ACM Queue Interviews Robert Watson on Open Source Hardware and Research

ACM Queue interviewed Cambridge researcher (and FreeBSD developer) Robert Watson on why processor designs need to change in order to better support security features like Capsicum — and how they change all the time (RISC, GPUs, etc). He also talks about the challenge of building a research team at Cambridge that could actually work with all levels of the stack: CPU design, operating systems, compilers, applications, and formal methods. The DARPA-sponsored SRI and Cambridge CTSRD project is building a new open source processor that can support orders of magnitude greater sandboxing than current designs.

Watch the interview here.

FreeBSD 9.1-RC2 available (and PC-BSD 9.1-RC2)

The second RC build for the FreeBSD-9.1 release cycle was released last week (due to a busy break abroad I’m posting this only now). ISO images for the amd64, i386, ia64, powerpc, and powerpc64 architectures are available.

Remember, this is not the final release version, so only use for testing purposes.

The FreeBSD 9.1 Release Schedule may be of interest, though the release is slightly delayed, as well as the FreeBSD 9.1 ToDo Wiki.

Following this FreeBSD release, the PC-BSD Project has announced PC-BSD 9.1-RC2.

FreeBSD News Leftovers (Nvidia, Gerrit, ARM, Tricks, ELF, EC2)

Today’s left-overs:

  • Nvidia GeForce Graphics Driver 304.51 for FreeBSD 64-bit / 32-bit [Nvidia]

Puppet lets you perform normal administrative tasks (such as adding users, installing packages, and updating server configurations) on any number of systems, even if those systems are running completely different operating systems. Through the use of providers, Puppet takes a generic instruction from you (such as ensuring MySQL is installed) and performs the task the “right way” for each system. (about Puppet)

Gerrit is a web based code review system, facilitating online code reviews for projects using the Git version control system. Gerrit makes reviews easier by showing changes in a side-by-side display, and allowing inline comments to be added by any reviewer. Gerrit simplifies Git based project maintainership by permitting any authorized user to submit changes to the master Git repository, rather than requiring all approved changes to be merged in by hand by the project maintainer. This functionality enables a more centralized usage of Git.”

FreeBSD Email Server howto’s

Over the last week or so I have come across two posts showing how to set up a FreeBSD based email server. If this is something you have been wanting to do, have a look at the following two links.

1. FreeBSD 9 Mail server setup: Postfix, Dovecot 2, Virtual Users, MySQL, SASL, Postfixadmin and others (ghid-it)

For long time I used FreeBSD to serve email to corporate customers or other tasks. Now I will show how I did package installation and configuration for an email server with virtual email users, using the following components

Link to howto.

2. Installing Qmail on FreeBSD 9.x

Bill from freebsdrocks.net has 21 howtos for setting up QMail on FreeBSD, with anti-spam support, virus checking etc.

Installing Qmail on FreeBSD 9.x

FreeBSD Events and Conferences material (videos, pdf, guides etc)

Since not not everybody is able to attend (all) FreeBSD related conferences, it’s good that these presentations are uploaded so everybody can watch them later, and the rest of the online community can familiarise themselves with FreeBSD and related operating systems.

Recently the FreeBSD Multimedia page has had an update and Dru Lavigne has added much useful material and links to bsdevents.org.

If you want to catch up on some recent conferences this weekend, have a look at the two links above.

 

FreeBSD SMP scalable PF coming to FreeBSD HEAD

Gleb Smirnoff writes on the FreeBSD PF Mailing List about a some improvements he has made to make Packet Filter (PF) SMP-scalable and faster:

“As you already may now, last half a year I’ve been working on making pf SMP-scalable and faster in general. More info can be found here:

Since that announce in June, I’ve been running experimental code for more than 2 months in production on several routers. Also, some brave people volunteered to be beta-testers and also run the experimental branch in last couple of months. Code proved to be stable enough.

The new code performs better in production: less CPU load, less jitter, more responsive system under high load. It performs better under synthetic benchmarks like random generated UDP flood. It performs much better when DoS comes in.”

Clang’ed FreeBSD: Builds quicker, uses way less RAM

Dimitry Andric, a FreeBSD developer, has carried out some performance tests to explore the impact that LLVM/Clang as the default FreeBSD compiler has on FreeBSD 10, compared to GCC 4.2.1 and GCC 4.7.1. He concludes that  to build FreeBSD with Clang less RAM is used and the compilation finishes quicker. Clang comes out in the benchmarks mostly ahead of GCC on FreeBSD.

I recently performed a series of compiler performance tests on FreeBSD 10.0-CURRENT, particularly comparing gcc 4.2.1 and gcc 4.7.1 against clang 3.1 and clang 3.2.

The attached text file[1] contains more information about the tests,
some semi-cooked performance data, and my conclusions. Any errors and omissions are also my fault, so if you notice them, please let me know.

The executive summary: clang compiles mostly faster than gcc sometimes much faster), and uses significantly less memory.

Finally, please note these tests were purely about compilation speed,
not about the performance of the resulting executables. This still
needs to be tested.

You can check the benchmarks here: Clang/llvm performance tests on FreeBSD 10.0-CURRENT

 

Announcing the end of port CVS

The development of FreeBSD ports is done in Subversion nowadays. Fy February 28th 2013 the FreeBSD ports tree will no longer be exported to CVS. Therefore ports tree updates via CVS or CVSup will no longer available after that date. All users who use CVS or CVSup to update the ports tree are encouraged to switch to portsnap(8) or for users which need more control over their ports collection checkout use Subversion directly.

Read the full announcement.