Lin­ux­u­la­tor ex­plained: How to cre­ate Linux bin­ar­ies on FreeBSD

There may by cases where you want to gen­er­ate a Linux bin­ary on a FreeBSD ma­chine. This is not a prob­lem with the linuxu­lator, but not with the de­fault linux_​base port.

As you may know, the linux_​base port is de­signed to de­liver an in­teg­rated ex­per­i­ence with FreeBSD nat­ive pro­grams. As such some parts of the nat­ive FreeBSD in­fra­struc­ture is used. If you would try to use a Linux–com­piler to gen­er­ate Linux–bin­ar­ies, you would run into the prob­lem that by de­fault the FreeBSD in­cludes are used.


To have a fully fea­tured and non-​integrated Linux en­vir­on­ment on your FreeBSD sys­tem either mount an ex­ist­ing (and com­pat­ible) Linux in­stall­a­tion some­where into your FreeBSD sys­tem, or in­stall a linux_​dist port. This can be done ad­di­tion­ally to an already in­stalled linux_​base port.


When you have a com­plete Linux en­vir­on­ment avail­able, you need to mount the FreeBSD devfs to /​path/​to/​complete_​linux/​dev, lin­procfs to /​path/​to/​complete_​linux/​proc and lin­sysfs to /​path/​to/​complete_​linux/​sys to have a com­plete setup.

Use it

Now you just need to ch­root into this  /​path/​to/​complete_​linux and you configure/​make/​install or whatever you need to do to gen­er­ate your de­sired Linux bin­ary.

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A phoronix bench­mark cre­ates a huge bench­mark­ing dis­cus­sion

The re­cent Phoronix bench­mark which com­pared a re­lease can­did­ate of FreeBSD 9 with Or­acle Linux Server 6.1 cre­ated a huge dis­cus­sion in the FreeBSD mailing­lists. The reason was that some people think the num­bers presen­ted there give a wrong pic­ture of FreeBSD. Partly be­cause not all bench­mark num­bers are presen­ted in the most prom­in­ent page (as linked above), but only at a dif­fer­ent place. This gives the im­pres­sion that FreeBSD is in­ferior in this bench­mark while it just puts the fo­cus (for a reason, ac­cord­ing to some people) on a dif­fer­ent part of the bench­mark (to be more spe­cific, blo­g­bench is do­ing disk reads and writes in par­al­lel, FreeBSD gives higher pri­or­ity to writes than to reads, FreeBSD 9 out­per­forms OLS 6.1 in the writes while OLS 6.1 shines with the reads, and only the reads are presen­ted on the first page). Other com­plaints are that it is told that the de­fault in­stall was used (in this case UFS as the FS), when it was not (ZFS as the FS).

The au­thor of the Phoronix art­icle par­ti­cip­ated in parts of the dis­cus­sion and asked for spe­cific im­prove­ment sug­ges­tions. A FreeBSD com­mit­ter seems to be already work­ing to get some is­sues re­solved. What I do not like per­son­ally, is that the art­icle is not up­dated with a re­mark that some things presen­ted do not re­flect the real­ity and a retest is ne­ces­sary.

As there was much talk in the thread but not much ob­vi­ous activ­ity from our side to re­solve some is­sues, I star­ted to im­prove the FreeBSD wiki page about bench­mark­ing so that we are able to point to it in case someone wants to bench­mark FreeBSD. Oth­ers already chimed in and im­proved some things too. It is far from per­fect, some more eyes – and more im­port­antly some more fin­gers which add con­tent – are needed. Please go to the wiki page and try to help out (if you are afraid to write some­thing in the wiki, please at least tell your sug­ges­tions on a FreeBSD mailing­list so that oth­ers can im­prove the wiki page).

What we need too, is a wiki page about FreeBSD tun­ing (a first step would be to take the man-​page and con­vert it into a wiki page, then to im­prove it, and then to feed back the changes to the man-​page while keep­ing the wiki page to be able to cross ref­er­ence parts from the bench­mark­ing page).

I already told about this in the thread about the Phoronix bench­mark: every­one is wel­come to im­prove the situ­ation. Do not talk, write some­thing. No mat­ter if it is an im­prove­ment to the bench­mark­ing page, tun­ing ad­vise, or a tool which in­spects the sys­tem and sug­gests some tun­ing. If you want to help in the wiki, cre­ate a First­nameLast­name ac­count and ask a FreeBSD comit­ter for write ac­cess.

A while ago (IIRC we have to think in months or even years) there was some frame­work for auto­matic FreeBSD bench­mark­ing. Un­for­tu­nately the au­thor run out of time. The frame­work was able to in­stall a FreeBSD sys­tem on a ma­chine, run some spe­cified bench­mark (not much bench­marks where in­teg­rated), and then in­stall an­other FreeBSD ver­sion to run the same bench­mark, or to re­in­stall the same ver­sion to run an­other bench­mark. IIRC there was also some DB be­hind which col­lec­ted the res­ults and maybe there was even some way to com­pare them. It would be nice if someone could get some time to talk with the au­thor to get the frame­work and set it up some­where, so that we have a con­trolled en­vir­on­ment where we can do our own bench­marks in an auto­matic and re­peat­able fash­ion with sev­eral FreeBSD ver­sions.