Linked by Eugenia Loli on Mon 28th Apr 2003 15:48 UTC
Original OSNews Interviews Today we feature an in-depth interview with three members of FreeBSD's Core (Wes Peters, Greg Lehey and M. Warner Losh) and also a major FreeBSD developer (Scott Long). It is a long read, but we touch a number of hot issues, from the Java port to corporate backing, the Linux competition, the 5.x branch and how it stacks up against the other Unices, UFS2, the possible XFree86 fork, SCO and its Unix IP situation, even re-unification of the BSDs. If you are into (any) Unix, this interview is a must read.
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I like it a lot, too ;^)
by Wes Peters on Mon 28th Apr 2003 20:57 UTC

Thanks for your positive comments. I'd like to help out in a few areas if I can.

As you note, the FreeBSD Handbook is a great resource. The Handbook chapter on compiling a new kernel might be of help to you as well. It will certainly point out that the place to learn what various kernel modules do is in the man pages for that kernel module. There are a few missing but generally they are an excellent resource. FreeBSD users, unlike Linux users, expect the manpages to be complete and accurate. ;^)

You may also want to take a look at The Complete FreeBSD coming soon from O'Reilly. Written by Greg Lehey, one of our core team members who also participated in this interview, it is a valuable resource. It is much more tutorial than the Handbook, and quite a professional publication. Greg has authored other books published by O'Reilly and previous editions of TCFBSD were published by Walnut Creek CD-ROM, so it's OK to keep your expectations high.

For beginners, you may want to check out FreeBSD: An Open-Source OS for your PC by Annelise Anderson, Absolute BSD my Michael W. Lucas (who is also the FreeBSD Donations Liaison Officer), or FreeBSD Unleashed by Brian Tiemann and Michael Urban.

The 'menu system' or GUI for editing a FreeBSD kernel config exists, in fact you can choose from several. My favorite is 'emacs', others prefer 'vi' or 'vim'. We place a strong emphasis on storing configurations in human readable form rather than placing a layer of GUI between the user and the real configuration. The config file 'LINT' on 4.x or 'NOTES' on 5.x will show you what all the options are, and are heavily commented around the more esoteric functions.

The booting sequence that seems to puzzle you is new to FreeBSD as well. It is a port of the NetBSD boot system, designed by Luke Mewburn. It is known as 'rcNG' in FreeBSD, and has quite a few desirable features. The main attribute of interest is that it allows subsystem or application designers to drop in a startup script that will be automatically sequenced with the rest of the system boot. Say, for instance, you've written an application that relies on both PostgreSQL and Apache to be started before your application can be started. In the Linux SysV-type startup, the system administrator would have to look through the startup scripts and give the application startup a sequence number that occurs lexically after both the Apache and PostgreSQL startups. With rcNG, the script itself reports that it depends on Apache and PostgreSQL, and the system starts and stops it in the correct order. The rcNG project is also a great example of code sharing between these two development teams, who have goals that in some ways differ greatly.