With FreeBSD being an operating system directed mostly towards servers and more technical use cases, there are no fancy screenshots or wizz-bang announcements. What we have a is a clear list of improvements which regular FreeBSD users will certainly enjoy. Even if you're a new user, this release seems like as good a time as any to check FreeBSD out.
Some of the highlights from this release:
- A new virtualization container named “vimage” has been implemented. This is a jail with a virtualized instance of the FreeBSD network stack and can be created by using jail(8) command.
- The FreeBSD netisr framework has been reimplemented for parallel threading support. This is a kernel network dispatch interface which allows device drivers (and other packet sources) to direct packets to protocols for directly dispatched or deferred processing. The new implementation supports up to one netisr thread per CPU, and several benchmarks on SMP machines show substantial performance improvement over the old one.
- [amd64, i386] The FreeBSD Linux emulation layer has been updated to version 2.6.16 and the default Linux infrastructure port is now emulators/linux_base-f10 (Fedora 10).
- The FreeBSD USB subsystem has been reimplemented to support modern devices and better SMP scalability. The new implementation includes Giant-lock-free device drivers, Linux compatibility layer, usbconfig(8) utility, full support for split transaction and isochronous transaction, and so on.
- The ZFS file system has been updated to version 13. The changes include ZFS operations by a regular user, L2ARC, ZFS Intent Log on separated disks (slog), sparse volumes, and so on.
In more layman's terms, this means FreeBSD 8 has network stack virtualisation, binary compatibility with Fedora 10 Linux software, a new USB stack, and version 13 of the ZFS file system, which brings with it numerous improvements.
Other improvements include support for BSD MAC, as well as improved device mmap() extensions which pave the way for a 64bit version of the NVIDIA driver for the x86-64 platform. FreeBSD 8 supports GNOME 2.26.3 and KDE 4.3.1.