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Stability in FreeBSD 6.1

FreeBSD developers continue to improve the FreeBSD 6.X operating system branch with the release of version 6.1 this week.

The new release boasts a few new features, some performance enhancements and lots of bug fixes, which will improve the overall stability of the open source operating system.

Though it doesn't receive the same level of attention as its open source cousin Linux, FreeBSD's roots go back somewhat deeper. FreeBSD is in fact one of the earliest open source operating system projects and is a direct descendant of the original open source BSD work performed at the University of California, Berkeley.

Scott Long, FreeBSD release engineer, explained that the 6.1 release is largely about stability.

"A few new drivers were added, and that's very important for keeping FreeBSD relevant on new machines," Long told internetnews.com. "But the vast majority of the work on 6.1 was focused on stability and polishing rough edges that were found in 6.0."

Among some of the new features is a keyboard multiplexer that enables both PS/2 and USB keyboard to coexist without additional boot time options. Automatic support for operating Wi-Fi access points has also been added in the new release.

The focus on stability is expected to continue in the 6.2 release, which Long doesn't expect until late July or August.

"There is some work going on to fix some long-standing problems for users of filesystem quotas and snapshots," Long said. "That requires a lot of testing and review, so we weren't comfortable with rushing it into 6.1."

With the 6.1 release the move for FreeBSD users from the previous FreeBSD 5.x series to the 6.x series appears to be in full swing.

The FreeBSD 5.x series originally released in 2003 and the 5.x series is still being actively maintained.

Long explained that he decided this time to run the 6.1 and 5.5 release cycles in parallel in order to conserve developer time and resources, and to gauge the relative user reaction to both.

"The vast amount of feedback that we got was related to the 6.1-Beta builds; the feedback for the 5.5-Beta builds was much smaller," Long said. "So I think that it's safe to say that the transition to FreeBSD 6 is in full force with the user base."

That said, Long noted that there are still companies that aren't interested in upgrading to FreeBSD 6.x and are still happy with FreeBSD 5.x.

"Releasing FreeBSD 5.5 gives those users the benefits of the bug and security fixes that have happened to the branch in the past year, and also extends the security advisory support of that branch," Long said.

"That way, these users that are committed to FreeBSD 5 will have more time to enjoy their investment and to evaluate FreeBSD 6."