Category Archives: trip report

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.

BSDCan Trip Report: Thomas Abthorpe

The Foundation recently sponsored Thomas Abthorpe to attend BSDCan 2011. Here is his trip report:

The first time I was privileged to attend BSDCan was in 2009, a generous sponsorship from the FreeBSD Foundation enabled me to attend. Of the many topics I could have reported on, I chose to identify the human aspect of FreeBSD, the people that make it happen, and why the Foundation sends developers to conferences.

To me, people are still the most valuable resource in the project. I have mentored in many committers to the ports tree, and at BSDCan 2011, I was pleased to learn that two of my mentees would be attending. Rene Ladan (rene@) and Baptiste Daroussin (bapt@) would be in Ottawa, and for the first time ever, I would meet my proteges face to face. Julien Laffaye had been collaborating with Bapt, and was here for the presentations. Our sense of camaraderie in IRC made the initial meeting feel like a well established friendship. Our travels around Ottawa became a standing joke, “A Canadian, Dutchman and a pair of Frenchmen walk into a ...

BSDCan Trip Report: Sergio Ligregni

The Foundation recently sponsored Sergio Ligregni to attend BSDCan 2011. Here is his trip report:

The travel started at Mexico City's International Airport, flying to Montreal and then to Ottawa.

The first day of BSD activity was Wednesday, May 11th, when the FreeBSD DevSummit took place at the University of Ottawa. We arrived, got our badges and started discussing development stuff. I was invited by Robert Watson to the Capsicum DevSummit. Unfortunately he was not there in person, instead of that, we talked to the Watson Box (Robert via Skype); I think this will remain famous through the years.

The DevSummit was interesting. It was my first Summit and I thought it would be like other conferences but with more participation from the audience. I was happily surprised when I found that there were opinions and really technical discussions on how to follow the development of the Capsicum framework. Pawel Dawidek explained how he performs some process "jailing" and how Capsicum is helping to achieve his goal, but also what he does not like too much and some ideas how to improve it. I felt surrounded by really serious security people, like my mentor in GSoC 2010, Stacey Son, who I finally was able to meet in person.

After that Summit I had the opportunity to talk to Dru Lavigne and ask her some final questions before taking my BSDA Certification Exam, like if it is needed to know all about the four BSDs regarding the certification goals (the answer: yes!).

In the second day of the Summit, Justin Gibbs gave a FreeBSD Foundation Report. I learned how the Foundation helps to spread the word on FreeBSD by sponsoring events and attendees. I analyzed that there's a gap in the Latin America area (north and central). I asked Justin how can the Foundation help to get a BSDCon in Latin American north area (since there a couple of events in South America). I think that Justin's answer changed the purpose of my trip to Ottawa: "the FreeBSD Foundation would help to get a BSDCon there, but we need a local contact to organize it". I started thinking on a next BSDCon in Mexico that covers the Mexico & Central America area.

The seed is set, it's just a matter of getting the elements to bring BSD to Mexico. I decided to give my mobile phone a better use than texting friends and I started interviewing people, important *BSD people, like:

* Michael Lucas - BSD books author
* Pawel Dawidek - FreeBSD commiter
* Stacey Son - FreeBSD/TrustedBSD developer
* Matt Olander
* Dan Langille - BSDCan organizer
* Brett Davis - iXsystems sales manager (I am trying to get more FreeBSD users by letting they know they will have strong support services)
* Dru Lavigne
* Josh Paetzel - FreeBSD developer (iXsystems)
* Julio Merino - NetBSD developer
* George Neville-Neil

The goal is to let the Universities know that *BSD is serious, in order to get some sponsorship and a venue. Also to let the company managers know that the OS is not only a learning OS or a hobby. BSD can be used in a really serious way and it is not just saving money, it's about investing in improving the product and giving back to the community.

After the FreeBSD Foundation report, I saw how FreeBSD is "cooked". I was in the "kitchen" looking at how the new ideas and features are discussed, and the greatest part: once the board is full of items, it is time to assign them to the developers. I'd like to say "me" next time I am there. I want to be more prepared as I know there is a release in 4 months.

The first day of the BSDCan conference was on Friday. I was a little nervous since I was taking my BSDA Certification Exam in a couple of hours. We started with a talk about UNICS in an architectural view. It was more than the non-technical view of UNIX development and it was fun and interesting to hear that from someone that actually lived it.

Then I took my certification exam. I asked Dru how many BSDA certified professionals are out there and it was great to hear that more than 150 professionals are certified. I think, however, we need to keep pushing to get more people certified. I can speak from my experience that the test is not impossible, but it really tests you. I found it really interesting, actually. I am still waiting for my result and hope to pass the exam.

I attended some other conference sessions at BSDCan, both ones where I know about the topic and others where I didn't know it actually existed. It was great to meet such professionals and to learn about new features.

Some of the talks I remember were the Kris Moore talk about the new PBI format for PC-BSD/FreeBSD. I think that will help newcomers to get involved using the system by its simplicity but at the same time its robustness. Also, Josh Paetzel's talk about a project I am currently working on, the new installer pc-sysinstall. It felt great to know that my code will impact a lot of systems.

There were these talks of previously unknown but interesting things: like the new SQL for monitoring systems and the Superpages for memory management. I found those really interesting and will read and digest their papers.

About the conference: I can say that I met great and interesting people and became curious about a lot of stuff. I am willing to get a project finished and present it to the community at a future BSD conference.

I also have a lot of materials to start moving things in Latin America, such as the videos I recorded. There is already a guy in Mexico that started the FreeBSD community and its website. BSD is getting stronger here: in the last Latin American Open Source Install Festival, PC-BSD was the second most asked for OS. I am sure that with a lot of effort, the help from the community and Foundation, and a little bit of luck, we will plan the next Mexico BSDCon. I talked with a guy in the hostel about the conference I was attending and the plan to get one in Mexico, and he proposed SalsaBSDCon. I think that name is great and will help attract people here in Latin America. I think I can help to bring BSD to Mexico even though we are "so close Berkeley, so far BSD".

BSDCan Trip Report: Daichi Goto

The FreeBSD Foundation recently provided a travel grant to Daichi Goto to attend BSDCan and the FreeBSD Developer Summit. He has provided the following trip report:

What have you accomplished by attending this conference?

I have written thirteen BSDCan 2011 related articles for the "FreeBSD Daily Topics" section of gihyo.jp. The articles describe BHyVe, virtualization, FreeBSD on Amazon EC2, BSDInstall, PKGng, tool-chains, PCI Express hot-plug, Chromium, UFS2/SUJ, GEOM performance, and FreeBSD vendors. Articles will be posted one per day and the complete list can be found here.

I will also write about the new features of FreeBSD 9 and 10 for the MYCOM Journal and about IPv6 and HAST for @IT. Both are major Japanese IT news sites and the articles will be written in Japanese.

What did you learn by attending BSDCan and the DevSummit?

Many many things. BSD Hypervisor BHyVE and virtualization situation are very hot. The FreeBSD DevSummit is a great opportunity to get fresh FreeBSD news and developers thinking. I was able to travel with my mentor, Hiroki Sato, from whom I have learned many things. I also learned new things from the IPv6 tutorial attendees and other FreeBSD developers.

Thanks again to the Foundation for your support!

BSDCan Trip Report: Daichi Goto

The FreeBSD Foundation recently provided a travel grant to Daichi Goto to attend BSDCan and the FreeBSD Developer Summit. He has provided the following trip report:

What have you accomplished by attending this conference?

I have written thirteen BSDCan 2011 related articles for the "FreeBSD Daily Topics" section of gihyo.jp. The articles describe BHyVe, virtualization, FreeBSD on Amazon EC2, BSDInstall, PKGng, tool-chains, PCI Express hot-plug, Chromium, UFS2/SUJ, GEOM performance, and FreeBSD vendors. Articles will be posted one per day and the complete list can be found here.

I will also write about the new features of FreeBSD 9 and 10 for the MYCOM Journal and about IPv6 and HAST for @IT. Both are major Japanese IT news sites and the articles will be written in Japanese.

What did you learn by attending BSDCan and the DevSummit?

Many many things. BSD Hypervisor BHyVE and virtualization situation are very hot. The FreeBSD DevSummit is a great opportunity to get fresh FreeBSD news and developers thinking. I was able to travel with my mentor, Hiroki Sato, from whom I have learned many things. I also learned new things from the IPv6 tutorial attendees and other FreeBSD developers.

Thanks again to the Foundation for your support!

FOSDEM Trip Report: Brooks Davis

Brooks Davis has provided the following trip report for FOSDEM 2011; it includes some interesting notes on clang/llvm.

I attended the FOSDEM 2011 conference in Brussels, Belgium on the weekend of February 5th and 6th.

As usual FOSDEM kicked off with the massive beer event on Friday night. An absurd number of geeks packed four bars and consumed tremendous amounts of beer until the wee hours of the night.

The next morning the conference started off with an opening session at 10 including the (in)famous FOSDEM Dance followed by keynotes at 10:45 and 11:45.

The first keynote was by Eben Moglen of the Software Freedom Law Center. He argued for the creation of decentralized alternatives to systems like Facebook and promoted the creation of mesh based alternative networks using plug computers. He also promoted his new FreedomBox Foundation which aims to create and promote these devices.

The second key note was a talk by Chris Lattner of the LLVM project. He provided an overview of the LLVM project and the various tools developed under its umbrella. What once started as a toolkit of compiler building blocks has become an umbrella project encompassing tools including a C/C++/Objective-C compiler, a debugger, code analysis tools, and support libraries. He also mentioned ongoing work to replace many other pieces of binutils with a LLVM derived version. He promoted several advantages of LLVM over its competitors including a modern code base, faster generation of code that also runs faster (in some cases), and the library approach to tool building allowing tool reuse in interesting and new ways. One example is the use of the clang compiler libraries to parse expressions in the lldb debugger so you can be certain they evaluate exactly as the compiler would have evaluated them. I had seen some of the slides in the talk before, but the amount of progress since the last time was remarkable with several new sub-projects and production quality C++ support.

After the keynotes I took a lunch break while Martin Matuska's ZFS in Open Source Operating Systems talk packed the BSD Devroom. I then attended the next talk by Aleksey Cheusov on a system called mk-configure which is a bmake derived build and configuration system aimed at replacing autotools. He has some interesting ideas and the system looks like it would be comfortable for a BSD developer to use, but it seems like there are limits on the number of autoconf alternatives the world can handle. The next talk was unfortunately canceled due to the speakers' inability to leave Egypt due to the turmoil there. In the 4pm slot Marc Balmer talked about the import of Lua into NetBSD. He proposed a number of potential uses for Lua in the base system including as an extension language in place of things like the script dhclient runs to configure things when leases change and the use of Lua scripts as configuration files. One thing I found interesting was that NetBSD decided to import Lua based on its potential usefulness rather than based on an actual application. While I could see FreeBSD bringing it in, I can't see it happening without a specific use case. Another interesting point that was raised was what sort of error handling the interpreter had when Lua was used as a configuration language. One person rightly pointed out that you won't want your daemon to hang forever if a configuration file has an infinite loop in it.

The next session was my mini-summit on BSD licensed toolchains. We didn't quite fill the room but attendance was quite good. I had solicited input from a number of projects on their use of BSD licensed tools and got status reports from NetBSD and Minix 3. I started out with an update from FreeBSD including the fact that we were nearly able to build and run 100% clang/LLVM worlds on i386 and amd64 and that we have imported them into the tree. I also talked about the things we are missing including cross compilation driver support in clang, C++ exception handling for libgcc, a port of libc++, a linker, and a debugger. Marc Balmer gave a short toolchain status presentation from NetBSD. With their support for legacy architecture like VAX they are interested in tools like clang, but have also imported recent versions of GCC. On Sunday Marc mentioned to me that they had imported clang and LLVM over night which was interesting timing. Minix 3 also
talked about their efforts to move from ATK to clang and LLVM. They are in the early stages and are also planning an a.out to ELF transition in a similar time frame.

After the status reports we had a general discussion and Q&A. One audience member mentioned that he had done a port of the Apache C++ standard library to IA64 along with exception handling code. He said that starting with the BSD licensed libunwind it is maybe a week's work to implement which was good to hear. Another audience member mentioned that he was interested in pursuing cross compiler support in clang. Chris Lattner mentioned that he thought it should be quite easy to do. All the code generation machinery is there, the driver just needs to learn about the paths to all the tools, headers, and libraries when passed a non-native target architecture. Chris also mentioned a developer who is working on a number of projects including a linker. It's not clear where the linker is on his project list, but Chris feels confident it's well within his grasp. Over all there was a lot of optimism about bringing LLVM based tools to non-Apple platforms and the
momentum and breadth of those efforts seem to be growing.

The slides from my intro and status report can be found here.

After my session I hit the hallway track and checked out the BSD booth where fliers and FreeBSD DVDs were moving quickly. Dinner with fellow developers followed.

Sunday was more of a hallway track day as nearly all the sessions I was interested in were scheduled at 11am. The session I did attend was Axel Beckert's talk on Debian GNU/kFreeBSD. He gave a general overview of the project and the status including the fact that along with Debian's 6.0 release the night before Debian GNU/kFreeBSD was now an official Debian port. The current port is considered a Technology Preview due to some key pieces not yet being ported. For example the Linux compatible wrapper to the BSD ifconfig command does not yet support IPv6. Over all it sounds like the community is supportive and the number of packages that build approach that of many other Debian ports. At the end of the talk one FreeBSD developer joked that this is clearly a sign that Linux is dying and that Debian GNU/kFreeBSD provides a transition plan.

At the end of the day I attended Jonathan Corbet's talk titled "How kernel development goes wrong and why you should be a part of it anyway." My main takeaway from the talk was that it's crucial to provide a solid reason from a kernel developer's perspective why a feature should be adopted before proposing it to Linux. While I can see some problems with a world where this is a requirement, it still seem like a good idea overall when proposing a major change to any operating system kernel.

After the conference wrapped up and the my brief Belgian vacation commenced.

FOSDEM Trip Report: Brooks Davis

Brooks Davis has provided the following trip report for FOSDEM 2011; it includes some interesting notes on clang/llvm.

I attended the FOSDEM 2011 conference in Brussels, Belgium on the weekend of February 5th and 6th.

As usual FOSDEM kicked off with the massive beer event on Friday night. An absurd number of geeks packed four bars and consumed tremendous amounts of beer until the wee hours of the night.

The next morning the conference started off with an opening session at 10 including the (in)famous FOSDEM Dance followed by keynotes at 10:45 and 11:45.

The first keynote was by Eben Moglen of the Software Freedom Law Center. He argued for the creation of decentralized alternatives to systems like Facebook and promoted the creation of mesh based alternative networks using plug computers. He also promoted his new FreedomBox Foundation which aims to create and promote these devices.

The second key note was a talk by Chris Lattner of the LLVM project. He provided an overview of the LLVM project and the various tools developed under its umbrella. What once started as a toolkit of compiler building blocks has become an umbrella project encompassing tools including a C/C++/Objective-C compiler, a debugger, code analysis tools, and support libraries. He also mentioned ongoing work to replace many other pieces of binutils with a LLVM derived version. He promoted several advantages of LLVM over its competitors including a modern code base, faster generation of code that also runs faster (in some cases), and the library approach to tool building allowing tool reuse in interesting and new ways. One example is the use of the clang compiler libraries to parse expressions in the lldb debugger so you can be certain they evaluate exactly as the compiler would have evaluated them. I had seen some of the slides in the talk before, but the amount of progress since the last time was remarkable with several new sub-projects and production quality C++ support.

After the keynotes I took a lunch break while Martin Matuska's ZFS in Open Source Operating Systems talk packed the BSD Devroom. I then attended the next talk by Aleksey Cheusov on a system called mk-configure which is a bmake derived build and configuration system aimed at replacing autotools. He has some interesting ideas and the system looks like it would be comfortable for a BSD developer to use, but it seems like there are limits on the number of autoconf alternatives the world can handle. The next talk was unfortunately canceled due to the speakers' inability to leave Egypt due to the turmoil there. In the 4pm slot Marc Balmer talked about the import of Lua into NetBSD. He proposed a number of potential uses for Lua in the base system including as an extension language in place of things like the script dhclient runs to configure things when leases change and the use of Lua scripts as configuration files. One thing I found interesting was that NetBSD decided to import Lua based on its potential usefulness rather than based on an actual application. While I could see FreeBSD bringing it in, I can't see it happening without a specific use case. Another interesting point that was raised was what sort of error handling the interpreter had when Lua was used as a configuration language. One person rightly pointed out that you won't want your daemon to hang forever if a configuration file has an infinite loop in it.

The next session was my mini-summit on BSD licensed toolchains. We didn't quite fill the room but attendance was quite good. I had solicited input from a number of projects on their use of BSD licensed tools and got status reports from NetBSD and Minix 3. I started out with an update from FreeBSD including the fact that we were nearly able to build and run 100% clang/LLVM worlds on i386 and amd64 and that we have imported them into the tree. I also talked about the things we are missing including cross compilation driver support in clang, C++ exception handling for libgcc, a port of libc++, a linker, and a debugger. Marc Balmer gave a short toolchain status presentation from NetBSD. With their support for legacy architecture like VAX they are interested in tools like clang, but have also imported recent versions of GCC. On Sunday Marc mentioned to me that they had imported clang and LLVM over night which was interesting timing. Minix 3 also
talked about their efforts to move from ATK to clang and LLVM. They are in the early stages and are also planning an a.out to ELF transition in a similar time frame.

After the status reports we had a general discussion and Q&A. One audience member mentioned that he had done a port of the Apache C++ standard library to IA64 along with exception handling code. He said that starting with the BSD licensed libunwind it is maybe a week's work to implement which was good to hear. Another audience member mentioned that he was interested in pursuing cross compiler support in clang. Chris Lattner mentioned that he thought it should be quite easy to do. All the code generation machinery is there, the driver just needs to learn about the paths to all the tools, headers, and libraries when passed a non-native target architecture. Chris also mentioned a developer who is working on a number of projects including a linker. It's not clear where the linker is on his project list, but Chris feels confident it's well within his grasp. Over all there was a lot of optimism about bringing LLVM based tools to non-Apple platforms and the
momentum and breadth of those efforts seem to be growing.

The slides from my intro and status report can be found here.

After my session I hit the hallway track and checked out the BSD booth where fliers and FreeBSD DVDs were moving quickly. Dinner with fellow developers followed.

Sunday was more of a hallway track day as nearly all the sessions I was interested in were scheduled at 11am. The session I did attend was Axel Beckert's talk on Debian GNU/kFreeBSD. He gave a general overview of the project and the status including the fact that along with Debian's 6.0 release the night before Debian GNU/kFreeBSD was now an official Debian port. The current port is considered a Technology Preview due to some key pieces not yet being ported. For example the Linux compatible wrapper to the BSD ifconfig command does not yet support IPv6. Over all it sounds like the community is supportive and the number of packages that build approach that of many other Debian ports. At the end of the talk one FreeBSD developer joked that this is clearly a sign that Linux is dying and that Debian GNU/kFreeBSD provides a transition plan.

At the end of the day I attended Jonathan Corbet's talk titled "How kernel development goes wrong and why you should be a part of it anyway." My main takeaway from the talk was that it's crucial to provide a solid reason from a kernel developer's perspective why a feature should be adopted before proposing it to Linux. While I can see some problems with a world where this is a requirement, it still seem like a good idea overall when proposing a major change to any operating system kernel.

After the conference wrapped up and the my brief Belgian vacation commenced.

EuroBSDCon2010 Trip Report: Lars Engels

Lars Engels recently submitted his trip report for EuroBSDCon. He writes:

This year's annual EuroBSDCon took place in the city of Karlsruhe, Germany in October. As usual there was a Developer Summit the two days before the conference.
Thanks to the help of the FreeBSD Foundation, who sponsored the conference fee for me, I could attend both the summit and the conference.

I arrived on Thursday morning at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) where the Summit took place. On my way to the right building I stumbled upon Warner Losh who was also looking for the place of the event. Just after we found the others the 15 minute talks started.

There were some interesting talks about the USB subsystem and USB 3.0 in FreeBSD, the state of FreeBSD's jail implementation and a new virtualization mode called Virtual Private Systems which lets one live migrate servers from one instance to another.

After the talks and lunch there were some breakout sessions. I attended hps' USB session where we worked on some non-working USB devices.

The second day of the Summit again started with talks. The most interesting ones to me were the cooperation with PC-BSD by Dru, FreeNAS by Warner, and Alexander Motin's work on a new event timer subsystem which can be very useful on mobile devices because with it it is possible to reduce the number of interrupts and so let the CPU stay longer in sleep states which consumes less of your battery's power.

After lunch I joined the PC-BSD breakout session where Kris Moore was collecting ideas for the upcoming 9.0 version of PC-BSD. Kris and I were also working out a concept of a new GUI for creating 3G mobile connections for the next PCBSD release. In the evening we had a delicous dinner at a local restaurant and had some beverages at the hotel bar afterwards.

On Saturday the actual conference began with a keynote from Poul-Henning Kamp who provokingly stated that the long tradition of text processing in Unix is dying and needs to get refined to support modern techniques like XML. With his talk he left a thoughtful audience behind.

James Gritton's talk on his ongoing work on FreeBSD's jails was very informative. When the work is finished, the jails will have a complete new way of configuring them with config files and new options.

After the lunch break I attended the longer version of the VPS talk that was already held at the Summit.

As the following talks weren't too interesting to me I worked on patching some ports with Ed Schouten.

In the evening there was an excellent buffet in the hotel followed by a mobile discotheque whose DJ tried to animate a horde of geeks which led to a fire alarm because the smoke machine activated the fire detector. :-)

On Sunday Kris Moore gave a talk on PC-Sysinstall which could replace FreeBSD's time-honored sysinstall installation program. PC-Sysinstall is already used in PC-BSD and seems to be mature. Meanwhile its backend was committed to FreeBSD's source tree but is still waiting for other frontends to be developed because the only existing frontend is a graphical one which cannot be used on devices without a screen.

Martin Matuska's talk on the future of ZFS in FreeBSD was also very enlightening. On the one hand he explained the legal hurdles of ZFS' implementation in FreeBSD and why ZFS's CDDL license is compatible to our BSD license but not to the GPL. On the other hand he gave an outlook on the development of future ZFS versions now that Oracle no longer develops ZFS publicly.

After the talk I continued to assist Kris Moore to develop the 3G part of the PC-BSD network manager.

The last talk was a restrospective of the BSD projects (FreeBSD, OpenBSD, NetBSD and PC-BSD) on their work during the last months. OpenBSD seems to have made big progress in suspending and resuming notebooks while NetBSD concentrated on developing the pcc compiler.

Brooks Davis presented several completed and nearly completed projects like the work on an alternative compiler (CLANG/LLVM) which was committed to FreeBSD base some time ago.

To sum up, I'd like to say that this year's EuroBSDCon was a nice and well organized conference. Thanks to punkt.de for the organization and to the FreeBSD Foundation for funding my conference ticket.

EuroBSDCon2010 Trip Report: Lars Engels

Lars Engels recently submitted his trip report for EuroBSDCon. He writes:

This year's annual EuroBSDCon took place in the city of Karlsruhe, Germany in October. As usual there was a Developer Summit the two days before the conference.
Thanks to the help of the FreeBSD Foundation, who sponsored the conference fee for me, I could attend both the summit and the conference.

I arrived on Thursday morning at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) where the Summit took place. On my way to the right building I stumbled upon Warner Losh who was also looking for the place of the event. Just after we found the others the 15 minute talks started.

There were some interesting talks about the USB subsystem and USB 3.0 in FreeBSD, the state of FreeBSD's jail implementation and a new virtualization mode called Virtual Private Systems which lets one live migrate servers from one instance to another.

After the talks and lunch there were some breakout sessions. I attended hps' USB session where we worked on some non-working USB devices.

The second day of the Summit again started with talks. The most interesting ones to me were the cooperation with PC-BSD by Dru, FreeNAS by Warner, and Alexander Motin's work on a new event timer subsystem which can be very useful on mobile devices because with it it is possible to reduce the number of interrupts and so let the CPU stay longer in sleep states which consumes less of your battery's power.

After lunch I joined the PC-BSD breakout session where Kris Moore was collecting ideas for the upcoming 9.0 version of PC-BSD. Kris and I were also working out a concept of a new GUI for creating 3G mobile connections for the next PCBSD release. In the evening we had a delicous dinner at a local restaurant and had some beverages at the hotel bar afterwards.

On Saturday the actual conference began with a keynote from Poul-Henning Kamp who provokingly stated that the long tradition of text processing in Unix is dying and needs to get refined to support modern techniques like XML. With his talk he left a thoughtful audience behind.

James Gritton's talk on his ongoing work on FreeBSD's jails was very informative. When the work is finished, the jails will have a complete new way of configuring them with config files and new options.

After the lunch break I attended the longer version of the VPS talk that was already held at the Summit.

As the following talks weren't too interesting to me I worked on patching some ports with Ed Schouten.

In the evening there was an excellent buffet in the hotel followed by a mobile discotheque whose DJ tried to animate a horde of geeks which led to a fire alarm because the smoke machine activated the fire detector. :-)

On Sunday Kris Moore gave a talk on PC-Sysinstall which could replace FreeBSD's time-honored sysinstall installation program. PC-Sysinstall is already used in PC-BSD and seems to be mature. Meanwhile its backend was committed to FreeBSD's source tree but is still waiting for other frontends to be developed because the only existing frontend is a graphical one which cannot be used on devices without a screen.

Martin Matuska's talk on the future of ZFS in FreeBSD was also very enlightening. On the one hand he explained the legal hurdles of ZFS' implementation in FreeBSD and why ZFS's CDDL license is compatible to our BSD license but not to the GPL. On the other hand he gave an outlook on the development of future ZFS versions now that Oracle no longer develops ZFS publicly.

After the talk I continued to assist Kris Moore to develop the 3G part of the PC-BSD network manager.

The last talk was a restrospective of the BSD projects (FreeBSD, OpenBSD, NetBSD and PC-BSD) on their work during the last months. OpenBSD seems to have made big progress in suspending and resuming notebooks while NetBSD concentrated on developing the pcc compiler.

Brooks Davis presented several completed and nearly completed projects like the work on an alternative compiler (CLANG/LLVM) which was committed to FreeBSD base some time ago.

To sum up, I'd like to say that this year's EuroBSDCon was a nice and well organized conference. Thanks to punkt.de for the organization and to the FreeBSD Foundation for funding my conference ticket.

EuroBSDCon 2010 Trip Report: Efstratios Karatzas

Efstratios Karatzas, the 2010 Google Summer of Code student who worked on the Audit Kernel Events project, has sent in his trip report for the EuroBSDCon DevSummit. This was his first FreeBSD conference and his first opportunity to meet other FreeBSD developers in person. He writes:

Attending the conference was a great way for me to get more involved with the FreeBSD project. The most significant part of the trip was getting to know all sorts of people actively working on the project, from kernel hackers to bugmeisters and doc people.

The 15 minute length presentations at the Dev Summit were helpful in getting informed about what other people are working on at the moment and also provided an understanding of how different teams operate in the scope of the FreeBSD project. Unfortunately, there weren't any people actively involved with parts of my work besides our pf maintainer, but I still had some very interesting talks with all sorts of people: a dinner with andre@ giving a mini lecture on kernel architecture and a talk with hps@ about memory mapping pop into mind. Another positive impact that the trip had on me was to encourage me to work harder and support the project to the best of my abilities. All in all, it was a great trip indeed.

EuroBSDCon2010 Trip Report: Brooks Davis

The Foundation sponsored several developers and summer of code students to attend last week's EuroBSDCon. We'll publish the trip reports as they come in. Brooks has already sent his and his report is as follows:

EuroBSDCon 2010 was a small, productive conference with a well organized developers summit. I arrived on Wednesday, October 6th and met a group of developers for dinner. The next morning we headed to the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology for the developers summit. The format was 15-minute talk & discussion sessions in the morning and longer meetings in the afternoon. In the morning we heard about and discussed USB, toolchains, documentation, NanoBSD, pf, jails, and virtual private servers. In the toolchain session I provided a quick review of the current state of affairs followed by a general discussion. The progress of clang's integrated assembler was of particular interest.

Useful outcomes from the initial discussion included identification of the need for people to drive both libgcc and libc++ replacement efforts. Much of libgcc has been replaced by compiler-rt, but we may need to write a few components and we need to package it appropriately. More work will be required for libc++, but there are patches available to make it work on Linux.

After lunch, topics for larger discussion were solicited and we broke up into groups. I lead a small discussion of toolchain issues. Koop Mast reported that nearly half of the ports collection now builds with clang and three ports have fixes in the works which will unblock over 5000 more ports. Ed Schouten volunteered to work on a libgcc replacement. As a prototype we decided to start by replacing all the parts of libgcc which have counterparts in compiler-rt and then see what's left. Koop expressed interest in trying to to get libc++ building as a port. One long pole dependency we found is support for POSIX 1003.1-2008 per-thread locales. Functions such as newlocale(), uselocale(), and freelocale() will need to be added to libc. Another issue we discussed was if we actually need a /usr/bin/as. It's not clear that anything in the base system needs it and most things that use an assembler directly actually use something like NASM. If we don't need it in the base that will make things easier since currently there isn't a gas replacement as part of llvm/clang.

Other topics of the afternoon included inet6, USD, documentation, and cluster administration.

The next day followed the same format with morning talks on PC-BSD; FreeNAS; kernel event timers; problem reports; ports tinderboxes; GSoC projects: NFS event auditing, optional kernel subsystem registration,ringmap, and accessing subsystems via libraries; and finally a general GSoC discussion. In the GSoC discussion there seemed to be general agreement that recent FreeBSD additions including the soc-status mailing list and the multidimensional ranking system we used for proposals this year were good ideas. There was a suggestion that we should make sure mentors instruct their students to provided some overall context in their soc-status proposals.

In the afternoon, discussions covered ports, pc-bsd, bugbusting, ringmap, cluster administration, event timers, and freenas. I joined the cluster administration discussion and working session where we talked about the status of the various clusters as well as some possibilities for new mirror systems as well as the fact that we're nearly ready to go with the things required to let us build ports with
quarterly releases.

After the days summit we adjourned to the developers summit dinner which was quite excellent. Over all the summit was well organized and the format worked well. My only complaints where a catering error which left us without snacks on the second day and that soliciting ideas for breakout sessions with a quick meeting before they started probably wouldn't scale to a larger group such as the BSDCan devsummit. For something like that some of the techniques from un-conferences would be appropriate.

The main conference was a normal two track format with a keynote at the beginning. Saturday began with an opening speech and then phk give a provocative overview of the system tools philosophy where he argued that we need to bring the power to Unix tools like grep to structured data (primarily XML). I think he made a good case and it certainly stirred up a good bit of controversy. I then attended the next four talks on Track 1. Three of those were virtualization with Bjoern Zeeb talking about jails and vimage, Jamie Gritton talking about his new jail management framework which includes config file support, and Klaus Ohrhallinger talking about his work on virtual private systems (VPS) which is essentially VIMAGE taken to the logical extreme and includes support for live migration of virtual instances. The fourth talk was on netpgp and the ability to use ssh host and user keys to sign and
encrypt data. I left the talk knowing that you could do that, but with no idea why you would want to. The final session I attended was on recent developments in pf on OpenBSD. It sounds like they greatly simplified some aspects of the code at the cost of breaking most users configuration files. If FreeBSD were to adopt this code it would need to be as yet another firewall. The day ended with the conference organizers asking me to give a FreeBSD status report on Sunday.

On Sunday I worked on slides for the status report during early talks. I did catch Martin Matuska's talk on ZFS which included detailed coverage of the current state of ZFS both technically and politically along with upcoming features in v28. While attending that talk I missed a talk on binary package updates which I would have liked to hear. In the afternoon I wrapped up my slides and the presented a FreeBSD status report along with reports on NetBSD, OpenBSD, and PC-BSD. Between the projects there were both sharp distinctions on some things like the toolchain and near total agreement on others like moving to mandoc for manpage rendering. On the toolchain front, OpenBSD is beginning to move from gcc 2 and 3 to various pre-GPLv3 versions of 4. NetBSD has been spending a fair bit of time on pcc, but has also imported a GPLv3 binutils and plans to import gcc 4.5 soon. While putting slides together I found it that pretty impressive to pull together a set of features from the last several months as well as works in progress. It was also interesting to see how many of the features were partially funded by the foundation.

All in all the conference came off well. I do fear that if we had more attendees in the future that we would need a different venue, but that will be many years away. I'm looking to next year's conference in the Netherlands.

BSDCan Trip Report: Ivor Prebeg

Recently, the Foundation sponsored Ivor Prebeg from the University of Zagreb to attend BSDCan and the FreeBSD Developer Summit. Ivor had this to say about his experiences at the conference:

I managed to make contacts and find commiters who might be willing to review and eventually commit patches I have. I had the chance to chat with Bjoern Zeeb (bz@) about VIMAGE stuff and how are we going to proceed with merging the code into HEAD and after that. Had a really great time with nice people who made me look forward to working with and meeting them again.

Besides multicast routing virtualization and IGMP snooping extensions, I learned a lot about other areas of *BSD development that I had no clue about, like packet scheduling, ClangBSD branch, mesh networks... I was also thinking about joining the ClangBSD team if I have enough free time.

I had a great time hanging out with Roman Divacky, Ed Schouten, Alexander Motin, Gavin Atkinson, Bjoern Zeeb, Marc Balmer and all the other wonderful people that made my stay in Canada even more delightful.

Google Summer of Code Mentor Summit 2009

Brooks Davis recently reported on his trip to the Google Summer of Code Mentor Summit 2009. The Foundation assisted in some of his travel costs to this event. Brook writes:

The Google Summer of Code Mentor Summit was held at the Google campus in Mountain View October 24th and 25th. I represented the FreeBSD project at the event along with Tim Kientzle who was one of our other program admins.

Google runs the Mentor Summit as an un-conference which means that attendees pick topics they want to discuss, others indicate interest in them, and then rooms are allocated based on demand. Sessions were about things including general open source process issues, education, technical collaborations, and individual project meetings.

One of the highlights of Saturday was a session on multi-core and other acceleration technologies like GPUs. The session didn't come to a strong consensus other than incorporating these technologies is difficult. The most concrete thing that came up was the idea of putting the technologies behind widely used APIs so they automatically provide benefit. Another topic of discussion was debugging tools and
techniques. I think that is an area where FreeBSD is sometimes ahead with technologies like witness and now DTrace.

The other session of interest was an impromptu session of non-Linux OSes including DragonFlyBSD, FreeBSD, Haiku, and NetBSD. It was mostly people talking about current status. One thing other projects seemed to want was a way to take advantage of FreeBSD network drivers by providing more common interfaces. In concept this was interesting, but probably isn't some thing that would make a whole lot of sense for FreeBSD given that we're rethinking and redesigning the interfaces we have to meet modern performance requirements.

The most useful session on Sunday was when Tim and I grabbed a small conference room and started reviewing our GSoC admin materials for next year. Based on that information, we plan to start engaging with FreeBSD developers in January in anticipation of a 2010 program.

Over all the conference was interesting and fun. It was good to talk to
people from other projects that don't often attend the BSD conference.
I'm not sure anything concrete came of those interactions, but it was
probably useful nonetheless.