Archive for August, 2011

Debian GNU/kFreeBSD on production

August 9, 2011

Yesterday I begun using Debian GNU/kFreeBSD “squeeze” in thorin, my main workstation.

During the last few weeks I had to work through some of the limitations that were holding me back, such automated driver load and FUSE. I was lucky enough that other people filled the missing pieces I wanted, such as NFS client support and a GRUB bugfix that broke booting from Mirrored pools.

I have to say that I’m very satisfied. Barring a pair of small nuissances here and there, the result is quite impressive:

  • System responsiveness has noticeably improved, specially on disk-intensive operations such as loading my browser. I believe lightweight ZFS compression (the default algorithm is fast enough that it saves time rather than spending it) has a big influence on this.
  • Partition management became a lot simpler. Instead of using a fixed size like legacy file systems, with ZFS the storage is shared. This allows me to add, remove or resize file systems or swap volumes from my running system without having to worry about where they will be allocated (I have two pools, one that is mirrored and one that isn’t, and I can add or remove things from either. That’s as far as I’m concerned with allocation).
  • I no longer have to go through long wait periods when adding a new physical disk, or replacing a broken one. I have a lot of old used disks at my disposal due to various reasons, and they tend to break easily, so I used to run badblocks to them before I begun using them, to be sure they were safe (reliability is very important to me). Now I simply plug them in and trust ZFS checksuming to do the right thing.
  • No more waiting for long fsck. Specially annoying when I’m in a hurry and chance wanted that this was the 30th time I boot my system without fsck.

That’s basically my personal experience as newbie Debian GNU/kFreeBSD user. Of course my perspective is very limited because I just started and yes, I am biased.

Anyway, what about yours? If you have installed Debian GNU/kFreeBSD, was it meant for production or just a “toy machine”? If you considered using it on production, did it succeed at satisfying your needs, or did something hold you back? Leave your comment!

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Recent improvements with Debian GNU/kFreeBSD

August 3, 2011

Debian GNU/kFreeBSD was first released with Squeeze in last february. The “technology preview” label indicated, among other things, that it had a number of limitations when compared with what users would expect: missing features, incomplete functionality, etc.

But it has seen many noteworthy improvements since then. Here are some that I would like to mention: