New FreeBSD Foundation Project: Flattened Device Tree

FreeBSD foundation logoThe FreeBSD Foundation has announced another funded project!

“Rafal Jaworowski and Semihalf has been awarded a grant to provide FreeBSD with support for the flattened device tree (FDT) technology. This project allows for describing hardware resources of a computer system and their dependencies in a platform-neutral and portable way.

The main consumers of this functionality are embedded systems whose hardware resources assignment cannot be probed or self-discovered.

The FDT idea is inherited from Open Firmware IEEE 1275 device-tree notion (part of the regular Open Firmware implementation), and among other deployments is used as a basis for Power.org’s embedded platform
reference specification (ePAPR).

Rafal JaworowskiThanks to this project, embedded FreeBSD platforms will grow in a uniform and extensible way of representing hardware devices, compliant with industry standards (ePAPR, Open Firmware), independent of architecture and platform (portable across ARM, MIPS, PowerPC etc.),

said Rafal Jaworoski, FreeBSD Developer.

Semihalf is a privately owned company, based in Krakow, Poland. They specialize in embedded systems design and development, with expertise in both software and hardware. Among their portfolio are FreeBSD ports to high-end embedded processors (including multi-core) with a wide range of peripheral drivers (storage, networking, pattern matching, security engines etc.); most of this work is publicly available from the FreeBSD repository.

You can find out more about the project at http://wiki.freebsd.org/FlattenedDeviceTree.

This project will complete by February 2010.”

If you want, you can support this project too.

New FreeBSD Foundation Project: HAST

FreeBSD foundation logoThe FreeBSD Foundation has announced that is funding a new funded project: HAST

“Pawel Jakub Dawidek has been awarded a grant to implement storage replication software that will enable users to use the FreeBSD operating system for highly available configurations where data has to be shared across the cluster nodes. The project is partly being funded by OMCnet Internet Service and TransIP BV.

The software will allow for synchronous block-level replication of any storage media (GEOM providers, using FreeBSD nomenclature) over the TCP/IP network and for fast failure recovery. HAST will provide storage
using GEOM infrastructure, which means it will be file system and application independent and could be combined with any existing GEOM class. In case of a master node failure, the cluster will be able to
switch to the slave node, check and mount UFS file system or import ZFS pool and continue to work without missing a single bit of data.

High-availability is the number one requirement for any serious use of any operating system,

Pawel Jakub Dawideksaid Pawel Jakub Dawidek, FreeBSD Developer.

Highly available storage is one of the key components in such environments. I strongly believe there are many FreeBSD users that have been waiting a long time for this functionality. I’ll do my best to deliver software that matches FreeBSD quality and that will satisfy the needs of our users.

Pawel has been an active FreeBSD committer since 2003. During this period, he has touched almost every part of the kernel. But, his main interest in FreeBSD is storage and security related topics. Pawel is the author of various GEOM classes (eli, mirror, gate, label, journal, hsec, etc.), geom(8) utility, various opencrypto improvements as well as port of the ZFS file system from OpenSolaris to FreeBSD.

The project will complete by February 2010.”

If you want, you can support this project too.

FreeBSD Foundation call for donations

FreeBSD foundation logoWe’re over half way through 2009, but the FreeBSD Foundation has not reached half of their 2009 fundraising goal. Justin Gibbs, founder and president of the FreeBSD Foundation, is calling on people’s generosity to support.

The Foundation is (part)funding some of the (Free)BSD conferences, sends developers to attend and funds new projects.

Justin writes:

Millions of systems run FreeBSD.  Hundreds of volunteers contribute to FreeBSD’s success.  But what is the size of FreeBSD’s user base?  This simple question is very hard to answer, but its answer is vital to the cause of promoting FreeBSD.  It is extremely difficult to convince
businesses to invest time and money to add FreeBSD support to their products based solely on vague estimates of the size of our community.
We should know – working to make FreeBSD a more widely supported platform is a task the FreeBSD Foundation has worked on since its inception.

Please help us in our fight to promote FreeBSD.  A donation to the FreeBSD Foundation helps fund our work, but it also gives us strength in numbers.  Our count of unique donors is a vital indication of the size and buying power of our community.  However, we have never broken even one thousand donors in any year.  We know in our hearts that this is a small fraction of our user base and of those who want to help expand FreeBSD’s presence.

So stand up and be counted!  Make a donation.  Encourage other FreeBSD users to donate as well.  No donation amount is too large or too small.  Just by becoming a donor you are making a powerful statement about the strength of FreeBSD!

You can make a donation by going to: http://www.freebsdfoundation.org/donate/.

To find out more about The FreeBSD Foundation, please visit http://www.freebsdfoundation.org.

FreeBSD foundation newsletter – June 2009

The FreeBSD Foundation have released their quarterly update. It gives a nice overview of the projects and conferences that are funded by the Foundation.
Table of contents:
  • Letter From the President
  • 2009 Fundraising Drive
  • Dru Lavigne Helping Foundation
  • Safe Removal of Active Disk Devices
  • Wireless Mesh Support
  • Improvements to the FreeBSD TCP Stack
  • AVR32 Support
  • Problem Reporting Prototype
  • FreeBSD Powers Long Distance Wireless Link
  • DCBSDCon 2009
  • AsiaBSDCon 2009
  • Foundation at BSDCan and Developer Recognition
  • 2009 Grant and Travel Grant Recipients
  • BSDCan Spotlight
  • Financials

Read the whole issue here.

The foundation is still way away from their donation target. To support FreeBSD and the FreeBSD Foundation, why not make a donation on their website? If you ever decide to support my website, 10% of your donation will be given to the Foundation.

Since recent times, the Foundation have their own blog and twitter account.

FreeBSD Foundation Project: FreeBSD terminal layer

The FreeBSD Foundation has announced another project that they’re funding:

Ed Schouten has been awarded a grant to write a new console driver for the FreeBSD project. We are excited to support Ed in providing a more efficient and user friendly console driver.

This project will allow Ed to add an additional abstraction layer to the kernel. This new layer, the terminal layer will be a layer that sits between the TTY layer, the kernel console (cngetc, cnputc) and the actual console driver. Right now we have a terminal emulator (libteken) that is part of Syscons. This terminal emulator will be moved into this
terminal layer.

The advantage of having such a layer, is that the console driver itself does not have to care about any TTY semantics, streams of bytes, processing escape sequences, etc. It will just receive a set of character drawing, filling and copying actions. This should also make it easier to implement Unicode.

“During this project I’m going to continue the work I did with the TTY layer, by developing a new console driver for the FreeBSD kernel,”

said Ed Schouten, FreeBSD Developer.

“By moving towards a graphics mode console driver, it will be much easier to make the boot process look nice on desktop systems (i.e. PC-BSD). It will also make it possible to support the industry-standard Unicode character sets by default.”

This project will be completed by the end of December.

Announcement: Two new projects funded by the FreeBSD Foundation

The FreeBSD Foundation has announced they have accepted two project proposals!

AVR32 – 32-bit MIPS Architecture

Arnar Mar Sig has been awarded a grant to develop AVR32 support for FreeBSD. AVR32 is a 32-bit MIPS architecture targeted for low power high throughput embedded applications. The target platform is the NGW100 reference design board from Atmel.

“This work will advance the MIPS support in FreeBSD and our capabilities in building embedded applications,”

said Sam Leffler, The FreeBSD Foundation, Director.

“I’m excited to be able to work on bringing FreeBSD to another architecture and pushing it farther into the embedded market,”

said Arnar Mar Sig, FreeBSD developer.

The project will be completed by August 2009.

FreeBSD Problem Reporting System

Mark Linimon has been awarded a grant to prototype a new problem reporting system for the FreeBSD project.  This project will allow Mark to define the features, look-and-feel, and architecture of a future replacement of the project’s current GNATs based system.  Once the prototype is complete, it will be used to garner input from the FreeBSD community before a production system is implemented.

Mark holds two positions within FreeBSD: one on the Ports Management team (portmgr) and one on the Problem Report Database administration team (bugmeister). He has also written the Ports Monitoring System to correlate data from the package building cluster, the Problem Report Database, the source control repository check-ins, and other sources.

“One of the most frequently requested improvements from the FreeBSD developer community is an improved bug tracking system,”

said Mark Linimon. He also added,

“The design goals of this prototype are to incorporate such features as markedly improved workflow, better categorization, customizable email notifications, and redesigned web pages to make searching and browsing easier. Once the prototype is completed,” Mark added, “it will be circulated amongst the developer community for feedback. I am happy to have the Foundation’s support to work on this project.”

“Problem reporting software is a critical tool for getting feedback from the FreeBSD user community, recording information about defects and missing features in the system, and making our volunteer developers productive,”

said Justin Gibbs, Founder of the FreeBSD Foundation.

“Mark has used manpower and sheer will to overcome the deficiencies in the current problem reporting system, and to make it work for the project.  But our GNATs isn’t fully utilized because of missing features and a clumsy user interface. We’re very excited to help address these problems in a core piece of the FreeBSD project’s infrastructure.”

This project will be completed by the end of June.

I’m sure everybody will join me to congratulate Mark and Arnar on their successful applications. We’re looking forward to AVR32 support for FreeBSD and a new FreeBSD bug reporting system.

FreeBSD Foundation Project: IEEE 802.11s wireless mesh

A couple of days ago, Google announced it’s sponsoring some FreeBSD related projects in its annual Summer of Code. Now the FreeBSD Foundation has also announced it has accepted a project (not GSoC) for funding.

Rui Paulo will be implementing the forthcoming IEEE 802.11s wireless mesh standard for FreeBSD. Wireless mesh networks are 

expected to become widespread as routers and network appliances deploy them, allowing wireless networks to be built and extended dynamically. Support for the standard will allow FreeBSD consumers to take advantage of this new technology.

FreeBSD foundation logoAs well as end-users, FreeBSD-based product vendors will benefit from access to mesh networking technology in building future versions of their products,

said Robert Watson, president of the FreeBSD Foundation.

I am thrilled to be bringing such an exciting and technically advanced feature to the FreeBSD operating system,

said FreeBSD Developer Rui Paulo. The project will be completed by July 2009.