The FreeBSD Foundation Quarterly Newsletter
December 21, 2004
In this Edition:
- Letter from the Secretary/Treasurer
- An update on the FreeBSD Foundation’s 501(c)3 Status
- A Roundup of Recent Foundation Activities-
- Event Sponsorship
- PAE/BusDMA/PCIe Hardware grant
- The FreeBSD Performance Cluster
- FreeBSD Foundation Web Site
- The FreeBSD Foundation acquires the FreeBSD Trademark
- An Update on the Netperf Project
- The State of Java Runtime Licensing o New Proposal Submission Process
- Future Projects
- Foundation Financial Data
- Letter From the Secretary/Treasurer
For almost five years now, the FreeBSD Foundation has been working quietly to support the FreeBSD project. Many of you may be aware of the FreeBSD Foundation, but not know much about our activities. This quarterly newsletter, along with a revamped web site debuting on January 1st, marks a renewed effort to educate the FreeBSD community about our efforts This first newsletter includes important information about the FreeBSD Foundation’s current status as a public-charity and the steps you can take to help us keep that status. Even if you don’t have time to read the whole newsletter, please take the time to read and understand this section.
The remainder of the newsletter is devoted to answering the question we get most often, “What does the FreeBSD Foundation do?” From financial data to status updates on recent and planned projects, we hope you’ll find the answer to all of your questions in the newsletter. If you don’t find what you’re looking here or on our web site, please don’t hesitate to contact us via email.
Thanks for your support!
Justin T. Gibbs Secretary/Treasurer gibbs@FreeBSDFoundation.org
FreeBSD Foundation Board of Directors bod@FreeBSDFoundation.org
The FreeBSD Foundation’s 501(c)3 Status
December 31st of this year will mark the end of the FreeBSD Foundation’s probationary period as a 501(c)3. The IRS requires all non-profit public charities to prove, at the five year mark, that they have met the “public support test” or be classified as a private foundation. For several reasons that are too technical to go into, it is in the Foundation’s interest to remain a public charity.
The easiest way for the Foundation to demonstrate “public support” is to pass the “1/3rd test”:
For the purposes of this test, no single donor may contribute more than 2% of the total donation pool to the numerator.
Through good fortune and the extreme charity of a handful of donors, the FreeBSD Foundation finds itself at risk of failing the “1/3rd test”. As of today, the ratio of limited donations to total donations stands at 27.9%. While we have every confidence that our support history will substantiate that the FreeBSD Foundation is a public charity, going through the appeals process can be a lengthy and expensive ordeal.
For this reason we are directly appealing to the community to help us meet the “1/3rd test”. To do so, the Foundation will need to raise $30,400 in donations not affected by the 2% contribution limit. Given the Foundation’s expected donation balance, the 2% limit for any single person or entity is $8000 given during the Foundation’s 5 year probationary period.
If you use FreeBSD and would like the FreeBSD Foundation to continue its support of FreeBSD, please consider making a donation. No amount is too small to make a difference.
The FreeBSD Foundation accepts donations via check: The FreeBSD Foundation 7321 Brockway Dr. Boulder, CO 80303
Checks must be postmarked by December 31st. to count toward the advanced ruling period.
Thanks again for your support!
Recent Foundation Activities
- Event Sponsorship
The FreeBSD Foundation has taken an active role in sponsoring BSD-related and FreeBSD-related events, including the highly successful AsiaBSDCon conference held in Taipei during March of 2004, and FreeBSD developer summits co-scheduled with major conferences such as the USENIX Annual Technical Conference (ATC) in Boston, MA during June 2004, and the EuroBSDCon conference in Karlsruhe, Germany during November 2004. In addition, the FreeBSD Foundation has provided limited travel grants to a number of FreeBSD developers to attend conferences and workshops on behalf of the FreeBSD Project, including assisting in travel costs to attend the above events. Both BSD-centered conferences and FreeBSD-specific developer events play critical roles in expanding the FreeBSD user community and supporting collaborative development. The FreeBSD Foundation would like, in particular, to recognize the contributions of Michael Wu and the AsiaBSDCon organizers, Scott Long, the EuroBSDCon program committee, the USENIX ATC BSD sig program committee, the USENIX board, and the BSDCan organizers for their outstanding contributions in organizing these and other important events. The FreeBSD Foundation is committed to supporting similar future events.
- PAE/BusDMA/PCIe Hardware grant
Typical system configurations continue to gain more memory — it is not uncommon to see 2GB or more in a desktop. Recently Scott Long has taken on the task of polishing up the system components that handle these large memory configurations. To aid in his development and testing of the PAE, BusDMA, and new PCI-Express extended configuration space framework, the Foundation has purchased 4x2GB DIMMS of DDR3200 ECC memory and a case to house a donated, large memory capable, system. The fruits of Scott’s efforts are already being seen in the FreeBSD CVS tree. Thanks Scott!
- The FreeBSD Performance Cluster
Originally created in support of the Netperf project, our performance cluster continues to grow. We expect to add 64bit systems to the cluster early next year as well as simplify the mechanism for having developers “check-out” the cluster for test runs. For more details on the FreeBSD Performance Cluster, see the “Network Performance Work Update” section later in the newsletter.
- The FreeBSD Foundation Web site Gets a New Look
The members of the Board of the FreeBSD Foundation may be many things, but certainly not web site designers! After a year of neglecting the current web site, we finally enlisted some help in the form of Dag-Erling Smorgrav. Dag-Erling is putting the finishing touches on our revamped site just in time to ring in the the new year. Look for the site to debut on January 1. Thanks Dag-Erling for all your hard work!
The FreeBSD Foundation acquires the FreeBSD Trademark
The FreeBSD Foundation is pleased to announce the acquisition of the FreeBSD trademark.
In October of last year, Wind River Inc. agreed to assign the FreeBSD trademark to the FreeBSD Foundation. As with most things involving paperwork and government entities, progress has been slow, but transfer is now complete in both the U.S. and Germany. Transfer requests for the United Kingdom and Japan are expected to complete shortly.
The Foundation would like to thank Wind River for their assistance with the Trademark transfer, and Murray Stokely for his diligence and hard work in shepherding the process.
As originally registered by Walnut Creek CDROM, the FreeBSD trademark applies to “CD ROMs featuring an archive of computer programs which may be accessed for use archived on a CDROM.” With the trademark transfer complete in two jurisdictions, the Foundation is now turning its attention to updating the trademark to reflect its current usage by the FreeBSD project. The new trademark filing should be submitted to all four jurisdictions in January.
Network Performance Work Update
The defining architectural drive behind FreeBSD 5.x is “SMPng”, the adoption of fine-grained synchronization primitives and additional threading to improve concurrency and scalability. During this massive undertaking, kernel components not yet converted to the new architecture are supported, but suffer a significant performance penalty. Removing this penalty from the networking stack was a requirement for FreeBSD 5.x to become the new -STABLE branch and replace FreeBSD 4.x in Internet server installations. Through the sponsorship of the FreeBSD Foundation and the support of many volunteer developers, the initial lock down of the FreeBSD network stack was completed for the FreeBSD 5.3 release.
To support the volunteers continuing this work in testing the robustness and performance of the networking stack, the FreeBSD Foundation created the “FreeBSD Performance Cluster”. Located in donated space at Sentex Data Systems’ Ontario, Canada colocation center, the cluster has proven an invaluable asset for determining network stack bottlenecks and performing regression testing. Through a matching hardware donation from FreeBSD Systems, Inc. the cluster was christened with three 3.06GHz Dual-Xeon machines. Recently a Dell 2650, donated by IronPort Systems, was added the cluster. Permitting full remote management, including network booting, remote power, and remote console, the cluster provides an important experimentation resource available for developers throughout the world. Even with the great success of the Netperf project, there is still much to be done to complete the SMPng initiative. The FreeBSD Foundation plans to continue its work supporting this and other architecture and performance initiatives through targeted development grants and improvements to the FreeBSD Performance Cluster. Please see the “New Proposal Submission Process” section of this newsletter for details on the Foundation’s funding process.
In August of 2003, the FreeBSD Foundation released its first binary distribution of the Java runtime environment for the FreeBSD platform. Since that time, the Foundation has funded additional development to port the Java 1.4.x to FreeBSD, and worked diligently to simplify the licensing process for “OEM” distribution of our binaries. Work on the Java 5 port has also recently begun. While we are pleased to report tremendous success in supporting Java development initiatives, our negotiations with Sun Microsystems have yielded few results.
The seemingly constant restructuring at Sun has made it difficult to find and retain consistent contacts in their licensing program. The latest blow to our efforts was the recent notification of Sun’s desire to revoke and renegotiate the FreeBSD Foundation’s SCSL license. From what we can determine, Sun is re-negotiating all SCSL licenses to standardize their Java revenue model. Even after receiving notice of the termination of our license attempts to contact Sun to renegotiate the license have gone unanswered. For now, it is safe to assume that the Foundation will engage in another lengthy, and potentially costly, licensing negotiation before our binary distributions can continue. In the mean time, the FreeBSD Foundation is continuing its support for Java development. With the recent introduction of Java 5.0, and FreeBSD 5/6’s new KSE thread library, there is still much work to do. This should ensure that FreeBSD continues to enjoy excellent Java support while we await resolution of the Java licensing issue.
New Proposal Submission Process
As the Foundation looks on to 2005, the board of directors has started to develop a more formal proposal review process for vetting responses to its proposal requests. The new scheme has many of the same features as a paper review committee for a technical conference. The Foundation will solicit reviewers from both inside and outside the BSD community with technical expertise in fields applicable to proposals. Each member will review a fixed, small, number of proposals and submit comments on those proposals for group discussion and ranking. The committee’s recommendations will then be used by the board of directors to choose the funded proposals. Our hope is that by limiting the workload and commitment for volunteers we can attract high caliber reviewers. We also feel that bringing input from outside the BSD community will increase the visibility of FreeBSD while also broadening the community’s knowledge of other technologies.
The FreeBSD Foundation is always looking for new ways to enhance and promote the FreeBSD operating system. Below are a few of our new initiatives that are just getting started:
- Legal Council on the DMCA, copyright auditing, and code licenses The SCO lawsuit has heightened the awareness of the Open Source community to intellectual property issues. In early December, the FreeBSD Foundation tasked its legal council with exploring different ways the FreeBSD Foundation, the FreeBSD Project, and its developers can limit liability for IP infringements without hobbling the project in paper work. Working closely with the FreeBSD Core team, the Foundation hopes to provide FreeBSD developers with accurate and useful information about copyright law, the DMCA, and software licensing.
- Enterprise Storage Initiative The first test of the FreeBSD Foundation’s new proposal review process will concentrate on FreeBSD’s storage subsystems. From VFS and file systems to the CAM SCSI framework, this area of the FreeBSD kernel is one of the largest still lacking the fine-grained locking of the SMPng architecture. FreeBSD also lacks many industry standard storage features including a journaling file system, software RAID support for many vendor’s meta-data, and iSCSI. While the Foundation lacks the resources to fund all of this work, we hope to address some of these issues via development grants in 2005. Look for our request for proposals early in the new year. Monetary donations to the Foundation will help to make funding for these projects possible!
FreeBSD Foundation Financial Data
Profit/Loss Jul 2004 – Sep 2004
|Conference Fee & Travel Grants||1,668.90|
|Event Sponsorship – Other||5,291.37|
|Postage and Delivery||39.53|
|Total Professional Fees||522.30|
|Net Ordinary Income||-12,423.10|
Balance Sheet as of Dec 21, 2004
|Total Current Assets||194,605.36|
LIABILITIES & EQUITY
|TOTAL LIABILITIES & EQUITY||194,605.36|