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FreeNAS Switching From FreeBSD To Debian Linux

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the changing-horses dept.

Debian 206

dnaumov writes "FreeNAS, a popular, free NAS solution, is moving away from using FreeBSD as its underlying core OS and switching to Debian Linux. Version 0.8 of FreeNAS as well as all further releases are going to be based on Linux, while the FreeBSD-based 0.7 branch of FreeNAS is going into maintenance-only mode, according to main developer Volker Theile. A discussion about the switch, including comments from the developers, can be found on the FreeNAS SourceForge discussion forum. Some users applaud the change, which promises improved hardware compatibility, while others voice concerns regarding the future of their existing setups and lack of ZFS support in Linux."

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206 comments

Hmmm (1, Interesting)

Tellarin (444097) | more than 4 years ago | (#30343730)

I don't want to be inflammatory, but having "concerns regarding the future of their existing setups" when using a piece of free software in version 0.7 for something as important as data storage?

I'd say that if your setup is so important you care so much for its future and you're facing this scenario, you have bigger concerns to take care than a move from FreeBSD to Linux.

Re:Hmmm (5, Insightful)

Enleth (947766) | more than 4 years ago | (#30343844)

You are not inflammatory, you just give more meaning to the position of the first decimal point in the version number than it deserves.

Would the software magically be better if the version was 8.0? 2009.12? 3.141592? 666.123.789? There are many post-1.0 applications that are hopeless, buggy crap, quite a bit of them even commercial, and just as much sub-1.0 software of high stability and overall quality.

In this case, as with many FOSS projects, the sub-1.0 numbers probably mean "there are still features to be added before we consider our work complete". The keywords are "we", "consider" and "complete". "We" != "any other user with a different set of requirements", "consider" != "claim as absolute truth", "complete" != "stable". In other words, a 0.8 version might be perfectly stable, just not feature-complete from the author's point of view, and perfetly sufficient for a subset of potential users with less sophisticated needs.

And why 0.8 and not 2.3.075? My best guess is "because they could and they liked it better."

Case closed, have a good day.

Re:Hmmm (4, Interesting)

Tellarin (444097) | more than 4 years ago | (#30344060)

In this case, as with many FOSS projects, the sub-1.0 numbers probably mean "there are still features to be added before we consider our work complete".

I'd change your definition to "before we consider the initial version of our work complete". This is exactly why I mentioned sub 1.0 version number in a piece of free software. It means there is no marketing department requiring bumping up the version number to impress anybody.

So, as you say, the devs themselves don't think it has the capabilities to be granted the 1.0 number. For whatever reasons they feel.

In other words, a 0.8 version might be perfectly stable, just not feature-complete from the author's point of view, and perfetly sufficient for a subset of potential users with less sophisticated needs.

The key word here is "might". It might, it might not. One also has to consider that even if the system does have all the features you want and seems stable, is it being properly tested and maintained? Has it been around long enough for it to count as some indication that the devs aren't going to just give up on it soon? Is there already a community around it?

All of this goes into choosing a sub-1.0 project for something important. This is what I meant. To depend on an early version of a piece of software is too big of a commitment without the proper analysis of these and many other issues, most of which are not related to the features per se.

And, in any case, it is free software. So anyone can fork the project and continue with it. And it seems there is actually a fork of this project to keep it running over FreeBSD.

None of this changes what I said. If whoever is using it and worried about its future did consider this issues, good for them. If not, well...

Re:Hmmm (3, Interesting)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 4 years ago | (#30344506)

Or, they don't care. Changes in major release number often mean incompatible features. I'd have given a lot, for example, for OpenSSL to use a sane numbering system and release "0.97" as "9.7", and "0.98" as "9.8". Or the idiots over at CPAN who release version 1.1, 1.2, 1.21, 2.2105, then 1.3.

I think you're still too married to the version # (1)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 4 years ago | (#30344536)

One also has to consider [tested and maintained, broad userbase, active community, future maintenance]

Those are all very good points.

All of this goes into choosing a sub-1.0 project for something important.

Now, what does the version number have to do with the above considerations? Are you advocating investigating these issues for some version numbers but not others? So if I cobble something together which compiles and I call it "version 1.0", I can sneak my shoddy code past all your careful considerations?

To me, it sounds like the prudent thing would be to investigate the project for future dependability (however you define it, e.g. as above, or more detailed) no matter its current version number.

Re:Hmmm (1)

Enleth (947766) | more than 4 years ago | (#30344614)

The key word here is "might". It might, it might not.

And the very same thing can be said about 8.0, 3.141592 or 666.456.789 with the same implications about being properly tested and maintained and other things you pointed out in the rest of the quoted paragraph. I've seen too much post-1.0 buggy crap to believe otherwise.

I'd change your definition to "before we consider the initial version of our work complete". This is exactly why I mentioned sub 1.0 version number in a piece of free software. It means there is no marketing department requiring bumping up the version number to impress anybody.

So, as you say, the devs themselves don't think it has the capabilities to be granted the 1.0 number. For whatever reasons they feel.

Well, that's what I had in mind. 1.0 is the point where the devs can do a high fiver, pull out the bottle of champagne and (when sober again) start thinking about completely new features. The exact point of completeness is, however, absolutely arbitrary. There are projects being released under version numbers in the 0.1-0.5 range with more features and better stability than similar projects already at 2.x or something like that, because the latter were aimed for a much smaller feature set. Interestingly, there are even projects that go for 1.0 asymptotically - the philosophy behind them being that 1.0 is a perfect solution to a given problem (as opposed to your "initial version" view), and perfect is impossible, so an actual implementation should never be released as "1.0". Still other projects are using the 0.1-1.0 range much like 1-10, to indicate further *stable* generations (the minor version number then belongs after the second decimal point), and only advance the first number on major project philosophy and structure changes (like, switching programming languages or major libraries, redoing big parts from scratch for better maintainability, turning a client-side GUI app into a web app, adding a whole completely new and different set of tools or features, changing protocols or file formats without backwards-compatibility, etc.), which might actually result in the version 1.0.15 being much less stable and complete than, say, 0.7.46.

All in all, making a broad statement about a project based primarily on its version number is IMHO more in the realm of haphazard numerology than engineering and professional (as in "done in accordance with the best practices", not necessarily "done for money") risk assessment for software deployment.

Re:Hmmm (3, Insightful)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 4 years ago | (#30344304)

If a vendor isn't willing to go to 1.0 then why should a customer have confidence? 1.0 is a milestone. Certainly it has absolutely no technical meaning, but that does not mean it has no meaning at all.

Re:Hmmm (2, Insightful)

DamnStupidElf (649844) | more than 4 years ago | (#30345292)

I'd rather have a project whose goal is "well tested and bug free" instead of "reaching milestones." There's always time to add some feature later, but no way to get your lost time back if things break.

Re:Hmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30344428)

I couldn't agree more.

For instance, it takes Microsoft three or four major versions to get something new working, see the dotNET Framework or SilverLight...

what difference does it make if they are called 1.0 2.0 3.0 4.0 or 0.5 0.6 0.7 0.8 ??

Re:Hmmm (1)

zhilla2 (1586095) | more than 4 years ago | (#30344220)

Yes but this 0.7 version is just a repacked / modded FreeBSD 7.2, OS that's been in development since 1993 - and that itself was a fork of older projects. Much better than software embedded some hastily released commercial NAS.

Re:Hmmm (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30344418)

FreeNAS is an "easy-to-use" NAS for old hardware, and light on documentation -- read: it has a wiki; generate your own. So it's going to get a lot of first-timers, however technical, and they're going to have questions about the migration. Hence "concerns" in this sense really shouldn't be read as 'emotional outbursts of near panic', but as inquiries.

Anyhow, the traditional /. missing link for this story would be: http://www.learnfreenas.com/blog/ [learnfreenas.com]

...Today Olivier Cochard-Labbé has made a great announcement, FreeNAS will live on and production ready ZFS support will be added with the upgrade to FreeBSD 8.0. At the same time a new Linux version of FreeNAS will be created called OpenMediaVault! Olivier explained it like this: FreeNAS needs some big modification to remove its present limitations (with one of the biggest being the lack of support for add-ons/plugins). We think that a full-rewrite of the FreeNAS base is needed. Therefore, we will take 2 different paths:...

I guess /. is running the story because it's a migration from a BSD to a Linux. But it's a nice minor news items on an interesting project, and is mostly useful by bringing FreeNAS to the attention of /.'ers who are starting to think about setting up a NAS.

Re:Hmmm (1)

RocketRabbit (830691) | more than 4 years ago | (#30344464)

Version a default installation of any free Unix clone, and you will see that many, many apps are at less than 0.7.

Version numbers are totally meaningless.

Re:Hmmm (1)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | more than 4 years ago | (#30344890)

Version numbers are totally meaningless.

No, they are a significant milestone in how people think of a project. You can't compare versions of different packages, but version 1.0 means *someone* thought it significant, whether that be marketing, devs, or the guy running the ouija board. For a free source unpaid project, it means the devs think things have stabilized significantly. It has no significance in relation to other projects or indeed any one not heavily involved with the project.

Re:Hmmm (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 4 years ago | (#30345186)

but version 1.0 means *someone* thought it significant

Call me old fashioned, but I think the practice of numbering releases with ordinal numbers is far less confusing. Alpha and beta monikers mean 'still adding features' and 'working out bugs' respectively. One dot (1.1) releases are feature changes, two dot (1.1.1) are bug fixes, and no-dot (2.0) reflect significant re-works (architectural, interface, etc.).

0.87 tells me nothing based on the number. 4.1b7 encodes lots of information.

Re:Hmmm (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 4 years ago | (#30344544)

Well there are a couple things to consider. First, as others have mentioned, the fact that it's not yet at 1.0 has less importance in many free software projects. There are definitely projects that haven't reached 1.0 yet are still production ready.

Also, you seem to throw "free" in there like it's a bad thing (or maybe I'm misreading?), but the fact that people are using an open-source project may indicate that they're very concerned about future maintenance of the software they're using. Being open source prevents the possibility of it simply being dropped, leaving the users no recourse. Free software can be passed into others' hands or forked, and in the worst case scenario a business can theoretically pay a programmer to fix problems.

So in that sense, at least, free software is pretty good for future-proofing. And even if the whole setup is not yet at 1.0, many of the components are quite robust and mature. Both FreeBSD and Debian are very good, as are Samba, ProFTP, and the other services.

Re:Hmmm (2, Interesting)

laird (2705) | more than 4 years ago | (#30345090)

"I don't want to be inflammatory, but having "concerns regarding the future of their existing setups" when using a piece of free software in version 0.7 for something as important as data storage?"

You are kidding, right?

First, the meaning of version numbers is purely dependent on the project. There are plenty of pieces of software that were fine to use in production with version numbers less than 1.0, and there are plenty of pieces of software with larger version numbers (e.g. every other Linux kernel version) that should not be run in production. FreeNAS extremely stable.

Second, even if the version of the FreeNAS that people used was not stable, it is based on a solid OS, filesystem, file services, web server, etc., that are all quite reliable in production, so even if FreeNAS 0.7 had a problem, the problem would be with some UI or scripting, not with the ability to store and serve data, and the data itself would not be at risk. The reality, of course, is that FreeNAS is one of the more mature, reliable NAS projects, so it doesn't matter much that you don't like the number 0.7.

The real problem here isn't that people were stupid to use FreeNAS, but that the FreeNAS developer is making a controversial move of switching the underlying OS to one that doesn't support a previously supported, and very popular, filesystem. And since data storage is the point of a NAS, that change is unpopular with the users of FreeNAS. The same change would have the same impact whether it was numbered 0.7, 1.0 or 3.1. For example, look at the upgrades from XP (AKA Windows 5) to Windows 7, which requires a data backup and restore, and reinstallation of all applications. I suppose you could attempt to argue that XP was too unstable to rely on, and that upgraders were stupid to have relied on such an immature OS, but that isn't what actually happened. Just as with FreeBSD, the developer chose to make a somewhat incompatible upgrade, and the users have to deal with the fallout.

From my perspective, my data, which is all in ZFS, is more valuable than the particular web/admin tools used to serve the data, so it means that FreeNAS 0.8 won't be an option for me. Luckily there are plenty of options, and migration is easy.

Well, it's open source, so fork it. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30343738)

From the last page of comments, it looks like one company is already forking it to keep it on FreeBSD.

Half of the comments are users who picked FreeNAS for it's ZFS functionality worrying that they were stuck on FreeNAS 0.7.

Greater hardware compatibility? Sure, for some desktop computer hardware, but FreeBSD is fine for everything a NAS needs.

Re:Well, it's open source, so fork it. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30343786)

Not only that, but FreeBSD is a far more reliable and higher-quality core than even Debian could ever hope to be.

The FreeBSD development process and team is far more integrated and centralized. This has resulted in a codebase that is much cleaner than what we see in the more distributed development model non-BSD open source software (including Linux).

Changes and new features go through a strenuous review process before they're admitted to the FreeBSD codebase. If code makes it into a public release of FreeBSD, you can be damn sure that it is of an extremely high quality, and has been reviewed by some of the best minds in the field.

This isn't as much the case with Linux and much of the userland software that Debian uses. The quality of the code is generally lower than that of FreeBSD's code, and bugs can creep in much easier.

For something as critical as storage, FreeBSD is clearly the way to go.

Re:Well, it's open source, so fork it. (1, Interesting)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 4 years ago | (#30344052)

"Not only that, but FreeBSD is a far more reliable and higher-quality core than even Debian could ever hope to be."

[citation needed]

Linux is definitely faster and more feature-rich than FreeBSD. About the only advantage of FreeBSD is ZFS, and that's being fixed by btrfs.

Re:Well, it's open source, so fork it. (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30345022)

btrfs is not even in the same league as ZFS. ZFS is a LVM and fs replacement, done so data doesn't get lost between those two layers.

btrfs offers nowhere near as many featres. ZFS has 64 bit CRCs (which are EXTREMELY useful for finding changed files on backups.) btrfs has 32 bit CRCs which are almost useless as a way of detecting changes, unless one goes by timestamps alone. btrfs also doesn't have transactions (better hope your UPS is up to snuff), and cannot detect corruption on the fly.

Finally, btrfs has not seen any production use and abuse. No way I'm trusting my data to this filesystem for at least 1-2 years, and by then, there will be a "real" filesystem that is on par with ZFS. At best btrfs is a transitional filesystem, like ext4. It isn't a generation changer like ZFS.

Re:Well, it's open source, so fork it. (3, Insightful)

lambent (234167) | more than 4 years ago | (#30345100)

[citation needed] is not a substitute for meaningful discussion and rebuttal.

"Linux is definitely faster and more feature-rich than FreeBSD." Keeping in the spirit of your post, would you care to post some benchmarks concerning the speed of linux vs. BSD in data storage, or for ZFS vs. btrfs?

at any rate, isn't stability more important in terms of this type of storage? if you're using a NAS-type device, i can't see how speed would be your primary concern, since you're limited by the NAS-style architecture right out the gate.

Re:Well, it's open source, so fork it. (2, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#30345234)

That requires a citation. Of course Linux is feature rich, it uses a million 3rd party utilities and installs them whether or not you want them. Also, you're going to cite evidence of the statement that Linux is faster if you're going to demand a citation that FreeBSD is faster. Additionally, the BSD license is something that a lot of people view as an advantage, makes it far less of a pain in the ass for companies to help with than the GPL is.

As for btrfs, just let it die, we already have ZFS, Linux has a large number of filesystems supported, but the vast majority of them are pretty mediocre and adding btrfs is pointless when pretty much everybody else seems to be hopping on the ZFS bandwagon. Sure at the moment Apple has pulled ZFS support from being included, but they'll add it eventually. Adding filesystems just to be GPL is an asinine waste of developer talent. Looking at wikipedia's comparison, I'm not seeing anything that btrfs can do which ZFS can't. Definitely nothing worth fragmenting the interoperability for.

Re:Well, it's open source, so fork it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30345438)

Linux is definitely faster and more feature-rich than FreeBSD

[citation needed]

Re:Well, it's open source, so fork it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30344064)

Care to provide more information for your claims? Last time I tried freenas it was terrible slow compared to a linux raid, with the same setup. Freebsd raid is nowhere near the performance the linux raid provides and UFS does not provide the same levels of protection as ext4. Don't try to pass ZFS as a filesystem because in a 4 TB setup ZFS needs 8GB of RAM just for caching and it's still very much unstable.

If you consider a 20 year old filesystem safe and 1 year old fs code stable then you are free to fork it.

Re:Well, it's open source, so fork it. (1)

dougisfunny (1200171) | more than 4 years ago | (#30344086)

I would imagine anything that makes it into Debian stable is pretty comparable, given the two years or so between Debian releases. Now if they're using Debian testing as a base, I would concede that its quite feasible that the code could be less stable than a FreeBSD based distro.

Re:Well, it's open source, so fork it. (1, Insightful)

Virak (897071) | more than 4 years ago | (#30344148)

Well I'm glad you're here to finally save the day and free all those big businesses relying heavily on Linux on their servers with no problems from their OS that apparently drops data like a quadriplegic juggler. Thanks, anonymous FreeBSD fanboy, the world would be a worse place without you.

Re:Well, it's open source, so fork it. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30344198)

Blah blah blah. If that actually was true, FreeBSD 5.x would never have been released. It wasn't nearly as robust as any release of Debian (granted, it was a remarkably poor release, especially for FreeBSD); and no release of FreeBSD, ever, is nearly as well tested as Debian. That's actual fact.

Your comment is nothing but fanboy idiocy, and is as "insightful" as a Coca-Cola advert.

Sure, FreeBSD is good, and in some ways better than any Linux distro. But generally better? No.

Re:Well, it's open source, so fork it. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30344608)

Linux changes go through a review process by some of the best minds of the field (also called "maintainers"), in fact most of them are paid to work full time in Linux, which improves the quality.

One of the main problems that companies find today when contributing to Linux is that it's too difficult to contribute code to Linux because it requires too many effort to get the code merged. That's because Linux doesn't have a "unstable" development phase. All features merged into the main Linus tree (even the ones merged in the first week) must be "production" ready (except for new drivers, filesystems and subsystems that are an addition and can't cause a regression). FreeBSD, on the other hand, has a development phase where experimental stuff is allowed and production quality is not a priority - which means that .0 releases take too many to get stabilized and are more buggy compared with a Linux release, because FreeBSD tries to put too many unstable stuff at the same time. It's how Linux used to work in the past, and they had to stop doing it because Linux was way more contributors than freebsd and the whole thing became unmanageable with that model

Re:Well, it's open source, so fork it. (2, Informative)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#30345368)

OK, now that's just an outright lie. Every OS has a production period where things are merged in and tested for stability and reliability. Linux code doesn't come out fully formed. On top of that, most of what people think of as Linux is produced independently amongst a large number of projects. I've run current in the past and it was hardly as unstable as you're making it out to be. In fact I've experience periods with Ubuntu where that "stable" release was crashing more frequently than FreeBSD current.

I've run Linux in the past, and it just isn't as good as you say it is. I went through a period where I had to reinstall the entire OS just about every reboot because the filesystem was getting horribly corrupted each time it crashed. I'd have to reboot in the middle of the installation because the Ubuntu installation program couldn't handle partitioning in a sane way without doing so. And at the end of the day, I'd have a hodge podge of programs that made up the userland which may or may not play well with each other next time I updated them for a bug fix.

Yes, Linux isn't an abomination and is perfectly fine for many uses, but it's that sort of insulting crap about the glowing development process that makes me not want to run Linux on any of my computers. It's also a pretty blatant lie that FreeBSD changes more than Linux distros do. Over the decade that I've used FreeBSD, Linux has changed far more, and the changes to FreeBSD have mostly been related to the hardware architecture changes that have gone on, in terms of the userland and things that people actually work with, that's stayed relatively constant over that time.

Re:Well, it's open source, so fork it. (2, Insightful)

imp (7585) | more than 4 years ago | (#30344528)

It all depends on what FreeNAS' target market is going to be. Is it going to be old desktop machines that people recycle into NAS boxes, or will it be the large variety of NAS boxes that are found in the wild today. If the former, then the switch to Linux buys you nothing. Really, FreeBSD and Linux run the same on x86 hardware (sometimes one is faster, or the other, or there's an issue that keeps one or the other from running, but in general both just work damn well). If the target is the latter, then Linux might have a small edge, but only because the FreeBSD project hasn't focused on the proper packaging of FreeBSD for an embedded system that has the tight memory constraints that the non-intel NAS boxes have. Many companies have climbed this hill, but there's nothing that's been standardized enough to be ready to include in FreeBSD (although both NanoBSD and TinyBSD could be made to work). M0m0wall and FreeNAS innovated in other areas, and this area would be easy to innovate in as well, since the problem is well understood and most of the tools necessary to make it work are already extant in the tree.

Forking FreeNAS may or may not be the right thing to do. It might be better to provide a FreeNAS 0.7 -> NewFreeNAS project that is rewritten from scratch for FreeBSD 8.0 that doesn't suffer from the php interface that replaces /etc/rc.d. That's the main barrier to porting from 7.x -> 8.x for FreeNAS (and m0m0wall). It would likely be faster and simpler to go that route and fix whatever issues come up. This would allow one to migrate to better http technology that puts less in the server and more on the client in javascript/ajaxish/etc things anyway. This would allow users to continue to use FreeBSD's solid ZFS base as well as have a solution that's here today rather than waiting for Linux to catch up with its reimplementation of zfs :)

Warner

Huh? (4, Insightful)

ToasterMonkey (467067) | more than 4 years ago | (#30343748)

Release 0.6x:
- User authentication I must add at minimum LDAP authentication... For NIS and RADIUS I must check if it's possible (don't know if it's possible to use PAM for samba).

Release 0.7x:
- Migrate to FreeBSD 7.0 (with ZFS support)
- Testing a new way for configuring/using share:
'Adding a new disk' will automatically initialize it (format under UFS) and mount it (transparent process for the user).
. 'Creating a share'(create a folder on a selected disk), with user/group/quota property on this share

Release 0.8x:

- Adding monitoring features (SNMP, email alerting, etc..) - Adding other features (I18n Web GUI, LCD, disk encryption, etc...)

Release 0.9x:

- Only Bug fixes, no more new features - This step will depend a lot's about the development of the "geom vinum tools". If this tools is not stable at this moment, I will replace it by 'geom mirror' for RAID 1 and by 'geom stripe' for RAID 0.

Release 1.0:

- The D day! - Lot's of documentation: User guide and developers guide.

and...

Date: 2009-09-17 17:23
Sender: votdev
--- cut ---
Anyway, 0.7 seems to be the last version of FreeNAS as it is right at the moment. For the next version the whole system will be recoded (what i'm doing at the moment). There will be no more embedded installs anymore, also the OS will be Debian.

Regards
Volker

By any other definition, this would be a fork. It's not even FreeNAS any more, it will be CoreNAS?
Anyone have more insight into what's REALLY going on with this project?

Re:Huh? (5, Informative)

Fez (468752) | more than 4 years ago | (#30343820)

This story is not the "whole" story.

Basically the author of FreeNAS is going to start over doing it on Linux, but some other group is taking over the FreeBSD portion of FreeNAS:

http://www.freebsdnews.net/2009/12/05/freenas-ready-step/ [freebsdnews.net]

OpenAFS (1)

SgtChaireBourne (457691) | more than 4 years ago | (#30345330)

Basically the author of FreeNAS is going to start over doing it on Linux, but some other group is taking over the FreeBSD portion of FreeNAS

I was just looking at FreeNAS the other week. It would be absolutely fantastic if FreeNAS started supporting OpenAFS. A lot of sites using NAS are actually distributed around a single city or several cities. A distributed, networked file system would be an advantage for a lot of activities.

Anonymous FTP for download is fine, it's like HTTP. But dropping FTP for upload should be a priority.

Re-doing FreeNAS is exciting news.

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30343836)

If he is recoding the whole system, then he is a fool, or the current codebase is appallingly bad.

What do people want from a NAS like this? Presumably some mini-itx board with a few hard drives in a small case connected by ethernet or wireless, no monitor, no keyboard or mouse (initial setup excluded) - that's pretty embedded.

Re:Huh? (1)

Cheeze (12756) | more than 4 years ago | (#30345388)

He could be creating a deb that could be installed that installs and configures various services to make a debian-based system look like the old FreeNAS. I've used FreeNAS and there is really no reason to have a dedicated system for services that it provides. Many of the people that already use it either use FreeBSD or Linux on another system. If those systems could also run the easy configuration of FreeNAS, they could consolidate systems in their environment.

That's all guessing though. I really hope it ends up being an apt-get package in a repository some where. I like FreeNAS, but I would rather dedicate hardware resources to something else that is more utilitarian, even if that means I have to configure every service myself.

New project (4, Insightful)

nOw2 (1531357) | more than 4 years ago | (#30343752)

Isn't the real solution to start a new project for a Linux-based NAS solution and leave FreeNAS development to those who want to use FreeBSD?

A rose by any other name (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 4 years ago | (#30345346)

That's effectively what's happening, it's just that the project name is following the developer rather than the code base. Apparently a fork from 0.7 that will keep FreeBSD is already announced. It will have a new name. The other branch will keep the name and switch to Debian for the next release.

ugh (4, Funny)

nomadic (141991) | more than 4 years ago | (#30343772)

Why downgrade?


Aww I'm just messing with you all. Anyone who had a genuine emotional reaction to the above needs to go outside right now and recommune with nature.

Re:ugh (2, Insightful)

grub (11606) | more than 4 years ago | (#30343828)

Try ZFS [wikipedia.org] , which isn't available on Linux due to licensing, and you'll see why it's a loss. I read there's a hack to use it with FUSE but I won't entrust all our data to some shoehorning of ZFS into Linux just to say "We can do it too!"

Re:ugh (1, Troll)

incripshin (580256) | more than 4 years ago | (#30343880)

Native support for ZFS is a good reason to choose FreeBSD over Linux. You can make even your root partition ZFS. The reason ZFS is not in the Linux kernel is due to licensing, though.

I hate the GPL ... so much. I don't mind recommending people use FreeNAS because of the licensing. From now on, I'll tell people to use FreeBSD (or OpenBSD if they are awesome).

Re:ugh (2, Insightful)

Plunky (929104) | more than 4 years ago | (#30343982)

Native support for ZFS is a good reason to choose FreeBSD over Linux. You can make even your root partition ZFS. The reason ZFS is not in the Linux kernel is due to licensing, though.

And yet, the Linux kernel supports MS-DOS filesystems does it not? The reason for that is that although the original implementation license was incompatible with the Linux kernel, a reimplementation was possible. Is it not possible for ZFS? I suggest that if the code is open enough to be included in FreeBSD, the data structures must be documented enough to have an alternative version written.

I'm not saying its not a lot of work, just that it is possible if the desire is there..

Re:ugh (0, Redundant)

incripshin (580256) | more than 4 years ago | (#30344030)

I could probably find out, but I'll just take a guess: that FAT filesystems appear in the Linux kernel because they were reverse-engineered.

Re:ugh (0, Troll)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 4 years ago | (#30344076)

It's possible for ZFS, but not really wanted. And it's also a HUGE job.

Btrfs (a work in progress for now) is better than ZFS: http://lwn.net/Articles/342892/ [lwn.net]

Re:ugh (2, Funny)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 4 years ago | (#30344492)

Linux: developing stuff that's like totally going to be better than everything else. No really, when it'll be done in date.getYear()+2 it'll rock.

Re:ugh (1)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 4 years ago | (#30344518)

Well, ZFS was declared 'stable' in FreeBSD only this year. Considering Debian release schedule, btrfs might be 'stable' by the time the Squeeze+1 is released.

Re:ugh (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#30345410)

The declaration was largely meaningless, it was called unstable mainly because of a lack of developer time to ensure that any showstoppers or glitches would be fixed promptly. It was more a matter of developer caution than actual problems with the code. Admittedly there were some problems with parts of the code that did justify the warning, but the warning was going to be staying until the developer felt that the resources were to back claims of stability.

Re:ugh (1)

imp (7585) | more than 4 years ago | (#30344628)

Even this article points out that btrfs isn't ready for production, while ZFS is in production systems today. How does that make brtfs better? Does it have a better license? Does it have more potential? Maybe. But that alone doesn't make it better today.

Re:ugh (1)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 4 years ago | (#30344694)

Yet the project needs to have a future. Given that it's still in the pre-1.0 state, it might have been a wise choice.

It's pretty clear that Linux is the focal point of efforts in the OpenSource universe right now.

Re:ugh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30345466)

It's pretty clear that Linux is the focal point of efforts in the OpenSource universe right now.

Nooo, the only thing that's clear is that there are a lot of "me toos" out there.

What about OpenSolaris? OpenSolaris has gained a lot of defections from GNU/Linux and is gaining ground every day.

Re:ugh (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#30345432)

It's GPL, rather than the CDDL that Sun licensed ZFS under. Which leads to headaches in terms of mixing and matching it into the kernel source. But really, it's largely a waste of time, since ZFS is available in some form for pretty much all the other major OSes at this point, and BTRFS may never be so widespread.

Re:ugh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30345216)

It's possible for ZFS, but not really wanted. And it's also a HUGE job.

Btrfs (a work in progress for now) is better than ZFS: http://lwn.net/Articles/342892/ [lwn.net]

ZFS is protected by patents http://kerneltrap.org/node/8066 [kerneltrap.org] . A binary compatible rewrite in GPL wouldn't be legal. Thanks again `Free as in Freedom' GPL ;)

Re:ugh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30345354)

btrfs is "better than ZFS"?

Dude, btrfs is not even completed yet, and it's better? Did you actually try to use btrfs? What about ZFS, did you try using ZFS?

Let me tell you something about btrfs: we've been using ZFS since it came out in Solaris 10 u2 (06/2006); that's three and a half years now; and it is EVERYTHING IT IS CRACKED UP TO BE. And beyond.

ZFS HAS HAD what btrfs PROMISES TO HAVE (futur!) for at least four years now.

So please don't write about things you obviously don't know enough about. First go and see. Look really hard. Then write.

Patents (2, Informative)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 4 years ago | (#30345204)

I'm not saying its not a lot of work, just that it is possible if the desire is there..

It's not a work problem - ZFS is elegantly simple, 6000 LoC or so in its basic form.

The problem is it's heavily patented and you have no rights to those patents if you don't derive your code from the CDDL'ed code, which you can't do with the GPL (but FreeBSD, MacOSX, and the FUSE module did).

Re:ugh (1)

wiredlogic (135348) | more than 4 years ago | (#30344046)

I hate the GPL ... so much.

You will of course back up this vehement disgust by refusing to associate with anything connected to the GPL's backward, misguided socialism. I suggest you start by refusing to make use of GCC, its entourage of hippie fueled utilities, and all applications created with such tools. Then you can truly stand atop your mountain of smugness and enjoy the the wonderful free toys you have to play with after you have purged yourself of that demon taint. Then again, after that, you might find yourself a bit more productive in a Windows environment atop your tiny sand pile.

Re:ugh (1)

incripshin (580256) | more than 4 years ago | (#30344152)

??? I do not promote GPL. I promote BSD. There is no reason for me to have to now defend my claim that I dislike the GPL.

Defending software freedom is a good in the world. (1)

jbn-o (555068) | more than 4 years ago | (#30344234)

When you say "I hate the GPL ... so much." you should have to explain why; something you have not done with the exception that it won't let you link in GPL-incompatibly licensed code such as ZFS. Perhaps your anger should be directed toward those that license incompatibly with the GPL. After all, as the grandparent poster points out, the GNU GPL has done a lot for you as you "promote BSD" systems. Your hatred of the GPL comes off as though you don't understand what the GPL says or why.

Re:Defending software freedom is a good in the wor (1, Insightful)

incripshin (580256) | more than 4 years ago | (#30344374)

It's not that GPL is the victim of incompatibilities. GPL had a hand in causing these. The philosophy of the BSD/MIT licenses is to give freely. The philosophy of GPL/CDDL is take freely, and give to your friends. Generosity vs. selfishness.

I haven't taken the time to read the GPL, but I generally know what it is about. I have read the MIT and BSD licenses. In the same way, I don't care what the ingredients for some processed food product are or why they are there: there are too many.

Re:Defending software freedom is a good in the wor (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 4 years ago | (#30344430)

I haven't taken the time to read the GPL, but I generally know what it is about. I have read the MIT and BSD licenses. In the same way, I don't care what the ingredients for some processed food product are or why they are there: there are too many.

Do so. Even if it's only version 2.

Version 3 IMO is a clarification and adds a number of clauses to deal with new challenges like patents and embedded devices which only run signed code, but the general intent is broadly similar.

Re:Defending software freedom is a good in the wor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30345170)

Version 3 is why the embedded systems market fled wholesale from Linux into the arms of Microsoft and other commercial providers. No company wants to have its trade secrets (exact chemical formulas, catalysts, stages) available to any comers just for the asking (which V3 FORCES companies to do), so instead of taking the risk of one v3 application tainting their whole embedded system, they chuck it out and start with another framework where that isn't an issue.

Re:Defending software freedom is a good in the wor (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 4 years ago | (#30344714)

Then go read the license, at http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html [gnu.org] , before making historically false statements. I've worked with all the licenses you name, and the Apache license, and various closed source licenses. The GPL wins hands down for insisting that open source work remain open source even after local fragmenting, in order to block the very "embrace and extend" that was done to BSD in the 1980's and that was attempted by Microsoft with Kerberos and Java.

If you only "know what it is about" and have never read it, you're in the same position as the USA after Colin Powell lied publicly to us about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and you risk similarly wasting massive resources based on statements by a well-meaning but misled leader.

Re:Defending software freedom is a good in the wor (1)

laird (2705) | more than 4 years ago | (#30344916)

"The GPL wins hands down for insisting that open source work remain open source"

That is exactly why he prefers the MSD and MIT licenses over the GPL licenses - they have different goals. The MIT and BSD licenses give your software away freely to anyone who wants it, which is what you want if you want your software widely used, and the GPL licenses give your software away only to people who agree to also give their software away for free, which is what you want if you want to promote free software. He prefers the former, and you prefer the latter. He stated his preference, and your reply said that he was wrong, which is (IMO) absurd, in that by definition he knows his own preferences better than you do.

Re:Defending software freedom is a good in the wor (1)

incripshin (580256) | more than 4 years ago | (#30345130)

The GPL does more than insist that code remain open. Any source code that is built with it (not by it) must be open. Stallman went as far as to say that code that assumed a GNU interface should be open source and GPL-compatible, or some such nonsense. Therefore we now have the GPL linking exception. At the very least, I at least see the consequences of licenses, and that isn't useless.

Re:Defending software freedom is a good in the wor (1)

incripshin (580256) | more than 4 years ago | (#30344404)

As for needing to explain why, you are wrong. I will recommend software based on the license. You cannot respond to me by asking: 'what are you talking about?'

Re:ugh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30344226)

You can hate murder and still use ReiserFS. You can hate child rapists and still watch Chinatown. You can hate mexicans and still use GNOME. You can hate the GPL and still use GCC. Are you incapable of separating the license from the code? Personally, I use clang and llvm when possible. I don't care that it's not GPL. I do care the designers and contributors don't put up artificial roadblocks because they're afraid people will steal it. And that means a more modular and useful end product.

Re:ugh (2, Insightful)

EyelessFade (618151) | more than 4 years ago | (#30344068)

And if the linux-kernel had another licence ZFS would still be incompatible.
The authors of ZFS chose this licence because it was incompatible with the linux kernel. CDDL [wikipedia.org]
It says

Mozilla was selected partially because it is GPL incompatible. That was part of the design when they released OpenSolaris. [...] the engineers who wrote Solaris [...] had some biases about how it should be released, and you have to respect that

Re:ugh (0)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#30344336)

Native support for ZFS is a good reason to choose FreeBSD over Linux.

I see things differently.

Log10(# of Ext3 installs) is probably around 8, plus or minus 1.

Log10(# of ZFS installs) is probably around 4, plus or minus 1.

As a first approximation, the odds of being "the poor enduser whom discovered a shattering new data loss filesystem bug" is probably about 4 orders of magnitude worse for ZFS users than ext3 users.

Users should be scared, when file server designers "feel like trying a new filesystem" unless there is a desperate requirement.

The whole point of a burn and run NAS "distribution" is so end-users can click-n-drool, and I suspect the web based front end won't support all the cool features of ZFS, and the "click and drool" crowd would never understand what is possible, much less demand it.

Re:ugh (1)

incripshin (580256) | more than 4 years ago | (#30344446)

Sure. I tried out ext4 when the developers announced it was stable and lost all my data. ZFS is still a valid reason to choose FreeBSD over Linux. If I am going to use ZFS, then Linux is the wrong choice (key word: 'I').

Re:ugh (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30344780)

If you are serious about using ZFS, you *DONT* use FreeBSD, you use Solaris. The FreeBSD version of ZFS is buggy and unstable.

why no ZFS? (0, Redundant)

darkeye (199616) | more than 4 years ago | (#30343774)

I wonder why there be no ZFS in the Linux-based version - there's ZFS support in Linux via fuse...

Re:why no ZFS? (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#30343842)

Yes there is but it looks like licensing is a big issue. The talk surrounding Freenas' transition to Linux and the possibility of using Fuse essentially came to a conclusion that there are issues with using Fuse on Freenas for some reason. It may very well be that the implementation is too unstable at this point in time.

Re:why no ZFS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30343848)

The FUSE method of ZFS is likely to be lower performance and less reliable than if done from the kernel directly, which is not optimal on a NAS.

FUSE is not the problem Re:why no ZFS? (1)

leuk_he (194174) | more than 4 years ago | (#30344038)

Some googling and i beg to differ:

So that's pretty conclusive, we have a FUSE filesystem (which also claims to not be optimised) which can pretty much match an in-kernel filesystem. [csamuel.org]

So fuse is not the bottleneck.

I do not see how fuse makes it unstable. Fuse by design keeps unstable code out of the kernel.

Licensing is a problem.

But if people need the feature of ZFS, it could be supported in its current incarnation. Just not as default FS since it current speed is not up to other FS and .Speed and stablity Should be a main issue in a dedicated NAS.

Re:why no ZFS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30343874)

It's slow.

Re:why no ZFS? (2, Insightful)

TerminaMorte (729622) | more than 4 years ago | (#30343878)

zfs-fuse has horrible performance; I compared Ubuntu 9.10 with zfs-fuse (0.5) and OpenSolaris... Ubuntu could hardly do 15MB/s read/write, while OpenSolaris could easily do 70MB/s.

... and that sucks (1)

grub (11606) | more than 4 years ago | (#30343808)

We've used FreeNAS at home to feed our PopcornHour NMTs [popcornhour.com] . The ZFS implementation works very well for what we use it for (6x750GB and 6x1.5TB drives in RAIDZ)

Now that 0.7 appears to be the last version based on FreeBSD that means ZFS will disappear with the migration to Linux. No, ZFS on FUSE is not an option; too many layers of abstraction for my liking.

Guess the next upgrade will be to native FreeBSD or OpenSolaris. ZFS is so damn great I'm using the filesystem to decide my next server OS.

Re:... and that sucks (3, Interesting)

jlittle (122165) | more than 4 years ago | (#30343852)

Well, what's stopping people using NexentaStor (non-free) or NexentaOS (free as in beer/speech)? Better yet, Nexenta is OpenSolaris w/ ZFS, etc, but is an Ubuntu LTS 8.04-based distribution. Its always been the best of both worlds. If you have something using ZFS today, you can export the pool, install Nexenta, and reimport, being back up in minutes.

Re:... and that sucks (1)

quantum bit (225091) | more than 4 years ago | (#30344652)

If you have something using ZFS today, you can export the pool, install Nexenta, and reimport, being back up in minutes.

Maybe. (Open)Solaris is a bit pickier about wanting ZFS vdevs to be inside of GPT partitions. FreeBSD is layered on top of their GEOM subsystem, so it lets you put a ZFS vdev on just about anything. If it's inside of a bsdlabel partition, Solaris may not be able to find it to import the pool.

It may very well work. Just be sure to have a good backup just in case :)

Can't say I agree with the decision (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30343896)

Mainly because they just lost their ability to support ZFS.

openfiler (3, Insightful)

headhot (137860) | more than 4 years ago | (#30343980)

i feel like the only think freenas had over openfiler was ZFS. i've been running openfiler for 2 years now and it has been rock solid.

without zfs why not go for the more mature linux based NAS?

no it stays FreeBSD (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30343992)

http://sourceforge.net/apps/phpbb/freenas/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=4959

"FreeNAS needs some big modification for removing its present limitation (one of the biggest is the non support of easly users add-ons).
We think that a full-rewriting of the FreeNAS base is needed. From this idea, we will take 2 differents paths:
- Volker will create a new project called "'OpenMediaVault" based on a GNU/Linux using all its experience acquired with all its nights and week-ends spent to improve FreeNAS during the last 2 years. He still continue to work on FreeNAS (and try to share its time with this 2 projects).
- And, a great surprise: iXsystems, a company specialized in professional FreeBSD offers to take FreeNAS under their wings as an open source community driven project. This mean that they will involve their professionals FreeBSD developers to FreeNAS! Their manpower will permit to do a full-rewriting of FreeNAS.
Personally, I come back to actively work in FreeNAS and begin to upgrade it to FreeBSD 8.0 (that is "production ready" for ZFS)."

Odd move (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30344236)

FreeBSD and Debian are both great OS's, but their developers have different priorities that show up in the finished product. For storage I believe FreeBSD is the better solution (and likely why they started with it). I am guessing they are moving to Debian not for the best solution, but for the bigger audience.

bsd,zfs,fork, bad time? (1)

itzdandy (183397) | more than 4 years ago | (#30344348)

ZFS has just come out with built-in on line deduplication. Isnt this what you would call a killer feature for a NAS distro like this? FreeNAS is moving away from a killer feature like this?

In my experience, debian(linux) isnt going to offer significantly better hardware support to justify this switch. No graphics cards or exotic hardware are typically used for a small NAS server and thats where linux has better driver support.

I really like FreeNAS because it is so lightweight, runs from a flash key, does its job without complaining etc. but I dont see much a future for it with this switch. It is essentially a brand new project going up against Openfiler.

Ill have to change my scheme here and export a deduplicated ZFS share via iSCSI and attach it to my windows server to get the AD integrate de-duplicated fileserver.

kFreeBSD? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30344526)

Sounds like a perfect opportunity for Debian kFreeBSD.

Maybe we can install it on existing servers... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30344576)

I would really like to see the complete technology of FreeNAS available as a package I can install on an existing linux machine... It would be quite handy (IMO), if I could just "sudo apt-get install corenas" on an ubuntu server (for instance) and just go from there....
It adds some flexibility compared a dedicated NAS distribution...

*BSD is Dying (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30344774)

It is now official. Netcraft confirms: *BSD is dying

One more crippling bombshell hit the already beleaguered *BSD community when IDC confirmed that *BSD market share has dropped yet again, now down to less than a fraction of 1 percent of all servers. Coming on the heels of a recent Netcraft survey which plainly states that *BSD has lost more market share, this news serves to reinforce what we've known all along. *BSD is collapsing in complete disarray, as fittingly exemplified by failing dead last [samag.com] in the recent Sys Admin comprehensive networking test.

You don't need to be the Amazing Kreskin [amazingkreskin.com] to predict *BSD's future. The hand writing is on the wall: *BSD faces a bleak future. In fact there won't be any future at all for *BSD because *BSD is dying. Things are looking very bad for *BSD. As many of us are already aware, *BSD continues to lose market share. Red ink flows like a river of blood.

FreeBSD is the most endangered of them all, having lost 93% of its core developers. The sudden and unpleasant departures of long time FreeBSD developers Jordan Hubbard and Mike Smith only serve to underscore the point more clearly. There can no longer be any doubt: FreeBSD is dying.

Let's keep to the facts and look at the numbers.

OpenBSD leader Theo states that there are 7000 users of OpenBSD. How many users of NetBSD are there? Let's see. The number of OpenBSD versus NetBSD posts on Usenet is roughly in ratio of 5 to 1. Therefore there are about 7000/5 = 1400 NetBSD users. BSD/OS posts on Usenet are about half of the volume of NetBSD posts. Therefore there are about 700 users of BSD/OS. A recent article put FreeBSD at about 80 percent of the *BSD market. Therefore there are (7000+1400+700)*4 = 36400 FreeBSD users. This is consistent with the number of FreeBSD Usenet posts.

Due to the troubles of Walnut Creek, abysmal sales and so on, FreeBSD went out of business and was taken over by BSDI who sell another troubled OS. Now BSDI is also dead, its corpse turned over to yet another charnel house.

All major surveys show that *BSD has steadily declined in market share. *BSD is very sick and its long term survival prospects are very dim. If *BSD is to survive at all it will be among OS dilettante dabblers. *BSD continues to decay. Nothing short of a miracle could save it at this point in time. For all practical purposes, *BSD is dead.

Fact: *BSD is dying

ZFS works great in Linux (1)

harmonise (1484057) | more than 4 years ago | (#30344880)

ZFS works quite well in Linux. [zfs-fuse.net] I've been using it for over a year with no problems.

Re:ZFS works great in Linux (1)

A12m0v (1315511) | more than 4 years ago | (#30344930)

Won't it run as a userspace driver? Imagine the performance hit.

Re:ZFS works great in Linux (2, Informative)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 4 years ago | (#30345264)

Yeah, it's pretty horrible. And I don't really get the point. It's not like FreeBSD is particularly hard to install and configure, and configuring Samba to run on it is identical to configuring Samba to run on Linux. I'm hard pressed to think of a reason why you'd want to run ZFS via FUSE on Linux instead of using the real thing on a similar, well-supported Free Unix.

Re:ZFS works great in Linux (1)

harmonise (1484057) | more than 4 years ago | (#30345304)

Yes, it runs in userspace. It's not that slow for me. I can get about 25MB/s out of it, and I'm running an older release. A new stable version was released today and it has a number of performance improvements.

Re:ZFS works great in Linux (1)

abigor (540274) | more than 4 years ago | (#30345004)

It's also roughly five times slower, based on what I've read. A non-starter for serious applications.

Re:ZFS works great in Linux (1)

harmonise (1484057) | more than 4 years ago | (#30345342)

It could be slower. I haven't used ZFS outside of Linux for very long and haven't performed any speed tests. But it works for me. I get about 25MB/s with it. I'm using an older version (0.5.0) and a new stable version was released today that is supposed to be much faster. In any case, since FreeNAS is moving to Linux, then if FreeNAS users want to continue using it their choice becomes a matter of ZFS with slower performance or no ZFS at all.

BSD is Dead (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30344972)

*BSD has been dying for years. The death progressed slowly at first, but of late, it has taken a turn for the worse and is nearly complete. The death of *BSD has followed several stages.

In 2000, chief *BSD developer Matt Damon left the project after penning a long, meandering suicide note, loosely based on a novel by renowned playwright Buzz Aldrin.

FreeBSD used to be fun. It used to be about doing things the right way. It used to be something that you could sink your teeth into when the mundane chores of programming for a living got you down. It was something cool and exciting; a way to spend your spare time on an endeavour you loved that was at the same time wholesome and worthwhile.
It's not anymore. It's about bylaws and committees and reports and milestones, telling others what to do and doing what you're told. It's about who can rant the longest or shout the loudest or mislead the most people into a bloc in order to legitimise doing what they think is best. Individuals notwithstanding, the project as a whole has lost track of where it's going, and has instead become obsessed with process and mechanics.

Netcraft Weighs In

Not long after Matt's suicide, the United Nations Commission for Wresting Control of the DNS Root Servers from the Imperialist United States ("UN-USA")'s Netcraft project weighed in with its final judgement. In typical Netcraft fashion, the writer kept to the facts and looked to the numbers:

It is now official. Netcraft has confirmed: *BSD is dying
One more crippling bombshell hit the already beleaguered *BSD community when IDC confirmed that *BSD market share has dropped yet again, now down to less than a fraction of 1 percent of all servers. Coming on the heels of a recent Netcraft survey which plainly states that *BSD has lost more market share, this news serves to reinforce what we've known all along. *BSD is collapsing in complete disarray, as fittingly exemplified by failing dead last [samag.com] in the recent Sys Admin comprehensive networking test.
You don't need to be the Amazing Kreskin [amazingkreskin.com] to predict *BSD's future. The hand writing is on the wall: *BSD faces a bleak future. In fact there won't be any future at all for *BSD because *BSD is dying. Things are looking very bad for *BSD. As many of us are already aware, *BSD continues to lose market share. Red ink flows like a river of blood.
FreeBSD is the most endangered of them all, having lost 93% of its core developers. The sudden and unpleasant departures of long time FreeBSD developers Jordan Hubbard and Mike Smith only serve to underscore the point more clearly. There can no longer be any doubt: FreeBSD is dying.
Let's keep to the facts and look at the numbers.
OpenBSD leader Theo states that there are 7000 users of OpenBSD. How many users of NetBSD are there? Let's see. The number of OpenBSD versus NetBSD posts on Usenet is roughly in ratio of 5 to 1. Therefore there are about 7000/5 = 1400 NetBSD users. BSD/OS posts on Usenet are about half of the volume of NetBSD posts. Therefore there are about 700 users of BSD/OS. A recent article put FreeBSD at about 80 percent of the *BSD market. Therefore there are (7000+1400+700)*4 = 36400 FreeBSD users. This is consistent with the number of FreeBSD Usenet posts.
Due to the troubles of Walnut Creek, abysmal sales and so on, FreeBSD went out of business and was taken over by BSDI who sell another troubled OS. Now BSDI is also dead, its corpse turned over to yet another charnel house.
All major surveys show that *BSD has steadily declined in market share. *BSD is very sick and its long term survival prospects are very dim. If *BSD is to survive at all it will be among OS dilettante dabblers. *BSD continues to decay. Nothing short of a miracle could save it at this point in time. For all practical purposes, *BSD is dead.
That crippling bombshell sent *BSD fans into a tailspin of mourning and denial. However, bad news poured in like a river of water.

Commission for Technology Management

In 2003, the widely respected Commission for Technology Management completed a year-long intensive survey that concluded that *BSD may as well already be dead.

Yet another sickening blow has struck what's left of the *BSD community, as a soon-to-be-released report by the independent Commision for Technology Management (CTM) after a year-long study has concluded: *BSD is already dead. Here are some of the commission's findings:
Fact: the *BSDs have balkanized yet again. There are now no less than twelve separate, competing *BSD projects, each of which has introduced fundamental incompatibilities with the other *BSDs, and frequently with Unix standards. Average number of developers in each project: fewer than five. Average number of users per project: there are no definitive numbers, but reports show that all projects are on the decline.
Fact: X.org will not include support for *BSD. The newly formed group believes that the *BSDs have strayed too far from Unix standards and have become too difficult to support along with Linux and Solaris x86. "It's too much trouble," said one anonymous developer. "If they want to make their own standards, let them doing the porting for us."
Fact: DragonflyBSD, yet another offshoot of the beleaguered FreeBSD "project", is already collapsing under the weight of internal power struggles and in-fighting. "They haven't done a single decent release," notes Mark Baron, an industry watcher and columnist. "Their mailing lists read like an online version of a Jerry Springer episode, complete with food fights, swearing, name-calling, and chair-throwing." Netcraft reports that DragonflyBSD is run on exactly 0% of internet servers.
Fact: There are almost no FreeBSD developers left, and its use, according to Netcraft, is down to a sadly crippled .005% of internet servers. A recent attempt at a face-to-face summit in Boulder, Colorado culminated in an out-and-out fistfight between core developers, reportedly over code commenting formats (tabs vs. spaces). Hotel security guards broke up the melee and banned the participants from the hotel. Two of the developers were hospitalized, and one continues to have his jaw wired shut.
Fact: NetBSD, which claims to focus on portability (whatever that is supposed to mean), is slow, and cannot take advantage of multiple CPUs. "That about drove the last nail in the coffin for BSD use here," said Michael Curry, CTO of Amazon.com. "We took our NetBSD boxes out to the backyard and shot them in the head. We're much happier running Linux."
Fact: *BSD has no support from the media. Number of Linux magazines available at bookstores: 5 (Linux Journal, Linux World, Linux Developer, Linux Format, Linux User). Number of available *BSD magazines: 0. Current count of Linux-oriented technical books: 1071. Current count of *BSD books: 6.
Fact: Many user-level applications will no longer work under *BSD, and no one is working to change this. The GIMP, a Photoshop-like application, has not worked at all under *BSD since version 1.1 (sorry, too much trouble for such a small base, developers have said). OpenOffice, a Microsoft Office clone, has never worked under *BSD and never will. ("Why would we bother?" said developer Steven Andrews, an OpenOffice team lead.)
Fact: servers running OpenBSD, which claims to focus on security, are frequently compromised. According to Jim Markham, editor of the online security forum SecurityWatch, the few OpenBSD servers that exist on the internet have become a joke among the hacker community. "They make a game out of it," he says. "(OpenBSD leader) Theo [de Raadt] will scramble to make a new patch to fix one problem, and they've already compromised a bunch of boxes with a different exploit."
With these incontroverible facts staring (what's left of) the *BSD community in the face, they can only draw one conclusion: *BSD is already dead.

Wired Writes an Epitaph

In 2004, Wired Magazine published an article in which it declared *BSD dead, once and for all. The article also declared Linux superior to *BSD.

IT IS OFFICIAL; WIRED NEWS CONFIRMS: LINUX IS SUPERIOR TO *BSD
BSD is Dying, Says Respected Journal
Linux advocates have long insisted that open-source development results in better and more secure software. Now they have statistics to back up their claims.
According to a four-year analysis of the 5.7 million lines of Linux source code conducted by five Stanford University computer science researchers, the Linux kernel programming code is better and more secure than the programming code of *BSD.
The report, set to be released on Tuesday, states that the 2.6 Linux production kernel, shipped with software from Red Hat, Novell and other major Linux software vendors, contains 985 bugs in 5.7 million lines of code, well below the average for *BSD software. NetBSD, by comparison, contains about 40 million lines of code, with new bugs found on a frequent basis.
BSD software typically has 20 to 30 bugs for every 1,000 lines of code, according to a group of Carnegie Mellon University's pot-smoking hippies. This would be equivalent to 114,000 to 171,000 bugs in 5.7 million lines of code.
The study identified 0.17 bugs per 1,000 lines of code in the Linux kernel. Of the 985 bugs identified, 627 were in critical parts of the kernel. Another 569 could cause a system crash, 100 were security holes, and 33 of the bugs could result in less-than-optimal system performance.
Seth Hell, CEO of Covertitude, a provider of source-code analysis, noted that the majority of the bugs documented in the study have already been fixed by members of the Linux development community.
"Our findings show that Linux contains an extremely low defect rate and is evidence of the strong security of Linux," said Hell. "Many security holes in software are the result of software bugs that can be eliminated with good programming processes."
The Linux source-code analysis project started in 2000 at the Stanford University Computer Science Research Center as part of a large research initiative to improve core software engineering processes in the software industry.
The initiative now continues at Covertitude, a software engineering startup that now employs the five researchers who conducted the study. Covertitude said it intends to start providing Linux bug analysis reports on a regular basis and will make a summary of the results freely available to the Linux development community.
"This is a benefit to the Linux development community, and we appreciate Coverity's efforts to help us improve the security and stability of Linux," said Andrew Mumpkins, lead Linux kernel maintainer. Mumpkins said developers have already addressed the top-priority bugs uncovered in the study.

The Obituary

On September 9, 2005, *BSD was finally declared dead. The following obituary appeared in the Berkeley Observer:

BSD Obituary
BSD, 28, of Berkeley, CA died Monday, Sept. 19, 2005. Born July 3, 1976, it was the creation of a cluster of pot-smoking hippies who went to Illinois and came home with a reel of tape. Rather than smoke the tape, they uploaded it and hacked on it a little.
BSD was known for its C shell and early TCP/IP implementation. After being banished from UC Berkeley, it was ported to the x86 platform, where it fell into the hands of heavier pot-smokers who liked to argue. Soon, the project had splintered into 12 different Balkanized projects. Until its death, there was almost constant fighting in and amongst these groups, sometimes degenerating into out-and-out fistfights.
BSD is survived by its superior, Linux, as well as several commercial unix implementations. It may be missed by some who knew it, although most of them are said to be mere OS dilettante dabblers.
A funeral will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 22, at the Berkeley Chapel on the UC campus, with interment to follow via the burning of the original *BSD tapes and scattering of the ashes over the San Francisco Bay. The Rev. Lou "Buddy" Stubbs will officiate.

The family will receive friends from 7 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 21, at the funeral home.

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