KernelTrap is excited to be able to offer live coverage of this year's BSDCan 2008 in Ottawa, Canada on May 16th and 17th. The two day conference takes place at the University of Ottawa, and was organized for the fifth consecutive year by Dan Langille who has also made it possible for me to attend and cover the event on KernelTrap. I spoke with Dan to get some background information on the conference, and learn about some of the upcoming highlights.
The event's webpage explains:
"BSDCan, a BSD conference held in Ottawa, Canada, has quickly established itself as the technical conference for people working on and with 4.4BSD based operating systems and related projects. The organizers have found a fantastic formula that appeals to a wide range of people from extreme novices to advanced developers."
Michael Meeuwisse started Project VGA in September of 2007. The project aims to develop a simple, low budget, open source, VGA compatible video card available this year. Michael is also a member of the Open Graphic's Project, but started Project VGA in order to get something affordable on the market as soon as possible.
In this interview, Michael explains his inspiration for the project and talks about the first development cards that will be functional by the end of the month. He details the costs involved in building the cards, as well as when the cards will be available for purchase and what they will be capable of doing.
Matthew Dillon created DragonFly BSD in June of 2003 as a fork of the FreeBSD 4.8 codebase. KernelTrap first spoke with Matthew back in January of 2002 while he was still a FreeBSD developer and a year before his current project was started. He explains that the DragonFly project's primary goal is to design a "fully cross-machine coherent and transparent cluster OS capable of migrating processes (and thus the work load) on the fly."
In this interview, Matthew discusses his incentive for starting a new BSD project and briefly compares DragonFly to FreeBSD and the other BSD projects. He goes on to discuss the new features in today's DragonFly 1.10 release. He also offers an in-depth explanation of the project's cluster goals, including a thorough description of his ambitious new clustering filesystem. Finally, he reflects back on some of his earlier experiences with FreeBSD and Linux, and explains the importance of the BSD license.
Avi Kivity is the lead developer and maintainer of the Kernel-based Virtual Machine project, better known as kvm. The project was started in mid-2006, and has been part of the Linux kernel since the 2.6.20 release in February of 2007. kvm is a full virtualization system for x86-based Linux hosts, allowing users to run isolated x86 guest operating systems in virtual machines.
Jens Axboe has been involved with Linux since 1993. 30 years old, he lives in Copenhagen, Denmark, and works as a Linux Kernel developer for Oracle. His block layer rewrite launched the 2.5 kernel development branch, a layer he continues to maintain and improve. Interested in most anything dealing with IO, he has introduced several new IO schedulers to the kernel, including the default CFQ, or Complete Fair Queuing scheduler.
In this interview, Jens talks about how he got interested in Linux, how he became the maintainer of the block layer and other block devices, and what's involved in being a maintainer. He describes his work on IO schedulers, offering an indepth look at the design and current status of the CFQ scheduler, including a peek at what's in store for the future. He conveys his excitement about the new splice IO model, explaining how it came about and how it works. And he discusses the current 2.6 kernel development process, the impact of git, and why the GPL is important to him.
OpenBSD creator Theo de Raadt began developing OpenBSD in October of 1995. KernelTrap first spoke with Theo back in November of 2001 [interview], around the time that OpenBSD 3.0 was released, discussing much of the early history of the project. The project has continued to offer regular releases of their "free, functional & secure" operating system every six months, with OpenBSD 3.9 made available yesterday, May 1, 2006.
In this latest interview, Theo examines the past five years of OpenBSD development. He also discusses the OpenBSD 3.9 theme song, "Blob!", detailing what blobs are, why OpenBSD avoids them, and how OpenBSD developers work to reverse engineer them. Looking to the development process, Theo talks about recent and future "mini-hackathons", small and focused OpenBSD development gatherings. Finally, Theo also discusses the OpenBSD project's funding issues, and the response to requests for funding from users of the project's OpenSSH software.
Jonathan Gray and Damien Bergamini recently worked together to develop the nfe driver to support NVIDIA Ethernet controllers. In this interview, they talk about OpenBSD's policy to not ship binary-blobs, explaining the problems associated with drivers that use these blobs and the affect these types of drivers have on the open source community. They also detail the efforts involved in writing the nfe driver, describing why they started the project, how they were able to support undocumented hardware, and the features supported by the new driver.
OpenBSD 3.9 will be officially released on May 1, 2006 and will include the new nfe driver. The theme song for the upcoming OpenBSD release is titled "Blob!", a cautionary tale about the growing prevalence of binary blobs among open source operating systems and where this might lead.
Andrey Savochkin leads the development of the kernel portion of OpenVZ, an operating system-level server virtualization solution. In this interview, Andrey offers a thorough explanation of what virtualization is and how it works. He also discusses the differences between hardware-level and operating system-level virtualization, going on to compare OpenVZ to VServer, Xen and User Mode Linux.
Andrey is now working to get OpenVZ merged into the mainline Linux kernel explaining, "virtualization makes the next step in the direction of better utilization of hardware and better management, the step that is comparable with the step between single-user and multi-user systems." The complete OpenVZ patchset weighs in at around 70,000 lines, approximately 2MB, but has been broken into smaller logical pieces to aid in discussion and to help with merging.
Hans Reiser formed Namesys and began the development of Reiserfs ten years ago. The first release of the filesystem, Reiser3, is part of the mainline 2.4 and 2.6 Linux kernels. The more recent Reiser4 is a complete redesign and reimplementation of Reiserfs, aiming to soon be merged into the mainline 2.6 Linux kernel.
In this interview, Hans discusses his background and how he came to create Namesys and Reiserfs. He looks back at Reiser3, describing the advantages it had over other filesystems when it was released and its current state. He then explores the many improvements currently in Reiser4, describing the plugin architecture and its exciting potential for future semantic enhancements.
Timothy Miller is a long time developer of graphics chips and drivers. He has observed that there is a growing trend by graphics hardware vendors to provide less and less information to free and open source operating system developers. Without this information, it is becoming more and more difficult to purchase new graphics hardware that is stable and reliable on Linux and other free and open source operating systems. In response, Timothy worked with his employer, Tech Source, to form the Open Graphics Project.
The Open Graphics Project is a collaboration between the Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) Community and Tech Source Inc. to develop new 3D graphics products that are compatible with Free Software, both philosophically and practically. The project is currently designing an "open source friendly graphics card" which will offer quality 3D and 2D acceleration with an impressive feature set at an affordable price, aiming for availability as early as June of 2005. Though the project was only started in October of 2004, it has already released the card's specifications, a design document, and a software model for early testing and driver development. In this interview, Timothy provides a wealth of information about the project and its current status, highlights contributions needed from the free and open source community, and fully describes the specific capabilities of the card.
Richard Stallman founded the GNU Project in 1984, and the Free Software Foundation in 1985. He also originally authored a number of well known and highly used development tools, including the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC), the GNU symbolic debugger (GDB) and GNU Emacs.
To better understand Richard Stallman and the GNU project, I recommend you begin by reviewing their philosophy page. On it you will find a wealth of information.
We began this interview via email, but later had to finish by telephone after Richard Stallman fell and broke his arm. He was kind enough to speak with me at length, discussing his first contact with computers, his time in the AI lab, the current state of the GNU Hurd, his current role in the Free Software Foundation, the problems with non-free software, and much more. The following words offer much insight into how we got here, and what challenges we still face.
Andrea Arcangeli is well known for having completely rewritten and stabilized the virtual memory subsystem in the 2.4 Linux kernel. Many were surprised when Linus Torvalds merged Andrea's VM into 2.4.10, but the new memory subsystem has long since proved itself. Andrea is a 27 year old Linux kernel hacker living in Italy and working for SUSE.
David Weinehall is the maintainer of the Linux 2.0 kernel. Alan Cox [interview] handed over maintainership of the 2.0 kernel over 4 years ago. David explains in his own words:
"In December 1999, a naughty bug that allowed any local user to crash a 2.0-machine surfaced. Alan Cox admitted that he didn't have any time left to work on the 2.0 kernel any longer, and told me that if I wanted to become maintainer for 2.0 and fix this bug (and some other bugs while at it), it was fine with him."
In this interview David talks about his past, and the things he's doing now.
Marcelo Tosatti became the maintainer of the 2.4 stable kernel when he was 18 years old in November of 2001. His first kernel release was 2.4.16 on November 26'th which very quickly followed the earlier 2.4.15 to address an issue with filesystem corruption. Two years later, he has recently released 2.4.23 and plans to soon put the 2.4 stable kernel into maintenance mode, only addressing bugs and security issues.
Living in Brazil, Marcelo currently works for Cyclades Corporation. In this interview he looks at how he became the 2.4 maintainer, the challenges involved, and brings us up to date with the current status of the 2.4 kernel.