FreeBSD Revs to 6.2

By Sean Michael Kerner (Send Email)
Posted Jan 18, 2007


FreeBSD 6.2, one of the most popular versions of the free BSD Unix operating system, is out with new features and updates. It plugs holes and, in addition to the usual route of installing directly to a hard drive this time around, offers a LiveCD that can be used to rescue a broken system.

The latest version of the popular BSD variant is more polished and stable due in part to a LiveCD and abundant security fixes.

Developers on the free version of the BSD Unix operating system hope it will help build momentum for what is arguably the most popular BSD variant in use.

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"While FreeBSD 6.2 includes stability enhancements and bug fixes, there are definitely some additions that current and new users will be excited about," FreeBSD contributor Matt Olander told internetnews.com. Olander is also the CTO of iXsystems, a privately held San Jose, Calif.-based enterprise hardware solution provider. The company recently acquired the PC-BSD project, which is also based on FreeBSD.

"Security auditing is supported in the kernel, which is important for anyone that needs a concise, protected record of what users are doing on the system," Olander explained. "This type of feature is a fundamental part of expensive commercial operating systems like Trusted Solaris."

Sun Microsystems used to sell Trusted Solaris as a separate offering, but since December of 2006 it has been part of the core Solaris 10 product.

Updating FreeBSD is also easier, developers noted, because the FreeBSD update is part of the base system and allows binary upgrades to systems. Olander also said FreeBSD 6.2 includes new hardware support for the AMD/Nvidia SMBus 2 controller, IPSec (define) filtering, and OpenIPMI (Intelligent Platform Management Interface) for server management and monitoring. Existing drivers for Wi-FI and wired network adapters also get enhanced functionality and support in FreeBSD 6.2

FreeBSD 6.2 includes a bevy of security fixes. The most recent, Free BSD-SA-07:01, describes a script privilege escalation and was announced on January 11th of this year.

"We held up for one additional week at the end while the recent security advisory was handled, as we didn't want to release with a pending security advisory," FreeBSD core team member Robert Watson said.

As for FreeSBIE 2.0, it's a LiveCD version of FreeBSD. A LiveCD enables a user to run FreeBSD from the CD using hardware memory to operate instead of requiring installation on a user's hard drive.

"FreeSBIE is both a live-CD and a set of scripts to build FreeBSD Live CDs. At the moment, a FreeSBIE system cannot be installed on a hard disk (things may change in the future)," FreeSBIE developer and FreeBSD committer Matteo Riondato told internetnews.com. "I consider FreeSBIE a multi-purpose Live-CD. It can be used to rescue a broken system, test a network, check hardware support on a laptop you may want to buy, [and] show FreeBSD's ability."

Riondato said sources are taken from the FreeBSD CVS repository, as are installed packages. "I insist on this. FreeSBIE is a live FreeBSD system, not a system derived from FreeBSD."

As a FreeBSD committer, Riondato has write access to the FreeBSD sources CVS repository, but the FreeSBIE project is not officially supported within the FreeBSD project. "In the near future, I hope to integrate the FreeSBIE set of scripts in the base system of FreeBSD and more people will build their own FreeBSD Live-CD."

The future for FreeBSD is rapidly evolving as developers chip away at putting together FreeBSD 7, which will be the next major iteration. Olander noted that support for new filesystem such as XFS and Sun's ZFS will be in FreeBSD 7.

New innovations in FreeBSD 7 may well find their way back in into the 6.X series too.

"There are always way to get things like this [e.g., XFS and ZFS] running in 6.x as well, if they aren't backported," Olander said. "We've got "Superpages" in our Perforce repository, to transparently use large page sizes when the hardware permits it."

"We'll be seeing more ARM platform support and the work on porting Sun's dtrace is progressing nicely," Olander added. "There's also Linux 2.6 emulation work going on in our Perforce repository that should begin working its way into 6.x-7. Many exciting things to come, I'm sure!"

This article was originally published on internetnews.

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