Next up in our Developer’s Corner, I had the opportunity to chat with Kris Moore, founder and lead developer of the PC-BSD operating system, who is located in Maryville, Tennessee.
Kris graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University with a degree in Business Information Systems and spent almost a decade supporting and developing software for UNIX systems prior to working at iXsystems.
Kris started learning about open source at his first job with a dial-up ISP in the 90’s. The platform they used for their web services was a very early version of FreeBSD. From that experience, he learned the basics of shell interface and how to check his e-mail without a GUI by using the “pine” command, which according to him, “was very uber-l33t” at the time. During his college years, Kris played around with other Unix and Linux platforms (caldera Linux, SuSE), however when he needed to do serious work, such as setting up a web or file server, he always fell back to his FreeBSD roots. To this day, he still prefers FreeBSD because it offers a greater degree of stability than other operating systems.
At the moment Kris is doing an overhaul of “The Warden” for PC-BSD 9.1. It will become an integral part of the PC-BSD desktop and includes a number of new features to make it easier to setup and deploy services in a jail. Among these new features are support for IPv6, multiple IP’s per jail, a redesigned GUI, and support for graphically installing/updating packages inside a jail. In addition, PC-BSD 9.1 includes a new graphical installer that allows the user to easily select between FreeBSD and PC-BSD with various desktops (LXDE, KDE, XFCE, GNOME, etc). For the first time, the installer allows advanced ZFS options, such as compression, that can be set on ZFS datasets, along with the option of a ZFS-only disk install or including swap on ZFS.
As PC-BSD makes installing and running BSD easier and more convenient, Kris expects to see a continued push in desktop technologies. The PC-BSD team has leapt over many hurdles in order to make BSD relevant on the desktop, but there are still challenges. One of the most prominent is modernizing FreeBSD’s driver support for WiFi, sound, video cards, etc. for the needs of all desktop users. Kris is excited for 9.1, especially for the newly supported Xorg / Intel driver which is being worked on by FreeBSD developer Konstantin Belousov. The new driver will allow users to run the latest Intel video drivers, including 3D acceleration on newer Intel-based chipsets, such as SandyBridge.
For aspiring software developers and hackers, Kris advises, “Dream big! Find a need and start working on it, no matter how small the initial contribution may be. Over time as you gain experience, you’ll be able to take on bigger tasks, and before you know it, you’ll have been a part of creating something huge!”
Many thanks to Kris for his help and insights. Stayed tuned for the next Developer’s Corner blog post!