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FreeBSD: The next 10 
years 
Jordan Hubbard 
MeetBSD 2014
But first 
A look back at where we came from!
FreeBSD 1.0 
From jkh@whisker.lotus.ie Tue Nov 2 14:51:38 1993 
Path: sran230!sranhd!sranha!wnoc-tyo-news!nec-tyo!nec-gw!sgiblab! 
spool.mu.edu!agate!agate!usenet 
From: jkh@whisker.lotus.ie (Jordan K. Hubbard) 
Newsgroups: comp.os.386bsd.announce 
Subject: FreeBSD 1.0 RELEASE now available 
Followup-To: poster 
Date: 1 Nov 1993 16:12:20 -0800 
Organization: Lotus Development Ireland 
Lines: 61 
Sender: cgd@agate.berkeley.edu 
Approved: 386bsd-announce-request@agate.berkeley.edu 
Message-ID: <JKH.93Oct31223943@whisker.lotus.ie> 
NNTP-Posting-Host: agate.berkeley.edu 
The first "official" release of FreeBSD 1.0 is now available, no more 
greek letters - this is the "production" release ...
Happy 21st Anniversary! 
FreeBSD will be 21 years old tomorrow 
(and can drink legally)
FreeBSD 1.0 
Our first distribution media 
(OK, I’m lying)
Our actual distribution media 
1.2 MB 
FreeBSD 1.0
Some of the consequences...
The 1.0 ports collection
My first FreeBSD dream build machine... 
I paid $1600 for my first 1Gb hard drive to do builds...
My first FreeBSD dream laptop 
<= Warner 
Losh 
Windows->
First conference (1999)
Commercial interests 
20 years ago 
• Internet Service Providers (large and small) 
• SOHO web servers / routers (very DIY) 
• Major services like Yahoo!, Hotmail, etc. 
• Basic developer desktop machines 
• Majority of FreeBSD machines were physical PCs 
that ran off of AC power 
Key take-away: FreeBSD’s role was fairly overt
20 years later... 
New install media: 64GB USB thumb drive. Holy crap!
20 years later... 
RB-Pi: SBC Far more powerful than my first FreeBSD 
machine. Cost: Under $50 (with storage card)
20 years later... 
My dream laptop has evolved (BSD instead of Windows)
20 years later... 
• FreeBSD release version is up to 10.1 
• Over 24000 ports (vs 70!) 
• Hundreds of committers, from both academia and 
commercial backgrounds 
• Sources of long-term funding (Foundation, other 
sponsors) 
• … But the commercial interests and overall market 
have changed significantly
Hey BSD: Let’s see that license again! 
The GPL experience 
The GPLv3: Scaring the crap out of lawyers since 2007
Commercial interests 
Today 
• FreeBSD is the underlying OS technology for routers, 
load balancers, security monitors, file servers, etc. 
• Basis for “software appliances” like pfSense, FreeNAS 
and quite a few others 
• Even the base OS for a very popular gaming console 
• “Embedded” market is morphing and exploding 
Key take-away: FreeBSD’s role, and even its name, is now fairly covert
Biggest Unix deployments now 
(wat?)
Even in the Enterprise… 
• “BYOD” movement has slowed desktop growth 
and fundamentally changed IT department mission 
• “Cloud” software / storage / computational 
resource consolidation have all but killed the DIY 
datacenter 
• Much better automation choices (*stack, chef, 
puppet) gives rise to the “2 guys with their laptops 
in a coffee shop” startup model
The rise of virtualization 
• VMWare, Xenserver, Hyper-v, bhyve - all acceptable 
hypervisors. Majority of OS deployments (and 
devices) are no longer physical 
• Automation tools work hardest to erase the notion 
of machine personality (and put it elsewhere) 
• Being virtual and/or automated means the entire 
environment becoming far less human-centric
What is an Operating System? 
A set of lego blocks
What do OS designers like to build? 
Things they think are cool
We have to change our 
definition of what is cool 
(Building blocks are cool)
More about mobile 
• More Unix machines are running on batteries than 
are plugged into AC by several orders of magnitude 
• Talking to one or more radios has replaced physical 
cables 
• The obvious: Power consumption and dynamic 
interface / connection management is important 
• Less obvious: High-level debugging and telemetry 
technology become critical to success
Ubuntu’s changing face
What does this all mean? 
• We need to be open to fundamentally new 
approaches and ruthlessly cull what is no longer 
demonstrably useful to the 99% 
• We need to be willing to shamelessly steal^H^H^H^H 
adopt things that are working well for others 
• We need to take on some big-picture challenges that 
will appeal to the next generation of hackers (where’s 
the next mountain?)
One Project Idea 
All OS / App configuration data 
• We need a lingua franca format yesterday! 
• Whether it be XML, YAML or JSON, we also 
need a single API to read / write / abstract away 
the details of finding config data. 
• Existing tools /services need to convert their 
legacy formats into this one and use the same 
API or the tower of babel will persist
Working Example 
• All OS and app configuration data in OS X and iOS are XML 
plist files, even GNU emacs and X11.org’s preferences! 
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?> 
<!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" "http://www.apple.com/DTDs/ 
PropertyList-1.0.dtd"> 
<plist version="1.0"> 
<dict> 
<key>SULastCheckTime</key> 
<date>2014-02-09T02:45:56Z</date> 
<key>cache_fonts</key> 
<true/> 
<key>done_xinit_check</key> 
<true/> 
<key>no_auth</key> 
<false/> 
<key>nolisten_tcp</key> 
<true/> 
</dict> 
</plist>
One Project Idea 
A centralized event notification system 
• You just can’t deal with: 
• Radios powering up and down at odd times 
• Network configuration changing rapidly 
• A node changing its identity almost entirely on the fly 
• Critical system caches needing invalidation 
… without a centralized way of being able to know about 
these sorts of events!
Working Example 
• notify(3) APIs in OS X / iOS and corresponding notifyd daemon 
• Send it a SIGUSR1 on OS X and you will see a huge number of notification names 
and their subscribers in /var/run/notifyd_pid.status - it has become insanely useful! 
"com.apple.system.lowdiskspace.system" uid=0 gid=0 333 
17 32 port 
"com.apple.system.timezone" uid=0 gid=0 333 slot 7 = 1 
1018 1 memory 
1011 10 port 
1011 8 memory 
1011 6 port 
"com.apple.system.powermanagement.SystemLoadAdvisory" uid=0 gid=0 333 slot 13 = 19 
406 44 port 
944 12 port 
406 35 memory 
"com.apple.system.config.network_change" uid=0 gid=0 333 slot 39 = 129 
190 17 memory 
845 28 memory 
845 26 memory 
"ids-device-nearby-0FC85E3A-7779-4EAA-AD02-70292707A33C" uid=0 gid=0 333 
229 30 port 
402 19 port 
257 30 port 
242 23 port
One Project Idea 
Service startup and wrangling 
• /etc/rc.d is quite sophisticated for what it does, 
but the paint on /etc/rc is obvious 
• Too many things need to know explicitly about 
dependencies (when can I start? What has to 
start before me?) 
• Power wrangling and automation depend on being 
able to start and stop services easily and at will
Working Example 
• I’m trying really hard not to suggest launchd here (so I won’t) 
• The idea of registering everything up-front with a broker and 
then letting IPC / timers / HW events start things from there (in 
cascade fashion) is still the right architecture 
• Even the linux die-hards have essentially grasped the necessity 
of systemd (even though they’re going to hate on it for awhile 
longer)
One Project Idea 
Telemetry & Remote Debugging 
• We really need a centralized way of being able 
to collect data from appliances / mobile devices 
• The NSA don’t need our help (they already do 
this upstream) but FreeBSD downstream end-users 
DO 
• Debugging the software stack on mobile devices 
is hard. It’s time for remote debugging support
One Project Idea 
Reference phone / tablet ports 
• Running on SBCs is excellent for bootstrapping, 
but there’s no “real world” hardware to support 
(displays, radios, accelerometers, etc) 
• Running on hardware you can actually use and 
carry around validates power / telemetry work 
• Real Hardware forces you to think about the 
entire software stack
In summary 
• We need to become more lego-like (and toss those 
legos we don’t need out of the box) in our 
architecture 
• The hardware platforms we choose need to be 
genuinely relevant in terms of mass appeal 
• We need to be more willing to learn from those 
who have gone before us in these emerging markets 
(BSD has a bit of a “rep” there)
FreeBSD: The future is ours if we want it! 
FreeBSD 20th Anniversary Party

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FreeBSD: The Next 10 Years (MeetBSD 2014)

  • 1. FreeBSD: The next 10 years Jordan Hubbard MeetBSD 2014
  • 2. But first A look back at where we came from!
  • 3. FreeBSD 1.0 From jkh@whisker.lotus.ie Tue Nov 2 14:51:38 1993 Path: sran230!sranhd!sranha!wnoc-tyo-news!nec-tyo!nec-gw!sgiblab! spool.mu.edu!agate!agate!usenet From: jkh@whisker.lotus.ie (Jordan K. Hubbard) Newsgroups: comp.os.386bsd.announce Subject: FreeBSD 1.0 RELEASE now available Followup-To: poster Date: 1 Nov 1993 16:12:20 -0800 Organization: Lotus Development Ireland Lines: 61 Sender: cgd@agate.berkeley.edu Approved: 386bsd-announce-request@agate.berkeley.edu Message-ID: <JKH.93Oct31223943@whisker.lotus.ie> NNTP-Posting-Host: agate.berkeley.edu The first "official" release of FreeBSD 1.0 is now available, no more greek letters - this is the "production" release ...
  • 4. Happy 21st Anniversary! FreeBSD will be 21 years old tomorrow (and can drink legally)
  • 5. FreeBSD 1.0 Our first distribution media (OK, I’m lying)
  • 6. Our actual distribution media 1.2 MB FreeBSD 1.0
  • 7. Some of the consequences...
  • 8. The 1.0 ports collection
  • 9. My first FreeBSD dream build machine... I paid $1600 for my first 1Gb hard drive to do builds...
  • 10. My first FreeBSD dream laptop <= Warner Losh Windows->
  • 12. Commercial interests 20 years ago • Internet Service Providers (large and small) • SOHO web servers / routers (very DIY) • Major services like Yahoo!, Hotmail, etc. • Basic developer desktop machines • Majority of FreeBSD machines were physical PCs that ran off of AC power Key take-away: FreeBSD’s role was fairly overt
  • 13. 20 years later... New install media: 64GB USB thumb drive. Holy crap!
  • 14. 20 years later... RB-Pi: SBC Far more powerful than my first FreeBSD machine. Cost: Under $50 (with storage card)
  • 15. 20 years later... My dream laptop has evolved (BSD instead of Windows)
  • 16. 20 years later... • FreeBSD release version is up to 10.1 • Over 24000 ports (vs 70!) • Hundreds of committers, from both academia and commercial backgrounds • Sources of long-term funding (Foundation, other sponsors) • … But the commercial interests and overall market have changed significantly
  • 17. Hey BSD: Let’s see that license again! The GPL experience The GPLv3: Scaring the crap out of lawyers since 2007
  • 18. Commercial interests Today • FreeBSD is the underlying OS technology for routers, load balancers, security monitors, file servers, etc. • Basis for “software appliances” like pfSense, FreeNAS and quite a few others • Even the base OS for a very popular gaming console • “Embedded” market is morphing and exploding Key take-away: FreeBSD’s role, and even its name, is now fairly covert
  • 20. Even in the Enterprise… • “BYOD” movement has slowed desktop growth and fundamentally changed IT department mission • “Cloud” software / storage / computational resource consolidation have all but killed the DIY datacenter • Much better automation choices (*stack, chef, puppet) gives rise to the “2 guys with their laptops in a coffee shop” startup model
  • 21. The rise of virtualization • VMWare, Xenserver, Hyper-v, bhyve - all acceptable hypervisors. Majority of OS deployments (and devices) are no longer physical • Automation tools work hardest to erase the notion of machine personality (and put it elsewhere) • Being virtual and/or automated means the entire environment becoming far less human-centric
  • 22. What is an Operating System? A set of lego blocks
  • 23. What do OS designers like to build? Things they think are cool
  • 24. We have to change our definition of what is cool (Building blocks are cool)
  • 25. More about mobile • More Unix machines are running on batteries than are plugged into AC by several orders of magnitude • Talking to one or more radios has replaced physical cables • The obvious: Power consumption and dynamic interface / connection management is important • Less obvious: High-level debugging and telemetry technology become critical to success
  • 27. What does this all mean? • We need to be open to fundamentally new approaches and ruthlessly cull what is no longer demonstrably useful to the 99% • We need to be willing to shamelessly steal^H^H^H^H adopt things that are working well for others • We need to take on some big-picture challenges that will appeal to the next generation of hackers (where’s the next mountain?)
  • 28. One Project Idea All OS / App configuration data • We need a lingua franca format yesterday! • Whether it be XML, YAML or JSON, we also need a single API to read / write / abstract away the details of finding config data. • Existing tools /services need to convert their legacy formats into this one and use the same API or the tower of babel will persist
  • 29. Working Example • All OS and app configuration data in OS X and iOS are XML plist files, even GNU emacs and X11.org’s preferences! <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?> <!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" "http://www.apple.com/DTDs/ PropertyList-1.0.dtd"> <plist version="1.0"> <dict> <key>SULastCheckTime</key> <date>2014-02-09T02:45:56Z</date> <key>cache_fonts</key> <true/> <key>done_xinit_check</key> <true/> <key>no_auth</key> <false/> <key>nolisten_tcp</key> <true/> </dict> </plist>
  • 30. One Project Idea A centralized event notification system • You just can’t deal with: • Radios powering up and down at odd times • Network configuration changing rapidly • A node changing its identity almost entirely on the fly • Critical system caches needing invalidation … without a centralized way of being able to know about these sorts of events!
  • 31. Working Example • notify(3) APIs in OS X / iOS and corresponding notifyd daemon • Send it a SIGUSR1 on OS X and you will see a huge number of notification names and their subscribers in /var/run/notifyd_pid.status - it has become insanely useful! "com.apple.system.lowdiskspace.system" uid=0 gid=0 333 17 32 port "com.apple.system.timezone" uid=0 gid=0 333 slot 7 = 1 1018 1 memory 1011 10 port 1011 8 memory 1011 6 port "com.apple.system.powermanagement.SystemLoadAdvisory" uid=0 gid=0 333 slot 13 = 19 406 44 port 944 12 port 406 35 memory "com.apple.system.config.network_change" uid=0 gid=0 333 slot 39 = 129 190 17 memory 845 28 memory 845 26 memory "ids-device-nearby-0FC85E3A-7779-4EAA-AD02-70292707A33C" uid=0 gid=0 333 229 30 port 402 19 port 257 30 port 242 23 port
  • 32. One Project Idea Service startup and wrangling • /etc/rc.d is quite sophisticated for what it does, but the paint on /etc/rc is obvious • Too many things need to know explicitly about dependencies (when can I start? What has to start before me?) • Power wrangling and automation depend on being able to start and stop services easily and at will
  • 33. Working Example • I’m trying really hard not to suggest launchd here (so I won’t) • The idea of registering everything up-front with a broker and then letting IPC / timers / HW events start things from there (in cascade fashion) is still the right architecture • Even the linux die-hards have essentially grasped the necessity of systemd (even though they’re going to hate on it for awhile longer)
  • 34. One Project Idea Telemetry & Remote Debugging • We really need a centralized way of being able to collect data from appliances / mobile devices • The NSA don’t need our help (they already do this upstream) but FreeBSD downstream end-users DO • Debugging the software stack on mobile devices is hard. It’s time for remote debugging support
  • 35. One Project Idea Reference phone / tablet ports • Running on SBCs is excellent for bootstrapping, but there’s no “real world” hardware to support (displays, radios, accelerometers, etc) • Running on hardware you can actually use and carry around validates power / telemetry work • Real Hardware forces you to think about the entire software stack
  • 36. In summary • We need to become more lego-like (and toss those legos we don’t need out of the box) in our architecture • The hardware platforms we choose need to be genuinely relevant in terms of mass appeal • We need to be more willing to learn from those who have gone before us in these emerging markets (BSD has a bit of a “rep” there)
  • 37. FreeBSD: The future is ours if we want it! FreeBSD 20th Anniversary Party