Kris has announced the availability of the next rolling release and the first beta for the upcoming PC-BSD 9.2:
The PC-BSD team is pleased to announce that new images for PC-BSD 9.1-RELEASE (Isotope Infusion) and PC-BSD 9-STABLE (Based upon FreeBSD 9.2-BETA1) are now available! These releases are among the first in our new “Rolling-Release” model, and will allow you to easily keep your system updated with bi-monthly package set updates along side your regular PBI updates. In addition the images now include support for creating and booting from ZFS boot-environments. Due to the nature of implementing ZFS boot-environments, users on previous installs of 9.1-RELEASE will need to perform a re-installation in order to take advantage of these ZFS features. With the upcoming release of 9.2, currently in BETA, existing users may opt to wait for its release in order to migrate to the newer version. Many additional new features are also listed in the notes below.
DVD and USB images are now available for download.
Highlights for 9.1-RELEASE:
* FreeBSD 9.1-RELEASE
* Bootable ZFS Boot Environments
– Using GRUB2, any new ZFS boot-environments created via the “beadm” command will be added to the boot-loader and available at boot-time
* PNGNG support
– In addition to PBIs and the AppCafe, system admins and power users will now have access to a full PKGNG repository with frequent updates
* Switched over to CDN for downloads
– No more having to hunt for a closest mirror, downloads will automatically pull from our CDN service hosted by ScaleEngine
* New version of AppCafe
– New streamlining and PBI management functionality
* Warden Updates
– Support for setting various jail options via the GUI
– Option to create jail “templates” based upon different versions of FreeBSD
– Support for VIMAGE jails
– Jails without any IPV4 or IPV6 address assigned
* Graphical PKGNG manager
– GUI supports basic or advanced mode, which allows full package management / upgrades
* Home directory encryption
– PEFS based encryption, allows users to encrypt their home-directory contents with their login password, which is only unencrypted while logged in
* Boot times improved substantially
Highlights for 9-STABLE:
* FreeBSD/TrueOS 9-STABLE (Running 9.2-BETA1)
* Binary “freebsd-update” server implemented for -STABLE, allowing monthly updates to a newer -STABLE release without re-compiling
* All the features listed for 9.1-RELEASE above also apply to 9-STABLE
Want to help out the PC-BSD project? Found a bug you need to report? You can do so by joining us on our Forums! PC-BSD welcomes new contributors, testers, or simply feedback on how a particular piece of hardware works with BSD.
Kris has announced that the PC-BSD project has moved over to a CDN (content delivery network) service for its network backbone. The CDN will replace the existing system of mirrors the project used for many years. It also means that users will no longer have to pick a mirror close to their geographical location in order to get decent download speeds when downloading PC-BSD, updates, and software. It will also prevent failed updates because the selected mirror is out of date or offline.
Once your system is configured to use the CDN, the CDN will transparently provide the fastest possible download. How to configure the system depends upon whether you are running 9.1-RELEASE or a rolling release:
For 9.1-RELEASE Users:
To make the switch, use Update Manager to install and apply the CDN patch. Alternately, TrueOS users can run the command pc-updatemanager check. The update will automatically configure the system to use the new CDN.
For Rolling Release Users:
Due to some recent breakage in PKGNG, run pkg upgrade twice from the command line. The first run will upgrade you to pkg-1.1.3_1 or later. The second run will upgrade the system packages to the latest set which has
If you run into any problems, let us know. We would particularly like feedback on speeds and availability so we can let our CDN provider know.
A big thanks to Allan Jude from ScaleEngine for configuring and hosting the CDN.
Kris gets to sit down with a blogger at Texas Linux Fest and discuss a bit about PC-BSD.
I wanted to take this time to give you a status update on PC-BSD / TrueOS, and the direction going forward. As many of you know, we’ve been doing builds of 9.1-RELEASE and 9-STABLE as a “Rolling-Release”. Our new plan is to issue system and package updates on the following schedule:
– Update PKGNG repo on or about the 1st and 15th of the month.
– Update the PKGNG repo on or about the 5th and 20th of the month
– Issue a new “freebsd-update” patch on the 1st, which includes the latest -STABLE version
In addition to the rolling release, we also have some other cool new projects in the works. The first among these is our work to make ZFS the cornerstone of the PC-BSD/TrueOS experience. This will bring features such as ZFS “Boot-Environments”, including the ability to boot directly from them at the boot-loader. If you’ve not run boot-environments before, you will wonder how you survived without them. To accomplish this, we are going to be moving to the GRUB boot-loader, which now has ZFS support. The pbi-manager and Warden already have extensive ZFS support, and we will be enhancing our other utilities, such as “Life-Preserver” with ZFS features as well.
In addition to re-focusing on solely on ZFS as our default file-system, we have had to take a look at the feasibility of continuing with the i386 builds. As many of you know, ZFS is a 21st century operating system and doesn’t play nicely with the legacy i386 kernel / versions of FreeBSD. In addition over the past couple years, more and more of time-consuming issues we’ve encountered have been only on i386, partly due to the fact that most FreeBSD devs have already moved on to 64bit and also due to the quickly shrinking number of users / systems that still run i386. In order to make PC-BSD / TrueOS, secure, stable and timely, we’ve decided to drop the i386 builds going forward, and instead focus on a single 64bit architecture. This means the next editions of rolling-release and 9.2 onward will be 64bit only. If you are already on 64bit, then you won’t need to worry about anything. However if you are running i386 on your box you will need to consider moving it to the 64bit versions in the near future. If your hardware is less than 10 years old then most likely you will be able to do this without any difficulty.
For those helping us test the rolling-release now, I hope to have a new ISO + package set available in the next week or so, which includes the new GRUB boot-loader for Boot-Environments. I will post back details on how to manually setup / test this feature in the near future. Once these new features have stabilized a bit further, we will begin to issue general updates for users of the old 9.1-RELEASE from January to upgrade to 9.1 Rolling Release.
A number of PC-BSD 32bit users have reported problems booting their
systems after applying the latest FreeBSD update patches. We have found the problem and will have a bugfix issued shortly. Once this bugfix is issued, you may then continue re-applying FreeBSD updates. If this has affected your system, you can fix it manually following the directions below.
NOTE: At this time it *only* seems to be hitting users of 9.1-Release on 32bit / i386.
Fixing the problem
If your system has run into this issue, and can no longer boot, you can fix it with the following steps:
1. Boot your 9.1-Release DVD / USB media to the installation screen
2. Right-click on the desktop to open “xterm”
3. Mount your PC-BSD partition:
# mount /dev/ada0s1a /mnt
(Replace “ada0s1″ with the disk name / partition number)
4. Copy the original /boot/loader file
# cp /mnt/boot/loader.old /mnt/boot/loader
5. Unmount and reboot
# umount /mnt
# shutdown -r now
A fix named “Boot-loader – beastie” fix has been issued and is being updated to the mirrors as of April 9. Once the update is installed, it is safe to do the freebsd-update.
Since it takes time to sync to all of the mirrors, be sure that it downloads and installs before running freebsd-update.
Greetings! With EasyPBI 2.0 now available in the FreeBSD ports tree and as a PBI in the AppCafe, I was asked to highlight some of the new features in EasyPBI 2.0, and why you should want to start using it now.
The first new feature that comes to mind is relatively minor, but saves a fair amount of time if you use EasyPBI with any regularity. This is the ability to check when the last time you updated your system ports tree was, and to use portsnap (or svn if appropriate) to update it to the current version. This is easily available from the “System → Get FreeBSD Ports” menu option.
The second new feature is more of a significant overhaul rather than a brand new feature, and that is making the module editor a complete front-end to editing PBI modules. Previously, the editor allowed the user to view and change the most common options for PBI’s, and trying to use smart defaults for the rest. Now, while still recommending smart defaults, it makes all the settings and options for the module available to the user. The is extremely useful for loading modules from other people, as you can now see everything that the module has inside it, with nothing being “hidden” from EasyPBI inside any of the configuration files. This is easily shown with the new “Scripts” tab in the module editor that lets you read through or edit any custom installation scripts that might be in the module. Another example of this is the new functionality in the “XDG Entries” tab that lets you view/edit any of the desktop/menu entries without having to guess what is inside based upon the file name as with the previous versions. Oh, EasyPBI is also able to set up MIME type file associations for menu entries now, making that whole process very simple and no longer requiring that the user know how to write XML files for the different MIME types.
The last new feature that I want to highlight is one that will not be used very often, but has some very powerful possibilities associated with it. This feature is the ability to package non-port programs in the PBI format. What this option does is basically shift the burden of compiling the program and all its dependencies onto the user instead of using the FreeBSD ports framework. To make this work, the user will first have to setup a directory on his system in the exact format that he wants it to have inside the PBI (with lib/ bin/ share/ etc/ sub-directories as appropriate), as if the program got installed into this directory instead of on the base system. Once that is ready, you can then point EasyPBI at that directory, give it a version number and other program information, then have it all be packaged up as a PBI. This will require a bit more “advanced” usage since you will have to setup external-links and desktop/menu entries for the application yourself (since EasyPBI relies on the FreeBSD ports framework for recommendations), but this ability has a lot of very powerful implications. For instance, it should now allow program developers who wish to distribute special closed-source versions of their software to still make use of the PBI format for simple installations and consistent runtime dependencies by their clients. While this next example was not what the PBI format was originally designed for, I could also see this also being used by device manufacturers to release additional closed-source drivers or FreeBSD kernel modules for their devices. This would provide a simple way to distribute and install these drivers without requiring the system users to have extensive knowledge of the FreeBSD system structure or go through the pain of compiling and loading kernel modules on their own.
These are just some of the new features of EasyPBI 2.0 that I think users will appreciate the most. If you have some “killer” feature that you would like to see in the upcoming versions of EasyPBI, please let me know! I can be found on the PC-BSD PBI developers mailing list, or you can send me an email directly.
 ken (at) pcbsd (dot) org