November 19, 2019

Written as part of the FreeBSD Project’s upcoming Q3 2019 Status report, check out the highlights of what we did to help FreeBSD last quarter.

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 Q3, Ed Maste and Deb Goodkin met with a few commercial users in the US. It is not only beneficial for the above, but it also helps us understand some of the applications where FreeBSD is used. We were also able to meet with a good number of commercial users at vBSDCon and EuroBSDCon. These venues provide an excellent opportunity to meet with commercial and individual users and contributors to FreeBSD.

Fundraising Efforts
Our work is 100% funded by your donations. We are continuing to work hard to get more commercial users to give back to help us continue our work supporting FreeBSD. More importantly, we’d like to thank our individual donors for making $10-$1,000 donations last quarter, for more than $16,000!

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 345 commits to the FreeBSD base system repository sponsored by the FreeBSD Foundation – this represents about one fifth of all commits during this period. Many of these projects have their own entries in the full quarterly report (and are not repeated here).

Foundation staff member Konstantin Belousov committed many improvements to multiple kernel subsystems, as well as low-level 32-bit and 64-bit x86 infrastructure. These included fixes for robust mutexes, unionfs, the out of memory (OOM) handler, and per-cpu allocators.

Additional work included fixes for security issues and introduction and maintenance of vulnerability mitigations, and improving POSIX conformance.

Ed Maste committed a number of minor security bug fixes and improvements, as well as the first iteration of a tool for editing the mitigation control ELF note. Additional work included effort on build infrastructure and the tool chain.

Clang’s integrated assembler (IAS) is now used more widely, as part of the path to retiring the assembler from GNU binutils 2.17.50. The readelf tool now decodes some additional ELF note information.

Ed also enabled the Linuxulator (Linux binary support layer) on arm64, and added a trivial implementation of the renameat2 system call (handling common options).

Mark Johnston added Capsicum support to a number of ELF Tool Chain utilities, and committed a number of other Capsicum kernel and userland fixes.

Mark worked on a number of changes related to security improvements, including integration and support of the Syzkaller automated system call fuzzer, and fixing issues identified by Syzkaller. Other changes included addressing failures caused by refcount wraparound, improvements to the prot_max memory protection. Other work included NUMA, locking, kernel debugging, RISC-V and arm64 kernel improvements.

Edward Napierala continued working on Linuxulator improvements over the quarter. The primary focus continued to be tool improvements – strace is now more usable for diagnosing issues with Linux binaries running under the Linuxulator. That said, as with previous work a number of issues have been fixed along the way. These are generally minor issues with a large impact – for example, every binary linked against up-to-date glibc previously segfaulted on startup. This is now fixed.

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 third quarter of 2019, Foundation staff continued to improve the project’s CI infrastructure, worked with contributors to fix the failing build and test cases, and worked with other teams in the Project for their testing needs. We added several new CI jobs and worked on getting the hardware regression testing lab ready.

Li-Wen Hsu gave presentations “Testing/CI status update” and “How to work with the FreeBSD CI system” at the 201909 DevSummit. Slides are available at the DevSummit page.

We continue publishing the CI weekly report on the freebsd-testing@. mailing list, and an archive is available.

See the FreeBSD CI section of the full report for completed work items and detailed information.

Supporting FreeBSD Infrastructure
The Foundation provides hardware and support to improve the FreeBSD infrastructure. Earlier in the year, the Foundation purchased a Talos II POWER9 server from Raptor Computing Systems, that is on loan to a FreeBSD Ports Committer to improve ports support on the powerpc64 platform. Since then we’ve heard only positive feedback about the contributions made to the Project because of having this system available to him. In fact, one committer close to the project stated, “Piotr has been doing fantastic work on powerpc64 ports support.The investment by the Foundation for his Talos has paid off in spades!”

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:

  • Sponsored USENIX 2019 Annual Technical Conference as an Industry Partner
  • Represented FreeBSD at OSCON 2019 in Portland, OR
  • Represented FreeBSD at COSCUP 2019 in Taiwan
  • Presented at the Open Source Summit, North American in San Diego, CA
  • Executive Director Deb Goodkin was interviewed by TFiR
  • Sponsored FreeBSD Hackathon at vBSDcon 2019 in Reston, VA
  • Sponsored the attendee bags and attended vBSDcon 2019 in Reston VA
  • Represented FreeBSD at APNIC-48 in Chiang Mai, Thailand
  • Represented FreeBSD at MNNOG-1 in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
  • Served as an administrator for the Project’s Google Summer of Code Session. See the Google Summer of Code section of  the quarterly report for more information.
  • Sponsored FreeBSD Developers Summit at EuroBSDCon in Lillehammer, Norway
  • Sponsored and attended EuroBSDcon 2019 in Lillehammer, Norway
  • Applied and was accepted for a FreeBSD Miniconf at, in Gold Coast, Australia, Jan 14, 2020
  • Our FreeBSD talk was accepted at seaGL, Seattle, WA, November 15 and 16.

We continued producing FreeBSD advocacy material to help people promote FreeBSD. Learn more about our recent efforts to advocate for FreeBSD around the world.

Our Faces of FreeBSD series is back. Check out the latest post: Roller Angel.

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 here

You can find out more about events we attended and upcoming events here.

We opened our official FreeBSD Swag Store. Get stickers, shirts, mugs and more at ShopFreeBSD.

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 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.