Embedded FreeBSD systems

FreeBSD was developed with server use in mind. It’s rock solid and ultra stable, and therefore perfectly suited to be used where reliability is required. Since FreeBSD is a flexible operating system, it can be easily adapted for other uses as well; one of which is the use on embedded systems or systems requiring a stable but small-footprint OS.

There are three such small bare-bones versions of FreeBSD (as far as i’m aware): TinyBSD, NanoBSD and miniBSD.

is a set of tools and shell scripts, part of the FreeBSD base system (/usr/src/tools/tools), designed to make the development of embedded systems based on FreeBSD as easy as possible. The TinyBSD script can be used on FreeBSD 5.x, 6.x and 7.x and 8-CURRENT to created a mini FreeBSD version.

The installed FreeBSD generates an embedded system image which is about 20MB in size and is a very generic approach. It comes with support for a number of wired NIC support and also the most popular wireless support, divert, bridge, dummynet, firewall, etc; and CPU_ELAN (for soekris devices). If the “generic” system gets tightened up the final result can be as low as an 8MB embedded system.

The process (though not graphical) can in a way be compared to nLite, a freeware application that lets users customise and remove components from their Windows installation CD and create a new customised, slimmed down ISO.

NanoBSD is a tool that creates a fully working FreeBSD system image for embedded applications, suitable for use on a Compact Flash card (or other mass storage media). The objective is to get a FreeBSD-like environment running on a CF-card with no extras by stripping down and customising FreeBSD.

NanoBSD is created by compiling it from the FreeBSD source tree (/usr/src/tools/tools/nanobsd)  and it works with FreeBSD 6.x, 7.x and 8.0-CURRENT releases.

NanoBSD can be used to build specialised install images, designed for easy installation and maintenance of systems commonly called “computer appliances”. Computer appliances, e.g. routers and firewalls, have their hardware and software bundled in the product, which means all applications are pre-installed. The appliance is plugged into an existing network and can begin working (almost) immediately.

One of the advantages of NanoBSD is that it’s part of the FreeBSD base system and it is easy to create, customise and use.

The features of NanoBSD include:

  • Ports and packages work as in FreeBSD. Every single application can be installed and used in a NanoBSD image, the same way as in FreeBSD.
  • No missing functionality. If it is possible to do something with FreeBSD, it is possible to do the same thing with NanoBSD, unless the specific feature or features were explicitly removed from the NanoBSD image when it was created.
  • Everything is read-only at run-time
  • Easy to build and customise. Making use of just one shell script and one configuration file it is possible to build reduced and customized images satisfying any arbitrary set of requirements.

miniBSD is a project developping a set of scripts that shrinks a running FreeBSD system to a small sized distribution suited for mass storage media, such as USB memory sticks and CF cards.

The size of the distribution is generally about 12-15Mb and contains everything one needs to run a FreeBSD system comfortably.

The scripts collect the necessary binaries, libraries, configuration files on a running FreeBSD system (4.x, 5.x and 6.x) and creates a disk image that can be saved on a CF card or USB memory stick.

The project started with the goal to create a FreeBSD system that could be fitted on a small compact flash without loosing too much of a full FreeBSD system. miniBSD is in a way half way between TinyBSD and NanoBSD.

Being small and fully featured makes miniBSD an optimal choice to develop routers, bridges, firewalls and vpn gateways.

Core Team: Gianmarco Giovannelli, Paolo Pisati, Davide D’Amico, Riccardo Torrini
Website: http://www.minibsd.org or https://neon1.net/misc/minibsd.html


  1. nanoBSD has replaced picoBSD, which is out of date and hasn’t been updated for a long time.
  2. A new embedded version of FreeBSD is being worked on: ShinyBSD. This project is still in an early stage of development.

FreeBSD – A better chioce for the Open Desktop?

Thoughts about FreeBSD

Since Linsux.org is now a *BSD supporter, it only makes sense that we’d write a few Pro-BSD articles, right? Good.

Today, we’re going to talk about why FreeBSD is a better choice for the “Open Desktop”.

Linux is the current leading Open Source Operating System (LOL?). But, then again, Linux isn’t really an Operating System. Yeah, yeah; we’ve all heard that before. But, what should it be called then, you might ask. Well, the most common answer is “Linux is a kernel, which is then packaged into a something called a distribution with other software, thus making it an Operating System”. Those are the really nice terms, though, I would describe it like the following “Linux is a cluster **** of a kernel packaged into about 10 billion different distributions that are almost identical, yet cannot agree on a decent set of standards, so every software and hardware company cringes at the thought of having to support a super-dooper cluster **** like that is Linux.”

FreeBSD, on the other hand is a complete Operating System, with standards, a well organized development team, and all that jazz nobody gives a **** about.

Here’s a few basic comparisons: etc

  • Licenses
  • Main Development Team
  • Documentation
  • Advantages for the Power Users

There’s some strong language in this post (hence the **** above). A new version is in the make.

Thanks Justin for submitting this.

FreeBSD Clusters (video)

Matt Olander and Brooks Davis, two well known FreeBSD advocates, on FreeBSD clusters. This video was taken a few years back, but it’s still relevant explaining how cluster computing works on FreeBSD.

BSD and Linux are vastly superior to Windows

Linux and BSD are vastly superior to Windows in every way. Don’t believe me? Read on, my friend. Read on and realize the folly of your MS ways.

The top ten list:

#10 – Total cost of ownership ranges very low to nothing for Linux.
#9 – Linux and BSD distributions give you more complete, usable operating environments out of the box.
#8 – Viruses and Spyware are basically nonexistant for Linux and BSD.
#7 – Linux and BSD systems are more stable than Windows.
#6 – Linux and BSD supports more hardware out-of-the-box.
#5 – It’s easy and fun to develop high-quality software for Linux and BSD.
#4 – Linux and BSD distributions are more configurable and modular.
#3 – Linux and BSD perform better on any given platform.
#2 – Linux and BSD don’t limit your platform choices.
#1 – Linux and BSD give you complete freedom to do what you want with your system.

Read the whole post for the reasoning behind these statements

BSD Administrators and Jobs

Dru Lavigne posted an interesting post about oDesk, a company that provides a platform for business and qualified technology contractors to connect.

oDesk is a global staffing marketplace enabling businesses to Hire, Manage, and Pay remote contractors as if they were in the local office. Our proprietary tools and guaranteed payment policies enable a secure and trusted marketplace for both buyers and providers. We’ve mined through mountains of data about BSD (including FreeBSD, OpenBSD, NetBSD, and DragonFlyBSD) jobs, providers, certifications tests and more in order to bring you this single resource page containing statistics, information, maps, resources, links, and rankings. All information about programming and development work is based on the oDesk network that has providers from United States, Russia, India, Ukraine, China, and 100 other countries.

FreeBSD jobs trend page

meetBSD California – FreeBSD 15 year anniversary

It was 15 years ago that Internet history was forever changed when FreeBSD 1.0 was released. iXsystemswill be hosting the 15 Year Anniversary Party at the meetBSD California conference in Mountain View, California.

meetBSD California, based on the popular meetBSD conference in Poland, is a 2 day event on Saturday and Sunday, November 15th and 16th, 2008 [check the calendar for other events].

Besides the intimate BSD conference with notable BSD speakers and great FreeBSD Anniversary/meetBSD schwag, we’ll be having the private FreeBSD Anniversary party at Buddha Lounge in Mountain View on
Saturday night. Anybody attending the FreeBSD 10 Year Anniversary Party can attest to the fact that this is not to be missed!

Of course, there will be a commemorative anniversary t-shirt for attendees as well as other exciting prize.

Source: FreeBSD Announce Mailinglist

Archive: Ten Years of FreeBSD: Anniversary Party a Success