Thursday, October 20, 2011

Trip Report: Marius Strobl

The EuroBSDCon trip reports are starting to arrive and will be posted here. The first report is from Marius Strobl:

The generous sponsorship of the FreeBSD Foundation for the first time allowed me to attend EuroBSDCon'11 as well as the associated Developer Summit in its entirety (so far I could only attend one day of last year's EuroBSDCon Developer Summit). Having the chance to take part in the busdma(9), for which Marcel Moolenaar and myself had a preparatory email conversation, and the bmake working groups on the first day was really helpful. Having done work for the sparc64 port and machine independent network and storage controller drivers, I came across several limitations in the current implementation of busdma(9). Other architectures will benefit from the proposed busdma(9) overhaul. Switching to a bmake based build infrastructure will provide better and optimized cross-compilation of FreeBSD on other operating systems. While this isn't something that I have a direct need for, it will come in handy should the rest of the FreeBSD developers decide to remove the GPL'ed toolchain in the base for all platforms in favor of LLVM/clang, which so far doesn't support 64-bit SPARC v9. The bmake based build infrastructure will provide a backup plan by allowing the use of an external GCC and binutils via its external toolchain support. Surprisingly, there was next to no opposition to the plans of these two working groups. Collaboration on the bmake build infrastructure and busdma(9) overhaul working groups will take place via the FreeBSD Wiki.

The working group presentations and the brainstorming sessions on the second day of the Developer Summit provided a good overview of what's going on and is planned in the FreeBSD project beyond the src base, including the infrastructure and the ports collection. Both the first and the second day of the Developer Summit as well as "day zero" were concluded by nice dinners which allowed one to make contacts with fellow FreeBSD developers, especially doc and ports committers, which I as a src committer otherwise don't have that much contact with, even online.

On the third day of the Developer Summit, which also was the first official day of EuroBSDCon'11, I gave a short talk about the status of the FreeBSD/sparc64 port. Based on the feedback that I received, the presentation was well received. The rest of that conference day I spent mainly attending the rest of the Developer Summit track, which was an official part of EuroBSDCon'11 and also attracted some non-FreeBSD committers. This again provided me with a good overview of what else is going in FreeBSD. The pkgng project seems like an especially worthy addition. Slides of the talks given in that track are available here. That day was closed by a nice social event at the Utrecht Railway Museum, again giving good opportunities to make contacts with fellow developers.

The second day of EuroBSDCon'11, which no longer hosted Developer Summit events,had some interesting talks, of which the "OpenBSD/sun4v: Porting OpenBSD to Sun's UltraSPARC T1 and T2 processors" by Mark Kettenis turned out to be especially useful as it gave me 2-3 new ideas about how to address integration of sun4v support into FreeBSD/sparc64. A short chat with Mark afterwards yielded helpful advice for adding support for the line of Fujitsu/Oracle Mx000 Enterprise servers to FreeBSD/sparc64.

I'm especially thankful that the Developer Summit and EuroBSDCon'11 for the first time allowed me to meet my former mentor Marcel Moolenaar in person. Other interesting contacts I've made and topics relevant to the FreeBSD project I've talked about with them were:

  • Jonathan Anderson
  • Gavin Atkinson (Solaris binary-compatibility for FreeBSD/sparc64)
  • Baptiste Daroussin (pkgng)
  • Pawel Dawidek (ZFS)
  • Wilko Bulte (donate a dual Sun SCSI-HBA and will try to get me disks for a machine used for package building and for my development machine)
  • Beat Gaetzi (will try to get me UltraSPARC T1/T2 hardware)
  • Justin Gibbs (fixing issues revealed by a recent commit of Kenneth Merry regarding sense residual handling in Justin's ahc(4) and ahd(4) drivers)
  • Alexander Motin (NCQ timeouts with ahci(4))
  • Gabor Pali (seems like I've even managed to catch his cold ...)
  • Daniel Seuffert (will try to get me UltraSPARC T1/T2 and SPARC64 VI/VII hardware)
  • Ed Shouten (thankfully agreed to adapt/fix rp(4) to his TTY-rework if I send him the respective card)
  • Shteryana Shopova
  • Florian Smeets
  • Bjoern Zeeb
While at the conference and during the trips to and from Maarssen I managed to finally commit support for SCHED_ULE to sparc64 and vice versa, which should also provide a tiny performance improvement on other architectures, commit fixes for two PRs, clean up some PHY device driver stuff Warner Losh left behind, fix fallout like the ahc(4)/ahd(4) issue mentioned above in other HBA drivers, port the NetBSD MII bitbang'ing code and convert most of the network device drivers that can take advantage of it to use it, and fix a real bug that is present in 153 device drivers.

All in all, I think it was fruitful for me to attend EuroBSDCon'11 and the associated Developer Summit as a member of the FreeBSD project and community.

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