"The first of the test builds for the FreeBSD 8.1 release cycle is now available for amd64, i386, ia64, powerpc, pc98, and sparc64 architectures. Files suitable for creating installation media or doing FTP based installs through the network should be on most of the FreeBSD mirror sites by now."
Today Jeff Roberson committed his patches to FreeBSD 9 for adding journaling to UFS. No more background fsck after unclean shutdowns! This is a major landmark in the history of UFS, with 11000 new lines of code (and about 2000 removed). Much of the work was done in collaboration with Kirk McKusick, the original author of FFS and Softupdates, under sponsorship form Yahoo!, Juniper and iXsystems. Jeff's blog contains quite a lot of technical information of his work. There's also information on the FreeBSD mailing lists.
Roman Divacky on behalf of the ClangBSD team writes "ClangBSD is a branch of FreeBSD that aims at integrating clang into FreeBSD, replacing GCC as a system compiler. Recently, we've achieved the state when clang can compile all of FreeBSD world on i386/amd64 platforms (including all the C++ apps we have and itself) and a bootable kernel. Thus we feel that the time has come to ask the FreeBSD community for wider testing on i386/amd64 (you sure can help with other platforms too :))."
The FreeBSD team has released FreeBSD 7.3, the fourth release of the 7-STABLE branch. There will be one more release in this branch, but at this point, most developers are already working on the 8-STABLE branch. FreeBSD 7.3 focusses on bug fixes, but has a few new features as well.
Why was it not FreeBSD but Linux that became the most popular open source Unix-like operating system? Richard Hillesley traces the history of FreeBSD and examines how FreeBSD, and Linux, their different cultures and preferred licenses affected the open source world. "The BSD hackers have an aphorism that speaks some truths, which says: 'BSD is what you get when a bunch of Unix hackers sit down to try to port a Unix system to the PC. Linux is what you get when a bunch of PC hackers sit down and try to write a Unix system for the PC.' This aphorism speaks of a difference in the cultures that is greater than the words contained within it."
"A short time ago a 'local root' exploit was posted to the full-disclosure mailing list; as the name suggests, this allows a local user to execute arbitrary code as root. Normally it is the policy of the FreeBSD Security Team to not publicly discuss security issues until an advisory is ready, but in this case since exploit code is already widely available I want to make a patch available ASAP."
Astute readers probably already saw this one waiting in our backend, but since there was no official announcement yet, I decided to wait. Now that it's officially here, let's rejoice: the FreeBSD team has released version 8.0 of their operating system, packed with new features and improvements.
Not too long ago, Apple open sourced its Grand Central Dispatch library, which aids in developing multithreaded code. It was suggested that it could be ported to other platforms, and the FreeBSD team has done exactly that. They have also done a lot of work related to getting GCD to work in a POSIX environment.
"Though the open source FreeBSD operating system has changed in many aspects over the last 16 years of its life, one item that has remained relatively static is its underlying network routing architecture. No more: It's getting an overhaul with the upcoming FreeBSD 8.0 release. FreeBSD 8.0, due out next month, will include a new routing architecture that takes advantage of parallel processing capabilities. According to its developers, the update will provide FreeBSD 8.0 with a faster more advanced routing architecture than the legacy architecture."
The FreeBSD team has started the beta cycle for FreeBSD 8.0 by releasing this new version's first beta. It was intended as an evolutionary release with few groundbreaking features, but as time went by, more and more interesting features crept in. As always, the What's cooking for FreeBSD? page has a good overview.
The Bordeaux Technology Group released Bordeaux 1.8 for FreeBSD. "Bordeaux 1.8 has had many changes on the back end, our build process has been totally rewritten, packaging has been totally rewritten. This release adds Microsoft Office 97, Adobe Photoshop 6 & 7 and Image Ready 3.0 and 7.0 support. Our winetricks script has been synced to the latest official release, Steam should now install and run once again, There has also been many small bug fixes and tweaks. This complete rewrite gives Bordeaux a much more clean and portable codebase, making new improvements much easier to provide. We already have some exciting things in the works for the next release." Bordeaux 1.8 now runs on Linux, BSD, Solaris and Mac.
FreeBSD's jails technology received an interesting new feature. "Add hierarchical jails. A jail may further virtualize its environment by creating a child jail, which is visible to that jail and to any parent jails. Child jails may be restricted more than their parents, but never less. Jail names reflect this hierarchy, being MIB-style dot-separated strings."
For all of you using FreeBSD and ZFS, Kip Macy (kmacy) and Pawel Jakub Dawidek (pjd) merged ZFS Version 13 into FreeBSD 7-STABLE. Here is a breakdown of some of the new features: kmem now goes up to 512GB so arc is now limited by physmem, the arc now experiences backpressure from the vm (which can be too much - but this allows ZFS to work without any tunables on amd64), L2ARC Level 2 cache for ZFS which allows you to use additional disks for cache, and more.
After having released FreeBSD 7.2 just a few days ago, the FreeBSD project now sends out a new quarterly status report, with information about development projects in progress. This report contains news on Clang replacing GCC, VirtualBox improvements, upcoming support for an NVIDIA 64-bit driver, some DTrace news, and more.
Last week it was BSD week: OpenBSD 4.5, NetBSD 5.0, and DragonFlyBSD 2.2.1. FreeBSD 7.2 completes the picture, with every major BSD now having a new and fresh release waiting to be installed on your desktop, laptop, or server.
The second release candidate of FreeBSD 7.2 has been released. "The second of the two planed Release Candidates for the 7.2-RELEASE cycle is now available. We believe with the exception of the new bce(4) driver not working with lagg(4) all the major issues that have come up from the testing have been addressed. We will work with the vendor to get that issue addressed post-release."
KenSmith announced the immediate availability of FreeBSD 7.2-RC1 in the FreeBSD-stable mailing list. "The first of two planned Release Candidates for the FreeBSD 7.2-RELEASE cycle is now available. Testing of some of the recent work would be particularly appreciated." The release schedule states that the final release is to be expected early May, at which point we'll cover FreeBSD 7.2 in much more detail.
The FreeBSD team has pushed out the first test build of FreeBSD 7.2, a beta release. "The first of the test builds for the FreeBSD 7.2-RELEASE cycle is now available. Testing of two recent changes to the system would be particularly valuable. The bce(4) network driver was updated a few days ago. And some significant work was done on the threading libraries a short time ago that is known to fix several major issues but testing to see if it introduced any regressions would be appreciated."
If you wanted to try FreeBSD but didn't have the right hardware, or enough time to make it useful on the desktop, VirtualBSD might fit the bill: it's a VMware appliance based on FreeBSD 7.1-RELEASE and features the Xfce 4 Desktop Environment and a few of the most common applications to make it very functional right out of the box. If you're curious you can have a look at the screenshots, or proceed to the download page and grab the torrent file right away (note: VirtualBSD also works in VirtualBox 2.x as long as you create a new virtual machine and select the virtual disk from the archive instead of creating a new one).
The FreeBSD 7-STABLE branch saw its first point release today. Don't let the point release moniker fool you, though, as FreeBSD 7.1 comes packed with a number of pretty significant changes, such as support for OpenSolaris' DTrace, as well as a new, more efficient scheduler.