FreeBSD Foundation Newsletter, July 27, 2010

In this Edition:

Letter From the President

Ken Merry, a coworker at Spectra Logic, recently finished porting SGI's "CAM Target Layer" (CTL) stack to FreeBSD current. When he relayed his success to me, he qualified the accomplishment, "CTL's good enough for us to include in a Spectra Logic product, but it will need a lot of work before we can push CTL back into FreeBSD." Ken's comment illustrates one of many challenges faced by commercial users of FreeBSD: contributing code back to the FreeBSD community often requires work outside the scope of your product. But even before getting to this point, you must have a strategy for tracking changes in FreeBSD, identify the additional resources needed to manage FreeBSD as an "external vendor," and sell internally the value of contributing back to FreeBSD.

Software Configuration Management

FreeBSD is a large and constantly evolving piece of software. During a typical month, over a thousand changes will be committed to the FreeBSD Subversion repository. Coupling FreeBSD with even a moderately sized internal code base will quickly burn up developer cycles if you don't have a well engineered solution for dealing with this software configuration management problem. A successful strategy will have the following minimum characteristics:

  • High fidelity tracking of the unaltered FreeBSD code. Doing periodic imports of the FreeBSD source tree into a "vendor branch" of your SCM system may be sufficient, but the ideal solution will preserve each submission and all its state from the FreeBSD Subversion repository. This facilitates selective incorporation of recent bug fixes or cutting-edge features you may need in your product.
  • Tracking of FreeBSD's head branch in addition to the branch (e.g. stable/8) on which the product will be based. The FreeBSD project's timeline for incorporation of bug fixes and features into stable branches may not match the release schedule for your product. Having access to the head branch will allow you to define your own policy for what to include in your product.
  • A separate branch which represents the customized version of FreeBSD that will ship in your product.
  • The ability to selectively merge changes between the product and vendor branches.
  • The ability to easily migrate your private changes to a new FreeBSD branch. Successful products have long lifetimes. Today's release based on stable/8 will eventually be replaced by a release based on the, yet to be created by the FreeBSD project, stable/9 branch. Anticipating and planning for this transition upfront will greatly reduce the effort to rebase your product.
  • Robust merging capabilities, and tracking of merged changes. This item is critical, not only for managing repeated integrations of functionality from FreeBSD, but also for dealing with "round-tripping" of any changes you submit back to the FreeBSD project. When an almost identical change (i.e. the change you've given back to the project) is present in both the FreeBSD and product tree, the SCM system will see this as two independently created but similar changes. Pick a tool that minimizes the amount of manual merge resolution required in this case.

At Spectra Logic, we prototyped solutions to this problem using Git, Mercurial, and Perforce. During that process, I became convinced that solutions using any of these three SCMs are possible. I'm sure this holds true for SCMs we didn't evaluate as well. The choice for your situation will be driven by needs outside the scope of the import process: price, scalability, the need for a distributed SCM, or a requirement to remain compatible with your existing SCM. Regardless of what solution you pick be prepared to expend several man weeks making it robust. For those using Perforce, I've published the solution we developed for that tool. As I become aware of other solutions I'll add them to the same directory.

One quick note to FreeBSD developers on this topic. Whenever possible, merge changes between FreeBSD branches using Subversion's merge capabilities instead of manually transplanting a change by applying a patch. Many tools for importing Subversion repositories into other SCMs make use of Subversion's merge tracking data to replicate merge history during the conversion. When this merge history is present and preserved, the commercial user's SCM system can intelligently avoid merge conflicts that would otherwise have to be resolved manually; for example, when a bug fix is pulled into a product release from FreeBSD current and then is later merged by the FreeBSD project into the stable branch on which that product is based.

Managing FreeBSD as a Vendor

With the mechanics of integrating FreeBSD code into your SCM out of the way, it's time to find and devote the resources needed to manage your FreeBSD vendor relationship. Having talked to lots of organizations with my FreeBSD Foundation hat on, the default response to the resource problem is to largely ignore it. The scenario goes like this:

  1. Imagine an amazing new product based on FreeBSD.
  2. Take a snapshot of FreeBSD on which to build the product.
  3. Focus 100% internally to develop and deliver the product.
  4. Repeat #3 for several product releases.
  5. Years later determine that taking your product to the next level would greatly benefit from technology available in a newer version of FreeBSD than you used in your snapshot.
  6. Spend man years performing a "fork-lift" upgrade of your product to a newer version of FreeBSD.

The time and energy of doing the periodic upgrades, although considerable, doesn't account for all of the costs in this approach. While "heads down" working on the product, opportunities to leverage new developments in FreeBSD will be missed. If the upgrade cycle is long, you may also find you've expended considerable internal developer time re-implementing functionality already in FreeBSD; functionality that will cause expensive conflicts when you move to a newer version of FreeBSD.

The best way to avoid this expense and maximize the value of your decision to use FreeBSD is to devote internal developer time to tracking the FreeBSD project. The role of these individuals is to not only understand changes in FreeBSD, but to also educate other developers and management about the functionality in FreeBSD, explain how best to utilize that functionality, and to keep everyone updated on FreeBSD's "product roadmap". Your commercial vendors have field application engineers that perform much of these tasks for you. The Open Source model doesn't have the profits to provide these services, so you must invest in your own people to fill this role.

Contributing Back

One of the leading factors driving commercial users to choose FreeBSD is the BSD license. What's yours is yours and you have every right to keep it that way. However, there can be sound business reasons that motivate you to release some of your innovations back to the FreeBSD project:

  • The code will be maintained by the FreeBSD project. This can free up your developer resources to focus on features with more core value to your product. Offloading the support of all but the code surrounding your critical intellectual property can provide large savings.
  • Contributing the code reduces the chance that a different implementation of the same functionality will be integrated into FreeBSD. A competing version of a feature will most likely cause conflicts with the facility you're maintaining internally. Once this occurs, you can either choose to migrate to the public implementation or continue to support your own. Either choice is expensive.
  • Releasing the code has marketing value. This can be a way to promote your business as OpenSource friendly or supportive of FreeBSD.
  • Releasing the code will allow you to collaborate with others and create a feature you could not accomplish internally given your staff or financial resources.
  • Desire to strengthen the utility of FreeBSD, growing it's appeal to new users so its use increases and FreeBSD continues to be available and supported by a healthy community.

Before trying to identify candidates for contribution to the FreeBSD project, keep in mind that something good enough for your product isn't necessarily ready to be given to the FreeBSD project. This issue is at the core of Ken Merry's quote above. Before CTL, or any contribution, will be accepted:

  • The contribution must have value to the community as a whole. For example, a device driver for a piece of custom hardware you build and embed in your appliance is not useful outside of your product. There is no incentive for the FreeBSD community to take on the cost of maintaining such a feature.
  • The contribution must be in a state where the FreeBSD project can maintain it. The code must be well documented, conform to the coding and documentation standards of the FreeBSD project, and any necessary technical publications needed to augment or fix bugs in the submission must be available.
  • You must engage the FreeBSD community about the feature or change to ensure there is agreement that the above two requirements have been met.

I've talked with many organizations that fully understand the business case for contributing back code. They even dedicate some portion of a few staff member's time to manage contributions. Their failing is to believe that the job of meeting the above requirements rests solely on the shoulders of these "liaisons to the FreeBSD community." These liaison's role is to facilitate your relationship with the FreeBSD community, but if you task them with taking any random submission from the rest of your development staff and turning into something that can be committed to FreeBSD, they will quickly burn out, leave, or both. Instead you must train your whole staff in the business value of writing code with best practices, that meets the high standards of the FreeBSD community. These standards yield high quality, maintainable code - the same attributes you want in the code for your whole product. Submitting code to FreeBSD then becomes a process of internal review and correction, followed by external community review and correction all managed by your on-staff community liaison, but powered by the continuous involvement of the developer that originated the code. This is the only sustainable way to gain the huge benefits of contributing code to the FreeBSD project.

The FreeBSD Foundation's Role

The FreeBSD Foundation has helped countless organizations improve their interactions with the FreeBSD community. If you are looking to optimize your use of FreeBSD, we'd love to help. Every year we visit universities and corporations, large and small, to help them get the most out of FreeBSD. Let us know if we can add your site to our calendar.

Why do we do it? A large part of our mission is to maximize the utility of FreeBSD. Sitting down with folks doing innovative things with this operating system is one of the best ways we can determine where to invest next. Your success is FreeBSD's success, and we are doing all that we can to ensure FreeBSD's success for decades to come.

Justin T. Gibbs

President and Founder

The FreeBSD Foundation


Fundraising Update

We're off to a great start having raised $48,000 from 226 donors! Our goal is $350,000 and 2000 donors. We are confident that with your help we can hit our targets.

Why do we have a donor goal? In order to keep our status as a 501(c)3 non-profit entity in the United States we must show that we are supported by the "general public." This requirement exists to prevent non-profits from becoming "front companies" controlled by a few persons or corporations looking to take advantage of the benefits bestowed on a charity. Our non-profit status aside, our donor count is a reflection of the strength of the FreeBSD community. Having a large and supportive donor base will place the FreeBSD Foundation in a stronger position to meet the needs of the FreeBSD community.

Why do we need to raise so much money? First, take a look at all the projects we are funding this year. We have funded or approved eight projects. Our project development budget is $100,000 and we plan on funding more this year.

This year we have received more requests for BSD-related conference sponsorships. And, we're seeing a significant increase in people wanting to attend conferences, but needing assistance.

How have we spent the money so far this year?

  • Sponsored FreeBSD related conferences like BSDCan, AsiaBSDCon, MeetBSD Poland, MeetBSD California, KyivBSD, NYCBSDCon, and the BSD Toolchain Summit.
  • Provided 13 travel grants and funding to individuals to attend these and other conferences this year.
  • Provided grants for projects that improve FreeBSD, like Resource Containers, BSNMP Improvements, Userland DTrace, High Available Storage, Flattened Device Tree, FreeBSD jail based virtualization, DAHDI FreeBSD driver port, and Closed Captioning for FreeBSD Technical Videos.
  • Provided legal assistance for the Project.
  • Provided equipment for developers working to improve FreeBSD and projects like the DAHDI FreeBSD driver port project. We purchased servers and parts for computer repairs for the Project. We also paid for shipping of equipment to various projects.

Please consider making a donation to the foundation. You can do this by going to http://www.freebsdfoundation.org/donate/. And if you sign up for a subscription, you can wistfully ignore our future pleas for donations, knowing you've already done your part!

Project Highlights

Project development is an integral part of our mission. Back in February we solicited for proposals. We were pleased to receive so many interesting proposals. It's not always easy deciding which ones we should accept. Besides spending the time to review each proposal, we have to determine how this will impact the OS. Is this an improvement or added support that we have received many requests for? Is it a larger project that will use up more of our budget? What percentage of users will benefit? And, sometimes we have to bring in experts to help us understand the importance of the project.

We have eight projects that we are currently funding or have recently completed. We asked the project developers to write short summaries of their projects to help us publicize what they are doing. Sit back and take a moment to catch up on our latest projects that are helping to improve FreeBSD!

Flattened Device Tree Project

I am very happy to confirm the completion of development activities which brought the Flattened Device Tree (FDT) support for FreeBSD.

The FDT technology is primarily applicable for embedded systems, and allows to describe computer hardware resources in a uniform and extensible way, independent of CPU architecture or underlying firmware. This hardware description covers information like address space (ranges) assignments, multi-purpose pins usage, interrupts routing and so on, and is maintained completely outside of the kernel. The FDT idea is inherited from Open Firmware IEEE 1275 device-tree notion, and it has been deployed by the embedded industry.

Direct benefits for embedded FreeBSD will be encouraging code reuse (FDT infrastructure is common and shared), easier porting to new systems and multi-platform kernels (a single kernel image able to run on many similar platforms) and others.

We currently have 2 PowerPC-based platforms and 6 ARM-based, which are able to fully run off a device tree configuration. This shows that while this project functionality is self contained, it should be considered an important but only initial step for FDT adoption, and other embedded FreeBSD platforms have to be converted to a new convention.

Merging of the code with HEAD is in progress at the moment, and because the project scope involves modifications in several important aspects of the FreeBSD system (loader, kernel, userspace tools), the integration process requires particular attention (and time) in order to make it seamless and avoid any regressions.

I would like to thank The FreeBSD Foundation for sponsoring this development and Warner Losh, who kindly agreed to be the technical reviewer for the project. Special thanks go also to Lukasz Wojcik (Semihalf) for all the great work on this project. Thank you guys!

contributed by Rafal Jaworowski (raj@FreeBSD.org)

Userland DTrace

DTrace is a general purpose and lightweight tracing framework that allows administrators, developers and users to investigate causes of system failure or performance bottlenecks. The FreeBSD operating system has had support for kernel-only DTrace since FreeBSD 8.0, but DTrace userland support was missing. Having userland support in DTrace allows inspection of userland software itself and its correlation with the kernel, thus allowing a much better picture of what exactly is going on behind the scenes.

This project will first concentrate on adding libproc support for symbol to address mapping, address to symbol mapping, breakpoint setup and the rtld interactions with DTrace. Next it will focus on DTrace process control, importing the pid provider and adapting it to FreeBSD and porting the userland statically defined probe provider (usdt). Finally it will bring in the plockstat provider.

"By having userland DTrace support, companies can make their products perform much better on FreeBSD due to the fact that they now have access to this amazing tool," said FreeBSD developer Rui Paulo. He also said, "When we mix the userland support with the kernel side DTrace support, we can also make FreeBSD a better operating system because we can investigate performance bottlenecks much easier."

The project should be completed by September 2010.

FreeBSD Jail Based Virtualization Project

FreeBSD has been well known for its jail based virtualization during the last decade. With the import of the virtual network stack, FreeBSD's operating system level virtualization has reached a new level.

This project includes cleanup of two years of import work and development and, more notably, brings the infrastructure for a network stack teardown. Cleanly shutting down a network stack in FreeBSD will be the major challenge in the virtualization area to get the new feature to production ready quality for the 9.x release lifecycle.

Further, the project includes generalization of the virtual network stack framework, factoring out common code. This will provide an infrastructure and will ease virtualization of further subsystems like SYSV/Posix IPC with minimal overhead. All further virtualized subsystems will immediately benefit from shared debugging facilities, an essential feature for early adopters of the new technology.

"Improved jail based virtualization support, that continues to be very lightweight and as easily manageable as classic jails, will be a killer feature for the next few years," said Bjoern A. Zeeb, FreeBSD developer. He also added, "It will allow people to partition their FreeBSD server, run simulations without racks of hardware, or provide thousands of virtual instances in hosting environments fairly easy and efficiently. While this follows the trend of green computing, it also adds to FreeBSD's virtualization portfolio with Xen or other more heavyweight hypervisor support, which can be mixed with jails as needed."

While work in this area will have to continue, the funding for this project will end mid-July 2010.

Resource Containers

Edward Tomasz Napierala has been awarded a grant to implement resource containers and a simple per-jail resource limits mechanism.

Unlike Solaris zones, 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 could also be used to provide precise resource usage accounting for administrative or billing purposes.

"It's great that the Foundation decided to fund this project," Edward noted. "It will make jail-based virtualization a much better choice in many scenarios, for example for Virtual Private Server providers."

This project will be completed in October 2010.

HA Storage Project

I'm very happy to report to FreeBSD users that the HAST project I was working on for the last three months is ready for testing and already committed to the HEAD branch.

I'll describe what HAST does in few words. HAST allows for synchronous block-level replication of any storage media (called GEOM providers, using FreeBSD nomenclature) over a TCP/IP network for fast failure recovery. HAST provides storage using the GEOM infrastructure, meaning it is file system and application independent and can be combined with any existing GEOM class. In case of a primary node failure, the cluster will automatically switch to the secondary node, check and mount the UFS file system or import the ZFS pool, and continue to work without missing a single bit of data.

I must admit the project was quite challenging, not only from the technical point of view, but also because it was sponsored by the FreeBSD Foundation. The FreeBSD Foundation has a great reputation and is known to select the projects it funds very carefully. I felt strong pressure that should I fail, the FreeBSD Foundation's reputation might be hurt. Of course, not a single dollar would be spent on a failed project, but the FreeBSD community's expectations were very high and I really wanted to do a good job.

During the work a number of people contacted me privately offering help, explaining how important HAST is for FreeBSD and giving me the motivation to soldier on.

I hope that HAST will meet the community's expectations and I myself am looking forward to using it.

Once again, I'd like to thank the HAST sponsors: the FreeBSD Foundation, OMCnet Internet Service GmbH, and TransIP BV.

contributed by Pawel Jakub Pawidek

BSNMP Improvements

This project includes several enhancements to the existing FreeBSD SNMP framework, including SNMPv3-compliant user authentication, packet encryption and view-based access control. In addition, the project also includes a new module that will allow full SNMP management and monitoring of the FreeBSD wireless networking stack. When the project is completed, FreeBSD should be the OS of choice when building open source-based embedded wireless appliances due to the advanced capabilities of its wireless network stack, and the light-weight, secure and complete management solution that bsnmpd(1) will provide out of the box. Existing FreeBSD installations that use bsnmpd(1) for monitoring will also benefit from the added security and finer-grained access-control to SNMP data.

"SNMP is the defacto standard for network monitoring," said Shteryana Shopova, FreeBSD developer. She also added, "SNMP is used everywhere - in network servers, switches, routers, firewalls, workstations, ip phones, printers, UPSs, all sorts of embedded appliances. I am happy to have the opportunity to work on several additions to bsnmpd(1) that have been requested by the FreeBSD community."

This project will be completed in October 2010.

DAHDI FreeBSD driver port

Max Khon has been awarded a grant to finish the DAHDI FreeBSD driver port.

The purpose of DAHDI/FreeBSD project is to make it possible to use FreeBSD as a base system for software PBX solutions.

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. Asterisk is one of the most popular open-source software PBX solutions.

The project includes porting DAHDI framework and HW drivers for E1/T1, FXO/FXS analog and ISDN digital cards to FreeBSD. This also includes TDMoE support, software and HW echo cancellation (Octasic, VPMADT032) and HW transcoding support (TC400B). The work is ongoing in the official DAHDI SVN repository with the close collaboration with DAHDI folks at Digium.

The project is nearing its completion: DAHDI framework and HW drivers telephony cards has been ported and tested. There are a number of success stories from early adopters who use E1/T1 and FXO/FXS cards on FreeBSD for several months.

This project will be completed in September 2010.

FreeBSD Lectures Captioning Project

A pilot project to improve the machine generated captions of technical conference lectures from the BSD Conferences YouTube channel has been completed. The 73 videos in this channel have been viewed over 200,000 times since the channel launched in late 2008, and the addition of human-edited transcripts to some of our most popular videos makes this content more accessible to people around the world.

In addition to the benefits to the hearing impaired, captions are very useful for international viewers as well as for the improved discoverability of this content by search engines. The improved quality of the English language transcripts also improves the quality of the automated translation of the captions into over 45 different languages. It is also now possible to search for words and phrases in the audio transcripts and get a link directly to videos that contain spoken content of that word or phrase.

For example, try searching for a famous line from one of Dr. Kirk McKusick's FreeBSD Kernel Internal Lectures. The above link will take you to the Google Video Search Result page where one of Dr. McKusick's lectures containing the phrase as long as dinosaurs and mainframes is the first result, along with a snippet of the transcript from his lecture, just as you would see the snippet from text content on a web page. A dozen of our most popular videos of FreeBSD technical content are now captioned and fully indexed allowing users to search for very technical terms and get access to lecture material from BSD Conferences.

The captions were improved by two passes of human editing paid for hire through Amazon Mechanical Turk.

contributed by Murray Stokely

Upgrades to the Ports Building Cluster

The ports management team is very grateful to the FreeBSD Foundation for sponsoring two new head nodes for the ports building cluster, provided by iXsystems at cost. The ports building cluster, informally known as pointyhat, is used for a variety of tasks, most importantly regression testing of a number of subsystems and building ready to install binary packages for the release ISO images and downloadable from the ftp mirror sites.

Each of the new head nodes has a larger capacity, both with regard to performance but also in amount of space available for the staging areas, allowing for faster, and thus more, build cycles. Additionally, having two head nodes will allow us to dedicate one of them for building production-ready binary packages, adding predictability for our users to when what types of packages are available for installation, and dedicate the other for regression testing of large port updates, ports infrastructure improvements, the cluster scheduling code, and FreeBSD itself. The latter is especially useful as the cluster is a heavy user of almost all subsystems, from CPU, memory, disk I/O, and ZFS, to networking and NFS.

Over the last few weeks, Mark Linimon has been working hard to get the first of the two new nodes online and has already produced its first package. This has involved a substantial rework of our custom codebase. We are looking forward to getting both of the nodes in full production and using the new possibilities they will provide.

AsiaBSDCon 2010

AsiaBSDCon is a technical conference on *BSD operating systems and opensource software in Asian countries. AsiaBSDCon 2010, the 5th in the conference series, was held March 2010, in Tokyo, Japan.

This year we had 22 talks including tutorials and regular paper sessions. Twelve of the talks were ones that covered FreeBSD-related topics such as new kernel features in the latest release, bleeding-edge development topics, and community updates. Proceedings, photos, and videos can be found at the official web site.

The FreeBSD Foundation has been one of our primary sponsors for years, and the sponsorship is essential to continue AsiaBSDCon. Conference venue, food, printed proceedings, airfare for invited speakers; running a conference is money-consuming. It greatly helps us keep the registration fee affordable unlike typical international conferences in academia.

The conference is quite international and inter-project; a good mixture of FreeBSD, NetBSD, and OpenBSD people from Europe, North America and Asia attended. It is also the place Japanese FreeBSD developers get together once a year. Over 40 active FreeBSD developers attended in the last year, and face-to-face interchange and brainstorming among people from different countries, different projects are helping development activities of the FreeBSD Project in various ways.

The program committee is now planning and working on AsiaBSDCon 2011.

Official Web Site: http://asiabsdcon.org/
Contact: secretary@asiabsdcon.org

contributed by Hiroki Sato

BSDCan 2010

BSDCan is a conference for people using and working on BSD-related projects, such as DragonflyBSD, FreeBSD, NetBSD, and OpenBSD. We have always put emphasis upon developing relationships within and between projects.

BSDCan 2010 was our 7th conference. As has become the custom, a FreeBSD developer summit was held in the two days before the conference. Record numbers attended the Dev Summit which carried over into the conference proper. It was great to see representatives from so many more companies. I saw many great ideas take root and the start of cooperation on several projects. These new relationships will no doubt lead to improvements in FreeBSD.

The talks during the Dev Summit are beginning to attract a wider audience, and we've been talking about opening this up to the general audience by creating a fourth track at BSDCan 2011.

As impossible as it sounds, each year has seen an increase in the quality of talks and the number of proposals submitted.

Our single biggest cost is travel and accommodation. Without sponsorship, we would not be able to bring in speakers from overseas.

contributed by Dan Langille

BSD Toolchain Summit

The FreeBSD Core Team and The FreeBSD Foundation held a summit on BSD licensed toolchains at BSDCan 2010. Our goal was to foster candid discussion of a way forward for the FreeBSD toolchain in conjunction with other projects and commercial users of FreeBSD. We aimed for a diverse set of opinions while keeping attendance small to facilitate discussion.

The major decisions of the summit were:

  • To push forward with the import of the clang C/C++ compiler for inclusion in FreeBSD 9.0 with the intent of eventually replacing GCC in the base system. Since the summit, clang has been committed to HEAD. This effort has been lead by Roman Divacky and Ed Schouten.
  • Adding easy to use support of external toolchains. This is necessary on embedded platforms which may require technologies not available in a current branch and will generally allow us to support architectures not supported by our base compiler.

The agenda of the toolchain summit may be viewed at:

http://wiki.freebsd.org/201005ToolchainSummit

A summary of the summit results may be found at:

http://wiki.freebsd.org/201005ToolchainSummitSummary

contributed by Brooks Davis

MeetBSD Poland 2010

The meetBSD 2010 Conference was a great opportunity to present new ideas to the community, meet some of the developers and in general to gather all BSD fans in one place, promote discussions and information exchange. The two day conference (July 2-3) took place at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow which is the oldest university in Poland (established in 1364) and one of the oldest universities in Europe.

This year's meetBSD was again organized to bring together community representatives, system developers, users and fans of BSD systems and to stimulate the discussion on present and future problems. All that we were trying to achieve throughout a series of technical presentations, that continued also outside the conference (during the social event for example). The higher goal of the conference was to find new ways of collaboration, new ideas and tools used in addressing problems appearing within the BSD OS area. Not only was it a strictly technical meeting - we did everything so that it looked and felt professional, attractive for commercial vendors and open source community. We do believe that creating a strong conference brand like meetBSD will bring more people from the FreeBSD community together. There are several interesting subjects and issues that definitely demand public attention, and to name a few: raising public awareness on the use of open software, the BSDA certification, creating university based BSD student groups and bringing BSD to more developers and IT companies.

The conference gathered over 130 people. Speakers from 9 countries did 13 presentations (mostly related to FreeBSD). That would not be possible without support coming from our sponsors and patrons. Thanks to the FreeBSD Foundation we were able to invite several highly qualified FreeBSD speakers and hire a professional film crew, so that the conference could be videotaped and released to the community (all videos will be available on the meetBSD web page soon). All these high quality videos should be treated as our contribution and a big "thank you" to the FreeBSD Foundation.

To spice things up a bit we are going to leak some of the feedback that we received from this year's conference survey:

"This year's meetBSD was definitely worth visiting. Wide range of presentations that were interesting not only for complete BSD magicians, well organization and surprises that I did not see on other events of this type. It was the place to meet BSD developers and people doing really serious work in the Open Source area. Either at the venue or in a pub with beer in your hand ;)" - Michał Dobroczyński, attendee from Copenhagen, Denmark.

"The meetBSD of 2010 was the best opportunity to experience the BSD community in Central Europe. Splendid choice of place and smooth organization made this event a nice refinement over previous BSD and other IT conferences in our country. It's good to see that we are not falling behind the Linux crowd." - Sławek Żak, a meetBSD speaker.

These words are definitely heart warming and assure us, that this was the best BSD event organized in central Europe. All conference materials are available on http://meetbsd.org. Do not forget to check out photo and video sections. Once again, thank you for your support and feedback - all your opinions and thoughts are very important for us and will be used to organize an even better meetBSD 2011 Conference.

contributed by Tomasz Dudzisz

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 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 2010.

2010 Grant Recipients:

  • AsiaBSDCon 2010 Conference
  • BSDCan 2010 Conference
  • MeetBSD Poland 2010 Conference
  • MeetBSD California 2010 Conference
  • NYCBSDCon 2010 Conference
  • KyivBSD 2010 Conference
  • 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

Travel Grant recipients for this year were:

  • BSDCan - Ivor Prebeg, Renato Botelho do Couto, Giovanni Trematerra, Barry Steyn, Lawrence Stewart, Daichi Goto, Attilio Rao, Richard Macklem, Florent Thoumie, and Christian Brueffer.
  • AsiaBSDCon - Andrew Turner

Testimonial - Building a Business on FreeBSD

When a friend and I started our technology business 11 years ago in 1997, we didn't choose FreeBSD, it chose us. But we're sure glad it did, and we came to build our company on FreeBSD.

As a small website design and web application development firm, we didn't intend to get into the web hosting business. We started hearing from our clients that they would appreciate being able to host their site through the same provider that built it for them, and so we decided to try offering that service as a convenience. The local Internet service provider that we were sharing office space with had a FreeBSD 2.1 box with space on it, so we get our username and password, and we were up and running.

When we got big enough to need our own server for site hosting, we didn't spend too much time looking around at the options. The consensus at the time (1998 now) was that Linux, FreeBSD and NetBSD were all basically the same, and that it was mostly a matter of preference and what kind of commercial support was available to help you through any rough patches (though the license wars certainly raged on even then). With our friends at the ISP sitting just on the other side of the bookshelves, we knew we had some of the best FreeBSD product support we could hope for.

In 2000, our business model had largely shifted into building database driven website applications, and the expectations for what features came with a web hosting service had expanded significantly. We were no longer just providing web hosting with Apache on FreeBSD - we knew we needed to support an expanding reliance on the PostgreSQL and MySQL database systems, the qmail and vpopmail e-mail systems and other dedicated services. We started building new servers as dedicated single function boxes, and in each case, it was a no-brainer to install FreeBSD. Our use of the ports system to turn it into just the kind of box we needed saved us lots of time along the way. As we've transitioned into more "mainstream" hosting platforms like our use of cPanel, FreeBSD is still powering it behind the scenes.

You may not necessarily need to hear that FreeBSD is a reliable platform for running Internet services. But I think it's important to remember that software like FreeBSD is affecting the way that people live their lives every day, whether it's supporting businesses like ours, enabling hobbyists just getting into open source software, or any of the thousands of other "real world" roles it plays.

For much of the world, choice of operating system is an arbitrary decision to make. We believe that for us, it's made all the difference in building a successful business.

Contributed by Chris Hardie, Summersault Website Development, Richmond, IN www.summersault.com

Financials

Our 2010 Q1-Q2 Profit/Loss and 2010 Q1-Q2 Balance Sheet are posted on our website.