Tech

FreeBSD 13 is here: more power, better tools – and lots of WireGuard drama

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For FreeBSD standards, the new 13.0 release is a mighty step forward. In addition to the work of many freelance developers, small and large companies have also released their own employees for programming projects and improvements relating to FreeBSD. In addition, some developers have been sponsored for specific tasks by companies or through the FreeBSD Foundation. But not only behind the scenes there seems to have been a paradigm shift with FreeBSD 13.0, because actually the operating system, which is under the free BSD license and based on 4.4BSD, is known for rather conservative leaps in development. Every proverbial BSD gray beard is frightened by the – in historical comparison – radical cutting of old braids, including the slow departure from i386, the removal of the SPARC64 platform or the ejection of the NE2000 and 3Com Etherlink III drivers.

The significantly increased involvement of large companies in the development process is of course gratifying. Not only BSD-related companies such as iXsystems or Netflix, but also Amazon and Microsoft, Apple, Sony to Orange and many more use FreeBSD productively. The fact that code that is correct for FreeBSD is more important than current features is shown by the glitch with the WireGuard implementation from Netgear, which was one of the reasons for the approximately two-week delay of the FreeBSD 13.0-RELEASE.

As planned, work on the FreeBSD 13.0 RELEASE began at the beginning of the year. In February there were four beta versions and in March the announced two release candidates: RC1 brought even more speed in the TCP stack and SCTP fixes, RC2 fixed problems with the WireGuard interface (if_wg) and brought minor fixes for ZFS and ARM64 AES-XTS. So far everything went the normal way, and developers and users had enough time to test FreeBSD 13 in the meantime. However, the release date planned for the end of March fell through with a loud bang and a necessary RC3, because the FreeBSD team decided to completely throw the WireGuard code, which was obviously knitted with a (too) hot needle, from the release – it met the quality requirements Not. In addition, an error occurred when using VirtualBox: The I / O operations of a FreeBSD guest could hang up – a known problem in VirtualBox 5.x, which was caused by a patch (switch off asynchronous IO) with severe performance losses in FreeBSD 12 .x was temporarily fixed. This “hot fix” didn’t make it into VirtualBox 6 and therefore reappeared.

As an emergency solution, the following can be entered in /ect/sysctl.conf:

vfs.aio.max_buf_aio=8192
vfs.aio.max_aio_queue_per_proc=65536
vfs.aio.max_aio_per_proc=8192
vfs.aio.max_aio_queue=65536

A few errors in automatic installation scripts, an annoying memory leak in NETMAP and an updated OpenSSL 1.1.1k made an RC4 necessary. This was followed a short time later by an RC5, which fixed a restart problem for services such as nginx and introduced better 32-bit compatibility for AArch64.

The FreeBSD 13.0 RELEASE was finally released on April 14th, as announced, and will receive support until 2026 according to the new FreeBSD support guidelines. The FreeBSD 11.x branch will thus be nearing its end-of-life towards the end of the year.

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