Thursday, May 31, 2012

BSDCan Trip Report: Giovanni Trematerra

The next trip report is from Giovanni Trematerra:

First off, a huge thank you to the FreeBSD Foundation. Without your help I couldn't afford the travel. I was very happy to use my vacation days to attend the Developer Summit and BSDCan 2012.

I arrived in Ottawa at 8th of May in the evening and went to Royal Oak where I met a lot of FreeBSD developers--they are very nice and smart guys. We had a good time together. The first day I attended the ports working group at the Developer Summit. It was nice to see that we are close to having an external toolchain to build ports and the new packing system looks very good and promising. There were very good ideas for a new infrastructure of the ports system.

The second day I joined the virtualization working group. That was something new to me and helped me to discover a new world with a lot of challenging problems to solve. In the evening we had reports from the other groups and then a brainstorming session for the upcoming FreeBSD 10 version.

The first day of BSDCan I followed the talk of Kirk McKusick about locking in the FreeBSD kernel. The topic is too hard and complex to be understood inside a talk but Kirk gave a very clean overview of how things work in general. Then I went to MRT 256 room where some FreeBSD developers gave an overview of their current work on the project. The last day was spent attending some talks in the morning and the closing session in the evening.

After dinner we usually met at the hacking lounge, a room at ground floor of "90 University" residence to hack around together. That was a great time for me. I had the opportunity to talk in person with the other developers and show them the project I am working on. I received feedback and different points of view that helped me to better understand how I can improve things. I had the opportunity to work with Attilio Rao to make a detailed and concrete plan to get things done. Florian Smeets offered his help to test and benchmark the changes when they are ready.

In the end, it was a great experience for me, very inspiring. I really hope I'll be able to return back next year.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

BSDCan Trip Report: Julien Laffaye

The next trip report is from

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

BSDCan Trip Report: Mark Linimon

The next trip report is from Mark Linimon:

Recently, thanks to Foundation funding, I was able to travel to Ottawa, ON, to attend the FreeBSD 2012 Developer's Summit and BSDCan 2012.  Here are some of the highlights.

I arrived early to be able to meet informally with people before the "big rush" began.  In particular, both before and during the  conference, we had meetings among the people responsible for wrangling the machines, including Simon Nielsen, Brad Davis, Sean Bruno, Ben Haga, Peter Losher, myself, and others.  These discussions were quite valuable to determine what we can do in both the short- and medium-term with respect to bringing new machines and functionality online.

On the first day of the DevSummit, I presided over two workshop sessions on "the state of the FreeBSD Ports Collection."  The first session was a summary of what the ports teams had accomplished in the preceding 12 months:

  • Hardware updates to the pointyhat build clusters.
  • The redports distributed tinderbox system.
  • Status of ports on FreeBSD 10.
  • Status of ports on clang.
  • A brief survey of pkgng. 
  • Status of the "switchable ports compiler" task.
The second session was a discussion of plans for the rest of the year:
  • Package sets.
  • The VCS switch to svn.
  • The status of next-generation options code, optionsNG.
  • Plans for a Content Distribution Network.
These sessions seemed to be well-received.  I have made notes of some of the feedback and will be incorporating them into a writeup soon.

During BSDCan itself, I presented some summary slides of the above, edited to be suitable for a more general audience.

Baptiste Daroussin's BSDCan talk on pkgng, the next-generation package management system for FreeBSD, was the highlight of the trip for me.  At 3 different times during the Q&A session, there was applause in repsonse to questions of the form "but will it do  *this* too?"  Congratulations to Baptiste and everyone else who has  contributed to the code and to testing it.  I believe he has fulfilled  the promise that I and others saw in his ideas at BSDCan 2011.  You can watch the video of his presentation on YouTube

At other times, I was able to sit down face-to-face with several people whom I had previously not met in person, who had questions or suggestions about the Ports Collection, including David Chisnall,  Justin Hibbits, Tom Judge, and Andrew Pantyukhin.  Each was eager to ask how they could help.

During one evening, we had a dinner session between the majority of the Ports Management Team (portmgr) who were in attendence: Thomas Abthorpe, Erwin Lansing, Beat Gaetzi, Baptiste Daroussin, and myself.  This is the first time in my knowledge that there had been as many of us together in one place.  Mixed in with the socializing were discussions about current issues.

I was also able to talk about documentation issues with Glen Barber, Warren Block, and others.  They are bringing some new energy and new  ideas to our documentation team.

Among the other people I was able to have good discussions with were John Baldwin, Brooks Davis, Julien Laffaye, and Steve Wills.  A lot  of "oh-by-the-way" ideas tend to come up during these kinds of face- to-face discussions that simply don't occur online, no matter how  used to online communications we are.

I also made sure to remind Justin Gibbs not to forget to mention all the hardware purchases that the Foundation has recently made when he's doing his "Foundation pitch".  These purchases have modernized the ports cluster and will be especially valuable as we start building  packages for pkgng in parallel with the existing technology.  We would have not been able to keep up with the increased load without them.

All in all I consider this a very successful trip.  A lot of good ideas were exchanged; we have several new people who seem to have a lot of energy and enthusiasm; and we were able to bring a lot of people "onto the same page", especially with respect to the cluster administration and Ports Collection issues.

I appreciate the Foundation making it possible for me to attend this year.

Monday, May 28, 2012

BSDCan Trip Report: Daichi Goto

The next trip report is from Daichi Goto:

I traveled with Hiroki SATO to Ottawa, Canada from May to 15, 2012, staying at the residence of Ottawa University and joining the FreeBSD Developer Summit, FreeBSD  VendorSummit, FreeBSD DocSummit, BSD Certification Group meeting, and BSDCan 2012.

What did you accomplish by attending the conference?
I have written ten BSDCan2012 related articles for the “FreeBSD Daily Topics” section of The articles describe the FreeBSD VendorSummit, FreeBSD DevSummit, Ports Working Group, Hyper-V FreeBSD support, FreeBSD kload, ZFS improvements, pkgng, PBIs, the BSDCan auction, and FreeBSD Developer Awards. Articles will be posted one per day and the complete list can be found at

What did you learn?

I didn't know about FreeBSD kload until after I participated in that session. That is a facinating technology. In addition, the Hyper-V section by Microsoft and NetApp's engineers was interesting, too.

What contacts did you make?

  • Hiroki SATO: we always travel together and I have learned a lot of things from him. As a matter of fact, he is my FreeBSD teacher.       
  • Tetsuo SAITO: FreeBSD engineer of KDDI Web Communication. I and Sato-san invited him to the VendorSummit and the DevSummit.
  • many other FreeBSD folks

Links to blogs, white papers, or reports that can be helpful for the Foundation:
Articles will be posted one per day and the complete list can be found at

Thanks again to the Foundation for your support!

Friday, May 25, 2012

BSDCan Trip Report: Marius Strobl

The FreeBSD Foundation sponsored 14 developers to attend this year's BSDCan DevSummit and conference. Trip reports are starting to come in and we'll post them here over the next few weeks. Today's trip report is from Marius Strobl:

The generous travel grant from the FreeBSD Foundation allowed me for the first time to attend BSDCan 2012 and the associated Developer Summit. Going there was already an interesting experience. Originally, Florian Smeets, whom I later shared a room with at the University of Ottawa Residence, Benedict Reuschling, and myself had the same direct flight from Frankfurt to Ottawa. Unfortunately, that flight was canceled and we were reassigned to three different non-direct flights instead. Mine was via Toronto, with Andrew Pantyukhin also being on the plane from Frankfurt to Toronto. Later, on the connecting flight from Toronto to Ottawa, I  met my former mentor Marcel Moolenaar, which shows that at this time of year one can't really go to Canada without running into a fellow FreeBSD developer on the way there.

In general, attending these events allowed me to match the names of a lot of FreeBSD Project members with faces, most of whom I already had worked with in one way or another in the past but haven't met at an EuroBSDCon so far. Among these were John Baldwin, Glen Barber, Sean Bruno, Adrian Chadd, Alan Cox, Debbi Goodkin, Peter Grehan, Joseph Kong, Kenneth D. Merry, David E. O'Brien, Attilio Rao, Bryan Venteicher, Ivan Voras, Peter Wemm, and several others.

It was also nice to once again meet Max Laier, who originally is from Germany and whom I saw last at EuroBSDCon 2005 as he now works in the US. Unfortunately, I missed Jake Burkholder, who visited the Developer Summit for one evening and maintained FreeBSD/sparc64 before me.

Taking part in the Developer Summit, in particular the Network Stack and Toolchain working groups as well as the 10.0 Brainstorming/Planning and the Vendor Summit, once again provided me with a good overview of what's currently going on in the project and what the plans for the future are. It also allowed me to get the other developers' opinion on changing the mii(4) framework to power down PHYs when the corresponding interface is down for 10.0. The "An Overview of Locking in the FreeBSD Kernel", "FreeBSD on Freescale QorIQ Data Path Acceleration Architecture Devices", "High speed packet I/O: challenges and solutions", "IPv6", "Kernel Debugging Tricks" and "Recent Advances in IPv6 Security" talks I attended at BSDCan were very interesting. In particular, Stefan Bethke's "Ethernet Switch Framework" talk was enlightening as it went into great detail about the challenges of matching PHYs with MACs in off-the-shelf embedded networking gear and the resulting issues with newbus and the mii(4) framework.

Being at the DevSummit and BSDCan 2012 also gave me the opportunity to discuss partially longstanding issues with fellow developers, whom I'd also like to thank. In particular, these are:

  • John Baldwin for providing a solution for dealing with an ordering problem when compiling more than one driver into a single module affecting four MAC/PHY driver pairs (fix committed in r235255)
  • Alan Cox for providing me with hints on how to debug a problem seen with the machine independent VM system when running on machines with extra sparse memory. Unfortunately, this couldn't be delved into while in Ottawa due to lack of remote access to a machine exhibiting this problem.
  • Marcel Moolenaar for discussing his ongoing work on refactoring and unifying busdma(9) with me. Hopefully, this was helpful to him and in turn will allow the future busdma(9) framework to work on sparc64 and even fix the limitations of the current implementation and also on other architectures.
  • Bjoern Zeeb for looking into a fix I had for alignment issues in the IPv6 neighbor discover code (fix committed in r235681).

While hacking during these events, I finally also managed to commit support for the Atmel SAM9XE512 ARM-based Ethernut 5 boards in r235348, which as far as I can tell makes FreeBSD the first operating system besides Nut/OS to run out of tree on these BSD-licensed boards. I was also able to fix the remaining sparc64 related issues of compiler_rt in r235388, which later on was changed to replace libgcc in r235487, making FreeBSD/mips the only architecture to not use compiler_rt left.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

FreeBSD Foundation Prepares Launch of East Coast Mirror at NYI

From the joint press release with NYI:

The FreeBSD Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to supporting the FreeBSD Project and community, today announced that it is preparing the launch of its East Coast mirror at NYI (, a New York City-based, mission-critical data services provider specializing in colocation, dedicated servers, managed services, and business continuity solutions.

The mirror will replicate key West coast Project infrastructure at NYI Bridgewater, NYI's 40,000-square-foot datacenter in Bridgewater, New Jersey, located approximately 40 miles from New York City. The deployment will also include IPv6-only system build infrastructure.  

"This has been a great process," said George Neville-Neil, Board Member of the FreeBSD Foundation. "NYI has been instrumental in keeping things running smoothly for us, while offering us the benefit of their flexibility and expertise. We look forward to sharing the improved capabilities the mirror gives us with the Community."

"FreeBSD has been a critical component of everything we do," said Phillip Koblence, VP Operations, NYI. "We look upon this launch as our way of giving back to a community whose open source projects have enabled us to craft customized solutions for our customers from the inside out."

Main Benefits of East Coast Mirror:

  • Enterprise-grade redundancy and reliability for Project infrastructure
  • Reduced latency during heavy download times
  • Load-balancing between coasts
  • Up-to-date backups of all Project data synchronized via high-speed connections
  • Ability to move services between sites when doing scheduled maintenance 
  • Improved FreeBSD package building for end-users
  • IPv6 kernel and package build infrastructure

"Going forward, we expect even greater efficiencies," commented Neville-Neil. "We have ordered extra hardware for added package-building speed and to aid a related project, RedPorts, which is used by ports developers and maintainers to do test builds before release."

The East coast mirror at 999 Frontier is also notable because it is a significant upgrade of the FreeBSD Project’s infrastructure; provides dual-configuration so that experimental vs. production runs can be separated out, allowing changes to the ports system to be evaluated continuously rather than interrupting production flow; deploys to multiple sites, providing resiliency in the event of a failure; provides build capacity required to support continuous ports upgrades required to support binary packages, while maintaining ports-stable regression testing.

The FreeBSD Foundation is pleased to have been able to fund the purchase of the hardware. John Baldwin, Brad Davis, Steven Kreuzer, Mark Linimon, and Simon Nielsen from the FreeBSD Project worked on the build out and configuration of the systems, along with key members of the NYI team.

For more information about The FreeBSD Foundation, visit: For more information about NYI Bridgewater, read Data Center Knowledge's profile or visit the facility's official site:

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Foundation at BSDCan

BSDCan will be held next week in Ottawa, Canada. The Foundation is a gold sponsor of this event.

8 of the 9 Directors of the Foundation will be attending this event. There will be a Foundation booth during the conference with lots of swag and a shiny new brochure. Be sure to drop by, discuss the Foundation's work, and make a donation.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Why Colocation America Uses FreeBSD

Albert Ahdoot, Director of Business Development, recently sent this testimonial regarding the use of FreeBSD by Colocation America and its customers:

Colocation America provides colocation, dedicated server, VoIP, and managed data center hosting services for businesses that are looking to host their servers in the United States. With 22 data center locations, Colocation America has become one of the leading providers of hosting services. Most of our customers depend on the FreeBSD operating system to provide them with a secure environment to host their network infrastructure. They praise FreeBSD for its ability to encrypt sensitive data and for the ZFS advanced file system that makes managing server files a breeze. Many of our corporate clients choose to use FreeBSD to operate their MySQL database systems and email servers due to the exceptional networking components of the operating system.

Developers that choose to colocate their servers with us also choose to install FreeBSD on their dedicated servers. The open source nature of the BSD license gives them the flexibility they need to develop innovative software. Plus, they have access to an enterprise level operating system that is free, has an active development community, and which lets them contribute their own skills to make the system better for their own development. We have asked several clients why they decided to use FreeBSD and the answer has always been the same: the cost and networking ability of the operating system rivals its commercial license competitors.

Our customers are not the only fans of FreeBSD. We use FreeBSD to manage our shared hosting servers due to the OS ability to manage firewalls and web applications while handling the server loads of several hosting accounts at once. With the WebHost Manager cPanel add-on for managing multiple web hosting accounts on a single dedicated server, our shared hosting server is able to provide customers looking for cheap website hosting. The community support of FreeBSD, along with its open source nature, provides a secure environment for our clients to host in. To find out more about the dedicated server hosting with the FreeBSD operating system, you can visit our FreeBSD dedicated server page.