FreeBSD Foundation February 2015 Update

freebsdfoundationThe FreeBSD Foundation’s February update consists of information on PCI Express Hot­Plug Project, FreeBSD on POWER8, FOSDEM ’15, an #InstallFreeBSD event, as well as fundraising updates.

As February comes to a close, I’m excited, not only because spring is
near, but because the Foundation has so many great things in the works
right now. From excellent progress on projects we’re supporting to
promoting FreeBSD at conferences, we’re working at full speed towards
meeting our 2015 goals. Be sure to check out the next installment of our
“From the Trenches” series and take time to find out how to get involved
in the upcoming #installFreeBSD fests. Each month, the support and
ideas that come from you, the FreeBSD community, remind me why we
work so hard to support such a vibrant and thriving community. Thank
you for all you do, and enjoy our latest update!


View the PDF here:

FreeBSD on the POWER8: it’s alive!

Adrian Chadd posts about Nathan Whitehorn’s findings on FreeBSD on POWER8.

A post to freebsd-ppc from a couple of vmonths ago asked if we had support for POWER8 and offered to provide remote access to anyone interested in working on it. I was sufficiently intrigued that I approached the FreeBSD powerpc hackers to ask about it, and was informed that it’d be nice, but we didn’t have hardware.

After a bit of wrangling of hardware logistics and with the FreeBSD Foundation purchasing a box, a Tyan POWER8 evaluation server appeared. Nathan Whitehorn started poking at it and managed to get a basic “hello world” going, but stalled on issues with the Linux KVM virtualisation environment.

Fast forward a few weeks – he’s figured out the KVM issues, their lack of support for some mandated hypervisor APIs and other bugs – FreeBSD now boots inside of the hypervisor environment and seems stable enough to do development on.

He then found the existing powerpc pmap (physical memory management) code wasn’t very SMP friendly – it works fine on one and two CPU powerpc machines, but this POWER8 evaluation board is a 4-core, 32-thread CPU. So a few days of development went by and he rewrote most of the pmap code to be much more fine grained locked and scale much, much better than the existing code. (He also found the PS3 hypervisor layer isn’t thread-safe.)

What’s been done thus far?
[Read more…]

10 Steps to Installing FreeBSD on Rackspace servers using nginx

FreeBSD user Kiki Schirr shows us how to set up FreeBSD on your Rackspace server uising nginx.

A gif-recipe for the easiest way I can imagine to host your own site


  • Rackspace hosting (I’m using Cloud)
  • A domain (I’m using

Step One: Create the Server

Click “Create server” and type in your domain ( Don’t forget the top-level domain (the .com)! If you do, your website will be slower.

[Read more…]

SCALE 13x Trip Report: Michael Dexter

The Foundation recently sponsored Michael Dexter to attend SCALE 13x. Michael provides the following trip report:

SCALE 13x was the 13th Southern California Linux Expo and took place February 19th through 20th in Los Angeles, California. Despite its name, this year’s event demonstrated sincere outreach to the BSD community as demonstrated by two booths and several BSD-related talks. The first booth featured FreeBSD, the FreeBSD Foundation, FreeNAS, PC-BSD and pfSense while the second featured OpenBSD and NetBSD. Both booths were filled with familiar faces including Dru Lavigne, Denise Ebery, Matt Olander, James Nixon, David Maxwell, Brooke and Seth and two toddlers!

The variety of booth visitors were very familiar for SCALE: a mix of students, consultants, open source developers and military/aerospace contractors. I heard lots of “I got started on FreeBSD” and “I use FreeNAS” plus the occasional “When can we have a military-certified BSD so we can stop using Linux?” The last one is something I have heard at every SCALE I have attended and is representative of the region. Hats off to the SCALE organizers for also attracting such a diverse

Read Michael Dexter’s full report here:

FreeBSD From the Trenches: ZFS, and How to Make a Foot Cannon

The FreeBSD Foundation rounded up a story from Glen Barber, discussing the ZFS filesystem.

This month’s story comes to us from Glen Barber, UNIX Systems Administrator.

The ZFS filesystem is regarded for its robustness and extensive feature set.

Its robustness can be haunting, however, if a mistake is made.  I learned this the hard way through a seemingly innocent typo, a mistake I certainly will not soon repeat.

We use ZFS almost exclusively in the FreeBSD cluster.  I say “almost” because there is one remaining machine that does not use ZFS, because the machine is too underpowered to handle it.

All machines are installed in a netboot environment while logged in at the serial console, providing the utilities necessary for extremely customizable installations.  Most of the installations I have performed on machines in the cluster have been pseudo-scripted, with subtle differences depending on the machine, such as if the disks are da(4) or ada(4), the number of disks, how much space to allocate for swap, the number of ZFS pools, and so on.

Read Glen Barber’s full story:

Donate to the FreeBSD Foundation

The folks at pfSense, an open-source firewall distribution, have requested that users donate directly to the FreeBSD Foundation. Donations to the foundation will directly benefit pfSense, as pfSense is built on FreeBSD itself.

The FreeBSD FoupfSensendation has recently asked me to write an endorsement for FreeBSD.  I’ve done so (as Netgate, but prominently mentioning the pfSense project) and it will probably appear soon, but part of that endorsement had to do with donations.

It’s likely obvious by now that we’ve donated to the FreeBSD Foundation again this year.  We get a lot from FreeBSD, and we feel the need to give back to the FreeBSD project in many ways.  It should also be obvious that, while the pfSense project used to take donations, we no longer do.   Indeed, while similar projects ask for donations, we instead ask that, if you are inclined to donate to pfSense, that you instead donate to the FreeBSD Foundation.  For 14 years, the FreeBSD Foundation has been providing funding and support for the FreeBSD Project and community worldwide. They are fully funded by donations from people like you as well as organizations such as: VMware, NetApp, Tarsnap, Cavium, Xinuos, Netgate and others.

The reasons for this decision are too long to list here, but the most prominent reason is that we believe that your donation is better  directed at FreeBSD.  Your support of the FreeBSD Foundation advances FreeBSD so that it is a perfect research and development platform, and pfSense benefits directly from these advances.  By donating to the foundation, you are helping fund and manage projects, sponsor FreeBSD events, and provide travel grants to FreeBSD developers. You are also helping the FreeBSD Foundation represent the Project in executing contracts, license agreements, copyrights, trademarks, and other legal arrangements that require a recognized legal entity.  I know that we have leveraged the Foundation in several matters that fall under this last bit.

Of additional benefit, if you are in the US, the FreeBSD Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.   US-based donations should be fully tax-deductible on your federal return.

Thank you for your support.

Original post:

A Prediction: 2020 the year of PC-BSD on the desktop

kde_logo_3d_by_ilnannyLuke Wolf, a developer of KDE, foreshadows the future of PC-BSD as being a dominant open-source platform within 5 years. He mentions its offerings as a desktop system, compared with the Linux desktop share.

I am going to make a prediction right now that FreeBSD is going to take off in a big way on or before 2020, perhaps even to the point where it threatens Linux Desktop share.
This is of course a bold claim, however before you automatically dismiss me, consider this: where was LLVM/CLang 5 years ago? Now today it’s almost a foregone conclusion that it’s the future, to the point where RMS thinks there’s a conspiracy against GNU by the LLVM folks.

Alright so change happens and those we might consider untouchable can in fact be dethroned. Hasn’t FreeBSD had more than enough chance that it’s unlikely for the status quo to be disrupted though? I would agree, but for two things: PC-BSD, and the KMS linux-shim.

First off what is this KMS shim? It’s an adapter between a BSD kernel and the linux Kernel Mode Setting drivers, this is important because instead of having to port the Intel and AMD drivers over to how a BSD thinks they should be written, they will be able to just take the drivers as they are, thus reducing maintenance burden and allowing BSDs to have up to date graphics drivers (as opposed to the current state of being at ~ Linux 3.8 equivalence). As someone who uses all-AMD hardware this is kind of important, but this will more or less permanently solve the graphics hardware compatibility issue.

Now with the hardware compatibility issues out of the way, what is so special about PC-BSD?

The answer is that unlike Linux distributions, it’s not stagnant, and it’s truly focused on being a desktop offering. Consider this: In the past 10 years has the distribution you run changed significantly in what it offers over other distributions? I think you’ll find the answer is largely no. I do have to give a shout out to openSUSE for the OBS, but otherwise I’ve used my desktop in the same exact way that I have always used it within the continuity of distribution X,Y, or Z since I started using them. Distributions simply aren’t focused on desktop features, they’re leaving it up to the DEs to do so.

PC-BSD on the other hand in fitting with the BSD mindset of holistic solutions is focused on developing desktop features and is moving rapidly to implement them. Check out for a feel of their direction.

Already PC-BSD sets itself apart with power-user features like being able to easily install a package with it’s dependencies into a jail, integration with FreeNAS using ZFS as a backup solution, and 100% OS encryption, as well as niceties such as utilizing a Solaris idea called Bootable Environments where updates don’t touch the running system instead it creates a new snapshot and installs the updates there, and you boot into this new snapshot the next time you reboot, with capability to go back to an older snapshot in case an update borked your system but also preventing say KDE Applications from stopping running after you ran an update that touched the KDE version number (In theory openSUSE should be able to modify Snapper to do something similar as an option). Quite frankly, to me this is a breath of fresh air.

PC-BSD’s offering is only going to become stronger as time goes on, while I fear Linux desktop distros in 5 years will be much the same as they are now. The development of Really Neat Features ™ on top of the advantages that FreeBSD itself provides (better documentation, source and binaries as first class citizens, etc…) has convinced me that I should switch to it when my hardware is finally adequately supported (FreeBSD 11?), but what about other people? The FreeBSD and PC-BSD crowds are actually working on that problem, raising awareness at conventions and on the internet, thus doing the much needed footwork to effect a change.

With a large enough desktop feature gap, and appropriate marketing I have a strong feeling that PC-BSD will pose a serious threat to Linux desktop distributions within the next 5 years, what happens then? Who knows?

if you want to try out PC-BSD it’s available here In my opinion they’re still in a relatively rough state right now, and here there be dragons and all that, but with enough polish it’s going to become a real gem.

Original post: