Month: May 2008

New site design?

James Frazer sent along a new site design for; I’ve got an example of it hosted locally. Mailing list discussion starts here, and of course comments are welcome.

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NASPRO for DragonFly

NASPRO, a sound processing framework, recently had a 0.1.0 release – it works ‘out of the box’ on DragonFly.

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BSDTalk151: Sean Cody of Frantic Films

BSDTalk 151 has Sean Cody of Frantic Films, a visual effects studio spread over the North American continent, who details his use of BSD at home and at the office.  They apparently sling about a huge amount of data.

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Future USB improvements

Michael Neumann has volunteered himself for adding USB4BSD into DragonFly after the 2.0 release.  (That release is slated for mid-July, by the way.)

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New vkernel abilities

Vkernels on are now able to locally network; if you are a Google Summer of Code student that needs that functionality, tell Matthew Dillon and he will put you in the right group.

In addition, he’s created a new tool called vknetd, which enables network creation in userland. This is intended for userland applications like vkernels, though there seems to be some capability for a SSH-based VPN? Someone correct me – or better yet, try it out.

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Links for 8/27

I have a number of small things, mostly old-school games, to post, so I’ll break out the bullets:

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Linuxulator bounty

There’s a bounty for fixing up the Linuxulator; bringing it up to match FreeBSD-current’s state will net you €250. If you want to contribute to the bounty, write your sum into the page. If you want to do the update, volunteer. (There’s already one interested person.)

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Good news for qemu and HP laptop users

A recent commit by Michael Neumann makes qemu work, and also the “HP Compaq” (They’re using both names now?) laptop model 6710b. This apparently was a USB issue.

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May OSBR is out

As Dru Lavigne reports, the May issue of the Open Source Business Resource is out, focusing on “Enterprise Readness”. I found the article on the need for project management in open source very interesting.

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VirtualBox issue sorta figured out

DragonFly hasn’t worked under VirtualBox for a long time. Several people found a cause, though not the reason for it – yet.

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Donations and legal entities

This question at the howling void about donating to open source projects (in this case, DesktopBSD) got me thinking. I’ve been meaning to investigate setting up a DragonFly nonprofit similar to FreeBSD and NetBSD‘s foundation efforts, in order to receive donations and have a legal entity. Anyone have experience with setting up a 501(c)3 company?

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Mirror sites made scorable

Christian Sturm put together a DragonFly mirror stats script; the script connects to and graphs the how reachable each mirror site is. Nifty!

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Summer of Code early feedback

Louisa Luciani, one of the Google Summer of Code students for DragonFly, wants to hear what people want on a LiveCD. Suggestions by email, please, though some discussion ensued anyway.

Nirmal Thacker, another SoC student, asked some questions to prepare for his anticipatory scheduler work, which incidentally led to some good links for comparing or reviewing existing FreeBSD/DragonFly code.

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BSDCan notes

Some notes from BSDCan attendees have popped up. There’s pictures, too. Any other stories?

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BSDTalk 150: Alex Feldman

BSDTalk has made it to the semicentennial milestone of 150 podcasts, with number 150 being Alex Feldman from Sangoma.

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Newest committer: Michael Neumann

Everybody welcome our newest DragonFly committer: Michael Neumann.

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Quick bits

I’m breaking out the bullet points again:

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Filesystem history but not details

It’s from back in March, but this Ars Technica article on filesystems does a pretty good job of historical coverage, though it’s doesn’t go very far into the technical specifications.

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Pinging from jail

Kevin L. Kane came up with a patch to allow raw socket access within jails. It’s been committed, and it now means that if you set the sysctl jail.allow_raw_sockets, you can ping when in a jail.

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Thanks for the updates

Peter Avalos has gone and updated less, tnftp, libarchive, libedit, and CAM.  Thanks, Peter, for all the work!

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Another HAMMER change before release

Matthew Dillon has made another change to HAMMER, which may (he doesn’t say explicitly) require another newfs. After the first HAMMER release, there will be a clear upgrade path for times like these.

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HAMMER status: hard to kill

Matthew Dillon’s latest report on the state of HAMMER mentions the filesystem’s growing resilience to damage.

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BSDTalk 149: Justin Gibbs

William Backman, that lucky guy, is at BSDCan right now. He’s also got a new interview up on BSDTalk with Justin Gibbs of the FreeBSD Foundation.

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Code comparison for multiple kernels

A recent ACM paper, “A Tale of Four Kernels” compares FreeBSD, Linux, OpenSolaris, and the Windows Research Kernel in terms of code style and structure. The paper itself has a lot of blibber blabber, but it’s interesting to compare the code statistics between the different kernel types. I’d like to see a comparison between different BSD kernels; the gap between the Windows Research Kernel and Linux, for instance, is too great to be able to draw very concrete solutions. (via)

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SSH security changes

It was recently discovered that Debian Linux had modified SSL encryption to inadvertently generate weak keys from 2006 until very recently. SSH on DragonFly now includes a tool to check for this issue, and will deny people using those weak keys.

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Synchronizing releases

Mark Shuttleworth, the wallet behind Ubuntu, described on his blog a desire to see major Linux distributions on a common release schedule, so that major releases of associated software can match up. (via) This would be useful for the BSD world, too, though it doesn’t affect BSD releases as dramatically – Linux distributions are more important for what third-party software they handle than anything else, so their release timing is even more critical.

The various BSDs seem to be moving towards a 6-month release schedule, in any case – that’s
the stated goal for OpenBSD and DragonFly, and hopefully someone knows (please comment if you’re that someone) if there’s a known goal for NetBSD or FreeBSD.

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Postulating packet performance progression

Sepherosa Ziehau posted a number of benchmarks to show the general improvements in packets-per-second volume with his recent networking changes. As is appropriate when comparing values, he created and links to lots of graphs to illustrate the improvements.

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HAMMER for May 14th

Matthew Dillon posted a summary of work for HAMMER, noting that the last major (known) bug for undo operations is squished.  Testing is desired; please, won’t someone mangle their filesystem for the benefit of science?

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vkernels available on

Developers and Google Summer of Code students wanting to develop on have two scripts available now for running virtual kernels. Userland networking is available as a private network, for now.

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Another HAMMER update

Matthew Dillon posted another update on HAMMER filesystem progress; the structures are changing enough to require a newfs’ing to any existing HAMMER volumes.  There has been a significant speed boost, however.

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Yay Dion

I updated this DragonFly system from 1.12.1 to 1.12.2 Sunday night, and PHP (and therefore this WordPress-based Digest) stopped working. Dion (dblazakis in #dragonflybsd) found the reason and fixed it, for which I am very grateful.

I had a number of posts I had made ahead of time, so there’s no actual gap in posts from when the server wasn’t responding.  Make sure you catch the past few days of articles.

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HAMMER, and lots of it

I have a number of HAMMER-related news items, so I’ll break out the bullet points:

  • We have a detailed explanation of how HAMMER’s pruning system will work – follow the thread for more details and ideas.
  • Matthew Dillon is trying HAMMER for his backup system. His original UFS system used hardlinks to keep all the backups together; the inodes used would be more than fsck could handle with that system’s RAM. HAMMER doesn’t need those hardlinks because of the snapshot ability, and completes the backup process much faster.
  • There’s also blogbench numbers comparing UFS and HAMMER; strangely, UFS sees a performance degradation when using a large number of files when HAMMER does not. This may mean a real speed advantage or a testing anomaly; it certainly deserves investigation.
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DragonFly and Python support

I spy with my little eye (well, with Google) patches to Python for DragonFly support. This is part of a bunch of other fixes he put together. Thanks for doing the work, Hasso!

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Hardware network testing needed

Sepherosa Ziehau has a new networking patch that gives a 250Kpps performance boost under certain conditions. He’s looking for more hardware testers before next weekend, so if you have a network card on his list, give his patch a try.

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Google Summer of Code wiki pages

We have a page up for the AMD64 port and another for DMA enhancement. I’ve asked all the students involved to create pages, so as they finish exams, I expect more summaries to arrive.

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Vkernels available for Summer of Code work

Matthew Dillon is setting up to support vkernels, for Google Summer of Code students that are doing kernel work. Mail Matthew with your public key and desired username if you need an account.

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Ports/pkgsrc at a smaller level

One of the big wins for BSD has been the packaging system.  It’s very easy to use ports or pkgsrc to download all the dependencies for a given application automatically, and even Linux tools like yum or apt-get handle this nowadays.

Ruby, Perl, Python, and etc. have the disadvantage that if you write a interpreted script that uses libraries not in the standard distribution of that language, users of that script need to perform additional software installation, assuming they have access to do so, just to run that script.  This is a major disadvantage compared to “compiled” software.  To overcome this, additional steps that turn the script and needed libraries into a single executable are required.

‘_why the lucky stiff’ has a solution that matches: Shoes, a Ruby GUI toolkit, goes and gets any needed libraries as part of its startup process. Why didn’t someone think of this 10 years ago so that it could be commonplace?

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Stand up and be counted

Dru Lavigne has news of the OSS Census now supporting BSD systems for counting; it’s good to participate and provide evidence of the number of BSD users out there.

She also has one of her infrequent but useful link posts up; check it and find more to read.

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Unicode Ubiquity

Google’s reporting that Unicode is finally becoming more popular than ASCII. This news is probably of most interest to non-English speakers, but it’s a good thing. How is DragonFly’s Unicode support – can someone comment? (Via)

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Old, old bug

I posted a little about this before, but here’s more prompted by several people mentioning it: a seekdir() bug found and fixed by Marc Balmer is apparently present in all BSDs, going back at least 25 years. 25 years! That’s older than some of you reading this post. His blog post delivers a very nice summary. (Thanks, Undeadly, Richard, Nega)

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A plea for plainer pkgsrc

A recent post on the mailing list from Herb Peyerl describes one of pkgsrc’s biggest issues: upgrading. Much discussion ensued, with some solutions suggested, and others chiming in with similar experiences. It sounds like there’s pressure building to fix that part of pkgsrc, which I can only welcome.

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Advocacy for languages or operating systems

This Perl Buzz post talks about improving the perception and use of Perl, one of my favorite languages. I link to it in part because it’s well written, but also to suggest something: read the article, and substitute “BSD” everywhere you read “Perl”. The same suggestions apply.

The prime motivator for this digest was providing more of an atmosphere for DragonFly, and to some extent for the idea of BSD itself. Lots of people aspire to be a BSD developer/committer, when really what we need is someone having a conversation that involves BSD.

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zsh advocacy

zsh is one of those things that people always describe as a best version of something, like cvs vs. git or vi vs. vim (or BSD vs. Linux?). Philip Paeps has a lengthy blog writeup of his experience trying zsh. (via)

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Another BSD forum: DaemonForums

There’s a new BSD forum site, called DaemonForums. Looking at the comments, it appears to be a replacement for the now-unmaintained BSDForums.(Via)

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Reference card for pkgsrc

Leonardo Taccari created a NetBSD reference card (link to 2-page PDF). The command section also applies, by and large, to DragonFly, as does the entire pkgsrc reference. (via Hubert Feyrer)

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Samuel J. Greear asked about HAMMER and if it could be optimized for handling the somewhat-more-common-these-days Solid State Disk. Matthew Dillon responded, and some discussion ensued. (I’m linking to the posts because they’ve got the details.

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Compression comparison

Samuel J. Greear did an informal comparison of zip, gzip, bzip2, and 7zip, comparing compression ratio and compression time. 7zip looks pretty good, though testing it on some more varied file types and sizes would be in order.

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HAMMER update : final disk structures

Matthew Dillon posted another HAMMER status report, with handling a full file system the only remaining major item. It’s being tested now on his backup system. He’s also committing the final disk structure changes, so you will need to reformat any existing HAMMER volumes.

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One month pkgsrcCon window

pkgsrcCon 5, in Berlin, Germany, June 13 – 15, is less than one month away from closing registration. Register now if you want to attend (since the hosting university does not allow walk-ins). If you want to present, your deadline is slightly earlier, on May 25th.

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A good sales idea

OpenBSD is, as usual, selling CDs of their 4.3 release. It appears that related-but-not-directly-linked goods like The Book of PF are being sold right along side.

The sight of a thick technical book with an included (and probably out of date) CD has been common for years; however, this reversal strikes me as a good idea. Selling a good book along with the operating system that will use it is worthwhile.

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Cross-BSD syslog improvements

Martin Schütte is updating syslog (there’s an IETF standard for it, which I did not know) for one of NetBSD’s Google Summer of Code projects; he very kindly posted links to it on the DragonFly users@ list in the hopes that it could benefit DragonFly’s syslogd too.

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Cross-BSD bug

Marc Balmer of OpenBSD posted about a cross-BSD bug in seekdir()/readdir(); a fix is forthcoming.

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Sepherosa Ziehau has introduced ETHER_INPUT_CHAIN, which apparently gives a “~150Kpps” speed boost.

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BSDTalk 148: Jeremy White, CodeWeavers

This week’s 16-minute BSDTalk episode has Jeremy White of CodeWeavers, the company that releases the Wine-based CrossOver products. They’re now experimenting with BSD versions of their software – specifically, for FreeBSD/PC-BSD.

Wine is coming up on a 1.0 release, which may or may not be coincidental. I recall there was some issues with getting Wine to work on DragonFly; can someone confirm or deny that?

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PF as a throttle

Robert Luciani asked a question I’ve wondered about before: how do you limit bandwidth using pf? Matthew Dillon had some ideas.

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