It’s been a busy summer for the Foundation. From traveling around the globe spreading the word about FreeBSD to bringing on new team members to improve the Project’s Continuous Integration work, we’re very excited about what we’ve accomplished. Take a minute to check out the latest updates within our Foundation sponsored projects; read more about our advocacy efforts in Bangladesh and community building in Cambridge; don’t miss upcoming Travel Grant deadlines, and new Developer Summits; and be sure to find out how your support will ensure our progress continues into 2019.
We can’t do this without you!
August 2018 Development Projects Update
Embedded Device USB Target Retrospective
This month I’m looking back at some work the Foundation sponsored last year, and how it ties into this year’s work to improve the “out of the box” experience on embedded targets.
As described in the April 2017 Development Projects Update, FreeBSD runs on many embedded boards that can connect to a USB host, providing a target or On-The-Go (OTG) interface. The host may run Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, FreeBSD, Android, or another operating system, with the embedded device appearing as a USB peripheral. Originally, the types of target peripherals supported by FreeBSD was somewhat limited. Edward’s 2017 project added USB Mass Storage support using the Common Access Method (CAM) target layer, allowing the FreeBSD target to export an image file as if it were a mass storage device (like a flash drive). This work provided needed infrastructure and was usable as-is, although the interface used to set up a device image was still somewhat cumbersome.
Earlier this year Edward completed another sponsored project, to better integrate and simplify the use of all types of USB targets (including mass storage). This project made USB target configuration a run-time configuration setting and added startup scripts to simplify the use of USB target mode. Configuration and use of the new scripts is fully documented in the FreeBSD Handbook, and the result of these two projects is available in the upcoming FreeBSD 12.0 release.
Funding from commercial users like these and individual users like yourself, help us continue our efforts of supporting critical areas of FreeBSD such as:
Improving quality assurance, continuous integration, and automated testing, with our full-time software engineer.
Having multiple software engineers on staff to quickly fix issues and make improvements to FreeBSD.
Making improvements to the FreeBSD toolchain, implementing security fixes, and integrating performance, profiling and tracing tools by adding another part-time software engineer.
Keeping FreeBSD secure and reliable by having staff members fill key leadership roles on the Security and Release Engineering teams.
Sponsoring and attending more open source conferences around the world, to promote FreeBSD and recruit more contributors and users to FreeBSD.
Providing more training and educational materials.
We can continue the above work, if we meet our goal this year!
If your company uses FreeBSD, please consider joining our growing list of 2018 partners. If you haven’t made your donation yet, please consider donating today. We are indebted to the individual donors, and companies listed above who have already shown their commitment to open source.
Thank you for supporting FreeBSD and the Foundation!
— contributed by Deb Goodkin
August 2018 Release Engineering Update
The FreeBSD Release Engineering team started the code slush for the upcoming 12.0-RELEASE on August 10, marking the official starting point of the release cycle. The code slush is the point during which explicit approval from the Release Engineering team is not required, however it is asked that developers avoid sweeping changes and new features, and focus on existing known issues.
Following the code slush, the code freeze began August 24, marking the point during which all commits to head require approval. The next major milestone of the 12.0-RELEASE cycle is planned for September 21, which is when the stable/12 branch will be created, and shortly after the freeze on head will be lifted. At that point, development on the upcoming 12.0-RELEASE will continue on the stable/12 branch until the releng/12.0 branch is created.
At present, there have been three ALPHA builds, with the fourth ALPHA build unofficially planned to begin August 31, dependent on the state of the tree at the time. The first BETA build is planned for September 21, following the creation of the stable/12 branch.
I recently had the opportunity to attend BSDCam, a FreeBSD Developer Summit held in Cambridge, UK. It is one of the smaller developer summits, focused on developers working together in small groups, to solve problems. The topics are decided in the morning of the first day.
The summit is a three-day event held at the University of Cambridge. Foundation Board Member, Robert Watson has organized and run this event over the past few years. He again organized this event, but with the birth of his offspring the week before, he handed off the reigns to Brad Davis, Li-Wen Hsu, Ed Maste, and John Baldwin to run the event.
The first day began with introductions and discussions on which topics we’d like to focus on for the event. One of the leaders listed all the topics on the whiteboard. At the end of the introductions, the leaders whittled down the list to the most popular topics, fitting them into one session in the morning and two after lunch, with two topics in each session. Sounds easy, but then we had to figure out how many people wanted to participate in both topics in the same session. Thankfully, because of the smaller size of the summit, we were able to adjust the schedule to make it the most productive for all of the participants.
Some of the topics I attended were:
Developer Tools – Mateusz Piotrowski led the session where we discussed how we can improve tools to make it easier for people to contribute.
Continuous Integration and Testing – Li-Wen headed up this session, and is an area the Foundation is funding by having him on our staff.
Desktop/Laptop Support – Gavin headed up this session to talk about getting more computers supporting FreeBSD. The purpose? To make it easier for more people to try and use FreeBSD.
Hackathons/Meetups/Summits – Benedict headed up this session after recently hosting the Essen hackathon. Attendees discussed putting together a model / template to follow on running your own hackathon or meetup.
I also spent a lot of time in the hallway track talking to various people.
The social event was a formal dinner Thursday night at Trinity Hall. It was very much like having dinner at Hogwarts, or at least that’s what it looked like inside. Being served multiple courses, by white-gloved wait people, isn’t what you normally expect or imagine at a FreeBSD event. But, being in Cambridge, it’s only fitting. People wore everything from formal gowns to old FreeBSD developer summit t-shirts. It was a fun change, feeling a little like royalty for the evening.
At the dinner I sat next to Alexandru Elisei whose research project, bhyvearm64, we sponsored at the University of Bucharest. We began this program after talking to Mihai Carabas at AsiaBSDCon 2017. He and I were talking about the FreeBSD research projects he was giving his students, and he asked if we ever gave scholarships for this type of work. We hadn’t in the past, but we came up with a plan to provide monthly stipends for two of his students working on bhyve on ARM processors. Both students ended up giving presentations on their projects at AsiaBSDCon 2018. Alexandru finished his project in July and upon graduating, went to Cambridge for an internship with ARM.
Alexandru and I had previously only communicated over email, so I never had a sense of who he was. Having the opportunity to sit next to him during the social event, gave me a chance to get an in-depth view of his project and his experience working on it. Plus, I now know him as a person, not just a name on an email. He was excited about his work and the opportunity we gave him. He is going to write a blog post about his experience working on the project, and an article about his work in the FreeBSD Journal.
Having these face-to-face opportunities with community members, whether individual contributors or company representatives, is the main reason I travel around the world attending FreeBSD and open source events. I learn about what people are working on, what support they need, and what features/functionality companies want. I can then work directly with individuals on improving processes, automation, testing, tooling, communication, software, and more. We brainstorm ideas on where we can improve, where there are holes in the Project, and how the Foundation can step in and help.
The hallway track was the most productive part of the summit for me. Whether it’s in the meeting rooms, in the hacker lounge, walking to dinner, or enjoying gelato, I’m constantly in interesting and productive discussions with community members.
Finally, I’m also able to talk to company representatives about the work we do and how we need funding to continue and grow our efforts. Sometimes it takes sitting down, away from our computers, to have these genuine and authentic discussions that build stronger relationships and trust. Writing a fundraising plea in an email doesn’t always give justice to what we are doing.
Now that I’m back, I can begin to tackle my long list of action items from the event including plans for improving many areas of the Project. I look forward to continuing discussions over email and at the next developer summits coming up in Bucharest and Santa Clara.
— contributed by Deb Goodkin
October 2018 FreeBSD Developer Summit Call for Participation
Join us for the October 2018 FreeBSD Developer and Vendor Summit on Thursday, October 18, 2018, in Santa Clara, CA. The Summit will be held in conjunction with MeetBSD 2018.
Developers can register at the link below. Guests, please contact John Baldwin to attend.
If you’re interested in submitting a talk or working group, please contact John Baldwin or Ed Maste.
There is a fee of $75 for each attendee which includes lunch during the summit.
Attendees are encouraged to attend MeetBSD 2018. Find our more, including hotel and travel information, here.
— contributed by Anne Dickison
SANOG32 and COSCUP 2018 Recap
In August, the FreeBSD Foundation funded my travel to SANOG32 in Bangladesh and COSCUP 2018 in Taipei. We also sponsored these events. I presented on using FreeBSD on ARM64 servers at both conferences. At SANOG, I also taught a workshop on hardening servers using jails and pf and presented a brief introduction to ZFS.
I joined the FreeBSD Foundation two years ago specifically to help improve the visibility of FreeBSD in parts of the world where we are historically under-represented. Teaching at non-BSD conferences in all corners of the world is a great way to reach new users and contributors.
This was my second trip to Bangladesh since I joined the Foundation. I was pleased to hear several people I met last year have been experimenting with FreeBSD and in some cases promoting it in their organisations.
Our booths at SANOG and COSCUP were very popular and the support from local volunteers was extremely helpful.
In September and October the Foundation is funding my travel to teach workshops at SDNOG in Sudan and TongaCERT in Tonga.
— contributed by Philip Paeps
MeetBSD 2018 Travel Grant Application Deadline: September 7
The deadline to apply for a MeetBSD 2018 Travel Grant Application is September 7. Grants are available to FreeBSD developers and advocates who need assistance with travel expenses for attending conferences related to FreeBSD development. Find out more and apply today!
XipLink specializes in optimizing wireless links, WANs, or any network that experiences high latency, asymmetric allocation or high bit error rates. XipLink’s solutions are seen mainly in satellite networks, aviation, military, government and maritime systems.
Due to the broad range of our solutions, we need to provide software and hardware that can optimize several hundreds of thousands of users sessions simultaneously. For this we need the most stable, efficient, supported and well documented network stack available, which we can also modify to our hearts’ content.
FreeBSD has been providing just that to XipLink since release 4.5. It made our first implementation of the Space Communication Protocol Standard a lot easier with its friendly BSD licensing model for kernel code, as well as, with the tremendous amount of documentation available on its network stack (especially the TCP/IP Illustrated Series by Wright and Stevens).
Since then, things have steadily improved. System reliability, performance, extensive code reviews and attention to detail permeate the entire source tree, making FreeBSD the perfect environment for our continuously evolving and increasing feature set.
XipLink is proud to support FreeBSD, by sponsoring FreeBSD developers, submitting patches and features, or simply through subscriptions to the FreeBSD Journal and donations to the Foundation.
– Karim Fodil-Lemelin, Vice President of Engineering, XipLink Inc.