Developer’s Corner: Dru Lavigne

Next up in Developer’s Corner, I had the pleasure of corresponding with Dru Lavigne, the Community Manager and Technical Writer here at iXsystems.

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Dru started out as an entrepreneur (the co-owner of an independent moving company). Once the company was established, she took on a second job as a municipal government worker, and then went back to school to learn telecommunications, networking, and system administration. As graduation approached, Dru noticed all the jobs she was interested in were asking for Unix skills. Like a typical college student who didn’t know much about Unix, she ran an online search for “free Unix”. The first hit was freebsd.org—and the rest is history.

Dru downloaded FreeBSD 2.1.5 on fourteen installation floppy files over a 14.4k modem. She then proceeded to bravely install FreeBSD as the sole operating system on her only computer. It took her about a week to figure out how to log in, install programs, and get PPP, email, and the other stuff she needed to work.

Later on, Dru joined the FreeBSD questions mailing list. She took notes as each question was answered and tried it out on her system. Over time, her knowledge of the OS grew, and it later paid off when Chris Coleman from the mailing list asked if anyone was interested in writing up FreeBSD tips for O’Reilly. Since Dru had her notebooks full of tips, she offered to write up a few. Dru’s tips were very well received, and O’Reilly launched the “FreeBSD Basics” column based off of those tips which ran from 2000-2006. O’Reilly later published BSD Hacks and in 2007, Dru updated all of the articles and published them as The Best of FreeBSD Basics.

In addition to being the Community Manager of the PC-BSD project, Dru is also the founder and president of the BSD Certification Group. During her time as an instructor at a technical college, students used to frequently inquire about a certification for BSD. By 2005, Dru decided to make it a reality. She contacted all of the people who had responded positively to certification on the FreeBSD mailing lists, and those who had the time and the interest became the initial members of the BSD Certification Group.

The group spent a few years researching the needs of BSD sysadmins, the BSD community, exam delivery methods and went through all of the steps needed to create a psychometrically valid examination. The BSDA exam became available at events such as SCALE and BSDCan in 2008, and starting in 2011, it was also offered at designated testing centers.

The BSD Certification exam takes 90 minutes and has 100 multiple-choice questions covering various topics such as System Administration, Account Management, Installing and Upgrading OS & Software, and more. For additional information about the exam: here.

Dru was initially hired by iXsystems as the Community Manager for the PC-BSD project. When iXsystems took on the FreeNAS project, she started a User Guide for that project as well. iXsystems now publishes a version-specific Handbook and Guide for each software version of PC-BSD and FreeNAS in several formats (HTML, PDF, ePub, Kindle, and hard copy). Dru also assists in producing text for brochures and in representing FreeBSD/PC-BSD/FreeNAS at conferences throughout the world.

In her limited spare time, Dru manages the @bsdevents Twitter account, where she tweets about BSD events. Eventually, she hopes to finish configuring bsdevents.org and launch the website. This site will give BSD conference organizers a global calendar to assist them in scheduling their events and BSD users an updated listing of which global events and user groups are available.

Looking forward, Dru says she “sees a very positive and innovative future for FreeBSD, PC-BSD, and FreeNAS with a much larger audience discovering their features and stability.” She informed me of the many upcoming features she is looking forward to in FreeBSD 10 including BHyVe, NetMap, and zfsd and for more applications to become integrated into the Capsicum framework.

For PC-BSD, Dru mentions version 9.1 will ship with multiple boot environment support, the ability to snapshot jails (even Linux jails!), and more BSD-specific control panel icons. FreeNAS, the “newer” project among the three, continues to stabilize and mature with added features such as plugins and ZFS v28.

Of course, there are still several development hurdles to leap over on the road to success. Those include the need for TTM (needed for ATI/Radeon graphic drivers), outstanding wireless drivers, improved ACPI support, and ZFS encryption. Dru is confident that with the combined efforts of the developers’ team and the community’s support, those hurdles can be overcome.

I would like to thank Dru for her time and assistance with this post. Her many accomplishments serve as an inspirational message for many women in the IT field.

As we take a break from Developer’s Corner, make sure to check back for the next blog series.

Lisa Liang
Marketing Assistant