The latest release of NetBSD has been ported to the AMD 64-bit platform and Xen platform and includes symmetric multi-processing support.
Alistair Crooks, a NetBSD developer, said the main features in NetBSD 2.0 -- released last week -- are support for the AMD's 64-bit architecture and for Xen, an open-source application that lets users run multiple virtual machines, each running their own operating system, on a single Intel x86-based machine.
NetBSD 2.0 includes SMP support for i386, AMD64 and PowerPCs, improved Linux emulation, updated IP filtering software and a cryptographic disk drive. Crooks said the encrypted information on the disk drive will be a useful feature for those who use NetBSD on their laptop.
"If someone nicks your laptop, your information's still safe," said Crooks.
The latest version of NetBSD's framework for building third-party software, pkgsrc, is due to be released in the next week. Pkgsrc makes it easier for users to install applications that have been written for other operating systems, which Crooks says is important because there are not as many applications written for NetBSD as for Linux.
"Pkgsrc is a framework that tells you where to go to get the latest version of, for example, GNOME," said Crooks. "It will tell you what you need to build GNOME, it will fetch the GNOME source and will make sure it is retrieved correctly. It will then build and install it."
"The trouble with NetBSD is that it is not one of the more popular operating systems -- you typically find people writing for Solaris and Linux," Crooks added.