Thursday, June 16, 2011

BSDCan Trip Report: Baptiste Daroussin

The Foundation recently sponsored Baptiste Daroussin to attend BSDCan 2011. Here is his trip report:

This year I had the privilege to attend BSDCan 2011 thanks to the generous sponsorship of the Foundation. I was invited by Erwin Lansing to participate in the Ports Workgroup by presenting the project I am working on with Julien Laffaye: pkgng. That was really important to me because I was able to meet Julien face to face and have a real discussion with him about the future of pkgng. I delivered two presentations for pkgng, one during the Developer Summit (for the Ports Workgroup) and one during the BSDCan short talk. I have to confess that I wasn't really confident about the presentations as it was the first time I had to make a technical presentation in English (I now dread to watch the videos if any) and also the first time we publicly discussed pkgng.

The Ports Workgroup was really interesting and pkgng couldn't have beeen made public at a better time. It fits exactly the need for a better way to distribute packages and perform binary upgrades in the future. We received really good feedback from people concerning pkgng and the project gained a new member, Will Andrews, which brings in new views to further pkgng development. During BSDCan and since then Will has contributed a lot of good code to the project and it was a great pleasure to meet him.

BSDCan is not only technical but also human. I was privileged to meet and discuss with many people and put a face on login names. I was able to meet in person my mentor, Thomas Abthorpe, as well as Rene Ladan who had been my vacation mentor and with whom I have often worked. I have been able to discover the best place in Ottawa to get good Scottish whisky :).

BSDCan was not only about the good points as I was there to present a project that I was expecting to be quite controversial. But it was greatly accepted, and we now have a lot of work to finish it! But it seems that was not enough for some people as I was personally punished during BSDCan when the portmgrs forced me to become one of them! It's unfair :)

Monday, June 13, 2011

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.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

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 " admins hat" I spent some time talking to Brad Davis and Peter Losher about ways to improve administration of systems in the future. Among the discussed topics were ISC's use of Kerberos which might be useful at and the Puppet system for system administration. Some time was spent talking with Mark Linimon and Brad Davis about future plans for the site. I also attended Mark's talk about lessons learned from the 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 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 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.

Friday, June 10, 2011

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 ...”, from this you can make your own joke.

This year at BSDCan, the DevSummit was organised a little different than usuall It was done with break out groups forming into working groups and bringing together like minded people to get together and share ideas. As a porter, and member of portmgr@, my working group was the ports infrastructure. Erwin Lansing (erwin@), took the lead in organising this particular session, uniting porters and other interested parties. He asked me to deliver 15 minutes on the Licensing Infrastructure in the Ports tree.

Other speakers throughout the morning included Ben Haduk, presenting Athena Packing, Peter Losher from ISC with his wishlist for ports, and Will Andrew (will@) sharing his vision for ports. A brainstorming period was hosted by Erwin to illicit feedback from the crowd.

The particular, show stopping presentation of the day belonged to Baptiste Daroussin. Bapt, along with former GSoC student Julien Laffaye, offered to revolutionise the packaging infrastructure with libpkgng. Their reports will follow, I do not want to steal their thunder.

Suffice to say the morning session time that was allocated was not enough time considering the buzz and excitement around libpkng; an afternoon session was added to get all topic material included. More detailed plans were discussed on what would be needed to integrated libpkgng into the src base, along with feature requests and other tidbits of administrivia.

One thing that typifies our Information Age is electronic chatter. The hot topic of conversation during coffee and lunch was libpkgng; this was discussed face to face, in groups, and throughout IRC. There were even emails being circulated, particularly through the portmgr mailbox. A private conversation between Mark Linimon (linimon@) and Erwin declared that Bapt may be a valuable member on the
Ports Management Team, not just for his efforts on libpkgng, but for other ideas he has, including a new means of grouping OPTIONS in a port Makefile. The usual vote was held, and unlike the usual week to take care of business, within 24 hours the tally was in favour of adding a new member to portmgr.

Now that the vote was cast, all that remained was to ask Bapt if he was interested. For geographical reasons, this is normally done via IRC, but we had 3 port managers in Ottawa and this one could be done by an old fashioned press gang. It was agreed during the lunch break the three of us would sequester Bapt, and have the chat. Being the jokester that I am, I thought it would be amusing to instill Bapt with a sense of angst. In IRC, I told him privately that the two of us needed to have a “Man-toMan” chat at lunch. Grudgingly, he accepted. We met him in the hall, and we laid it on the line. Bapt graciously accepted and you can see it as YouTube's least viral video.

From this we had what I am told was a new record, 4 portmgr at one event. Not only was this worth celebrating, but was worth hosting an ad-hoc meeting. With the joys of modern technology, a video conference was setup with Florent Thoumie (flz@), Ion-Mihai Tectcu (itetcu@), and Martin Wilke (miwi@). Yet another first. In this meeting, we were able to share the success stories of the Ports Working Group, libpkgng, plus talk other business.

Every night after supper, I took the opportunity to return to the Hacker Lounge for a time of visiting and hacking. This was a great relaxed venue to just sit back and do as much or as little as you wanted! Human nature what it is, hackers in the lounge flocked together based on their commit bits, src guys there, doc guys there, and ports guys here. One could do an interesting sociological study in there!

Prior to BSDCan, I organised a Facebook event called “portmgr appreciation week”. This was a self serving event to encourage committers to close PRs, perform an act of hospitality for a portmgr or whatever people felt appropriate. Friday night a group of us brought beverages into the lounge and took up a collection. We declared this the “portmgr appreciation week donation fund” and turned over the proceeds at the Foundation Desk Saturday morning.

If BSDCan 2011 had ended on Thursday for me, I could still have considered the event an overwhelming success. But this was just the pre-conference, the real thing was to start on Friday! As usual Dan Langille and friends did a great job organizing the event.

With some assistance from my portmgr peers, we composed a little thank you to the FreeBSD Foundation for their generous grants which brought us together. I would personally like to thank the Board for this wonderful opportunity to be able to travel to Ottawa and participate in this year's BSDCan.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

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".

Monday, June 6, 2011

FreeBSD Foundation and iXsystems Announce IPv6-only Testing Versions of FreeBSD and PC-BSD

The Foundation is pleased to announce that Bjoern Zeeb has made good progress in the Improved IPv6 Support project and that testing snapshots for both FreeBSD and PC-BSD are now available in time for World IPv6 Day. From the press release:

The FreeBSD Foundation and iXsystems announced today their commitment to support the efforts of World IPv6 Day to accelerate global IPv6 deployment. Earlier this year, the FreeBSD Foundation and iXsystems jointly awarded Bjoern Zeeb a grant to create an IPv6-only version of the FreeBSD and PC-BSD open source operating systems.

FreeBSD is well-known as a network stack research and reference platform and its KAME-based reference implementation appeared over a decade ago. With the help of the community, FreeBSD has been serving releases from IPv6 enabled servers for more than 8 years and FreeBSD's website, mailing lists, and developer infrastructure have been IPv6 enabled since 2007. FreeBSD is used by critical Internet infrastructure such as root name servers, routers, firewalls and some of the world's busiest and most reliable web sites. PC-BSD is a complete desktop operating system, based on FreeBSD, having the casual computer user in mind.

Bjoern Zeeb explains the work as follows: "Similar to many modern operating systems, IPv6 in FreeBSD was an optional feature that implied IPv4 support. Since most "IPv6-ready" applications rely on dual-stack behavior, broken IPv6 support often goes unnoticed given the IPv4 fallback option. Providing an implementation of an IPv6-only kernel without IPv4 support provides the FreeBSD Project with the ability to test and fix such regressions while encouraging other software developers to improve their code for true IPv6 readiness. With PC-BSD serving the desktop community and FreeBSD targeting the server, infrastructure and embedded markets, we have created an ideal development and test platform for other open source and proprietary IPv6-aware application software."

Kris Moore, founder and lead developer of the PC-BSD Project notes that "PC-BSD, with its FreeBSD base, makes an ideal platform for the testing of end-user desktop applications and utilities in an IPv6 environment. We are proud to be able to offer an IPv6 desktop testing environment for World IPv6 Day."

FreeBSD testing snapshots are available here and PC-BSD testing snapshots are available here.