BSDCan Trip Report: Simon Nielsen


The Foundation recently sponsored Simon Nielsen to attend BSDCan 2011. Here is his trip report:

My main goal of attending BSDCan 2011 and the preceding Developers Summit was “networking”, talking in person to many of the people I normally only interact with via email or IRC. Both to discuss some of the many smaller and larger outstanding issues but also just to generally meet people and talk to them in person which always help working together in the future. This certainly happened both during the “work day” time at the DevSummit and conference, but also at other times like during breakfast, lunch, and dinner which was almost always done with other FreeBSD’ers.

With my “ admins hat” I spent some time talking to Brad Davis and Peter Losher about ways to improve administration of systems in the future. Among the discussed topics were ISC’s use of Kerberos which might be useful at and the Puppet system for system administration. Some time was spent talking with Mark Linimon and Brad Davis about future plans for the site. I also attended Mark’s talk about lessons learned from the rollout to date.

The FreeBSD Security Team held an informal meeting during the conference where we discussed how to try and improve the workings of the Security Team which will hopefully stir things up a bit.

One evening we had a DNSSEC dinner where it was discussed how to integrate support for DNSSEC into the FreeBSD base system. The main goal was to be able to support DNSSEC verification in normal applications. It was discussed both at the API level (e.g. should applications be able to know about DNSSEC verification failures) and the system level on how to actually implement this in FreeBSD. The primary conclusion was that this needed to be built into the NSS system, and likely integrated with nscd somehow.

I briefly talked to Hiroki Sato about the possibility for setting up an IPv6 tunnel broker for FreeBSD developers as some can’t easily get local IPv6 connectivity.

The ports developers have been talking about changing the version control system for the Ports Collection from CVS to Subversion. I had a few discussions in this regard about how to practically do this, including repository layout and a time limited svn2cvs.

During the DevSummit I attended the Ports Working Group where the future of the FreeBSD package system, including distribution, was discussed. I attended the working group both with my hat of admin and Security Team member. The discussions were very useful and a rough consensus was agreed upon both for the future of packages, where they can hopefully be a lot more useful, and for how to handle distribution. From the security perspective the proposed system will allow us to build security into the system in the future. The new package system, coupled with the proposed “package set” concept, will require a radically different way of distributing packages. We discussed a workable model where we move to a more centralized system with fewer but better nodes for distribution. This will also allow us to better utilize our current sites and possibly add other sites in the future.

For the main conference, the “BHyVe a Native BSD Hypervisor” presentation was very interesting both from a general technical perspective and because it might allow the admins team to run some virtualization of servers without having to run other operating systems as is required today. George Neville-Neil’s “Synchronizing Systems on a LAN: An Introduction to PTPd” presentation was very interesting from the technical perspective in hearing about all the challenges of very accurate timekeeping. The talk also had a lot of audience participation from people who knew a lot about the topic which made it even more interesting.

My Photo Album from the trip is available here.

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