[Ukfreebsd] opentech - 11th Sept - London

Robert N. M. Watson rwatson at FreeBSD.org
Sun Aug 1 11:14:22 BST 2010

On 1 Aug 2010, at 09:39, Mark Blackman wrote:

> I'd say that's a case of lots of evolutionary changes starting to add up to
> radical change.

Yeah -- I think I'd say that the UNIX model (really just a subset of the MULTICS model) has evolved pretty well to new hardware and new requirements over the years. That said, in a world of GUIs, some elements have proven less practical for end users than others: POSIX is a huge success, the process model has done very well, the file system pretty well, but end users mostly don't use command pipelines...

> In any case, I'm sure one could easily take Robert's great
> list of points and turn that into a talk with very little effort. Maybe he's
> volunteering! :)

Probably not, unfortunately, life is pretty busy currently. However, I'm happy to review slides and chat with people about what might be said!

> Mostly I was saying, FreeBSD is keeping up with everyone and "Modern" FreeBSD
> is recognisably different to FreeBSD 2000 once you get past basic sysadmin jobs
> and start running applications, but radical isn't the word that comes
> to mind for me if you're comparing to the FreeBSD 4 series, but is probably 
> appropriate compared to FreeBSD 3 which was a little more like the deployed
> versions in 2000, even if 4 was available.
> I'm happily running FreeBSD 4 jails, merely because they're not doing a bad enough
> job to justify the effort of migrating to FreeBSD 8.

My experience is that FreeBSD is consistently consistent. The main motivations to shift forward from FreeBSD 4 tend to be:

- Get a version that's in security support
- Improved support for multicore
- Improved support for virtualization
- Improved file system feature set
- More recent network features (SACK, etc)
- Improved security feature set
- More recent compiler suite, system APIs (and hence support for more recent applications)

With the exception of security support (i.e, advisories), there's not a lot of motivation to update well-performing devices whose applications don't require upgrades or new features -- the main limit on uptime is power loss!

In terms of some of our larger users and their upgrade paths, 4.x -> 6.1 -> 7.2 is not an uncommon path. Some might argue that the 5.x jump was because of quality issues during SMPng development -- that's certainly possible, but looking at some of those companies having trouble getting forward from 6.1, I think it's actually just the difficulty of large system upgrades if you haven't been tracking the whole time. Most of the pressure to get to 7.x/8.x from 6.x has been improved multicore/network performance or improved threading performance, and while 6.1 and 8.1 look pretty similar in many ways, there are literally orders of magnitude performance improvements on high core density systems.


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