FreeBSD and the GPL

Every so many months the never ending discussion about the BSD vs GPL license heats up. Supporters for either license have their thoughts and opinions to why one license is better than the other. Some say that these discussions are a waste of time. Whichever license you defend/promote, if you’re interested in reading (and joining in) the discussions, have a look at these two sites:

1 FreeBSD and the GPL (IT Pro –

Linus Torvalds has said Linux wouldn’t have happened if 386BSD had been around when he started up. We trace the history of FreeBSD and how it’s affected the open source world.

The first free Unix-like operating systemavailable on the IBM PC was 386BSD, of which Linus Torvalds said in 1993: “If 386BSD had been available when I started on Linux, Linux would probably never have happened.”

386BSD was a direct descendant of Bill Joy’s Berkeley Software Distribution, which was the core of SunOS and other proprietary Unix distributions. 386BSD and the patchkit for the port to the Intel chip formed the basis for FreeBSD, NetBSD and OpenBSD, which have carried the torch for BSD and open source Unix to this day.

Read the whole article (BSD history and BSD/GPL license)

2 dissussion

Read the discussion

FreeBSD HAST project completed

Pawel Jakub Dawidek was awarded a grant by the FreeBSD Foundation last year to implement storage replication software that will enable users to use the FreeBSD operating system for highly available configurations where data has to be shared across the cluster nodes.

The HAST (High Availability Storage Project) is now completed. Pawel reports:

I’m very happy to report to FreeBSD users that the HAST project I was working on for the last three months is ready for testing and already committed to the HEAD branch.

I’ll describe what HAST does in few words. HAST allows for synchronous block-level replication of any storage media (called GEOM providers, using FreeBSD nomenclature) over a TCP/IP network for fast failure recovery. HAST provides storage using the GEOM infrastructure, meaning it is file system and application independent and can be combined with any existing GEOM class. In case of a primary node failure, the cluster will automatically switch to the secondary node, check and mount the UFS file system or import the ZFS pool, and continue to work without missing a single bit of data.

I must admit the project was quite challenging, not only from the technical point of view, but also because it was sponsored by the FreeBSD Foundation. The FreeBSD Foundation has a great reputation and is known to select the projects it funds very carefully. I felt strong pressure that should I fail, the FreeBSD Foundation’s reputation might be hurt. Of course, not a single dollar would be spent on a failed project, but the FreeBSD community’s expectations were very high and I really wanted to do a good job.

During the work a number of people contacted me privately offering help, explaining how important HAST is for FreeBSD and giving me the motivation to soldier on.

I hope that HAST will meet the community’s expectations and I myself am looking forward to using it

The final commit notice from Pawe? Jakub Dawidek briefly describes the project. A detailed discussion of the project is available form the FreeBSD Wiki.

This is a good example of how the wider FreeBSD community can financially support further development of FreeBSD, and it also shows the value that the FreeBSD Foundation brings to the community. To see more of these sort of projects started, funded and completed, why not support and donate to the Foundation so they can continue sponsoring more projects. (disclaimer: I am not affiliated with the FreeBSD Foundation)

FreeBSD 8.0 installation walk-through

Vincent Danen who works on the Red Hat Security Response Team has written a quick walk-through of the FreeBSD 8.0 installation procedure:

FreeBSD, and the other BSDs, are exceptionally stable and powerful operating systems, but they can be quite different from Linux. Although they share common principles and ideals, and a huge amount of software, when it comes down to it, FreeBSD and Linux are two different beasts. This doesn’t make FreeBSD better or worse, but it is something to be aware of. Perhaps the most challenging thing about FreeBSD is the initial installation. While PC-BSD, another BSD variant, has made a lot of headway in making BSD easy to use, FreeBSD is still king as far as the BSD’s go.

With the recent 8.0 release, it may be time to give FreeBSD a look. FreeBSD is favoured by many for service management and hosting, running Web servers and mail servers, etc. But it works as a fully functional desktop as well. This tip will take a quick walk through the installation. Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on whether or not you are familiar with installing FreeBSD, the installer has not changed significantly over the years. Yes, it is still text-based.”

… continues

FreeBSD 8.0 installation walk-through (techrepublic)

Health Check: FreeBSD – “The unknown giant”

A piece of FreeBSD history advocacy on H-Online:

“FreeBSD is the most accessible and popular of the BSDs, has code at the heart of Darwin and Apple’s OS X, and has powered some of the more successful sites on the Web, including Hotmail, Netcraft and Yahoo!, which before the rise of Google was the busiest site on the internet.

FreeBSD rose from the ashes of 386BSD, the original effort to port BSD to the Intel chip, and claims a code lineage that reaches back to Bill Joy’s Berkeley Software Distribution of the late seventies. The 386BSD port was begun in 1989 by Bill and Lynne Jolitz, and was destined to be the original free Unix-like operating system for the IBM PC. The first public release of 386BSD (Version 0.0) was on St. Patrick’s Day, 1991, accompanied by a series of articles in Dr Dobbs journal, which documented the process.

The first functional release of 386BSD was Version 0.1, which was released on Bastille Day, 1992.

FreeBSD emerged in 1993, after the self-imposed task of supporting 386BSD on their own had proved too much for Bill and Lynne Jolitz. The patchkit which had been the underpinning for the BSD port to the 386 was revived and became the basis for the first FreeBSD release.”

More on h-online: Health Check: FreeBSD – “The unknown giant”

Benchmarking Debian’s GNU/kFreeBSD

There has been an effort underway within the Debian development community to pull the FreeBSD kernel within this distribution to provide an alternative to using the Linux kernel. In essence with this Debian GNU/kFreeBSD project you have the standard Debian package set providing a GNU user-land with a GNU C library, but the FreeBSD kernel is running underneath. The Debian project has also been working on Debian GNU/Hurd to effectively do the same thing but with the GNU Mach microkernel. But unlike Debian GNU/Hurd, with the release of Debian 6.0 “Squeeze”, Debian GNU/kFreeBSD will reach a release status. With the Debian Squeeze release being just two months away we have decided to provide the first public set of benchmarks that compare the Debian GNU/kFreeBSD performance to that of Debian GNU/Linux. We have tested both the 32-bit and 64-bit builds of Debian with the Linux

More on Phoronix

Sponsoring FreeBSD

iX Systems has created a simple web based application for posting bounties, getting developers and sponsors on board, posting the committed code in a browser viewable format, and then handle final payout upon completion.


I don’t know current the sponsorbsd website is, since the test projects are quite dated. Maybe Matt from iXsystems can leave a comment here when he reads this and give us an update on how current the website is.

It’s definitely a good idea, I think.