Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Faces of FreeBSD 2015 - Allan Jude


Back by popular demand we're again sharing a story from someone involved in FreeBSD with our Faces of FreeBSD series. It may be a story from someone who’s received funding from us to work on development projects, run conferences, travel to conferences, or advocate for FreeBSD. Or, it may be from someone who gives back to FreeBSD financially or in another way. But, it is always from someone who is making a positive difference in the FreeBSD world.

Here’s a chance to get to know your fellow FreeBSD enthusiast. Sit back and enjoy the first 2015 Faces of FreeBSD story.

Allan's Story

Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Allan Jude.  I am 31 years old, from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, and have been a professional FreeBSD sysadmin for 13 years. My day job is running a medium sized video streaming company that I founded with one of my professors after College. This allows me to use FreeBSD (over 100 servers spread across the globe at 38 different sites in 11 countries) and ZFS (over 1000 TB worth of storage) every day, which makes it easy to find ways to contribute back to those projects.

In my theoretical free time, I enjoy reading action/thrillers novels like Tom Clancy, Larry Bond, and Mark Russinovich, baking, and skiing.

How did you learn about FreeBSD and/or when were you first exposed to it?
When I first got on the Internet at home in 1998, one of the first things I really got into was IRC (Internet Relay Chat). After doing that for a while, I got curious about how the server side of it worked, so I downloaded the server software. Being a Windows user at the time, I was confused by the lack of a .exe file in the archive I had downloaded. After some asking around, I was told I would need a "shell account" to be able to run this software, because it was for "UNIX", not Windows.

I proceeded to search around and find a Canadian shell provider. Once I got my account, I successfully logged into a FreeBSD machine for the first time. I had a lot to learn, but there were resources and manual pages. Over the next few years I gained more and more understanding about how TCP/IP, IRC, and FreeBSD worked. It was around this time that the shell provider I was using went out of business. I decided I could do better, and in 2002 bought my first server and installed FreeBSD 4.5 on it. That was the beginning of my career as a professional FreeBSD sysadmin.

What is your involvement in FreeBSD?
For years I was just a quiet user of FreeBSD. In 2004, some of my college courses covered FreeBSD and NetBSD, so I learned a bit more about them. Later, in 2008, I returned to the college and taught those same courses, most revolving around networking and system administration.

Then everything changed. I attended my first conference, BSDCan 2012. Being at an event like that, surrounded by like minded people, having endless discussions you just could not have anywhere else, was the most exhilarating thing I had ever done. Getting to share some of my stories, and hear those of the other attendees was very rewarding. I left the conference very excited to get more involved in the Project, and with definite plans to return the next year, and maybe even give a talk. By the end of the trip home, I had decided that I would submit a talk for next year, then quickly changed my mind. Why wait for next year, so I submitted my proposal to EuroBSDCon 2012 in Warsaw, Poland. The talk was accepted, and I made my first international trip. Since then, I have attended every conference I could manage to get to.

In 2013, Kris Moore and I started a weekly video podcast,, where we discuss the latest news from the BSD family of operating systems and related projects, and interview developers and other community members. This has been one of the most rewarding things I have done, as we get many thank you letters from people all throughout the community, and get new people to join the community. It was a bit strange when suddenly everyone at the conferences knew who I was.

The next year, I started working on documentation for ZFS, and contributed that to the FreeBSD Handbook. This, and other work, resulted in me being granted a documentation "commit bit" at BSDCan 2014, making me officially a member of the Project. Not much more than a year later, my continued work on the installer, universal config files, and various other bits of the OS were rewarded with a src commit bit as well.

This spring, I also co-wrote "FreeBSD Mastery: ZFS" with Michael W. Lucas, who is well known for his line of high quality technical books. It is available in e-book and printed versions from We are currently working on the follow-on: "FreeBSD Mastery: Advanced ZFS".

Why do you like FreeBSD?
There are a great many reasons, but the foremost is the community. There is no better group of people I could choose to spend my free time with. The other flagship part of the Project is the documentation. When I was getting started, being able to work through a section of the FreeBSD Handbook and end up with a working system that I actually understood was key. So it was important to me to make sure the handbook covered the newer parts of FreeBSD, like the ZFS file system and bhyve, the new hypervisor.

From a more practical standpoint, my initial usage of FreeBSD was because of its security and stability, which were what was needed most to run a shell provider. In recent years, my needs have changed, but FreeBSD has kept up. Containers (in the form of Jails) have been making my life easier for more than 8 years now. We deploy all of our applications in jails, which in additional to the obvious security benefits, makes it very easy to shuffle the applications between servers as needed. One of the other important things has been the ABI stability. We can run a version of FreeBSD, and know that for 5 years, things will not change out from under us.

My company makes use of a mix of FreeBSD releases, and the development branch. We would like to give a special thank you to the entire release engineering team for their work to get the releases out on time, and for the new release schedule that will get the new features into our hands faster.

Anything else you'd like to add about FreeBSD or the Foundation?
Supporting the Foundation is important, not just to keep the Project going, but to show the rest of the world that there is a thriving community behind the Project. This makes potential new users of FreeBSD, be they users or corporations, more assured of the longevity and diversity of the Project.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

BSDCam 2015 Trip Report: Mariusz Zaborski

I'm a fresh FreeBSD committer who is very interested in security things. I also work for the Wheel Systems company which develops security solutions. So it was natural for me that I should attend Cambridge Developer Summit which, in my opinion, is the most security related event in every committer’s calendar. This was also my third visit to Cambridge. For the first one I also wrote a trip report which you can find here. The conference was held in August 17-20, 2015.

 This year I attended with my two colleagues, Konrad Witaszczyk and MiƂosz Kaniewski. I arrived very early around 10am on a Sunday (unfortunately we had to take different flights), so I had a lot of time to walk around Cambridge. I must admit that there’s something magical in this town. You can see many old buildings. On every corner you can film an old or fantasy movie. There are also big fields of green and the river in which you can go punting. I really enjoy this town every time I'm there.

 This year we also stayed in Sidney Sussex, which is this big, great college. What is also very important is the fact that it sits right in the center of town. We arrived one day earlier and since there weren't any special activities planned, we spent the rest of the evening socializing with other FreeBSD peers.

 The first day of DevSummit was on Monday. This year we decided to walk every day to the Computer Laboratory. The first session I attended that day was about storage, networking and armv8. The storage session which was the closest to me, was led by Benno Rice. The main topic was improving GEOM.

 The second day of the conference was even more exciting than the first one. First I attended the tracing group, in which George Neville-Neil was talking about dtrace. Next we had discussion about Capsicum. In this discussion we also were talking about Ed Schousten’s work called CloudABI. The last group was led by Ed Maste talking about toolchain and LLVM.

 The official dinner was held on this day. This year we had a great pleasure to be guests of the Murray Edwards College. The college has the largest collection of women's art in Europe, and the second largest in the world. Only women can study in this college.

 The last day of DevSummit was spent discussing testing. This group was focused on atf and kyua. Next we had session about teaching in which, Robert Watson and George Neville-Neil, told us about the courses they are teaching in which they use FreeBSD and dtrace. The last session was about security and crypto, and I wasn't disappointed. Mark Murry again (as he did 2 years ago) discussed random number generator with others. It turns out that the Fortuna, a new algorithm for random generating, isn't prepared for multi CPU environments, and further research is needed.

 There is a lot of knowledge in every working group, but there is also a lot of great information from people that we spoke to after or during the conference. I spent a lot of time talking with many incredibly smart people who told me about their recent findings in their research. For example, we were talking about packaging, security, encrypting the boot partition, MIPS processor (cherri project in particular) and much more. Of course we didn’t only talk about work. After one of the dinners I can tell you everything about rugby in French. :)

 Then the unfortunate last day came. We went to see Cambridge for the last time. We spent some time in the botanic gardens and took the flight back to Poland. After this trip I can tell that I learned many things, but I also realize how much I don't know and how much interesting stuff is going on around me. I came back home motivated to work even harder.

 I would like to thank FreeBSD Foundation for making this trip possible for me.

Mariusz Zaborski

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The FreeBSD Journal Reaches New Milestone

The FreeBSD Foundation is pleased to announce that the FreeBSD Journal has over 10,000 subscribers! Thank you to everyone who helped us reach this 2015 goal ahead of schedule. We'd also like to thank the dedicated team of editorial board members and authors for tirelessly volunteering their time to create must-read content for every issue. Finally, thank you to the advertisers and staff, without whom, publication would not be possible.  To celebrate our latest milestone, the Foundation will be raffling off cell phone power bricks to 10 lucky subscribers. We hope this helps keep the Journal always at your fingertips. 

Not yet a subscriber? Take a look at what you're missing. Open articles including the latest "Groupon's Deal on FreeBSD" can be found on the website.

Ready to subscribe? You can do so here.

Thank you again to everyone who has helped make the FreeBSD Journal such a success. Work continues on improvements and enhancements as we head towards our next milestone.  We look forward to keeping you up-to-date on the latest releases and new developments in FreeBSD.