A FreeBSD "Spork" With Touches of NeXT and OS X: NeXTBSD 165

There are a lot of open source operating systems out there; being open source, they lend themselves to forks, clones or near clones, and friendly offshoots. There are even services to let you customize, download, and (if you choose) bulk-install your own OS based on common components. Phoronix notes a new project called NeXTBSD that might turn more heads than most new open source OSes, in part because of the developers behind it, and in part because of the positive thoughts many people have toward the aesthetics of NeXTSTEP and Mac OS X. (And while it might be a fork of FreeBSD, the developers would rather call it a spork, instead.) NeXTBSD was announced last week by Jordan Hubbard and Kip Macy at the Bay Area FreeBSD Users Group (BAFUG). NeXTBSD / FreeBSD X is based on the FreeBSD-CURRENT kernel while adding in Mach IPC, Libdispatch, notifyd, asld, launchd, and other components derived from Apple's open-source code for OS X. The basic launchd/notifyd/asld/libdispatch stack atop their "fork" of FreeBSD is working along with other basic components of their new design. You can watch a recording of the announcement as well as a longer introduction linked from Phoronix's story.
Open Source

FreeBSD 10.2 Released 103

moderators_are_w*nke writes with news that FreeBSD 10.2-RELEASE is now available. Here is the download page, the release notes, and release errata. Features highlights: The resolvconf(8) utility has been updated to version 3.7.0, with improvements to protect DNS privacy. The ntp suite has been updated to version 4.2.8p3. A new rc(8) script, growfs, has been added, which will resize the root filesystem on boot if the /firstboot file exists. The Linux® compatibility version has been updated to support Centos 6 ports. Several ZFS performance and reliability improvements. GNOME has been updated to version 3.14.2. KDE has been updated to version 4.14.3.
Operating Systems

HardenedBSD Completes Strong ASLR Implementation 66

New submitter HardenedBSD writes: A relatively new fork of FreeBSD, HardenedBSD, has completed its Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR) feature. Without ASLR, applications are loaded into memory in a deterministic manner. An attacker who knows where a vulnerability lies in memory can reliably exploit that vulnerability to manipulate the application into doing the attacker's bidding. ASLR removes the determinism, making it so that even if an attacker knows that a vulnerability exists, he doesn't know where that vulnerability lies in memory. HardenedBSD's particular implementation of ASLR is the strongest form ever implemented in any of the BSDs.

The next step is to update documentation and submit updates to the patches they have already submitted upstream to FreeBSD. ASLR is the first step in a long list of exploit mitigation technologies HardenedBSD plans to implement.

Microsoft Thanked For Its "Significant Financial Donation" To OpenBSD Foundation 265

McGruber writes: Microsoft has donated a considerable amount of money to the OpenBSD Foundation, becoming its first-ever Gold level contributor in the process. From the OpenBSD Journal: "The OpenBSD Foundation is happy to announce that Microsoft has made a significant financial donation to the Foundation. This donation is in recognition of the role of the Foundation in supporting the OpenSSH project. This donation makes Microsoft the first Gold level contributor in the OpenBSD Foundation's 2015 fundraising campaign."
Open Source

OpenBSD 5.7 Released 80

An anonymous reader writes: Right on schedule, OpenBSD 5.7 was released today, May 1, 2015. The theme of the 5.7 release is "Source Fish." There are some big changes in OpenBSD 5.7. The nginx httpd server was removed from base in favor of an internally developed httpd server in 5.7. BIND (named) was retired from base in 5.7 in favor of nsd(8) (authoritative DNS) and unbound(8) (recursive resolver). Packages will exist for BIND and nginx. This version includes a new control utility, rcctl(8), for managing daemons/services, USB 3 support and more. See a detailed log of changes between the 5.6 and 5.7 releases for more information. If you already have an OpenBSD 5.6 system, and do not want to reinstall, upgrade instructions and advice can be found in the Upgrade Guide. You can order the 5.7 CD set from the new OpenBSD Store and support the project.

KDE Plasma 5.3 Beta Brings Lot of Improvements 64

jones_supa writes: The KDE project today announced the release of KDE Plasma 5.3 beta. It brings better power management, improved Bluetooth support, improved widgets, Wayland support, new media center, and nearly 350 bugfixes. The power management improvements include settings that can be independently configured per activity, there is a new energy usage monitor available in KInfoCenter, and a battery applet identifies applications that hog power. Bluetooth applet brings added support for blocking and unblocking devices. New touchpad module has been added as well. The combined window manager and compositor KWin is now able to start a nested XWayland server, which acts as a bridge between the old X11 and the new Wayland world.

OEMs Allowed To Lock Secure Boot In Windows 10 Computers 362

jones_supa writes: Hardware that sports the "Designed for Windows 8" logo requires machines to support UEFI Secure Boot. When the feature is enabled, the core software components used to boot the machine are verified for correct cryptographic signatures, or the system refuses to boot. This is a desirable security feature, because it protects from malware sneaking into the boot process. However, it has an issue for alternative operating systems, because it's likely they won't have a signature that Secure Boot will authorize. No worries, because Microsoft also mandated that every system must have a UEFI configuration setting to turn the protection off, allowing booting other operating systems. This situation may now change. At its WinHEC hardware conference in Shenzhen, China, Microsoft said the setting to allow Secure Boot to be turned off will become optional when Windows 10 arrives. Hardware can be "Designed for Windows 10," and offer no way to opt out of the Secure Boot lock down. The choice to provide the setting (or not) will be up to the original equipment manufacturer.

FreeBSD-Current Random Number Generator Broken 105

First time accepted submitter bobo the hobo writesThe FreeBSD random number has been discovered to be generating possibly predictable SSH keys and SSL certificates for months. Time to regenerate your keys and certs if using FreeBSD-Current. A message to the freebsd-current mailing list reads in part: "If you are running a current kernel r273872 or later, please upgrade your kernel to r278907 or later immediately and regenerate keys. I discovered an issue where the new framework code was not calling randomdev_init_reader, which means that read_random(9) was not returning good random data. read_random(9) is used by arc4random(9) which is the primary method that arc4random(3) is seeded from."
Open Source

PC-BSD: Set For Serious Growth? 393

Artem Tashkinov writes: Luke Wolf, a KDE developer, argues that PC-BSD might become a serious desktop OS contender by year 2020, since Linux so far has failed to grasp any serious market share. He writes, "Consider this: In the past 10 years has the distribution you run changed significantly in what it offers over other distributions? I think you'll find the answer is largely no. I do have to give a shout out to openSUSE for the OBS, but otherwise I've used my desktop in the same exact way that I have always used it within the continuity of distribution X,Y, or Z since I started using them. Distributions simply aren't focused on desktop features, they're leaving it up to the DEs to do so." He continues, "PC-BSD on the other hand in fitting with the BSD mindset of holistic solutions is focused on developing desktop features and is moving rapidly to implement them." What do you think?

Book Review: FreeBSD Mastery: Storage Essentials 75

Saint Aardvark writes If, like me, you administer FreeBSD systems, you know that (like Linux) there is an embarrassment of riches when it comes to filesystems. GEOM, UFS, soft updates, encryption, disklabels — there is a *lot* going on here. And if, like me, you're coming from the Linux world your experience won't be directly applicable, and you'll be scaling Mount Learning Curve. Even if you *are* familiar with the BSDs, there is a lot to take in. Where do you start? You start here, with Michael W. Lucas' latest book, FreeBSD Mastery: Storage Essentials. You've heard his name before; he's written Sudo Mastery (which I reviewed previously), along with books on PGP/GnuPGP, Cisco Routers and OpenBSD. This book clocks in at 204 pages of goodness, and it's an excellent introduction to managing storage on FreeBSD. From filesystem choice to partition layout to disk encryption, with sidelong glances at ZFS along the way, he does his usual excellent job of laying out the details you need to know without every veering into dry or boring. Keep reading for the rest of Saint Aardvark's review.

Ask Slashdot: Migrating a Router From Linux To *BSD? 403

An anonymous reader writes I'm in the camp that doesn't trust systemd. You can discuss the technical merits of all init solutions all you want, but if I wanted to run Windows NT I'd run Windows NT, not Linux. So I've decided to migrate my homebrew router/firewall/samba server to one of the BSDs. Question one is: which BSD? Question two: where's some good documentation regarding setting up a home router/firewall on your favorite BSD?
It's fine if the documentation is highly technical, I've written linux kernel drivers before :)
Operating Systems

OpenBSD's Kernel Gets W^X Treatment On Amd64 84

New submitter brynet tips this news from Theo de Raadt: Over the last two months Mike Larkin (mlarkin@) modified the amd64 kernel to follow the W^X principles. It started as a humble exercise to fix the .rodata segment, and kind of went crazy. As a result, no part of the kernel address space is writeable and executable simultaneously. At least that is the idea, modulo mistakes. Final attention to detail (which some of you experienced in buggy drafts in snapshots) was to make the MP and ACPI trampolines follow W^X, furthermore they are unmapped when not required. Final picture is many architectures were improved, but amd64 and sparc64 look the best due to MMU features available to service the W^X model. The entire safety model is also improved by a limited form of kernel ASLR (the code segment does not move around yet, but data and page table ASLR is fairly good."

FreeNAS 9.3 Released 115

An anonymous reader writes This FreeNAS update is a significant evolutionary step from previous FreeNAS releases featuring: a simplified and reorganized Web User Interface, support for Microsoft ODX and Windows 2012 clustering, better VMWare integration, including VAAI support, a new and more secure update system with roll-back functionality, and hundreds of other technology enhancements. You can get it here and the list of changes are here. Existing 9.2.x users and 9.3 beta testers are encouraged to upgrade.

DragonFly BSD 4.0 Released 66

An anonymous reader writes From the release page: Version 4 of DragonFly brings Haswell graphics support, 3D acceleration, and improved performance in extremely high-traffic networks. DragonFly now supports up to 256 CPUs, Haswell graphics (i915), concurrent pf operation, and a variety of other devices.
Operating Systems

Ask Slashdot: Workaday Software For BSD On the Desktop? 267

An anonymous reader writes So for a variety of reasons (some related to recent events, some ongoing for a while) I've kinda soured on Linux and have been looking at giving BSD a shot on the desktop. I've been a Gentoo user for many years and am reasonably comfortable diving into stuff, so I don't anticipate user friendliness being a show stopper. I suspect it's more likely something I currently do will have poor support in the BSD world. I have of course been doing some reading and will probably just give it a try at some point regardless, but I was curious what experience and advice other slashdot users could share. There's been many bold comments on slashdot about moving away from Linux, so I suspect I'm not the only one asking these questions. Use-case wise, my list of must haves is: Minecraft, and probably more dubiously, FTB; mplayer or equivalent (very much prefer mplayer as it's what I've used forever); VirtualBox or something equivalent; Firefox (like mplayer, it's just what I've always used, and while I would consider alternatives, that would definitely be a negative); Flash (I hate it, but browsing the web sans-flash is still a pain); OpenRA (this is the one I anticipate giving me the most trouble, but playing it is somewhat of an obsession).

Stuff that would be nice but I can live without: Full disk encryption; Openbox / XFCE (It's what I use now and would like to keep using, but I could probably switch to something else without too much grief); jackd/rakarrack or something equivalent (currently use my computer as a cheap guitar amp/effects stack); Qt (toolkit of choice for my own stuff).
What's the most painless way to transition to BSD for this constellation of uses, and which variety of BSD would you suggest?
Operating Systems

FreeBSD 10.1 Released 123

An anonymous reader writes Version 10.1 of the venerable FreeBSD operating system has been released. The new version of FreeBSD offers support for booting from UEFI, automated generation of OpenSSH keys, ZFS performance improvements, updated (and more secure) versions of OpenSSH and OpenSSL and hypervisor enhancements. FreeBSD 10.1 is an extended support release and will be supported through until January 1, 2017. Adds reader aojensen: As this is the second release of the stable/10 branch, it focuses on improving the stability and security of the 10.0-RELEASE, but also introduces a set of new features including: vt(4) a new console driver, support for FreeBSD/i386 guests on the bhyve hypervisor, support for SMP on armv6 kernels, UEFI boot support for amd64 architectures, support for the UDP-Lite protocol (RFC 3828) support on both IPv4 and IPv6, and much more. For a complete list of changes and new features, the release notes are also available.
Operating Systems

OpenBSD 5.6 Released 125

An anonymous reader writes Just as per the schedule, OpenBSD 5.6 was released today, November 1, 2014. The theme of the 5.6 release is "Ride of the Valkyries". OpenBSD 5.6 will be the first version with LibreSSL. This version also removed sendmail from the base system, smtpd is the default mail transport agent (MTA). The installer no longer supports FTP, network installs via HTTP only. The BIND name server will be removed from the OpenBSD base system. Its replacement comes in the form of the two daemons nsd(8) for authoritative DNS service and unbound(8) for recursive resolver service. OpenSSH 6.7 is included along with GNOME 3.12.2, KDE 4.13.3, Xfce 4.10, Mozilla Firefox 31.0, Vim 7.4.135, LLVM/Clang 3.5 and more. See a detailed log of changes between the 5.5 and 5.6 releases for more information. If you already have an OpenBSD 5.5 system, and do not want to reinstall, upgrade instructions and advice can be found in the Upgrade Guide (a quick video upgrade demo is here). You can order the 5.6 CD set from the new OpenBSD Store and support the project.
Open Source

OpenBSD Drops Support For Loadable Kernel Modules 162

jones_supa writes: The OpenBSD developers have decided to remove support for loadable kernel modules from the BSD distribution's next release. Several commits earlier this month stripped out the loadable kernel modules support. Phoronix's Michael Larabel has not yet found an official reason for the decision to drop support. He wagers that it is due to security or code quality/openness ideals.
Open Source

Fork of Systemd Leads To Lightweight Uselessd 469

An anonymous reader writes A boycott of systemd and other backlash around systemd's feature-creep has led to the creation of Uselessd, a new init daemon. Uselessd is a fork of systemd 208 that strips away functionality considered irrelevant to an init system like the systemd journal and udev. Uselessd also adds in functionality not accepted in upstream systemd like support for alternative C libraries (namely uClibc and musl) and it's even being ported to BSD.
Emulation (Games)

GSOC Project Works To Emulate Systemd For OpenBSD 314

An anonymous reader writes Through a Google Summer of Code project this year was work to emulate systemd on OpenBSD. Upstream systemd remains uninterested in supporting non-Linux platforms so a student developer has taken to implementing the APIs of important systemd components so that they translate into native systemd calls. The work achieved this summer was developing replacements for the systemd-hostnamed, systemd-localed, systemd-timedated, and systemd-logind utilities. The hope is to allow for systemd-dependent components like more recent versions of GNOME to now run on OpenBSD.