE

Ham amateur radioHamFreeSBIE is a live CD based on FreeSBIE and contains utilities specifically tailored to fit the needs of amateur radio operators. HamFreeSBIE is developed and maintained since February 2007 by Diane Bruce, a well-known FreeBSD developer.

Diane has created a presentation that gives a great introduction into the various available ham utilities (incl screenshots & descriptions). She has also assisted in the creation of the Hamradio ports category and has become the maintainer of over 20 of the hamradio ports.

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FreeBSD in 2007 – a review

2007 is over. It was a very successful year for open source software and another 12 interesting months have passed for FreeBSD. In this post I want to look back at 2007 and see how FreeBSD faired, what happened in “FreeBSD land” and how FreeBSD based operating systems have developed. This post will be a sort of summary of the messages I posted during 2007.

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We’ll be looking at:

Start of this blog

Around April last year I was toying with the idea of starting a FreeBSD related news blog with the view to raise more awareness of FreeBSD and show it’s a perfect alternative to Linux. My first post was on 17 May 2007 and since then visitor numbers have rapidly gone up and feedback from visitors indicates that there’s definitely interest in such a blog. With the continuing growth of my hosted blog, I wanted to get some more flexibility and the ability to install plugins and scripts. Hence my move to Bluehost/FreeBSDOS (BTW, if you’re looking for cheap and reliable webhosting, I can really recommend them).

FreeBSD in 2007

FreeBSD LogoUnfortunately 2007 didn’t see the final release of FreeBSD 7.0; just 4 beta’s and a RC1. Well, maybe not “unfortunately”, because a top-quality product is better than a rushed-out flaky one that needs to be fixed and patched soon after its release. FreeBSD 7.0 incorporates some new and exciting technologies which will put this version a-par with, if not ahead of, Linux. Exciting stuff.

The FreeBSD Foundation have issued their quarterly newsletters (Q2, Q3, Q4), keeping the world up-to-date with the latest developments and news. The Foundation received a lot of coverage online and in the blogosphere with their Absolute FreeBSD book auction and their fund raising drive. The 2007 fundraising goal was $250.000, but a total of $403,511 was achieved. Well done.

There are already a couple of Linux related magazines for sale in stores, but BSD magazines aren’t available currently. “An interesting opportunity“, Software Media LLC/LP Magazine must have thought. They will issue first issue at the beginning of Q2 2008 and will contain an article by Dru Lavigne and Jan Stedehouder (Jan used and reviewed both PC-BSD and DesktopBSD for a month in his PC-BSB: the first 30 days and DesktopBSD: the first 30 days series).

Conference-wise, the ‘normal’ BSD conferences (BSDCan, EuroBSD, MeetBSD) were held, with a new one in Turkey (BSDConTR).

[Read more…]

Time for a new FreeSBIE ISO image

FreeSBIEIt looks like people want it , so I think it is a really good idea. I must admit I’ve not a lot of time to work on it, so I’ll probably end up using the same configuration of FreeSBIE-2.0.1

The great news is unionfs will be enabled by default, like in FreeSBIE-1.x.

The only caveat is: will it be stable enough? I know Hiroki SATO committed some fixes to it to HEAD just after the “approval lock” on HEAD was removed, and it may be a good idea to backport them to RELENG_7, so that users gain a better FreeSBIE experience. Time will tell.

Matteo’s original post here

FreeSBIE 2.0.1 – Review

This is a FreeSBIE 2.0.1 review by Steve Lake on

FreeSBIEFrom great anticipation to utter misery to mixed reactions. That in general sums up my experience with FreeSBIE 2.0.1.

For a live cd that’s built on one of the greatest free operating systems in the world (FreeBSD 6.2 in this case), you would expect equal greatness about it. But I didn’t find that here. And that is by no means the fault of Freebsd in any way, but rather this particular remixing of it. Booting the disk gave me several quick and simple booth options to choose from that seemed familiar enough, including FreeBSD’s ever famous startup boot menu. After that it loaded into a simple boot screen that told you the system was loading, but gave you no progress indicators or hints how it was doing or if and when it might be done. You had to hit enter, as suggested in the lower right hand corner of the boot image, in order to see the boot messages in order to figure out where it was in the boot process. The fact that I had to do that wasn’t a big deal. At least for me. Annoying for certain, but I’m not so lazy that hitting the enter key is beyond me. What bothered me about is that I’m looking at this from a new users perspective. IE, someone who’s still new to Linux or BSD. While it’s simply a small bother for me, I know that this one thing would be a huge red X for a new user. So therefore I mention it here in hopes the developers will fix it.

Now as for the boot speed, I know that live cd’s are supposed to take a while to load, but not 4 ½ minutes!! In 4 ½ minutes I could have already been racking up a body count in open arena, or doing some diagnostic testing instead of waiting for this thing to boot, and that was just the time it took to boot into the console. I still had to manually start the GUI after that! As a comparison, DesktopBSD, another distribution built on Freebsd, booted to its live cd version complete with gui in just over a minute! If another distribution in a live cd environment can do that, something’s very wrong here. Now getting back to the “booting into the command prompt” part, I found that a bit bothersome. I can see the logic of that from a super user’s perspective, but if you’re a new user, or a more experienced user who doesn’t work much in the console, you’re going to immediately be lost at this point.

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What is FreeBSD?

This website deals with the FreeBSD Operating System, but what is FreeBSD?

FreeBSD (FBSD) is an advanced Unix-like operating system developed by the FreeBSD Project. FBSD is one of the most reliable, robust and secure operating systems in the world. It is free, open source and powers some of the internet’s largest web servers, including Yahoo’s and Sony’s (more companies). Rock-solid stability and the ability to perform extremely well under heavy workloads makes this operating system a popular choice among Internet Service Providers and Web hosting companies. A cohesive userland and kernel, the ports system and regular OS upgrades are the strengths of this OS.

FreeBSD is derived from the Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD), the version of UNIX developed at the University of California at Berkeley between 1975 and 1993. FreeBSD is not a UNIX clone. Historically and technically, it has greater rights than UNIX System V to be called UNIX. Legally, it may not be called UNIX, since UNIX is now a registered trade mark of The Open Group.

FreeBSD runs on Intel processors as well as on DEC Alpha, Sun UltraSPARC processors, Itanium (IA-64) and AMD64 processors and soon on Suns Niagara servers (FreeBSD 7).

FreeBSD is an operating system that is very flexible and can therefore be used for various purposes:

  • FreeBSD – (web)servers
  • FreeNAS – Network Attached Storage servers
  • DragonFly BSD – Powering cluster computing
  • PC-BSD and DesktopBSD – Desktop
  • M0n0wall and pfSense – Firewall
  • Frenzy – portable system administrator toolkit
  • FreeSBIE and RoFreeSBIE- Live CDs

Stability, flexibility and security are what is needed for a good operating system, and FreeBSD has them all, whether you use it on your desktop or as server. There’s an interesting article on IBM’s website “Why FreeBSD” dealing with the strong points of FreeBSD.

Flash/Youtube videos on FreeBSD

To be able to watch Adobe Flash animations and videos on BSD systems, has been not too easy so far. This is caused by Adobe not releasing a (Free)BSD version of Flash, but only a (closed source) version for Windows and Linux. In order to watch Flash content on BSD one has to install the Linux Flash version along with the Linux Compatibility layer and tweak the system (sym-links).

However, there’s a Flash PBI available for PC-BSD users that installs Flash with a few mouse-clicks. Installing this manually is not necessary anymore as version 1.4 will come with Flash pre-installed, thanks to a redistribution agreement between iXsystems, the company behind the PC-BSD project, and Adobe.

There are a few open-source Flash players in development currently, of which Gnash and swfdec are the most promising projects, but they’re not perfect yet. Gnash for example is quite good at playing Flash animations (though a bit “grainy”), but it can’t play YouTube videos, whereas swfdec is better at playing YouTube videos, but it’s not very good with animations.

Matteo from the FreeSBIE project has now found a way to watch YouTube videos with Gnash on FreeBSD, but without using the Linux compatibility layer. Please note, that the steps he’s taken are the same for PC-BSD and DesktopBSD. Matteo installed the following ports:

  • graphics/gnash
  • www/firefox (uncheck “GSTREAMER” on the ncurses window)
  • multimedia/mplayer [MAKE WITH_GUI]
  • www/mplayer-plugin

He then installed the Greasemonkey plugin for Firefox and this Greasemonkey script. Note: select the “mini” GUI for mplayer because it is needed for the plugin.

If you have followed these steps and installed the port successfully, surf now to and give it a whirl.

A list of FreeBSD based operating systems

FreeBSD is an advanced operating system for x86 compatible (including Pentium® and Athlon), amd64 compatible (including Opteron, Athlon 64, and EM64T), UltraSPARC, IA-64, PC-98 and ARM architectures. It is derived from BSD, the version of UNIX® developed at the University of California, Berkeley. It is developed and maintained by a large team of individuals. Additional platforms are in various stages of development.

PC-BSD has been designed with the “casual” computer user in mind. Installing the system is simply a matter of a few clicks and a few minutes for the installation process to finish. Hardware such as video, sound, network and other devices will be auto-detected and available at the first system startup. Home users will immediately feel comfortable with PC-BSD’s desktop interface, with KDE 3.5 running under the hood. Software installation has also been designed to be as painless as possible, simply double-click and software will be installed.

DesktopBSD aims at being a stable and powerful operating system for desktop users. DesktopBSD combines the stability of FreeBSD, the usability and functionality of KDE and the simplicity of specially developed software to provide a system that’s easy to use and install.

m0n0wall is a project aimed at creating a complete, embedded firewall software package that, when used together with an embedded PC, provides all the important features of commercial firewall boxes (including ease of use) at a fraction of the price (free software). m0n0wall is based on a bare-bones version of FreeBSD, along with a web server, PHP and a few other utilities. The entire system configuration is stored in one single XML text file to keep things transparent. m0n0wall is probably the first UNIX system that has its boot-time configuration done with PHP, rather than the usual shell scripts, and that has the entire system configuration stored in XML format.

pfSense is an open source firewall derived from the m0n0wall operating system platform with radically different goals such as using OpenBSD’s ported Packet Filter, FreeBSD 6.1 ALTQ (HFSC) for excellent packet queueing and finally an integrated package management system for extending the environment with new features.

FreeNAS is a free NAS (Network-Attached Storage) server, supporting: CIFS (samba), FTP, NFS, RSYNC protocols, local user authentication, Software RAID (0,1,5) with a Full WEB configuration interface. FreeNAS takes less than 32MB once installed on Compact Flash, hard drive or USB key. The minimal FreeBSD distribution, Web interface, PHP scripts and documentation are based on M0n0wall.

Freesbie is a LiveCD based on the FreeBSD Operating system, or even easier, a FreeBSD-based operating system that works directly from a CD, without touching your hard drive.

RoFreeSBIE is a Live DVD/CD installable on hark disk. Its goal is to promote FreeBSD and make it an educational tool and a mobile desktop too.

Frenzy is a “portable system administrator toolkit,” LiveCD based on FreeBSD. It generally contains software for hardware tests, file system check, security check and network setup and analysis.

More and more up-to-date information can be found on the FreeBSD systems page.