Category Archives: sponsorship

BSDCan Trip Report: Julien Laffaye

The Foundation recently sponsored Julien Laffaye to attend BSDCan 2011. Here is his trip report:

During my trip in Ottawa, I met Baptiste Daroussin, with whom I developed the pkg_install replacement pkgng. It was nice to meet face-to-face and to discuss the future goals of pkgng development. I also met Will Andrews (who was interested by our project and has since joined our effort), Thomas Abthorpe and Rene Ladan. I was also able to put a face to many FreeBSD logins for the first time.

Indeed, the main purpose of my trip to Ottawa was to present pkgng in the Ports and Binary Package workgroup at the FreeBSD DevSummit. In the working group, we discussed issues such as the state of packages building. The agreement was that the project should build packages sets weekly, and monthly sets with an extended support. This approach raised some concerns for the disk space required by the mirrors, and we had a very interesting discussion about the current infrastructure of the project. Here, the agreement was to setup a kind of Content Distribution Network. The main idea behind this new policy of package building is to facilitate the installation and upgrade process of binary packages.

I was very pleased that our effort has been well received. We had a discussion about the state of pkgng, and if it should be commited into HEAD for the 9 release. We thought that pkgng will be ready around the date targeted by the 9 release, but we preferred to have more time to test it. So the agreement was to ship it in 10, and maybe in 9.1 but not as the default package manager.

Then we talked about the migration process and defined the tasks that must be done to make it happen. At the end of the workgroup, we had a very clear list of tasks, and each team (the Ports managers, the cluster administrators and pkgng developers)
knew their part in the process.

BSDCan Trip Report: Simon Nielsen

The Foundation recently sponsored Simon Nielsen to attend BSDCan 2011. Here is his trip report:

My main goal of attending BSDCan 2011 and the preceding Developers Summit was "networking", talking in person to many of the people I normally only interact with via email or IRC. Both to discuss some of the many smaller and larger outstanding issues but also just to generally meet people and talk to them in person which always help working together in the future. This certainly happened both during the "work day" time at the DevSummit and conference, but also at other times like during breakfast, lunch, and dinner which was almost always done with other FreeBSD'ers.

With my "FreeBSD.org admins hat" I spent some time talking to Brad Davis and Peter Losher about ways to improve administration of FreeBSD.org systems in the future. Among the discussed topics were ISC's use of Kerberos which might be useful at FreeBSD.org and the Puppet system for system administration. Some time was spent talking with Mark Linimon and Brad Davis about future plans for the nyi.FreeBSD.org site. I also attended Mark's talk about lessons learned from the nyi.FreeBSD.org rollout to date.

The FreeBSD Security Team held an informal meeting during the conference where we discussed how to try and improve the workings of the Security Team which will hopefully stir things up a bit.

One evening we had a DNSSEC dinner where it was discussed how to integrate support for DNSSEC into the FreeBSD base system. The main goal was to be able to support DNSSEC verification in normal applications. It was discussed both at the API level (e.g. should applications be able to know about DNSSEC verification failures) and the system level on how to actually implement this in FreeBSD. The primary conclusion was that this needed to be built into the NSS system, and likely integrated with nscd somehow.

I briefly talked to Hiroki Sato about the possibility for setting up an IPv6 tunnel broker for FreeBSD developers as some can't easily get local IPv6 connectivity.

The ports developers have been talking about changing the version control system for the Ports Collection from CVS to Subversion. I had a few discussions in this regard about how to practically do this, including repository layout and a time limited svn2cvs.

During the DevSummit I attended the Ports Working Group where the future of the FreeBSD package system, including distribution, was discussed. I attended the working group both with my hat of FreeBSD.org admin and Security Team member. The discussions were very useful and a rough consensus was agreed upon both for the future of packages, where they can hopefully be a lot more useful, and for how to handle distribution. From the security perspective the proposed system will allow us to build security into the system in the future. The new package system, coupled with the proposed "package set" concept, will require a radically different way of distributing packages. We discussed a workable model where we move to a more centralized system with fewer but better nodes for distribution. This will also allow us to better utilize our current sites and possibly add other sites in the future.

For the main conference, the "BHyVe a Native BSD Hypervisor" presentation was very interesting both from a general technical perspective and because it might allow the FreeBSD.org admins team to run some virtualization of servers without having to run other operating systems as is required today. George Neville-Neil's "Synchronizing Systems on a LAN: An Introduction to PTPd" presentation was very interesting from the technical perspective in hearing about all the challenges of very accurate timekeeping. The talk also had a lot of audience participation from people who knew a lot about the topic which made it even more interesting.

My Photo Album from the trip is available here.

MeetBSD Poland

The Foundation is pleased to be a sponsor for MeetBSD, to be held in Krakow, Poland July 2-3. Tomasz Dudzisz, one of the organizers of MeetBSD, recently sent a thank you to the FreeBSD Foundation Board of Directors:


We would like to thank you for your generous donation which we received a few days ago. Your contribution makes it possible for us to organize the best BSD event in our part of Europe. With the help of donations from supporters such as you, we can give a great chance for participants to talk to the FreeBSD project's contributors in person.

We believe that high-calibre technical content of the offered lectures and unforgettable atmosphere of the side talks make meetBSD one of the greatest UNIX-oriented conference not only in Poland but world wide.

We hope for your continued support in the future. Once again thank you for your generous donation.


Thanks! We agree that sponsoring conferences provides many benefits to the FreeBSD community.

BSDCan Update

The Foundation is pleased to have been able to provide travel grants for 13 developers to attend BSDCan. Travel reports are starting to come in and we'll post them here as they arrive.

The Foundation also raised $845.24 in cash donations at the booth during BSDCan. Thanks to all who dropped by the booth to donate.

Safe Removal of Active Disk Devices

Earlier this year, the Foundation sponsored Edward Tomasz Napierala to fix FreeBSD's #1 reported bug: a USB disk causing a panic when detached before unmounting. Edward describes the project as follows:

One of the long-standing problems encountered by FreeBSD users was the fact that the system could often crash after a mounted disk device - for example, a USB flash drive - was removed. This behavior was not only annoying, but also made a bad impression about the overall stability and robustness of the operating system.

The project was not about fixing one buggy driver, as it could seem at first glance. Fixing the problem involved changes in CAM (Common Access Method, FreeBSD SCSI subsystem), GEOM framework, Virtual Filesystem layer, and finally the UFS filesystem. (Ironically, there were no problems with the USB itself.) There were no big design changes of any sort; just an iterative process of finding a way to crash the system, tracking down the bug that was causing it, fixing it, and proceeding to the next one. Most of the fixes were backported to FreeBSD 7-STABLE and will appear in FreeBSD 7.2.

It is now possible to remove mounted devices - and to unmount them afterwards - without any user-unfriendly behavior, such as crashes. Also, the system became more robust in the presence of non-USB disk removal, such as SCSI or SATA drive detachment or failure.

Why We Send Developers to Conferences

You probably know that the FreeBSD Foundation provides travel assistance for developers to attend conferences. If you've ever attended a BSD conference yourself, you have experienced first hand the value in networking with both committers and BSD users.

We'll be asking developers we've sponsored to share their experiences and will start with Thomas Abthorpe, a FreeBSD ports committer who attended this year's BSDCan. In Thomas' words:

It is an over used and abused saying, and I will invoke it, "Been there, done that, got the t-shirt". On the back of the shirt I received at registration it said "FreeBSD it's all about the people, from all around the world". For me, attending BSDCan was an opportunity to meet the people behind FreeBSD face to face. Email and IRC are great ways to collaborate with other developers, ideas can be shared, and projects brought to fruition, but in the end, the opportunity to get together with like minded people and just brainstorm in person is still the best way to get the job done.

I live in Thunder Bay, Ontario, a small city in central Canada, just north of the Minnesota border. My day job is as a Systems & Networks technician for the Canadian Grain Commission. FreeBSD is what I do for "fun" on my own time. Where I live, there are no local/user groups for any form of open source software. I have to rely on Internet technologies to reach out to others interested in FreeBSD. My interests in FreeBSD ports are quite varied; I maintain approximately 40 ports of various descriptions. Before I became a ports committer, I participated regularly in ports related bug busting weekends. Since becoming a committer,I worked with the FreeBSD KDE team that was instrumental in introducing KDE 4.x to the ports tree. I have also worked actively with the donations@ team, and have mentored other ports committers up through the ranks...


You can read the rest of Thomas' writeup in this PDF.