March 1, 2018

The FreeBSD Foundation funded my attendance and part of my travel to APRICOT 2018 in Kathmandu, Nepal.

APRICOT is the largest annual internet community conference in the Asia-Pacific region. Nearly one thousand attendees show up for two weeks of workshops, tutorials and presentations. While the primary focus of the conference is on networking, the conference also attracts a sizable number of systems people. I also attended some of the APTLD conference which overlapped for a couple of days during the APRICOT workshop week. This was the first time I attended APRICOT.

During the workshop week, I helped out with the first ever APRICOT IPv6 Hackathon. A group of twenty-odd men and women from across the region worked together in teams on projects to make improvements to the IPv6 ecosystem. I spent an exhausting day teaching one-on-one, helping out with strange software problems and generally running around encouraging and helping participants. Of course I often suggested that “you know, what you’re trying to do is a lot easier on FreeBSD” and handed out several FreeBSD USB pen drives.

I presented a talk on “Modern network servers” to encourage DNS operators in particular to consider FreeBSD on ARM64 as a platform for authoritative servers. I also presented “This one goes to 11!” highlighting some of the exciting work that has been happening in FreeBSD over the past years. The FreeBSD community “lost” several loyal users in the internet community in the early 2000s during the difficult transition from 4.x to 5.x. FreeBSD 11.1 is a very different operating system than FreeBSD 5.2.1 and has more than enough compelling features for people to come back (ZFS, DTrace, pkg/poudriere and more).

During the “hallways tracks” I had several interesting conversations with long-time FreeBSD users and people interested in becoming new FreeBSD users. FreeBSD is by no means dying!

I also attended the APNIC “Tech Girls Social”, a forum for women to share their experiences in the tech community. While the FreeBSD community is by no means perfect, we do strive to be an inclusive and welcoming community. I encouraged attendees to apply for FreeBSD Foundation travel grants and to submit proposals to present at BSD conferences. I look forward to seeing at least some people I met here joining the FreeBSD community.

APRICOT was a very busy conference but very much worth attending. The FreeBSD community can learn a lot from the internet community. I have put APRICOT on my ever-growing list of annual conferences I must attend every year.

– contributed by Philip Paeps, FreeBSD Foundation Board Member