Mark Weinem offered a summary of NetBSD's six 2007 Summer of Code development projects. The projects included: the Automated Testing Framework, "the goal of the ATF project was to develop a testing framework to easily define test cases and run them in a completely automated way"; porting ZFS, "the primary goal of this project was to port volume emulation (ZVOL) functionality in order to mount ZFS file systems"; QoS framework for NetBSD's virtual memory system, "for delay sensitive systems such as streaming multimedia servers and back-end database systems, servicing the reader processes in a timely fashion is more important than the servicing the writers"; kernel file systems in userspace, as a result of the project, "almost all NetBSD kernel file systems can be compiled, mounted and run in userspace"; and hardware monitoring, "the aim of this project was to develop a kernel event notification framework to notify userland of hardware changes e.g. a new USB device being added". Mark added:
"NetBSD has been involved in the Google Summer of Code since its conception in 2005. This year we were glad to once again have the oppertunity to introduce six students to our operating system, to Open Source software development and get them sponsored by Google to work on projects defined by the NetBSD developers."
"On behalf of the NetBSD Release Engineering team, I am happy to announce the availability of NetBSD 4.0 Release Candidate 2," stated Pavel Cahyna on the NetBSD -announce mailing list. The lower portion of the changelog lists numerous bug fixes since Release Candidate 1, the most important ones highlighted as: "ICH9 support in wm(4); Enhanced Speedstep support for VIA C7/Eden and amd64; many bugfixes for IPF; FAST_IPSEC fixes; wpi(4) bugfix; proplib local DoS fix; fix procfs exposing the real path of an executable inside chroot; msdosfs bugfix; fix of crash dumps on sparc64; ACPI SCI (system control interrupt) bug fix, addresses interrupt storms seen on some machines."
Pavel went on to note, "please note that in this release candidate, the sparc platform has been accidentally omitted. This will be corrected in the next RC cycle. We plan to release another release candidate next week." He concluded, "please help us test these release candidates as much as possible to make NetBSD 4.0 a solid release."
"On behalf of the NetBSD Release Engineering Team, it is my pleasure to announce that the first release candidate for NetBSD 4.0 has been released," Liam Foy posted to the NetBSD -announce mailing list. The release has been a long time coming, first announced in August of 2006 by Jeff Rizzo, "NetBSD 4.0_BETA was branched on August 8, 2006 (UTC), and the beta-testing process has officially begun." Shortly after that, Charles Hannum, one of the NetBSD creators, posted an email self-described as a possible eulogy and calling into question the future of the NetBSD project. Updates regarding NetBSD 4.0 were posted in November and December of 2006 regarding delays resulting from two IRC hackathons which caused "a huge flurry of bug-fixing activity, which improved the quality of NetBSD-current a huge amount." This led to NetBSD 4.0 being rebranched from -current to preserve the large number of bug fixes that were made there.
The project's website maintains a comprehensive list of changes in NetBSD 4.0 as compared to the current stable 3.x branch. Liam continued in the release announcement, "we expect to release a second release candidate in about two weeks. Please help us test these release candidates as much as possible, to make sure NetBSD 4.0 will be a solid release.".
One of the NetBSD founders, Charles Hannum, has sent an email to the netbsd-users list enumerating the problems with NetBSD. He mentions NetBSD is lagging behind other OSes in many aspects. However, he notes that the major problem with NetBSD is the NetBSD Foundation, which now controls the NetBSD project, interfering with the development. He says:
"At this point most readers are probably wondering whether I'm just writing a eulogy for the NetBSD project. In some ways, I am -- it's clear that the project, as it currently exists, has no future. It will continue to fall further behind, and to become even less relevant. This is a sad conclusion to a project that had such bright prospects when it started."
He lists things which they did right and things which were wrong. He compares their approach to other OSes, including Linux, whose popularity has risen by a huge amount since.
The NetBSD project's USP has been that it's a highly portable system, once boasting of the maximum number of supported architectures. Linux, however, has surpassed that number.
Although he presents a very bleak picture, he also mentions that good work is being done and many corrective measures would be needed to keep the project alive. He says:
"I must repeat a point I've made earlier. The current "management" of the project is not going to either fix the project's problems, or lead the project to solutions. They are going to maintain the status quo, and nothing else. If the project is to rise from its charred stump, this "management" must be disbanded and replaced wholesale. Anything less is a non-solution.
To some of you, I would like to apologize. There *are* NetBSD developers doing good work even now."
James Chacon offered a planned timeline for upcoming NetBSD releases. He noted, "please keep in mind that none of the branches for these are currently in a release candidate state so these dates are subject to move."
The next minor release is NetBSD 2.1, planned for late June of 2005. "This will be the first minor release of the NetBSD 2 branch," James explained, "and will incorporate all changes from the NetBSD 2.0.1 and 2.0.2 security/critical updates as well as new feature additions/fixes." The next major release is NetBSD 3.0, planned shortly after for late July of 2005, "this was originally branched on March 16, 2005 and is in BETA today. It will become the next major release for NetBSD." And the final 1.6 release, 1.6.3, is planned for August or September of 2005, "this will be the final minor release of the NetBSD 1.6 branch and will close out any existing fixes submitted. After this has been released the 1.6 branch will be closed."
It is possible but inconvenient to manually clone a hard disk drive remotely, using dd and netcat. der Mouse, a Montreal-based NetBSD developer, has developed tools that allow for automated, remote partition-level cloning to occur automatically on an opportunistic basis. This facility can be used to maintain complete duplicates of remote client laptop drives to a server system. This network mirroring facility will be presented at BSDCAN 2005 in Ottawa, ON on May 13-15.
The facility has three main components: a client-side kernel component that monitors disk drive writes, a client-side userland program that initiates and handles client to server communication, and a server-side userland program that accepts incoming TCP connections and handles incoming encrypted data streams from multiple clients.
Jan Schaumann posted the latest quarterly status report for the NetBSD project. Among the highlights, it was noted that the NetBSD Operating System celebrated its 12th birthday on March 21st, 2005. The project's source code repository started in March of 1993, and its first release, NetBSD 0.8, followed a month later on April 19th 1993. Read on for the full status report, which begins:
"NetBSD is an actively developed operating system. With fifty four different system architectures in total and binary support of over 48 architectures in our last official release (NetBSD 2.0) [story], our widely portable packages collection ``pkgsrc'' and large userbase there is a lot going on within the project."
A recent announcement on the NetBSD -announce mailing list discussed the successful efforts by Manuel Bouyer to get NetBSD working in the 2.0 version of the Xen virtual machine monitor [story]. The announcement explains, "Xen supports virtualization of x86 hardware for complete separation of virtual machine environments with only minimal decrease in performance. NetBSD/xen can run in both privileged and unprivileged virtual machines under Xen 1.2, and in unprivileged virtual machines under Xen 2.0." NetBSD 2.0 [story], the latest official release, included the NetBSD/xen port for the first time, running on Xen 1.2. Find comparisons of Xen to other virtualization techniques here. NetBSD Foundation developer and system administrator Thor Simon noted, "we use virtualization with Xen every day on the foundation's own servers. It allows us to maintain multiple, isolated environments on a single 1U server." The announcement goes on to explain:
"Using Xen, a single machine can seamlessly switch back and forth between NetBSD/i386 and NetBSD/xen kernels on the same physical hardware, allowing easy development and testing; NetBSD/i386 binaries, as well as binaries compatible with NetBSD's many operating system emulations, such as those for Linux and System V, run under NetBSD/xen without modification. At the same time, a NetBSD/xen system can coexist with other operating systems running in other Xen virtual machines; so Xen users can allocate resources to NetBSD, Linux, and other images running under Xen according to demand."
An interesting summary from the 2004 Annual NetBSD Group Meeting was posted to the NetBSD -announce mailing list. The report begins by providing a little background on the event, "the NetBSD Foundation held its Annual Group Meeting of all members of the NetBSD Foundation, i.e. all NetBSD developers. From the more than 200 active developers, 65 made it to the meeting, which took place from 22:00 UTC to midnight on January 15th 2005." The report discusses past achievements as well as future goals. The evening began with an introduction by Christos Zoulas, the president of The NetBSD Foundation, during which he talked about the relevancy of NetBSD:
"Working on an Operating System is very challenging - more so now than before. Ten years ago neither Windows or Linux were serious competitors both in the functionality and stability axes. Now both offer more features than we do, and they have behind them the resources of very large commercial organizations. If that was not enough competition, there is a plethora of other operating system choices each trying to fill a niche. Even our close siblings FreeBSD and OpenBSD have developed certain features we still lack.
"Are we becoming irrelevant? Is it time to give up? I don't believe that either is true. I see our competition facing challenges of their own. Linux keeps re-writing major portions of the kernel and has stability issues. It now depends on 3rd party vendors to integrate and make stable releases of the code. FreeBSD took over the huge task to implement fine grain SMP and after two years of effort they still don't have a production quality system. OpenBSD is still touting its security features but lacks the manpower to integrate major kernel features such as UBC and address performance problems. Instead it focuses in supporting and re-implementing major userland utilities. The Windows release cycles keep getting longer and longer and promised features keep getting postponed because of the increasing complexity of the operating system. Sun is trying to keep Solaris relevant by open-sourcing it, but nobody is certain of what is going to be open-sourced and when. Apple's Darwin effort does not seem to be producing any useful results, possibly because it is not complete, and the open-source version of the tree is always behind the commercial version.
Tamura Kent formally unveils his plans to add new functionality to NetBSD's audio framework (audio(9) and audio(4)) - specifically, the addition of an audio converter pipeline and in-kernel mixing. These additions along with audio device cloning would make it possible to natively support hardware mixing without the use of a software based soundserver. However, Kent's initial plans are to support software mixing first, with hardware supported mixing being considered a "nice-to-have".
"I guess it is hard work to identify a common representation of mulit-voice hardwares and change the existing
drivers. The hardware-mixing era already ended, and there is little possibility that new hardware-mixing audio controller is introduced."
Read on for the original post and abbreviated thread. Please follow the archive link for the full thread.
Jeremy Reed announced, "the NetBSD Foundation has selected an official logo for identifying NetBSD. Over 400 logos were submitted by 238 artists for a NetBSD logo contest. The winning logo was submitted by Grant Bissett, a new media designer from Perth, Western Australia." The new logo was mentioned in the project's third quarter status report [story] in early October, then waiting on legal processes. Here's the old logo, for comparison.
"NetBSD is a free, secure, and highly portable Unix-like open source operating system available for many hardware platforms, from 64-bit Opteron machines and desktop systems to handheld and embedded devices. Its clean design and advanced features make NetBSD excellent in both production and research environments, and it is user-supported with complete source."
"In the third quarter of 2004, the NetBSD Project has moved closer and closer to the much anticipated release of NetBSD 2.0. The equally impatiently awaited publication of the new NetBSD Logo is also imminent, delayed only [by] a few legal processes concerning the transfer of the copyright etc. Aside from these two high-profile issues, there were, of course, a lot of other important and interesting news during the last three months."
According to the status report, the official release of NetBSD 2.0 and the annoucnement of the new logo are both supposed to happen by the end of October. NetBSD 2.0-rc3 was released today to "fix some issues with Linux emulation under NetBSD/i386 as well as some installation problems under some of the arm-based ports."
It is with great pleasure that I post the announcement of the 9th major release of NetBSD, version 1.6.2. This release is the latest maintenance release of the NetBSD-1.6 branch and represents mainly fixes, enhancements and additional device drivers.
While the list of changes is extensive, they include numerous fixes and enhancements to the network code such as a change that can make slower machines using PPPoE operate faster, changes to ipnat that allow it to retain its state table after a "reload" and handle more
concurrent connections as well as numerous IPv6 fixes. Some of the existing storage controllers such as certain
chipset controllers also get some fixes and enhancements.
The NetBSD foundation has dedicated this release to the memory of Erik Reid.
Greg Lehey has imported initial support for Vinum, a block device driver which implements virtual disk drives, into NetBSD-current. Patches have existed for a while, but now vinum support is officially part of NetBSD. For more details on Vinum, please refer to the Vinum webapge and/or this article by Greg.