back to article FreeBSD comes to Amazon's lightweight hypervisor

The FreeBSD developer who brought FreeBSD to Amazon EC² has now got it working on the company's lightweight Firecracker hypervisor. "AWS Community Hero" Colin Percival is the developer of the Tarsnap online backup service and the portsnap tool for updating FreeBSD. It's thanks to his efforts that FreeBSD is supported on Amazon …

  1. VoiceOfTruth


    The gold standard of operating systems...

    -> Colin Percival is the developer of the Tarsnap online backup service and the portsnap tool for updating FreeBSD

    Colin Percival is also the original developer of bsdiff, a binary patching utility. I seem to recall reading somewhere that bsdiff is used by Google for patching Android and Play Store apps. I could be wrong about that, but I do seem to recall it. It is the same bsdiff which is on

    1. Inspector71

      Re: FreeBSD

      "The gold standard of operating systems"

      You, sir, are a brave man.

      Just for a start, a certain Mr de Raadt might disagree with you slightly....

      1. katrinab Silver badge

        Re: FreeBSD

        Which is about the best endorsement you could ever hope for.

        1. Inspector71

          Re: FreeBSD

          Touche! and I agree with you. I've got a soft spot for NetBSD myself.

          1. coredump

            Re: FreeBSD

            Over the years I've used all 3 of FreeBSD, NetBSD, and OpenBSD for various duties, and found all to be clean and sensible.

            And dare I say, enjoyable to use. I'll freely admit they may not be for the uninitiated, but if you grew up around the 90's era "Unix wars" you'll probably be comfortable enough with any of the BSD.

            Added bonus that some of that same old Unix iron will run some of the BSD as well, if you've still got the gear knocking around the basement or garage.

            In any case, cheers to Colin for sharing the results of his FreeBSD work!

    2. Arthur the cat Silver badge

      Re: FreeBSD

      Colin has done a lot of things (including spotting security flaws in Intel hyperthreading). Here's his Wiki page.

  2. MacroRodent


    Wasn't the original (and by now ancient) Xen a microVm by this definition? It has a kernel modified to use only the services of the hypervisor. And also did cool things with the 386 architecture protection rings to implement a VM on an architecture that was at the time hostile to virtualization.

    1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Xen?

      [Author here]


      Kinda sorta ish if you squint a lot, I guess.

      I think the main bit missing from being a "micro-VM" is the "micro" part.

      There are two sides to the coin of being an OS that is adapted to being a guest.

      One side, the obvious one, is that it knows it's in a VM and talks to virtual adaptors rather than emulated hardware.

      The less obvious side, which is proving harder in the x86 FOSS space for now, is that a guest OS that is designed to be a guest OS does not need to do much in the way of hardware management. It isn't an OS controlling a computer: it's a program running under another OS, which (theoretically) controls the hardware.

      (Theoretically because the parent OS might also be in a VM and so it isn't controlling any actual hardware either.)

      Compare with the JVM. It can be turned into an OS and there have been several such efforts, such as SavaJe. But it wasn't meant to be. It has no graphics drivers; it runs under an OS with them and at best can ask that OS to display a window. It has no filesystem. It has no network drivers. It asks the parent OS for everything.

      Linux as a guest, or FreeBSD or whatever, is a whole-system OS being shoe-horned into a smaller box, but people are only just beginning to embrace this. A guest OS doesn't need *any* hardware drivers, and it should not really need even a filesystem.

      But they're getting there.

      1. MacroRodent

        Re: Xen?

        Seems to me that an OS that does not have drivers (not even virtio -style) and no file system of its own is not even an OS, but a container. Which we have long had in the FOSS space.

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