Month: January 2013

A book in beta

Michael W. Lucas is working on a DNSSEC book that he’s self-publishing, similar to SSH Mastery.  He’s making an early draft available for purchase, at a discount.  You get access to the updates, so you effectively get the book for less, plus you can offer feedback before the publishing date.

This is a familiar concept for software, where early purchasers get access to a ‘beta’ version of software for testing…  It’ll be interesting to see how it works for a book.

Posted by     Categories: Books, BSD     2 Comments

BSDTalk 222: 8 minutes of tinkering

Will Backman has a new BSDTalk episode up, with a bit of Peter Salus from BSDCan 2011 and a bit of Raspberry Pi on FreeBSD.

We need more fiddling-with-BSD-on-hardware stuff out there.  That would be a good thing for Youtube – hint, hint.

Posted by     Categories: BSD, Device support, Periodicals     0 Comments

Xen users, take note

Markus Pfeiffer reports success using Xen HVM to run DragonFly, which may be useful for any of you Xen users.  He reports not being able to use more than 2 virtual CPUs, though Scott Tincman reports successfully using 4 (with qemu), so your mileage may vary.

Updated: noting qemu usage as Markus pointed out in comments.

Posted by     Categories: DragonFly, Goings-on     1 Comment

A quick commercial anecdote for pfSense

Here’s an unsolicited testimonial for a BSD-based company.  My employer recently bought some of the assets of another company, in another state.  I showed up not sure exactly what I’d encounter, since the facility had never had anything better than out-of-state IT support via phone, and there had been very little time to plan.

The facility had 3 different network gateway devices from varying manufacturers, all old, and mostly dead.  The one working ancient Linksys small business gateway wasn’t physically able to work the way I wanted for extending our corporate network.  So, in a mild panic, I grabbed one of the defunct machines there and installed pfSense – a FreeBSD-based firewall/gateway solution, for those who aren’t familiar with it.   This is not unlike Michael W. Lucas’s BSD Origin Story.

It worked wonderfully.  It was very easy to configure.  I had exactly one problem: certain protocols like RDP would drop every few minutes.  I bought the basic support tier for pfSense – and had a working answer immediately.  Even with the support purchase, this has been cheaper and less work than purchasing the Cisco equipment my workplace normally uses.

Posted by     Categories: BSD     3 Comments

Lazy Reading for 2013/01/27


Your unrelated comics link of the week: Kyle Baker comics, available as PDFs for free.  Go, read.

Posted by     Categories: Books, Lazy Reading, UNIXish     0 Comments

Some Tux3 notes

If you’ve been feeling the need for reading about filesystems, Daniel Phillips has posted more notes about his Tux3 filesystem design, which can be contrasted with HAMMER.  (thanks, Venkatesh Srinivas)

Posted by     Categories: Goings-on, Hammer     0 Comments

Hey, NYC readers

This has nothing directly to do with DragonFly, other than this is a result from my trip to NYCBSDCon last year…  I know I have a few New York City readers.  I’m possibly making a short trip to NYC soon; any advice on where to stay/visit?

Posted by     Categories: Off-Topic     2 Comments

Network fairness changes and what they mean

Sepherosa Ziehau makes commits almost daily to DragonFly’s network infrastructure, but I have a hard time quantifying it into Digest posts in part because it’s often very technical.  His most recent commits come with an explanation, however.  He has done plenty of work to improve overall transmission speeds in DragonFly, and now he’s working on ‘fairness’.  Fair, in this case, means ensuring that packet transmitting and receiving happen without either one monopolizing the connection.  In real world terms, this translates to much more constant speeds.  His recent commit details what he’s doing and some numbers to prove it.

Remember I said he’s improved speeds?  Note that in his example, he’s reaching stable peaks of 981 Mbps.  This is on a line that I assume theoretically maxes out at 1000.

Posted by     Categories: Committed Code, Device support, DragonFly     0 Comments

Lazy Reading for 2013/01/20

Ok, now posting this on the correct day…

Your unrelated comic link of the week: The Game, by Boulet.  Goes with some of the links.

Posted by     Categories: Lazy Reading     0 Comments

Extra rebuilding step for 3.3 users

Based on this bug report on the recently updated m4, you may need to perform some extra steps to update m4 as part of a normal upgrade:

# cd /usr/src/usr.bin/m4
# make
# make install clean


Posted by     Categories: DragonFly, Someday you will need this     0 Comments

A favor with xorgs and DPorts

If you have a DragonFly 3.3 system with DPorts, can you install xorg, then ssh -Y from another machine to there, and see if you can remotely run an X program like xterm with local display?  I’ve done this twice on two different machines with DPorts and it won’t work.  xorg won’t write the security info to ~/.Xauthority, with ssh or xhost or whatever.   It’s driving me crazy.

(Yeah, slow news day.)

Posted by     Categories: About This Site, DragonFly     3 Comments

Updates for m4 and flex

Peter Avalos has updated m4 for DragonFly.  This will bring us a little more in sync with the other BSDs.  Also, John Marino has updated flex, which is apparently 17 years old?   Meaning it hasn’t been updated in DragonFly ever, and then not in FreeBSD before that, for a long time.  Looking at the timeline on the flex web page appears to match.

Posted by     Categories: BSD, Committed Code, DragonFly     0 Comments

HAMMER best practices, and RAID

Dave Hayes asked for some “best practices” ideas for setting up a HAMMER (1) system.  I replied, and the conversation turned to RAID, as these often do.  If you’re thinking of purchasing disk hardware in the near future, this will be useful to you.

Posted by     Categories: Device support, DragonFly     0 Comments

Multiple TX queue support started

Sepherosa Ziehau has added a generic form of support for multiple transmit queues in DragonFly.  This means less contention when transmitting.  It’s not done; he has drivers to set up and as he said, it’s “step 1 of many“.

Posted by     Categories: Committed Code, DragonFly     0 Comments

Git and DragonFly on IPv6

If you are a brave soul and have an IPv6-only DragonFly installation, there’s now a git mirror of DragonFly that is available on IPv6.

Posted by     Categories: DragonFly, Someday you will need this     0 Comments

More tips for DPorts

I meant to post this a while ago; it’s a few days old but still useful.  John Marino gave some stats on DPorts progress, plus he and Francois Tigeot also had some tips on xorg setup.  The successful build count is  higher by now, and I think KDE3 is done, though I haven’t tried it.

Posted by     Categories: DPorts, DragonFly, Goings-on     0 Comments

How to re-certify for BSD

If you have a BSD Certification, and it’s nearing the end of its 5-year term, the BSD Certification Group has published the guidelines for re-certification.  Has it really been 5 years since the first certifications happened? Geez.

I found this off of the NYCBUG mailing list, so hat tip to them.

Posted by     Categories: BSD, Goings-on     0 Comments

Lazy Reading for 2013/01/13

It’s a very short week this week.  I was on the road for work, so I didn’t see anywhere as much of the Internet as I may have liked.  Count my dports writeup yesterday as part of this and it averages out to a good amount of reading.

  • Favorite Linux Commands.  Not all of them are Linux/bash specific.  (via)
  • Advanced Vim Registers.  Or buffers, or clipboards, if you want to get messy with terms.  (via)
  • “I hate BSD so much!”, he yelled at his spittle-flecked monitor.
  • TOME, a roguelike.  Read through the comments for discussion of many other roguelike games.

Your unrelated link of the week: New Tokyo Ondo.  via Jesse Moynihan, whose Forming comic on that site is an epic read.  Epic, as in it’s actually telling a NSFW world creation story.

Posted by     Categories: BSD, Goings-on     2 Comments

3.3 users, please update

If you are on DragonFly 3.3, and you are running a kernel built after January 1st, there’s a bug in the way FP context is handled when the kernel supports AVX.  (January 1st is when AVX support was committed.)  Matthew Dillon has committed a fix and issued a note to update for everyone.

Posted by     Categories: Committed Code, DragonFly, Heads Up!     0 Comments

An early DPorts education

John Marino’s DPorts project, mentioned here briefly before, is interesting.  I had two separate people ask me how it works, so a better explanation is in order.  I’ve tried it out on a test machine over the past few weeks.


Dports is an effort to use FreeBSD’s ports system as a base for DragonFly, and the pkg tool as a way to manage binary packages built from DPorts.  This is complicated, so I’ll explain each part in order.

  • FreeBSD ports are a FreeBSD-specific collection of software installation files that automate building 3rd-party software on FreeBSD.  You’ve probably already heard of them.  (Note there’s no mention of DragonFly.)
  • DPorts is a collection of files that map to existing FreeBSD ports, and contain any changes necessary to make that port also build on DragonFly.  Many of those programs build without changes on DragonFly.  DPorts builds from source.
  • pkg is used for package management, and is usable on FreeBSD and on DragonFly.  The binary packages produced from building with DPorts can be installed from remote locations and managed separately using pkg, so that software upgrades and installation can be performed with binaries only.  (It’s much faster that way.)

Every port seen in DPorts is known to build on DragonFly.  John Marino adds a port only after it builds successfully, using poudriere as a bulk software tool.   Ports are only updated to a newer version when that newer version builds, too, so once something arrives in DPorts, it should never break from being updated at some point in the future.


To use DPorts, you need two things:

  1. DragonFly 3.3 or later, though 3.3 is the most recent right now.
  2. You need to rename /usr/pkg so that your existing pkgsrc binary programs don’t get accidentally used while working with DPorts, causing confusion.  If anything goes wrong with DPorts when you are installing it and you want to go back, remove all the DPorts packages and rename /usr/pkg back to normal.

(Don’t confuse pkg, the management tool, with /usr/pkg, the normal installation directory for pkgsrc. ) For the installation of the base port files:

cd /usr
make dports-create-shallow

If you’ve already renamed your /usr/pkg directory, git won’t be in your path any more.  You can instead download a tarball and unpack it, which also happens to be possible automatically via that same Makefile.

cd /usr
make dports-download

Downloading via git is fastest, so if you do need to use the tarball via make dports-download, build devel/git, delete /usr/dports, and then pull it again with make dports-create-shallow.  This all comes from John Marino’s Github site for DPorts.

Managing DPorts

DPorts doesn’t use pkg_info, pkg_add, and the other tools traditionally seen on DragonFly for pkgsrc.  Instead, package management is done with pkg.   Use pkg info, pkg install, pkg remove, and pkg update to list, install, delete, and upgrade various packages on your system.  Packages built from source or downloaded as prebuilt binaries are managed the same way, using these tools.

See some of the other writing about pkg for FreeBSD for details on how it works.

Since DPorts doesn’t update a package until it gets a successful build, and installations are of successfully built binary packages, upgrades with prebuilt packages should always succeed.  Since they’re binary, they should be fast.  There’s a lot of ‘shoulds’  in this sentence, but these are reasonable suppositions.

What about pkgsrc?

Pkgsrc and DPorts shouldn’t be used at the same time, since one system’s packages may be at different versions but still get picked up during building for the other system.  That’s about it for restrictions.

I intend to try building an experimental release of DragonFly with DPorts, to see if all the right packages can be added, but no guarantees.  DPorts is brand new and does not yet have a repository for downloading packages, so the normal caveats apply; don’t install it on a mission-critical machine, and be ready to deal with any surprises from using it if you do try it out.

What packages are available?

Browsing the Github repo will show you all listed packages.  More complex packages like xorg, openjdk7, and libreoffice install, as does xfce.  Parts of KDE 3 and KDE 4 are in there.  (I haven’t tried either.)  I’m not sure about Gnome, but I don’t think anyone ever is.  There’s no vim, but there is emacs.

That’s just what I see at this exact minute.  It changes daily as more packages are built.  Changes from DragonFly builds are sometimes relevant to the original FreeBSD port, so there’s benefits for everyone here.

What next?

Try it now if it has all the packages you need, or wait for a binary repository to be created to speed things up.  Remember, this is a new project, so a willingness to deal with problems and contribute to fixes is necessary.

Posted by     Categories: DPorts, DragonFly, Goings-on, pkgsrc     17 Comments

pkgsrc-2012Q4 out

It’s actually been out since the start of January, but the release announcement is available now.

Posted by     Categories: Goings-on, pkgsrc     1 Comment

Can you read French? Then read this.

Stéphane Russell, on the users@ mailing list, pointed out an in-depth article about DragonFly’s 3.2 release, on  It’s in French, which means I’m just going to have to trust his word about the contents.

Posted by     Categories: DragonFly, Goings-on     0 Comments

BSD Magazine: panoramic photography

January’s issue of BSD Magazine has something I didn’t expect: an article on panoramic photography on BSD – among other material.

Posted by     Categories: BSD, Periodicals     0 Comments

Virtio and virtio-block drivers added

Venkatesh Srinivas and Tim Bisson have been working for some time on a port of FreeBSD’s virtio and virtio-block drivers.  (see man page commit)  They’ve now been committed.  This should make your virtual disk perform better, if nothing else.

Posted by     Categories: Device support, DragonFly, FreeBSD     0 Comments

More on the Himeno Phoronix benchmark, and memory allocation

If you recall, Phoronix recently ran a bunch of benchmarks on DragonFly.  One spot that didn’t look good was the “Himeno Poisson Pressure Solver”.  I’m no closer to knowing what capability it actually tests other than itself, but Alex Hornung, Matt Dillon, and Venkatesh Srinivas figured out that cache coloring was the missing ingredient.  DragonFly now scores the same as Linux.

Tangentially related, this cache coloring is happening in nmalloc, which is now used on 64-bit DragonFly systems.  The previous one, dmalloc, had problems in long-running programs.

Posted by     Categories: Committed Code, DragonFly     0 Comments

Lazy Reading for 2013/01/06

I’m going for the terse list of links.  It’s sort of Neukirchen-ish.

Your unrelated link(s) of the week: Some very good tutorial videos.  Don’t worry, it’s just electrostatic dischargewire safetyfun with capacitors, and how to make a Windows shortcut (via/via)

Posted by     Categories: Lazy Reading     2 Comments

BSDCan 2013 proposals

BSDCan 2013 is looking for papers, all due by the 19th.  I mentioned it before, but a reminder went out and Michael W. Lucas wrote up a lengthy explanation of how and why you should present that paper.

Posted by     Categories: BSD, Conventions     0 Comments

DPorts and what it’s about

John Marino has been working for some time on a project he calls, ‘DPorts’.  You may have noticed his recent commits for it.  He wrote up a summary on users@ to explain what he’s doing.  It’s translating FreeBSD ports to DragonFly in a way that appears to be (relatively) low-maintenance.   It only works on DragonFly 3.3 and up and you can’t use it at the same time as pkgsrc.

Most interesting to me, it gets rid of the quarterly release chase that happens with pkgsrc releases.  Since it’s primarily a binary install system, packages are only upgraded when the results are known to work.

Posted by     Categories: DragonFly, pkgsrc     1 Comment

Project ideas again

Ishan Thilina asked for some project ideas, and Samuel Greear gave a list of links that may be useful for anyone looking for a project of their own.  I offered strategy.  It didn’t work out, but this information’s still useful.

Posted by     Categories: DragonFly, Goings-on     0 Comments

BSDDay 2013 in Europe

Are you anywhere near Italy?  BSD-Day is happening April 6th, 2013, in Naples, Italy, and it would be nice to have some DragonFly representation.  (seen on #dragonflybsd on EFNet.)

Posted by     Categories: BSD, Conventions     0 Comments

EuroBSDCon 2012 videos are out

As seen on OpenBSD Journal, the videos for EuroBSDCon 2012 are online.  There’s a lot of sessions there, so set aside some time.

Posted by     Categories: BSD, Conventions     3 Comments

AVX support added to DragonFly

Adam Sakareassen submitted a patch for AVX support for 64-bit DragonFly, and Alex Hornung has committed it.  If you’re like me and have only the vaguest idea what AVX is, it’s a set of processor instructions added by Intel to Sandy Bridge and later CPUs.

Posted by     Categories: Device support, DragonFly     1 Comment

pkgsrccon 2013: March 23rd, Berlin

Will you be near Berlin, Germany, in March?  The pkgsrccon 2013 technical conference will be held there.  Julian Djamil Fagir posted details about the event.  The conference is free; you pay for your food and drink.  If you’re interested in presenting, you need to contact them before March 8th.

Posted by     Categories: BSD, Conventions, pkgsrc     0 Comments

Maintaining a wiki for fun

The Open Graphics Project, which is building a completely open video card, needs a wiki maintainer.  It’s a volunteer effort.  If you were perhaps thinking you wanted to step up to a more complex project but didn’t want to just be writing code, here is a perfect opportunity.

(Not too different from maintaining a project work blog, after all, and I know that’s rewarding.)

Posted by     Categories: BSD, Goings-on     0 Comments