Meetbsd 2010

Some time ago, I've attended MeetBSD conference in Kraków. This BSD event is held yearly in either Warsaw, or Kraków. Due to relatively small group of people that registered there was only one track, which had both good and bad sides - you didn't have to choose from myriads of lectures, but there was no way to skip boring ones either. Well, I guess this kind of niche conference - about operating system :) - will not attract bigger attention.

DAY 1

It took place on 2nd-3rd of July, 2010, so this review is rather dated :) However, I'd like to keep this as reminder. I've arrived to the conference site, which was located in building of the Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science a few minutes after the official start of the conference. I had been traveling from Warsaw the same day, and the only train that would not require me to get up at some night hour would arrive a bit too late. Oh well :)

I grabbed a tea and some biscuits and entered the series of lectures.

The first thing to listen to was a Welcome intro - quite nice one. Conducted by a guy from Cisco (AFAIK). He was talking about the opportunities for Kraków and how it will become a Polish Silicon Valley in near future, etc. Actually I don't share his believes but the talk was ok.

Then came Dru Lavigne with some insight into BSD Certification program. Actually, does anybody use this? Come one. Do we really need another certification process? I for sure don't see the need, especially for the BSD community. However the trend is good, may help popularize BSDs among enterprise leaders, because if something is certified, than it can be used in big enterprises, right? :)

Sławek Żak talked about NoSQL. Although the talk gave a bit of info about what the idea is and how does it compare to normal DBs, I did not find his presentation entertaining. In my opinion, there was not enough emphasis on the difference in usage for such databases. The talk about NoSQL I'd attended on Javarsovia was a lot better.

Next talk, presented by Attilio Rao was very, very technical. It was about "VFS/Vnode interface in FreeBSD". It was rather an API presentation, and introduction on how to implement an FS in FreeBSD infrastructure, than a conference talk. This kind of presentation would be good suited for FreeBSD kernel developers not sysadmins.

Jakub Klama's talk on the process of porting FreeBSD to Da Vinci embedded system was interesting. It had some photos of the board, tackled a few technical corners, but caught my attention. Well done!

Out guy among FreeBSD hackers - Paweł Jakub Dawidek - gave speech about HAST - High Availability STorage. In other words he implemented DRBD for FreeBSD. Sadly, for me this is just catching up with what Linux has in mainline since 2.6.33 (it was working very well even before that). It's not so feature rich as DRBD, but the project is slowly maturing. Nevertheless, it's good to finally have this on board.

Then an inconspicuous guy come onto the stage. Came from Bulgaria, named Nikolay Aleksandrov, that guy gave a talk titled Developing high speed FreeBSD. And the subject was astounding. He works for a major Bulgarian ISP and due to lack of cash to buy some serious networking gear, he wrote a FreeBSD extension that would sit in-between network adapter and the kernel and do all the hard work like routing, VLANs, and more. His goal was to make it lighting fast, and as far as his results showed, he succeeded. This talk was really amazing, he did what would normally take hundreds of thousands of dollars - in cash and skills - in his free time, or at least as a pet project.

DAY 2

Well, I'd skipped the first lecture of the day, because of laziness ;)

Had decide to pack myself and arrive to listen about what can freebsd borrow from AIX. Jan Srzednicki talked about some nice tools from the AIX world. He proposed that adding an educational, console-based tool for conducting basic (and even not so basic) tasks, would encourage people to learn the system. I think it would work. However the rest of his ideas weren't good enough - at least not for me.

Next thing in line was The new USB stack. Interesting talk about new USB stack development, conducted by Hans Petter Selasky. This guy was really passionate about USB things ;-)

Martin Matuska presented his set of shell scripts that allow to create mfsBSD - an in-memory FreeBSD install. Since I'm already doing this kind of things with OpenBSD, the talk was entertaining.

Marcko Zec and Network stack virtualization. This was about extending FreeBSD to be able to create lots of compartmentalized environments with their own network stacks. As noted in the presentation: the solution still has problems with graceful shutdown of the stack. Still not stable enough - but very promising.

The closing presentation, given by Warner Losh (very knowledgeable guy behing bsdimp.blogspot.com) on the subject Using FreeBSD in a commercial settings. The talk was not what I've expected, but nevertheless was very interesting. It was about branching and merging back changes in case of using FreeBSD as a base for some commercial products. This could be easily applied to any other Open Source project. Warner described possible strategies for branching and performing merges, he noted also pros and cons of all the described solutions.

All in all, that was a fun time. Even thou I don't use any BSD as my primary system at this time, and my BSD skills are a bit rusty, the talks were nice enough :) for a hobbist like me.