FreeBSD 12.2: What You Need to Know and How to Upgrade


The FreeBSD Release Engineering Team has announced the release and availability of FreeBSD 12.2 to the masses. It is the third and final release of the stable/12 branch. This post will cover the features and changes you can expect with FreeBSD 12.2 release. We will also give you a step-by-step guide on how to upgrade from your current version to FreeBSD 12.2.

FreeBSD 12.2 Features

FreeBSD by default doesn’t come packaged with a Desktop Environment like most of the Linux distributions. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t install one. Therefore, most of the features and updates are focused on the general system performance and not the user interface. Let’s dive in!

1. Userland Configuration Changes

FreeBSD 12.2 comes with a new rc.conf variable – the linux_mounts_enable. This new variable is used when specific Linux filesystems are mounted in the /compat/linux directory and the linux_enable variable is set to YES.

rc.conf is a configuration file containing configuration details of various network interfaces in the system, the local hostname, and information about startup services initialized at boot time. The rc.conf is utilized by various startup scripts found in the /etc., directory to conditionalize their execution with the settings in this file.

The linux_enable is a boolean variable when set to YES enables Linux/ELF at boot time.

Additionally, the devd the utility is updated to change the default syslogd notification for resume from kern to kernel.

The devd is a daemon that provides a platform for the execution of userland programs triggered by various kernel events.

2. Userland Application Changes

The cron utility is updated to support two new flags in crontab – ‘-n‘ and ‘-q.’

The -n argument suppresses mail on successful runs while the -q argument suppresses the logging of command execution.

  • The dd command is updated to support several additional arguments:
    • conv=fsync
    • conf=fdatasync
    • oflag=fsync
    • oflag=sync
    • iflag=fullblock
  • The fsck_msdosfs is updated to support some additional features.

They include reducing the memory footprint, a new argument, -M which disables the use of mmap utility, and others. fsck_msdosfs is a utility used to check the Windows (FAT) filesystem consistency.

  • Support for certctl utility.

certctl is a command-line tool used in managing a list of TLS Certificate Authorities that are trusted by applications that use OpenSSL.

  • showmount utility is updated to support long options.

showmount is a Linux utility used to get the status of the NFS server located on the host.

  • The sed utility is updated to read commands from stdin when the “-f” argument is specified.
  • The bhyve utility is updated to support setting additional AHCI controller parameters.
  • The jail utility is updated to allow running Linux® in a jailed environment.

3. Contributed Software

SoftwareUpdated To …
tcsh utilityversion 6.21.00
less utilityversion v551
libbsdxml libraryversion 2.2.9
resolvconf utilityversion 3.9.2
pcap libraryversion 1.9.1
tcpdump utilityversion 4.9.3
xz utilityversion 5.2.5
OpenSSHversion 7.9p1
Timezone database filesversion 2020a
unbound utilityversion 1.10.1
libarchive libraryversion 3.4.3
private apr libraryversion 1.7.0
svn{,lite} utilityversion 1.14.0 LTS
ntpd suite of utilitiesversion 4.2.8p15
file utilityversion 5.39
bc utilityversion 3.1.1
private sqlite3 utilityversion 3.32.3
BSD make utilityversion 20200719
Sendmail utilityversion 8.16.1
clang, llvm, lld, lldb, compiler-rt utilities and libc++version 10.0.1
OpenSSLversion 1.1.1h

FreeBSD 12.2 also comes with several software updates to enhance the general functionality of different software. For example:

  • The nc tool has received an update to include a new --sctp argument.
  • The mtree utility also received an update to handle issues like the -f argument not considering type changes, and more.

4. Deprecated Software

Other than updates, there is also software marked as deprecated. The amd utility is one and is targeted for removal in FreeBSD 13.0 release.

5. Runtime Libraries and API

With FreeBSD 12.2, the ifconfig utility has received an update and can now report a bridge interface status.

6. General Kernel Changes

  • read system call will now disable read() call by default on folders and directories.
  • FreeBSD 12.2 comes with the ixl driver enabled by default.
  • The machdep.kdb_on_nmi variable on sysctl is removed. Additionally, machdep.panic_on_nmi variable will now directly enter the debugger. The sysctl is a utility responsible for retrieving the Kernel state.
  • FreeBSD 12.2 also includes support for APEI (ACPI Platform Error Interfaces)

7. Devices and Drivers Changes

With this new release, several drivers are marked as deprecated and removed in FreeBSD 13.0 release and later. They include:

  • ubsec – Enables support for Broadcom and BlueSteel cards that contain the uBsec 5x0x crypto accelerator chips.
  • ufm – Enables support for D-Link/GEMTEK FM tuner.
  • apm – Enables support for Alliance ProMotion video cards.
  • ctau
  • cx

8. Storage Changes

The mps driver, which enables support SAS controllers and WarpDrive solid-state storage cards for Broadcom is removed from the 32-bit GENERIC kernel configuration.

The virtio_blk driver, which enables support for VirtIO block devices, has received an update to include TRIM support.

Additionally, the ZFS filesystem now supports read/write kstat output per dataset.

9. Boot Loader Changes

With FreeBSD 12.2 release, users will now access the konsole from the bootloader and can select any of the available console devices.

FreeBSD console
FreeBSD console

10. General Networking changes

FreeBSD tends to have a large market on servers than Desktops. Therefore, users can expect quite some updates in the networking part of the entire operating system. Below are some of the updates and changes.

  • The tab and tun devices will now create /dev aliases whenever they are renamed.
  • The ipfw driver now includes support for RFC6598/Carrier Grade NAT subnets.
  • The ng_nat will now support to attach an ethernet interface.

The drivers updated to a new version include:

  • ixl is updated to version 1.11.29
  • ena is updated to version 2.2.0
  • cxgbe is updated to version 1.25.0.0

Additionally, a set of new drivers have been added to this new release to enhance support for 802.11n and 802.11ac. FreeBSD 12.2 will also include support for Intel 100GB Ethernet cards with the new ice driver.

Upgrading to FreeBSD 12.2

Now that you have seen some of the cool features FreeBSD 12.2 brings forth, you are probably thinking of upgrading your current system. Don’t worry, that’s what we will cover in this system.

  1. Download and install the freebsd-update utility. Execute the commands below:
    freebsd-update fetch
    freebsd-update install

    update fetch
    update fetch

  2. Now, you can use the freebsd-update utility to fetch and install the updates.
    freebsd-update upgrade -r 12.2-RELEASE
    freebsd-update install
  3. After a successful installation, reboot the system with the command below:
    shutdown -r now
  4. Once the system reboots, execute the freebsd-update install command again to install the new userland components.
    freebsd-update install

That’s it! You have updated your system to the latest FreeBSD 12.2 release. You can go ahead to execute the uname -a command to see the FreeBSD version you are currently running.

uname -a

uname command
uname command

Conclusion

This post has given you a clear insight into some of the features that come with the FreeBSD 12.2 release and the whole upgrade process. Since this operating system doesn’t come with a pre-installed GUI, most of the updates and changes aim to improve the general system performance. If you are not ready with upgrading your system to this latest release, you can install it as a virtual machine and test its performance before using it for production.



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