FreeBSD Foundation Unleashes 5.1

Five months after unveiling the FreeBSD Release 5.0 operating system, The FreeBSD Foundation followed up with
the release of FreeBSD 5.1 Monday.

The Foundation said FreeBSD 5.1 provides additional stability, reliability
and performance to the FreeBSD 5.x branch, while also delivering a number
of the infrastructure improvements laid out on the 5.x roadmap.

Among the new features are:

  • Experimental threading libraries which provide 1:1 and M:N kernel
    support for multithreaded applications, improving performance and allowing
    applications to take advantage of multiple CPUs

  • Expanded hardware support for USB 2.0, IBM/Adaptec ServeRAID
    controllers, USB Ethernet adapters, and Promise and Intel Serial ATA

  • Enhanced “jail” management, which allows one server to provide many
    different virtual machines

  • Support for Physical Address Extensions, allowing the use of up to 64GB
    of RAM on supported x86 platforms

  • Experimental support for AMD’s Opteron 64-bit platform.

The improvements build on the features of FreeBSD 5.0, launched in
, which for the first time added support for Sun’s Sparc64 and
Intel’s IA64 platforms. The 5.0 release also included fine-grained locking
in the kernel, providing multiple threads to execute in the kernel at the
same time. Additionally, 5.0 introduced the GEOM storage framework, an
infrastructure in which “classes” can perform transformations on disk I/O
requests on their path from the upper kernel to the device drivers and
back. This allows the operating system to support block encryption schemes.

The Foundation said FreeBSD 5.1 is ready for deployment as a desktop or
server system for those interested in the latest FreeBSD technology, but
its mature 4.x release branch is still preferred for those planning
critical enterprise deployments. FreeBSD 4.8 was released in
and 4.9 is forthcoming.

FreeBSD is patterned after the BSD (Berkeley Software Design) operating
system, which split off from the Unix operating in the early 1990s. Until
that point academics around the world had helped AT&T work on the Unix
code, and Berkeley Unix hackers added Internet capability to the code base
around 1980. By 1990, the relationship between AT&T’s Unix Systems
Laboratories (USL) and Berkeley had soured, leading to a three year lawsuit
with a settlement that severed Berkeley’s version of the Unix source, BSD,
from AT&T.

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