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FreeBSD Made Much Progress Last Quarter

BSD

Published on 31 January 2012 07:28 AM EST
Written by Michael Larabel in BSD
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The FreeBSD project has published their quarterly report outlining some of the advancements made by this leading BSD operating system in the last quarter of 2011. A lot of progress was made, but still there's some work left to be accomplished.

Among the advancements that were noted by FreeBSD in Q4'2011 include:

- The libc++ library (providing a C++11 STL implementation) and libcxxrt (implementation of the C++ ABI) were introduced to the BSD-licensed C++ stack. The libc++ library comes out of the LLVM project and unlike libstdc++ isn't licensed under the GPL (but the standard BSD-like LLVM license) so it's preferred by the BSD crowd. The libcxxrt comes with compliments of PathScale.

- The FreeBSD Foundation has been sponsoring work on the Auditdistd project, which is a project meant to reliably and securely distribute audit trail files over TCP/IP network to remote systems. This is for remotely auditing records in a trusted environment rather than solely relying upon FreeBSD's existing Security Event Audit facility where the records could have been tampered (or removed) by an attacker when the system was compromised.

- The CAM Target Layer (CTL) has been introduced into FreeBSD/head. This is a disk/processor device emulation sub-system that was originally found on Linux nearly a decade ago but then ported to FreeBSD a few years back. Besides processor and disk device emulation, the CAM Target Layer provides FreeBSD with support for tagged queueing, SCSI task attribute support, SCSI implicit command ordering support, error injection, full task management, and more. This should hit FreeBSD 9 stable in the next month.

- The FreeBSD ports tree now has more than 23,000 ports (packages) within its repository.

- The hardware enablement of the Marvell Armada XP (ARM) hardware is going well within FreeBSD. This Marvell Armada XP SoC is the ARM chip found in the Sheevaplug and many other low-power, low-cost devices. The ARM version of FreeBSD now better handles this SoC with now handling SMP, SATA, and CESA. The next steps are enabling L2 cache support and full support for WB/WBA cache.

- GNOME 3.0 isn't in FreeBSD ports, but the GNOME-FreeBSD team has been working on GNOME 3.2, which is currently in their development repositories. GNOME 2.32 will continue to be provided within FreeBSD as an option to GNOME 3.2 and its GNOME Shell.

- The KDE-FreeBSD team has made many upstream fixes to make KDE/Qt work better with the LLVM/Clang compiler. They now have the point releases of KDE SC 4.7 as ports along with Qt 4.8.0 (via area51 experimental repository).

- FreeBSD's HDA Sound Driver experienced a major rewrite.

- FreeBSD is still tackling support for Intel Sandy Bridge CPUs. Among the Sandy Bridge processor improvements to FreeBSD made last quarter was committing support to query and allow extended FPU states, which also enabled the YMM registers and AVX instruction set support. (It's about time they had AVX support.) But this work hasn't been merged to FreeBSD stable/9 yet and they still want to optimize more of the code for Sandy Bridge. They also are still working on per-process TLB, SEP support, and other Ivy Bridge work like being able to use its random number generator (Intel's Bull Mountain).

- FreeBSD 9.0 was finally released on the 12th of January. This major milestone was met after a number of delays spanning months.

- TRIM support was added to the CAM SCSI direct access device driver.

- The FreeBSD Foundation reaised $426,000 USD through fundraising last quarter.

- The FreeBSD X11 team is currently working on the next major update of the X.Org ports. This includes an updated Intel and Mesa stack. Right now they have X.Org Server 1.7.7 and 1.10.4 from their ports repository. Hopefully this work will finally include landing the Intel GEM/KMS support for FreeBSD that the foundation had been sponsoring, since right now the graphics driver support on FreeBSD is very disappointing aside from NVIDIA hardware backed by NVIDIA's binary BSD x86/amd64 driver.

The Q4'2011 quarterly status report in full for FreeBSD can be found on their web-site.

About The Author
Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the web-site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience and being the largest web-site devoted to Linux hardware reviews, particularly for products relevant to Linux gamers and enthusiasts but also commonly reviewing servers/workstations and embedded Linux devices. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics hardware drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated testing software. He can be followed via and or contacted via .
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