I spent the weekend at Google for MeetBSD in celebration of FreeBSD’s 15 birthday. I drove 70.2x4 miles, on a weekend, and for Saturday I got up slightly earlier than I would have for work. All worth it, this was the coolest mini-conference I’ve been to. Of course, the last conference I went to was BSDCon in 2003, and that was nice as well. The point is, I don’t get out all that much when it comes to conferences, I just make an exception for my favorite UNIX OS, FreeBSD.
When I got there for the registration (9am) I stood in line next to two gentlemen from Sweden, Karl and Pontus (or Pontis, didn’t know for sure). I call them gentlemen because they were EXTREMELY polite; so polite I was audacious enough to assume they were not from the US :) So, I chatted with them for a bit, picked up my swag-bag and waited outside for Chris and Corrigan to arrive. The swag bag was the most impressive one I’ve seen so far (even more than what Splunk usually provides). It contained a shirt, shot glass, hip flask, coffee mug, mouse pad, cool FreeBSD propaganda, a mouse pad, and a 2GB flash drive! The shot glass and hip flask were little hints that those involved like to party a little, and while I didn’t attend the after party, people were talking about it the next day.
Corrigan arrived first, then Chris, and we sat down just in time for the first speaker.
FreeBSD Network Stack Performance - Optimizations for Modern Hardware
by Robert Watson
Probably the best talk of the weekend. Robert Watson is really good speaker, and his presentation was well laid out and was just at my level. He did start off saying this talk wasn’t for kernel hackers or developers. It was really cool to see how things like TCP Offloading in hardware effects the network stack, the kernel, and how it can cause some complications with certain kernel level utilities like TCPDump, firewalls and packet filters.
Isolating Cluster Jobs for Predictability and Performance
by Brooks Davis
Brooks had an interesting presentation, and I’ve always wanted to see FreeBSD in the cluster market even though I know Linux has won that one out by far. I did feel the presentation was a little unfocused, or maybe i misinterpreted the title to mean something else. It was still interesting to see how you could use various methods to allow engineers different tiers of a cluster. His FreeBSD cluster of 1400 cores is controlled by Sun Grid Engine.
by M. Warner Losh
I liked this one, and M. Warner Losh was a good presenter. Having him walk through how he prototypes an embedded device, the tools used to strip it down, and then getting it to boot in 2 seconds was very impressive. He also had a very good sense of humor throughout the conference.
PC-BSD 7 from a Developers Perspective
by Kris Moore
PC-BSD is geared towards the Desktop/Laptop market, and has a corporate backing. I can easily compare it to Ubuntu or Redhat Enterprise Linux. Its still FreeBSD, no arguing that, and you can still do all the cool things on it like use the Ports system, but it has a new and efficient package system like YUM+RPM or Ubuntu’s Synaptic/APT system. This is crucial in my mind for a desktop environment, especially laptops, where you don’t want to build everything from the Ports tree (which is all source code), you want a standard and consistent system, where you won’t always be building a custom web server. It was a good talk, but one thing that sort of drives me crazy is the name. See, its PC-BSD, but really FreeBSD, so in my kind of environment at work where we tightly control what is on the network; how are we supposed to classify this system? As PC-BSD, or FreeBSD? If someone asks for a FreeBSD desktop, do was say they are using PC-BSD or FreeBSD? Thats just my thing with it. Aside from that, I really welcome a corporate aspect to FreeBSD.
by Dru Lavigne
There is now a certification process for FreeBSD. It’s new, and right now there is the BSDA certificate which is aimed at Jr. System Administrators. It covers FreeBSD, NetBSD, and OpenBSD, and the explanation of what went into the test, the Psychometrics involved, and the awesome price point of $75 for the exam. This was so it would be widely affordable to everyone across the globe. I thought of taking the test, but I was having too much fun and I didn’t want to feel that pre-test anxiety.
Xen Virtualization on FreeBSD
by Kip Macy
I’ve had some exposure to Xen with Redhat, so its nice to see it on FreeBSD, and it was really a quick status update on the project. Kip then went into something completely different and I didn’t take any notes on it so it’s already lost in my brain :)
From here the PC-BSD team brought out “BSDGirl”, which was the equivalent of a booth babe. After a few minutes of her parading around I turned to Chris and Corrigan and talked about how I felt about it. See, I hate to judge her, I mean, she may really be into FreeBSD and likes to dress up (and she does seem to have a web presence pimping out PC-BSD). It was the fact that she seemed to isolate herself from everyone there, and didn’t seem to talk to anyone or network with the folks there. I just felt the event was cheapened with a marketing stunt like that and Chris and Corrigan felt exactly the same way. I don’t know, that’s the kind of crap I expect from big companies that don’t care, not the small BSD community that I take personally. It didn’t seem like anyone else there was all that interested in her, so it was even more out of place.
We hung out until the Google staff pretty much kicked us out, and Chris and Corrigan went to the after party for a little bit. I headed back home, watched a little TV and went to bed so I was ready for day 2.