December 21, 2023

Looking back on the nearly nine months I have been with the Foundation since joining in April, I want to reflect on the things I’ve learned and the progress I’ve made.   


From a partnership perspective, a big “A-ha!” moment for me came when I looked at all of the companies that consistently donate to the Foundation and found that these are the same companies that are very involved in the development community. It’s not exactly 1:1, but there is a very strong correlation. This realization caused me to broaden my messaging from talking about how the Foundation supports corporate users to a more comprehensive message about the value of getting involved in the community.

At the FreeBSD Developer Summit in Coimbra in September, I had the privilege of facilitating a community SWOT exercise. I have found this to be helpful in other communities as a way to build consensus towards agreed-to roadmaps and plans.

I have also been spending time getting to know the technology and the community of committers, contributors, and maintainers. Every open source community needs to grow, and ours is no exception. In terms of how I approach corporate partners, I always look for ways to help build their capacity to contribute by including committer mentorship in my proposals.

In terms of the Research part of my role, my biggest learning is just how collaborative the open source world is across communities and foundations. It has been wonderful to get to know and learn from people at the Open Forum Europe, who have done great work improving the CRA on behalf of open source, and at the Open Source Initiative, in particular the Open Policy Alliance which is elevating open source voices in US policy circles. I was happy to collaborate with the OPA to respond to the Office of the National Cyber Director’s RFI for Open-Source Software Security: Areas of Long-Term Focus and Prioritization.


In terms of Partnerships, I’d say that the year has gone about as well as I expected, though not quite as well as I had hoped. As of this writing, we managed to increase the number of corporate partners that donated to the Foundation this year by about 20% compared to the average number of companies that donated each year from 2019 and 2022. We also increased the total corporate donations by almost 20%. I’m relatively happy with this outcome. I do wish that I had made more progress connecting with some companies that use FreeBSD and don’t participate in the upstream development community. 

This table breaks down partnership progress.

No. of companies reached out toNo. of companies talked toNo. of companies with outstanding partnership proposalsTotal corporate partnersTotal first time corporate partners

Of the 11 corporate partners this year, I would like to give a special Thank You to the companies in our Five Year ClubBeckhoff, Juniper Networks, Netflix, Stormshield, and Tarsnap, and particular gratitude to NetApp, the Foundation’s single largest cumulative corporate donor from 2019 to 2023. Your consistent support year after year helps us plan for the future. These and all the other generous donations underwrite the vital development work of the Foundation, which my colleague Joe Mingrone details here. Thank you!

This has been a team effort and I am grateful to my Foundation colleagues for all their help, in particular to Deb for introducing me to so many long standing corporate partners, and to Ed and Joe for all their help developing proposals that meet partners where they are on their consumption/contribution journey.

Another win this year that I’ve written about in previous updates is the enterprise working group. Significantly, Chris Moerz has been working with the bhyve and jails communities (special thanks to Michael Dexter for the collaboration!) to make progress on manageability. Thanks to all for the hard work! And the Open Container Initiative Technical Oversight Board recently voted to approve the proposal to create a Working Group to extend the OCI runtime specification to support FreeBSD! Huge thanks to all involved, especially Doug Rabson. I added a new section to the Enterprise WG Wiki with a status table, which you can see here

Promoting FreeBSD adoption by more enterprises is about more than features. It also means inclusion in de facto enterprise standards. On this front, progress has been mixed. On the plus side, and thanks to the support from the great team at the Center for Internet Security, we are in the process of creating a CIS Benchmark report for FreeBSD. These are the go-to hardening guides for CIOs, CISOs, and many others who want to be sure they are following best practices in the deployment and configuration of key platform tech. The Foundation has contracted with an experienced FreeBSD developer and user to do this important work. In other cases, our efforts to secure FreeBSD support in key enterprise platforms and related open source software have yet to bear fruit. An important part of our commitment to support users who need modern versions of critical enterprise software such as Samba is to obtain FreeBSD support in a widely-adopted CI system for open source. If official support cannot be obtained in a reasonable timeframe, we may implement a workaround, which would incur costs for the Foundation but ultimately provide the same benefits to FreeBSD users.  

At the intersection of Partnerships and Research, we also announced the new FreeBSD SSDF Attestation to help commercial users of FreeBSD comply with new US Government procurement regulations. 

Thoughts for 2024

Especially after hearing Allan Jude’s presentation at the vendor summit on the benefits of being an upstream first company, it is just so clearly in corporate users’ best interest to be involved upstream. Going into 2024, I am really motivated and excited to bring this message to as many companies as possible. Sidenote – if you have a story about how you personally and/or your company has benefited from being involved in the FreeBSD development community, please reach out! We would love to hear it and help you tell it.

In terms of Research for 2024, in addition to continuing to track and contribute to policy discussions, I am interested in exploring opportunities to convene the experts in the FreeBSD community to blaze new trails. A few of the big tech trends where FreeBSD users are in the lead include high performance and highly efficient computing, new security approaches, and edge AI. What do you think? Are there other areas where the Foundation can help amplify and champion the great work FreeBSD users are doing to advance computing? How can the Foundation be most effective as a convening body? Please let me know.

Thanks to everyone who has welcomed me into this community and helped me learn. I am excited about what we can accomplish in 2024!

Greg Wallace