FreeBSD Foundation Newsletter, December, 2010DECEMBER 16, 2010
In this Edition:
- Letter From the President
- Fundraising Update
- Development Project Updates
- Conference Updates
- 2010 Grant and Travel Grant Recipients
- Testimonial – Dell KACE
Letter From the President
Pounding the Pavement
During this time of the year I expect to be bombarded with marketing messages aimed at getting me to open my wallet. Considering the FreeBSD Foundation’s own financial needs, I understand and tolerate the pledge drives and postal mail pleas from charities. Whether due to the tradition of giving espoused by the holidays at the end of the year, the cycle of corporate budgets and bonuses, or some other unknown force, half of donations for most non-profits occur in the last two months of the year. Similarly, many businesses only turn a profit with their December sales. These organizations are most active in November and December because that is when their messages are, based on observed consumer behavior, best received.
My sympathies, however, can be tried when marketing knocks on my front door. Just this past week we were visited by a traveling vacuum salesman. Curiosity overtook my immediate urge to politely refuse his advances and shut the door. These salesman only pound the pavement because they are effective. How do they manage to get a consumer to willingly part with their hard earned cash for an over priced vacuum cleaner? Perhaps some lessons could be learned here? If not, the demo might be entertaining. I allowed him to continue.
Salesman: “Did you know that the carpets in your house harbor dangerous allergens that your typical vacuum cleaner can’t extract?”
Me: “Carpet harbors allergens that no vacuum cleaner can extract. That’s why we have no wall to wall carpet in our house and our area rugs are sent out to be professionally cleaned several times a year.”
Salesman: “What a cute dog you have there! Extracting pet dander from furniture is one of the toughest challenges in a home. The Blue Max here has twice the sucking power of any other vacuum allowing it to pull pet odors out of couches and pet beds.”
Me: “My dog is 15 years old. We love her, but she stinks. Unless you’re advocating sucking her away, there’s nothing you or your machine can do to change how she impacts the smell of our home.”
We talked about how the canister was bagless allowing it to safely suck up sharp objects like glass, how most floor brushes use synthetic fibers that can mar a floor’s finish, and spent another 10 minutes covering arcane vacuum cleaner facts. As was a forgone conclusion (in my mind at least) from the start – no sale. But there were several things I took away from the experience.
The salesman didn’t know in advance what features of his product would be most compelling to his sales prospect. Instead of making assumptions about my needs, he asked questions designed to help him hone his sales pitch down from every possible product differentiator to just those that fit my situation. His arsenal of positive attributes was also large enough that, should one avenue of attack fail (“You’re right sir. There’s nothing anyone can do to help with your dog problem.”) a backup strategy was easy to devise.
What does this have to do with FreeBSD? In my youth, I saw and appreciated the quality in FreeBSD and thought others would discover this same trait, find it valuable, and then start using FreeBSD. Even if this didn’t happen, the system seemed sufficient for my needs: a place to experiment with system programming and to absorb the best practices of large scale software development. Over time, however, I realized that without constant maintainence and enhancement, my FreeBSD environment would become unsustainable due to the never ending changes in technology. It’s impossible to experiment with the power saving features of the latest processors if these processors aren’t supported by the OS. Testing a new I/O scheduler doesn’t make sense if the only drivers support legacy controllers. And without ports of third party software and the infrastructure to install them, I could spend almost all of my time just making the system function rather than work on the features or projects that interest me. Our ability to use FreeBSD for our own goals requires a large, healthy, and diverse base of users and contributors. Sustaining that base takes marketing and frankly our “competitors” do a much better job of marketing than the FreeBSD project.
I’m not proposing we all strap on flashing daemon horns for a door-to-door campaign for FreeBSD. But we must create situations where we talk about the wide-ranging benefits of our favorite OS, tailor our message to attract new members to our community, and understand that simply being a “better product” technologically only matters when we work to make that value externally visible. We also have to listen, and feed back what we learn into the development process so that FreeBSD continues to be a compelling OS choice. Marketing FreeBSD is a responsibility that needs to be shared by our entire community. Know that, just as is true for a traveling vacuum salesman, the face to face discussions you have promoting FreeBSD can be the most effective marketing of all.
Here at the FreeBSD Foundation, we continue to tailor both our marketing message and the capabilities of FreeBSD to encourage the growth of the FreeBSD community. Through our conversations with developers, educators, and the wide range of FreeBSD users, we are constantly looking for ways to maximize our beneficial impact on the FreeBSD Project. If you have ideas on where we should focus next, or want to share what you’ve learned from your own marketing efforts, please contact us. Your feedback is a vital component of keeping the FreeBSD Foundation working in the best interests of the FreeBSD community.
Justin T. Gibbs
President and Founder
The FreeBSD Foundation
For 2010, the FreeBSD Foundation more than doubled it’s planned spending. Our $350,000 budget included $100,000 for funded development projects, $80,000 for much needed improvements to the project’s current computer clusters and bringing a third co-location site online, and greatly increasing our support of new and existing BSD related conferences. We are pleased to announce that we have hit our target on development project spending, and come in under budget for the overhead and equipment purchasing portions of our plan. Our current projections show us spending a little over $260,000 this year.
Why was the equipment budget so far off? The FreeBSD Project experienced an unprecedented level of support in the form of hardware donations that offset many of the capitol expenses we had factored into our budget. Also, our plan to further expand the Project’s package building infrastructure has been pushed into next year to allow for the infrastructure needs to be better identified.
Even though our end of year spending projections have come in well below target, we have left our fundraising goal at $350,000. This reflects our expectation to more than consume this surplus by completing the deferred infrastructure projects and directing the remainder of these funds to projects we originally pushed out of 2010 due to budget limits. The FreeBSD Project sorely needs more enterprise hardware with high CPU core counts and larger amounts of block storage to verify and enhance the scalability of FreeBSD and the performance of its port of ZFS. These are just two of the many areas we hope to focus on in 2011. In short, we see this as an opportunity to accelerate our investments in FreeBSD.
As of this writing, we are $140,000 from our fundraising goal. While reviewing the FreeBSD Foundation’s achievements in our newsletter, please consider the value that FreeBSD represents to you. Know that donating to the FreeBSD Foundation is the most cost effective way you can insure the future of FreeBSD. With your help, we look forward to not only meeting our fundraising goal, but increasing our investment in FreeBSD for 2011.
Development Project Updates
Userland Dtrace Support
DTrace, which originated on Solaris 10, is a comprehensive tracing framework that allows the instrumentation of software. FreeBSD has had DTrace support since 7.0, but until now tracing userland programs was not possible. Now that this project is complete, anyone can use DTrace with userland programs.
Tracing and instrumenting userland programs is very important because it allows the understanding of what’s going on, especially on highly complex systems such as databases, web servers, and language interpreters. Since DTrace on FreeBSD now has the ability to instrument both the kernel and the userland program, you can get very meaningful data on how your program is behaving and why.
Companies building products on FreeBSD now have the ability to create better products and find about problems faster then before.
This project focused on allowing the creation of DTrace pid probes, userland statically defined probes (aka USDT), importing plockstat (a DTrace utility to measure lock contention in the pthread library), importing dtruss (a system call tracing utility similar to ktrace) and enabling FreeBSD DTrace support on MySQL and PostgreSQL.
contributed by Rui Paulo
Enhanced SNMP Reporting
SNMP is a standard protocol used by network management systems to monitor and manage various network elements. Under FreeBSD so far there have been two options for users that want to monitor their systems with SNMP – the net-snmp package from ports and the built in bsnmpd(1) daemon with each having its advantages and disadvantages. The net-snmp package includes numerous modules for monitoring various subsystems and supports all versions of the SNMP protocol, including the security enhancements introduced with SNMPv3, however it is heavy as sources, maintained outside the FreeBSD project and depends on the perl package. The built in bsnmpd(1) daemon only supported earlier versions 1 and 2 of the SNMP protocol, lacking message authentication and encryption, but provides modules for monitoring FreeBSD/BSD-specific subsystems such as netgraph(4) and pf(4) and is more lightweight, entirely written in C and maintained as part of the FreeBSD base system. Many users used a combination of both to monitor all aspects of the system.
The BSNMP enhancements project’s main goals were to develop several additions that should make bsnmpd(1) the top choice for SNMP monitoring on embedded wireless appliances, firewalls, routers and servers running FreeBSD. The project includes a module that allows monitoring the wireless networking stack of FreeBSD, and support for version 3 of the SNMP protocol, including the security features it introduced – message authentication, packet encryption and finer-grained access control to data. The bsnmptools(1) SNMP client implementation so far available via the ports was also extended with the above additions and is now included in the base system. The code developed during the project was recently committed to FreeBSD 9-CURRENT and is now available for further testing by FreeBSD users. Once the code proves to be stable and well tested, it will also be merged to FreeBSD-STABLE branch.
contributed by Shteryana Shopova
Resource Containers Project
Unlike Solaris zones or Linux OpenVZ, the current implementation of FreeBSD Jails does not provide per-jail resource limits. As a result, users are often forced to replace jails with other virtualization mechanisms. The goal of this project is to create a single, unified framework for controlling resource utilization, and to use that framework to implement per-jail resource limits. In the future, the same framework might be used to implement more sophisticated resource controls, such as Hierarchical Resource Limits, or to implement mechanisms similar to AIX WLM. It can also be used to provide precise resource usage accounting for administrative or billing purposes.
Most of the functionality is done. Work is ongoing on debugging and cleaning up remaining issues. It should be ready for testing early January and released as part of FreeBSD 9.0 this summer.
contributed by Edward Napierala
Five New TCP Congestion Control Algorithms Project
TCP is a crucial part of any modern operating system. Standard NewReno congestion control is not able to fully utilize the high capacity links available today. This project introduces two new high speed TCP variants into FreeBSD: CUBIC and HTCP. Significant research in recent years has explored the use of delay as a more timely indication of network congestion. To this end three new delay-based congestion control algorithms are also being introduced into FreeBSD: Vegas, HD, and CHD.
Each congestion control algorithm is implemented as a loadable kernel module. Algorithms can be selected to suit the network characteristics and requirements of the host’s installation. The modular congestion control framework also makes it much easier for developers to implement new algorithms, allowing FreeBSD’s TCP to be at the forefront of advancements in this area, while still maintaining the stability of its network stack.
FreeBSD Foundation sponsorship has allowed Swinburne University of Technology’s Centre for Advanced Internet Architectures to bring this TCP work into the community.
DAHDI FreeBSD driver port
DAHDI (Digium/Asterisk Hardware Device Interface) is an open-source device driver framework and a set of HW drivers for E1/T1, ISDN digital and FXO/FXS analog cards.
The main goal of this funded project was to make it possible to use FreeBSD as a base system for software PBX solutions.
Currently, most of the DAHDI bits have been ported, including the DAHDI framework itself, HW drivers, TDMoE drivers, drivers for software and HW echo cancellation (Octasic, VPMADT032) and HW transcoding (TC400B). The project is hosted in the official DAHDI SVN repository.
misc/dahdi in the FreeBSD ports collection now contains the most recent bits of DAHDI/FreeBSD and also some stuff that is not available in DAHDI/FreeBSD SVN due to licensing and copyright restrictions. These include the OSLEC echo canceller and the experimental zaphfc driver.
Now that the project has completed, periodic merges will continue from DAHDI/Linux SVN on a regular basis and new DAHDI/FreeBSD releases will be rolled out. These will most likely be synchronized with DAHDI/Linux releases.
contributed by Max Khon
KyivBSD was the second installment in a newly created series of BSD-related conferences held in Ukraine. The conference was attended by people from Ukraine as well as Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan. The Foundation’s financial support helped to make both this and last year’s conference possible.
This year we were able to attract new partners and sponsors. Last year it was difficult to attract local companies as many were unfamiliar with BSD. This year, having last year’s success as an example, was a lot easier. The local branch of D-Link was interested in sponsoring the conference and gave away three brand new WiFi routers. We received proposals from a few companies to place advertisements at the conference for money, but at the moment, we have no need for additional funds. We saw first-hand that many companies, individuals, and users have become more aware of FreeBSD and believe that the conference played a role in raising this awareness.
During the conference we ran a lottery with donated placards, books and routers for prizes. The funds raised from the lottery will be donated back to the Foundation at the end of this year.
The day after the conference we proctored the BSDA certification, which was the nearest certification event this fall for exam candidates from Russia and Kazakhstan. We were happy to provide them with the opportunity to take the exam.
Looking forward to next year, we hope to attract even more companies and attendees.
contributed by Alexander Yerenkow
FreeBSD Developer Summit, Karlsruhe, Germany
Again this year, preceding the EuroBSDCon conferece, a FreeBSD Developer Summit was held. Over 40 FreeBSD developers and guests gathered for two days full of presentations, discussions, hacking sessions and socializing at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology.
A wide variety of topics was touched upon: USB, toolchain, documentation project, nanoBSD, pf, jails, PC-BSD, FreeNAS, event timers, bug busting and PRs, ports tinderbox, auditing NFS, kernel feature registration, libnetstat, ringmap, Google Summer of Code, and the FreeBSD.org cluster management team.
More information on the developer summit, including slides for many of the sessions, may be found on the FreeBSD project wiki:
The FreeBSD Foundation was pleased to sponsor EuroBSDCon 2010, which took place at the Best Western Queens Hotel in Karlsruhe, Germany along side a FreeBSD developer summit at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. The conference, 8-10 October, 2010, included one day of tutorials and two days of technical programme, as well as a social event. The tutorial day featured the following FreeBSD-related sessions:
- Kirk McKusick’s introduction to the FreeBSD open-source operating system
- Adrian Steinmann’s introduction to NETGRAPH on FreeBSD systems
Talks in the main technical programme covered a variety of topics spanning the BSDs, including the following FreeBSD-related talks:
- FreeBSD Jails – notes jotted on the prison wall
- Running the new FreeBSD jails
- VPS – Virtual Private Systems for FreeBSD
- The new USB stack in FreeBSD 8/9
- FreeBSD on Latest ARM Processors – EABI and Toolchain Approach
- Qmail in the FreeBSD universe
- What Functional Programming Can Do for FreeBSD and Vice Versa?
- Hacking NanoBSD for fun and profit – building a manageable hosting platform
- PC-SYSINSTALL – A new installer backend for PC-BSD & FreeBSD
- From Mainframe to FreeBSD
- Binary Package Management and Object Oriented Shell Scripting under FreeBSD
- Quo vadis ZFS
- Journaled Soft-updates
- Using FreeBSD in a Commercial Environment
More information about the conference, including slides from many talks at:
BSD conferences are a vital venue for the BSD user and developer communities, and the FreeBSD Foundation is pleased to be able to support EuroBSDCon and similar conferences around the world.
BSDday Argentina 2010
BSDday Argentina is a technical conference on BSD systems and philosophy organized by and for developers, sysadmins, users and people interested in BSD issues. BSDday Argentina was held on November 5 and 6 at the University of Buenos Aires, in Buenos Aires City, and admission was free. The conference was held for a second consecutive year in Argentina and attracted attendees from other countries such as Uruguay and Chile. We hope that in the coming years more attendees from several Latin American countries will join us.
During the conference it was possible to listen to 8 different speakers delivering 10 talks, most of which were FreeBSD-related. The conference also had a time slot for the BSDA certification exam. In the end, 2 lighting talks which arose spontaneously were added to the schedule.
This year the conference took a huge step forward by adding international speakers and developers such as Brooks Davis (FreeBSD), Alex Hornung (DragonFlyBSD) and Daniel Braniss (FreeBSD), to whom we are very grateful for taking part in the conference.
Although a few electrical problems arose at the University -the conference opened with emergency power and some tango music played by one of the organizers- it was immediately solved by delivering the talks at the bar while having cool beers.
As a result of the conference, ideas for several projects emerged and other projects were formally announced. Attendees began discussions about the possibility of creating a BSD user group for areas that lack a local FreeBSD, NetBSD or PCBSD user group, and including their respective local mirrors. At this time, there is only one OpenBSD local user group and official mirror (OpenBSDeros.org) in Argentina. The idea is to repeat the experiences of this group for the other BSD systems. Another issue that was discussed was the possibility of using FreeBSD for the computer cluster at the University of Buenos Aires, which is currently using GNU/Linux. Finally, the “Cluster Bicentenario” project was formally announced; this is a free cluster created with recycled hardware running FreeBSD.
Due to the FreeBSD Foundation it was possible to take a huge step with regards to the quality of the speakers and the talks delivered, and to have first-line international participation by BSD developers. This spread great enthusiasm throughout the local community, and also attracted new people to the BSD world. With the help of the FreeBSD Foundation it was possible to afford air tickets and hotel fees for foreign speakers. This gave the conference a considerable step in quality, thus consolidating BSDday as a BSD meeting to be added to the list of annual BSD conferences.
You will find conference photos and videos at the official website, http://www.bsdday.org.ar.
contributed by Hernan Costante
MeetBSD California 2010
MeetBSD California was a dynamic entity driven by a passion for BSD. The MeetBSD “Unconference2 format featured break-out sessions, informal discussions, and 5-10 minute “speedgeeking” talks, as well as longer talks from well-seasoned BSD experts.
There were approximately 125 attendees representing DragonFly BSD, OpenBSD, NetBSD, and FreeBSD at MeetBSD California. A FreeBSD Developer Summit was led by Warner Losh on the first day, consisting mostly of local FreeBSD committers but with a handful of international developers also in attendance.
With the help of the FreeBSD Foundation’s generous sponsorship, we were able to keep registration costs to a minimal fee of $25, while still offering an impressive assortment of schwag, talks, promotional materials, and snacks/meals. The FreeBSD Foundation had a sponsor table at the conference staffed by Dru Lavigne.
A significant advantage of MeetBSD’s Unconference format was the ability to discuss relevant BSD-related topics in a dynamic group setting, without the need for months of email and phone conversations. For instance, an attendee-driven virtualization discussion led to virtualization breakout sessions and an examination of VNET and its limitations. Potential solutions were discussed, and a working DomU solution for FreeBSD was prioritized. These issues will be revisited in follow-up sessions at the BSDCan 2011 Dev Summit.
All in all the event was a huge success. Attendees were able to talk about the topics of greatest interest and relevance to them, and enjoyed the lunchtime BBQ consisting of burgers, hot dogs, and assorted condiments. The after party was also a big hit. Conference organizers and attendees were able to unwind after a productive two days of BSD interaction. The party highlight took place when our mascot, Beastie, came out on the dance floor and jammed on the drums.
We were pleased by the overwhelmingly positive response to our Survey Question: Would you attend MeetBSD California again? Why or why not?
“Yes. Chance to meet with awesome hackers and discuss interesting things.” -James E. Pace
“Sure. It’s a nice opportunity to discuss a lot of topics face-to-face.” – Stanislav Sedov
“Yes, as a center of BSD development its good to keep this conference going.” – Sean Bruno
“DEFINITELY.” – David O’Brien
“Of course! But only if you make Theo come. j/k” – Vivek Ayer
Thank you to the FreeBSD Foundation for helping ensure the success of MeetBSD California 2010.
contributed by Denise Ebery of iXsystems
NYCBSDCon 2010 was a success with over 150 attendees from around the world. 2010 was a year of firsts for us. This was our first time at Cooper Union and the first year we used The BSD Fund as a fiscal steward for the convention.
With the financial support of the FreeBSD Foundation, we were able to bring together the BSD developer community, the students of Cooper Union and various end users from various parts of the globe.
NYCBSDCon 2010 was the bridge to learning more about BSD that it always strives to be. Showing that the BSD community is approachable, down to earth and active in both commercial and research ventures.
We would like to thank the Cooper Union for the advancement of science and art, for allowing us to use 41 Cooper Square for the convention. The Cooper Union is a college who admits undergraduates solely on merit and awards full scholarships to all enrolled students.
contributed by Mark Saad
2010 Grant and Travel Grant Recipients
Every year we sponsor FreeBSD related conferences, projects, and developer travel. We believe that BSD-centered and FreeBSD-specific conferences play critical roles in expanding the FreeBSD user community and supporting collaborative development. Our grants may be for something as little as performance software to large projects like Network Stack Virtualization.
To find out how to apply for a travel grant, please visit https://www.freebsdfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2007/12/TravelRequestForm.pdf. To get information on how to apply for a grant, please visit https://www.freebsdfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2007/12/GrantRequestForm.pdf.
Here is a list of projects, developers, and conferences we have sponsored for 2010.
2010 Conference Grant Recipients:
- AsiaBSDCon 2010 Conference
- BSDCan 2010 Conference
- MeetBSD Poland 2010 Conference
- MeetBSD California 2010 Conference
- NYCBSDCon 2010 Conference
- KyivBSD 2010 Conference
- EuroBSDCon 2010 Conference
- BSDDay Argentina 2010 Conference
2010 Project Grant Recipients:
- University of Swinburne – Five New TCP Congestion Control Algorithms Project
- Edward Tomasz Napierala – Resource Containers
- Shteryana Shopova – BSNMP Improvements
- Rui Paulo – Userland DTrace
- Pawel Jakub Dawidek – High Available Storage Project
- Rafal Jaworowski – Flattened Device Tree Project
- Bjoern Zeeb – FreeBSD jail based virtualization
- Max Khon – DAHDI FreeBSD driver port
- Murray Stokely – Closed Captioning for FreeBSD Technical Videos
2010 Travel Grant Recipients:
- BSDCan – Ivor Prebeg, Renato Botelho do Couto, Giovanni Trematerra, Barry Steyn, Lawrence Stewart, Daichi Goto, Attilio Rao, Richard Macklem, Florent Thoumie, Christian Brueffer, Jonathan Anderson, and Gavin Atkinson.
- AsiaBSDCon – Andrew Turner
- EuroBSDCon – Daihi Goto, Efstratios Karatzas, Lars Engels, and Salvatore Albanese.
Dell Kace Testimonial
Dell (NASDAQ: DELL) creates, enhances and integrates technology and services customers count on to provide them reliable, long-term value. Dell provides system-management solutions for customers of all sizes and system complexity. The award-winning Dell KACE family of appliances delivers easy-to-use, comprehensive, and affordable systems management capabilities. For more information, visit http://www.dell.com/KACE or follow the conversation at http://twitter.com/DellKACE.
We’re grateful to you for creating the best, most reliable open operating system available today. At KACE, we’ve depended on FreeBSD for over 7 years as an essential component in the development of our leading systems management appliances. We initially chose FreeBSD because it is robust, scalable and offered under an unencumbered open source license that allowed KACE to freely develop software without the limitations imposed by other licenses. Moving forward, we’ll continue to use FreeBSD for those very same reasons. As an integral part of our solution, and because FreeBSD continues to work so well, our products have developed a reputation for reliability that has helped fuel our company’s success. Based on our experience, we plan to expand our use of FreeBSD within KACE, as well as to evangelize its benefits throughout the Dell organization.
In addition to the robustness and scalability of the OS, we also value the immense support offered by the community and the FreeBSD ecosystem. FreeBSD truly exemplifies the way that the open source community is meant to work – a meritocracy in which the sum of the parts is greater than the individual pieces. Working with the community is continually a pleasure, and only enhances our ability to creatively develop our products. KACE continues to recognize the importance of the community through our enthusiastic support, and as we grow, we hope to develop more community members and participate in ways that deliver even greater benefits to all.
Simply put, FreeBSD makes this world a better place.
-Marty Kacin, Dell KACE CTO, Dell KACE, www.dell.com/KACE
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