Thursday, October 31, 2013

EuroBSDCon Trip Report: Mike Ma

The next trip report is from Mike Ma:

I recently had a fantastic trip to Malta in late September, and I attended FreeBSD devsummit together with EuroBSDcon 2013 for 4 days in total. I would like to first thank the FreeBSD Foundation. As a GSoC student this year, I was supported by the FreeBSD Foundation to make the trip happen. The weather was incredibly nice, so I had some extra summer time there since I'm in rather a cold country. It was the first time for me to attend a FOSS conference, well, (not?) surprisingly, I was the only Chinese person there. It was totally different from the research conferences I have attended, where I always see a lot of Asian faces.

One big thing I did at the devsummit was to present my GSoC project during a "student session" . My project was about porting glusterfs. There were four GSoC student talks where we talked about our biggest achievement as well as the problems/difficulties we had. I didn't have time to do a demostration of my project, and I illustrated and explained the experimental results I had at that point. I got very helpful advice on how to improve and extend my experiments.  I was seeing a big performance drop when using glusterfs in comparison to using the underlying filesystem, and people suggested for me to see if there's a similar performance drop on Linux. Then I figured out that the performance gap was normal, so I'm now ready to submit my changes to GlusterFS. If everything goes through, I'll then make it appear in our ports tree.

The most interesting talk to me at the devsummit was lldb on FreeBSD. Ed Maste did a brief demo and I was quite impressed by the smarter and more powerful debugger. I talked to Ed afterwards saying I'm willing to join the project, and I've now set up all the environment. I'll first look at some build failures and start with fixing some entrance-level issues.

I also liked the ZFS session on the first day. It gave me information about various issues and features about ZFS.  Sadly, I didn't manage to go to ZFS talk at EuroBSDcon as I was doing my own presentation at the same time.

Gavin and Gabor helped the GSoC students a lot at the conference.  They were very nice to introduce us to developers related to our project and interests. I also had some random talk with many FreeBSD developers, such as hps@, jhl@, Ilya, etc.  I got to know their projects and some FreeBSD history.

For the future work, I have talked with my mentor Sean Bruno. We agreed to look at some PRs that he is in charge of, which could be a good start for me. I also talked to Pedro, the mentor of the FUSE GSoC project during coding time.  He's also maintaining ext2fs and I'm now looking at fast symlink for our ext2fs implementation.

So far, it's quite a mess as there's a lot to do. Hopefully I'll have to time to do everything I'm interested in.

Again, many thanks to Sean, everyone who helped me with my project, and everyone I met in the conference. And a huge thanks to FreeBSD Foundation for funding my trip.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

EuroBSDCon Trip Report: Isabell Long

The next trip report is from Isabell Long:

In the last week of September 2013, thanks to Foundation funding, I flew to Malta to partake in the FreeBSD DevSummit and EuroBSDcon. I spent a total of six days in Malta, experiencing the lovely weather, quite British culture, and food that on my first night included one of my favourites - rabbit - which turns out to be a national dish.

As a documentation committer, my main reason for attending the conference was to attend the documentation session and meet face-to-face with many people who have, for the last eighteen months, been just names, email addresses and IRC nicks. That session was productive as we used the time to hack on PRs and Handbook chapters. After all, it's important to have a balance between discussion and working on problems in-person in order to get things done. There was a discussion about the pressing and frustrating issue of the FreeBSD website design, where the pros and cons of frameworks such as Ruby on Rails were mentioned.

In the DevSummit track of the conference on the Saturday, the Google Summer of Code students' presentations of their stunningly complex work were great. At the end of the Saturday came the long awaited beach social event, which for some involved swimming at 11pm in the pleasantly warm sea. I can't swim, so I just paddled! On the Sunday, the keynote seemed scaremongering, all about how "nothing is secure", but it was nevertheless interesting. In the afternoon, as Netflix is a service I use, I attended one of their sessions. I was only just able to find a seat due to it being so popular and me being late due to the "hallway track" during the coffee break, but it was worth it - the statistics of the amount of US Internet traffic they account for were almost unbelievably high. Kirk McKusick's talk was one of three that ended the conference, and it was very informative for me because it seemed to touch on a lot of the basics.

I have come back and noticed how cold it is, but armed with a list of things to do on the documentation side, a new found love of learning interesting things, a wish to get involved in other areas of the FreeBSD project, and have more contact in terms of work with some other developers who I talked to at length over the dinners.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

NYI Whitepaper Available

As part of our mission to serve the FreeBSD community, we have increased our efforts to educate people on FreeBSD. One of these efforts was to fund a project to produce white papers on using FreeBSD in different applications. Here's our first one called Managed Services Using FreeBSD at NYI by Joseph Kong. From the Executive Summary:

This white paper describes the challenges associated with being a managed services provider, which include interacting with the wider Internet, ensuring high availability, recovering from data loss, and compartmentalizing systems and data. To surmount these challenges, this white paper describes several FreeBSD-based solutions: PF, CARP, pfsync, HAProxy, GEOM mirroring, FreeNAS, ZFS, rsync, and jails. Each solution has been battle-tested by NYI, an ISP headquartered in New York, whose customers include Men’s Journal, Rolling Stone, and Us Magazine.

Monday, October 7, 2013

EuroBSDCon Trip Report: Marius Strobl

EuroBSDCon was recently held in Malta. The first trip report is from Marius Strobl:

First off, I would like to thank Andre Oppermann and his team for organizing such an amazing conference and developer summit! It would have been a great event even if it had not taken place in Malta but that location really made it outrageous. I totally did not expect to be able to go swimming in the sea at 9:30 PM as part of the social event with water that actually felt warmer than the surrounding air - just to mention one of the many highlights. Seeing all that people having fun in the sea at night with glow sticks around their wrists was a lovely sight, too. Thus, it speaks for itself that I am also very grateful to the FreeBSD Foundation for sponsoring me to attend EuroBSDcon 2013 as well as the associated FreeBSD Developer Summit, which both would have been unlikely undertakings without their generous support.

As with other BSD-related conferences, getting there turned out to be interesting as Ed Schouten had his seat next to mine across the aisle on that plane. Moreover, Ilya Bakulin and three additional OpenBSD folks working at genua GmbH that I know from other events also were on that flight. However, given that EuroBSDcon 2013 was not my first such conference, the list of usual suspects I have not met before gets considerably shorter over time. Nevertheless, I still managed to make contact with some nice people for the first time: Lars Engels, Andriy Gapon, Jeremie Le Hen, Navdeep Parhar, Colin Percival and Gleb

Things I achieved during EuroBSDcon 2013 and the associated FreeBSD Developer Summit include:

  • discussing the sparc64-specific aspects of the GET_STACK_USAGE macro with Alexander Motin (committed as r255937, later on merged verbatim to powerpc in r256007 by Nathan Whitehorn)
  • discussing problems with the current powerpc and sparc64 implementations of the counter(9) API with Andriy Gapon and Gleb Smirnoff (unfortunately, no good and obvious solution was found and I have to benchmark some possible approaches first)
  • getting a private status update about a GPL-free toolchain in NetBSD by Joerg Sonnenberger
  • getting my shiny new PGP key signed by Dag-Erling Smørgrav in his role as FreeBSD Security Officer, as well as by some others
  • talking to Colin Percival about getting freebsd-update(8) bits for powerpc and sparc64 in place now that we also and already have switched to cross-building the corresponding releases beginning with FreeBSD 9.2, which he intends to look over in the next couple of days
  • talking to Baptiste Daroussin about possibilities for improving the situation with ports and packages for sparc64
  • extending my English vocabulary by "wick" with the help of Isabell Long (one torch at the beach the social event took place was missing one)
The session that interested me the most at the FreeBSD Developer Summit was the "Networking" one. It was very informative to get a hold of the various performance issues in our network stack different parties are struggling with and how people intend to fix them. At EuroBSDcon, I probably enjoyed the talk "FreeBSD BHyve Hypervisor hosting Other Systems" by Peter Grehan best. Given that I last had a bit of look at BHyve as part of writing my master's thesis - which also has some FreeBSD/i386 PV on Xen coverage - around April, it was surprising to see what progress BHyve has made since then.

Before and afterwards, I had some nice and interesting chats with Peter, too. As it turned out, he also is concerned with the direction FreeBSD is going with clang/LLVM and the possibility that some - in his case 32-bit powerpc - platform support will be sacrificed along that road. Moreover, as an employee of NetApp he once more confirmed that GPLed toolchains are of no concern for such companies as these bits are only used for developing products but are not part of the latter themselves. Before, Marcel Moolenaar essentially raised the same worries about FreeBSD/ia64 and effectively said the same about GCC and friends being no problem for Juniper at EuroBSDcon 2011. So the question remains: which are the mysterious vendors who we shall nuke all GPLed source code out of the FreeBSD base at any cost for?