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FreeBSD 5.0 offers many new benefits

By David Johnson

FreeBSD 5.0 is the first major version of the FreeBSD operating system in over two years. Many important features and substantial improvements have been added. This article will list some of the benefits that can be had by all users upgrading to this new version.

Mission critical

The primary use of FreeBSD has traditionally been on the mission critical internet server. These systems are increasingly being installed with multiple processors and running heavily threaded database applications. FreeBSD 5.0 addresses this core use with several features.

Multiprocessor support has been revamped, efficient kernel threading has been implemented, and the kernel memory allocator has better performance and reduced fragmentation. This means greater efficiency and performance on multiprocessor servers under heavy load.

``Zero copy'' support has been added to the networking stack. This eliminates one of the more significant bottlenecks in network throughput, improving the performance of your network servers and front line portals.

An extensible Mandatory Access Control framework, and Access Control Lists (ACLs) are made available. A robust and flexible security framework lets systems administrators sleep easily. Access to sensitive company data can be easily partitioned among development groups.

FreeBSD now supports the UltaSparc and IA-64 platforms. You can now use that reliable Sun system or a cutting edge Itanium with the same operating system you're used to on the PC.

Sometimes lightning strikes, literally. The new UFS2 filesystem with Softupdate keeps your data safe, and gives you faster crash recovery when disasters happen. This filesystem also allows larger file sizes for those huge databases.

For many developers

FreeBSD is the preferred operating system for many developers. Its stability, excellent documentation, and conformance to standards makes it a wise choice for development workstations.

The compiler has been upgraded to GNU GCC 3.2.1. This compiler is one of the first to fully support the ISO C++ Standard. Developers can now write real world code, concentrating on the language instead of the compiler. The full power of C++ templates and the STL are available to the developer, while gaining even greater code optimization.

FreeBSD conformance to industry POSIX standards is better than ever. A number of utilities and libraries have been enhanced to meet these standards, in addition to the many that already were. As always, the manual pages for these components are fully documented. The developer can rest assured that code written on FreeBSD will be portable to all dozens of platforms.

The desktop

FreeBSD does not ignore the office and home user. Many improvements have been made to make FreeBSD an excellent choice for the corporate workstation and home desktop. The Direct Rendering Infrastructure for XFree86 is now supported in the kernel. This allows fast flicker-free 3D acceleration with a variety of popular video cards. Yes, you can play those wonderful games under FreeBSD!

Several popular consumer devices are now supported, including many new USB audio and modem devices, the Handspring Visor, and preliminary support for Firewire. New classes of consumer devices are available to the user, increasing the value of their hardware investment. Support for 32-bit and 16-bit CardBus devices brings FreeBSD to more laptops.

FreeBSD can now treat ATA devices as SCSI devices. Software that expects expensive SCSI hardware can now be used with your less expensive CD, CD-RW and DVD drives. Now there is no need to reboot into another operating system to burn your compact discs and DVDs.

Fast, flexible and efficient

Every user is different, but all users want their system to be fast, flexible and efficient. FreeBSD has included numerous features to address all users.

New technologies and standards are emerging every day, and FreeBSD is there supporting them. Among the hardware FreeBSD now supports are Bluetooth, ACPI, and several new RAID, ethernet and audio devices. And don't forget all that hardware I listed above!

Support for the 80386 processor has been removed from the default installation. The FreeBSD kernel is now more optimized for modern CPUs. No longer do you have to settle for performance draining compatibility with hardware you haven't owned in a decade.

FreeBSD packages are now compressed with bzip2, a more efficient data compression method. Packages are smaller and consume less of your valuable bandwidth and storage. A network install of FreeBSD will be faster than ever.

There are many, many more new features and benefits in FreeBSD 5.0. I cannot possibly list them all here. If you would like more information, please see the release notes at

FreeBSD has long had a well-deserved reputation for stability, robustness and security. FreeBSD 5.0 has numerous new and exciting features, but it may not be suitable for all users at this time. A number of major developments may not have been widely tested to the satisfaction of more conservative users. The FreeBSD release team encourages everyone considering the use of this version to read the "Early Adopter's Guide" at

David Johnson, from Mountain View, Calif., is a software engineer for Siemens Medical Solutions Ultrasound Division. His hobbies include programming and home brewing. "I first started with BSD twenty years ago in university, and have had a fond place in my heart for BSD ever since", he said. David came back to BSD with FreeBSD 3.4. He maintains a couple of ports and helps out on several others.

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Discuss this article below.

Congratulations - D White
Request for HCL - Pat Huff
KUDOS - Gerald Blackstar Sr.

D White - January 28, 2003 02:51:23
Almost a year and a half ago I read an article about the plans for enhancing the VM system and file systems for the FreeBSD 5.0 release. I was excited about it then, but after browsing the notes relating to the completed enhancements I am especially pleased at the work that the FreeBSD community has put into 5.0. I am not one to jump onto the lastest versions of everything that comes out, but I am very much looking forward to installing this system.

And about the release taking longer than some people would have liked, I didn't mind the wait. It's better than hiking the major version number when the release doesn't constitute a major overhaul.

Once I get further into my computer science degree and get a solid foundation of operating system design, I would be honored to help relieve some of the burden. :)

Keep up the great work, FreeBSD is in it for the long haul..

Request for HCL
Pat Huff - January 07, 2004 21:53:24
Hi, If you would, please, send a short list of FreeBSD-compatible dial-up modems for version 4 or 5. Thanks.

Gerald Blackstar Sr. - September 09, 2004 13:07:01
YES I LIKE IT!!!PLS Keeep up the outstanding work forever yours,






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September 16, 2013 11:24:30

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