April 13, 2020

Written as part of the FreeBSD Project’s 1st Quarter 2020 Status Report, check out the highlights of what we did to help FreeBSD last quarter:


We moved! Our new address is: The FreeBSD Foundation 3980 Broadway St. STE #103-107 Boulder, CO 80304 USA

In February, the board of directors had an all-day board meeting in Berkeley, CA, where FreeBSD began! We put together our strategic plans for the next 2 years, which includes software developments projects we want to support and some educational initiatives.

COVID-19 impacts the Foundation. We put policies in place for all of our staff members to work from home. We also put a temporary ban on travel for staff members. We are continuing our work supporting the community and Project, but some of our work and responses are delayed because of changes in some of our priorities and the impact of limited childcare for a few of our staff members.

Partnerships and Commercial User Support

We help facilitate collaboration between commercial users and FreeBSD developers. We also meet with companies to discuss their needs and bring that information back to the Project. In Q1, Deb Goodkin met with commercial users at LinuxConfAu in Australia, FOSDEM in Belgium, and SCALE18x in the US. These venues provide an excellent opportunity to meet with commercial and individual users and contributors to FreeBSD. It’s not only beneficial for the above, but it also helps us understand some of the applications where FreeBSD is used. In addition to meeting with commercial users at conferences, we continued discussions over email or on calls over the quarter.

Fundraising Efforts

Last quarter we raised $57,000! Thank you to everyone who came through, especially in this economic crisis we have found ourselves in. It heartens us deeply that individuals and organizations have supported our efforts, when there are so many people, animals, and businesses in need right now. We also want to extend a big thank you to Tarsnap, VMWare, and Stormshield for leading the way with Silver level donations. We hope other organizations will follow their lead and give back to help us continue supporting FreeBSD.

We are 100% funded by donations, and those funds go towards software development work to improve FreeBSD, FreeBSD advocacy around the world, keeping FreeBSD secure, continuous integration improvements, sponsoring BSD-related and computing conferences, legal support for the Project, and many other areas.

Please consider making a donation to help us continue and increase our support for FreeBSD. 

We also have the Partnership Program, to provide more benefits for our larger commercial donors. Find out more information and share with your companies!

OS Improvements

The Foundation supports software development projects to improve the FreeBSD operating system through our full time technical staff, contractors, and project grant recipients. They maintain and improve critical kernel subsystems, add new features and functionality, and fix problems.

Over the last quarter there were 273 commits to the FreeBSD base system source repository tagged with FreeBSD Foundation sponsorship, about 12% of base system commits over the quarter. Many of these are part of sponsored or staff projects that have their own entries in the Q1 2020 report, but Foundation staff and contractors (Ed Maste, Konstantin Belousov, Mark Johnston, Li-Wen Hsu) also support the project with an ongoing series of bug fixes, build fixes, and miscellaneous improvements that don’t warrant a separate entry.

Ed committed miscellaneous improvements to various parts of FreeBSD’s build infrastructure, largely prompted by the work to retire the obsolete GCC 4.2.1. This included removal of the LLVM_LIBUNWIND option (now always set), and the removal of unused gperf, gcov, and the GPL devicetree compiler (dtc). Ed committed sendfile support for the Linuxulator, submitted by previous intern Bora Özarslan, and tested and committed a number of submitted bug fixes for the Microchip USB-Ethernet controller if_muge driver. Ed also updated the copy of OpenSSH in the base system to 7.9p1, with additional updates in progress, and worked on a number of security advisories released during the quarter.

Konstantin Belousov and Mark Johnston both performed a large number of code reviews during the quarter under Foundation sponsorship. This work helps developers in the FreeBSD community and those working at companies using FreeBSD to integrate their work into FreeBSD.

In addition to work described elsewhere in the Q1 2020 report, Konstantin also continued his usual series of bug fixes and improvements. This quarter this included low-level x86 support, fixing sendfile bugs, file system and vfs bug fixes, and dozens of other miscellaneous improvements. Additional work included a variety of commits to support Hygon x86 CPUs and improvements to the runtime linker (rtld)’s direct execution mode.

Mark Johnston continued his work on the Syzkaller system-call fuzzer, and committed fixes for many issues reported by Syzkaller. Mark triaged a large number of submitted bug reports and in many cases committed attached patches or developed fixes. Mark also addressed dozens of Coverity Scan reports.

Mark’s other changes included arm64 Large System Extensions (LSE) atomic operations, low-level arm64 and x86 work, virtual memory (VM) work, and bug fixes or other improvements to syslog, the lagg(4) link aggregation driver, and build reproducibility.

Li-Wen Hsu committed many changes to tests in the base system, such as turning off known failing tests tracked by PRs, test-related pkgbase fixes, and other improvements.

Continuous Integration and Quality Assurance

The Foundation provides a full-time staff member who is working on improving our automated testing, continuous integration, and overall quality assurance efforts.

During the first quarter of 2020, Foundation staff continued to improve the Project’s CI infrastructure, worked with contributors to fix the failing build and test cases. The building of a CI staging environment is in progress on the new machine purchased by the Foundation. We are also working with other teams in the Project for their testing needs. For example, we added a new job for running LTP (Linux Testing Project) on the Linuxulator, to validate improvements in the Foundation’s sponsored Linux emulation work. We are also working with many external projects and companies to improve their support of FreeBSD.

See the FreeBSD CI section of the Q1 2020 Report for completed work items and detailed information.

Supporting FreeBSD Infrastructure

The Foundation provides hardware and support to improve the FreeBSD infrastructure. Last quarter, we continued supporting FreeBSD hardware located around the world. We purchased one server for a mirror in Malaysia, and signed the MOU for the new NYI colocation facility in Illinois. NYI generously provides this as an in-kind donation to the Project.

FreeBSD Advocacy and Education

A large part of our efforts are dedicated to advocating for the Project. This includes promoting work being done by others with FreeBSD; producing advocacy literature to teach people about FreeBSD and help make the path to starting using FreeBSD or contributing to the Project easier; and attending and getting other FreeBSD contributors to volunteer to run FreeBSD events, staff FreeBSD tables, and give FreeBSD presentations.

The FreeBSD Foundation sponsors many conferences, events, and summits around the globe. These events can be BSD-related, open source, or technology events geared towards underrepresented groups. We support the FreeBSD-focused events to help provide a venue for sharing knowledge, to work together on projects, and to facilitate collaboration between developers and commercial users. This all helps provide a healthy ecosystem. We support the non-FreeBSD events to promote and raise awareness of FreeBSD, to increase the use of FreeBSD in different applications, and to recruit more contributors to the Project.

Check out some of the advocacy and education work we did last quarter:

  • Organized and presented at the first ever FreeBSD Mini-Conf LinuxConfAu 2020, in Gold Coast, Australia in addition to sponsoring the conference itself. The recap can be found here.
  • Presented BSD Dev Room at FOSDEM ’20, in Brussels, Belgium and represented FreeBSD at a stand along with other members of the community. Find out more here.
  • Represented FreeBSD at Apricot 2020 in Melbourne, Australia and
    sponsored the event.
  • Industry Partner Sponsor for USENIX FAST ’20 in Santa Clara, CA
  • Sponsored FOSSASIA 2020, in Singapore
  • Held a “Getting Started with FreeBSD Workshop” at SCALE 18x in addition to giving a talk, representing FreeBSD at the Expo and holding a “Why FreeBSD is Me” BoF. Check out the conference recap.

We continued producing FreeBSD advocacy material to help people promote FreeBSD.

In addition to the information found in the Development Projects update section of this report, take a minute to check out the latest update blogs:
POWER to the People: Making FreeBSD a First Class Citizen on POWER.

Development Project Update: Toolchain Modernization.

Read more about our conference adventures in the conference recaps and trip reports in our monthly newsletters.

We help educate the world about FreeBSD by publishing the professionally produced FreeBSD Journal. As we mentioned previously, the FreeBSD Journal is now a free publication. Find out more and access the latest issues.

You can find out more about events we attended and upcoming events here. As is the case for most of us in this industry, SCALE was the last event we will be attending for a few months. However, we’re already working on how we can make more on-line tutorials and how-to guides available to facilitate getting more folks to try out FreeBSD. In the meantime, please check out the how-to guides we already have available!

We have continued our work with a new website developer to help us improve our website. Work has begun to make it easier for community members to find information more easily and to make the site more efficient.

Legal/FreeBSD IP

The Foundation owns the FreeBSD trademarks, and it is our responsibility to protect them. We also provide legal support for the core team to investigate questions that arise.