Juniper Backs FreeBSD With MIPS Port

Commercial Networking vendors make code contributions to the open source OS and benefit in return.

By Sean Michael Kerner | Posted Dec 3, 2009
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When it comes to new features in an open source operating system, sometimes features are developed by community developers and other times they are contributed by commercial vendors. The recent FreeBSD 8.0 operating system release benefited from both types of contributions.

In particular, as part of the FreeBSD 8.0 release, there is new experimental MIPS support which was contributed by networking vendor Juniper Networks (NYSE: JNPR).

MIPS is an important RISC chip architecture used in embedded devices ranging from consumer electronics devices to networking hardware. With FreeBSD's extension to MIPS is the potential for broader use of the open source operating system in a wider array of devices than ever before.

"Juniper has been a longtime supporter of openness in all its forms, open standards in networking, open APIs in our products, and certainly open source software that serves a greater good," Mike Bushong, Director of Product Management, Junos Software at Juniper Networks told InternetNews.com. "Contributing work back to FreeBSD was just one way we could give a little something back to the community that has served us so well for more than 10 years."

Juniper's involvement with FreeBSD, goes deeper than just MIPS, as Juniper's core JUNOS operating system has its roots in FreeBSD. JUNOS is used in nearly every Juniper networking product and is now also being licensed to third party vendors and is also part of the Juniper OEM gear that is sold by Dell and IBM.

Though Juniper does not directly ship FreeBSD in its commercial products today, according to Bushong, Junos continues to benefit from its roots in FreeBSD. Juniper has been updating its Junos operating system every 90 days since the operating system was first released in 1998.

"Today, we still use FreeBSD as our base operating system, Bushong said. "FreeBSD has proven to be quite flexible in supporting vendor innovation, and its proven track record of reliability, performance, and scalability is paramount in the networking world."

Juniper's connection to FreeBSD isn't limited to historical connections either and goes beyond its Junos roots.

"Juniper maintains a strong relationship with the FreeBSD committer community, sponsoring various projects within FreeBSD that will ultimately serve the entire user base, " said Bushong.

The FreeBSD 8.0 release

FreeBSD is one of the earliest open source operating system projects and is a descendant of the original, open source BSD work performed at the University of California, Berkeley. The FreeBSD 8.0 release officially became available on November 25th and was the first major release since the FreeBSD 7.0 release in February of 2008.

Juniper isn't the only networking vendor to make a contribution that ended up in the FreeBSD 8.0 release. Network security and optimization vendor Blue Coat (NASDAQ:BCSI) helped out with their contribution of a new routing architecture that takes advantage of parallel processing capabilities.

One of Blue Coat's key products is its ProxySG appliance which was recently updated. Sitting at the core of the ProxySG is its networking kernel which was partially derived from the FreeBSD kernel.

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