TLDR: FreeBSD 13.0 release notes:
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Over this past week, FreeBSD version 13.0 was released!
There are many great improvements in this new version of FreeBSD, but I'd like to highlight a few personal favorites.
But first, what exactly IS FreeBSD?
Way back in the early days of computing, there was AT&T UNIX. The University of California, Berkeley started using and modifying UNIX. They released this new system under the name "BSD", or "Berkeley Software Distribution". Over the years, there were several iterations of divergent paths taken by the BSD code base, one of which is now known as the operating system FreeBSD!
If you've used Linux, many of the FreeBSD features will feel very natural. Linux was designed to be an independent clone of UNIX, and FreeBSD has direct lineage to UNIX. Linux and FreeBSD share a similar mindset in many of their tools available to end users.
The command shells available on FreeBSD and Linux are mostly the same, such as tcsh, bash, and POSIX sh. Graphical environments such as Gnome, KDE, and XFCE are the same as well! Common sysadmin command like top, htop, ps, and more are also the same. You will also find the same developer tools like git, python, php, llvm, rust, go, node, and more.
BUT, there are some very key differences!
FreeBSD 13.0 now ships with OpenZFS 2.0 as its default file system. With OpenZFS 2.0, many new awesome features have become available, such as better latency performance diagnostics, as well as the new zstd compression standard. OpenZFS on FreeBSD adds significantly more flexibility for managing storage over the Linux file systems like XFS, EXT, or BTRFS.
ARM CPUs are becoming a highly prominent player in computing at all scales now. ARM powers the fastest super computer in the world, is powering the MacBook Air M1 I'm typing this on right now, power AWS Gravaton instances, and is making headway into the workstation class of computers. With the release of FreeBSD 13.0, Aarch64 (64-bit version of ARM) is now a Tier-1 architecture on the platform. This means that it will be treated the same as AMD64 (64-bit version of x86) in regards to patching, updates, security fixes, bug fixes, package availability, and more.
Speaking of the ARM support, VMware has been testing their ESXi hypervisor on ARM as well! There is now ESXi ARM Fling, an experimental hypervisor that works on devices such as the 4GB and 8GB models of the Raspberry Pi 4. Along with that, FreeBSD has extended their virtual machine client support to work beautifully under ESXi ARM Fling with the release of FreeBSD 13.0! This means that installing a virtual machine on ARM is the same effortless process as it is with AMD64 systems. Simply create a fresh virtual machine, boot off of the FreeBSD 13.0 iso image from the virtual CD-ROM, and it'll boot up into the installer and run exactly the same as it would on any other platform.
There are many more advancements. Please take a look at the release notes to see highlights pointed out from the core FreeBSD release engineering team.