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meetbsd 2010

I love the BSD community. How cool is it to have developers and end users from the various BSD projects in one location, there to talk about the various cool projects and technical challenges that face us now.

Cool I tell you!

Chris, Corrigan and I went to Google in 2008 for MeetBSD. We had a great time, so when I saw the announcement earlier this year for MeetBSD 2010, I rallied the troops.

The event was Friday and Saturday, and it took place at the Hacker Dojo in Mountain View. The format of the conference was the same that Puppet Camp had, where the talks were proposed and arranged by what the attendees wanted to talk about. So, the conference started off with James from iX Systems putting the Google Document URL up on a board, and then he let everyone vote and propose topics

Our main MC was James Nixon. The flow was great, and I think he did a very nice job and getting people to participate and tease out details from everyone. He did that by having everyone stand up and gather around after a break-out session was over. Then, he had everyone talk about their break-out session. As much as people probably hate being put on the spot, it really tore down some social barriers. I probably would have been a more passive participant, but a format like this helped me/forced me to be more engaging. It was excellent.

So, that was the first day, and I got to hear about CLANG and LLVM and what it means to the BSD community, and how the new LGPL license effects the base system (for example, no GCC 4 in the base of FreeBSD, it will have to be a Port). I got to hear Matt Dillon talk about in details his HAMMER File System (B-Tree file system with sweet rollback support), SSD drives, Hybrid Drives (and why they are not a good idea), and why ZFS and HAMMERFS will not outperform UFS in the use-case of a Database. Oh, and why Log devices are so critical for ZFS and HAMMER FS. I also got to tackle Pawel, the ZFS developer, and ask him about the roadmap for v28.

A few other really cool talks:

  • David Maxwell - The State of The NetBSD Foundation. This was very fun and informative, he presented some of the details of NetBSD’s development and funding, while asking FreeBSD, OpenBSD and DragonflyBSD members to talk about their own. It was a great way to learn about the BSD’s and their difference. It was also a well done presentation because it was reciprocal and respectful off the variants. Really good.
  • John Kanen Flowers - Kane|Box. John has a strong presense, and I am interested in seeing where Kane|Box goes. Since it is both a commercial hardware device, and an open source project, I may run it on my server at home.

I also spent some time randomly going up to people like Dru Lavigne, Pawel Dawidek, and Will Backman (of BSDTalk, one of my regular and favorite podcasts), just to tell them I appreciate what they do. I’ve always taken such a passive role in conferences like these, yet I’m so enthusiastic about the BSD’s, that I have to recognize that I AM a part of the community. I don’t develop, but I do blog, document, and talk as much as I can about them. Lets also not forget, I’m a happy end-user, being a SysAdmin of FreeBSD systems is pretty fun. The point is, I’m trying to put myself out there more, be more involved and participate in the discussion.

With FreeBSD reporting their largest status report this quarter, and the excitement everyone here seem to have, I think it confirms the solid and steady progress of the BSD’s. One person did comment to Chris, Corrigan and I about the age group at the conference. He didn’t say that he thought it was good or bad, but he said that the people in the BSD community tend to be “more mature”. I think he would like to see younger people more involved, and I agree. I’ve always felt that the BSD’s are driven from an engineering perspective. They don’t have marketing department telling them they need to include support for the latest buzz-word. This is good to me, otherwise, you see ridiculous things like clustering packages that are completely virtualized. However, the negative aspect to that is the lack of media attention. I sometimes thing it would slightly benefit the projects if people in the academic world saw it as ‘sexy’.