FreeBSD/EC2 historyA couple years ago Jeff Barr published a blog post with a timeline of EC2 instances. I thought at the time that I should write up a timeline of the FreeBSD/EC2 platform, but I didn't get around to it; but last week, as I prepared to ask for sponsorship for my work I decided that it was time to sit down and collect together the long history of how the platform has evolved and improved over the years.
Normally I don't edit blog posts after publishing them (with the exception of occasional typographical corrections), but I do plan on keeping this post up to date with future developments.
- August 25, 2006: Amazon EC2 launches. It supports a single version of Ubuntu Linux; FreeBSD is not available.
- December 13, 2010: I manage to get FreeBSD running on EC2 t1.micro instances.
- March 22, 2011: I manage to get FreeBSD running on EC2 "cluster compute" instances.
- July 8, 2011: I get FreeBSD 8.2 running on all 64-bit EC2 instance types, by marking it as "Windows" in order to get access to Xen/HVM virtualization. (Unfortunately this meant that users had to pay the higher "Windows" hourly pricing.)
- January 16, 2012: I get FreeBSD 9.0 running on 32-bit EC2 instances via the same "defenestration" trick. (Again, paying the "Windows" prices.)
- August 16, 2012: I move the FreeBSD rc.d scripts which handle "EC2" functionality (e.g., logging SSH host keys to the console) into the FreeBSD ports tree.
- October 7, 2012: I rework the build process for FreeBSD 9.1-RC1 and later to use "world" bits extracted from the release ISOs; only the kernel is custom-built. Also, the default SSH user changes from "root" to "ec2-user".
- October 31, 2012: Amazon launches the "M3" family of instances, which support Xen/HVM without FreeBSD needing to pay the "Windows" tax.
- November 21, 2012: I get FreeBSD added to the AWS Marketplace.
- October 2, 2013: I finish merging kernel patches into the FreeBSD base system, and rework the AMI build (again) so that FreeBSD 10.0-ALPHA4 and later use bits extracted from the release ISOs for the entire system (world + kernel). FreeBSD Update can now be used for updating everything (because now FreeBSD/EC2 uses a GENERIC kernel).
- October 27, 2013: I add code to EC2 images so that FreeBSD 10.0-BETA2 and later AMIs will run FreeBSD Update when they first boot in order to download and install any critical updates.
- December 1, 2013: I add code to EC2 images so that FreeBSD 10.0-BETA4 and later AMIs bootstrap the pkg tool and install packages at boot time (by default, the "awscli" package).
- December 9, 2013: I add configinit to FreeBSD 10.0-RC1 and later to allow systems to be easily configured via EC2 user-data.
- July 1, 2014: Amazon launches the "T2" family of instances; now the most modern family for every type of EC2 instance (regular, high-memory, high-CPU, high-I/O, burstable) supports HVM and there should no longer be any need for FreeBSD users to pay the "Windows tax".
- November 24, 2014: I add code to FreeBSD 10.2 and later to automatically resize their root filesystems when they first boot; this means that a larger root disk can be specified at instance launch time and everything will work as expected.
- April 1, 2015: I integrate the FreeBSD/EC2 build process into the FreeBSD release building process; FreeBSD 10.2-BETA1 and later AMIs are built by the FreeBSD release engineering team.
- January 12, 2016: I enable Intel 82599-based "first generation EC2 Enhanced Networking" in FreeBSD 11.0 and later.
- June 9, 2016: I enable the new EC2 VGA console functionality in FreeBSD 11.0 and later. (The old serial console also continues to work.)
- June 24, 2016: Intel 82599-based Enhanced Networking works reliably in FreeBSD 11.0 and later thanks to discovering and working around a Xen bug.
- June 29, 2016: I improve throughput on Xen blkfront devices (/dev/xbd*) by enabling indirect segment I/Os in FreeBSD 10.4 and later. (I wrote this functionality in July 2015, but left it disabled by default a first because a bug in EC2 caused it to hurt performance on some instances.)
- July 7, 2016: I fix a bug in FreeBSD's virtual memory initialization in order to allow it to support boot with 128 CPUs; aka. FreeBSD 11.0 and later support the EC2 x1.32xlarge instance type.
- January 26, 2017: I change the default configuration in FreeBSD 11.1 and later to support EC2's IPv6 networking setup out of the box (once you flip all of the necessary switches to enable IPv6 in EC2 itself).
- May 20, 2017: In collaboration with Rick Macklem, I make FreeBSD 11.1 and later compatible with the Amazon "Elastic File System" (aka. NFSv4-as-a-service) via the newly added "oneopenown" mount option (and lots of bug fixes).
- May 25, 2017: I enable support for the Amazon "Elastic Network Adapter" in FreeBSD 11.1 and later. (The vast majority of the work — porting the driver code — was done by Semihalf with sponsorship from Amazon.)
- December 5, 2017: I change the default configuration in FreeBSD 11.2 and later to make use of the Amazon Time Sync Service (aka. NTP-as-a-service).
The current statusThe upcoming FreeBSD release (11.2) supports: IPv6, Enhanced Networking (both generations), Amazon Elastic File System, Amazon Time Sync Service, both consoles (Serial + VGA), and every EC2 instance type (although I'm not sure if FreeBSD has drivers to make use of the FPGA or GPU hardware on those instances).
When a FreeBSD/EC2 instance first launches, it uses configinit to perform any desired configuration based on user-data scripts, and then (unless configinit is used to change this) resizes its root filesystem to fit the provided root disk, downloads and installs critical updates, sets up the ec2-user user for SSH access, and prints SSH host keys to the consoles.
If there's something else you think FreeBSD should support or a change you'd like to see to the default configuration, please let me know.
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