I C you BSD | BSD Now 235

How the term open source was created, running FreeBSD on ThinkPad T530, Moving away from Windows, Unknown Giants, as well as OpenBSD & FreeDOS.

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– Show Notes: –


How I coined the term ‘open source’

In a few days, on February 3, the 20th anniversary of the introduction of the term “open source software” is upon us. As open source software grows in popularity and powers some of the most robust and important innovations of our time, we reflect on its rise to prominence.

I am the originator of the term “open source software” and came up with it while executive director at Foresight Institute. Not a software developer like the rest, I thank Linux programmer Todd Anderson for supporting the term and proposing it to the group.

This is my account of how I came up with it, how it was proposed, and the subsequent reactions. Of course, there are a number of accounts of the coining of the term, for example by Eric Raymond and Richard Stallman, yet this is mine, written on January 2, 2006.

It has never been published, until today.

The introduction of the term “open source software” was a deliberate effort to make this field of endeavor more understandable to newcomers and to business, which was viewed as necessary to its spread to a broader community of users. The problem with the main earlier label, “free software,” was not its political connotations, but that—to newcomers—its seeming focus on price is distracting. A term was needed that focuses on the key issue of source code and that does not immediately confuse those new to the concept. The first term that came along at the right time and fulfilled these requirements was rapidly adopted: open source.

This term had long been used in an “intelligence” (i.e., spying) context, but to my knowledge, use of the term with respect to software prior to 1998 has not been confirmed. The account below describes how the term open source software caught on and became the name of both an industry and a movement.

  • Meetings on computer security

In late 1997, weekly meetings were being held at Foresight Institute to discuss computer security. Foresight is a nonprofit think tank focused on nanotechnology and artificial intelligence, and software security is regarded as central to the reliability and security of both. We had identified free software as a promising approach to improving software security and reliability and were looking for ways to promote it. Interest in free software was starting to grow outside the programming community, and it was increasingly clear that an opportunity was coming to change the world. However, just how to do this was unclear, and we were groping for strategies.

At these meetings, we discussed the need for a new term due to the confusion factor. The argument was as follows: those new to the term “free software” assume it is referring to the price. Oldtimers must then launch into an explanation, usually given as follows: “We mean free as in freedom, not free as in beer.” At this point, a discussion on software has turned into one about the price of an alcoholic beverage. The problem was not that explaining the meaning is impossible—the problem was that the name for an important idea should not be so confusing to newcomers. A clearer term was needed. No political issues were raised regarding the free software term; the issue was its lack of clarity to those new to the concept.

  • Releasing Netscape

On February 2, 1998, Eric Raymond arrived on a visit to work with Netscape on the plan to release the browser code under a free-software-style license. We held a meeting that night at Foresight’s office in Los Altos to strategize and refine our message. In addition to Eric and me, active participants included Brian Behlendorf, Michael Tiemann, Todd Anderson, Mark S. Miller, and Ka-Ping Yee. But at that meeting, the field was still described as free software or, by Brian, “source code available” software.

While in town, Eric used Foresight as a base of operations. At one point during his visit, he was called to the phone to talk with a couple of Netscape legal and/or marketing staff. When he was finished, I asked to be put on the phone with them—one man and one woman, perhaps Mitchell Baker—so I could bring up the need for a new term. They agreed in principle immediately, but no specific term was agreed upon.

Between meetings that week, I was still focused on the need for a better name and came up with the term “open source software.” While not ideal, it struck me as good enough. I ran it by at least four others: Eric Drexler, Mark Miller, and Todd Anderson liked it, while a friend in marketing and public relations felt the term “open” had been overused and abused and believed we could do better. He was right in theory; however, I didn’t have a better idea, so I thought I would try to go ahead and introduce it. In hindsight, I should have simply proposed it to Eric Raymond, but I didn’t know him well at the time, so I took an indirect strategy instead.

Todd had agreed strongly about the need for a new term and offered to assist in getting the term introduced. This was helpful because, as a non-programmer, my influence within the free software community was weak. My work in nanotechnology education at Foresight was a plus, but not enough for me to be taken very seriously on free software questions. As a Linux programmer, Todd would be listened to more closely.

  • The key meeting

Later that week, on February 5, 1998, a group was assembled at VA Research to brainstorm on strategy. Attending—in addition to Eric Raymond, Todd, and me—were Larry Augustin, Sam Ockman, and attending by phone, Jon “maddog” Hall.

The primary topic was promotion strategy, especially which companies to approach. I said little, but was looking for an opportunity to introduce the proposed term. I felt that it wouldn’t work for me to just blurt out, “All you technical people should start using my new term.” Most of those attending didn’t know me, and for all I knew, they might not even agree that a new term was greatly needed, or even somewhat desirable.

Fortunately, Todd was on the ball. Instead of making an assertion that the community should use this specific new term, he did something less directive—a smart thing to do with this community of strong-willed individuals. He simply used the term in a sentence on another topic—just dropped it into the conversation to see what happened. I went on alert, hoping for a response, but there was none at first. The discussion continued on the original topic. It seemed only he and I had noticed the usage.

Not so—memetic evolution was in action. A few minutes later, one of the others used the term, evidently without noticing, still discussing a topic other than terminology. Todd and I looked at each other out of the corners of our eyes to check: yes, we had both noticed what happened. I was excited—it might work! But I kept quiet: I still had low status in this group. Probably some were wondering why Eric had invited me at all.

Toward the end of the meeting, the question of terminology was brought up explicitly, probably by Todd or Eric. Maddog mentioned “freely distributable” as an earlier term, and “cooperatively developed” as a newer term. Eric listed “free software,” “open source,” and “sourceware” as the main options. Todd advocated the “open source” model, and Eric endorsed this. I didn’t say much, letting Todd and Eric pull the (loose, informal) consensus together around the open source name. It was clear that to most of those at the meeting, the name change was not the most important thing discussed there; a relatively minor issue. Only about 10% of my notes from this meeting are on the terminology question.

But I was elated. These were some key leaders in the community, and they liked the new name, or at least didn’t object. This was a very good sign. There was probably not much more I could do to help; Eric Raymond was far better positioned to spread the new meme, and he did. Bruce Perens signed on to the effort immediately, helping set up Opensource.org and playing a key role in spreading the new term.

For the name to succeed, it was necessary, or at least highly desirable, that Tim O’Reilly agree and actively use it in his many projects on behalf of the community. Also helpful would be use of the term in the upcoming official release of the Netscape Navigator code. By late February, both O’Reilly & Associates and Netscape had started to use the term.

  • Getting the name out

After this, there was a period during which the term was promoted by Eric Raymond to the media, by Tim O’Reilly to business, and by both to the programming community. It seemed to spread very quickly.

On April 7, 1998, Tim O’Reilly held a meeting of key leaders in the field. Announced in advance as the first “Freeware Summit,” by April 14 it was referred to as the first “Open Source Summit.”

These months were extremely exciting for open source. Every week, it seemed, a new company announced plans to participate. Reading Slashdot became a necessity, even for those like me who were only peripherally involved. I strongly believe that the new term was helpful in enabling this rapid spread into business, which then enabled wider use by the public.

A quick Google search indicates that “open source” appears more often than “free software,” but there still is substantial use of the free software term, which remains useful and should be included when communicating with audiences who prefer it.

  • A happy twinge

When an early account of the terminology change written by Eric Raymond was posted on the Open Source Initiative website, I was listed as being at the VA brainstorming meeting, but not as the originator of the term. This was my own fault; I had neglected to tell Eric the details. My impulse was to let it pass and stay in the background, but Todd felt otherwise. He suggested to me that one day I would be glad to be known as the person who coined the name “open source software.” He explained the situation to Eric, who promptly updated his site.

Coming up with a phrase is a small contribution, but I admit to being grateful to those who remember to credit me with it. Every time I hear it, which is very often now, it gives me a little happy twinge.

The big credit for persuading the community goes to Eric Raymond and Tim O’Reilly, who made it happen. Thanks to them for crediting me, and to Todd Anderson for his role throughout. The above is not a complete account of open source history; apologies to the many key players whose names do not appear. Those seeking a more complete account should refer to the links in this article and elsewhere on the net.

FreeBSD on a Laptop – A guide to a fully functional installation of FreeBSD on a ThinkPad T530

As I stated my previous post, I recently dug up my old ThinkPad T530 after the embarrassing stream of OS X security bugs this month. Although this ThinkPad ran Gentoo faithfully during my time in graduate school at Clemson, these days I’d much rather spend time my wife and baby than fighting with emerge and USE flags. FreeBSD has always been my OS of choice, and laptop support seems to be much better than it was a few years ago. In this guide, I’ll show you the tweaks I made to wrestle FreeBSD into a decent experience on a laptop.

Unlike my usual posts, this time I’m going to assume you’re already pretty familiar with FreeBSD. If you’re a layman looking for your first BSD-based desktop, I highly recommend checking out TrueOS (previously PC-BSD): they’ve basically taken FreeBSD and packaged it with all the latest drivers, along with a user-friendly installer and custom desktop environment out of the box. TrueOS is an awesome project–the only reason I don’t use it is because I’m old, grumpy, and persnickety about having my operating system just so.

Anyway, if you’d still like to take the plunge, read on. Keep in mind, I’m using a ThinkPad T530, but other ThinkPads of the same generation should be similarly compatible.

  • Here’s what you’ll get:

    • Decent battery life (8-9 hours with a new 9-cell battery)
    • UEFI boot and full-disk encryption
    • WiFi (Intel Ultimate-N 6300)
    • Ethernet (Intel PRO/1000)
    • Screen brightness adjustment
    • Suspend/Resume on lid close (make sure to disable TPM in BIOS)
    • Audio (Realtek ALC269 HDA, speakers and headphone jack)
    • Keyboard multimedia buttons
    • Touchpad/Trackpoint
    • Graphics Acceleration (with integrated Intel graphics, NVIDIA card disabled in BIOS)
  • What I haven’t tested yet:

    • Bluetooth
    • Webcam
    • Fingerprint reader
    • SD Card slot
  • Installation

  • Power Saving
  • Tweaks for Desktop Use
  • X11
  • Fonts
  • Login Manager: SLiM
  • Desktop Environment: i3
  • Applications

The LLVM Sanitizers stage accomplished

I’ve managed to get the Memory Sanitizer to work for the elementary base system utilities, like ps(1), awk(1) and ksh(1). This means that the toolchain is ready for tests and improvements. I’ve iterated over the basesystem utilities and I looked for bugs, both in programs and in sanitizers. The number of detected bugs in the userland programs was low, there merely was one reading of an uninitialized variable in ps(1).

  • A prebuilt LLVM toolchain

I’ve prepared a prebuilt toolchain with Clang, LLVM, LLDB and compiler-rt for NetBSD/amd64. I prepared the toolchain on 8.99.12, however I have received reports that it works on other older releases. Link: llvm-clang-compilerrt-lldb-7.0.0beta_2018-01-24.tar.bz2

The archive has to be untarballed to /usr/local (however it might work to some extent in other paths).

This toolchain contains a prebuilt tree of the LLVM projects from a snapshot of 7.0.0(svn). It is a pristine snapshot of HEAD with patches from pkgsrc-wip for llvm, clang, compiler-rt and lldb.

  • Sanitizers
    • Notable changes in sanitizers, all of them are in the context of NetBSD support.

Added fstat(2) MSan interceptor.
Support for kvm(3) interceptors in the common sanitizer code.
Added devname(3) and devname_r(3) interceptors to the common sanitizer code.
Added sysctl(3) familty of functions interceptors in the common sanitizer code.
Added strlcpy(3)/strlcat(3) interceptors in the common sanitizer code.
Added getgrouplist(3)/getgroupmembership(3) interceptors in the common sanitizer code.
Correct ctype(3) interceptors in a code using Native Language Support.
Correct tzset(3) interceptor in MSan.
Correct localtime(3) interceptor in the common sanitizer code.
Added paccept(2) interceptor to the common sanitizer code.
Added access(2) and faccessat(2) interceptors to the common sanitizer code.
Added acct(2) interceptor to the common sanitizer code.
Added accept4(2) interceptor to the common sanitizer code.
Added fgetln(3) interceptor to the common sanitizer code.
Added interceptors for the pwcache(3)-style functions in the common sanitizer code.
Added interceptors for the getprotoent(3)-style functions in the common sanitizer code.
Added interceptors for the getnetent(3)-style functions in the common sanitizer code.
Added interceptors for the fts(3)-style functions in the common sanitizer code.
Added lstat(3) interceptor in MSan.
Added strftime(3) interceptor in the common sanitizer code.
Added strmode(3) interceptor in the common sanitizer code.
Added interceptors for the regex(3)-style functions in the common sanitizer code.
Disabled unwanted interceptor __sigsetjmp in TSan.

  • Base system changes

I’ve tidied up inclusion of the internal namespace.h header in libc. This has hidden the usage of public global symbol names of:

strlcat -> _strlcat
sysconf -> __sysconf
closedir -> _closedir
fparseln -> _fparseln
kill -> _kill
mkstemp -> _mkstemp
reallocarr -> _reallocarr
strcasecmp -> _strcasecmp
strncasecmp -> _strncasecmp
strptime -> _strptime
strtok_r -> _strtok_r
sysctl -> _sysctl
dlopen -> __dlopen
dlclose -> __dlclose
dlsym -> __dlsym
strlcpy -> _strlcpy
fdopen -> _fdopen
mmap -> _mmap
strdup -> _strdup

The purpose of these changes was to stop triggering interceptors recursively. Such interceptors lead to sanitization of internals of unprepared (not recompiled with sanitizers) prebuilt code. It’s not trivial to sanitize libc’s internals and the sanitizers are not designed to do so. This means that they are not a full replacement of Valgrind-like software, but a a supplement in the developer toolbox. Valgrind translates native code to a bytecode virtual machine, while sanitizers are designed to work with interceptors inside the pristine elementary libraries (libc, libm, librt, libpthread) and embed functionality into the executable’s code.

I’ve also reverted the vadvise(2) syscall removal, from the previous month. This caused a regression in legacy code recompiled against still supported compat layers. Newly compiled code will use a libc’s stub of vadvise(2).

I’ve also prepared a patch installing dedicated headers for sanitizers along with the base system GCC. It’s still discussed and should land the sources soon.

  • Future directions and goals
    • Possible paths in random order:
    • In the quartet of UBSan (Undefined Behavior Sanitizer), ASan (Address Sanitizer), TSan (Thread Sanitizer), MSan (Memory Sanitizer) we need to add the fifth basic sanitizer: LSan (Leak Sanitizer). The Leak Sanitizer (detector of memory leaks) demands a stable ptrace(2) interface for processes with multiple threads (unless we want to build a custom kernel interface).
    • Integrate the sanitizers with the userland framework in order to ship with the native toolchain to users.
    • Port sanitizers from LLVM to GCC.
    • Allow to sanitize programs linked against userland libraries other than libc, librt, libm and libpthread; by a global option (like MKSANITIZER) producing a userland that is partially prebuilt with a desired sanitizer. This is required to run e.g. MSanitized programs against editline(3). So far, there is no Operating System distribution in existence with a native integration with sanitizers. There are 3rd party scripts for certain OSes to build a stack of software dependencies in order to validate a piece of software.
    • Execute ATF tests with the userland rebuilt with supported flavors of sanitizers and catch regressions.
    • Finish porting of modern linkers designed for large C++ software, such as GNU GOLD and LLVM LLD. Today the bottleneck with building the LLVM toolchain is a suboptimal linker GNU ld(1).

I’ve decided to not open new battlefields and return now to porting LLDB and fixing ptrace(2).

  • Plan for the next milestone
    • Keep upstreaming a pile of local compiler-rt patches.
    • Restore the LLDB support for traced programs with a single thread.

Interview – Goran Mekic – meka@tilda.center / @meka_floss

News Roundup

Finally Moving Away From Windows

  • Broken Window

Thanks to a combination of some really impressive malware, bad clicking, and poor website choices, I had to blow away my Windows 10 installation. Not that it was Window’s fault, but a piece of malware had infected my computer when I tried to download a long lost driver for an even longer lost RAID card for a server. A word of advice – the download you’re looking for is never on an ad-infested forum in another language. In any case, I had been meaning to switch away from Windows soon. I didn’t have my entire plan ready, but now was as good a time as any.

My line of work requires me to maintain some form of Windows installation, so I decided to keep it in a VM rather than dual booting as I was developing code and not running any high-end visual stuff like games. My first thought was to install Arch or Gentoo Linux, but the last time I attempted a Gentoo installation it left me bootless. Not that there is anything wrong with Gentoo, it was probably my fault, but I like the idea of some sort of installer so I looked at rock-solid Debian. My dad had installed Debian on his sweet new cutting-edge Lenovo laptop he received recently from work. He often raves about his cool scripts and much more effective customized experience, but often complains about his hybrid GPU support as he has an Intel/Nvidia hybrid display adapter (he has finally resolved it and now boasts his 6 connected displays).

I didn’t want to install Windows again, but something didn’t feel right about installing some flavour of Linux. Back at home I have a small collection of FreeBSD servers running in all sorts of jails and other physical hardware, with the exception of one Debian server which I had the hardest time dealing with (it would be FreeBSD too if 802.11ac support was there as it is acting as my WiFi/gateway/IDS/IPS). I loved my FreeBSD servers, and yes I will write posts about each one soon enough. I wanted that cleanliness and familiarity on my desktop as well (I really love the ports collection!). It’s settled – I will run FreeBSD on my laptop. This also created a new rivalry with my father, which is not a bad thing either.

  • Playing Devil’s Advocate

The first thing I needed to do was backup my Windows data. This was easy enough, just run a Windows Image Backup and it will- wait, what? Why isn’t this working? I didn’t want to fiddle with this too long because I didn’t actually need an image just the data. I ended up just copying over the files to an external hard disk. Once that was done, I downloaded and verified the latest FreeBSD 11.1 RELEASE memstick image and flashed it to my trusty 8GB Verbatim USB stick. I’ve had this thing since 2007, it works great for being my re-writable “CD”. I booted it up and started the installation. I knew this installer pretty well as I had test-installed FreeBSD and OpenBSD in VMs when I was researching a Unix style replacement OS last year. In any case, I left most of the defaults (I didn’t want to play with custom kernels right now) and I selected all packages. This downloaded them from the FreeBSD FTP server as I only had the memstick image. The installer finished and I was off to my first boot. Great! so far so good. FreeBSD loaded up and I did a ‘pkg upgrade’ just to make sure that everything was up to date.

Alright, time to get down to business. I needed nano. I just can’t use vi, or just not yet. I don’t care about being a vi-wizard, that’s just too much effort for me. Anyway, just a ‘pkg install nano’ and I had my editor. Next was obvious, I needed x11. XFCE was common, and there were plenty of tutorials out there. I wont bore you with those details, but it went something like ‘pkg install xfce’ and I got all the dependencies. Don’t forget to install SLiM to make it seamless. There are some configs in the .login I think. SLiM needs to be called once the boot drops you to the login so that you get SLiM’s nice GUI login instead of the CLI login screen. Then SLiM passes you off to XFCE. I think I followed this and this. Awesome. Now that x11 is working, it’s time to get all of my apps from Windows. Obviously, I can’t get everything (ie. Visual Studio, Office). But in my Windows installation, I had chosen many open-source or cross-compiled apps as they either worked better or so that I was ready to move away from Windows at a moments notice. ‘pkg install firefox thunderbird hexchat pidgin gpa keepass owncloud-client transmission-qt5 veracrypt openvpn’ were some immediate picks. There are a lot more that I downloaded later, but these are a few I use everyday. My laptop also has the same hybrid display adapter config that my dad’s has, but I chose to only run Intel graphics, so dual screens are no problem for me. I’ll add Nvidia support later, but it’s not a priority.

After I had imported my private keys and loaded my firefox and thunderbird settings, I wanted to get my Windows VM running right away as I was burning productive days at work fiddling with this. I had only two virtualisation options; qemu/kvm and bhyve. qemu/kvm wasn’t available in pkg, and looked real dirty to compile, from FreeBSD’s point of view. My dad is using qemu/kvm with virt-manager to manage all of his Windows/Unix VMs alike. I wanted that experience, but I also wanted packages that could be updated and I didn’t want to mess up a compile. bhyve was a better choice. It was built-in, it was more compatible with Windows (from what I read), and this is a great step-by-step article for Windows 10 on FreeBSD 11 bhyve! I had already tried to get virt-manager to work with bhyve with no luck. I don’t think libvirt connects with bhyve completely, or maybe my config is wrong. But I didn’t have time to fiddle with it. I managed it all through command lines and that has worked perfectly so far. Well sorta, there was an issue installing SQL Server, and only SQL Server, on my Windows VM. This was due to a missing ‘sectorsize=512’ setting on the disk parameter on the bhyve command line. That was only found after A LOT of digging because the SQL Server install didn’t log the error properly. I eventually found out that SQL Server only likes one sector size of disks for the install and my virtual disk geometry was incorrect.

  • Apps Apps Apps

I installed Windows 10 on my bhyve VM and I got that all setup with the apps I needed for work. Mostly Office, Visual Studio, and vSphere for managing our server farm. Plus all of the annoying 3rd party VPN software (I’m looking at you Dell and Cisco). Alright, with the Windows VM done, I can now work at work and finish FreeBSD mostly during the nights. I still needed my remote files (I setup an ownCloud instance on a FreeNAS jail at home) so I setup the client. Now, normally on Windows I would come to work and connect to my home network using OpenVPN (again, I have a OpenVPN FreeNAS jail at home) and the ownCloud desktop would be able to handle changing DNS destination IPs Not on FreeBSD (and Linux too?). I ended up just configuring the ownCloud client to just connect to the home LAN IP for the ownCloud server and always connecting the OpenVPN to sync things. It kinda sucks, but at least it works. I left that running at home overnight to get a full sync (~130GB cloud sync, another reason I use it over Google or Microsoft). Once that was done I moved onto the fstab as I had another 1TB SSD in my laptop with other files. I messed around with fstab and my NFS shares to my FreeNAS at home, but took them out as they made the boot time so long when I wasn’t at home. I would only mount them when my OpenVPN connected or manually. I really wanted to install SpaceFM, but it’s only available as a package on Debian and their non-package install script doesn’t work on FreeBSD (packages are named differently). I tried doing it manually, but it was too much work. As my dad was the one who introduced me to it, he still uses it as a use-case for his Debian setup. Instead I kept to the original PCManFM and it works just fine. I also loaded up my Bitcoin and Litecoin wallets and pointed them to the blockchain that I has used on Windows after their sync, they loaded perfectly and my balances were there. I kinda wish there was the Bitcoin-ABC full node Bitcoin Cash wallet package on FreeBSD, but I’m sure it will come out later.

The rest is essentially just tweaks and making the environment more comfortable for me, and with most programs installed as packages I feel a lot better with upgrades and audit checking (‘pkg audit -F’ is really helpful!). I will always hate Python, actually, I will always hate any app that has it’s own package manager. I do miss the GUI GitHub tool on Windows. It was a really good-looking way to view all of my repos. The last thing (which is increasing it’s priority every time I go to a social media site or YouTube) is fonts. My god I never thought it was such a problem, and UTF support is complicated. If anyone knows how to get all UTF characters to show up, please let me know. I’d really like Wikipedia articles to load perfectly (I followed this post and there are still some missing). There are some extra tweaks I followed here and here.

  • Conclusion

I successfully migrated from Windows 10 to FreeBSD 11.1 with minimal consequence. Shout out goes to the entire FreeBSD community. So many helpful people in there, and the forums are a great place to find tons of information. Also thanks to the ones who wrote the how-to articles I’ve referenced. I never would have gotten bhyve to work and I’d still probably be messing with my X config without them. I guess my take home from this is to not be afraid to make changes that may change how comfortable I am in an environment. I’m always open to comments and questions, please feel free to make them below. I purposefully didn’t include too many technical things or commands in this article as I wanted to focus on the larger picture of the migration as a whole not the struggles of xorg.conf, but if you would like to see some of the configs or commands I used, let me know and I’ll include some!

TrueOS Rules of Conduct

We believe code is truly agnostic and embrace inclusiveness regardless of a person’s individual beliefs. As such we only ask the following when participating in TrueOS public events and digital forums:
Treat each other with respect and professionalism.
Leave personal and TrueOS unrelated conversations to other channels.
In other words, it’s all about the code. Users who feel the above rules have been violated in some way can register a complaint with abuse@trueos.org
+ Shorter than the BSD License
+ Positive response from the community
I really like the @TrueOS Code of Conduct, unlike some other CoCs. It’s short, clear and covers everything.
Most #OpenSource projects are labour of love. Why do you need a something that reads like a legal contract?

FreeBSD: The Unknown Giant

I decided to write this article as a gratitude for the recent fast answer of the FreeBSD/TrueOS community with my questions and doubts. I am impressed how fast and how they tried to help me about this operating system which I used in the past(2000-2007) but recently in 2017 I began to use it again.
+ A lot has changed in 10 years
I was looking around the internet, trying to do some research about recent information about FreeBSD and other versions or an easy to use spins like PCBSD (now TrueOS)
I used to be Windows/Mac user for so many years until 2014 when I decided to use Linux as my desktop OS just because I wanted to use something different. I always wanted to use unix or a unix-like operating system, nowadays my main objective is to learn more about these operating systems (Debian Linux, TrueOS or FreeBSD).
FreeBSD has similarities with Linux, with two major differences in scope and licensing: FreeBSD maintains a complete operating system, i.e. the project delivers kernel, device drivers, userland utilities and documentation, as opposed to Linux delivering a kernel and drivers only and relying on third-parties for system software; and FreeBSD source code is generally released under a permissive BSD license as opposed to the copyleft GPL used by Linux.“
But why do I call FreeBSD “The Unknown Giant”?, because the code base of this operating system has been used by other companies to develop their own operating system for products like computers or also game consoles.
+ FreeBSD is used for storage appliances, firewalls, email scanners, network scanners, network security appliances, load balancers, video servers, and more
So many people now will learn that not only “linux is everywhere” but also that “FreeBSD is everywhere too”
By the way speaking about movies, Do you remember the movie “The Matrix”? FreeBSD was used to make the movie: “The photo-realistic surroundings generated by this method were incorporated into the bullet time scene, and linear interpolation filled in any gaps of the still images to produce a fluent dynamic motion; the computer-generated “lead in” and “lead out” slides were filled in between frames in sequence to get an illusion of orbiting the scene. Manex Visual Effects used a cluster farm running the Unix-like operating system FreeBSD to render many of the film’s visual effects”
+ FreeBSD Press Release re: The Matrix
I hope that I gave a good reference, information and now so many people can understand why I am going to use just Debian Linux and FreeBSD(TrueOS) to do so many different stuff (music, 3d animation, video editing and text editing) instead use a Mac or Windows.
+ FreeBSD really is the unknown giant.

OpenBSD and FreeDOS vs the hell in earth

Yes sir, yes. Our family, composed until now by OpenBSD, Alpine Linux and Docker is rapidly growing. And yes, sir. Yes. All together we’re fighting against your best friends, the infamous, the ugliest, the worst…the dudes called the privacy cannibals. Do you know what i mean, sure?
We’re working hard, no matter what time is it, no matter in what part in the world we are, no matter if we’ve no money. We perfectly know that you cannot do nothing against the true. And we’re doing our best to expand our true, our doors are opened to all the good guys, there’s a lot here but their brain was fucked by your shit tv, your fake news, your laws, etc etc etc. We’re alive, we’re here to fight against you.
Tonight, yes it’s a Friday night and we’re working, we’re ready to welcome with open arms an old guy, his experience will give us more power. Welcome to: FreeDOS

But why we want to build a bootable usb stick with FreeDOS under our strong OpenBSD? The answer is as usual to fight against the privacy cannibals!
More than one decade ago the old BIOS was silently replaced by the more capable and advanced UEFI, this is absolutely normal because of the pass of the years and exponencial grow of the power of our personal computers. UEFI is a complex system, it’s like a standalone system operative with direct access to every component of our (yes, it’s our not your!) machine. But…wait a moment…do you know how to use it? Do you ever know that it exist? And one more thing, it’s secure? The answer to this question is totally insane, no, it’s not secure. The idea is good, the company that started in theory is one of the most important in IT, it’s Intel.
The history is very large and obviously we’re going to go very deep in it, but trust me UEFI and the various friend of him, like ME, TPM are insecure and closed source! Like the hell in earth.

  • A FreeDOS bootable usb image under OpenBSD

But let’s start preparing our OpenBSD to put order in this chaos:

$ mkdir -p freedos/stuff
$ cd freedos/stuff
$ wget https://www.ibiblio.org/pub/micro/pc-stuff/freedos/files/distributions/1.0/fdboot.img
$ wget https://www.ibiblio.org/pub/micro/pc-stuff/freedos/files/dos/sys/sys-freedos-linux/sys-freedos-linux.zip
$ wget https://download.lenovo.com/consumer/desktop/o35jy19usa_y900.exe
$ wget
Explanation in clear language as usual: create two directory, download the minimal boot disc image of FreeDOS, download Syslinux assembler MBR bootloaders, download the last Windows only UEFI update from Lenovo and download the relative unknown utility from AMI to flash our motherboard UEFI chipset. Go ahead:

$ doas pkg_add -U nasm unzip dosfstools cabextract p7zip

  • nasm the Netwide Assembler, a portable 80×86 assembler.
  • unzip list, test and extract compressed files in a ZIP archive.
  • dosfstoolsa collections of utilities to manipulate MS-DOSfs.
  • cabextract program to extract files from cabinet.
  • p7zipcollection of utilities to manipulate 7zip archives.

$ mkdir sys-freedos-linux && cd sys-freedos-linux
$ unzip ../sys-freedos-linux.zip
$ cd ~/freedos && mkdir old new
$ dd if=/dev/null of=freedos.img bs=1024 seek=20480
$ mkfs.fat freedos.img

Create another working directory, cd into it, unzip the archive that we’ve downloaded, return to the working root and create another twos directories. dd is one of the most important utilities in the unix world to manipulate at byte level input and output:

The dd utility copies the standard input to the standard output, applying any specified conversions. Input data is read and written in 512-byte blocks. If input reads are short, input from multiple reads are aggregated to form the output block. When finished, dd displays the number of complete and partial input and output blocks and truncated input records to the standard error output.

We’re creating here a virtual disk with bs=1024 we’re setting both input and output block to 1024bytes; with seek=20480 we require 20480bytes. This is the result:

-rw-r--r-- 1 taglio taglio 20971520 Feb 3 00:11 freedos.img.

Next we format the virtual disk using the MS-DOS filesystem. Go ahead:

$ doas su
$ perl stuff/sys-freedos-linux/sys-freedos.pl --disk=freedos.img
$ vnconfig vnd0 stuff/fdboot.img
$ vnconfig vnd1 freedos.img
$ mount -t msdos /dev/vnd0c old/
$ mount -t msdos /dev/vnd1c new/

We use the perl utility from syslinux to write the MBR of our virtual disk freedos.img. Next we create to loop virtual node using the OpenBSD utility vnconfig. Take care here because it is quite different from Linux, but as usual is clear and simple. The virtual nodes are associated to the downloaded fdboot.img and the newly created freedos.img. Next we mount the two virtual nodes cpartitions; in OpenBSD cpartition describes the entire physical disk. Quite different from Linux, take care.

$ cp -R old/* new/
$ cd stuff
$ mkdir o35jy19usa
$ cabextract -d o35jy19usa o35jy19usa_y900.exe
$ doas su
$ cp o35jy19usa/ ../new/
$ mkdir afudos && cd afudos
$ 7z e ../AFUDOS*
$ doas su
$ cp AFUDOS.exe ../../new/
$ umount ~/freedos/old/ && umount ~/freedos/new/
$ vnconfig -u vnd1 && vnconfig -u vnd0

Copy all files and directories in the new virtual node partition, extract the Lenovo cabinet in a new directory, copy the result in our new image, extract the afudos utility and like the others copy it. Umount the partitions and destroy the loop vnode.

Beastie Bits


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