Live from Malta today attending the EuroBSDCon 2013 conference. The conference is over; today was the second and last day and it has just finished.

Hardware and virtualization

One of the three tracks today included a lot of talks on hardware, porting of BSDs to new hardware and virtualization techniques. Of all these, the few talks I attended covered the topics in great detail and proved to be very interesting.

In particular, I got to hear news about: the new 64-bit ARMv8 architecture; how NetBSD is being ported to a specific ARM chip; and how Linux and OpenBSD have been made to run under bhyve.

Speaking of the latter, bhyve is the BSD-licensed hypervisor. It runs on FreeBSD hosts and has only supported FreeBSD as a guest until recently. However, thanks to the latest developments from Peter Grehan, Linux now works and support for OpenBSD is actively being worked on. As a special note, I'd like to quote him saying that "OpenBSD holds the record in exposing the most bugs in the bhyve hypervisor" which I found quite amusing. In particular, this is because OpenBSD uses custom ACPI code instead of the standard implementation and this has broken several assumptions in the hypervisor code.

Hallway conversations

I finally got a chance to approach Hiroki Sato — something that has been long overdue. sato@ is a member of the FreeBSD core and board teams. We discussed various topics, including his current work in FreeBSD, the needs of automated testing in FreeBSD and how I might be able to help, and the upcoming AsiaBSDCon 2014 (more below).

I also met Julian Coleman for the first time, but by accident because I did not know he was attending the conference. jdc@ is a current board member of the NetBSD project and is an active contributor in various areas. Obviously I had to ask him what the current status of the board is and I felt relieved to hear that they are seriously considering options on how to fix the community issues that the project is facing.

Kyua plans

During yesterday's social event, I sought feedback on my presentation about Kyua and, while it was good in general, it lacked the detail the audience expected. It is always hard to know what knowledge level the audience has and what kind of details they will want to hear about. As it turns out, I got the level wrong this time: my presentation did not cover the specific technical details that people were eager to see.

The feedback was good and appreciated so... what's next? An idea that comes to mind is to prepare a tutorial on Kyua and its integration in the BSDs, and later attempt to teach such tutorial in the upcoming 2014 conferences — starting with AsiaBSDCon 2014. Would you come?

Netflix

The day also included various talks from Netflix engineers and these were very popular. Netflix uses FreeBSD for their appliance machines deployed in ISPs and, as they serve a large amount of Internet traffic in North America, it is no surprise that people were interested about their experience.

What was most interesting to me is that the presenters were able to give lots of specifics on their hardware and software setups, the changes they made to FreeBSD — pretty much all of which have been upstreamed! — and the benchmarks of such changes. Their attempts to track the development branch (10 at the time) early during the development process is also a good example on how to best be involved with BSD projects (and open source in general).

Closing sessions

The last presentations of the day were eclipsed (unsuprisingly) by Kirk McKusick's talk on the security infrastructure of FreeBSD. In this talk, Kirk described in quite detail various of the security features provided by the system, including ACLs, jails, the privilege APIs in the kernel (similar to kauth in NetBSD and OpenBSD) and user-space capabilities. All in all, very interesting.


The day finished with a swim in the sea for me and an organized dinner for the rest of the attendees that chose to go. Being so close to the beach is great.

By the way, the location for the next EuroBSDCon has already been chosen and announced: Bulgaria! Expect the publication of the specific dates soon.

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