FreshBSD 2021

6 weeks ago I created a branch for a significant rework of FreshBSD. Nearly 300 commits later, and just a week shy of our 15th anniversary, the result is what you’re looking at now. I hope you like it.

There’s loads of internal changes, but here’s the main user-facing stuff:

Improved Look

We have a new vector logo I knocked together in Inkscape, a new drop-down select library, a new pagination widget that offers to reverse the sort order rather than encouraging you to visit page 170,000, and a variety of style tweaks to (hopefully) make things a bit nicer.

Prettier URLs

The site has a new URL scheme, and a much better system for generating them from queries. Where possible they’ll be automatically applied using JavaScript to make sharing links more pleasant. For example, this monstrosity:




Old URLs should continue to work.

Use the Source

A new grouped Source filter replaces Project and Repository, making it much easier to go straight to the repositories you’re interested in.

There’s also a new filter for merge commits, though this currently only works for git-based repositories.

More Speed

According to PageSpeed Insights:

  • Old front page: 4,814 DOM elements, 148 KiB, 2.3s to interactive.
  • New front page: 1,616 DOM elements, 37 KiB, 0.5s to interactive

This is a combination of improvements, including:

  • Removal of jQuery and Font-Awesome’s WebFont/CSS
  • Branch/tag/committer filters being suppressed
  • Result counts and aggregations calculated in the background during rendering
  • Multithreaded commit rendering
  • Reduction in per-page results from 50 to 30
  • Improved caching, with a warmup query for the front page on index updates

More to Come

I’ve done a lot of work to improve the quality of the code, which in turn makes further changes easier and more appealing. This also brings us closer to the point at which I’ll be comfortable publishing the codebase.

In the mean time, I hope you continue to find the site useful. If you have any feedback, please email me at, or Tweet me at @blaagh.


More Pretty URLs, More Speed, Fewer Bugs

A quick summary of some of the user-facing changes since the last news item:

  • Add pretty URLs for repository branches and tags
  • Add /news/yyyy/mm/dd URLs
  • Add a warmup query on indexing to keep the front page fast
  • Add some missing fields to Help
  • Add a source filter combining project and repository
  • Add Cache-Control headers to all pages
  • Replace project and repsitory drop-downs with a source multi-select with groups
  • Replace multiple-select.js with Slim Select for the filter drop-downs
  • Replace FontAwesome’s CSS + WebFont with a few of their SVG icons
  • Remove jQuery
  • Fix empty split diffs on new files
  • Fix filters being forgotten if a search had no results
  • Improve usability on mobile by allowing overflow to scroll rather than clipping

We now score 100 on PageSpeed Insights, with a full front page load taking just 42 KiB. This pairs nicely with the much faster page generation times.

There have been some fairly substantial internal changes as well, but perhaps the most notable is the switch to OpenJDK 16 with a patch to resolve a HotSpot compiler bug FreshBSD ran into about a month ago. Thanks to Charles Oliver Nutter and Aleksey Shipilev for their help.

I’ve also fixed a long-standing resource consumption issue with the commit indexing service, reducing its memory use from ~4-8 GB to under 2 GB. This is filed as RJGit issue #61.

Beta Update

JavaScript is now used to clean up URLs to try to improve their usability. Instead of a mess like:


You’ll get the much nicer equivalent URL in the location bar:


The aggregation buttons on these views work better too – previously they only worked on query strings, meaning clicking on one to clear that filter did nothing if you were on a friendly URL. Now they should work everywhere.

Pages should also load a little quicker due to search result totals and aggregation queries running in the background during commit retrieval and rendering.

Lots of other internal changes, but little of it is user-facing.

This past week also saw the first new release of fast_find in nearly six years. This was written for FreshBSD’s CVS importer, and is much quicker than standard Find on JRuby.

New URL Scheme

The beta site now has a new URL scheme in testing.

This replaces the old /project and /commit prefixes with a cleaner style:

  • /project/freebsd/src becomes /freebsd/src
  • /commit/freebsd/src/42 becomes /freebsd/src/commit/42

Old URLs should continue to work as redirects for the forseeable future.

Major Site Update in Beta

If you’re reading this, you’ve found the exciting new beta version of FreshBSD, consisting of a large number of optimizations, bugfixes, and tweaks, with nearly 100 commits and several thousand lines of code changed.

Noteworthy user-facing changes include:

  • Brand new SVG logo and a fresh(ish) new look
  • Significant performance improvements, with a 3x faster front-page
  • Rewritten commit message formatter, which now supports SVN/git revision linking
  • FreeBSD usernames are now included in git committer/author
  • Enabled searching for commiter/authors by partial name
  • This news system, such as it is, is finally hooked up

In addition to these, there have been significant internal code cleanups and improvements which have been long-needed, and the backend PostgreSQL and ElasticSearch have been updated to their latest production releases.

I plan to switch this over to the live site within the next week or so. Please let me know if you spot anything that looks wonky - shoot me an email or poke me on IRC, contact details are in the footer.