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FreeBSD Operating System

In this article, we are going to learn about the FreeBSD Operating System with its features, advantages, and disadvantages.

What is FreeBSD Operating System?

FreeBSD Operating System

FreeBSD is a free and open-source UNIX OS that is developed from the Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD). In 1993, the initial version of FreeBSD was released. It was the most famous open-source BSD OS in 2005, and it was responsible for over three-quarters of all BSD systems installed with a simple and permissive license. It may not be labeled as a UNIX OS due to legal constraints while being compatible with UNIX internals and APIs. Because the license rules of FreeBSD allow developers a great deal of freedom in using it, many FreeBSD code has been reused by other operating systems (such as MAC OSX). However, it is not categorized as a UNIX OS, and the MAC OSX does have an official UNIX branding.

The Lynne Jolitz and William Jolitz developers renamed the OS 386BSD after obtaining it to the 80386 CPUs. It is defined as a feature-complete operating system due to its well-known characteristics, which contain full-fledged documentation, tools, kernel, and device drivers. This OS's functional design makes it suitable for several applications. As a result, it works in both desktop environments and servers. It is widely rumored that it is used in developing Apple OS.

Most of FreeBSD's codebase has found its way into other operating systems like Darwin, TrueNAS, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch gaming consoles system software. Additional third-party software can be installed using pkg, FreeBSD Ports, or manually compiling source code. A security team oversees all software supplied in the base distribution as part of its initiatives.

History of FreeBSD Operating System

Background of FreeBSD Operating System

In 1974, Professor Bob Fabry of the University of California, Berkeley, obtained a UNIX source license from AT&T. The Computer Systems Research Group started altering and upgrading AT&T Research Unix with DARPA's help. The virtual memory, TCP/IP, and the Berkeley Fast File System are all included in this enhanced version, named "Berkeley Unix" or "Berkeley Software Distribution". In 1976, Bill Joy launched the BSD project. Because the BSD contains code from AT&T UNIX OS, all recipients were obliged to first get an AT&T license before using the BSD.

The first public version of BSD was launched in June 1989, known as "Networking Release 1" or Net-1. After the Net-1 was introduced, Keith Bostic, a BSD developer, recommended replacing all AT&T code with freely available open-source code under the original BSD license. After 18 months, the majority of AT&T code had been modified. In 1991, the BSD launched "Networking Release 2" (Net-2).

Birth of FreeBSD

Following the introduction of Net-2, Lynne Jolitz and William Jolitz created replacements for the six AT&T files, adapted BSD for Intel 80386-based processors, and called their new OS 386BSD. They distributed 386BSD over an anonymous FTP site. The 386BSD development flow was sluggish, and after a while, a group of 386BSD users decided to branch out on their own to keep the OS up to date. The project was given the name FreeBSD on June 19, 1993. In November 1993, the initial version of the FreeBSD operating system was released.

After the FreeBSD releases, it benefited from a strong and loyal community that has continued to develop it for more than 30 years, with frequent updates still being produced. Currently, the FreeBSD OS released its latest version, 13.0, in April 2021. Today, it is used by many IT companies, including Juniper Networks, IBM, Nokia, and NetApp, to make their products. Some parts of Apple's Mac OS X OS are based on FreeBSD.

Features of FreeBSD Operating System

There are various reasons where it may be used as an operating system. Let's take a look at them one by one.

1. Server

A FreeBSD system usually includes many software packages relevant to servers in the base system. This availability of much important software allows you to configure FreeBSD operating system easily and use it as a web server, DNS server, Firewall, FTP server, mail server, or router.

2. Networking

The FreeBSD TCP/IP stack considerably helps the widespread use of these protocols. It provides supports a large range of networks, such as IPSec, SCTP, IPv6, and wireless networking. FreeBSD supports even outdated protocols like IPX and AppleTalk. In addition, FreeBSD currently supports CARP (Common Address Redundancy Protocol). It was imported from the OpenBSD OS. CARP enables numerous nodes to share a common set of IP addresses. The main benefit of this is that if one node fails, others are available to handle the request.

3. Embedded System

It can be used as an embedded system because it may be easily extended to support PowerPC, MIPS, and ARM.

4. Portability

Usually, the FreeBSD OS project splits the entire architecture into various tiers. These tiers provided various levels of support. Tier 1 architecture is very mature and fully supported. Tier 2 has major development. Tier 3 is experimental and doesn't go via development. In the end, tier 4 architecture has no support.

5. Storage

Storage is an important feature of FreeBSD OS. It usually releases the soft updates that secure a UFS (UNIX File System) filesystem's consistency. Its maintenance helps us if the computer system crashes. The filesystem snapshots allow you to create a file instantaneously while performing other valuable tasks, and these snapshots allow you to take a reliable backup of a live filesystem. GEOM is a modular architecture that currently offers RAID levels 0, 1, and 3, caching, concatenation, full disc encryption, and network-backed storage. GEOM also allows you to create complicated storage solutions by chaining various mechanisms together.

6. FreeBSD bhyve

Its base system now contains a new BSD-licensed, legacy-free hypervisor. It may currently run all supported versions of OpenBSD OS, FreeBSD OS, and Linux via the grub-bhyve port.

7. Kernel

The kernel of FreeBSD supports various important tasks such as process management, communication, booting, and filesystems. It has a monolithic kernel and has a modular design. Modules are used to design various parts of the kernel, including such drivers. These modules may be loaded and unloaded at any time by the user.

Releases of FreeBSD Operating System

There are 13 releases of the FreeBSD Operating System. These releases are as follows:

1. FreeBSD 1

The initial official version was launched in November 1993. In July 1994, the FreeBSD version was released. The Ports Collection is a group of port-related features released with the FreeBSD 1 OS.

2. FreeBSD 2

On November 22nd, 1994, the FreeBSD OS 2.0 was released. On November 29, 1998, the final version of FreeBSD 2, 2.2.8-RELEASE, was released.

3. FreeBSD 3

The FreeBSD 3.0 was released on 16 October 1998. It was the initial version to use a Giant lock to support symmetric multiprocessing computers, and it marked the transition from a.out to ELF executables. FreeBSD 3.1 was the first FreeBSD version to provide USB functionality, and FreeBSD 3.2-RELEASE was the first to include Gigabit network adapter support.

4. FreeBSD 4

The FreeBSD version 4.0 was released in March 2000. The most recent 4-STABLE version, 4.11, was released in January 2005 maintained until January 31, 2007. It was recognized for its dependability, and it was a popular OS among ISPs and web hosting companies during the initial dot-com boom. It is mostly considered as one of the most dependable and high-performance OS in the UNIX family.

5. FreeBSD 5

The FreeBSD was released on January 14, 2003. The releases of FreeBSD 5.4 and 5.5 indicated that the technologies provided in the FreeBSD 5.x version would have a future in highly dependable and high-performance versions. It also includes the Bluetooth function.

6. FreeBSD 6

The FreeBSD 6 was launched On November 4, 2005. On November 11, 2008, the latest version of FreeBSD 6 (Version 6.4) was released.

7. FreeBSD 7

On February 27, 2008, three years after the release of FreeBSD 6, FreeBSD 7 was released. It includes various features, including ARM architecture support, jemalloc, GCC4, UFS journaling, SCTP, an experimental port of Sun's ZFS file system, and SMP performance updates.

8. FreeBSD 8

On November 26, 2009, FreeBSD 8 was released. A new virtualization feature is included in the FreeBSD 8, which is known as "vimage". It's a FreeBSD jail containing a virtualized version of the FreeBSD network stack established with the jail command. The netisr (Kernel network dispatch service) infrastructure in FreeBSD has been modified to support parallel threading. The FreeBSD TTY has been replaced by a new TTY that supports SMP and has various important resource handling. FreeBSD 8 began to support USB 3.0.

9. FreeBSD 9

FreeBSD 9 operating system was launched on January 12, 2012. It has included one bsdinstall installer that is utilized by the ISO images. ZFS (Zettabyte File System) has been modified to version 8. The Fast Filesystem supports soft updates journaling. The framework for Highly Available Storage (HAST) has been implemented. The NFS subsystem has been updated, and the FreeBSD new version supports NFSv4, NFSv3, and NFSv2.

10. FreeBSD 10

The FreeBSD 10 was released on 20 January 2014. It includes the support for Raspberry Pi. It provides support for 64-bit Linux binaries via the compatibility layer. It also provides SMP support for armv6.

11. FreeBSD 11

On October 10, 2016, the stable version of FreeBSD 11 was released. It includes a new version of NetMap. The ZFS filesystem provides support for parallel mounting. Trim has been introduced to erase material for blocks on flash-based storage systems that use wear-leveling methods. It also provides support for the 64-bit ARM Architecture.

12. FreeBSD 12

The FreeBSD version 12 was released on December 11, 2018. It has changed how graphics drivers are handled on the i386 and amd64 platforms. The ext2fs filesystem has been modified with this version to support complete read and write functionality for the ext4 filesystem.

13. FreeBSD 13

The FreeBSD version 13 was released on April 13, 2021. It includes various important enhancements, including the switch to the new OpenZFS filesystem and an updated toolchain that aims to unify FreeBSD across all platforms. Removing support for obsolete drivers results in improved performance on the latest systems. However, the ZFS support has been available for a short time, and then switching to the OpenZFS tree ensures that users have access to the most recent features. It gives the most priority to codebase cleanup and performance enhancements.

Advantages and disadvantages of FreeBSD Operating System

There are various advantages and disadvantages of the FreeBSD Operating System. Some advantages and disadvantages of the FreeBSD Operating System are as follows:


  1. It is a free and open-source operating system, so the users can use and develop the OS for free.
  2. FreeBSD offers detailed installation guides for different platforms. Even if the users are not familiar with other OS like Linux and UNIX, users may install it with the help of documentation. It may be installed through a DVD, CD-ROM, or using FTP or NFS with the aid of documentation.
  3. FreeBSD gives a high priority to security, and its developers are always working to make the OS as secure as possible.
  4. It provides high stability for the database, internet server, client-server, etc.
  5. It has the potential to be a suitable alternative to existing UNIX platforms.
  6. It uses ipfw as the firewall.
  7. It is a monolithic kernel.


  1. It has less developer support.
  2. It is very complex to understand.
  3. It requires a good amount of practice.
  4. It has an issue with hardware compatibility.
  5. It has limited third-party software.
  6. There is no support for plug-and-play.

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