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Episode 098: Our Code is Your Code


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Enabling FreeBSD on AArch64

  • One of the things the FreeBSD foundation has been dumping money into lately is ARM64 support, but we haven't heard too much about it - this article should change that
  • Since it's on a mainstream ARM site, the article begins with a bit of FreeBSD history, leading up to the current work on ARM64
  • There's also a summary of some of the ARM work done at this year's BSDCan, including details about running it on the Cavium ThunderX platform (which has 48 cores)
  • As of just a couple months ago, dtrace is even working on this new architecture
  • Come 11.0-RELEASE, the plan is for ARM64 to get the same "tier 1" treatment as X86, which would imply binary updates for base and ports - something Raspberry Pi users often complain about not having

OpenBSD's tcpdump detailed

  • Most people are probably familiar with tcpdump, a very useful packet sniffing and capturing utility that's included in all the main BSD base systems
  • This video guide is specifically about the version in OpenBSD, which has gone through some major changes (it's pretty much a fork with no version number anymore)
  • Unlike on the other platforms, OpenBSD's tcpdump will always run in a chroot as an unprivileged user - this has saved it from a number of high-profile exploits
  • It also has support for the "pf.os" system, allowing you to filter out operating system fingerprints in the packet captures
  • There's also PF (and pflog) integration, letting you see which line in your ruleset triggered a specific match
  • Being able to run tcpdump directly on your router is pretty awesome for troubleshooting

More FreeBSD foundation at BSDCan

  • The FreeBSD foundation has another round of trip reports from this year's BSDCan
  • First up is Kamil Czekirda, who gives a good summary of some of the devsummit, FreeBSD-related presentations, some tutorials, getting freebsd-update bugs fixed and of course eating cake
  • A second post from Christian Brueffer, who cleverly planned ahead to avoid jetlag, details how he got some things done during the FreeBSD devsummit
  • Their third report is from our buddy Warren Block, who (unsurprisingly) worked on a lot of documentation-related things, including getting more people involved with writing them
  • In true doc team style, his report is the most well-written of the bunch, including lots of links and a clear separation of topics (doc lounge, contributing to the wiki, presentations...)
  • Finally, the fourth one comes to us from Shonali Balakrishna, who also gives an outline of some of the talks
  • "Not only does a BSD conference have way too many very smart people in one room, but also some of the nicest."

DragonFly on the Chromebook C720

  • If you've got one of the Chromebook laptops and weren't happy with the included OS, DragonFlyBSD might be worth a go
  • This article is a "mini-report" on how DragonFly functions on the device as a desktop, and
  • While the 2GB of RAM proved to be a bit limiting, most of the hardware is well-supported
  • DragonFly's wiki has a full guide on getting set up on one of these devices as well

Interview - David Meyer - / @xinuos

Xinuos, BSD license model vs. others, community interaction

News Roundup

Introducing LiteBSD

  • We definitely don't talk about 4.4BSD a lot on the show
  • LiteBSD is "a variant of [the] 4.4BSD operating system adapted for microcontrollers"
  • If you've got really, really old hardware (or are working in the embedded space) then this might be an interesting hobby project to look info

HardenedBSD announces ASLR completion

  • HardenedBSD, now officially a full-on fork of FreeBSD, has declared their ASLR patchset to be complete
  • The latest and last addition to the work was VDSO (Virtual Dynamic Shared Object) randomization, which is now configurable with a sysctl
  • This post gives a summary of the six main features they've added since the beginning
  • Only a few small things are left to do - man page cleanups, possibly shared object load order improvements

Unlock the reaper

  • In the ongoing quest to make more of OpenBSD SMP-friendly, a new patch was posted that unlocks the reaper in the kernel
  • When there's a zombie process causing a resource leak, it's the reaper's job to deallocate their resources (and yes we're still talking about computers, not horror movies)
  • Initial testing has yielded positive results and no regressions
  • They're looking for testers, so you can install a -current snapshot and get it automatically
  • An updated version of the patch is coming soon too
  • A hackathon is going on right now, so you can expect more SMP improvements in the near future

The importance of mentoring

  • Adrian Chadd has a blog post up about mentoring new users, and it tells the story of how he originally got into FreeBSD
  • He tells the story of, at age 11, meeting someone else who knew about making crystal sets that became his role model
  • Eventually we get to his first FreeBSD 1.1 installation (which he temporarily abandoned for Linux, since it didn't have a color "ls" command) and how he started using the OS
  • Nowadays, there's a formal mentoring system in FreeBSD
  • While he talks about FreeBSD in the post, a lot of the concepts apply to all the BSDs (or even just life in general)


  • Send questions, comments, show ideas/topics, or stories you want mentioned on the show to
  • If you're in or around the Calgary, Alberta area in Canada, there's an OpenBSD developer speaking event at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology on July 20th
  • It's right after the hackathon, and they'll be discussing some of the work that was done (maybe with a Q&A session)
  • We're looking for some new interviews - get in touch if you're doing anything cool with BSD that you'd like to talk about (or want to suggest someone else)

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