BSDCan 2017 Recap

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June 16, 2017

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Last week, the iXsystems Team traveled up to Ottawa, Canada for the annual BSDCan 2017 Conference. To no one’s surprise, the conference was filled with a multitude of events and work sessions, aimed to further empower and inform the local FreeBSD community of all the new and exciting events happening in the world of FreeBSD. As a Platinum Sponsor, we were fortunate enough to experience all the events that took place during the conference, from workgroup sessions to doc lounge sessions, as well as listen to talks about FreeBSD-related subjects and have our own table where we displayed our new TrueNAS X10 enterprise-grade storage solution. Below are Ken Moore and Samantha Bonham’s personal reflections on their experience at the conference.
 

 
Ken’s BSDCan Recap
Yet another fantastic time was had at BSDCan 2017! I was able to attend both the FreeBSD Developer Summit the two days before BSDcan as well as the conference itself and the level of talks/sessions this year was amazing! For the FreeBSD Developer Summit, we got to hear updates from the core team about a new system for submitting/discussing changes in FreeBSD’s code base, as well as a number of other proposed/in-progress improvements for FreeBSD. Also, I sat in on the breakout session about “BearSSL” and the subsequent follow-up session about the SSL library/usage concerns in FreeBSD’s base system and possible solutions (where BearSSL is one of the candidates for a small piece of the solution).
For the conference itself, one of the talks I sat in on was a great talk by Allan Jude about network performance improvements for bulk data transfer over SSH connections and benchmarks for the various SSH encryption algorithms. In addition to the fantastic talks, I was also able to sit and work with people on adding/changing various aspects of my projects to better suit their needs (stay tuned for details of these updates here soon!) Overall, I would strongly recommend that people try to attend BSDCan next year – you definitely don’t want to miss out on this!
 

 
Sam’s BSDCan Recap
People say first impressions are the most lasting. I recently returned home from Ottawa – Canada’s capital and possibly the shawarma capital of the world – where I attended the unforgettable BSDCan conference. The BSD community has been steadily running this conference for the past 14 years, but for me, it was a totally new and unique experience.
There were roughly 100 attendees at the Developers’ Summit and main conference this year, which took place at the Desmarais Building on Laurier Avenue from June 7 to 10.
The conference was a blend of working group sessions, hackathons, doc lounge sessions, and talks on a variety of BSD-related subjects.
As a documentation writer with iXsystems, I had a keen interest in the evening doc lounge sessions. I particularly enjoyed the presentation by Warren Block, Documentation Engineer with iXsystems, on common “doc fails” and how to avoid them.
I also had fun meeting some new people at the doc lounge who were interested in volunteering for the FreeBSD Documentation Project (FDP). I joined them in learning the workflow for submitting changes to the FDP. The documentation workflow includes a number of steps. Some include downloading the software tools needed to build the documentation, getting a local copy of the FreeBSD doc repository, creating login accounts, doing a build test, submitting a patch, and more. Towards the end of the session, I even got the chance to submit my very first patch to the FDP for a review!
There were plenty of presentations to choose from at the conference, covering an array of topics ranging from updating the FreeBSD Code of Conduct to the pros and cons of moving the FreeBSD source code to Github. The presentation that stood out to me the most was the keynote, “More Voices: Shaping the Future of Law, Policy, and Technology” by Prof. Michael Geist from the University of Ottawa. In his presentation, he highlighted current law and technology issues such as providing high-speed internet access to all, net neutrality, security, internet tax, website blocking, VPNs, piracy and more.
Professor Geist stressed the importance of developing and protecting ethical tech policy, and the need for the tech community to become more involved in the policy environment.
BSDCan was a fun and educational experience, packed with informative presentations and group participation sessions. As a first-time attendee, I highly recommend BSDCan to anyone who wants to interact with FreeBSD community members in a fun and informal setting.