Pipe Dreams | BSD Now 73

Pipe Dreams | BSD Now 73

This week on the show we’ll be chatting with David Maxwell, a former NetBSD security officer. He’s got an interesting project called Pipecut that takes a whole new approach to the commandline. We’ve also got answers to viewer-submitted questions and all this week’s headlines, on BSD Now – the place to B.. SD.

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– Show Notes: –


FreeBSD quarterly status report

  • The FreeBSD team has posted an updated on some of their activities between October and December of 2014
  • They put a big focus on compatibility with other systems: the Linux emulation layer, bhyve, WINE and Xen all got some nice improvements
  • As always, the report has lots of updates from the various teams working on different parts of the OS and ports infrastructure
  • The release engineering team got 10.1 out the door, the ports team shuffled a few members in and out and continued working on closing more PRs
  • FreeBSD’s forums underwent a huge change, and discussion about the new support model for release cycles continues (hopefully taking effect after 11.0 is released)
  • Git was promoted from beta to an officially-supported version control system (Kris is happy)
  • The core team is also assembling a new QA team to ensure better code quality in critical areas, such as security and release engineering, after getting a number of complaints
  • Other notable entries include: lots of bhyve fixes, Clang/LLVM being updated to 3.5.0, ongoing work to the external toolchain, adding FreeBSD support to more “cloud” services, pkgng updates, work on SecureBoot, more ARM support and graphics stack improvements
  • Check out the full report for all the details that we didn’t cover

OpenBSD package signature audit

  • “Linux Audit” is a website focused on auditing and hardening systems, as well as educating people about securing their boxes
  • They recently did an article about OpenBSD, specifically their ports and package system and signing infrastructure
  • The author gives a little background on the difference between ports and binary packages, then goes through the technical details of how releases and packages are cryptographically signed
  • Package signature formats and public key distribution methods are also touched on
  • After some heckling, the author of the post said he plans to write more BSD security articles, so look forward to them in the future
  • If you haven’t seen our episode about signify with Ted Unangst, that would be a great one to check out after reading this

Replacing a Linux router with BSD

  • There was recently a Slashdot discussion about migrating a Linux-based router to a BSD-based one
  • The poster begins with “I’m in the camp that doesn’t trust systemd. You can discuss the technical merits of all init solutions all you want, but if I wanted to run Windows NT I’d run Windows NT, not Linux. So I’ve decided to migrate my homebrew router/firewall/samba server to one of the BSDs.”
  • A lot of people were quick to recommend OPNsense and pfSense, being that they’re very easy to administer (requiring basically no BSD knowledge at all)
  • Other commenters suggested a more hands-on approach, setting one up yourself with FreeBSD or OpenBSD
  • If you’ve been thinking about moving some routers over from Linux or other commercial solution, this might be a good discussion to read through
  • Unfortunately, a lot of the comments are just Linux users bickering about systemd, so you’ll have to wade through some of that to get to the good information

LibreSSL in FreeBSD and OPNsense

  • A FreeBSD sysadmin has started documenting his experience replacing OpenSSL in the base system with the one from ports (and also experimenting with LibreSSL)
  • The reasoning being that updates in base tend to lag behind, whereas the port can be updated for security very quickly
  • OPNsense developers are looking into switching away from OpenSSL to LibreSSL’s portable version, for both their ports and base system, which would be a pretty huge differentiator for their project
  • Some ports still need fixing to be compatible though, particularly a few python-related ones
  • If you’re a FreeBSD ports person, get involved and help squash some of the last remaining bugs
  • A lot of the work has already been done in OpenBSD’s ports tree – some patches just need to be adopted
  • More and more upstream projects are incorporating LibreSSL patches in their code – let your favorite software vendor know that you’re using it

Interview – David Maxwell – david@netbsd.org / @david_w_maxwell

Pipecut, text processing, commandline wizardry

News Roundup

Jetpack, a new jail container system

  • A new project was launched to adapt FreeBSD jails to the “app container specification”
  • While still pretty experimental in terms of the development phase, this might be something to show your Linux friends who are in love with docker
  • It’s a similar project to iocage or bsdploy, which we haven’t talked a whole lot about
  • There was also some discussion about it on Hacker News

Separating base and package binaries

  • All of the main BSDs make a strong separation between the base system and third party software
  • This is in contrast to Linux where there’s no real concept of a “base system” – more recently, some distros have even merged all the binaries into a single directory
  • A user asks the community about the BSD way of doing it, trying to find out the advantages and disadvantages of both hierarchies
  • Read the comments for the full explanation, but having things separated really helps keep things organized

Updated i915kms driver for FreeBSD

  • This update brings the FreeBSD code closer inline with the Linux code, to make it easier to update going forward
  • This update does not introduce Haswell support just yet, but was required before the Haswell bits can be added

Year of the OpenBSD desktop

  • Here we have an article about using OpenBSD as a daily driver for regular desktop usage
  • The author says he “ran fifty thousand different distributions, never being satisfied”
  • After dealing with the problems of Linux and fragmentation, he eventually gave up and bought a Macbook
  • He also used FreeBSD between versions 7 and 9, finding a “a mostly harmonious environment,” but regressions lead him to give up on desktop *nix once again
  • Starting with 2015, he’s back and is using OpenBSD on a Thinkpad x201
  • The rest of the article covers some of his configuration tweaks and gives an overall conclusion on his current setup
  • He apparently used our desktop tutorial – thanks for watching!

Unattended FreeBSD installation

  • A new BSD user was looking to get some more experience, so he documented how to install FreeBSD over PXE
  • His goal was to have a setup similar to Redhat’s “kickstart” or OpenBSD’s autoinstall
  • The article shows you how to set up DHCP and TFTP, with no NFS share setup required
  • He also gives a mention to mfsbsd, showing how you can customize its startup script to do most of the work for you


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