Friday, December 30, 2011

Thank you to everyone who has made a donation to the FreeBSD Foundation this year! We have just around 24 hours left to reach our goal of raising $400,000 for 2011. At this time we have raised over $320,000 from 758 donors.

Your donation helps us support FreeBSD by funding/sponsoring development projects, BSD-related conferences, FreeBSD developers to travel to these conferences, and legal support for the Project. We are a non-for-profit organization and we cannot do it without you.

If you have not had the opportunity to donate this year, it's not too late! It only takes a few minutes to make a donation and help make a difference for the FreeBSD Project and community.

Please visit us at to make a donation today! If you send a check, the envelope must be postmarked by December 31, 2011 to count as a 2011 donation.

Thanks for your support!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

'Tis the season for giving

Colin Percival recently wrote this blog post. With his permission, it is republished here as it may be of interest to other Foundation supporters.

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Yule, Pancha Ganapati, Hogmanay, Newtonmas, or simply the end of the Gregorian year, odds are that you're giving gifts some time around now. We give gifts to family; we give gifts to friends; we donate to charities; and many people also offer up tithes to religious institutions. Gifts to individuals are a social bonding ritual — the voluntary transfer of wealth signals a lower bound on the value we place on a relationship, and the giving of non-monetary gifts in particular can be a way to communicate our level of personal understanding — but these do not apply to charitable and religious donations. For those, I think an entirely different explanation is required: We pay voluntary taxes in order to help create the world we want to live in.

This also applies to companies. I run an online backup service, and for the past two years I've donated all of the profits made during the month of December to the FreeBSD Foundation; I'm going to be doing the same thing this year too. I'm not doing this just because I'm a FreeBSD developer, because I use FreeBSD personally, or because I would never have launched Tarsnap if I hadn't been able to build on the open source code in FreeBSD: I'm doing it because I think supporting FreeBSD development will make the world a better place for both Tarsnap and many other startup companies.

I'm not alone in believing in corporate support of open source software, either. NetApp and Hudson River Trading, both major FreeBSD users, have each made donations of $50,000 or more in each of the past 3 years, and many other companies regularly donate. Some open source software organizations have much longer lists of major donors. And last year Gabriel Weinberg launched a FOSS Tithing movement by pledging that DuckDuckGo would tithe in support of open source software every year.

Most internet startup companies today would never exist without open source software. As Paul Graham has noted, open source software is one of the big reasons why it's now possible to launch a startup with just $20k and a few months of coding; with high quality free operating systems, databases and datastores, application frameworks, web servers and caches, it's now easy to build companies which would have been nearly impossible a decade ago. It would be easy to say that startup companies should contribute back to open source projects out of simple gratitude, but I know it can be hard to justify making business decisions on that basis alone. Instead, I'd like to ask the startup community to look to the future: Think about how much open source has helped you, and help to build a better world — one where open source will be able to help you even more.

And remember that we live in a world where most startup founders end up launching several companies over their careers: If the past decade of open source software development has made your current startup company possible, just think how much the next decade of open source software development will help your next startup company.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Apache Software Foundation Testimonial

Did you know that the Foundation that powers half the Internet uses FreeBSD for nearly all of its public facing services? The FreeBSD Foundation recently received this testimonial from the Apache Software Foundation:

The Apache Software Foundation (ASF) provides organizational, legal, and financial support for a broad range of open source software projects. The Foundation provides an established framework for intellectual property and financial contributions that simultaneously limits contributors potential legal exposure. Through a collaborative and meritocratic development process, Apache projects deliver enterprise-grade, freely available software products that attract large communities of users. The pragmatic Apache License makes it easy for all users, commercial and individual, to deploy Apache products.

The ASF powers half the Internet, petabytes of data, teraflops of operations, billions of objects, and enhances the lives of countless users and developers. Established in 1999 to shepherd, develop, and incubate Open Source innovations, "The Apache Way," the ASF oversees 150+ projects led by a volunteer community of over 350 individual Members and 3,000 Committers across six continents.

ApacheCon North America 2011 was just recently held in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada where FreeBSD was a highlight in the DevOps track talks. The Apache Software Foundation itself leverages FreeBSD for nearly all of its public facing services including one of the largest SVN repositories in the world. Our repository is mirrored on several continents and contains over 1.4 million revisions stretching for over a decade. We will even be lending a hand converting the FreeBSD CVS ports tree to SVN.

The Apache Software Foundation makes use of both custom FreeBSD Tinderbox and FreeBSD Update servers to rapidly perform application and base system updates across multiple datacenters in an automated, quick, and efficient fashion. The Apache Infrastructure Team frequently works directly with FreeBSD developers to stress cutting-edge features like ZFS under real-world loads.

Like The FreeBSD Foundation, the ASF is also a 501(c)3 organization. Donating to FreeBSD through The FreeBSD Foundation, makes Apache better too and will help make your's and others' daily lives less stressful.

RideCharge/TaxiMagic Testimonial

Did you know that Taxi Magic, the first nationwide free online taxi booking service that is directly integrated with taxi dispatch systems, is entirely based on FreeBSD? Philip M. Gollucci, Director of Operations, recently explained why in his testimonial for the Foundation:

RideCharge, Inc. creates innovative technology solutions that improve local ground transportation industries. The company's most renowned product, Taxi Magic, is an online & mobile software application that revolutionizes the taxi industry by aligning riders, drivers and fleets for a better overall ride experience. Taxi Magic is the first nationwide free online taxi booking service that is directly integrated with taxi dispatch systems, providing consumers with the tools to:

  • Book a taxi from a mobile app or the Web with a few quick taps
  • Track the taxi's arrival
  • Charge the ride to a credit card through the mobile app
  • Expense the trip with an e-receipt
From its inception, RideCharge has been entirely based on FreeBSD. By leveraging FreeBSD Jails for virtualization, we are able to maximize resources and expand dynamically. ZFS keeps our data safe and our deployments magically quick. Userland DTRACE in FreeBSD 9 is now an indispensable tool for troubleshooting issues in real-time. Even our Juniper firewalls and switches leverage FreeBSD through JUNOS (TM). iXsystems is incredibly helpful in recommending the correct setup and optimizing our technology resources to fit our needs for FreeBSD.

RideCharge is a long time contributor to the FreeBSD ports collection and we employ highly active contributors in the ruby, apache, and perl areas. The Taxi Magic team leverages these incredibly tight feedback loops to quickly and efficiently contribute back to the community.

RideCharge/TaxiMagic has directly sponsored FreeBSD developers to enhance freebsd-update(8). We now use this update to quickly update every machine to maintain PCI DSS Level 1 compliance. These great capabilities are now available to the entire FreeBSD community.

Foundation Newsletter Published

The Foundation has published its semi-annual newsletter. It contains updates on this year's projects and fundraising campaign, testimonials from TaxiMagic and the Apache Software Foundation, and the Q1-Q3 balance sheet. You can read the newsletter here. It begins with the letter from the President which is as follows:

The Making of The FreeBSD Foundation

My first introduction to FreeBSD came in the form of a tall, wirery, figure, camped out in the Walnut Creek CDROM machine room. Rod Grimes cut the figure of a true hacker: skin only touched by the rays of a glowing CRT, nicotine stains on his long fingers toned by hours of vi keywork, and a wardrobe comprised of faded blue jeans and worn out t-shirts. Regardless of what hours I worked during my internship that summer of 1993, Rod was always awake, hunched over his keyboard, putting all of his energy into the first ever release of FreeBSD.

I was between my second and third years working on an undergraduate degree at the University of California at Berkeley. Even attending the institute of BSD's genesis, I was completely unaware of Berkeley's contributions to UNIX. So it was really a stroke of luck, a random choice to take a job organizing OS/2 software into a CDROM distribution, that led me to Walnut Creek that summer to witness the making of FreeBSD 1.0. But without Rod's passion and dedication, I doubt I'd have realized the opportunity before me.

What I quickly learned from watching Rod and then delving into FreeBSD, was the incompleteness of my education from Berkeley. Sure I was technically proficient in computer algorithms and writing code, but my courses failed to give me a sense of the art of computer engineering: how to be a craftsman practicing my trade, how to design and build a complex system that is robust and maintainable, and how to collaborate successfully in such a system. The structure and methodology behind FreeBSD made it the perfect vehicle for absorbing the real world skills of being a successful programmer.

In 1993, the development model used by the BSDs was rarely encountered in open source projects: revision control, a bug tracking database, a coding style standard, the hardening of software through peer review and discussion, and a governing body to mediate write access to the code and to resolve disputes. Many of these pillars of professional and successful engineering are lacking in both corporate and open source environments today. In fact, it took almost a decade for BSD's main competitor Linux to catch up and adopt something as fundamental as revision control. In so many ways, FreeBSD's development model was superior and ahead of the times.

So I started my second education while completing my first. During my last two years at Berkeley I spent most of my free time, and some time I should have devoted to the classes for my degree, absorbing the lessons FreeBSD had to teach. The FreeBSD distribution offered practical examples of how to deal with almost any type of computer science challenge - examples that I found much more compelling than the contrived exercises in my text books. While I was learning I was also able to contribute in small ways. The reviews of my work were much more useful than for the projects associated with my formal studies. The feedback wasn't always delivered in the most pleasant way, but that in itself provided valuable experience on how to improve my people skills.

Small contributions lead to larger ones. The apprentice became a mentor. Upon receiving my degree, I found myself sitting on FreeBSD's governing body, the FreeBSD Core Team, with a skill set and experience in high demand and not found in other members of my graduating class.

The historical way to contribute back to the FreeBSD project has always been to volunteer time to enhance the "product" that is FreeBSD. For seven years this was the primary way I repaid FreeBSD for the valuable education I received by being part of its community. However, by 2000 I was struggling to find a better way to ensure the continued success of FreeBSD. FreeBSD's mindshare growth was slowing. Linux was starting to receive the attention and financial backing of large corporations. I wanted to create something that could promote, protect, and grow the use of FreeBSD even while the duties of my paid day job prevented me from personally achieving that mission. The natural answer was to form a corporation.

This had been done before. Jordan Hubbard was operating FreeBSD Inc., but its charter and activities were never well defined. I wanted to build an entity that engendered the trust of the FreeBSD community, followed in the Open Source spirit of doing good for good's sake, yet could perform tasks only possible with a legal corporate entity. The FreeBSD Foundation, an open-book, 501(c)3 U.S. non-profit charity, was born.

Fast forward a little over a decade, and the FreeBSD Foundation still adheres to the same mission I defined for it in 2000. Every year we sponsor BSD conferences and events around the globe, work to protect the intellectual property of the FreeBSD project, visit institutions and corporations to promote the use of FreeBSD, and fund research and development projects that enhance the FreeBSD OS. But even with our $400,000 annual budget there are so many things we want to do, but can't. Just as was the case for me in 2000, the FreeBSD Foundation is searching today for new ways to help support the FreeBSD project.

In the coming months you will see one of the ways the FreeBSD Foundation is changing. Using the feedback we have gleaned from countless meetings with FreeBSD consumers both large and small, the FreeBSD Foundation is sponsoring the work to fully specify and estimate the cost of implementing critical enhancements to the FreeBSD platform. Developed in partnership with the FreeBSD community, the goal of this effort is to provide a roadmap for infrastructure improvements that have long been needed, but have gone unsatisfied due to lack of a coherent direction. This model will also give current and potential supporters of the FreeBSD Foundation concrete insight into our future plans.

I can't imagine what my life would be like today without my FreeBSD experience. Through the FreeBSD Foundation I hope to give back to the FreeBSD community even more than I have received, and help to ensure that the next young engineer has the same opportunities as I did. However the FreeBSD Foundation can't do it alone. If FreeBSD has impacted your life, please visit our website and help us to continue FreeBSD's legacy.

Justin T. Gibbs
President and Founder
The FreeBSD Foundation

Monday, December 5, 2011

End-of-Year Fundraising Campaign

The FreeBSD Foundation has been proudly supporting the FreeBSD Project and community for 11 years now. Every year we sponsor BSD conferences and events around the globe, help developers with their travel expenses to attend these conferences, work to protect the intellectual property of the FreeBSD project, visit institutions and corporations to promote the use of FreeBSD, purchase equipment to grow the FreeBSD infrastructure, and fund research and development projects that enhance the FreeBSD OS.

We are deeply grateful for all the support we receive from so many individuals and organizations who value FreeBSD. We currently are at the half way point towards our goal of raising $400,000 this year. We are hoping that you, the FreeBSD community, will help us meet our goal by making a donation this month. By donating to the foundation, you are donating to the FreeBSD Project and community as a whole.

We have had the privilege of meeting many FreeBSD enthusiasts in person, through email, and on the phone. We are always impressed with the passion that these people have for FreeBSD. Most volunteer their precious time after work and some are more fortunate where they actually get paid by their companies to work with FreeBSD. When there is a BSD related conference we usually get quite a few travel grant applications requesting help with developers' travel expenses. Thanks to your support, we have been able to sponsor the travel expenses of developers from Mexico, Lithuania, New Zealand, Germany, Japan, Denmark, and many other countries.

Some of these developers recently wrote personal stories about how receiving help with their travel expenses to attend conferences helped them with their FreeBSD work. These stories will be published in our upcoming newsletter. One developer from Japan, whose attendance we've sponsored more than once, is a technical writer. The Japanese development community is comprised of earnest and skillful people. They are sharp programmers who know many programming languages, but learning and understanding English is difficult for many of them. He attends the conferences so he can keep up with the latest FreeBSD information and provide this information to the Japanese FreeBSD community in their native spoken language.

Another recent travel grant recipient runs a FreeBSD mirror server in Sweden, a country that apparently does not have many BSD users. He had a chance to meet many FreeBSD developers for the first time by attending EuroBSDCon. He has recently started submitting patches to our FreeBSD documentation set, and will hopefully become a committer, literally doubling the number of committers in Sweden!

Lastly, a Canadian developer that we've sponsored told us, "By attending these conferences I have gained valuable experience, connected with fascinating people that use FreeBSD, learned from presenters and most importantly, forged some friendships that will last a lifetime."

These grant recipients have given far more back to the FreeBSD community than what they have received from the foundation. And, this is only one area where your donations provide a significant, tangible, measurable benefit for the entire FreeBSD community.

If you benefit from FreeBSD, please donate. With your donation, we can continue to support FreeBSD activities like:

  • development projects to support emerging technologies such as IPv6 support in FreeBSD, GEM, KMS, and DRI support for Intel drivers, Five New TCP Congestion Control Algorithms, and much more.
  • BSD conferences around the globe, including Europe, Japan, Canada, US, and Ukraine.
  • giving students and contributors the opportunity to attend conferences and developer summits.
  • maintaining the infrastructure of computers and equipment that support our community.
  • growing the FreeBSD community through marketing and outreach to users and businesses.
  • protecting the FreeBSD trademarks and providing the project with access to legal counsel.
  • helping FreeBSD continue to serve as the foundation for research and enterprise.
Please consider making a donation so we can continue, and increase, our support of the FreeBSD Project and community! Visit The FreeBSD Foundation website to find out how you can make a difference for FreeBSD today.

Thank you for your support!