FreeBSD 14's RC2 dances to the tune of OpenZFS 2.2
The last version to support x86-32 is currently expected early in November
Release Candidate 2 of FreeBSD 14 is out, and includes the newly released OpenZFS 2.2. So far, the OS is not looking radically different from version 13, but bigger changes are afoot.
RC2 appeared on Friday and the project is expecting to release the next major version around November 7. At present, the release notes for the new version are also a work in progress, but the highlights are there.
One of the headline features is also new: OpenZFS 2.2. With bcachefs still not in Linux and Red Hat's next-gen Stratis going nowhere fast, ZFS remains the state of the art in filesystems for Unix and Unix-like OSes. Because OpenZFS is covered by a GPL-incompatible license, most Linux distros still don't include it. That means it is still a compelling feature for FreeBSD.
As we described a few months ago, OpenZFS 2.2 has a new, faster encryption algorithm, better support for Linux container handling, and volume scrubbing is quicker too. Since the big corporate Linux distros won't touch ZFS, the NetBSD and OpenBSD projects are not as interested in being high-performance fileservers, and Dragonfly BSD is working on HAMMER2, its own next-gen filesystem, ZFS remains a killer feature for FreeBSD, so a new version with better performance and fault recovery is a significant win.
Filesystems aside, FreeBSD is a relatively modest update for a new major version. It supports more CPU cores on both x86-64 and ARM64, it boots up faster, and has tweaks to improve both wired and wireless networking and power management. It uses the lightweight Dragonfly Mail Agent in place of Sendmail, and includes a new tool for firmware updates,
fwget, although for now this only supports some Intel and AMD GPUs.
We gave the AMD64 version a quick test run in both the very latest VirtualBox 7.0.12 and UTM 4.4.4. RC2 installed smoothly on both, although just as we saw in version 13.1, attempting to install onto ZFS on VirtualBox's default 16 GB drive failed. It succeeded on UFS, though, and ZFS worked on UTM's larger virtual hard disk, which defaults to 64 GB.
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We were amused by the warning message from the
Some software may ave been built by building from source to avert potential compatibility issues or to respect software license restrictions.
It 'as been, 'as it? 'Ow about that, then? Unfortunately, in testing, we couldn't get X11 to start under either VM, and under UTM, we needed to reconfigure the VM's networking to Bridged Mode to talk to the network at all.
One thing that FreeBSD 14 drops from the previous release is support for ISA sound cards. We suspect that this won't inconvenience too many people in 2023, but the plan is that the next major release, FreeBSD 15, will drop support for 32-bit processors altogether. It, and the following FreeBSD 16, will still support 32-bit executables on 64-bit processors, but then that is planned to go away too.
RC2 still feels a little unfinished to us, especially given that it's left beta testing. We plan to return for another look after it's been released. However, up to a point, this is fairly normal for FreeBSD: it's very much a server OS, not a graphical desktop OS for general use by non-specialists.
The Reg FOSS desk had a long meeting with some of the project's directors at the Open Source Summit in Bilbao, and we hope to work with them on some of the issues we've had with the OS in the past. ®