June 8, 2023

This year I had the opportunity to attend BSDCan in Ottawa and assist with the video streaming for the conference. The FreeBSD Foundation was kind enough to cover my accommodation for the trip, which I am very grateful for. While it is great that the conferences are back to in person, the several year break left us out of practice for the streaming work. It was a rather hectic time getting everything to work smoothly for both the FreeBSD developers’ summit and the conference itself. I like to think we did a good job with what we had, though I hope to do a better job in the years to come.

There were a number of interesting talks this year. It’s good to see that things are still going well in the BSD world and many people are still working on interesting stuff. I only was able to sit and watch a few talks, but there were two I really enjoyed.

Hiroki Sato’s syspack talk was very interesting because I do a lot of configuration management in my work. It’s a very simple, low dependency config management system, and importantly would have all the considerations for managing FreeBSD systems, which most CMSes do not. I could see this being very useful for someone who needs basic configuration management of FreeBSD machines, and it could easily manage an entire network with only a little bit of central management infrastructure. It also would be very useful for those lightly managed machines, where you tend to get it working and then leave it be for years until something breaks and you now have to reverse-engineer how you got your own system working. If you made the changes with a couple syspack configs then it would be an easy trace of everything you changed.

Fan Chung’s VT-IME talk was also rather interesting, dealing with adding an input method editor to VT, the FreeBSD terminal. This would allow users to type characters beyond what’s on a standard keyboard, which is increasingly necessary with unicode characters in filenames and so on. I expected this to be a rather complicated ordeal that would require massive additions to VT, but it was actually quite straightforward and I could easily follow along despite knowing absolutely nothing about the inner workings of VT.

I also had a great time in the hacker lounge, talking with others about their ideas, and found a few others who had thoughts on how to improve the video streaming for future years. Many (hopefully) fruitful conversations were had, and I’m looking forward to trying some of those ideas out.

BSDCan was excellent again this year and I hope to be back again in 2024.

Contributed by Andrew Fengler