The FreeBSD Project

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Last modified on 2013-11-07 by delphij.

This document gives a brief introduction to FreeBSD 8.4-RELEASE. It includes some information on how to obtain FreeBSD, a listing of various ways to contact the FreeBSD Project, and pointers to some other sources of information.

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Table of Contents
1. Introduction
2. Obtaining FreeBSD
3. Contacting the FreeBSD Project
4. Further Reading
5. Acknowledgments

1. Introduction

This distribution is a snapshot of FreeBSD 8.4-RELEASE, the latest point along the 8.4-STABLE branch.

1.1. About FreeBSD

FreeBSD is an operating system based on 4.4 BSD Lite for AMD64 and Intel EM64T based PC hardware (amd64), Intel, AMD, Cyrix or NexGen x86 based PC hardware (i386), Intel Itanium Processor based computers (ia64), NEC PC-9801/9821 series PCs and compatibles (pc98), and UltraSPARC® machines (sparc64). Versions for the ARM® (arm), MIPS® (mips), and PowerPC® (powerpc) architectures are currently under development as well. FreeBSD works with a wide variety of peripherals and configurations and can be used for everything from software development to games to Internet Service Provision.

This release of FreeBSD contains everything you need to run such a system, including full source code for the kernel and all utilities in the base distribution. With the source distribution installed, you can literally recompile the entire system from scratch with one command, making it ideal for students, researchers, or users who simply want to see how it all works.

A large collection of third-party ported software (the Ports Collection) is also provided to make it easy to obtain and install all your favorite traditional UNIX® utilities for FreeBSD. Each port consists of a set of scripts to retrieve, configure, build, and install a piece of software, with a single command. Over 24,000 ports, from editors to programming languages to graphical applications, make FreeBSD a powerful and comprehensive operating environment that extends far beyond what's provided by many commercial versions of UNIX®. Most ports are also available as pre-compiled packages, which can be quickly installed from the installation program.

1.2. Target Audience

This snapshot is aimed primarily at early adopters and various other users who want to get involved with the ongoing development of FreeBSD. While the FreeBSD development team tries its best to ensure that each snapshot works as advertised, 8.4-STABLE is very much a work-in-progress.

The basic requirements for using this snapshot are technical proficiency with FreeBSD and an understanding of the ongoing development process of FreeBSD 8.4-STABLE (as discussed on the FreeBSD-CURRENT mailing list).

For those more interested in doing business with FreeBSD than in experimenting with new FreeBSD technology, formal releases (such as 8.3-RELEASE) are frequently more appropriate. Releases undergo a period of testing and quality assurance checking to ensure high reliability and dependability.

All FreeBSD documents are available for download at

Questions that are not answered by the documentation may be sent to <>.
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