FreeBSD 7 – a taste of things to come

Kris Kennaway from the FreeBSD project has created an interesting 37-page PDF showing some of the good things to come with FreeBSD 7.0. (including some much promising graphs!). Especially the speed of MySQL on a FreeBSD server is impressive. It now even beats Linux!

This is the table of contents:

Introducing FreeBSD 7.0

Part I: The SMPng project: A 7 year journey

  • Multi processor support, old and new: FreeBSD 4.x
  • Multi processor support, old and new: The SMPng project
  • SMPng and the Universal Development Model
  • SMPng, step 1: First, make it work; FreeBSD5.x
  • SMPng, step 2: Then make it work well; FreeBSD 6.x
  • SMPng, step 3: Then make it fast; FreeBSD7.0
  • A case study: SQL database performance
  • FreeBSD PostgreSQL performance: 5.5, 6.2 and 7.0
  • Performance of PostgreSQL
  • FreeBSD7.0: Scaling with varying number of CPUs
  • FreeBSD MySQL performance: 5.5, 6.2 and 7.0
  • Understanding MySQL performance
  • FreeBSD vs other operating systems: PostgreSQL
  • FreeBSD vs other operating systems: MySQL
  • Comments onother operating systems

Part II: New features debuting in FreeBSD7.0

  • Filesystem and storage subsystem changes
  • Storage subsystem changesNetwork stack changes
  • Network drivers
  • Wireless (802.11) ; much improved in 7.0
  • New CPU architectures
  • Security subsystems
  • User-level changes
  • Growth of FreeBSD Ports Collection
  • Performance
  • Other kernel changes
  • Developer tools/internals

Part III: What the future holds for FreeBSD

FreeBSD 7.0 brings FreeBSD back to the forefront of OS performance on modern hardware (it’s good to be back).

These and some other features can also be found on the “What’s cooking for FreeBSD 7 page

FreeBSD 7.0-BETA1 Available

FreeBSD Logo (big)Now that FreeBSD 7.0-beta1 has been released, the final stage of the FreeBSD-7.0 Release cycle has begun. The FreeBSD 7.0-BETA1 ISO images for Tier-1 architectures are now available for download on most of the FreeBSD mirror sites. The more people that test and report bugs, the better FreeBSD 7.0-RELEASE will be. For more information about the FreeBSD 7.0 release process, please check the official schedule and the todo list.

Those of you that are confident enough to try beta versions, please test this beta version and report any problems to the developers. The following is the official announcement to the FreeBSD Current mailinglist:

“We have entered the final phases of the FreeBSD-7.0 Release cycle which also means the beginning of the FreeBSD-6.3 Release cycle. Because the people who support the ports for FreeBSD also need to go through a freeze cycle as part of releases we had decided to combine the two releases to try and minimize the impact on the ports maintainers.

The current plan is to interleave the BETAs/RCs of the 7.0 and 6.3 releases, trying to follow this for the dates when the builds will get started (with them becoming available on the FTP mirrors a day or two after the builds start):

Version – 7.0 – 6.3
BETA1 – 10/17 – 10/24
BETA2 – 10/31 – 11/7
RC1 – 11/14 – 11/21
RC2 – 11/28 – 12/5
REL – 12/12 – 12/19

Tomorrow (10/23) the RELENG_6 branch will be marked “6.3-PRERELEASE” to note that we have entered the 6.3 release cycle.

The schedule dates are, as usual, tentative. At this point RELENG_6 is pretty mature so that schedule should be fairly accurate. Being a new branch it is at least somewhat likely the dates for 7.0 will wind up slipping.

The 7.0-BETA1 builds have completed and are on many of the FreeBSD mirror sites. If you want to update an existing machine using cvsup use RELENG_7 as the branch tag. Instructions on using FreeBSD Update to perform a binary upgrade from FreeBSD 6.x to 7.0-BETA1 will be provided via the freebsd-stable list when available.

BSDConTR – Turkey BSD conference

The BSD Conference in Turkey is over now. Diomidis Spinellis, a FreeBSD committer since 2003, wrote about the conference on his blog

This has been a wonderful experience. The conference’s location, the Rectorate of the Marmara University, (SultanAhmet, Istanbul), was impressive, and near many even more remarkable sights, the guesthouse of the University were extremely convenient, and the conference’s program was had many interesting talks. The translators did a superb job translating from and to Turkish. Our hosts organized our day to the last detail, taming successfully the difficulties we encountered from the city’s sometimes chaotic traffic and the daunting (to us) public transport.

Although I’ve been a (fairly undistinguished) FreeBSD committer since May 2003, at the conference I met for the first time face to face other fellow members of the FreeBSD project: Pawel Dawidek, the person behind the port of the ZFS file system to FreeBSD, and Kris Kennaway, who presented the impressive progress that the release of FreeBSD 7.0 represents.

Read the whole post here: International BSD Conference in Turkey

DesktopBSD weekly snapshots (dev)

The release cycle of DesktopBSD is rather slow, since the developers spend a lot of time making sure the release is almost bug-free. For those who are always excited about trying the latest and greatest features, DBSD provides now weekly snapshot ISOs. They are built every Saturday from the latest DesktopBSD Tools, the most recent FreeBSD 6-STABLE sources and an up-to-date ports collection. The ISO contains a live system that can be booted without installing first, an installer that copies the operating system to your hard disk and a large selection of packages for most of your every-day needs.

For now, the snapshots are only available for the AMD64 architecture, but i386 snapshots will soon folow. You can download the ISO files here.


Low-Cost Storage Tools

The Processor website has published (19/10/2007) an article “Low-Cost Storage Tools – Open-Source Projects Provide Increasing Choices” that gives a short description of the following open source storage tools:

Demands for storage continue to increase, even as the technological complexities of running a data center multiply, leaving IT departments and data center managers in businesses of all sizes looking for assistance in improving efficiencies and reducing management headaches. A growing number of mostly open-source-based storage tools are available for free or for a minimal subscription fee that can help bridge that gap and provide businesses with storage alternatives.


Designed around a FreeBSD base and backed by an active community, FreeNAS ( is a mature open-source network-attached storage server. It includes a wide range of protocol support, including CIFS (Samba), FTP (File Transfer Protocol), NFS (Network File System), AFP (Apple Filing Protocol), S.M.A.R.T. (Self-Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology), local user authentication, and software RAID.

FreeNAS takes less than 32MB to install on CompactFlash, a hard drive, or a USB flash drive. Users can also run FreeNAS from a Live CD, which is an OS distribution executed upon boot without installation on a hard drive. A VMware disk image is also available. It has a full Web configuration interface, and users can download the software at

Whole article here

Building bootable FreeBSD/i386 images

From time to time I hear people complain at how hard it is to build an image from the FreeBSD sources. This week, I’ll explain how I built a bootable i386 image on a USB flash device and also make some observations about the results.

Recently, I needed to create a bootable i386 image. The easiest way was to build one on my amd64. Here’s what I did. I setup my environment for the build (steps 1-3), built FreeBSD/i386 userland and kernel (steps 4 and 5), prepared the flash (steps 6-11), installed userland and the kernel (steps 12 and 13), added the extra files needed for boot (steps 14-18).

The detailed commands are here

Managing Multiple FreeBSD Systems

It is quite simple to manage multiple FreeBSD systems on your network, and to keep them maintained to the same revision level. The buildworld process can be quite long, but luckily, you only need to do it once, no matter how many FreeBSD machines you operate. In this document, I will describe how to keep multiple machines updated from only one copy of the ports tree, and one copy of the system sources.

Step-by-step instructions here

FreeBSD 6.2 EoL =~ s/January/May/

In light of the longer-than-expected window between 6.2-RELEASE and 6.2-RELEASE, the End-of-Life date for FreeBSD 6.2 has been adjusted from January 31st, 2008 to May 31st, 2008.  As a result, FreeBSD 5.5, FreeBSD 6.1, and FreeBSD 6.2 will all cease to be supported at the end of May 2008.

FreeBSD users should plan on upgrading to either FreeBSD 6.3 or FreeBSD 7.0 once those have been released (hopefully by the end of December). FreeBSD 6.3 will be supported until the end of 2009, while FreeBSD 7.0 will be supported until the end of 2008.


Google Docs updates

Google has made two interesting updates to the Docs Suite.

  • Google Docs is now available on mobile phones
  • Google Spreadsheets supports now conditional formatting

I’ve been missing this last feature and it’s an important one to make Spreadsheets even more accepted in businesses. However, a lot still needs to be done to make it a power app. I’m waiting for pivot tables to be introduced… ;-)

Google Docs is continually evolving and improving, but it’s still catching up with companies like Zoho and ThinkFree. Is either of the two one of Google’s next acquisitions? What do you think?