November 14, 2022
The FreeBSD Foundation was generous enough to sponsor my trip to EuroBSDCon,
and I am extremely appreciative for the ability to attend this event in-person.
EuroBSDCon 2022 is the first BSD conference I have attended, and it will certainly not
be my last. I have been submitting patches for the ports tree since 2003 and have been
an avid ports committer since 2014. I am maintaining over 800 ports and recently have
grown keen interest in the src tree. I have started working with the Foundation staff to
bring Pre Commit CI (Continuous Integration) to the src tree. I am being mentored by Li-
Wen. Recently I have ported Cirrus-CI CI pipeline for the src tree which is still pending
review. And my purpose for attending the Conference was to present these updates and
get feedback to better understand the developer’s expectation for such a system. Then I
can utilize those concepts/expectations in our CI system.
I arrived in Vienna a day early and was able to spend some time with the members of
the current (CORE12) and previous CORE team, since I had just stepped down from
my duties as Core-Secretary. The CORE hand over normally takes place during a
dinner meeting at BSDCAN, but as the in-person BSDCAN was cancelled The CORE
team decided to make this happen at EuroBSDCon. Additionally, this would give me the
chance to collaborate with the current core-secretary@ and hand over some process
workflow. Unfortunately, this didn’t happen as Sergio couldn’t attend the event due to
some unforeseen circumstances. We did end up discussing on different past and
present tasks of CORE-11 and CORE-12.
The DevSummit was quite interesting and allows for us learn what other developers are
working around and what the expectations are from developers’ perspective. The focus
was on the design and implementation of code in terms of src/ports/doc tree. I have also
presented my session on the CI pipelines in one of these sessions. The opening
session included introductions and attendees discussing what they liked most about
FreeBSD, which I thought was very enlightening. It also gave me a chance to network
with other Committers whom I have never seen in my life, but have communicated
through email and IRC.
The following day marked the official start of EuroBSDCon. The day started with a
keynote from Frank Karlitschek; an important topic, which ended up as a sales pitch.
The compliance presentation by Eirik Øverby was also interesting. He is a repeat
presenter at EuroBSDCon and his presentation on how he runs a payment system
using only FreeBSD and FreeBSD derived products is always enlightening. Especially
the cases when they must be compliant with different requirements for payment
gateways and standardization for different certificate. Next, I attended a session from
Brooks Davis where he presented a session on how to add syscall, which was really
tempting and gave me more keen interests working on the src tree. After a really good
lunch the session restarted with quite a few interesting topics, and I opted for the
DTrace and eBPF session from Mateusz Piotrowski. This was an interesting talk as he
was also doing his research on this topic; and it gave a good overview of the
performance overheads in both DTrace and eBPF. The later session was about ZFS for
NVMe where Allan Jude described different tweaks and customizations to get the best
performance out of ZFS and NVMe. This was a good presentation and I compared it to
the situation where I was also studying the same topic, but I had to do my stuff in Linux.
The last session of the day was GPU passthrough in bhyve which I was eagerly
awaiting. Unfortunately, it wasn’t what I expected as the presenter was presenting some
benchmarks from last year and had not done any improvement to the work recently.
The day ended with a nice social in an old building of Vienna with nice classical designs
And then the last day started with a very interesting and fun presentation from Dylan
Beattie about legacy codes. The next one was from John Baldwin about writing custom
commands for the DDB Kernel debugger; as I was also interested on working with the
src tree it was a nice addition to my good reads. Then came the presentation from Drew
Gallatin, which is always interesting to learn various tweaks and tricks on how Netflix
scales one single server to serve their contents at 800gbps line rate; it’s always fun to
watch this as Netflix always scales up by double every year. The next session was from
Goran Mekić about low latency audio processing in FreeBSD. The last session I
planned to attend was an interesting topic from Michael Dexter about a combined
tweaks for building a smaller FreeBSD system to boot fast. There were more interesting
papers from other BSD distributions and were equally interesting; but as there were
always three parallel tracks running it was difficult to choose between them; but as a
FreeBSD developer I tried to stick with FreeBSD related presentations.
In a nutshell I’m very thankful that the FreeBSD Foundation was willing to cover my
travel expenses to EuroBSDCon. Not only was this a great learning experience, but also
allowed me to discuss several issues with other members of the community. As helpful
as IRC and email can be, it does not compare to the quality of communication you can
have with someone in person. There is always a missing point when communicating
through email/IRC and that is the IMMERSION into discussion. I look forward to being
able to attend future BSD DevSummits and Conferences in the future.