News MidnightBSD News

From the MidnightBSD developer blog

Sun, 26 Mar 2006 05:00

Midnight BSD

I thought I'd create a new journal to track progress on Midnight BSD. It might be interesting and supplemental to information on the site someday. ...

Sat, 22 Apr 2006 04:00

CVS corrections

I finally got time to work on the source repository. /usr/src/share/doc/usd/13.viref didn't get imported properly which caused the world to fail. I've imported the makefile which didn't get added initially. The kernel config files for various architectures didn't get imported either. I'm adding those now. Checking out the source is working now To setup your environment use: CVS_RSH=ssh Of course you need an account for this to work. I do not have anonymous cvs working at this time. ...

Thu, 18 May 2006 04:00


I was able to get some snapshot isos built. I'm throw a link in to them soon. The sticking point with me right now is what to do about a window manager. There are quite a few choices and many are GPL licensed. I'd prefer to use BSD or MIT licensed code when possible. I don't see much choice though. Here's my short list: (not that short)

something custom...
OpenBSD's modified twm?

I also considered enlightenment 1.6 and 1.7. I liked 1.7, but its not stable enough yet. Afterstep is too weird in recent versions.

The problem with window managers is that for some they are religion. Of course ports will contain others anyway, but I want a solid default. It refects the usability and spin put on my project.

I'm leaning toward WindowMaker. I prefer it personally and I showed a few users WindowMaker vs Gnome and KDE desktops. Most described WIndowMaker as simple. I didn't have them use it though. Usibility is very important to me. I don't want KDE because two other BSD projects are exploring that and I'm not sure how receptive Gnome developers would be to including patches I might need. If I go the gnome route, I might as well call it ubuntubsd or something. I don't want that.

I'm just going to do WindowMaker in the first few releases and work on something custom long term. That seems the best.

Still don't know what toolkit to use though. :) ...

Tue, 04 Jul 2006 04:00


The cvs server was recently moved to I've also moved the website to the new server as well.

xorg is not currently building. I haven't had time to look at it yet, but you can simply use the FreeBSD 6 stable packages safely. ...

Tue, 08 Aug 2006 04:00


Over the weekend, I created a new snapshot iso of MidnightBSD. It includes 7 security patches and a new version of Sendmail. It has has some minor fixes with the rc scripts. ...

Mon, 14 Aug 2006 04:00

Sysinstall work

Today I made some changes to sysinstall. I'm hoping to get ftp install working with the next snapshot. I also imported the latest sendmail release over the weekend. ...

Thu, 17 Aug 2006 04:00

ksh import

MidnightBSD now includes OpenBSD 3.9's ksh which is based on pdksh. ksh is not included in /rescue and is not static. /bin/sh has not be changed to ksh either.

I want to import a few more changes and release a new snapshot in the next few days.

I'll attempt a sparc64 build soon. ...

Fri, 18 Aug 2006 04:00

Download speeds, iso image, install tips

A few people have inquired about the download speed problem from the ftp/webserver. I am running the server on a business cable modem package which does not have a lot of upstream. I did a recent speed test using's server. 8314kbps down 823kbps up to chicago. I need a mirror quite badly. I sent an application to ibiblio but have not heard anything. As for the iso image, the md5 for disk 1 does look wrong. I'm going to switch out the network cable and post a new snapshot for x86 and sparc64. I did download the iso last onto a desktop and did a virtual pc test install. It worked ok. Note on installtion: Do not use "all" or "xorg" options when it asks you to select relevant packages. The current snapshots do not include ports or documentation (aside from man pages) so those options will cause you to get errors during the install. pkg_add intentionally points to FreeBSD's server and will fetch 6-stable packages. They still work for now and until I get ports up its a convenient way to get xorg and other items installed. I have not altered the sup files yet either. The recommended way to get source is to check it out using the new anonymous cvs. (as of yesterday) Information is in the develop section of the website. ...

Fri, 18 Aug 2006 04:00

Sun sparc64, i386 Torrent

I've just posted the first snapshot build for sparc64 on the ftp server. It was built on a sun ultra 10 3d creator. It took me about 11 hours to complete the snapshot build.

I was also working on a new i386 snap, but my build system experienced some problems today as my air conditioning was on the fritz. I'll attempt a build again in a few days.

i386 is available via bittorrent, but sparc64 is ftp only for now.

There will also be some changes commited to ksh soon. ...

Sun, 20 Aug 2006 04:00

ISC mirror, OpenSSH, OpenNTPD, etc

The ISC has setup a mirror of MidnightBSD on Special thanks to them. Their mirror contains the entire FTP archive including the recent sparc64 snapshot. Adam upgraded OpenSSH in the tree yesterday. I'll attemp a new i386 build when I get a chance. I'm working on migrating to OpenNTPD. I've got about half the work completed. Anyone having problems with configure scripts should simply copy the FreeBSD releated entries in the config.guess/config.sub and replace FreeBSD with MidnightBSD and freebsd with midnightbsd. Also remove any additional entries for GNU "distros" of freebsd. I asked the GNU to patch their scripts. We'll see what happens. I've had to disable ftp and http a few times. The traffic has been so bad nothing would come in or out. I'm hoping the mirror will help. I appologize to anyone downloading when that occured. I'll write another entry when the source tree is "safe" to build. If you don't need ntp, you should be able to just delete those directories src/contrib/ntp and src/usr.sbin/ntp and it should work alright. Finally, we've been looking at countless window managers. Several people have expressed interest in xfce. We haven't made a final determination but xfce, fvwm-crystal, WindowMaker, something custom, or some offshoot work for the etoile project are all in the running. Two of these choices don't exactly fit into my usability requirements. If they were chosen, it certainly would not be perminent. xfce has some nice points, but its also quite mainstream. was hoping to be a bit unique. ...

Tue, 22 Aug 2006 04:00


rdate is in the tree but i'm not quite happy with it yet. I'm going to go back to the code when I get a chance. I also imported updated timezone files last night. That's not too bad to do.

Today while looking at df cvs, i noticed they also imported OpenBSD rdate. That means eveyrone but FreeBSD is using it provided netbsd still is. I see a convention. Of course its in freebsd ports anyway...

I'm toying with adding vesa in the kernel by default. It doesn't make a lot of sense on servers, but it does on desktops. There are some cases it would be nice on a server too. I may need to create a desktop and server kernel config soon or do it by architecture. I'm not sure what happens on sparc64 with vesa for example. I need to look into that.

I played with fvwm-crystal last night. Now that i've tried it, my opinion has changed some. Using the dock or start menu (nebula?) style it wouldn't be too foreign to others. I did have a few crashes and certain mouse gentures could really cause some chaos with my mom. Her app windows would disappear out of nowhere on her. That might be fixable with customization, but the crashes are not so easily. It is a devel version of fvwm 2 as a base after all. Maybe when it goes stable...

Aside from that, I think we've exausted window manager choices. WindowMaker is still my favorite for personal use however it also crashed when playing with some gnustep apps. There could be something strange with my system as well. I'm also using packages from stable for some of it so that could be the problem. (fvwm is NOT a package) I'll look at the core files later.

Finally, portability is an issue. We need to make sure the window manager will actually compile on sparc64, etc. Firefox will not compile on freebsd last i checked. I think gtk is broken. I'm seriously thinking about making my own wm now. I have an interface in mind already, its just picking the libraries to use with it. We may just do a release with fvwm and see what people do. I strongly favor using either gtkmm or gnustep for our graphical apps. The pc bsd installer code is very clean but uses qt. Its still a model for a good installer. I did a test install today and was quite impressed. We need to get there at least.

I'm thinking these issues must be resolved for .1 release:

zoneinfo Etc/UTC and rdate fix
rc script cleanups (formatting and any necessary changes)
man page clean up (for additions/changes we've done)
All urls pointing to midnightbsd servers.
Decide what to do about pkg_add and portsnap along with ports.
Some ports ready. At least xorg, a browser, and some common libraries.
Some update to the em driver.
Look at other contrib software to determine version status.
Changes to the installer to remove freebsd specific features, etc.

.2 release will need this:
security patch procedure including binary patches (roadmap for it at least)
more ports, port utilities
improvements to installer
any bugfixes and some driver updates
more work on the gui environment

By .3 i want to have the window manager determined and hopefully working. If i write my own, it would be started and useable to some degree.


Thu, 24 Aug 2006 04:00

PPP Buffer overflow, rdate

Adam patched the ppp(4) buffer overflow also found in FreeBSD today. Its recommended to update to the latest sources to receive the patch. If you are using the last x86 iso, please remember that the password format has changed to blowfish and we've switched to OpenNTPD/rdate. OpenSSH was also updated to the latest version recently. Another words its a bit of a jump.

I've found some problems with soft updates today as well. Large amounts of disk io on raid volumes can cause soft updates to consume all available memory and crash in some cases. Its not always consistant, but does happen. If you experience this problem, disable soft updates on the volume. I'm experimenting with several kernel patches right now that may help a bit with this and other problems. I do not think these patches will completely fix soft updates.

There have also been some problems found in ufs recently where deadlock can occur with snapshots.

If these recent kernel patches work out, i'll do a new iso release soon. This might be the beginning of some serious kernel changes. When I started this project, I was mostly concerned with userland changes up front. I was hoping that I could avoid major kernel changes until after a 1.0 release. It appears that is no longer the case.

For anyone tracking FreeBSD, the PPP patch coinsides with FreeBSD-SA-06:18ppp.

I'm now building leapseconds files in /usr/share/zoneinfo/right to work with rdate's -c flag. This was commited yesterday.

The new website project is coming along. I didn't get much opportunity to work on it today with all the other issues popping up. We have someone working on a new logo for us and I've made a new temporary logo that will go with the new theme. I've decided to drop the current color scheme even though its somewhat unique among the other BSDs.

For those of you who don't know, MidnightBSD was named after my cat. He loves to sit on computers. The butterfly never made sense with the name and was just something I could throw together in illustrator.

On the desktop environment front, fvwm-crystal looks like its going to be our temporary window manager for sure. appears to be down and the freshmeat page is also disabled. I don't want to track a dead WM. Regardless of our final choice, I have every intention of including GNUstep with our distro. There isn't much US interest, but there is a great deal of interest in europe.

On a final note, my kernel just built so its testing time. ...

Thu, 24 Aug 2006 04:00

Hardware upgrade

The site was down earlier today for a hardware upgrade. Additional ram was added to the cvs/web server. This should solve some of the problem we've been having lately. Its still recommened you download midnightbsd from the isc server. ...

Thu, 24 Aug 2006 04:00

em driver patch

I've been running on the em driver code since about 3am. So far so good. I'm still not happy with the network performance though. Further investigation is needed.

I am in the process of setting up a second server to help distribute the load. There has been some stability problems with my current amd box. I'm debating about moving cvs over to it. If so, i'll setup a new third level domain to simplify things. That system has a via vge gigabit NIC. I'd like to test the driver and compare its performance to the em's. ...

Fri, 25 Aug 2006 04:00

Last night's patches

Again, I had a focus on the kernel. I fixed a bug with usb keyboards where they'd start repeating keys, especially arrow keys! It started after my kbdmux update. So far so good. It mostly only occured in x11. Some of the network card code was updated including vge and mii which it depends on. I also added the ifmedia_baudrate function from freebsd and netbsd. hwpmc was updated but I don't know how well its working yet. In the process, I patched the vm's zeroidle and it seems peppy. I should start doing formal benchmarks with these changes. I can say the interactivlty imporved greatly. I have one more kernel patch i'd like to apply before .1 release. The remaining work is all in userland. Mostly we need to get some ports working and get x11 installed. x11 will be installed as port to ease in upgrading and dependancy checking. I may ship an old version just to get something working out of the box soon. userland should be fairly safe from a security perspective now. We are current on patches that have been added to freebsd up to this point. Our ports tree is very dated and some of that software is not safe I would imagine. ...