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Episode 042: Devious Methods


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PIE and ASLR in FreeBSD update

  • A status update for Shawn Webb's ASLR and PIE work for FreeBSD
  • One major part of the code, position-independent executable support, has finally been merged into the -CURRENT tree
  • "FreeBSD has supported loading PIEs for a while now, but the applications in base weren't compiled as PIEs. Given that ASLR is useless without PIE, getting base compiled with PIE support is a mandatory first step in proper ASLR support"
  • If you're running -CURRENT, just add "WITH_PIE=1" to your /etc/src.conf and /etc/make.conf
  • The next step is working on the ASLR coding style and getting more developers to look through it
  • Shawn will also be at EuroBSDCon (in September) giving an updated version of his BSDCan talk about ASLR

Misc. pfSense news

  • Couple of pfSense news items this week, including some hardware news
  • Someone's gotta test the pfSense hardware devices before they're sold, which involves powering them all on at least once
  • To make that process faster, they're building a controllable power board (and include some cool pics)
  • There will be more info on that device a bit later on
  • On Friday, June 27th, there will be another video session (for paying customers only...) about virtualized firewalls
  • pfSense University, a new paid training course, was also announced
  • A single two-day class costs $2000, ouch

ZFS stripe width

  • A new blog post from Matt Ahrens about ZFS stripe width
  • "The popularity of OpenZFS has spawned a great community of users, sysadmins, architects and developers, contributing a wealth of advice, tips and tricks, and rules of thumb on how to configure ZFS. In general, this is a great aspect of the ZFS community, but I’d like to take the opportunity to address one piece of misinformed advice"
  • Matt goes through different situations where you would set up your zpool differently, each with their own advantages and disadvantages
  • He covers best performance on random IOPS, best reliability, and best space efficiency use cases
  • It includes a lot of detail on each one, including graphs, and addresses some misconceptions about different RAID-Z levels' overhead factor

FreeBSD 9.3-BETA3 released

  • The third BETA in the 9.3 release cycle is out, we're slowly getting closer to the release
  • This is expected to be the final BETA, next will come the RCs
  • There have mostly just been small bug fixes since BETA2, but OpenSSL was also updated and the arc4random code was updated to match what's in -CURRENT (but still isn't using ChaCha20)
  • The FreeBSD foundation has a blog post about it too
  • There's a list of changes between 9.2 and 9.3 as well, but we'll be sure to cover it when the -RELEASE hits

Interview - Bryce Chidester - / @brycied00d

Running a BSD shell provider


Chaining SSH connections

News Roundup

My FreeBSD adventure

  • A Slackware user from the "linux questions" forum decides to try out BSD, and documents his initial impressions and findings
  • After ruling out PCBSD due to the demanding hardware requirements and NetBSD due to "politics" (whatever that means, his words) he decides to start off with FreeBSD 10, but also mentions trying OpenBSD later on
  • In his forum post, he covers the documentation (and how easy it makes it for a switcher), dual booting, packages vs ports, network configuration and some other little things
  • So far, he seems to really enjoy BSD and thinks that it makes a lot of sense compared to Linux
  • Might be an interesting, ongoing series we can follow up on later

Even more BSDCan trip reports

  • BSDCan may be over until next year, but trip reports are still pouring in
  • This time we have a summary from Li-Wen Hsu, who was paid for by the FreeBSD foundation
  • He's part of the "Jenkins CI for FreeBSD" group and went to BSDCan mostly for that
  • Nice long post about all of his experiences at the event, definitely worth a read
  • He even talks about... the food

FreeBSD disk partitioning

  • For his latest book series on FreeBSD's GEOM system, MWL asked the hackers mailing list for some clarification
  • This erupted into a very long discussion about fdisk vs gnop vs gpart
  • So you don't have to read the 500 mailing list posts, he's summarized the findings in a blog post
  • It covers MBR vs GPT, disk sector sizes and how to handle all of them with which tools

BSD Router Project version 1.51

  • A new version of the BSD Router Project has been released, 1.51
  • It's now based on FreeBSD 10-STABLE instead of 10.0-RELEASE
  • Includes lots of bugfixes and small updates, as well as some patches from pfSense and elsewhere
  • Check the sourceforge page for the complete list of changes
  • Bad news... the minimum disk size requirement has increased to 512MB... getting pretty bloated


  • All the tutorials are posted in their entirety at
  • A special thanks to our viewer Lars for writing most of today's tutorial and sending it in
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