published on in Geekyness FreeBSD MeetBSD

meetbsd day 2

Thankfully I didn’t have to get up at the crack of dawn (7:30!) because it was scheduled to start at 11am. I was a little rushed for time since I had to drop Caralyne off at my parents in Knightsen (so I back-tracked a bit), and I left at 9am, so I barely made it in time for the ZFS talk.

A Closer Look at the ZFS File System

by Pawel Jukab Dawidek

I’ve heard a great talk on ZFS from Bill Moore, one of the primary developers from Sun, but this talk was really cool because it didn’t just say what ZFS is from Sun’s marketting department’s point of view, but the technical details its mail peices and how it integrates in FreeBSD. He also discussed the current status, and we should soon see the ZFS version get bumped from 6 to 13! Pawel went a little into why ZFS just doesnt work on a 32bit machine, and i guess Sun figured that by the time ZFS was out, everyone would be phasing out 32bit machines in favor of 64bit ones :) Wishful thinking, thankfully my little server is a 64bit system and handles my ZFS /home volume just fine.

There was some mention of ZFS’s limitations with high-volume databases. Hopefully ZFS matures quickly, it is hard to go from UFS2 which has 20 or so years of QA, but ZFS has so many new cool bells and whistles that PJD said it most appropriately with “ZFS will do for storage what VM has done for memory”

Summer of Code

by Murray Stokely

Murray, a Google employee (who helped organize all this and yet I forgot her name, shame on me), two students and a NetBSD developer/mentor talked about Google’s Summer of Code project. I don’t have much to say on this except I think its great that Google does the Summer of Code project for so many open source projects, especially with ones like FreeBSD that have very few corporations willing to pay someone full time to be a commiter.

FreeBSD Foundation Update

by Robert Watson

Robert helps run the non-profit side of FreeBSD that takes care of donations, legal snafu’s, and getting things like Java certification for FreeBSD, manage project grants, and helps developers attend important dev. summits and conferences. Since FreeBSD is 100% voluntary, donations are crucial in the post dot-com bust. A few companies, like NetApp, Isilon, Ironport, Juniper… have made large donations, thats because they all use FreeBSD in their commercial products (and with the BSD license you can do that). For the FreeBSD Foundation to keep its 403© status, it also needs at least 1000 individual donations, and it doesn’t have to be big, just a lot of people.

It’s been about 4 years since I last donated, and I decided it was time to pony up again. I refuse to purchase Windows ( my more recent copy was free because I did a survey!), but I use FreeBSD in all the important aspect of my personal IT life, and I love to see it in the server room at work so a few donations here and there is the very least I can do for the OS that I personally beleive is of the utmost quality.

Crypto Acceleration

by Phiilp Paeps

I’ve always had a fascination with hardware crypto accelerators. Its mainly because I’m always concerned with two things: security on the wire, and performance. Hardware devices just seem to be the natural solution!

What I took away from this talk was an answer to that, and its “sometimes”. A lot of crypto accelerators only work with a limited set of algorithms and key sizes, and when you application doesn’t fall into that it falls back to the cpu. There was also some interesting facts about why a 32bit pci crypto accelerator isn’t so useful on a 64bit architecture. It was very cool to hear and I’d still like to get my hands on a nice HIFN card

Seamless Service Migration with PF and FreeBSD Jails

by Josh Paetzel

I wish I knew PF more so I could do this. He has a fantastic solution to upgrading a network service seamlessly using PF and Jails. Yes, you could setup a virtual machine, or just have a redundant box, but he was able to do this with 1 FreeBSD machine and it’s native tools.

I’ve setup a few jails at work before VMWare was the hip thing (and before ESX took off) and it amazed me how powerful that OS level of virtualization can be. I setup a full training environment, which was one server that had 8 virtual FreeBSD server’s for the students to trash and play around with. I also setup a FTP server in a jail to protect the host OS.

What Josh did here was very creative and cool, and maybe I can sit down in the future to implement it so my Apache and MySQL upgrades can be a little more robust.

Isilon and FreeBSD

by Zach Loafman

Isilon builds cluster file system appliances that are built off of FreeBSD. FreeBSD kicks complete ass when it comes to any network service, and with a rock solid file system like UFS it makes perfect sense to build and sell a turn-key solution off of it. That is what NetApp has based its business off of.

Its nice to see a company like that give back to the FreeBSD project, they did a lot of NFSv4 improvements that the base system could use.

Help! My System is Slow! - Profiling Tools, Tips and Tricks

by Kris Kennaway

Its hard to teach someone how to troubleshoot, there are no hard and fast rules, but Kris did a killer job at starting off with some simple tools like top(1), and figuring out where your bottlenecks are. Aside from a few specific kernel parameters a FreeBSD admin could tweak, this presentation translates to anyone who is trying to speedup their server.

He also went a little into benchmarking, and both profiling and benchmarking went over some very useful and pragmatic steps to quantify “performance”.


I had a great time this weekend, and I would easily give up more another weekend to do it again. I got to spend some time with Corrigan and Chris and simply “Geekout” on FreeBSD with a collection of cool and very polite people. I had a few misgivings about the structure of the convention. First, Michele hated the mascot, and I can see why. Having that mascot instead of the traditional Beastie or the new official FreeBSD Logo prevented me from sending out this MeetBSD link to other System Administrators that I work with. It doesn’t offend me, but it might offend someone else, or even worse, make them think this is not a mature environment. I know, the fact that people may be offended by a mascot alone is the opposite of maturity, but its a fact that people WILL be offended by it. I also thought the whole laptop+projector issue could have been streamlined by having ONE laptop properly configured with the projector, and then have the speakers run their presentation off of a usb drive.

Other than those things, the people who set this all up are awesome and I can’t thank them or Google enough. So go Google for FreeBSD and give them both some credit. Better yet, support FreeBSD with a donation at