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DigitalOcean Offers FreeBSD Droplets

DigitalOcean Offers FreeBSD Droplets

by P. H. MadoreJanuary 20, 2015

DigitalOcean, the popular cloud hosting and sandboxing service for developers, which allows the user to spin quickly up a “droplet”. That is, a computer powerful enough to serve a website. The service is also used for proxies. Up until now, DigitalOcean has only offered a few versions of Linux, but yesterday it was announced that FreeBSD was joining the party.

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Originally developed at Berkeley, BSD is an operating system which has an even lower adoption rate than Linux, owing in part to its licensing. The Berkeley Software Distribution is seen by some as the specific domain of the alpha geek or researcher.

However, most software that is compatible with Linux can be worked with on BSD. The popular desktop environment KDE is available for BSD, for instance, and other day-to-day software like Firefox and office suites is available as well. BSD is seen by many as being more secure by virtue of relative obscurity and its developers focus on security, but then again, the security of something cannot really be said to have been tested until it’s deployed en masse.

A Boon for BSD?

freebsdlogoDigitalOcean droplets offer developers and everyday geeks the ability to give BSD a try without having to dedicate a part of their hard drive or a PC to the unknown software. In the same way that some DigitalOcean clients have wound up switching to ArchLinux as a result of using their droplets, this development may result in an increase in users of the alternative system.

Technically speaking, DigitalOcean had to do some work to get FreeBSD integrated with its interface. As they wrote in their blog:

Last year, we built our metadata service — allowing a droplet to have access to information about itself at the time that it’s being created. This is a powerful thing because it gives a vanilla image a mechanism to configure itself independently. […] Since we now had a feasible mechanism to allow images to be instantiated independently of our backend, we just needed to put the parts together that would allow us to inject the configuration upon creation. FreeBSD doesn’t itself offer cloud versions of the OS similar to what Canonical and Red Hat provide, so we started from a publicly available port of cloud-init meant to allow FreeBSD to run on OpenStack.

The future of computing stands to gain in a diversity of operating systems, tailored to the needs of users. Providing a way for developers to easily test their software on BSD means that that environment could experience a boost. With many users becoming increasingly dissatisfied with Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X, free software initiatives like FreeBSD, Xubuntu, and others can expect to see increased usage.

Images courtesy of the FreeBSD Foundation and DigitalOcean.

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