Wednesday, December 10, 2014

MeetBSD Trip Report: Michael Dexter

The Foundation recently sponsored Michael Dexter to attend MeetBSD, which was held in California in November. Michael provides the following trip report:

This year's MeetBSD California marked a departure from its UnConference roots in favor of a showcase of exciting new developments in the community. Western Digital kindly hosted the event which made for a pleasant, professional atmosphere and attendees traveled from as far as Japan and Eastern Europe to attend.

Of the many talks, the Sony confirmation that is a long-time BSD user was simply historic and just may be the result of years of encouragement by AsiaBSDCon attendees. It's not every day that you confirm the existence of millions of more BSD users! Yes, "BSD" users at the request of the Sony legal department. On the same theme, "600M+ Unsuspecting FreeBSD Users" by Rick Reed of WhatsApp also shed light on the heavy lifting companies are doing with FreeBSD and finally, Scott Long and Brendan Gregg of Netflix reminded us how they are pushing 1/3rd of US Internet traffic each evening. Brendan spoke about performance analysis strategies at both MeetBSD and the Developer Summit that followed and I dare say is downright giddy about the performance analysis options available on FreeBSD. In his second talk he incorporated audience feedback on the spot and I for one am delighted to see Sun Microsystems refugees like Brendan come to the BSD community as they each bring a wealth of experience.

Kirk McKusick's “A Narrative History of BSD” was a delight as always and reminded us that there is absolutely nothing like BSD: professional and open source from the start with a mission to bring sanity to government computing. That mission sounds more like a contemporary meme than 1970's and '80's funded government initiative! Kirk told us about Bill Joy's prolific coding and how they navigated the pressure to incorporate the BB&N network stack into BSD. Kirk also told us the story of how a delay in grant funding accidentally got him into a lifetime of fast file system development and how we almost had 48-bit IP addressing. Hearing both Kirk and Brendan Gregg talk about the frivolity of most benchmarks decades apart was eye opening!

Finally, David Maxwell's "Pipecut" talk was a mind-blowing introduction to a pet project of his that promises to change how we all use the Unix command line. Most of these talks are online and can be found via

As with any BSD event, the hallway track was worth the price of admission and I had the pleasure of meeting bhyve and FreeNAS developers that I had only met online. Adrian Chadd tinkered with a Surface Pro system and eventually got the keyboard working late one night and naturally had the only working WiFi in the hotel lobby. Glen Barber and I continued our "the good, the bad and the ugly" talk about distribution mirror layouts based on his work as FreeBSD release engineer and my work supporting various OSs on bhyve. Devin Teske provided scripting advice as always and I cornered people about topics ranging from the status of virtual networking and a ZFS panic.

Every BSD event has its own character and MeetBSD is no different. The fact that it takes place in Silicon Vally allows it to have a great mix of speakers and attendees who might not make it to international events. Thank you iXsystems for putting on yet another great MeetBSD!

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