Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Review: Network Administration with FreeBSD 7

Packt Publishing contacted me a few months ago and offered to send me a copy of their new book, Network Administration with FreeBSD 7 by Babak Farrokhi. There is clearly a need for a modern book covering some of the newer networking features of FreeBSD, so I agreed to write a review.

The early chapters include some general FreeBSD system administration content, similar to what is provided in the FreeBSD Handbook. Chapters on disk layout, system configuration, tuning, package management, and jails precede the main networking chapters. The latter chapters include information on a number of networking technologies not well covered by the existing online documentation. For example, there are chapters or sections on GRE, OpenOSPFD, OpenBGPD, IPv6, TCP 1323, Delayed ACK, firewalls, network servers, and more.

The book is reasonably comprehensive, but there are some notable gaps. It would have been nice to see a section on SCTP or the improved wireless facilities in FreeBSD 7, for example. Also, there is a section on the Squid proxy, but the more modern Varnish project is not mentioned at all.

Unfortunately, the prose is a bit distracting as there are grammatical errors, typos, and missing articles on essentially every page. Overall this book serves as a practical guidebook for FreeBSD Network Administrators and it is a welcome contribution to the corpus of available FreeBSD books.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Firefox 3 is out with FreeBSD Technologies

I installed FireFox 3 on a couple of computers yesterday and must say I've been pleasantly surprised. The del.icio.us and Google Toolbar plugins both updated and are working great. The application itself feels a lot faster and there are a number of helpful UI improvements, particularly in the "awesome bar" in the way it searches my history, bookmarks, and del.icio.us links to present URL completions.

Most importantly for this post, however, is the number of FreeBSD technologies integrated into the browser. The most widely publicized is probably the addition of Jason Evan's memory allocator (jemalloc) written for FreeBSD 7.0 which has been included into Firefox to reduce memory fragmentation. A nice blog post by one of the Firefox developers explains the benefit of jemalloc to Firefox.

Another FreeBSD technology widely adopted by other products utilizing binary updates is Colin Percival's bspatch client-side binary patching code. Kris Kennaway also notes that the ISC is hosting its FireFox mirrors on FreeBSD 7.0 machines to handle the unprecedented download demand as the Mozilla Foundation attempts to break a world record for downloads in a day.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

FreeBSD Core Team Elections

Another 2 years has passed and it is time for FreeBSD Core Team elections. The FreeBSD Project has relied on democratic elections of the 9 member core team since 2000, when the first election results were announced at BSDCon in Monterey.

Candidates have 2 weeks in which to declare their candidacy and voting commences on June 19. Active FreeBSD committers are eligible to vote until July 16 and the results will be announced shortly thereafter.