NetBSD at the EuroBSDCon 2002
- Rumours, Gossips & Facts -
Hubert Feyrer, November 2002

* Thursday

Arrived, met with uwe at the airport and went to the hotel, had food and drinks with Martin Husemann and Frank van der Linden in various bars in downtown Amsterdam.

* Friday

Setup the NetBSD booth with posters, flyers (thanks to Martin and Andreas for helping to fold the flyers!), snow globes, slinkies, sweeties, and of course a bunch of self-made CDs (4-CD-all-archs-base+X and 6-CD-i386-install+packages). Additional goods were donated by Wasabi Systems in the form of a big bunch of CDs and ASCII which gave us a few nice generic BSD t-shirts and a few copies of their magazine. Valeriy borrowed his HP Jornada (SH based) for public display.

I talked to Alistair Crooks about various things related to the NetBSD Packages Collection, what's going on at Wasabi Systems, his election to join the NetBSD board, and a few other things. I'll try to catch him for a seperate interview the next few weeks - stay tuned and watch this space!

Status update of amigappc port by Ignatios: he doesn't have much work right now, and Adam Ciarcinski's machine got damaged during a move. Last state from a few months ago was that the kernel started up and created some output, next steps would involve to catch up with NetBSD-current, esp. the generic PowerPC code there, and then continue working from that, integrating pmap changes etc.

NetBSD dinner took place at the "Guru of India", we had dinner with about 18 people. Participating developers & friends included krister, jdolecek, Randall Dow, agc, yyamano, pk, martin, fvdl, Andreas Lohrum, cjep, ignatios, uwe, hubertf, jdc, tron, and his girlfriend Silke. I got told we devoured food for a total of almost 500EUR.

Pooka didn't have time to attend the meeting, but he mastered the "how did the chicken cross the road" contest crossing the highway and reached the gas station on the other side of the highway - his courage was rewarded with food and drinks. :)

* Saturday

10am keynote by Mike Karels of Wind River Systems - he talked about the past, present and future of BSD, outlining the history of the various BSD releases done at UCB then, the ending of the CSRG and emerging BSD projects alive today as well as a few key areas on which to focus for in the future including both external software like sendmail, ISC DHCP, etc. but also split out seperate projects for important subsystems like what the KAME project does for IPv6. Other ventures worth mentioning here would be USB, UFS and some others. Some more communication (and collaboration) between the various BSD projects would be important for that.

Talks on clustering NetBSD by Hubert Feyrer, and on a shared write-protected NFS root file system for a cluster of diskless machines by Ignatios Souvatzis.

The NetBSD booth got a few interesting questions about if the macppc pool was able to do dual boot, what embedded boards NetBSD would run on, etc. There was not much interest in CDs, which had to be expected - people mostly already had some kind of BSD going before going to the Con ;).

The social event took place on a ship which drove a tour through the Amsterdam ports and canals. Interesting chats included some OpenBSD users that learned about NetBSD to get curious enough to give it a try, contacts with the OpenBSD people doing their new packet filter PF, meeting some of the people from the Hamburg BSD group and talking to them about a possible german BSD-event next year. I talked to Paul Kranenburg about the status of sparc SMP, and it seems there is still a lot of work left to do - to finish it, a person with a lot of skill in both the NetBSD kernel, SPARC assembler, a SMP-capable machine _and_ spare time has to be found. Not a trivial task! In addition, a few ideas were bounced back and forth about compiling pkgsrc packages on SMP machines, and the general concensus was that it was better to build one package at a time utilizing all CPUs (make -j) than trying to compile several pkgs in parallel as there are roo many potential problems with interdependencies, possible conflicts, not having the minimal set of requited pkgs etc.

A few ideas for better marketing were bounced around all the day too, including the concensus that we actually _do_ need to do something there to remain (or rather, get...) visible. Of course going out to conferences etc. and doing NetBSD booths is the prime thing to do here, but that needs devoted people, which are still hard to come by - our developers still seem to be a bit shy about that. Ideas for t-shirts included a BSD-Daemon in something like spiderman-dress and a net (-> _Net_BSD), or trying to mutate the daemon into an ant (with some 6 arms, antennas etc.). The problem of doing actual distribution of things like t-shirts and CDs still needs to be answered though, assuming we ever get something both financed and realized. Some talks with the OpenBSD people (which really do a good job at distributing their posters and t-shirts!) showed that they ship big boxes of shirts etc. all over europe for each event, which of course isn't cheap, but that's the price one probably has to pay - less money for the project but increase in presence through people wearing shirts and hanging out posters.

* Sunday

First presentation took place at 10:30, Alistair Crooks talked about Package Views in the NetBSD Packages Collection as a more flexible infrastructure for third-party software. Al explained what pkgsrc was, how it was different form the other BSDs', multiplatform etc., then went into current problems and outlined a solution based on installing pkgs in seperate directories (one per package), and using a farm of symlinks. Sounded like a very promising system!

The second NetBSD talk on sunday was given by Valeriy Ushakov on Porting NetBSD to JavaStation-NC, and he also outlined some ideas about porting to the Psion. Also, Alan Horn from Inktomi Corp. talked about Monitoring the world with NetBSD.

After the closing session the NetBSD booth was torn down, and a few more drinks were taken in the lobby before everyone went home or on to their hotel.

* Summary

Summing things up, EuroBSDCon was a big win for the NetBSD project as we got a lot of attention and showed that we are much alive and kicking. We can (and need to!) to do more such active marketing with CDs, posters and (in the future) t-shirts, but we're definitely on the right track. NetBSD folks are much encouraged to go out and do the evangelism to tell the world about our project, not only on BSD-cons but also on e.g. Linux-events.


(c) Copyright 20021119 Hubert Feyrer
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