FreeBSD 9.0 Delivers More Power to Serve

by Sean Michael Kerner

Latest open source FreeBSD release provides new storage, security, networking features

One of the oldest open source operating systems is getting a new release. FreeBSD 9.0 was officially released this week, providing users with a boost in performance and capabilities over the FreeBSD 8.0 branch that was released in 2009.

FreeBSD has long been a highly-available operating architecture and that's a key theme in the 9.0 release as well. One such new features in FreeBSD 9.0 is the Highly Available Storage (HAST) framework.

"The ability to do realtime replication to another box is very important to the workflows of many entities that do storage," Josh Paetzel, FreeBSD release engineering team member told InternetNews.com. "This feature means that you can have ZFS and realtime replication, which makes FreeBSD a viable solution to the problemsets that many entities face."

Another new feature is ZFS version 28, which updates the ZFS filesystem support and capabilities present in FreeBSD. ZFS version 28 includes support for data deduplication and triple parity RAIDZ (raidz3). ZFS began as part of Sun's OpenSolaris effort and made multiple advances under FreeBSD 8.x releases as well.

Storage also gets a boost with the softupdate journaling support in the FreeBSD Fast File System. The release notes for FreeBSD 9.0 explain that the new support introduces an intent log into a softupdates-enabled file system, which eliminates the need for background fsck(8) even on unclean shutdown. Additionally the Fast File System support the TRIM command which will aid in storage optimization.

"The TRIM-enable flag makes the file system send a delete request to the underlying device for each freed block," the FreeBSD 9.0 release notes state.

On the networking front, FreeBSD 9.0 supports a new feature called the Capsicum Capability Mode.

"Capsicum is a set of features for sandboxing support, using a capability model in which the capabilities are file descriptors," the FreeBSD 9.0 release notes state.

FreeBSD has been evolving its open source operating system on a regular cadence for many years. The FreeBSD Project is one of the earliest open source operating system projects, and is a direct descendent of the original open source BSD work performed at the University of California at Berkeley. Among the reasons for the project's longevity and success is the continuous improvement in performance and capabilities that each release provides.

According to Paetzel, the FreeBSD 9.0 release will be a step-up for existing FreeBSD users.

"FreeBSD 9 should outperform FreeBSD 8 for many workflows, as well as better support for multicore platforms and improved networking," Paetzel. " A new NFS stack, newer version of ZFS, improvements in CAM, Softupdate Journalling...the list goes on and on."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist

This article was originally published on Friday Jan 13th 2012
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