Colin Percival has apparently done a heap of work making FreeBSD stable on AWS (I'm sure plenty of other folks had a hand in the improvements, but Colin's work was the work that I saw a lot of), but much of that work was irrelevant last time I played with "zubat" as most of it wasn't going to be back-ported to 8 and 8 was what I was running at the time.
FreeBSD 9 has been out for quite some time now, with FreeBSD 10 very recently released, and I decided to give it another go. I was initially planning on trying out 10, but a few users on IRC have experienced a lot of trouble building software on it, and I tend to leave major FreeBSD releases alone for one or two minor releases to let the dust settle anyway, so I went with 9.
I built a new kernel, and a new world in a sandbox on arbok, built an image, mounted it as a file-backed ramdisk and installed world into it. The kernel files must be copied over separately, as pv-grub can only boot kernels from a Linux ext file system. It took me a few goes to get everything installed (the first time around I forgot make distribution). The initial results were quite promising - despite having to jump through some hoops to get the base system installed on the Linode's 40GB partition.
When I was running 8, you couldn't really make buildworld without expecting a crash at some point in the process - I'm happy to report that under 9 I worked the VPS for about 12 hours solid doing various things.... but unfortunately it still feels slow. I feel like make installworld took far longer than it ought to have, and on the whole the system didn't feel very interactive while it was running.
At first I thought it was slow disks, but sequential writes and reads are about on par with what you get inside Finnix, so I don't think that's why. It's possible that the lack of vcpus could be causing issues - I'm not sure if the SMP stuff inside Xen is fixed in 10 or not, and I should probably see if Linode still have my VPS set to vcpus=1 like I asked them to.