Author Archives: Dru Lavigne

Super Computing Trip Report: Michael Dexter

Michael Dexter has also provided his trip report for Super Computing:

In case you have not heard of the conference, it is a meeting of 10,000 researchers, computer scientists, engineers, students, managers, sales engineers and three-letter agency representatives that takes place in a different US city every year. I have hosted a booth at the event since 2009 when it passed through Portland and this year showcased the bhyve Hypervisor and explained all things BSD to brilliant attendees from around the world. I was joined by Patrick Masson, General Manager of the Open Source Initiative, who helped shed light on the pervasive yet unrecognized use of open source software by the universities, organizations and companies at the event. Literally 90% or more of the exhibitors rely on open source but few give it any recognition. For years, GNU/Linux has dominated the Top500 list of supercomputers that is announced at the event each year and I set out to help change that by highlighting bhyve, OpenZFS and other great technologies in FreeBSD.

SC14 could not have started on a better note thanks to the announcement on the first day that the FreeBSD Foundation received a million dollar donation from WhatsApp founder Jan Koum. I heard many people say "I used FreeBSD ten years ago" and the news instantly got their attention and set the tone for the rest of the event. By showcasing ZFS, we drew the attention of ex-Sun Microsystems engineers and executives and even had a visit by UC Berkeley CSRG research assistant Clem Cole. The message that "BSD is back" was loud and clear and I canvased the Student Cluster Competition to help inspire a new generation of users who had never heard of the BSDs.

The bhyve booth was in the heart of the ARM pavilion which made for some enlightening conversations. bhyve and the ARM CPU architecture both stand out for operating without emulation, resulting in simplicity and performance for bhyve and significant power savings for ARM. A roadmap exists for bhyve support on ARM and hopefully this will be something to showcase at SC15. Of the exhibiting ARM partners, the SoftIron team stood out as loud and proud users of FreeBSD and I look forward to seeing them at future BSD events.

FreeBSD vendor iXsystems was also at the event demonstrating FreeNAS and TrueNAS, as were the SaltStack team who received a bhyve demo and expressed a sincere desire to include support for bhyve. A handful of other open source vendors like Red Hat were in attendance plus FreeBSD consumers like Spectra Logic, EMC/Isilon, NetApp and Juniper. Many individual open source users came to the booth and my favorite quotation came from a conversation at a Mellanox event: "Our administrators use FreeNAS at home and come work and ask 'why the heck aren't we using ZFS?'" Open source is winning but there is still much work to be done.

Speaking of work, I asked many people, including Navy researchers moving massive uncompressed video streams, what FreeBSD needs to do get back on the Top500 list of supercomputers. The short list of answers I received was: OFED/OpenFabrics Enterprise Distribution support, OpenMPI/Message Passing Interface support and Lustre distributed file system support. Surprisingly, NUMA/Non-Uniform Memory Access did not come up. Interconnect vendor Chelsio Communications stood out as a solid supporter of FreeBSD and dominant player Mellanox expressed interest in expanding their support for FreeBSD given the opportunity it represents. All in all, people were very receptive to giving FreeBSD and other BSDs a try, especially given that it would be a homecoming for so many users.

I wish to thank the FreeBSD Foundation for sponsoring the bhyve booth at SC14 and I am delighted to hear that ARM has just made a generous $50,000 donation to the Foundation. In total I gave out 250 tri-fold brochures and talked to hundreds of people at SC14. Hopefully those seeds will take root and we will start seeing FreeBSD systems in the Student Cluster Competition and on the 2015 Top500 supercomputer list!

MeetBSD Trip Report: Michael Dexter

The Foundation recently sponsored Michael Dexter to attend MeetBSD, which was held in California in November. Michael provides the following trip report:

This year's MeetBSD California marked a departure from its UnConference roots in favor of a showcase of exciting new developments in the community. Western Digital kindly hosted the event which made for a pleasant, professional atmosphere and attendees traveled from as far as Japan and Eastern Europe to attend.

Of the many talks, the Sony confirmation that is a long-time BSD user was simply historic and just may be the result of years of encouragement by AsiaBSDCon attendees. It's not every day that you confirm the existence of millions of more BSD users! Yes, "BSD" users at the request of the Sony legal department. On the same theme, "600M+ Unsuspecting FreeBSD Users" by Rick Reed of WhatsApp also shed light on the heavy lifting companies are doing with FreeBSD and finally, Scott Long and Brendan Gregg of Netflix reminded us how they are pushing 1/3rd of US Internet traffic each evening. Brendan spoke about performance analysis strategies at both MeetBSD and the Developer Summit that followed and I dare say is downright giddy about the performance analysis options available on FreeBSD. In his second talk he incorporated audience feedback on the spot and I for one am delighted to see Sun Microsystems refugees like Brendan come to the BSD community as they each bring a wealth of experience.

Kirk McKusick's “A Narrative History of BSD” was a delight as always and reminded us that there is absolutely nothing like BSD: professional and open source from the start with a mission to bring sanity to government computing. That mission sounds more like a contemporary meme than 1970's and '80's funded government initiative! Kirk told us about Bill Joy's prolific coding and how they navigated the pressure to incorporate the BB&N network stack into BSD. Kirk also told us the story of how a delay in grant funding accidentally got him into a lifetime of fast file system development and how we almost had 48-bit IP addressing. Hearing both Kirk and Brendan Gregg talk about the frivolity of most benchmarks decades apart was eye opening!

Finally, David Maxwell's "Pipecut" talk was a mind-blowing introduction to a pet project of his that promises to change how we all use the Unix command line. Most of these talks are online and can be found via

As with any BSD event, the hallway track was worth the price of admission and I had the pleasure of meeting bhyve and FreeNAS developers that I had only met online. Adrian Chadd tinkered with a Surface Pro system and eventually got the keyboard working late one night and naturally had the only working WiFi in the hotel lobby. Glen Barber and I continued our "the good, the bad and the ugly" talk about distribution mirror layouts based on his work as FreeBSD release engineer and my work supporting various OSs on bhyve. Devin Teske provided scripting advice as always and I cornered people about topics ranging from the status of virtual networking and a ZFS panic.

Every BSD event has its own character and MeetBSD is no different. The fact that it takes place in Silicon Vally allows it to have a great mix of speakers and attendees who might not make it to international events. Thank you iXsystems for putting on yet another great MeetBSD!

EuroBSDCon Trip Report: Kamil Czekirda

The next trip report is from Kamil Czekirda:

The FreeBSD Foundation sponsored my trip to Sofia, Bulgaria in September 2014, where I attended the FreeBSD DevSummit and EuroBSDcon 2014. I'm a GSoC student and it was my first DevSummit. I would like to thank the FreeBSD Foundation for sponsoring my trip, Gavin Atkinson for an invitation to the DevSummit, Mariusz Zaborski for support during the conference, and the mentor of my project, Devin Teske, for directions.

I arrived in Sofia on Wednesday evening, found my Hill hotel, checked in, and dropped off my luggage. I tried to contact Mariusz, the only person I knew. It was too late for lounging about so I stayed for the rest of the day at the hotel.

The first day of the Developer Summit started with self-presentations and trying to divide participants into smaller groups. It didn’t happen and everybody stayed in the room for one track. It was the first time I could see who is who, because I knew only people’s nicks or names . That day we discussed the future of the 11.0 release, 10/40/100GigE, ports and packages, embedded systems, mainly ARM and MIPS, and tools and support for cross-compilation. That day I met some people: the first was Michał Dubiel from Semihalf. We talked about Network Virtualization, SDN, and OpenContrail. The next person was Daniel Peyrolon, another GSoC student. I showed him my project and he showed me his magic. During lunch break, Mariusz introduced me to Hiroki Sato. We talked about the organization of the conference from the organizers’ side.

The second day of the DevSummit started by dividing groups in two parts. The first track was about developer tools like Phabricator and Jenkins and DNS and DNSSEC on FreeBSD. The second track was about ASLR. I attended the first track. I tried to pass BSDA certificate, so I missed the most important aspects of the DNS session. After lunch break, we had a discussion about crypto algorithms and a documentation session. It was my first DevSummit, so I was only an observer. Next person who Mariusz introduced me to was Gavin Atkinson, but there was no time to talk, just say 'Hi'.

The main conference started on Saturday with Jordan Hubbard's keynote about the past and the future of FreeBSD. I stayed in this track for the next talks. Kris Moore talked about PC-BSD and features based on ZFS, such as snapshots, replication, and encrypted zfs-root with only one pool. Next talk which I attended was about implementation of ZFS. Kirk McKusick made the introduction to internal implementation. After lunch break I joined John-Mark Gurney’s talk about optimizing GELI performance. Results of speed benchmark are amazing. For the rest of the talks, I changed the room and attended Henning Brauer’s talk about OpenBGPD. He talked about the history of the open source implementation of the Border Gateway Protocol. Next, I changed the track the second time and joined Peter Hessler’s talk about routing domains. The last talk was about using QEMU and cross-compilation packages for the ARM architecture. Sean Bruno made a demonstration on how to use those tools. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend the amazing Andy Tanenbaum’s talk. After the last speech, I found Gavin and we talked about my GSoC project, the documentation for it, and what I should do in the near future. He offered me his help and introductions to people from the community who could take a look at my code. That day I met Jakub Klama, who is also from Poland. He said 'Hi' in Polish and I was surprised. Jakub was the third FreeBSD GSoC student attending EuroBSDcon 2014. It was sad as I expected to meet more students.

During a social event I met with Eric Allman and Kirk McKusick. Of course, Mariusz was the middleman. Eric told us a lot of stories from his life, about the first steps of networking and transatlantic communication. He drew attention to students’ bad practices on memory management and how important it is. I talked with Kirk about my project and how GSoC looks from the organizational side.

The second day of EuroBSDcon was less busy for the people after the social event. I started with Baptiste Daroussin’s talk about cross building. I attended  the LibreSSL and ASLR talks. Very interesting for me was the talk about OpenContrail and OpenStack for FreeBSD. Michał Dubiel described software architecture and support for OpenContrail and OpenStack in the FreeBSD world. The most interesting talk was about securing sensitive data at the
University of Oslo. Dag-Erling Smøgrav described the system they use. The keynote was very interesting too. Atanas Chobanov showed us how to use SecureDrop, Tails, and Tor for anonymously submitting documents. During the closing session, Deb Goodkin presented about the FreeBSD Foundation, and Shteryana Shopova and Paul Schenkeveld presented about the EuroBSD Foundation. After the closing session, we organized an unofficial social event.

I think that attending conferences is a huge motivation for work for new people. It was a great opportunity to meet people I had known only from the Internet. I hope I will be able to participate in DevSummits and BSD conferences again in the future.

EuroBSDCon Trip Report: Bjoern Heidotting

The FreeBSD Foundation was a gold sponsor of EuroBSDCon 2014, which was held in Sofia, Bulgaria in September. The Foundation also sponsored Bjoern Heidotting to attend the conference, who provides the following trip report:

Since I'm fairly new to the FreeBSD community I would like to introduce myself first. My name is Bjoern Heidotting, I live in Germany, I work as a system administrator and I'm a FreeBSD user since 2006 and a contributor since 2012. I mostly contribute patches for the German documentation in the doc-tree. Why do I contribute? Well, the short version is that I simply wanted to give something back to FreeBSD and the community.

Thanks to Benedict Reuschling, who invited me, and the FreeBSD Foundation, I was able to attend the DevSummit and the conference at EuroBSDCon 2014 in Sofia.

I arrived at Sofia airport on Wednesday and I took a taxi to get to my hotel the Best Western Expo, directly located at the IEC where the conference was held. However, the taxidriver decided to take me on a sightseeing tour through the city of Sofia. But after 1,5 hours I finally arrived at the hotel. The actual time to get from the airport to my hotel is about 10 minutes. Fortunately taxis are cheap in Bulgaria compared to Germany. And the city is really, really worth seeing.

Later that day, I met Daniel Peyrolon, a GSoC student with whom I shared a room. We decided to take dinner together and started getting to know each other. Afterwards, we socialized with some other FreeBSD people at the hotel bar.

On Thursday the DevSummit started with every attendee and developer introducing himself. Then some interesting topics and roadmaps were discussed for the upcoming 11.0 release, as well as other topics such as ASLR, UEFI, 10G Ethernet, just to name a few. It was a very interesting brainstorming with valuable input from all attendees. Since it was my first time at a DevSummit, I was impressed to see how fast these people can fill a bunch of foils with topics and ideas. Awesome!

After lunch a small group, including me, sat together in another room where I started to work on several patches for the Handbook. In the evening we had dinner at Lebed Restaurant. A very nice location. This is where I first met Deb Goodkin from the Foundation. She was the one I talked to prior to the conference and she brought Daniel and me together. Thank you Deb. It was very nice meeting her.

On Friday I mostly worked on a big patch for the network-servers section in the Handbook. I also met Beat Gaetzi while catching fresh air outside and we talked about our roles in the Project and what we do. After lunch the documentation topic started, which I was very interested in. We talked about issues on the website, Handbook sections, etc. The details of the session can be found on the wiki.

In the evening we had dinner at "The Windmill" and I met Henning Brauer from the OpenBSD project. It was really fun talking to him. Man, this guy can tell crazy stories.

Saturday and Sunday were conference days with one interesting talk chasing the next. All the talks were great, altough I had some favorites, including "Snapshots, Replication, and Boot-Environments" by Kris Moore, "Introducing ASLR in FreeBSD" by Shawn Webb, and "Securing sensitive & restricted data" by Dag-Erling Smorgrav. One of the highlights for me was the social event in Hotel Balkan on Saturday. Again, meeting the people behind the email addresses and talking to them was a great experience.

A big thanks goes out to Shteryana Shopova and her crew for organizing this great event.

Foundation at Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing

The FreeBSD Foundation is excited to be participating in the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing conference to be held in Phoenix, AZ on October 8-10. As many of you know, Rear Admiral Grace Hopper was a pioneer in computing, inventor of the first compiler, and the first person to record a (literal) bug. This year's annual conference in her honor has a full registration of 8,000 women computing technologists from all over the world.

The Foundation is a Silver non-profit sponsor for this event and will have a booth in the Expo area. In addition to informational brochures and Foundation pens, we'll be giving away some stickers created for this event. The stickers say "I choose FreeBSD because I know my ability to create the future has nothing to do with my gender and everything to do with my skills".

As part of this year's Grace Hopper Open Source Day on October 8, Dru Lavigne will be presenting "An Introduction to FreeBSD" at 14:00 in rooms South 164-166.

Shteryana Shopova will be hosting a lunchtime table topic on FreeBSD at table #12 on October 9 from 12:45 to 15:30.

Registration has closed for this event as it has reached its maximum capacity. However, if you know a woman technologist who is attending, let her know about the FreeBSD booth, presentation, and lunchtime table topic.

BSDDay Argentina Trip Report: Damian Vicino

The Foundation recently sponsored Damian Vicino to attend BSDDay Argentina. Here is his trip report:

BSDday is the only BSD conference in South America as far as I know. The event's inception was in 2008 by 2 BSD Users Groups in Buenos Aires City. participated as part of the organisation committee from 2009 - 2012. In 2013, the event had no edition because of some big changes in the livesof the people participating in the organisation committee. In my case, I moved out of the country (and the continent). Thanks to the FreeBSD Foundation, I was able to return to South America for a few weeks this year to re-float the committee and the event, making possible the run of a 5th edition.

We started the preparation a few months before by coordinating remotely, but there was a lot of stuff to be done in-place, so I traveled 10 days earlier. In the days before the event, I coordinated with Universidad de Buenos Aires to finish the arrangements for the space to run the event and the supplies needed for the event. I worked as the main contact for the university and dealt with all the paperwork; being the largest university in Argentina, there is a lot of paperwork for everything. An interesting institutional plus this year is that the Faculty of Science and Department of Computer Science of Universidad de Buenos Aires declared officially the BSDday as an Event of Interest. Simultaneously, Hernan Constante and Matias Celani were coordinating accommodations for one of the speakers who traveled from Mar del Plata and making arrangements to have food & coffee for the event. Thanks for their help and also to Alejandro Lazaro who was helping in all he could remotely since he also moved out of Buenos Aires.

The quantity of proposals for talks received this year was about half the usual. We contacted previous speakers for feedback and we decided to include discussion spaces to find out why and how we can make it better for next year. On August 9th, a few minutes before the event started, the first speaker had family emergency. We decided to delay the opening talk and use the time for a first open discussion about the event and its future. The attendance was the lowest ever, so we focused the first discussion space on this topic. It appears to be a consensus that August is not a good month for the conference, because of the power outages in Buenos Aires in summer. From previous years, we knew that November is not good either. Another apparent reason is the break in continuity of the event (in 2013). Everyone in the room actively participated in the open discussion spaces. We noticed from discussions that the demographics of the event had changed. This time, we had a group of desktop users, mostly from FreeBSD, while in previous years we had mostly sysadmins from OpenBSD working in large companies or ISPs.

After the discussion, I did the opening talk with the help of Hernan Constante. The talk was also open to discussion so it extended a little longer than programmed; lucky for us, having only 1 track, it didn't affect the schedule much. The second talk was for 40 minutes, but was extended up to 2 hours and ended up in a different topic than the one it started with. We were tempted to stop it, but people were asking so many questions that we let it flow. We then had 4 more talks (including mine) and 2 more spaces for open discussion about anything-BSD where we collected opinions about the event, about BSD in Argentina, and the future of BSD advocacy actions. Since we didn't have sponsors for the food/coffee/supplies, we asked if anyone wanted to contribute at the end of the event. We were glad to see that everyone in the room put in money and we almost covered every expense for the event in this way. After the event, about 90% of the people moved to the bar across the street to share some beers and we kept discussing until the bar closed and kicked us out.

The week after the event, I met again with some organisers to discuss ideas for next year and do some analysis of what happened this year. One week later, I met with some companies and professionals to check sponsoring possibilities for next year's edition.

Last week, I collected and processed the materials we obtained from the event: videos, photos, and slides from every presentation. I still need to recover a few videos that we had to download to one of the organiser's computer (who left the country before me). In the following weeks, we will upload the videos, slides and pictures and formally close this year's event in order to start working for the 6th edition, expected to happen in 2016.

Once again, thank you very much to the FreeBSD Foundation for helping me with the expenses for this trip, to the University of Buenos Aires Faculty of Science and Computer Science department for giving us the space and support, to Hernan Constante, Alejandro Lazaro, Matias Celani, the speakers, and all those who helped to make this event possible once again.

BSDCan Trip Report: Baptiste Daroussin

The next trip report is from Baptiste Daroussin:

Thanks to the FreeBSD Foundation I was able to attend BSDCan 2014.

I arrived in Ottawa on Tuesday evening and went directly to the Royal Oak where I met other FreeBSD developers.

On Wednesday, the DevSummit started with the FreeBSD future plans where I was mainly interested in pushing subjects like packaging base, dma(8) integration, improvements in kqueue, and status of the toolchain.

The afternoon was mainly spent meeting with many other developers to talk face to face on subjects which usually take a while to resolve via mail.

Thursday started with the ports and package session where I talked about the status of the package distribution: from building packages to distributing packages on the FreeBSD cluster. I gave a brief status about pkg(8). We talked about the pkg_tools decomission. We had a long and interesting discussion about the future of the ports tree. The other subjects we talked about were packaging-base, continuous integration of the ports tree, cross building packages, and the license framework.

Like the previous day, I spent the afternoon discussing pkg(8) with other developers, as well as phabricator, and discussing with clusteradm about different possibilities for distributed "extra" packages repositories.

On Friday and Saturday the main conference took place. There were plenty of different interesting talks I went to.

The main interesting one for me was " The architecture of the new solver in pkg" by Vsevolod Stakhov as it gave me more details about his wonderful work on pkg during GSoC 2013!

This conference has been really succesful for me. It was the first time we were able to get 4 pkg developers together: Vsevolod Stakhov (vsevolod@), Bryan Drewery (bdrewery@), Matthew Seaman (matthew@), and myself. I found it really productive to exchange ideas, share problems, and simply have discussion.

This conference also allows me to talk with clusteradm people, in particular Glen Barber (gjb), Peter Wemm (peter@), and Sean Bruno (sbruno@)

There was also the opportunity for 4 portmgrs, a future portmgr, and a former portmgr to have an informal meeting which was really great!

BSDCan Trip Report: Mark Linimon

The next trip report is from Mark Linimon:

The first day, Tuesday, was an unoffficial day, spent socializing.

The Developer's Summit began Wednesday.  My main interest was to attend the "FreeBSD future plans" session.   Of particular interest was the discussion about how Release Engineering should look in the future. The ports team has done a great deal of work to decouple ports releases from src releases.  This required both changes in the way packages were built, as well as a substantial amount of new hardware to be able to build multiple package sets simultaneously.  (Much of this hardware was purchased by the Foundation).  This was the first change that many of the src and docs people had been brought up to speed on these developments.

Thursday, of course, my main interest was the Ports and Packages session.

In the evening, I was invited to an informal meeting with the various Ports Management Team (portmgrs) who were in attendance.  (I had previously served for several years on this team.)  Somehow, I was "volunteered" to rejoin the Ports Management team with an "advisor" status.  Clearly, peer pressure works.

Friday the conference itself started.  I spent some of the day trying to catch up on rest from the hectic first two days, and then socialized in the evening.

On Saturday, the most interesting session was the FreeNAS development talk.  While it was informative, there was also an opportunity to heckle John Hixson.

Perhaps the most important task that I accomplished during the conference was to sit down with Bryan Drewery and discuss future software improvements to the Ports Monitoring System (portsmon), which I wrote.

portsmon has survived many changes in FreeBSD.  The first was from CVS to SVN.  More recently, the ports build farm has been switched over from the old portbuild codebase to a completely rewritten system.  Our discussion dealt with the changes that I needed to make to port over to the new system; what the future changes to the new system would be; and changes that I requested that would make portsmon's job easier.  These changes have now been incorporated.  The next task is to catch up with the change from GNATS to Bugzilla; by that point, all of the inputs to portsmon will have been switched over from their initial codebase.

Foundation is Accepting Travel Grant Applications for EuroBSDCon 2014

Calling all FreeBSD developers needing assistance with travel expenses to EuroBSDCon 2014.

The FreeBSD Foundation will be providing a limited number of travel grants to individuals requesting assistance. Please fill out and submit  the Travel Grant Request Application at by August 15th, 2014 to apply for this grant.

This program is open to FreeBSD developers of all sorts (kernel hackers,  documentation authors, bugbusters, system administrators, etc).  In some cases we are also able to fund non-developers, such as active community members and FreeBSD advocates.

If you are a speaker at the conference, we expect the conference to cover your travel costs, and will most likely not approve your direct request to us.

There's some flexibility in the mechanism, so talk to us if something about the model doesn't quite work for you or if you have any questions. The travel grant program is one of the most effective ways we can spend money to help support the FreeBSD Project, as it helps developers get together in the same place at the same time, and helps advertise and advocate FreeBSD in the larger community.

BSDCan Trip Report: Li-Wen Hsu

The next trip report is from Li-Wen Hsu:

I am very excited for having the chance to join the most important and largest annual BSD conference. Thanks to the FreeBSD Foundation, it's my first year to attend BSDCan. The main motivation for attending is that I'm in part of the project started by Craig Rodrigues, Jenkins CI for FreeBSD, and and I am honored to be invited join that group.

I arrived in Ottawa on May 13th. After checking into Residence and taking a short nap to ease jet-lag, I went to the Royal Oak Pub to join the pre-party of the developers. Sean Bruno quickly recognized me and introduced me to other developers. I talked with Steve Wills, Mark Linimon, Gavin Atkinson, and met Peter Wemm, my roommate.

The first day of the Developer Summit started with presentations about changes to the support plan and brainstorming about FreeBSD 11. During the break, I spoke to Mark Johnston, who completed the last piece of axge(4), our first USB 3.0 to gigabit ethernet adapter driver. It is written mainly by Kevin Lo and I provided some fixes in rx/tx routines. During our chat, we discussed the performance issues of axge(4) where he discovered there might be a limitation of calling rx/tx routines numbers per second in the USB stack. This is done by just a few lines of DTrace code. I was totally shocked by that and decided that I should learn more about it.

In the afternoon, I joined The Java working group where Greg Lewis introduced the history, current status, and we discussed the future plans of the Java port. We talked about how to improve user experience, support for important Java software, and the known problems of Java on FreeBSD. There was also a discussion on how to to get more developers who want to develop Java applications on FreeBSD. We think that DTrace support might be attractive for people who run Java on FreeBSD.

We had Thai food in the Hacker Lounge for dinner. George V. Neville-Neil and I talked about how to make more people develop or support their software on FreeBSD. I showed him Travis CI which is used by many open source projects developed on GitHub for their continuous integration needs. However, it cannot support FreeBSD in the near future. Being a ports committer for several years, I feel that many projects are willing to support FreeBSD, but lack the environment and experience. I think we should work more with external communities to address this. We discussed the possibility of establishing such a service for FreeBSD, following the successful model of RedPorts. There are many tricky parts and security issues to consider. Furthermore, the most important part is manpower. If any reader is interested in helping, please contact me.

On the second day of the Developer Summit, I went to the Continuous Integration and Testing with Jenkins for FreeBSD working group in the morning. In the first part of the meeting, Craig introduced Jenkins and how it is utilized in the cluster. He also covered the internal architecture of In the second part of the meeting, we discussed the next steps to work on this year. Craig and I helped Julio Merino set up a Jenkins instance on his laptop and Julio quickly hacked Kyua to let it generate JUnit output which can be parsed by Jenkins. This is very exciting to us because it means that we can have a trackable and easy-to-read continuous integration report. We believe this can help developers and contributors to produce higher quality code and to find items they can start to work on.

In the afternoon, I joined the Documentation Translation System Session where Benedict Reuschling introduced a process to translate documentation just like using gettext for software i18n and l10n. This process is done by translating docbook XML files to .po files with po4a, then translators can use their favorite po file editor to concentrate on the content instead of struggling with non-human readable XML files. It is also possible to establish a "translation memory" to remember the phrases and sentences that have already been translated for sharing between documents, which reduces duplicated work from translators. We also talked about a wish: one web-based system where casual translators can fix a translation by clicking a mouse while the backend takes care of the rest. The doc committers or another contributor can commit the change back to the doc repository.

Finally, I asked about continuous integration for the doc tree. Warren Block suggested that we can run igor for checking the errors, however there are some false positives that would bother people. During BSDCan, I joined two of the Doc Sprints. One night I asked Warren about "safe parameters" for igor and I quickly hacked igor to generate the checkstyle format XML output and pass it to the Jenkins checkstyle plugin. I presented the proof of concept on the second night. It is really great that people thought it is useful and encouraged me to setup it as a job on Warren will help me with this. In the future, this could also integrate with Phabricator as a "lint" tool for being as a filter.

I always wanted to revive the Traditional Chinese Document Translation Project. Fortunately, about two weeks after BSDCan, a volunteer sent a mail to the freebsd-doc mailing list stating that he wants to contribute to the Traditional Chinese translation of the FreeBSD Handbook. After discussing with him and with the help from people on EFNet/#bsddocs and doceng, I converted zh_TW from Big5 to UTF-8 in the doc tree for making future translation easier. This is really a good restart and I hope more people can join and we can have a complete Traditional Chinese handbook and other documents soon.

The following two days were the BSDCan sessions. The starting keynote speaker was Karl Lehenbauer from FlightAware. The most rememberable might be the slide "A billion dollars + Linus <= good people with a rigorous engineering process doing BSD." Also, there are some slides about FreeBSD tuning at FlightAware.

In Luigi Rizzo's talk In-kernel OpenvSwitch on FreeBSD, I learned a lot about how to port the Linux kernel subsystem to FreeBSD. In his work, he provides netlink sockets for the FreeBSD kernel. This is very good news because I always heard that people who are familiar with Linux want this feature.

Patrick Kelsey gave the libuinet talk. This is used to port the FreeBSD TCP/IP stack to userland. It means that the resource needed for a connection is in userspace memory and the kernel only needs to provide a packet interface, such as netmap. This is useful for an application that handles lots of concurrent connections. Patrick became a committer recently and I hope more work from him can bring libuinet closer to HEAD soon.

Pawel Jakub Dawidek and Mariusz Zaborski talked about their work on Capsicum and Casper. In this talk, they presented the lack of traditional security mechanism (setuid(2), chroot(2), P_SUGID, setrlimit(2)) provided by the system, and how an easier protection is provided by Capsicum. The Casper daemon provides services to sandboxed processess which do not have the necessary rights.

The FreeBSD Developer Summit and BSDCan overlap for one day. May 16 is the public track of the dev summit and I attended two sessions. Michal Dubiel from Semihalf gave the status update of OpenStack and OpenContrail on a FreeBSD host. I am glad that there are companies which invest in cloud technologies for FreeBSD. I hope this can be in production soon and maybe the FreeBSD cluster can have some setup to enrich developer resources. Another session I attended is lightweight reference counting, by Gleb Smirnoff. Using counter(9) in FreeBSD 10 as a reference count is really a brilliant idea. I am looking forward to seeing performance improve with this solution.

Arun Thomas gave a good tutorial of ARM and how BSD supports it. For a person like myself with no experience in embedded systems, it was a good start. Now I can have more fun with my Raspberry Pi.

Julio Merino talked about The FreeBSD Test Suite, which is really important to me and the FreeBSD continuous integration group. He also announced the plan to combine Kyua and Jenkins in the session. He hopes that the tests can be more complete and the CI pipeline can be more mature. There are still lots of things to be done!

Matt Ahrens presented the goals of the OpenZFS project and its current status. With this project, platforms like Illumos, FreeBSD, Linux, and OS X can directly interact with a shared, platform-independent ZFS code base. This will greatly reduce the effort to port changes between platforms and the tests can also be shared. The future of the OpenZFS features are amazing, including resumable zfs send/recv and device removal, which can make a system administrator's€™ life much easier.

The ASLR talk by Shawn Webb was awesome and this is definitely a feature that a paranoid person like myself  hope will be merged to the main trunk soon. It seems to still have problems on ARM so he also asked for help from people with ARM experience.

On return home, I was surprised that Peter and I were on the same flight and sat next to each other. We talked about Linux containers and the projects that use it like Docker, which is the part that FreeBSD is not doing well. Currently, the resource limitation of the lightweight containers is not really complete. He said that the way we using servers, or the "computing nodes", are changing in lightspeed and we should not be left behind. We both agree that a modern operating system should put more effort in cloud and mobile solutions.

I would like to thank the FreeBSD Foundation again for sponsoring me to attend this great event. I made new friends and met people who only know each other on the Internet before. We shared many good ideas and it is really awesome to know there are so many people working on FreeBSD. I hope I can participate again next year!

BSDCan Trip Report: Michael Dexter

The next trip report is from Michael Dexter:

BSDCan 2014 was an amazing experience as always but one theme characterized this year more than any other: Coordination.

Never in my dozen years in the community have I seen such an active dialog between the BSD projects with attention being given to what each project is up to. From praise to constructive criticism, developers from all of the projects engaged each other in sessions and in the priceless hallway track. Beginning with a project that is close to my heart, Peter Grehan announced at the FreeBSD DevSummit that the bhyve hypervisor would soon support NetBSD, rounding out its support for OpenBSD, NetBSD and Linux virtual machines. I can think of no better way for developers to see first hand how each operating system works and to cross-validate code. Kudos to Peter, Neel Natu, John Baldwin and everyone else who has helped bhyve become such a useful feature in FreeBSD.

Continuing in the spirit of coordination, Abhishek Gupta of Microsoft's Hyper-V group was on hand to discuss with developers how to guarantee that FreeBSD is a first-class Hyper-V guest OS. From the sound of it, Microsoft appears to have more developers focusing on FreeBSD than Intel! Together, bhyve and Hyper-V represent compelling OS-native hypervisors and rest assured, Windows virtual machine support in bhyve is under active development.

Matt Ahrens of the OpenZFS project gave his annual update on what new ZFS features are making their way into FreeBSD in order to keep FreeBSD a first-class ZFS platform. Of these features, ZFS "bookmarks" will enable ZFS replication without relying on snapshots as a unit of history. Just how quickly the OpenZFS project transitioned from post-Sun Microsystems confusion to solid, OS-agnostic contributions is remarkable. We all owe Matt our gratitude for his active participation in the BSD community at events like BSDCan and AsiaBSDCon.

Other DevSummit highlights included a clarification of FreeBSD's "long term support" policy with the comforting recognition that the project had in fact been more or less adhering to the proposed 5-year policy. A formal affirmation of such a policy is a valuable marketing tool for everyone from vendors to end users. The idea was also raised about separating the FreeBSD base into packages to allow for modular updating and deployment. Done right, this could be of great value to embedded FreeBSD efforts.

Two notable highlights of the FreeBSD Doc Sprints were the participation of Ingo Schwarze of the mandoc project who committed FreeBSD's Igor documentation proofing tool to OpenBSD ports, and Allan Jude's formal entrance into the FreeBSD project with a documentation commit bit. Allan and Kris Moore have done a great job raising awareness of FreeBSD and other BSD projects with the BSDNow podcast and are demonstrating just how seamless community and code participation can be.

Though many of us were already exhausted from all-day discussions and late-night coding, it was finally time for the conference proper to begin. This saw an infusion of yet more wonderful people and continued engagement and coding. Security was a key topic this with the FreeBSD Address-space layout randomization (ASLR), Capsicum and LibreSSL talks standing out as must-see. Each talk was highly cross-pollinated by developers from different BSD projects with almost a sense of obligation to the Internet community as a whole, given BSD's key role in the development of the Internet.

The Embedded track comprised of ARM, MIPS64 and NAND flash storage talks and was also very timely given the changing nature of computing. Warner Losh went into great detail about how NAND flash storage works and how broad a range of reliability is available from the various flash technologies. This track even extended to a lunch time MIPS router hacking BOF lead by Sean Bruno. It is great that we have real Unix on really-affordable hardware.

The closing auction was fun as always and the clouds broke on Sunday, allowing quite a few attendees to walk around Ottawa and Parliament before heading home. Some brave systems administrators opted to take the first BSD Certification Group BSD Professional exam and the feedback I heard was very positive. The BSD Professional exam is a hands-on exam designed to compliment the BSD Associate exam that the BSDCG has offered for several years. This is an exciting development and is testament to the continued growth of the BSD community.

I would like to thank Dan and his team for putting on another great BSDCan and the FreeBSD Foundation for helping me attend this year.

BSDCan Trip Report: Warren Block

BSDCan 2014 was held earlier this month and the Foundation provided travel grants to several committers. The first trip report is from Warren Block of the doceng@ team:

Every year, BSDCan is preceded by a developer summit, where FreeBSD committers and invited guests can get together to discuss proposals, difficulties, and plans.  Registration this year was at the intriguingly-named "Goat BOF".  There are stories behind this, but I'll just point you to and

For the documentation developer summit group, Benedict Reuschling made the case for helping documentation translators from our outdated manual system to using gettext-based PO files.  These systems eliminate much of the manual work translators are forced to do with the current setup, allowing them to concentrate on translating. They also provide "translation memory", remembering phrases and sentences that have already been translated so it is not necessary to retranslate them when they appear in different documents.  The room had been fairly quiet up until Benedict began demonstrating this, at which point there was a loud "oooh!" from the back of the room.  There is still a bit of work to be done to fit these tools into our translator workflow, but the research is mostly done and the rest is just pounding it into a shape that can be used with our existing documents and setting up the first translation team to use it.

Each night, we had a "doc lounge", where people were welcome to come to learn about or work on documentation.  We split up the individual time with a few short presentations.  I showed how I used textproc/igor to proofread documentation changes, and it surprised me at how others were using it, and surprised them at how I was using it.  This in-person communication with a crowd of differing experience and viewpoints is one of the best features of BSDCan.

BSDCan itself began on Friday with a keynote session from Karl Lehenbauer, CTO of FlightAware.  This was one of the best presentations I've yet seen at any BSDCan, and worth the time to watch.   As in previous years, the FOSSLC group was there, making high-quality recordings of the presentations.  Compared to videos taken with a traditional camera, screens in the FOSSLC videos are easy to see and the speakers can be heard.

There were talks aimed at using FreeBSD on embedded hardware, with Warner Losh speaking about using NAND flash memory (apparently no video available, but an associated video is here) and Sean Bruno describing installation of FreeBSD on wireless routers with MIPS processors.

John-Mark Gurney showed how he had improved geli(8) encryption performance from less than 150MB/second to greater than 900MB/second.

Daichi Goto gave a talk called "Shellscripts and Commands", which was an interesting combination of traditional shell-based tools and fast hardware to process huge datasets.

Saturday morning, Ingo Schwarze from the OpenBSD project talked about "New trends in mandoc", the excellent full-text search abilities developed for this OpenBSD replacement for groff(1).  Ingo also attended several of our doc lounge
sessions, and we had some interesting comparisons between the document checking provided by igor and that in mandoc.

Vsevolod Stakhov talked about the new solver in pkg (no video available yet).  What I find particularly encouraging about this and other aspects of the new package system is the amount of research into other systems. That is the "good kind of lazy": the problem is difficult, and rather than jumping in and hacking together a solution that partly works, doing the research to find how other groups have done it.

FreeNAS is becoming increasingly popular, and John Hixson talked about how to add custom applications to it (no video yet).  Later, Fabio Balzano described a FreeBSD-driven ROV (remotely operated vehicle) using a Beaglebone Black ARM single-board computer.

At another doc lounge session, we covered the complete process to fix an error in the FreeBSD documentation, from installing the tools, to editing, checking, and build-testing the document, through to submitting a patch.  It's very good to note that some of the people we worked with have already had patches submitted and accepted since then.

FreeBSD developer Li-Wen Hsu was at several of the doc lounge sessions, and one night asked about integrating igor with the Jenkins continuous improvement framework.  I was skeptical about using igor for this, but we talked about some tests that would avoid false positives.  The next night, he returned.  Not only had he modified igor to produce the required output, he'd already set up a Jenkins test! It showed just how useful this continous automated testing can be, even if the test tool is not perfect.  In hindsight, I should have realized that this sort of thing is just an extended use of automation, which is the point behind igor: we have these nice computers, let's use automation to help us accomplish our goals.

Finally, Allan Jude of BSD Now (and many other FreeBSD-related things) had clearly been in line for a commit bit for some time now.  Benedict had a plan to keep it a secret and surprise him with the announcement during an interview. The full interview will be seen on a future episode of BSD Now.

This was all just a tiny part of BSDCan 2014.  There were numerous other talks that you should watch, like the already-famous one by OpenBSD's Bob Beck on LibreSSL, their fork of OpenSSL:, or

All of the FOSSLC videos are here.

All the presentations and informal talks are still just a small part of BSDCan.  There is the "hallway track", where it is common to start talking with another person about something that's important to both of you... and then getting so caught up that you miss a presentation or two.  There are before- and after-hours talks with others on things that seem to have been overlooked, but it turns out were important to them also.  Lots of people you may only know by email address will be there, almost always looking completely unlike imagined.  At one point or another, almost everyone is drafted by Dan Langille to help carry boxes or set up power strips. There's lots of caffeine and more than a little sleep deprivation. Conferences like these help provide the motivation that drives projects throughout the rest of the year.

A big thanks goes to the FreeBSD Foundation for sponsoring my trip this year.  Thanks also to Dru Lavigne, Benedict Reuschling, Allan Jude, Dan Langille, and everyone who came to the developer summit, doc lounge, and BSDCan.  Your time and attention are appreciated.  Thank you all for helping to improve FreeBSD!

FreeBSD Foundation Accepting Travel Grant Applications for BSDCan 2014

Calling all FreeBSD developers needing assistance with travel expenses to BSDCan 2014.

The FreeBSD Foundation will be providing a limited number of travel grants to individuals requesting assistance. Please fill out and submit  the Travel Grant Request Application by April 7th, 2014 to apply for this grant.

This program is open to FreeBSD developers of all sorts (kernel hackers, documentation authors, bugbusters, system administrators, etc).  In some  cases we are also able to fund non-developers, such as active community members and FreeBSD advocates. More details are available in the announcement.

vBSDCon Trip Report: John-Mark Gurney

The first trip report from vBSDCon is from John-Mark Gurney:

Thank you for the opportunity to go to vBSDcon.  vBSDcon was a great conference, and I was immediately and warmly welcomed by the host, Verisign, when I arrived.  They ran an exceptional conference and I hope this becomes an annual event.

One of the main reasons I attended the conference was to be able to meet FreeBSD developers I haven't seen for years and to meet new FreeBSD developers.  For the first time, I met Luigi Rizzo who I worked with over 15 years ago on FreeBSD's sound system and ISA UPnP code.  It was good to meet him and talk about some of his netmap work.

I also met some long time developers, Scott Long and George Neville-Neil, but I also met some that I haven't met before such as Adrian Chadd, David Chisnall (theraven), Ed Maste, Randall Stewart (rrs) and Baptiste Daroussin (bapt).  There are many more that I am forgetting, but that's simply because the conference was well attended.

I participated in the embedded BOF.  It was well attended and Adrian Chadd was the leader.  One of the issues that came up was the issue of how to make ARM and/or MIPS platforms Tier 1.  It was discussed how relevant the requirement that a new Tier 1 platform must be able to cross-build packages from an existing Tier 1 platform.  There was also discussions on which ARM board should be chosen was a reference platform.  The ones that were discussed as most viable were the BeagleBone Black, Raspberry Pi, a ChromeBook or a PandaBoard.

I attended the talk that Verisign gave on how they use FreeBSD to host the .net and .com domains.  It was impressive what they are able to do with netmap for UDP traffic, but they are also running issues w/ TCP connection performance on FreeBSD due to some lock scaling issues.

The hallway track is always interesting, and I was able to talk with David Chisnall about ways to possibly support changing functions at kernel load time to choose the best implementation.  One use of this would be to choose which AES implementation is best for the machine. If the machine has support for native AES instructions (AES-NI for example) it would use that, otherwise it could fall back to a software implementation.

Though unfortunately the hallway track made me miss Brad Davis's Speed Geeking talk on GELI, but it did allow me to spend time talking with Matt Olander, co-founder of iXsystems, Inc.  It was interesting to learn about the history of iX and find out about where they are interested in going with FreeBSD.  I may be able to help them with some work on FreeBSD in the future.

I attended the talk that Henning Brauer and Reyk Floeter gave on pf in OpenBSD.  The new features that pf has are very interesting and exciting. The features make possible reverse HTTP proxies and other packet steering techniques very easy to do.  I do wonder if using DXR for the table lookups that pf/ipfw do could be helpful, though the rule scanning overhead is still probably the largest overhead.

In summary, the conference was great and I was able to meet a large number of people and get some great ideas on how to help move FreeBSD forward.

Thank you again FreeBSD Foundation for providing me with the travel grant.

EuroBSDCon Trip Report: Mike Ma

The next trip report is from Mike Ma:

I recently had a fantastic trip to Malta in late September, and I attended FreeBSD devsummit together with EuroBSDcon 2013 for 4 days in total. I would like to first thank the FreeBSD Foundation. As a GSoC student this year, I was supported by the FreeBSD Foundation to make the trip happen. The weather was incredibly nice, so I had some extra summer time there since I'm in rather a cold country. It was the first time for me to attend a FOSS conference, well, (not?) surprisingly, I was the only Chinese person there. It was totally different from the research conferences I have attended, where I always see a lot of Asian faces.

One big thing I did at the devsummit was to present my GSoC project during a "student session" . My project was about porting glusterfs. There were four GSoC student talks where we talked about our biggest achievement as well as the problems/difficulties we had. I didn't have time to do a demostration of my project, and I illustrated and explained the experimental results I had at that point. I got very helpful advice on how to improve and extend my experiments.  I was seeing a big performance drop when using glusterfs in comparison to using the underlying filesystem, and people suggested for me to see if there's a similar performance drop on Linux. Then I figured out that the performance gap was normal, so I'm now ready to submit my changes to GlusterFS. If everything goes through, I'll then make it appear in our ports tree.

The most interesting talk to me at the devsummit was lldb on FreeBSD. Ed Maste did a brief demo and I was quite impressed by the smarter and more powerful debugger. I talked to Ed afterwards saying I'm willing to join the project, and I've now set up all the environment. I'll first look at some build failures and start with fixing some entrance-level issues.

I also liked the ZFS session on the first day. It gave me information about various issues and features about ZFS.  Sadly, I didn't manage to go to ZFS talk at EuroBSDcon as I was doing my own presentation at the same time.

Gavin and Gabor helped the GSoC students a lot at the conference.  They were very nice to introduce us to developers related to our project and interests. I also had some random talk with many FreeBSD developers, such as hps@, jhl@, Ilya, etc.  I got to know their projects and some FreeBSD history.

For the future work, I have talked with my mentor Sean Bruno. We agreed to look at some PRs that he is in charge of, which could be a good start for me. I also talked to Pedro, the mentor of the FUSE GSoC project during coding time.  He's also maintaining ext2fs and I'm now looking at fast symlink for our ext2fs implementation.

So far, it's quite a mess as there's a lot to do. Hopefully I'll have to time to do everything I'm interested in.

Again, many thanks to Sean, everyone who helped me with my project, and everyone I met in the conference. And a huge thanks to FreeBSD Foundation for funding my trip.

EuroBSDCon Trip Report: Isabell Long

The next trip report is from Isabell Long:

In the last week of September 2013, thanks to Foundation funding, I flew to Malta to partake in the FreeBSD DevSummit and EuroBSDcon. I spent a total of six days in Malta, experiencing the lovely weather, quite British culture, and food that on my first night included one of my favourites - rabbit - which turns out to be a national dish.

As a documentation committer, my main reason for attending the conference was to attend the documentation session and meet face-to-face with many people who have, for the last eighteen months, been just names, email addresses and IRC nicks. That session was productive as we used the time to hack on PRs and Handbook chapters. After all, it's important to have a balance between discussion and working on problems in-person in order to get things done. There was a discussion about the pressing and frustrating issue of the FreeBSD website design, where the pros and cons of frameworks such as Ruby on Rails were mentioned.

In the DevSummit track of the conference on the Saturday, the Google Summer of Code students' presentations of their stunningly complex work were great. At the end of the Saturday came the long awaited beach social event, which for some involved swimming at 11pm in the pleasantly warm sea. I can't swim, so I just paddled! On the Sunday, the keynote seemed scaremongering, all about how "nothing is secure", but it was nevertheless interesting. In the afternoon, as Netflix is a service I use, I attended one of their sessions. I was only just able to find a seat due to it being so popular and me being late due to the "hallway track" during the coffee break, but it was worth it - the statistics of the amount of US Internet traffic they account for were almost unbelievably high. Kirk McKusick's talk was one of three that ended the conference, and it was very informative for me because it seemed to touch on a lot of the basics.

I have come back and noticed how cold it is, but armed with a list of things to do on the documentation side, a new found love of learning interesting things, a wish to get involved in other areas of the FreeBSD project, and have more contact in terms of work with some other developers who I talked to at length over the dinners.

NYI Whitepaper Available

As part of our mission to serve the FreeBSD community, we have increased our efforts to educate people on FreeBSD. One of these efforts was to fund a project to produce white papers on using FreeBSD in different applications. Here's our first one called Managed Services Using FreeBSD at NYI by Joseph Kong. From the Executive Summary:

This white paper describes the challenges associated with being a managed services provider, which include interacting with the wider Internet, ensuring high availability, recovering from data loss, and compartmentalizing systems and data. To surmount these challenges, this white paper describes several FreeBSD-based solutions: PF, CARP, pfsync, HAProxy, GEOM mirroring, FreeNAS, ZFS, rsync, and jails. Each solution has been battle-tested by NYI, an ISP headquartered in New York, whose customers include Men’s Journal, Rolling Stone, and Us Magazine.

EuroBSDCon Trip Report: Marius Strobl

EuroBSDCon was recently held in Malta. The first trip report is from Marius Strobl:

First off, I would like to thank Andre Oppermann and his team for organizing such an amazing conference and developer summit! It would have been a great event even if it had not taken place in Malta but that location really made it outrageous. I totally did not expect to be able to go swimming in the sea at 9:30 PM as part of the social event with water that actually felt warmer than the surrounding air - just to mention one of the many highlights. Seeing all that people having fun in the sea at night with glow sticks around their wrists was a lovely sight, too. Thus, it speaks for itself that I am also very grateful to the FreeBSD Foundation for sponsoring me to attend EuroBSDcon 2013 as well as the associated FreeBSD Developer Summit, which both would have been unlikely undertakings without their generous support.

As with other BSD-related conferences, getting there turned out to be interesting as Ed Schouten had his seat next to mine across the aisle on that plane. Moreover, Ilya Bakulin and three additional OpenBSD folks working at genua GmbH that I know from other events also were on that flight. However, given that EuroBSDcon 2013 was not my first such conference, the list of usual suspects I have not met before gets considerably shorter over time. Nevertheless, I still managed to make contact with some nice people for the first time: Lars Engels, Andriy Gapon, Jeremie Le Hen, Navdeep Parhar, Colin Percival and Gleb

Things I achieved during EuroBSDcon 2013 and the associated FreeBSD Developer Summit include:
  • discussing the sparc64-specific aspects of the GET_STACK_USAGE macro with Alexander Motin (committed as r255937, later on merged verbatim to powerpc in r256007 by Nathan Whitehorn)
  • discussing problems with the current powerpc and sparc64 implementations of the counter(9) API with Andriy Gapon and Gleb Smirnoff (unfortunately, no good and obvious solution was found and I have to benchmark some possible approaches first)
  • getting a private status update about a GPL-free toolchain in NetBSD by Joerg Sonnenberger
  • getting my shiny new PGP key signed by Dag-Erling Smørgrav in his role as FreeBSD Security Officer, as well as by some others
  • talking to Colin Percival about getting freebsd-update(8) bits for powerpc and sparc64 in place now that we also and already have switched to cross-building the corresponding releases beginning with FreeBSD 9.2, which he intends to look over in the next couple of days
  • talking to Baptiste Daroussin about possibilities for improving the situation with ports and packages for sparc64
  • extending my English vocabulary by "wick" with the help of Isabell Long (one torch at the beach the social event took place was missing one)
The session that interested me the most at the FreeBSD Developer Summit was the "Networking" one. It was very informative to get a hold of the various performance issues in our network stack different parties are struggling with and how people intend to fix them. At EuroBSDcon, I probably enjoyed the talk "FreeBSD BHyve Hypervisor hosting Other Systems" by Peter Grehan best. Given that I last had a bit of look at BHyve as part of writing my master's thesis - which also has some FreeBSD/i386 PV on Xen coverage - around April, it was surprising to see what progress BHyve has made since then.

Before and afterwards, I had some nice and interesting chats with Peter, too. As it turned out, he also is concerned with the direction FreeBSD is going with clang/LLVM and the possibility that some - in his case 32-bit powerpc - platform support will be sacrificed along that road. Moreover, as an employee of NetApp he once more confirmed that GPLed toolchains are of no concern for such companies as these bits are only used for developing products but are not part of the latter themselves. Before, Marcel Moolenaar essentially raised the same worries about FreeBSD/ia64 and effectively said the same about GCC and friends being no problem for Juniper at EuroBSDcon 2011. So the question remains: which are the mysterious vendors who we shall nuke all GPLed source code out of the FreeBSD base at any cost for?

Cambridge DevSummit Trip Report: Aleksandr Rybalko

The next trip report is from Aleksandr Rybalko:

I recently returned from an exciting trip to Cambridge, United Kingdom, to attend the FreeBSD Developer Summit. Very warm and old town, and at the same time, one of the most historic academic centers in the world. Great support by the FreeBSD Foundation helps to make it realizable for me. It was a very interesting developers summit, even if some talks were difficult to understand because of English-to-English differences.

The main reason why I attended the DevSummit was to introduce the updated newcons project. Now, newcons works with i915 KMS and with the shiny new Radeon KMS too. Many thanks to Jean-Sébastien Pédron for that.

From the developers' reaction, it seems the most exciting part of newcons is a 2-color FreeBSD logo splash screen. Even though there's a lot of work in the underlying infrastructure, everything else is just letters and more letters on the screen.

While giving my demo, I found one more bug: connecting an SVGA projector produced a kernel panic (which was at least displayed nicely on the screen).

Anyway, the Cambridge Devsummit was a very good event. I met with many interesting people, including Adrian Chadd, my mentor (finally). He told me about PMC problems and points to me every time anyone asks about drivers for MIPS and ARM hardware. With Baptiste Daroussin and Vsevolod Stakhov, we discussed pkgng and ports problems and problems related to ports cross-building. I discussed a bit the lack of supported ARM features (like LPAE) with Andrew Turner.

Spent some free time hacking on Exynos4 based device together with Ruslan Bukin. Exynos4 has an interesting problem, but we still have not found a solution/workaround for it.

From the list of summit sessions I can highlight:
  • lldb - New, and I can say, more correct way to debug things. Thanks a lot to Ed Maste for that great work.
  • Capsicum by Pawel Jakub Dawidek. Exciting tool to limit everything you want.
  • pkgng - And of course I still don't understand how Baptiste got such a complex thing to work.
I enjoyed the devsummit a lot. Environment of the city of Cambridge is best for such activity, so developers are able to concentrate on things they need.

Many thanks to Robert, David, Jonathan, Bjoern and everyone involved in the devsummit organization. And of course, a huge thanks to the FreeBSD Foundation for sponsorship!

Cambridge DevSummit Trip Report: Mariusz Zaborski

The Cambridge DevSummit was held at the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory Cambridge, UK August 24 - 28, 2013. Mariusz Zaborski writes about his experience:

I'm a GSoC student who was invited to the Cambridge DevSummit. Cambridge University is closely related to my GSoC project because this is the place where Capsicum was born and the initial implementation created by Robert Watson and his team.

We arrived late (around 7pm) on a Friday so we managed to only eat some dinner and go to sleep. We were accommodated in Sidney Sussex College. This is a very impressive College which is more than 400 years old. If you ever go to England, you should visit Cambridge and at least one of its colleges.

The first two days were devoted to the integration of the group. We had lunches and dinners together. Jonathan Anderson took us for a walk around Cambridge and to the Cambridge Museum of Technology. In the museum we saw a lot of steam engines and some very old printing machines.

The lightning talks and working groups started on Monday. We had a short talk by Ed Maste and Robert Watson about the FreeBSD Foundation. They told us how the Foundation works and its plans for the near future.

Next, David Drysdale, Pawel Jakub Dawidek and myself had a working group about capabilities and Capsicum in FreeBSD. Pawel talked about some new features and the problems he faced during the project.

After that, I attended the security discussion about /dev/random which was conducted by Mark Murray. I must admit that it was my favorite session. Mark told us how /dev/random works now and what he would like to change in the /dev/random algorithms. People attending this session proposed very useful ideas. That was a very educative and substantive discussion. If you are interested in learning more about this session, I recommend this link.

On Tuesday, we had a few more sessions. I again attended to the security discussion where we talked a lot about security in pkgng. After that we had some talklets. My favorite talklet was about lldb and about X86 Binary Code Analysis. The first presentation was given by Ed Maste. He has convinced me to give the lldb a try as a replacement for good old gdb. Now I think this is very promising project and I would like to examine it more closely. The presentation given by Warren Hunt was very very impressive. He told us about formal proofs in computer science on binary code level. After few talklets we had Pawel's presentation about Capsicum and Casper. He presented his last few months of work in this project. He also mentioned some of my work.

On Tuesday evening we had an official English dinner in Christ's College and this was a very exciting experience. After the dinner, we also managed to see old Darwin's office.

On Wednesday there were some more sessions, but unfortunately I had to return home. The DevSummit was a very intensive five days. I met a lot of very interesting people from all around the world and I came to home even more motivated and with a lot of new experiences.

I want to thank the the FreeBSD Foundation for sponsoring my trip to the Cambridge DevSummit, and my GSoC mentor Pawel for inviting me to it.