BSDCan is an enormously successful grass-roots style conference. It brings together a great mix of *BSD developers and users for a nice blend of both developer-centric and user-centric presentations, food, and activities.
In 2002 I asked a number of developers/Unix people for screenshots of their desktops. I recently republished them, and, seeing the interest this generated, I thought it’d be fun to ask the same people* again 13 years later. To my delight I managed to reach many of them.
Parsing the developments from the BSD side of things this week for consumption by the general public is a little trickier than it is across the street on the Linux side, however with a little juggling (and an important note from iXsystems to come tomorrow in the weekly FOSS roundup), we’ll take a look at the new images ready for your testing and feedback. Also, I’ll answer some questions which arose in last week’s comments.
The OpenBSD project has long held a reputation for producing a secure operating system. The project boasts just two remote security holes reported over a span of about twenty years. It's an impressive accomplishment for the developers and a good indication of why OpenBSD is so often trusted for security oriented tasks like running firewalls. However, the OpenBSD team has been steadily working on other projects too. The team behind OpenBSD also creates the widely used OpenSSH software which is used around the world by system administrators to remotely work on servers and securely transfer files. The OpenBSD project also spawned the LibreSSL software (a replacement for OpenSSL) following the Heartbleed vulnerability. In the latest release of OpenBSD we also saw improvements to the project's lightweight and secure web server (called httpd), the introduction of the doas command (a replace for sudo), a new implementation of the file command and W^X support for i386 processors. The latest version of the operating system, OpenBSD 5.8, also switched to denying root logins in the default installation.
DragonFly version 4.4 bring further updates to accelerated video for both i915 and radeon users, a new locale system, and a new default linker. Significant behind-the-scenes work has also been done, with symbol versioning, Hammer1 improvements, and other changes. Version 4.4.1 was the first release due to the late inclusion of OpenSSL update 1.0.1q.
To be clear, the BSDs are not Linux distributions. They are Unix-like, so they are similar to Linux, but they are their own family of open source operating systems with their own rich history. Unlike Linux with its multitude of distributions, the BSD family is much smaller; the big three distributions are FreeBSD, NetBSD, and OpenBSD. The small handful of other BSD distributions branch off from one of those projects, most frequency, from FreeBSD.
DragonFlyBSD 4.4 is ready for release with a number of exciting improvements and new features.
DragonFlyBSD 4.4 delivers improvements to the i915 and Radeon DRM drivers that are now up to parity with their state from Linux 3.18, supports collation for named locales, a overhauled locale system, and the regex library was replaced with the TRE library. Also very prominent to DragonFlyBSD 4.4 is that it uses the Gold linker by default.
I've been using OpenBSD since way back at release 2.3 in 1998, so I've gone through upgrades that took a fair amount of work due to incompatible changes, like the switch from ipf to pf for host firewalling or the change to ELF binaries. The upgrade from 5.7 to 5.8 was a pretty smooth and easy one, for the most part. The two most painful changes for me were the replacement of sudo with doas and the dropping of support in the rc.conf for the pf_rules variable. While sudo is still available as a package, I like the idea of reducing attack surface with a simpler program, so I made the switch. The two things I miss most about sudo are the ability to authenticate for a period of time and the ability to have a single config file across a whole set of servers. The former I'm just living with, the latter I've adjusted to by having a single config file that has lines commented out depending on which server it's on. I did have one moment of concern about the quality of doas when it incorrectly reported the line number on which I had a syntax error in the config file--fortunately, this was just a failure to increment the line count on continuation lines (ending with a "\") which is fixed in the -current release.
The area51 repository continues to update, even as the official ports tree for FreeBSD sticks with KDE4. Since the KDE-FreeBSD team is also responsible for the official ports, that basically means that not everything has been shaken out yet, and that the team doesn’t feel that it can provide a really good Frameworks5 / Plasma5 / Applications installation .. yet. I’ve been playing with ideas for a default desktop wallpaper (the upstream default gives me a headache; I’d really like to combine Flying Konqui by Timothée Giet with bubbles made from the BSD logo.
DragonFlyBSD has switched to using the Gold Linker by default rather than GNU ld.
The GNU Gold linker for ELF files is designed to be faster and much more modern than the GNU linker. DragonFlyBSD has traditionally used GNU ld, but now Gold is ready for primetime use by default on this BSD distribution.
My history with OpenBSD started around 2011 when I was still an undergrad student working part-time on an University-Industry partnership program. In this job I was assigned the task of implementing a full (!) MPLS solution for Linux and that task encompassed having a working implementation of the LDP protocol, among several other things. I started then looking for an open source implementation of LDP and found out that OpenBSD had a daemon called ldpd(8). I decided to check it out and it was love at the first sight when I saw its code: it was beautiful! I started then porting this daemon to Linux and on top of that fixed quite a few bugs. Two years later I decided that it would be fair to contribute my fixes back to the original implementation, it was when claudio@ invited me to join the OpenBSD team. Around that time I didn't know much about OpenBSD and was surprised with the invitation. Theo de Raadt sent me a couple of emails and I had no clue about who he was. Nevertheless, I was excited with the invitation and started to follow the mailing lists and even bought a book about OpenBSD. Within a couple days I was hooked on it and OpenBSD became my OS of choice.