FreeBSD Foundation Newsletter, December 17, 2007

In this Edition:

Letter From the Vice President

With Wi-Fi hotspots in every coffee shop, and full web content available through your cell phone it's easy to forget that just 20 years ago the NSFNet, the predecessor of today's Internet, turned on the first 1.5Mbs, nationwide, backbone. Why was the NSFNet successful? The recent reunion of folks that made the NFSNet possible gives some answers: open standards (TCP/IP and other internet protocols), massive collaboration between research institutions and businesses, and the deployment of the network through a public-private partnership.

BSD's role in this early history of the Internet grants FreeBSD a heritage of which to be proud. The wide adoption by universities of 4.2BSD helped make TCP/IP connectivity a must-have feature for commercial vendors wanting to sell into the lucrative educational market. And so, by 1986, a mere 3 years after the release of 4.2BSD, most computer vendors supported TCP/IP across their entire product lines. This wide availability of TCP/IP made the NSFNet possible. The performance of BSD, combined with its liberal licensing made it an obvious choice for incorporation into research and commercial projects. In fact, in a little over seven months, a group at IBM was able to design and deploy the routers used in the T-1 based NSFNet -- routers running a modified 4.3BSD kernel. Even today, most of the packets on the Internet touch BSD code somewhere along their journey.

The most important conclusion I draw from looking back at this exciting period in computer history is that the NSFNet and BSD model for development works. Collaboration drives rapid innovation. The most innovative periods in our history have occurred when the public and private sectors have combined their efforts. The NSFNet (and the ARPANET, CSNET, and other networks) were successful because the technology was available, and easy to adopt and enhance by companies that saw a lucrative business opportunity. It would be shortsighted to believe that open source solutions do not benefit from, or should not encourage, use and contributions from the commercial sector.

Our community must not only deliver excellent technology, but also remove any roadblocks that prevent its widespread adoption. The licensing policies of the FreeBSD project takes us most of the way to achieving this goal. Where we sometimes falter is in fostering relationships with commercial users so that duplicate development is avoided and their cost to push changes back into FreeBSD is minimized. Contrary to the claims of some, the reason many of these companies chose BSD is not because they don't want to give back anything to the community. Often, these companies want to protect a very small piece of intellectual property and would be happy to contribute back the necessary, but less valuable from a business standpoint, code around their IP if they only knew enough about the community to make it happen.

The innovation of the past lives on in FreeBSD. From SMP and network scalability to innovations in security APIs and wireless networking, the technology of FreeBSD is making an impact on our world. What future piece of BSD technology will help foster a new public commodity like the Internet? I can't say, but the past shows us that investing in open source OS development and its commercial use pays large dividends. The two testimonials in this newsletter from Isilon and Network Appliance show this process at work.

Part of the FreeBSD Foundation's mission is to reach out to commercial users so that their use of FreeBSD yields maximum benefit to them as well as our community. Whether by making us aware of new commercial users, volunteering to help mentor commercial users, or financially funding our work, please consider helping us in this crucial effort.

Justin T. Gibbs

Vice President and Founder

The FreeBSD Foundation

End-of-Year Fundraising Drive

Our End-of-Year Fundraising Drive is in full swing. Thank you to everyone who has donated so far. We are excited to announce we just received two large donations that put us over our goal of $250,000! The two donations were received from NetApp and SwissCom. At this point we have raised over $348,000 for this year! We wouldn't be good stewards of the FreeBSD project if we just stopped here. So, we're continuing our End-of-Year Fundraiser Drive with a goal of raising as much as we can for the year. The more we raise, the better we can support the project and community. Also, receiving more smaller donations, of $10,000 or less, will help us pass the IRS public support test.

Why do we need donations?

The goal of the FreeBSD Project is to provide software that may be used for any purpose -- and without strings attached. Our mission is to support the FreeBSD Project and community. Our funding comes from people like you - those who are determined to keep FreeBSD free!

Why support FreeBSD?

  • The FreeBSD project has a track record of developing technology that has proven its value in research and commercial applications.
  • The FreeBSD community is a key part of the open source eco-system that, through competition and collaboration with other projects, drives technical innovation.
  • The FreeBSD culture provides a unique setting for the engineers, tech writers, program managers, and marketeers of tomorrow to learn how to develop and deploy a stable product through its complete life cycle.

That's just a few reasons why it's so important to support FreeBSD and why your financial support is critical for the FreeBSD Project.

Where does the money go?

  • Sponsoring FreeBSD related conferences.
  • Providing travel grants to developers to attend these conferences.
  • Providing legal support on issues like understanding the GPLv3 impact on FreeBSD, trademarks, and other legal issues that come up.
  • Providing grants for projects that improve FreeBSD.

Please help us keep FreeBSD free. Click here to donate (any amount will help). And thank you for your continued support of the FreeBSD Foundation.

Foundation Mailing List

The Foundation has added a new mailing list that we would love you to join! We plan to send out quarterly updates on project status, grant updates, and fundraising status. Click here to join our mailing list.

First Copy of Absolute FreeBSD Auction

The foundation was given the opportunity to auction off the first copy of Absolute FreeBSD by Michael Lucas. We jumped at the chance to try something different to kick-off our fall fundraising campaign. We had a total of 35 bidders over the 10 days the auction was open. We were so excited that the winning bid was $600. The winner of this treasured item was Marshall Kirk McKusick.

We would like to thank No Starch Press and Michael Lucas for donating their time and the book. We'd also like to thank all the people who bid on the book.

FreeBSD Testimonial from Isilon Systems

Isilon Systems chose FreeBSD because it is a modern, stable, high-performance *NIX operating system with very liberal licensing terms. We needed a strong and complete code base to start from so we can be 100% focused on our own product and have complete liberty to innovate so our product can be as great as it is.

Isilon benefits from using FreeBSD in a number of ways, but the most important benefit is that we are able to leverage the open source efforts of the community to improve our product. Since we're part of that community, we provide source code back, sponsor specific development efforts, and employ members of the community for contract development - this in turn gives us access to great people and continued access to great software.

In short, FreeBSD is a stable, mature, high-performance operating system with an active development community free from licensing questions and concerns.

So why is it important for us and others to keep FreeBSD free?

FreeBSD is the only choice for individuals or companies who need complete freedom as they innovate. Licenses such as the CDDL and GPL force innovators to be very careful about how and where they build their code, which restricts their design choices and can lead to poor technical decisions or licensing-limbo. A vast majority of Isilon's innovation is in the kernel and our intellectual property is liberally scattered throughout.

This simply wouldn't have been possible using another open-source operating system - and licensing operating system source code is a steep barrier to entry.

-Nicholas Kirsch, Director of Software Engineering, Isilon Systems www.isilon.com

FreeBSD Testimonial from NetApp

NetApp is the leading provider of storage and data management solutions. Our Data ONTAP(r) GX software provides highly scalable grid storage that scales linearly to petabytes of storage and gigabytes-per-second of throughput. As NetApp's solution for the high performance computing (HPC) market, our systems require extreme performance and high reliability while maintaining management simplicity. FreeBSD is a basic building block of this product.

We leverage FreeBSD as a high quality and high reliability management framework that we integrate with our innovative storage solutions. NetApp has employed open source components and open standards from the outset and we've been contributing back to the community in turn. The FreeBSD ecosystem, the well-established framework for communication, tracking bugs, and the friendly community have made it easy and enjoyable to contribute.

-Brian Pawlowski, Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, NetApp www.netapp.com

Improving the Hardware Performance Counter Support Project

This project was a joint venture between the foundation and Google. We teamed up to sponsor Joseph Koshy to improve the hardware performance counter support in FreeBSD. The goal of the project was the addition of callgraph support in the hwpmc driver. We are pleased to announce the project has successfully completed. To find out more about the project, visit our new projects page.

EuroBSDCon 2007

The foundation was pleased to be a sponsor of EuroBSDCon 2007. We feel that supporting these conferences is a critical part of our mandate. It is a great way for us to support the community and provide the critical "face time" developers need to scribble on white boards, meet their users, hunt for new developers, and get to know each other better.

We asked a EuroBSDCon representative to write how the grant they received benefited the FreeBSD project and community. Here is their report:

The EuroBSDCon 2007 organizing committee got the promise of a sponsorship from The FreeBSD Foundation at a very early stage of the planning. This allowed us to go forward with a good economical feeling right from the start. It might not sound like much, but having that feeling from the start, leaves a lot of energy for conference planning that would otherwise had gone into worrying.

The FreeBSD Foundation, together with Usenix, Google and Telia, were our top sponsors. Having a solid sponsor backing allowed us to focus on providing a quality experience for our guests, which in turn allowed them to focus on learning about FreeBSD, NetBSD and OpenBSD, and doing community networking.

The conference covered a lot of ground. Pawel Jakub Dawidek on FreeBSD and ZFS, Robert Watson on FreeBSD security features, Simon L. Nielsen on The FreeBSD Security Officer Function, Isaac Levy on FreeBSD jail(8) Overview, Sam Leffler on Long Distance Wireless (delivered via video, due to a nasty cold), and many many more.

Some 400+ pictures from the conference can be found at Flickr tagged EuroBSDCon2007.

The conference website can be found at http://2007.eurobsdcon.org/ . On the 'Talks' page you can find videos and slides of all the talks. This is an excellent opportunity, to let others learn about *BSD and the *BSD community.

2007 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 shipping equipment to a developer to large projects like the Network Stack Virtualization project.

To find out how to apply for a travel grant, please visit http://www.freebsdfoundation.org/documents/TravelRequestForm.pdf. To get information on how to apply for a grant, please visit http://www.freebsdfoundation.org/documents/GrantRequestForm.pdf.

Here is a list of projects, developers, and conferences we have sponsored for 2007.

2007 Grant Recipients:

  • BSDCan 2007 Conference
  • AsiaBSDCon 2007 Conference
  • EuroBSDCon 2007 Conference
  • FreeBSD Movement - GO FreeBSD Project
  • Joseph Koshy - Improving the Hardware Performance Counter
  • Marko Zec - Network Stack Virtualization Project
  • Bruce M. Simpson - Acquisition of PCI hot-plug test hardware for FreeBSD

Travel Grant recipients for this year were:

  • AsiaBSDCon - Michael Bushkov, Pawel Jakub Davidek
  • BSDCan - Kirill Ponomarew, Max Laier, Ivan Voras, Mathieu Prevot
  • EuroBSDCon - Attilio Rao, Ulf Lilleengen
  • BSDConTR - Kris Kennaway

Financials

Our 2007 Q1-Q3 Profit/Loss and 2007 Q1-Q3 Balance Sheet are now posted on our website.