A customer recently linked us to a blog post, https://ivoras.sharanet.org/freebsd/freebsd8.html (link broken as of 02/28/2016), that gives a really good look at what there is to come in the up-and-coming version 8 of the FreeBSD operating system. It looks like the FreeBSD developers have been busy and there are a number of new features which caught our eye.
First, as a company which provides FreeBSD VPSs running on Xen the support for running FreeBSD as a paravirtualized guest in Xen is of major interest to us. We currently run our VPSs using Xen’s support for full virtualization (known as HVM mode in Xen lingo). This mode allows unmodified guest operating systems to run in Xen and is, most familarly, how Windows is support in Xen. Paravirtualized guests however, are ported to run within the Xen hypervisor, and since the guest is designed to operate in Xen and cooperate with the hypervisor the guest can run much more efficiently and quickly. To our customers the greatest boost in performance will be seen in disk and network throughput so we are eagerly anticipating this support in FreeBSD 8.
By the looks of it there will be other improvements in almost every part of FreeBSD. The ULE scheduler which first appeared in FreeBSD 7.0 and became the default with 7.1 has received a number of improvements which will boost performance particularly for the SMP configurations that ULE was designed to handle. The inclusion of stack-smashing protection also gives FreeBSD an edge in security by protecting the system from a number of common exploits used to attack software vulnerabilities. Light weight kernel threads are also to appear in FreeBSD 8 which will mean that kernel threads will consume less resources and be less resource intensive to create and destroy.
Seems like FreeBSD 8 will be another great release for our favorite operating system. For a look at all the other features planned for FreeBSD 8 see the original post at https://ivoras.sharanet.org/freebsd/freebsd8.html (link broken as of 02/28/2016).