Monday, December 9, 2013

Faces of FreeBSD - Brooks Davis


Each week we are sharing a story from someone involved in FreeBSD. This is our Faces of FreeBSD series. It may be a story from someone who’s received funding from us to work on development projects, run conferences, travel to conferences, or advocate for FreeBSD. Or, it may be from someone who gives back to FreeBSD financially or in another way. But, it is always from someone who is making a positive difference in the FreeBSD world.

Here’s a chance to get to know your fellow FreeBSD enthusiast. Sit back and enjoy another 2013 Faces of FreeBSD story.

Brooks' Story

I’m a Senior Software Engineer for SRI International, working on multiple clean slate research projects using FreeBSD as the operating system for research on the hardware-software interface.  A  FreeBSD committer since 2001 and core team member from 2006 through 2012, I've built an HPC cluster based on FreeBSD, implemented an internal source code sharing system with FreeBSD and Trac, and most recently helped port FreeBSD to an open source CPU to enable architecture, systems, and security research.  I've also helped drive our transition from a GNU toolchain to a more modern LLVM based toolchain.

Outside the world of computing I’m a foodie, gardener, home brewer of beer, mead and cider, woodworker, and blacksmith.

My first exposure to FreeBSD was a floppy disk-based SLIP router installed in my high school in 1993/4 by a local FreeBSD-based ISP.  Distracted as a Solaris admin during college, I returned to FreeBSD almost immediately after graduation when FreeBSD made it trivial to set up a PPP router at home.  The Aerospace Corporation, my first post-college job, involved working with FreeBSD due to our extensive use of dummynet in our research labs.  Over the next decade-plus I spread FreeBSD from the lab to the largest computing cluster at the company and to an internal system hosting over 350 projects.

Now I work to make FreeBSD better, such as working on toolchain and build system issues with a focus on medium to large embedded systems.  Our research group developed an open source CPU based on the 64-bit MIPS ISA that we use to explore the hardware-software interface.  I maintained Clang and LLVM ports, enhanced the FreeBSD build and release system to work without root permissions, and wrote and modified device drivers for our platform. I also maintained a number of high performance computing related ports including Sun Grid Engine and Ganglia as well as a number of Trac modules.  

One of the reasons I like FreeBSD is the community involved in the process of building a principled, technically-advanced operating system platform. Not only do we produce a great product, but we have fun doing it.

I appreciate how the FreeBSD Foundation has helped me both directly and indirectly to attend conferences, developer’s meetings, vendor summits, and events like Google Summer of Code mentors summits.  I’ve received travel grants for a number of these events and the FreeBSD Foundation sponsors many BSD conferences where I have presented, including AsiaBSDCon, BSDCan, EuroBSDCon, and BSDDay Argentina.

Donating to the FreeBSD Foundation is an easy way to support FreeBSD. Even the smallest donation helps as your mere presence as a donator demonstrates community support. I'm excited by the early results of the FreeBSD Foundation’s recent expansion of staff and look forward to continued growth.  I donate every year.

Brooks Davis

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