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Debian GNU/kFreeBSD Becomes More Interesting

Debian

Published on 10 September 2010 07:46 AM EDT
Written by Michael Larabel in Debian
5 Comments

Since last year we have been talking about Debian GNU/kFreeBSD, one of the official ports for Debian 6.0 "Squeeze" that will bring a 32-bit and 64-bit FreeBSD kernel as an option to using the Linux kernel. Debain GNU/kFreeBSD still has the Debian user-land complete with its massive package repository and apt-get support, but the FreeBSD kernel is running underneath instead of Linux. Debian GNU/kFreeBSD has matured a lot over the past year and most recently it has switched to using the FreeBSD 8.1 kernel by default and also now supports ZFS file-systems.

In January of this year was our first time benchmarking Debian GNU/kFreeBSD when it was using the FreeBSD 7.2 kernel. With that initial testing, in 18 of our 27 benchmarks Debian GNU/Linux was still faster than Debian GNU/kFreeBSD. We delivered a much larger comparison a week later when comparing the Debian variant to Fedora, FreeBSD 7.2/8.0, OpenBSD, and OpenSolaris. Debian GNU/kFreeBSD performed about average.

Our most recent benchmarks though of Debian GNU/Linux and Debian GNU/kFreeBSD were from this July where we looked at the Debian GNU/kFreeBSD performance using the FreeBSD 7.3 kernel, which was the default at the time, as well as when installing the FreeBSD 8.0 kernel from the kFreeBSD ports repository, which was available as a Debian package but not yet used by default. From that article:
Depending upon your local hardware configuration and the software that is relevant to you, the outcome as to what operating system is the fastest between Debian GNU/Linux, Debian GNU/kFreeBSD, and FreeBSD may vary. However, with these tests today on the two different Lenovo notebooks and testing both the 7.3 and 8.0 kernels from FreeBSD, the overall winner is Debian GNU/Linux. Debian GNU/Linux won the most tests in our original Debian GNU/kFreeBSD benchmarking and it continues to be that way still when looking at the default configuration.

This though is not to say that FreeBSD is a loser in terms of computing performance against Linux, but FreeBSD did possess a stronger advantage with tests like C-Ray and some I/O operations. FreeBSD and the other *BSDs also have their own set of features and focus that distinguish them from Linux in other ways besides the quantitative performance.

Debian GNU/kFreeBSD though has continued advancing since that point. When trying out the latest daily installer image of Debian GNU/kFreeBSD this week, there is not only the FreeBSD 8.1 kernel available, but it's now used by default. This Debian port is no longer using a Debian 7.x kernel by default but it's moved up to match the latest upstream FreeBSD stable release that's available.

Debian GNU/kFreeBSD Becomes More Interesting


Not only is Debian GNU/kFreeBSD more exciting for its new default kernel, but now it has ZFS file-system support too. Added to the kFreeBSD repository recently was a zfsutils package that provides the support for using and setting up ZFS file-systems.

Unfortunately though the Debian installer doesn't yet have support for installing to ZFS file-systems so for now your root file-system is basically limited to UFS. As of right now the ZFS pool version in use by this Debian non-Linux variant is Zpool 14, which is quite old. There isn't de-duplication support in there or the many other features found in revisions since then. As of earlier this month, upstream FreeBSD is now up to Zpool 28 to provide support for data de-duplication, triple parity RAIDZ (RAIDZ3), ZFS DIFF, Zpool Split, snapshot holds, forced Zpool imports, and the ability to import a pool in a read-only mode. Zpool 14 is even older than the current Linux ZFS-FUSE implementation (at Zpool 23) or the native ZFS module for Linux that is based upon Zpool 18.

Needless to say though, there will be new Debian GNU/Linux vs. Debian GNU/kFreeBSD benchmarks being published atop this FreeBSD 8.1 kernel in the coming weeks while away at Oktoberfest.

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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