Failed installation of FreeBSD 5.4

dpk dpk at
Fri Aug 12 17:07:54 GMT 2005

On Fri, 12 Aug 2005, Greg Barniskis wrote:

> It can be argued (and has been, a lot) whether the hardware problems
> that some folks clearly do have are the fault of the hardware or of
> the new FreeBSD architecture. Myself, I think it's probably a little
> of each. Even though the hardware in question often "works fine"
> with other operating systems, that's not in my view conclusive
> evidence that the new FreeBSD code is bad. Make up your own mind, by
> all means, but jumping to conclusions is rarely going to help you
> actually resolve a problem.

I believe it's a little bit of each as well -- however, there have always
been hardware problems, and sometimes they just need to be hammered at
with software until they work.

There are some issues with modern hardware that some (including myself)
should have come up during testing (crashes w/ PAE, kernel dumps don't,
>2GB filesystem/drive problems, sysinstall bugs). I suspect that
part of the problem is that this hardware may not be immediately available
to the FreeBSD developers, so they might be "flying blind". I've been
trying to collect information as I see the issues, and opening PRs, but if
you go over the PR list you'll see some open issues for years. I'm not
sure if the issues will be handled, or if they have been and the tickets
just haven't been closed.

Unfortunately I'm not currently in a position to offer hardware loans to
developers so they can work out the kinks. I'm hoping that will change
(especially for large RAID support) but it's not directly in my hands.

With the solid FreeBSD 4.x relegated to "legacy" status, we've been forced
to use FreeBSD 5.x on some servers at customers requests, with very mixed
success. 5.4 seems relatively OK, so far, but earlier releases have some
"random crash" issues on hardware that has appeared stable in the past.

When the latest "legacy" 4.x release version has a EOL that is further off
than the latest "best" 5.x release, and with developers moving on to 6.0
and 7.0, it's hard to stay motivated, as a user, to continue to submit
bugs for "older" releases (older as in not even a year old). I can and
will continue to submit bugs as I see them, but as I'm working with
production systems, I can't just "upgrade the entire OS to the latest
version", if that's the answer, which it often is.

This may sound bitchy, but at the time of this email there are 4920
non-closed PRs for FreeBSD. It'd be great if these could be handled before
or at the same time as developers move on to the "bigger, better" code. I
know the answer here is that it's an open system, and if I think it should
be done, I should do it -- unfortunately I do not have the skill set
necessary to fix these bugs.

If there is a way I could help out, I would. The FreeBSD Foundation
activity list doesn't include fixing old bugs -- . Their goal appears to
be adding features, which is understandable; it's way sexier than bug
fixing, in any case. Is there another organization I could donate money to
(and perhaps even time, if possible), that would be working towards making
FreeBSD a stable platform on modern hardware?

I realize this email may turn people against me and my bug reports (if I'm
even important enough to remember, heh!) for being so bitchy. It's been on
my mind for a while, mainly because I still feel FreeBSD provides the best
platform for web services (at least the type I work with). I'd just prefer
that open PRs take priority over new features.

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