BSDCan and FreeBSD DevSummit 2019 Recap

The 16th annual BSDCan took place at the University of Ottawa from May 15th – 18th. As usual, the popular conference drew participants from all over the world, including many members of the iXsystems Team. The FreeBSD Foundation was the tote bag sponsor this time around so we all got to take home some FreeBSD schwag, which was a nice bonus.

The FreeBSD Developers Summit is traditionally held during the Tutorials (15th and 16th), before the BSDCan Talks. There was a myriad of interesting and informative talks during the Developers Summit that brought discussion and further insight from the attendees and developers. The Web Translation talk from Edson Brandi, Danilo Baio, and Guangyuan Yang was particularly interesting, as they spoke about their further work on improving FreeBSD documentation translations with the Zanata web translation system. Attracting the help of over 40 volunteers, they created complete Portuguese translations of 35 FreeBSD articles and five books. This serves as an example of how making processes more accessible can provide huge gains. Their work built on the FreeBSD PO translation system was implemented by our own Warren Block, who is now working with them to help create a FreeBSD-approved translation website. This work will prove to be beneficial for the international FreeBSD community as FreeBSD documentation becomes accessible to new, non-English-speaking regions.

Besides the informative and encouraging talks, there were many discussions that inspired the iXsystems Team members in attendance. During the working group discussions, there was a great deal of positive feedback regarding our work on “package base”, making the operating system into a group of packages. Based on the feedback, it gave us more of a direction on the list of things we should implement next. Features such as configuration file merging and kernel priority updating were just some of the topics that were discussed in detail between the group members during the DevSummit.

During the BSDCan conference itself, there were some standout talks that really showed the momentum that has been building for FreeBSD. Matt Ahrens explained how ZFS snapshots really worked and showcased how the snapshot deletion algorithms have evolved over time to become more efficient. Jonathon Looney of Netflix spoke about how Netflix utilizes the “head” branch of FreeBSD as a distribution branch so that their systems can be as quick and efficient in delivering their content worldwide. The gelato-loving Michael W. Lucas talked about one particular scenario: jails within other jails. This was quite astounding as it would allow a system administrator to create a jail for a user to hand off the administration of the sub jails. Jan-Piet Mens enlightened the audience about using the MQTT protocol for system administration and how it could be used as a replacement for SNMP or as a statistics processing system. His work could be useful in FreeNAS, TrueNAS, and TrueCommand, either as a reporting tool, a data collecting mechanism, or both. Lastly, Allan Jude informed the crowd about the Future of OpenZFS, and how ZFS datasets could be passed through to a jail to allow for features such as snapshot management. Our team members were particularly excited to learn about features such as “checkpoints”, which can roll back an entire pool, and “initialize”, which would overwrite free space when using ZFS with a cloud provider. Mr. Jude also discussed the shift to using the ZFS on Linux (ZoL) repo inside of FreeBSD. Furthermore, the whole crowd was in harmony when we found out that ZoL will be renamed to just “OpenZFS” in the near future.

As in prior years, BSDCan 2019 and the FreeBSD DevSummit were highly informative events that always spark a great amount of inspiration in the attendees. It was reassuring to see all the hard work being poured into FreeBSD and other BSD technologies. ScaleEngine took the liberty of recording the talks from the DevSummit and the actual BSDCan conference so be sure to check them out here. As always, we look forward to attending next year’s conference and hope to see all of you there!

The iXsystems Team

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