FreeBSD on Amazon AWS EC2 long standing performance problems

Gordon Bergling gbe at
Fri Feb 5 18:17:05 UTC 2021

Sorry, for top posting.

Can you verify your feelings by numbers?


On Fri, Feb 05, 2021 at 09:53:33AM -0500, Gunther Schadow wrote:
> Hi, I've been with FreeBSD since 386BSD 0.0new. Always tried to run
> everything on it. I saw us lose the epic race against Linux over the
> stupid BSDI lawsuit. But now I'm afraid I am witnessing the complete
> fading of FreeBSD from relevance in the marketplace as the performance
> of FreeBSD on AWS EC2 (and as I see in the chatter from other "cloud"
> platforms) falls far behind that of Linux. Not by a few % points, but
> by factors if not an order of magnitude!
> The motto "the power to serve" meant that FreeBSD was the most solid
> and consistently performing system for heavy multi-tasking network
> and disk operation. A single thread was allowed to do better on another
> OS without us feeling shame, but overall you could rely on FreeBSD
> being your best choice to overall server performance.
> The world has changed. We used to run servers on bare metal in a cage
> in physical data center. I did that. A year or two of instability with
> the FreeBSD drivers for new beefy hardware didn't scare me off.
> Now the cost and flexibility calculations today changed the market
> away from bare metal to those "cloud" service providers, Amazon AWS
> (>38% market share), Azure (19% market share), and many others. I
> still remember searching for "hosting" providers who would
> offer FreeBSD (or any BSD) as an option and it was hard to find. On
> Amazon AWS we have the FreeBSD image ready to launch, that is good.
> But the problem is, it's disk (and network?) performance is bad (to
> horrible) and it's really sad and embarrassing. Leaving FreeBSD beaten
> far behind and for realistic operations, it's impossible to use, despite
> being so much better organized than Linux. I have put significant
> investment into a flexible scalable FreeBSD image only to find now that I
> just cannot justify using FreeBSD when Linux out of the box is several
> times faster.
> There have been few problem reports about this over many years, and
> they all end the same way: either no response, or defensive response
> ("your measures are invalid"), with the person reporting the problem
> eventually walking away with no solution. Disinterest. I can link to
> those instances. Examples:
> My intention is not to rant, vent, proselytize to Linux (I hate Linux)
> but to see what is wrong with FreeBSD? And how it can be fixed? Why does
> it seem nobody is interested in getting the dismal AWS EC2 performance
> resolved? This looks to me like a vicious cycle: FreeBSD on AWS is
> bad so nobody will use it for any real work, and because nobody uses it
> there is no interest in making it work well. In addition there is no interest
> on the side of FreeBSD people to make it better. It's got to be the lack
> of interest, not of anyone not having access to the AWS EC2 hardware.
> What can be done? I am trying to run a company, so I cannot justify playing
> with this for much longer shooting in the dark. If I wasn't the boss myself,
> my boss would have long told me to quit this nonsense and use Linux.
> If I saw interest, I could justify holding out just a little longer. But
> I don't see any encouraging feedback. Is there anyone at all in the FreeBSD
> dev or as an organization interested in actually being competitive
> in the AWS EC2 space (and other virtualization "clouds")? If so, how many?
> How can this be fixed? How can I help? I cannot justify spending too much
> more of my own time on it, but I could help making resources available
> or paying for someone who has both a sense of great urgency to redeem
> FreeBSD and the know-how to make it happen.
> regards,
> -Gunther
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