FreeBSD Archive

iXsystems: focusing on Linux makes more sense than FreeBSD

A few weeks ago we talked about how iXsystems, the company behind TrueNAS CORE and SCALE, has all but confirmed that its FreeBSD-based CORE product will be put in maintenance mode, while the Linux-based SCALE product will get all the attention and focus from here on out. In an interview with Blocks & Files, the company gave more insight into this choice. “We had a huge chunk of our engineering staff spending time improving FreeBSD as opposed to working on features and functionalities. What’s happened now with the transition to having a Debian basis, the people I used to have 90 percent of their time working on FreeBSD, they’re working on ZFS features now … That’s what I want to see; value add for everybody versus sitting around, implementing something Linux had a years ago. And trying to maintain or backport, or just deal with something that you just didn’t get out of box on FreeBSD.” “It’s not knocking against FreeBSD. We love it. That’s our heritage. That’s our roots, I was on the CORE team elected twice. So believe me, if I felt like I could have stayed on FreeBSD for the next 20 years, I would have absolutely preferred to do that … But at some point, you gotta read the writing on the wall and say, well, all the the vendor supported-innovations are happening on the Linux side these days.” BSD aficionados don’t like this change. Moore said: “Talk is cheap and complaints are free. You know, everyone loves to complain about it. But … if people wanted to push FreeBSD forward for the last 15 years, they would have.” ↫ Chris Mellor at Blocks & Files Above all else, my personal north star is choice, especially in technology, and as such, I want iXsystems to keep focusing on FreeBSD so that not everyone is using Linux for server- and server-like workloads. The fact that TrueNAS was a FreeBSD-based product for this long was amazing, and I would definitely have preferred if it stayed that way for many, many more years to come. However, I don’t think the people of TrueNAS are saying anything wrong or outrageous here. They’ve got employees to feed, and the money is in Linux, not FreeBSD. If they spend more money, time, and resources on getting FreeBSD on par with features Linux has had for ages than on actually developing their own product – TrueNAS – then they’re fighting a losing battle. Honestly, I’m surprised it’s taken them this long to take this controversial step. All we can hope for is that the things they work on, the features they develop, will make it to FreeBSD regardless.

TrueNAS CORE 13 is the end of the FreeBSD version

Bad news from BSD land – the oldest vendor of BSD systems is changing direction away from FreeBSD and toward Linux. NAS vendor iXsystems has been busy this year, but apart from some statements in online user communities, it hasn’t been talking about the big news. Back in 2022, we covered TrueNAS CORE 13, the new release of its FreeBSD-based turnkey OS for NAS servers, and in that article we mentioned its new product, the Debian-based TrueNAS SCALE, aimed at providing storage for Kubernetes users. Now it seems the company is betting its future on that Linux-based product, meaning the end is in sight for the FreeBSD offering. ↫ Liam Proven at The Register Very sad to read, as more monoculture is not exactly great, but at the same time, from a corporate perspective, it’s also not entirely unexpected to focus on the server operating system with by far the widest industry support. I hope the fork mentioned in the article gains some steam, because having competition in this space is crucially important.

FreeBSD 13.3 released

FreeBSD 13.3 has been released, and as this is a point release of the stable branch, it’s not a major shake-up or overhaul of the platform. We’ve got the usual updated versions of LLVM, clang, OpenSSH, and so on, and there’s a number of stability fixes to native and LinuxKPI-based WiFi drivers. Of course, there’s much more, so head on over to the release notes for the full details.

GhostBSD 24.01.1 released

This new release is based on FreeBSD 14.0-STABLE. Update Station got a significant change to upgrade to a major FreeBSD version, allowing upgrading GhostBSD from 13.2-STABLE to 14.0-STABLE. Also, a major change to the installer is the user created is an admin, and the root user gets the same password as the admin. If the admin password is changed after the installation, the root password will not change. ↫ GhostBSD’s website GhostBSD is a user-friendly, desktop-first ‘distribution’ of FreeBSD – a project which, in my humble view, should be part of the FreeBSD project-proper. With some old-time Linux feeling a sense of disenfranchisement towards Linux due to things like Wayland and systemd, FreeBSD could serve as an excellent alternative, and an official desktop-first ISO could play a role in that. Of course, that’s not exactly core to FreeBSD’s mission, and they really shouldn’t be listening to idiots like me, but I think it’s an idea worth pondering.

FreeBSD 15, 16 to end support for 32 bit platforms

FreeBSD is deprecating 32-bit platforms over the next couple of major releases. We anticipate FreeBSD 15.0 will not include the armv6, i386, and powerpc platforms, and FreeBSD 16.0 will not include armv7. Support for executing 32-bit binaries on 64-bit kernels will be retained through at least the lifetime of the stable/16 branch if not longer. (There is currently no plan to remove support for 32-bit binaries on 64-bit kernels.) ↫ John Baldwin on freebsd-announce I don’t think this is too egregious of a timeline, but there’s always someone with some weird edge case that gets bit hard by deprecations like these.

The case for Rust (in the FreeBSD base system)

FreeBSD is discussing adding Rust to the FreeBSD base system. In a recent thread on src-committers, we discussed the costs and benefits of including Rust code in the FreeBSD base system. To summarize, the cost is that it would double our build times. imp suggested adding an additional step after buildworld for stuff that requires an external toolchain. That would ease the build time pain. The benefit is that some tools would become easier to write, or even become possible. ↫ Warner Losh on the freebsd-hackers mailing list From everything I’ve read and what you, the readers, have told me, someone who isn’t a programmer, languages like Rust really are a big improvement over older languages, and it’s probably not a good idea for a major, important project like FreeBSD to isolate its base system from such progress. Now, I’m not at all qualified to say whether Rust, specifically, is the right choice, but a language like Rust should probably be part of the base system. A big issue is FreeBSD’s architecture support. Rust is not well-supported or even supported at all on all the various platforms FreeBSD supports, which might prove to be a road block for now. That being said, letting barely used ISAs hamper your progress too much might not be a good idea either. Rust has already become a supported language for the development of the Linux kernel.

Installing FreeBSD 14.0 on a USB drive

Having re-discovered my love for FreeBSD on the desktop for the past month or so, I embarked in yet another adventure with it: creating a portable installation of it a USB drive so I could carry it with me on the go. This would be a great addition to my everyday carry, and would also again put the OS in test against many situations I have not had faced yet with it. ↫ Klaus Zimmermann Always a useful tool to have.

Personal FreeBSD PKGBASE update server

FreeBSD UNIX system can be updated in many ways. You can use freebsd-update(8) command to fetch and install the official binary patches. You can download the FreeBSD sources and compile your new version. You can download and install base.txz and kernel.txz sets in a new ZFS Boot Environment along with copying over your config files there – Other FreeBSD Version in ZFS Boot Environment – as documented here. While for most users these three options will be more then enough – there is a small group or people that need something else. Companies. People that like to use custom FreeBSD version or enterprise corporate world that needs to fulfill many compliance regulations. For their multiple reasons – including but not limited to – security – they want to have their own trusted FreeBSD update infra under their control. ↫ vermaden It’s from vermaden, so if you’re a FreeBSD user, you know you’re getting good information. Their website is a treasure trove of incredibly detailed information about pretty much everything related to installing, running, and living with FreeBSD.

Migrating from VM to Hierarchical Jails in FreeBSD

FreeBSD has supported nesting of jails natively since version 8.0, which dates back to 2009. Looking at the jail(8) man page, there is an entire paragraph named Hierarchical Jails that explains the concept of jail hierarchy well. It’s one of the many gems of FreeBSD that, although not widely known or used, is, in my opinion, extremely useful. BastilleBSD plays a central role in this article, and that’s a project I’ve been hearing a lot about recently. I feel like the various BSDs are currently hitting a stride, and there seems to be a lot of movement from Linux to BSD at the moment.

FreeBSD 14.0 released

After a few minor delays, FreeBSD 14.0 has officially been released. The highlights according to the FreeBSD team itself: For more details, you can dive into the release notes, and if you’re already using FreeBSD you know exactly how to upgrade.

FreeBSD on Firecracker

In June 2022, I started work on porting FreeBSD to run on Firecracker. My interest was driven by a few factors. First, I had been doing a lot of work on speeding up the FreeBSD boot process and wanted to know the limits that could be reached with a minimal hypervisor. Second, porting FreeBSD to new platforms always helps to reveal bugs — both in FreeBSD and on those platforms. Third, AWS Lambda only supports Linux at present; I’m always eager to make FreeBSD more available in AWS (although adoption in Lambda is out of my control, Firecracker support would be a necessary precondition). The largest reason, however, was simply because it’s there. Firecracker is an interesting platform, and I wanted to see if I could make it work. Firecracker is Amazon’s virtual machine monitor. This article goes in great detail about the process of porting FreeBSD to run on Firecracker.

FreeBSD experimenting with a port of NVIDIA’s Linux open DRM kernel Driver

FreeBSD developers are looking at using the open-source NVIDIA kernel driver being developed by NVIDIA as an open-source Direct Rendering Manager driver that is out-of-tree, but not to be confused with Nouveau. With that kernel driver they are able to provide this nvidia-drm-kmod driver on their own and within the ports collection for better integration with the kernel and those wanting one less kernel binary blob. Excellent news for FreeBSD users with NVIDIA cards.

3 advantages to running FreeBSD as your server operating system

FreeBSD is a compelling and cutting-edge operating system that provides a wealth of features and advantages. FreeBSD’s deep OpenZFS integration, completely customizable packaging, and the ability to manage a huge fleet with a small team make it a clear contender for consideration in your next infrastructure build. This one’s written by a company that, among other things, sells FreeBSD and OpenZFS support, so take that into account when reading the article.

Updating FreeBSD on armv6 board (RPI-B)

One of my old home automation boards running ebusd is still using Raspberry PI 2 B SoC. FreeBSD is still perfectly supporting this hardware, however, due to being a Tier-2 platform, binary updates freebsd-update are not supported. Of course, one can download the new image, but this will mean re-installing and reconfiguring all the software, which is time-consuming and painful. Also, the traditional “build from source” way will probably take forever on this tiny board and also could potentially destroy the SD card. So the obvious alternative was cross-compilation. If you’re in this very specific niche – you’re very happy this guide exists.

FreeBSD at 30 years: its secrets to success

FreeBSD is still going strong. Its strength comes from having built a strong base in its code, documentation, and culture. It has managed to evolve with the times, continuing to bring in new committers, and smoothly transition through several leadership groups. It continues to fill an important area of support that is an alternative to Linux. Specifically, companies needing redundancy require more than one operating system, since any single operating system may fall victim to a failure that could take out the entire company’s infrastructure. For all these reasons, FreeBSD has a bright future. In short, FreeBSD is awesome! Having finally delved a bit deeper into FreeBSD this past year, I have to say it’s an incredibly nice operating system to use and maintain. In the end, it’s the lack of polish as a desktop and laptop user that prevents me from using it full-time, but the built-in tools are incredibly nice to use, software installation and updates are a breeze, and the documentation is great. It really makes me wish the desktop and laptop was more of a focus for the developers, but I understand why it isn’t.

FreeBSD 13.2 released

The FreeBSD team has released the latest point release for FreeBSD 13.x, version 13.2. It comes with updated versions of OpenSSH and OpenSSL, improvements to bhyve to allow more than 16 virtual processors, an updated version of OpenZFS, the inclusion of the WireGuard kernel driver, and much more.

FreeBSD on the Framework laptop

It’s been a long journey these past few months trying to find a modern, compatible, FreeBSD laptop, and getting it to work well enough for daily use (everything except for gaming). For the past few months, I’ve been documenting my journey using this laptop, then I left the framework laptop and switched to a Thinkpad X260, and then a Thinkpad X1C7. This gave me perspective on what is considered “FreeBSD compatible”.. After experiencing what that “compatibility” meant, and the work needed to get those machines up and running, I decided to come back to the framework laptop with that perspective, and try to get FreeBSD running on it again in a smoother capacity. I’ve finally succeeded! Everything isn’t perfect, but it’s pretty good, and will hold you until even better support comes to the machine. I can now pretty much say that you can use this laptop in a production capacity for your every day stuff. Getting FreeBSD to fully support a modern laptop for desktop use seems like what it was like to get desktop Linux up and running smoothly on a desktop about twenty years ago. I love the idea of desktop FreeBSD, but I feel like there’s a long way to go, and I wonder if the people actually developing and contributing to FreeBSD are really focused on it (which is, of course, their prerogative).

FreeBSD 13.1 released

FreeBSD 13.1 has been released, and as the version number signifies, this is not a major release, so don’t expect any massive changes. Lots of various core packages of the operating system have been updated to their most recent versions, like OpenSSH, OpenSLL, and ZFS, there’s the usual driver updates, and a whole slew of fixes.