1. Technical overview
FreeBSD is a freely available, full source 4.4 BSD Lite based release
for Intel i386/i486/Pentium (or compatible) based PC's. It is based
primarily on software from U.C. Berkeley's CSRG group, with some
enhancements from NetBSD, 386BSD, and the Free Software Foundation.
Since our release of FreeBSD 2.0 over a year ago, the performance,
feature set and stability of FreeBSD has improved dramatically. The
largest change is a revamped VM 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, early ISDN support, support for FDDI and Fast Ethernet
(100Mbit) adapters, improved support for the Adaptec 2940 (WIDE and
narrow) and 3940 SCSI adaptors along with many hundreds of bug fixes.
We've 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 over 350 commonly sought-after programs. The
list of ports ranges from http (WWW) servers, to games, languages,
editors and almost everything in between. The entire ports collection
requires only 10MB 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 ports
collection. To compile a port, you simply change to the directory of
the program you wish to install, type make and let the system do the
rest. The full original distribution for each port you build is
retrieved dynamically off of 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). See also the new Packages
option in the Configuration menu for an especially convenient interface
to the package collection.
A number of additional documents which you may find helpful in the
process of installing and using FreeBSD may now also be found in the
/usr/share/doc directory. You may view the manuals with any HTML
capable browser by saying:
To read the handbook:
To read the FAQ:
You can also visit the master (and most frequently updated) copies at
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 distribution of DES for our non-U.S. users also
exists at ftp://ftp.internat.FreeBSD.org/pub/FreeBSD.
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're outside (or even inside)
the U.S., give it a try!
FreeBSD currently runs on a wide variety of ISA, VLB, EISA and PCI bus
based PC's, ranging from 386sx to Pentium class machines (though the
386sx is not recommended). Support for generic IDE or ESDI drive
configurations, various SCSI controller, network and serial cards is
What follows is a list of all disk controllers and ethernet cards
currently known to work with FreeBSD. Other configurations may also
work, but we have simply not received any confirmation of this.
WD1003 (any generic MFM/RLL)
WD1007 (any generic IDE/ESDI)
Adaptec 152x series ISA SCSI controllers
Adaptec 154x series ISA SCSI controllers
Adaptec 174x series EISA SCSI controller in standard and enhanced mode.
Adaptec 274X/284X/2940/3940 (Narrow/Wide/Twin) series ISA/EISA/PCI SCSI
Adaptec AIC-6260 and AIC-6360 based boards, which includes
the AHA-152x and SoundBlaster SCSI cards.
** Note: You cannot boot from the SoundBlaster cards as they have no
on-board BIOS, such being necessary for mapping the boot device into the
system BIOS I/O vectors. They're perfectly usable for external tapes,
CDROMs, etc, however. The same goes for any other AIC-6x60 based card
without a boot ROM. Some systems DO have a boot ROM, which is generally
indicated by some sort of message when the system is first powered up
or reset, and in such cases you *will* also be able to boot from them.
Check your system/board documentation for more details.
[Note that Buslogic was formerly known as "Bustek"]
Buslogic 545S & 545c
Buslogic 445S/445c VLB SCSI controller
Buslogic 742A, 747S, 747c EISA SCSI controller.
Buslogic 946c PCI SCSI controller
Buslogic 956c PCI SCSI controller
NCR 53C810/15/25/60/75 PCI SCSI controller.
NCR5380/NCR53400 ("ProAudio Spectrum") SCSI controller.
DTC 3290 EISA SCSI controller in 1542 emulation mode.
UltraStor 14F, 24F and 34F SCSI controllers.
Seagate ST01/02 SCSI controllers.
Future Domain 8xx/950 series SCSI controllers.
WD7000 SCSI controller.
With all supported SCSI controllers, full support is provided for
SCSI-I & SCSI-II peripherals, including Disks, tape drives (including
DAT) and CD ROM drives.
The following CD-ROM type systems are supported at this time:
(cd) SCSI interface (also includes ProAudio Spectrum and
(mcd) Mitsumi proprietary interface (all models)
(matcd) Matsushita/Panasonic (Creative SoundBlaster) proprietary
interface (562/563 models)
(scd) Sony proprietary interface (all models)
(wcd) ATAPI IDE interface (experimental and should be considered ALPHA
Allied-Telesis AT1700 and RE2000 cards
SMC Elite 16 WD8013 ethernet interface, and most other WD8003E,
WD8003EBT, WD8003W, WD8013W, WD8003S, WD8003SBT and WD8013EBT
based clones. SMC Elite Ultra is also supported.
DEC EtherWORKS III NICs (DE203, DE204, and DE205)
DEC EtherWORKS II NICs (DE200, DE201, DE202, and DE422)
DEC DC21140 based NICs (SMC???? DE???)
DEC FDDI (DEFPA/DEFEA) NICs
Fujitsu FMV-181 and FMV-182
Isolan AT 4141-0 (16 bit)
Isolink 4110 (8 bit)
Novell NE1000, NE2000, and NE2100 ethernet interface.
3Com 3C501 cards
3Com 3C503 Etherlink II
3Com 3c505 Etherlink/+
3Com 3C507 Etherlink 16/TP
3Com 3C509, 3C579, 3C589 (PCMCIA) Etherlink III
Toshiba ethernet cards
PCMCIA ethernet cards from IBM and National Semiconductor are also
Note that NO token ring cards are supported at this time as we're
still waiting for someone to donate a driver for one of them. Any
AST 4 port serial card using shared IRQ.
ARNET 8 port serial card using shared IRQ.
BOCA ATIO66 6 port serial card using shared IRQ.
Cyclades Cyclom-y Serial Board.
STB 4 port card using shared IRQ.
SDL Communications Riscom/8 Serial Board.
Adlib, SoundBlaster, SoundBlaster Pro, ProAudioSpectrum, Gravis UltraSound
and Roland MPU-401 sound cards.
FreeBSD currently does NOT support IBM's microchannel (MCA) bus.
Reporting problems, making suggestions and submitting code:
Your suggestions, bug reports and contributions of code are always
valued - please do not hesitate to report any problems you may find
(preferably with a fix attached, if you can!).
The preferred method to submit bug reports from a machine with
internet mail connectivity is to use the send-pr command. Bug reports
will be dutifully filed by our faithful bugfiler program and you can
be sure that we'll do our best to respond to all reported bugs as soon
as possible. Bugs filed in this way are also visible on our WEB site
in the support section and are therefore valuable both as bug reports
and as "signposts" for other users concerning potential problems to
watch out for.
If, for some reason, you are unable to use the send-pr command to
submit a bug report, you can try to send it to:
Otherwise, for any questions or suggestions, please send mail to:
Additionally, being a volunteer effort, we are always happy to have
extra hands willing to help - there are already far more desired
enhancements than we'll ever be able to manage by ourselves! To
contact us on technical matters, or with offers of help, please send
Please note that these mailing lists can experience *significant*
amounts of traffic and if you have slow or expensive mail access and
are only interested in keeping up with significant FreeBSD events, you
may find it preferable to subscribe instead to:
Any of the groups can be freely joined by anyone wishing to do so.
Send mail to MajorDomo@FreeBSD.org and include the keyword `help' on a
line by itself somewhere in the body of the message. This will give
you more information on joining the various lists, accessing archives,
etc. There are a number of mailing lists targeted at special interest
groups not mentioned here, so send mail to majordomo and ask about
FreeBSD represents the cumulative work of many dozens, if not
hundreds, of individuals from around the world who have worked very
hard to bring you this release. It would be very difficult, if not
impossible, to enumerate everyone who's contributed to FreeBSD, but
nonetheless we shall try (in alphabetical order, of course). If you've
contributed something substantive to us and your name is not mentioned
here, please be assured that its omission is entirely accidental.
Please contact hackers@FreeBSD.org for any desired updates to the
lists that follow:
The Computer Systems Research Group (CSRG), U.C. Berkeley.
Bill Jolitz, for his initial work with 386BSD.
The FreeBSD Core Team
(in alphabetical order by first name):
Andrey A. Chernov <ache@FreeBSD.org>
Bruce Evans <bde@FreeBSD.org>
David Greenman <davidg@FreeBSD.org>
Garrett A. Wollman <wollman@FreeBSD.org>
Gary Palmer <gpalmer@FreeBSD.org>
Jörg Wunsch <joerg@FreeBSD.org>
John Dyson <dyson@FreeBSD.org>
Jordan K. Hubbard <jkh@FreeBSD.org>
Justin Gibbs <gibbs@FreeBSD.org>
Peter Wemm <peter@FreeBSD.org>
Poul-Henning Kamp <phk@FreeBSD.org>
Rich Murphey <rich@FreeBSD.org>
Satoshi Asami <asami@FreeBSD.org>
Søren Schmidt <sos@FreeBSD.org>
Special mention to:
Walnut Creek CDROM, without whose help (and continuing support)
this release would never have been possible.
Dermot McDonnell for his donation of a Toshiba XM3401B CDROM
Additional FreeBSD helpers and beta testers:
Atsushi Murai Coranth Gryphon
Dave Rivers Frank Durda IV
Guido van Rooij Jeffrey Hsu
John Hay Julian Elischer
Kaleb S. Keithley Michael Smith
Nate Williams Peter Dufault
Rod Grimes Scott Mace
Stefan Esser Steven Wallace
Terry Lambert Wolfram Schneider
And everyone at Montana State University for their initial support.
And to the many thousands of FreeBSD users and testers all over the
world without whom this release simply would not have been possible.
We sincerely hope you enjoy this release of FreeBSD!
The FreeBSD Core Team