New Year’s message from PC-BSD

PC-BSD’s New Year’s message offers a few peeks into what is planned for 2008:

  • PC-BSD 1.5 based on FreeBSD 6.3 and KDE 3.5.8
  • 64-bit native version planned
  • Update to the PBI Creator and PBIdir.com
  • PBI Auto-Building system up-and-running

On behalf of the PC-BSD Core Team, Kris Moore writes:

I wanted to post a brief message to our users and developers, thanking them for their support over the last year, and offering a few peeks into what we are planning for ’08.

First of all we are eagerly awaiting the release of KDE 4 and FreeBSD 7, and will start on a new version of PC-BSD based on these sometime in the months after their release. Also, we plan on a 1.5 release based on FreeBSD 6.3 and KDE 3.5.8, which will be the last release in the 1.x series. We also plan on releasing a 64 bit native version of PC-BSD starting with version 1.5. This version will also have its own set of 64 bit PBIs to ensure that users can run their applications natively, as they should be.

Also in the next few weeks an update to the PBI creator will be released, which will offer a few new features, such as being able to choose a different install location for their applications. We are also busy working on an update to PBIDir, which will make it easier to monitor and install the latest PBIs. This along with our new PBI Auto-Building system will help ensure that PBIs are up to date, and often available in 24-48 hours after the related port has been updated in the ports tree.

We are looking forward to another year of leaps forward in PC-BSD usability and power, and hope everybody enjoys the improvements!

FreeNAS Tutorials

Rob Lagesse has created two easy FreeNAS tutorials. These howto’s are aimed at Windows users wanting to set up a NAS server but having no or little experience with alternative operating systems. All step-by-step with many screenshots.

If you’re an advanced FreeNAS/FreeBSD user you may find these two post interesting: FreeNAS & online snapshot backups, with a script how to backup your data to an online hoster, e.g. Bluehost, or this post: Diy NAS + Xbox 360 = R0X.

Where is pfSense 1.2?

The release of pfSense 1.2 has been delayed which has been caused by a number of minor issues. The developers want 1.2 to be the beste release ever, hence their concentrating on (potential) bugs.

1.2-RC4 can be expected some time in the next couple of weeks and then final tests for a week or so, followed with the final release. So if all goes well, 1.2 should be released around the 3rd week of January.

Source: pfSense blog (29/12/2007)

Interested in a pfSense training course?

Chris and Scott, 2 pfSense developers, are considering putting together a 4 hour training course on pfSense, starting from an introduction and installation, and covering as much material as possibly can be done in 4 hours (4 hours is the max duration of a training slot at BSDCan 2008). The tutorial cost in previous years was something like $50. If the proposal is accepted, the course will take place in May 2008 in Ottawa, Canada.If you’re interesed in this course, just drop Chris an email.

DS BSD, The pocket sized BSD

headerimage.jpgOn the first of December 2007 a very tiny FreeBSD-based flavour was launched: D*mn Small BSD (DSBSD). It’s weighing in only under 50mb and comes with a Fluxbox desktop.

There are many Linux distros like this, the most popular distro being D*mn Small Linux (DSL Linux). This must have been the inspiration for Damn Small BSD

Damn Small BSD is a small (50mb or less) FreeBSD live-CD desktop environment geared toward developers and system administrators, but we also include applications that the average user may find handy.

DSBSD comes with everything you need in a basic desktop environment. We include the fluxbox window manager, firefox, xmms, and many other applications. We also include tools to help you get work done, such as an ssh server, a mini httpd, xvncviewer, and more.

The goal of the DSBSD project is to provide a FreeBSD based disto that is able to run on both older hardware with little memory, as well as modern machines, while providing a responsive desktop. SMP and uniprocessor machines are supported and support for more architectures may be provided in the future.

Development is still in a very early initial stage, so there’s no official release yet.

UPDATE:
First pilot, 0.1P1, has been released. This is merely a test of concepts, rather than a real ‘preview’ of what D*mnSmall BSD is. This version doesn’t include any X system yet or any of the goals listed on the website.

FreeNAS 0.686 (stable) released

FreeNASAfter more than 1 year FreeNAS 0.686 (a FreeBSD-based operating system which provides free Network-Attached Storage (NAS) services) has been released. A lot of hard work has been put into it, bugs have been fixed and new features have been implemented.

Volker, the project leader wants to thank those who have helped out on the forums, the translators, the webmaster and those who have contributed code to improve FreeNAS.

For the future multiple branches have to be mananged, a 0.686x to fix bugs in stable (no new features) and a 0.7 to upgrade FreeBSD to 7.0 + new features.

Majors changes:

  • Refactor port makefiles.
  • Upgrade netbsd-iscsi (iscsi-target) to 20071221, fusefs-ntfs to 1.1120.

Minors changes:

  • Disable firmware upgrade via WebGUI for ‘full’ installations. Use the ‘full’ upgrade mode from LiveCD instead.
  • Changed boot splashscreen and WebGUI logo images.
  • Try to fix AFP Time Machine problem.

Bug fixs:

  • Fix bug in ‘full’ upgrade/install routine (LiveCD).
  • Do not delete log files during boot process on ‘full’ installations.

Permanent restrictions:

  • It is not possible to format a SoftRAID disk with MSDOS FAT16/32.
  • It is not possible to encrypt a disk partition, only complete disks are supported.

Download here & or read the announcement.

M0n0wall 1.3 BETA6 released

The M0n0wall project has released BETA6 (22/12/2007). This release adds support for IPsec filtering and tunnels with (dynamic) remote host names. It also allows up to 256 concurrent PPTP VPN clients (instead of only 16) and contains fixes for the filtering bridge and the captive portal. An ipfilter update also corrects the lockup issues experienced by some users with 1.3b5.

Full list of changes:

  • added support for IPsec tunnels with (possibly dynamic) remote host names (instead of fixed IP addresses); the host name is polled at regular intervals (default 60 seconds), and if the IP address that it maps to changes, IPsec is reconfigured. Note that this will also cause other (non-dynamic) tunnels to be briefly interrupted.
  • added firewall support for decapsulated IPsec packets (new pseudo-interface “IPsec” in firewall rule editor); this is on by default, but the default configuration contains a “pass all” rule on the new IPsec pseudo- interface (and this is also added automatically for existing configurations), which can then be deleted to actually filter IPsec VPN traffic
  • enabled larger client subnet sizes (= more concurrent connections) for PPTP VPN server (up to 256); change subnet size on PPTP VPN setup page if desired
  • fixed filtering bridge when used in conjunction with traffic shaper
  • captive portal reliability fixes
  • updated timezone data
  • stop discriminating against nge(4) (National Semiconductor PCI Gigabit Ethernet) adapters
  • fix DHCP release button on interface status page
  • updated FreeBSD to 6.2-RELEASE-p9
  • updated ipfilter to 4.1.28 (fixes lockup issues from 1.3b5)

DesktopBSD – day 30 – the verdict

Jan Stedehouder has finished his series on “Desktop BSD – 30 days”. Read the verdict here.

On November 1st I started with this series about DesktopBSD and we are now six weeks later. Six weeks in which I played, wrestled and worked with DesktopBSD almost every day. If there was only one conclusion I was allowed to draw it would be this: after a while I kind of forgot I was working with a FreeBSD-based operating system. Yes, there have been quirks. Yes, there were problems with my hardware but I seem to be one of the few to have those problems, which indicates it can’t be blamed on DesktopBSD. Yes, it took some more time to install new software. But the overall conclusion has to be that I could do everything I needed to do on a day to day basis.

Conclusions

This series was started with defining the key requirements for any open source desktop that wants to be a serious contender on the market for end-users, both at home and in organizations. I will repeat them here:

1. the open source desktop needs to a recognizable and easily understandable graphical work environment;
2. the open source desktop should have a complete set of graphical tools for systems- and software management that can be used intuitively;
3. the open source desktop should support multimedia activities and peripheral devices without too much hassle, even if this can only be achieved by a pragmatic approach towards non-free software components;
4. the users of the open source desktop should have access to business-grade professional support if that is desired;
5. maintaining and developing the open source desktop should not be dependent on a single person or a relatively small group of developers and maintainers;
6. migration to the open source desktop will require re-training of end users and some level of real time support during the process. This means that good and accessible documentation should be at hand as well as easy access to end user support;
7. the open source desktop should have a solid track record for quality, stability and solid progress over the last few years.

DesktopBSD easily meets requirements 1, 2, 3 and 7. I know that work has commenced on providing a DesktopBSD handbook that no doubt complements the excellent FreeBSD handbook. When looking at the feedback provided on-screen, the team is really making an effort to provide the user with the information he/she needs at the time of actually using a specific function.

Both the team and the community are quite small. Support for novice users leans heavily on a small group of very active people. At this stage this isn’t such a bad thing, but it will get complicated if and when a new group of novice users without prior experience in BSD starts to use DesktopBSD.

Though -at the time of writing- DesktopBSD is still working towards it’s final version of 1.6, I can only conclude that this is a stable and mature operating system that really lowers the threshold to get started with FreeBSD on the desktop. I am still in doubt whether DesktopBSD has progressed far enough to be accessible for end-users with Windows-only experience right now. Linux users should have little or no problems getting off with DesktopBSD and do whatever they used to do with their Linux desktop. I can only encourage them to do so, as it would expand the user base of DesktopBSD and provide the team with more feedback and assistance to make the final leap. The strong focus on stability for the operating system, the development and maturity of the current set of DesktopBSD tools and the clear and concise on-screen information are solid building blocks for a future DesktopBSD release that will be easy to use for people with Windows-only experience.

The post can be read in its entirity here.