One popular feature of FreeBSD is the ability to create new filesystem snapshots, install new software packages in the snapshot, and then restart the system using the snapshot. This allows us to install new software without interfering with the running system. One hurdle in this process is the need to reboot in order to test out the new software we have installed in the new snapshot. A change to the way snapshots are managed is improving this situation and will allow the operating system to be effectively rebooted without actually shutting down the kernel. This reduces downtime and makes it easier to test changes while leaving us the option of rolling back to the previous configuration. The Vermaden blog explains how this works: "I do not know any downsides of ZFS boot environments but if you would stick a gun into my head and make me find one - I would say that you still have to reboot(8) to change to the other BE. This is about to change... What is reroot? Its the ability to switch to other root filesystem without the need for full system reboot. The loaded and running kernel stays the same of course - but this is the only downside. This feature is implemented in the reboot(8) command with -r argument." The blog post walks through how to perform these rapid restarts into a new boot environment.
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