Sunday, May 22, 2005

Report from BSDCan, Part II

I recently reported on day one of BSDCan 2005, which I attended in Ottawa. I'd like to present my review of day two.

I started the day with Easy Software-Installation with pkgsrc, presented by D'Arcy Cain. I find pkgsrc interesting because it is a cross-platform package system, not just for NetBSD. Too bad the Web site has "pkgsrc: The NetBSD Packages Collection" at the top!

I would like to try pkgsrc on NetBSD of course, but also on Solaris, AIX, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, Slackware, and Debian. Besides the official packages in the tree, there is a testing ground of sorts at pkgsrc-wip (works-in-progress) and, a Web-based front-end. It would be a great accomplishment if the BSDs were able to standardize on a single package system and pool their resources. If Linux were intergrated, that would be amazing. I learned pkgsrc even supports Windows through Interix, which is now the free Windows Services for UNIX.

D'Arcy intended for his presentation to be the first diplomatic move to begin a discussion about working with the other BSD projects. I personally believe OpenBSD has the most to gain as its ports tree is the smallest and least current of all the BSDs.

I next attended a work in progress session chaired by Robert Watson. I found the following five minute talks memorable. Pawel Dawidek described his GELI, his GEOM class for encryption. Scott Long explained the need to add journalling to UFS. Poul-Henning Kamp explained his work writing drivers for the Napatech Traffic Analyzer NIC pictured at left. If I want one of these PCI-X 100 or 133 MHz boards I need to pay $4000 for the four port version or $8000 for a stacked eight port model.

I heard George Neville-Neil ask for the community to write technical white papers for marketing to non-BSD users. (Incidentally, while looking for GNN's home page, I found his work on the test cluster used and administered by The FreeBSD Project for testing, debugging, and performance analysis. Next I listened to a Linux user, Matthew Wilcox, advocate BSD involvement in the Free Standards Group. That took guts! Finally, Robert Krten showed off some really out-of-there telecom gear that alerts him of incoming phone calls via TV alert. Good grief.

During lunch I spoke with Scott Ullrich and Chris Buechler of the pfSense project. Pfsense is a derivative of m0n0wall. Both are firewall-and-more FreeBSD distributions. I would like to try pfSense on my Soekris net4801 system, although they suggested I look at Netgate, Hacom, and PC Engines (WRAP) products. Chris is also working on a "LiveNSM" FreeBSD distro based on FreeSBIE, which would help me immensely. I created something similar last year for internal use, but a public version would be great. I plan to keep in touch with these guys!

After lunch I was glad to see Ike Levy talk about building FreeBSD jails. He announced as a central community resource for all jailing information. His talk was probably the most creative and entertaining of the conference, and perhaps of several conferences I have attended. His was the last presentation I attended, as I had to catch a cab to the airport. It turns out Ottawa was suffering a taxi driver strike, and only seven cars were serving the whole city! I was lucky to make my flight, even though our departure was delay by bad weather in northern Virginia.

Overall I really enjoyed my second year at BSDCan and I hope to attend next year. Perhaps I can present the sequel to my talk on keeping FreeBSD up-to-date, which is keeping FreeBSD applications up-to-date.


Anonymous said...

thanks for the great bsdcan updates. i can attest to the usefulness of netbsd pkgsrc.

openbsd ports were not meant to be plentiful - the reason there are so few is because they audit the code with their whole wonderful code review process - even for all ports. at least - that's the idea.

Scott said...

I don't think they review the ports the same way they review the base code.