John Baldwin: Support for WPA security for 802.11. The tty subsystem has been reworked in preparation for adding fine-graind locking in the future. FreeBSD/i386 and FreeBSD/amd64 now use the timer in the local APIC to drive the various kernel clocks. Support for several different CPU frequency drivers such as SpeedStep and PowerNow. Support for hardware performance monitoring counters on i386, amd64 and ia64. The if_bridge(4) driver from NetBSD has been merged in as well. There are lots of other things that I'm sure I'm missing, but more details can be found at http://www.freebsd.org/relnotes.html in the release notes documents for FreeBSD-Current.
Robert N M Watson: You'll also find features like read-only support for reiserfs, and substantial performance optimization and SMP cleanup from our first design for fine-grained SMP in 5.x, compiler suite upgrades, significant upgrades to our 802.11 code to support features like WPA and authentication/crypto plug-in frameworks, and complete integration of IPv6 into the ipfw2 firewall (previously IPv6 was supported separately). There's also a substantial re-write of the libthr threading library by David Xu, which offers significant performance enhancements for 1:1 threading users.
Scott Long: The APIC change for i386 and amd64 that John mentioned is actualy a very important feature. Many motherboards, especially newer Athlon64 desktop boards, cannot even boot FreeBSD 4.x or 5.x, but work very well under 6.0 with these changes.
PowerPC support is something that I consider FreeBSD 6.0's best kept secret. Installing FreeBSD/ppc on a Mac is a little cumbersome (though not much different from NetBSD or Linux), but once installed it works very well and runs X Windows and most apps. I run it on my MacMini, and there is effort underway to provideWe are looking at possible providing install ISOs for it for 6.0.
We are also looking at integrating DomU support for Xen. Xen is a very exciting piece of technology for both developers and for large datacenters, so supporting it is a high priority. We are actively looking for help with porting full Dom0 support so that FreeBSD can be fully self-hosted in the Xen environment.
5. Are there plans to move FreeBSD's public version control system to another system, away from CVS?
John Baldwin: Probably not anytime soon. The current CVS + CVSup infrastructure that the FreeBSD Project has is a great benefit and would require a large deal of work to replace.
Robert N M Watson: Revision control is always topic of active discussion in any open source project, and especially projects in which revision control is so essential to its operation as in the FreeBSD Project. FreeBSD has some pretty intensive requirements for revision control -- with several hundred active developers working throughout our CVS tree, not to mention all the external contributors, the FreeBSD CVS repository sees over 50,000 comits a year. We have our eyes on where to go in the future, but whatever we select when the time comes, it will have to support today's workload, and tomorrow's as it continues to grow.
As John alludes to, one of the ways we make CVS go as far as it does is through the use of extension tools for replicating our CVS repository to thousands of end-systems, avoiding read-only operations having to go into a single central repository. In this manner, FreeBSD developers can avoid hitting the central repository with anything other than commit operations.
Many sub-projects within FreeBSD use other revision control systems to augment CVS, tracking the central repository, and then merging changes back to CVS at mature snapshot points for the sub-project. For example, developers frequently make use of CVS, Subversion, and Perforce -- for TrustedBSD, we use Perforce with cvsup export of our repository, for example.
6. We hear that some cool bits from Darwin will be backported to FreeBSD (and the other way around). Please tell us more about these... bits and what they do. ;-)
John Baldwin: I personally do not have any plans of porting anything from one OS to the other. It might be interesting to port launchd from OS X Tiger to FreeBSD as a replacement for init and inetd though.
Robert N M Watson: The TrustedBSD Audit support originated in large part from Mac OS X, and we really appreciate Apple's work with us to develop audit support, and their support in getting it out into open source. One of the outcomes of this will be our (TrustedBSD's) continuing maintainership of OpenBSM, a bundling of the libraries, documentation, and command line tools, which will be portable across a host of operating systems including FreeBSD, Darwin, and Linux. This sort of arrangement can be a strong motivator for companies like Apple to release software under open source -- we're already preparing bundles of documentation and feature enhancements that we hope they will be able to adopt back into Mac OS X.
7. Apple announced recently that they are swiching to x86. What does this mean for FreeBSD and other open source OSes?
John Baldwin: I do not currently foresee it causing any changes in the free software world.
Robert N M Watson: Apple's work on Mac OS X is very impressive -- they've successfully drawn from both their extensive experience in UI and application design, and a host of open source origins, including Mach, BSD, FreeBSD, KDE, FSF's tool chain, and Python, not to mention their closed source components, such as windowing system and application suites. others to create a convincing and powerful desktop product. Part of the root of their success is in interacting with and building on open source products -- be it FreeBSD network stack code, or the KDE web browser components. I don't see this going away with the move to i386, and hopefully we'll see even more contributions back to the open source community.