Monthly Archives: December 2011

FreeBSD Foundation 2011-12-31 05:25:00

Thank you to everyone who has made a donation to the FreeBSD Foundation this year! We have just around 24 hours left to reach our goal of raising $400,000 for 2011. At this time we have raised over $320,000 from 758 donors.

Your donation helps us support FreeBSD by funding/sponsoring development projects, BSD-related conferences, FreeBSD developers to travel to these conferences, and legal support for the Project. We are a non-for-profit organization and we cannot do it without you.

If you have not had the opportunity to donate this year, it's not too late! It only takes a few minutes to make a donation and help make a difference for the FreeBSD Project and community.

Please visit us at to make a donation today! If you send a check, the envelope must be postmarked by December 31, 2011 to count as a 2011 donation.

Thanks for your support!

New ports announce mailing list

At the request of adamw@ (and others) we have setup a ports-announce@ mailing list to try distinguish the usual traffic on the ports@ list vs the announcements that seem to get lost in there.

You can subscribe at

It is intended, but not limited, to be a means of communicating portmgr@ announcements, Calls for Testing, plus other relevant information to be used by our committers and ports maintainer community.

It is our hope to keep this relatively low in traffic. It is a moderated list, under the auspices of portmgr@.

Please subscribe, sit back, and enjoy.

on behalf of portmgr@

‘Tis the season for giving

Colin Percival recently wrote this blog post. With his permission, it is republished here as it may be of interest to other Foundation supporters.

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Yule, Pancha Ganapati,Hogmanay, Newtonmas, or simply the end of the Gregorian year, oddsare that you're giving gifts some time around now. We give giftsto family; we give gifts to friends; we donate to charities; andmany people also offer up tithes to religious institutions. Giftsto individuals are a social bonding ritual — the voluntarytransfer of wealth signals a lower bound on the value we place on arelationship, and the giving of non-monetary gifts in particular canbe a way tocommunicateour level of personal understanding — but these do notapply to charitable and religious donations. For those, I think anentirely different explanation is required: We pay voluntary taxesin order to help create the world we want to live in.

This also applies to companies. I run anonline backup service, andfor the past two years I've donated all of the profits made duringthe month of December to theFreeBSD Foundation;I'm going to be doing the same thing this year too. I'm not doingthis just because I'm a FreeBSD developer, because I use FreeBSDpersonally, or because I would never have launched Tarsnap if Ihadn't been able to build on the open source code in FreeBSD: I'mdoing it because I think supporting FreeBSD development will make the world a better place for both Tarsnap and many other startup companies.

I'm not alone in believing in corporate support of open source software,either. NetApp andHudson River Trading,both major FreeBSD users, have each made donations of $50,000 ormore in each of the past 3 years, andmanyothercompaniesregularlydonate. Some open source softwareorganizations havemuch longer listsof major donors. And last year Gabriel Weinberglauncheda FOSS Tithing movement by pledging thatDuckDuckGo would tithe in supportof open source software every year.

Most internet startup companies today would never exist without opensource software. As Paul Grahamhas noted, opensource software is one of the big reasons why it's now possible to launcha startup with just $20k and a few months of coding; with high quality freeoperating systems, databases and datastores, application frameworks, webservers and caches, it's now easy to build companies which would havebeen nearly impossible a decade ago.It would be easy to say that startup companies should contribute back toopen source projects out of simple gratitude, but I know it can be hardto justify making business decisions on that basis alone. Instead, I'dlike to ask the startup community to look to the future: Think about howmuch open source has helped you, and help to build a better world— one where open source will be able to help you even more.

And remember that we live in a world where most startup founders end uplaunching several companies over their careers: If the past decade ofopen source software development has made your current startup companypossible, just think how much the next decade of open source softwaredevelopment will help your next startup company.

Tuning guide in the wiki

In the light of the recent benchmark discussion, a volunteer imported the tuning man-page into the wiki. Some comments at some places for possible improvements are already made. Please go over there, have a look, and participate please (testing/verification/discussion/improvements/…).

As always, feel free to register with FirstnameLastname and tell a FreeBSD committer to add you to the contributors group for write access (you also get the benefit to be able to register for an email notification for specific pages).


A phoronix benchmark creates a huge benchmarking discussion

The recent Phoronix benchmark which compared a release candidate of FreeBSD 9 with Oracle Linux Server 6.1 created a huge discussion in the FreeBSD mailinglists. The reason was that some people think the numbers presented there give a wrong picture of FreeBSD. Partly because not all benchmark numbers are presented in the most prominent page (as linked above), but only at a different place. This gives the impression that FreeBSD is inferior in this benchmark while it just puts the focus (for a reason, according to some people) on a different part of the benchmark (to be more specific, blogbench is doing disk reads and writes in parallel, FreeBSD gives higher priority to writes than to reads, FreeBSD 9 outperforms OLS 6.1 in the writes while OLS 6.1 shines with the reads, and only the reads are presented on the first page). Other complaints are that it is told that the default install was used (in this case UFS as the FS), when it was not (ZFS as the FS).

The author of the Phoronix article participated in parts of the discussion and asked for specific improvement suggestions. A FreeBSD committer seems to be already working to get some issues resolved. What I do not like personally, is that the article is not updated with a remark that some things presented do not reflect the reality and a retest is necessary.

As there was much talk in the thread but not much obvious activity from our side to resolve some issues, I started to improve the FreeBSD wiki page about benchmarking so that we are able to point to it in case someone wants to benchmark FreeBSD. Others already chimed in and improved some things too. It is far from perfect, some more eyes — and more importantly some more fingers which add content — are needed. Please go to the wiki page and try to help out (if you are afraid to write something in the wiki, please at least tell your suggestions on a FreeBSD mailinglist so that others can improve the wiki page).

What we need too, is a wiki page about FreeBSD tuning (a first step would be to take the man-page and convert it into a wiki page, then to improve it, and then to feed back the changes to the man-page while keeping the wiki page to be able to cross reference parts from the benchmarking page).

I already told about this in the thread about the Phoronix benchmark: everyone is welcome to improve the situation. Do not talk, write something. No matter if it is an improvement to the benchmarking page, tuning advise, or a tool which inspects the system and suggests some tuning. If you want to help in the wiki, create a FirstnameLastname account and ask a FreeBSD comitter for write access.

A while ago (IIRC we have to think in months or even years) there was some framework for automatic FreeBSD benchmarking. Unfortunately the author run out of time. The framework was able to install a FreeBSD system on a machine, run some specified benchmark (not much benchmarks where integrated), and then install another FreeBSD version to run the same benchmark, or to reinstall the same version to run another benchmark. IIRC there was also some DB behind which collected the results and maybe there was even some way to compare them. It would be nice if someone could get some time to talk with the author to get the framework and set it up somewhere, so that we have a controlled environment where we can do our own benchmarks in an automatic and repeatable fashion with several FreeBSD versions.


Apache Software Foundation Testimonial

Did you know that the Foundation that powers half the Internet uses FreeBSD for nearly all of its public facing services? The FreeBSD Foundation recently received this testimonial from the Apache Software Foundation:

The Apache Software Foundation (ASF)provides organizational, legal, and financial support for a broad rangeof open source software projects. The Foundation provides an establishedframework for intellectual property and financial contributions thatsimultaneously limits contributors potential legal exposure.Through a collaborative and meritocratic development process, Apacheprojects deliver enterprise-grade, freely available software productsthat attract large communities of users. The pragmatic Apache Licensemakes it easy for all users, commercial and individual, to deploy Apacheproducts.

The ASF powers half the Internet, petabytes of data, teraflops ofoperations, billions of objects, and enhances the lives of countlessusers and developers. Established in 1999 to shepherd, develop, andincubate Open Source innovations, "The Apache Way," the ASF oversees150+ projects led by a volunteer community of over 350 individualMembers and 3,000 Committers across six continents.

ApacheCon North America 2011 was just recently held in Vancouver,British Columbia, Canada where FreeBSD was a highlight in the DevOpstrack talks. The Apache Software Foundation itself leverages FreeBSDfor nearly all of its public facing servicesincluding one of the largest SVN repositories in the world. Ourrepository is mirrored on several continents and contains over 1.4million revisions stretching for over a decade. We will even be lendinga hand converting the FreeBSD CVS ports tree to SVN.

The Apache Software Foundation makes use of both custom FreeBSDTinderbox and FreeBSD Update servers to rapidly perform application andbase system updates across multiple datacenters in an automated, quick,and efficient fashion. The Apache Infrastructure Team frequently worksdirectly with FreeBSD developers to stress cutting-edge features likeZFS under real-world loads.

Like The FreeBSD Foundation, the ASF is also a 501(c)3 organization. Donating to FreeBSD through The FreeBSD Foundation, makes Apache better too and will help make your's and others' daily lives less stressful.

RideCharge/TaxiMagic Testimonial

Did you know that Taxi Magic, the first nationwide free online taxi booking service that is directly integrated with taxi dispatch systems, is entirely based on FreeBSD? Philip M. Gollucci, Director of Operations, recently explained why in his testimonial for the Foundation:

RideCharge, Inc. creates innovative technology solutions that improvelocal ground transportation industries. The company's most renownedproduct, Taxi Magic, is an online & mobile software application thatrevolutionizes the taxi industry by aligning riders, drivers and fleetsfor a better overall ride experience. Taxi Magic is the first nationwidefree online taxi booking service that is directly integrated with taxidispatch systems, providing consumers with the tools to:
  • Book a taxi from a mobile app or the Web with a few quick taps
  • Track the taxi's arrival
  • Charge the ride to a credit card through the mobile app
  • Expense the trip with an e-receipt
From its inception, RideCharge has been entirely based on FreeBSD. Byleveraging FreeBSD Jails for virtualization, we are able to maximizeresources and expand dynamically. ZFS keeps our data safe and ourdeployments magically quick. Userland DTRACE in FreeBSD 9 is now anindispensable tool for troubleshooting issues in real-time. Even ourJuniper firewalls and switches leverage FreeBSD through JUNOS (TM).iXsystems is incredibly helpful in recommending the correct setup andoptimizing our technology resources to fit our needs for FreeBSD.

RideCharge is a long time contributor to the FreeBSD ports collectionand we employ highly active contributors in the ruby, apache, and perlareas. The Taxi Magic team leverages these incredibly tight feedbackloops to quickly and efficiently contribute back to the community.

RideCharge/TaxiMagic has directly sponsored FreeBSD developers toenhance freebsd-update(8). We now use this update to quickly updateevery machine to maintain PCI DSS Level 1 compliance. These greatcapabilities are now available to the entire FreeBSD community.

Foundation Newsletter Published

The Foundation has published its semi-annual newsletter. It contains updates on this year's projects and fundraising campaign, testimonials from TaxiMagic and the Apache Software Foundation, and the Q1-Q3 balance sheet. You can read the newsletter here. It begins with the letter from the President which is as follows:

The Making of The FreeBSD Foundation

My first introduction to FreeBSD came in the form of a tall, wirery,figure, camped out in the Walnut Creek CDROM machine room. RodGrimes cut the figure of a true hacker: skin only touched by therays of a glowing CRT, nicotine stains on his long fingers tonedby hours of vi keywork, and a wardrobe comprised of faded blue jeansand worn out t-shirts. Regardless of what hours I worked duringmy internship that summer of 1993, Rod was always awake, hunchedover his keyboard, putting all of his energy into the first everrelease of FreeBSD.

I was between my second and third years working on an undergraduatedegree at the University of California at Berkeley. Even attendingthe institute of BSD's genesis, I was completely unaware of Berkeley'scontributions to UNIX. So it was really a stroke of luck, a randomchoice to take a job organizing OS/2 software into a CDROM distribution,that led me to Walnut Creek that summer to witness the making ofFreeBSD 1.0. But without Rod's passion and dedication, I doubt I'dhave realized the opportunity before me.

What I quickly learned from watching Rod and then delving intoFreeBSD, was the incompleteness of my education from Berkeley. SureI was technically proficient in computer algorithms and writingcode, but my courses failed to give me a sense of the art of computerengineering: how to be a craftsman practicing my trade, how todesign and build a complex system that is robust and maintainable,and how to collaborate successfully in such a system. The structureand methodology behind FreeBSD made it the perfect vehicle forabsorbing the real world skills of being a successful programmer.

In 1993, the development model used by the BSDs was rarely encounteredin open source projects: revision control, a bug tracking database,a coding style standard, the hardening of software through peerreview and discussion, and a governing body to mediate write accessto the code and to resolve disputes. Many of these pillars ofprofessional and successful engineering are lacking in both corporateand open source environments today. In fact, it took almost adecade for BSD's main competitor Linux to catch up and adopt somethingas fundamental as revision control. In so many ways, FreeBSD'sdevelopment model was superior and ahead of the times.

So I started my second education while completing my first. Duringmy last two years at Berkeley I spent most of my free time, andsome time I should have devoted to the classes for my degree,absorbing the lessons FreeBSD had to teach. The FreeBSD distributionoffered practical examples of how to deal with almost any type ofcomputer science challenge - examples that I found much morecompelling than the contrived exercises in my text books. While Iwas learning I was also able to contribute in small ways. Thereviews of my work were much more useful than for the projectsassociated with my formal studies. The feedback wasn't alwaysdelivered in the most pleasant way, but that in itself providedvaluable experience on how to improve my people skills.

Small contributions lead to larger ones. The apprentice became amentor. Upon receiving my degree, I found myself sitting on FreeBSD'sgoverning body, the FreeBSD Core Team, with a skill set and experiencein high demand and not found in other members of my graduatingclass.

The historical way to contribute back to the FreeBSD project hasalways been to volunteer time to enhance the "product" that isFreeBSD. For seven years this was the primary way I repaid FreeBSDfor the valuable education I received by being part of its community.However, by 2000 I was struggling to find a better way to ensurethe continued success of FreeBSD. FreeBSD's mindshare growth wasslowing. Linux was starting to receive the attention and financialbacking of large corporations. I wanted to create something thatcould promote, protect, and grow the use of FreeBSD even while theduties of my paid day job prevented me from personally achievingthat mission. The natural answer was to form a corporation.

This had been done before. Jordan Hubbard was operating FreeBSDInc., but its charter and activities were never well defined. Iwanted to build an entity that engendered the trust of the FreeBSDcommunity, followed in the Open Source spirit of doing good forgood's sake, yet could perform tasks only possible with a legalcorporate entity. The FreeBSD Foundation, an open-book, 501(c)3U.S. non-profit charity, was born.

Fast forward a little over a decade, and the FreeBSD Foundationstill adheres to the same mission I defined for it in 2000. Everyyear we sponsor BSD conferences and events around the globe, workto protect the intellectual property of the FreeBSD project, visitinstitutions and corporations to promote the use of FreeBSD, andfund research and development projects that enhance the FreeBSD OS.But even with our $400,000 annual budget there are so many thingswe want to do, but can't. Just as was the case for me in 2000, theFreeBSD Foundation is searching today for new ways to help supportthe FreeBSD project.

In the coming months you will see one of the ways the FreeBSDFoundation is changing. Using the feedback we have gleaned fromcountless meetings with FreeBSD consumers both large and small, theFreeBSD Foundation is sponsoring the work to fully specify andestimate the cost of implementing critical enhancements to theFreeBSD platform. Developed in partnership with the FreeBSDcommunity, the goal of this effort is to provide a roadmap forinfrastructure improvements that have long been needed, but havegone unsatisfied due to lack of a coherent direction. This modelwill also give current and potential supporters of the FreeBSDFoundation concrete insight into our future plans.

I can't imagine what my life would be like today without my FreeBSDexperience. Through the FreeBSD Foundation I hope to give back tothe FreeBSD community even more than I have received, and help toensure that the next young engineer has the same opportunities asI did. However the FreeBSD Foundation can't do it alone. If FreeBSDhas impacted your life, please visit our website and help us to continue FreeBSD's legacy.

Justin T. Gibbs
President and Founder
The FreeBSD Foundation

Pushing the Puppet patch for FreeBSD password management upstream

I attended LISA in Boston last week and was able to talk to a few of the Puppet developers. This reminded me I needed to push this patch upstream.

I opened a ticket in the Puppet Bug tracker, 11318. Then I found out that someone by the nick of tdb had already incorporated our changes into another pull request that adds more functionality and some unit tests. So hopefully this will be committed soon and we can have this support upstream.

I just wanted to thank tdb for taking this work and running with it!

FreeBSD 9.0-RC3 Available

The third (and probably last) RC build for the FreeBSD-9.0 release cycle is now available. ISO images for the architectures amd64, i386, ia64, powerpc, powerpc64, and sparc64 are available on most of our FreeBSD mirror sites. One of the many new features in 9.0 we would like to be tested is the new installer, so we encourage our users to do fresh installation on test systems. Alternatively, users upgrading existing systems may now do so using the freebsd-update(8) utility.