Interestingly enough, these results are an improvement over FreeBSD 5.1. Before I started these evaluations, I had installed FreeBSD 5.1 a few months ago when 5.1 was the most recent release.
I did a quick write test using dd, and wrote out a 100 MB file. For FreeBSD 5.2.1, the results were pretty much the same with the same test done in Solaris at roughly 10 MB/s.
104857600 bytes transferred in 10.957025 secs (9569897 bytes/sec)In FreeBSD 5.1, the results were much worse, at 2 MB/s.
104857600 bytes transferred in 50.845939 secs (2062261 bytes/sec)
FreeBSD 5.1 versus 5.2.1
FreeBSD 5.1 versus 5.2.1, cont
I did see a note about major ata work in the release notes for 5.2 and 5.2.1, but I'm not sure what the exact issue was for 5.1, or what the current issue is for 5.2.1. So while there is still an issue with 5.2.1, it looks like they've worked out something even worse in 5.1.
The default system comes with a wide variety of binaries pre-installed including Perl and tcsh, and anything not installed can easily added via the ports system. There wasn't an app that I came up against that I didn't compile and install cleanly, including apache, htdig, and OpenSSL.
I was very pleasantly surprised by FreeBSD on SPARC, and I'm surprised more people don't use it on their UltraSPARC systems. When people think non-Solaris SPARC operating systems, many tend to think of Linux, but as long as you're not using it for a desktop (and your system is an UltraSPARC), FreeBSD 5.2.1 makes a very complete, useful, and flexible server.
Given my experience with the last 64-bit-only operating system NetBSD, the 64-bit only nature of FreeBSD gave me pause. However, it wasn't an issue for any of the software I tried. A combination of good application configure support, good ports maintenance, plentiful pre-compiled binaries, and GCC 3.3.3 contribued to this. FreeBSD didn't exhibit any of the problems
My only reservation was the extraordinarily long result for MySQL's insert, which even with MySQL.com's binary suffered from performance degradation compared to other operating systems on the same hardware. Still, if you're just using it as a development system, or non-disk intensive system, then that may not be a major factor to you.
It is FreeBSD, and it is true to it's Tier 1 claim, in that it works and feels talmost the same on SPARC as it does on x86 (with the exception of the performance problem). If you're looking for an alternative operating system to run on an Ultra 5, then FreeBSD is definitely worth a look, especially if you're comfortable and familiar with FreeBSD.
Copyright (c) 1992-2004 The FreeBSD Project.
Copyright (c) 1979, 1980, 1983, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994
The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.
FreeBSD 5.2.1-RELEASE #0: Tue Feb 24 07:47:33 GMT 2004
Preloaded elf kernel "/boot/kernel/kernel" at 0xc0452000.
Timecounter "tick" frequency 333000000 Hz quality 0
real memory = 268435456 (256 MB)
avail memory = 245907456 (234 MB)
cpu0: Sun Microsystems UltraSparc-IIi Processor (333.00 MHz CPU)
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