FreeBSD 7.0 Open Source OS Released

Engineering team cites marked performance improvements over the last version

FreeBSD 7.0, the latest version of a UNIX-like 64-bit open source operating system, was released on Wednesday of this week.

The OS is considered to be a highly stable UNIX variant, typically used to run servers operated by Internet service providers. In terms of stability, the FreeBSD OS has been pegged toward the top of a list of OSes that deliver a high degree of uptime, according to a Netcraft Web site (sampled on Feb. 29, 2008).

The FreeBSD Release Engineering Team cited a peak performance improvement over version 6, with the improvement being "as high as 350 percent." The team also stated that there was a "15 percent" better performance with FreeBSD 7.0 as compared with the "best performing Linux kernel," according to the release announcement.

The OS takes advantage of multicore systems to achieve some of its performance improvements.

"Users with 4 or more processors and server type workloads will see the most improvement," stated Jeff Roberson, one of the FreeBSD developers cited in an O'Reilly article.

Performance was improved in version 7.0 by using the following technologies:

  • A "1:1 libthr threading model";
  • "Finer-grained IPC, networking, and scheduler locking,"; and
  • Optimization of the SMP architecture.

An example of the performance improvement is the open source MySQL database server, which performed better because of version 7.0's new libthr threading model, according to David Xu, another developer cited in the article.

The OS has an experimental implementation of Stream Control Transmission Protocol (SCTP), a next-generation TCP/IP developed by the IETF.

"Basically you can think of SCTP as a 'super TCP' that adds a lot of features that make it so an application can do 'more' with less work," explained Randall Stewart in the article.

Version 7.0 also incorporates an experimental version of Sun Microsystems' ZFS filesystem, which is used in Sun's Solaris OS.

FreeBSD 7.0 is currently available and works with AMD64-, Intel i386-, Intel Itanium IA-64-, NEC PC-9801- and PowerPC-based architectures. It can be downloaded here.

The FreeBSD Release Engineering Team also plans to have a SPARC64 version available "in a few days."

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.