Hello and welcome to the July 2023 FreeBSD Foundation Newsletter! As the Director of Technology here at the Foundation, I’m pleased to present this month’s issue, which includes updates and progress reports on our development initiatives, as well as some noteworthy highlights from other areas we support. It’s all part of our ongoing effort to ensure you’re well-informed and connected with the evolving landscape of the FreeBSD Project.
Our dedicated team has been hard at work, and in this edition, Joe Mingrone offers an in-depth look at our development projects. Greg Wallace takes us on a journey through FreeBSD’s role in research, highlighting its impact as a cornerstone for exploration and discovery.
Get insights from Jason Kafer’s thought-provoking Hackernoon article, where he discusses why FreeBSD is considered a “critical enterprise-grade OS that is on par with—and in some ways surpasses—other operating systems.” This article explores FreeBSD’s rise as an enterprise solution, showcasing its capabilities that resonate in the business realm.
Don’t forget to mark your calendars for an important date as we announce the upcoming Vendor Summit, where industry leaders will come together to exchange insights and further enhance the FreeBSD ecosystem.
Collaboration and innovation are at the heart of our mission, and we’re proud to foster these values within our community. As always, our commitment to the growth and success of FreeBSD remains strong, and your ongoing support is deeply appreciated.
Thank you for joining us on this journey. Enjoy this month’s newsletter, and stay tuned for updates that highlight the enduring spirit of FreeBSD.
July 2023 Software Development Projects Update
There are different ways to measure how work on FreeBSD is progressing such as the rate of commits, the number of developers, the number of FreeBSD ports, and so on. By one measure, the number of Foundation-funded projects, we are in a boom cycle. As of the time of writing, the FreeBSD Foundation has contracts open for 12 different projects. Some projects we have written about in past newsletters, others have only begun recently. What follows is a summary of this contracted work as well as some noteworthy development by Foundation employees.
Save the Date: November 2023 FreeBSD Vendor Summit
Mark your calendars! The November 2023 FreeBSD Vendor Summit will take place November 2-3, 2023 at the NetApp Campus in San Jose, CA. The Vendor Summit will feature a single track of talks on both days.
More details on the schedule and travel information will be available soon. In the meantime are asking for your talk proposals now. Talks should be technical in nature and aim for 30-35 minutes in length with an additional 10-15 minutes available for Q&A and will be given in person.
Long before breakthrough innovations hit VC pitch decks, let alone your laptop, microservice, or smartphone, they typically start as a hypothesis in a University or industrial research lab.
Professor Watson was kind enough to sit with the FreeBSD Foundation to discuss his research. The discussion illuminates the role of academic research and the process by which breakthroughs in the lab make their way into our digital society. A key tool in Professor Watson’s quiver is FreeBSD. Like many other OSes, it is open source so supports the necessary customization. In contrast with Linux, the permissive BSD license is essential to supporting the public – private partnership his research relies on.
The FreeBSD community was saddened this month by the tragic death of one of its most prolific contributors. We learned that Hans Petter Selasky passed away in a traffic accident in Lillesand, Norway on June 23, 2023 at the age of 41. Hans was an incredibly brilliant and kind person, and made many valuable contributions to FreeBSD. He was preceded in death by his father Gordon, and is survived by his mother, Inger Elisabeth, his brothers Mark and Leif Conrad, and his nieces and nephews Petra, David and Signe.
Hans began contributing to FreeBSD roughly 25 years ago, with fixes to FreeBSD’s ISDN support. He was a FreeBSD committer for nearly 15 years, and was best known for re-writing and maintaining the USB stack. Hans wrote the webcamd package which supports running Linux webcam drivers in userspace on FreeBSD, and which enables those of us using FreeBSD on the desktop to participate in modern teleconferencing. Most recently, he worked for Mellanox (now Nvidia) to support their ConnectX series of high speed NICs on FreeBSD. Hans’s work included major contributions to the kernel TLS framework, as well as support for NIC kTLS send and receive offload in the mce(4) driver, and many improvements to the Linux device driver compatibility layer.
I first met Hans in 2015, in the context of his work on the mce(4) driver for Mellanox NICs. We worked together to make the mce(4) driver one of highest performance NIC drivers in FreeBSD. It was during this time that I learned how brilliant Hans was. He often had ideas that sounded “crazy”, but which were actually brilliant. One example of this was his idea to sort incoming TCP packets using the NIC provided RSS flow identifiers in order to present LRO with all packets from the same TCP connection back to back. This idea, which I initially discounted as impractical, was crucial to Netflix being able to meet our performance target of serving 100Gb/s of video traffic from a single machine, and continues to save Netflix a large amount of CPU resources.
Hans was a very kind and welcoming person. The first time I attended EuroBSDCon was in 2019 in Lillehammer, Norway where Hans insisted on playing host to me. Hans had driven across Norway from his home in Grimstad to EuroBSDCon in Lillehammer with his father, and took me around to see the Olympic ski jump, along with several other sites in the town. He then took me out to dinner, and back to the house he’d rented with his father for an evening of great conversation.
Outside of FreeBSD, Hans’s hobbies included music and mathematics. He was active in his church, and contributed to its sound team. He was a loving and dedicated uncle to his nieces and nephews. He loved animals, especially his cat Pumba.
Even if you don’t use FreeBSD yourself, odds are good that Han’s work touches on your daily life. For example, if you use a Playstation, chances are you are using Hans’ USB stack. If you watch Netflix, the odds are good that the show you’re watching was delivered to you by a ConnectX NIC running Hans’s mce(4) driver.
Hans, if you are reading this, know that you will be missed.
The May/June 2023 issue of the FreeBSD Journal is here! Always free, this special issue of the Journal celebrates 30 years of FreeBSD and comes with a pull-out timeline poster! Read the Journal
Why Choose FreeBSD
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