FreeBSD developments, events and releases in 2014

Well, we’ve come to the end of 2014, and FreeBSD survived 2014! Another year of survival, but… will it finally die in 2015?
Remember Jason Dixon’s “BSD is Dying”?

Now we’re moving from 2014 to 2015, it’s a good moment taking stock of what FreeBSD developers, the FreeBSD community, the FreeBSD Core Team and the FreeBSD Foundation have achieved, and looking forward to what we can expect in the new year.

As the case in previous years, FreeBSD is still evolving and becoming better with each release. Some features made it into FreeBSD 10 or 10.1, others have to wait for a future version.

Software development and especially open source software development never stands still. It’s always moving, improving and changing.

The below will serve as a quick overview and summary of FreeBSD related events and conferences, and the releases of FreeBSD and FreeBSD-based “distributions”.

FreeBSD Releases

Two notable events that were remembered this year. First, the first official production-ready release, of FreeBSD 1.0 was announced 21 years ago on 2 November 1993, and, secondly, on 21 August 1994 Jordan Hubbard started the FreeBSD Ports Tree. iXsystems has created a video to celebrate yearly growth of the ports tree.

FreeBSD 9 Releases

In 2014 there were a number of FreeBSD 9 BETAs and RCs:

  • FreeBSD 9.3-BETA1 – 1 June
  • FreeBSD 9.3-BETA2  – 7 June
  • FreeBSD 9.3-BETA3 – 14 June
  • FreeBSD 9.3-RC1 – 21 June
  • FreeBSD 9.3-RC2 – 28 June
  • FreeBSD 9.3-RC3 – 6 July

FreeBSD 10 Releases

FreeBSD 11

Michael Lucas has put together an informal list of changes and 11.0 feature goals, and a list of a FreeBSD dev summit notes on ports & packages. The FreeBSD wiki has an overview of what’s been implemented so far for FreeBSD 11.

Coding and development

The FreeBSD announced in March that it once again had been selected to participate in the Google Summer of Code 2014 program. This year was FreeBSD’s tenth year in the program, which gives university students the opportunity to earn a $5,500 USD stipend in exchange for working on Open Source software over their Summer break. Students have around 12 weeks to work on their project, whilst being mentored by existing FreeBSD committers.

FreeBSD’s organisation page can be found here and a list of possible project ideas for 2015 projectcs can be viewed here. However, if one wants to work on a project, idea or problem, they do not have to come from the ideas list, and indeed students are encouraged to produce their own project ideas. More details about FreeBSD’s participation in Google Summer of Code including contact details can be found on the FreeBSD GSoC page and the FreeBSD Wiki.

FreeBSD Status Reports

As has been the tradition, the Project released 4 quarterly reports to update the (non-coding) community on what’s been worked on by the different sub-teams and developers. The reports are broken down by the following categories: Projects, Kernel, Architectures, Userland Programs, Ports, Documentation and Miscellaneous.

Governance and developers

The FreeBSD Project announced in July the completion of the 2014 Core Team election. This Core Team acts as the project’s “board of directors” and is responsible for approving new source committers, resolving disputes between developers, appointing sub-committees for specific purposes (security officer, release engineering, port managers, webmaster, etc …), and making any other administrative or policy decisions as needed. The Core Team has been elected by FreeBSD developers every two years since 2000. The following members were (re)elected: Gavin Atkinson, David Chisnall, Baptiste Daroussin, Ed Maste, George Neville-Neil, Hiroki Sato, Gleb Smirnoff, Peter Wemm and Robert Watson. Matthew Seaman took up the role of the Core Team Secretary.

FreeBSD Foundation

The FreeBSD Foundation announced the availability of the FreeBSD Journal in February. The Journal is guided by an editorial board made up of people from across the FreeBSD community, including, John Baldwin, Daichi Goto, Joseph Kong, Dru Lavigne, Michael Lucas, Marshall Kirk McKusick, George Neville-Neil, Hiroki Sato, and Robert Watson.This electronic, FreeBSD focused, magazine is published six times a year and can be obtained from the Amazon AppStore, Google Play and Apple iTunes.

The Foundation continued supporting new projects that help FreeBSD stay relevant and improve where needed. The following projects were announced:

The FreeBSD Foundation releases an update report to the community twice a year. In these it gives an account on how the donations are being spent, how Foundation-funded projects are progressing and at which conferences they’ve been representing the FreeBSD project

Read about funded development projects to improve FreeBSD, sponsored conferences, developer and vendor summits to create face-to-face opportunities, research, how we are doing on our fundraising efforts, and so much more!

FreeBSD Foundation 2014 semi annual updates

Conferences

The usual and annual BSD conferences came and went. Financial contributions from The Foundation and companies like Google, Semihalf, Tarsnap e.a. have made these events possible and affordable. These events are a great opportunity to find out where the project is heading, meet new people and put faces to names. Apart from these, FreeBSD has also been represented at a number of open source conferences.

There were also a number of invitation-only FreeBSD Developer summits that took place, four of which preceded a major conference

Though there were many good presentations, I’d like to highlight two.

1. the keynote by Karl Lehenbauer, CTO of FlightAware, at BSDCan 2014: My time with BSD

2. the keynote by Jordan Hubbard, CTO of iXsystems, at MeetBSD 2014: FreeBSD: The Next 10 Years

3. BSD summary – MeetBSD 2014

 

Books and Magazines

Now full-time writer Michael W. Lucas has published a number of FreeBSD related books and is planning many more. It’s a shame he won’t publish a third edition of his Absolute FreeBSD book. Well, that’s until the FreeBSD Installer has better support for ZFS.

“But you can’t install to ZFS. Or to a mirror. Or to any of the other really cool options available on FreeBSD. There’s good stuff there, but new users can’t have it.”

During 2014 Michael published:

Hackin9 Media has continued for the eighth year publishing the BSD Magazine (www.bsdmag.org). It could be me, but they seem to have become thinner over the years, with more advertising.

FreeNAS

After one BETA, two Release Candidates , FreeNAS 9.2.1 was announced on 10 February which brought back the FreeNAS 8.x volume manager as a “Manual Setup” option. This volume manager allows manual vdev building and offers no seat belts.

FreeNAS 9.3-RELEASE was announced in December. Highlights of this release are the simplified and revamped web user interface, automated updates, a new set-up wizard, and ZFS boot environments. A change in the iSCSI target from userland to kernel space unlocked several of the newest block storage features and yielded far better performance than the previous user-mode iSCSI target. FreeNAS 9.3 also supports coherent VMware snapshots, so ZFS snapshots and VMware snapshots are properly coordinated.

FreeNAS Mini

iXsystems, the corporate sponsor behind the FreeNAS project, announced back in March 2014 the third iteration of its FreeNAS Mini Home and Small Office storage device. This new FreeNAS Mini hardware had been completely redesigned to supported the new features that had been added to the FreeNAS software at that time. This little NAS device has the performance necessary to serve multiple streaming high definition (HD) clients over the same network, transcode HD video to mobile devices, support multiple independent FreeNAS plugins, and support more filesystem and media sharing protocols than ever before, all with lower latency and increased throughput.

pfSense

Based at NEW-HQ (Netgate / ESF World HQ), the pfSense project team now also sell hardware. Working with various manufacturers, they have put together a wide range of throughly-tested pfSense appliances that are bundled with a 1-year of support. To view the devices currently on offer, check out the pfSense online shop.

Apart from software and hardware, the pfSense team now also offers professional services. This includes penetration testing, CARP configuration, network design, conversion from old firewalls to pfSense, and systems/infrastructure install.

Last but not least, the project launched pfSense University which offers in-depth courses for increasing one’s knowledge of pfSense products and services.

On 5 November 2004 the pfsense.org(com/net) domains were first registered, marking the 10th birthday of the project in 2014. Congratulations to pfSense and we hope they keep growing and expanding in the next 10 years.

In order to focus on performance in pfSense 2.2 and beyond, pfSense devs worked on the implementation of AES-GCM (with AES-NI acceleration). This project was accomplished in partnership between the FreeBSD Foundation, ESF, and Netgate.

pfSense 2.1 received 5 small updates througout 2014 which were mostely related to security issues and OpenSSL fixes. The pfSense 2.2 release that many pfSense fans had been looking forward, came out in September. pfSense has also been ported to run on m3.medium and m3.large Amazon EC2 instances. To find out more what pfSense has been working on and what can be expected, have a listen to BSDTalk’s interview with Chris Buechler (BSDTalk 242).

It’s been a great year. We look forward to 2015

 

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