FreeBSD is a freely available, full source 4.4BSD-Lite2 based release for Intel i386/i486/Pentium/PentiumPro/Pentium II (or compatible) and DEC Alpha based computer systems. It is based primarily on software from U.C. Berkeley's CSRG group, with some enhancements from NetBSD, OpenBSD, 386BSD, and the Free Software Foundation.
Since our release of FreeBSD 2.0 in late 94, the performance, feature set, and stability of FreeBSD has improved dramatically. The largest change is a revamped virtual memory system with a merged VM/file buffer cache that not only increases performance, but reduces FreeBSD's memory footprint, making a 5MB configuration a more acceptable minimum. Other enhancements include full NIS client and server support, transaction TCP support, dial-on-demand PPP, an improved SCSI subsystem, ISDN support, support for ATM, FDDI and Fast Ethernet (100Mbit) adapters, improved support for the Adaptec 2940 (WIDE and narrow) and many hundreds of bug fixes.
We have also taken the comments and suggestions of many of our users to heart and have attempted to provide what we hope is a more sane and easily understood installation process. Your feedback on this (constantly evolving) process is especially welcome!
In addition to the base distributions, FreeBSD offers a new ported software collection with hundreds of commonly sought-after programs. By mid-September 1999, there were more than 2600 ports! The list of ports ranges from http (WWW) servers, to games, languages, editors and almost everything in between. The entire ports collection requires approximately 50MB of storage, all ports being expressed as ``deltas'' to their original sources. This makes it much easier for us to update ports, and greatly reduces the disk space demands made by the older 1.0 ports collection. To compile a port, you simply change to the directory of the program you wish to install, type make all followed by make install after successful compilation and let the system do the rest. The full original distribution for each port you build is retrieved dynamically off the CDROM or a local ftp site, so you need only enough disk space to build the ports you want. (Almost) every port is also provided as a pre-compiled ``package'' which can be installed with a simple command (pkg_add) by those who do not wish to compile their own ports from source.
A number of additional documents which you may find very helpful in the process of installing and using FreeBSD may now also be found in the /usr/share/doc directory on any machine running FreeBSD 2.1 or later. You may view the locally installed manuals with any HTML capable browser using the following URLs:
You can also visit the master (and most frequently updated) copies at http://www.FreeBSD.org/.
The core of FreeBSD does not contain DES code which would inhibit its being exported outside the United States. There is an add-on package to the core distribution, for use only in the United States, that contains the programs that normally use DES. The auxiliary packages provided separately can be used by anyone. A freely (from outside the U.S.) exportable European distribution of DES for our non-U.S. users also exists and is described in the FreeBSD FAQ.
If password security for FreeBSD is all you need, and you have no requirement for copying encrypted passwords from different hosts (Suns, DEC machines, etc) into FreeBSD password entries, then FreeBSD's MD5 based security may be all you require! We feel that our default security model is more than a match for DES, and without any messy export issues to deal with. If you are outside (or even inside) the U.S., give it a try!