Massively upgraded FreeBSD 10 to be released next week

Latest version of the OS brings in Clang/LLVM, Hyper-V support, ARM additions, and compatibility with the Raspberry Pi

The last release candidate build of the latest major revision of FreeBSD, version 10.0, is out, with a final release date for the OS set for Jan. 7, or Tuesday of next week.

Version 10 of FreeBSD promises a slew of major improvements to the venerable Unix-like OS, which has lagged behind Linux in terms of its breadth of adoption and popularity but nonetheless remains a venerable presence in the OS world. Sony's PlayStation 4, for example, runs an in-house derivative of FreeBSD named Orbis OS.

Among the new features and changes to FreeBSD 10.0:

  • GCC out, Clang in. FreeBSD has been gravitating slowly away from using the GCC, not only because of its antiquated design, but also its GPL licensing, which was at odds with FreeBSD's far more liberal licensing. In place of GCC, FreeBSD now includes Clang/LLVM as its default C/C++ compiler, and FreeBSD has itself been built with LLVM since late 2012 or so.
  • Support for Hyper-V virtualization. Microsoft, NetApp, and Citrix have contributed code that allows FreeBSD to run well in Microsoft's virtualization solution without the need for additional software. Support for FreeBSD was originally announced by Microsoft back in 2012, but it's now being baked directly into FreeBSD.
  • EC2 integration. Those running FreeBSD on Amazon EC2 can now use the freebsd-update(8) utility to directly update EC2 images.
  • Improvements for ARM processors. The upgrades include support for superpages, which allows FreeBSD to work well with ARM hardware intended for servers; and additional support for ARMv7 and v7 processors, plus other system-on-chip designs.
  • Support for the Raspberry Pi. The explosively popular sub-$50 hobbyist's computer has nominally run Linux, but changes submitted to the FreeBSD code base now allow that OS to run on the Pi with minimal work.

One addition made headlines in the wake of recent revelations about the NSA's attemps to weaken encryption standards proposed by the NIST. It was believed that some processor-level, hardware-based random-number generators provided by Intel and Via might be producing random number sequences based on a standard believed to include an NSA-engineered cryptographic vulnerability.

To mitigate that possibility, FreeBSD 10.0 adds extra randomness to sequences produced by those devices. This last change inspired Theo de Raadt, founder of the competing BSD project OpenBSD, to criticize FreeBSD for only just now doing what he claimed OpenBSD "has been doing for over 10 years" and for not taking inspiration from their peers in the Linux and OpenBSD communities.

Three previous RCs of FreeBSD 10.0 emerged over the course of December, with the last full-blown point release -- 9.0 -- emerging in January 2012. Previous full-point revisions have come out on a schedule of roughly one every two years.

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