FreeBSD quick news: Amazon EC2, OpenBSD and FBI

Some exciting and eyebrow raising news items:

FreeBSD on Amazon EC2

FreeBSD developer Colin Percival announced on his blog that FreeBSD 9-CURRENT now runs on Amazon EC2:

One of my largest complaints about Amazon EC2 ever since it launched has been my inability to run FreeBSD on it. Judging from the feedback I received to two earlier blog posts, I haven’t been alone. The problems keeping FreeBSD out of EC2 have always been more FreeBSD-related than Amazon-related, however, and over the past month I’ve been hacking away at FreeBSD’s Xen code, to the point where I can say something I’ve been waiting to say for a long time: FreeBSD now runs on Amazon EC2.

There are some caveats to this. First, at the moment only FreeBSD 9.0-CURRENT can run under EC2; I haven’t merged bug fixes back to the stable branches. Second, at the moment FreeBSD only runs on t1.micro instances, for reasons I can’t discuss (NDA) but hope will be resolved soon. Third, this code hasn’t received very much testing and is almost certain to have more serious bugs, so it should be approached as an experimental, not-ready-for-production-use system for now. Full post

OpenBSD & the FBI

Theo de Raadt, project leader of the OpenBSD project, has made an email public that reveals that the FBI built a backdoor into OpenBSD’s ipsec about a decade ago.

As of yet it’s not known if any of the revelations/allegations are true and if any other operating systems are affected. We will have to wait until developers have reviewed the code. What do you think about all this? Please drop a comment at the bottom.

This subject has been picked up by many websites and blogs. Here’s a selection:

  • FBI Poked Spy Hole in OpenBSD, Says Former Contractor – technewsworld.com
  • FBI ‘planted backdoor’ in OpenBSD – theregister.com
  • FBI Accused Of Decade-Old Cryptography Code Conspiracy – forbes.com
  • Developer claims FBI implemented backdoors in OpenBSD – itwire.com


Interview with Tom Grove (GroveITC.com)

Previously I mentioned that Tom Grove from Grove ITC kindly sold freebsdnews.com. I’ve (GvE) done a little interview about Tom’s (TG) interest and how he uses FreeBSD etc.

GvE: Can you tell a bit about yourself and your background?

TG: Currently I am am working in the R&D department of the largest mobile broadcasting company in the world.  I am constantly working with cutting edge technologies; both in the IT world and television world.  I attended Carlow University here in Pittsburgh after secondary school.  As for hobbies, I enjoy spending time with my wife, stepson and daughter.  I also love to play golf and racquetball as often as possible and I’ve started dabbling in the world of microcontrollers in the last year or two.

GvE: You’re running Grove IT Consulting. Can you tell us a bit more about it?

TG: Currently Grove IT Consulting is a side business that I started about two years ago.  I was generating enough business via word of mouth and friends that I needed to start to look a little more official.  I finally decided to put together a plan, get a business phone number, website and such and market a little.  I am the sole employee at this point and don’t necessarily want this to grow too large.  It’s just nice to make a little extra money doing something one enjoys.

GvE: You’re using FreeBSD. How did you find out about FreeBSD and when did you start using it? Do you use any other BSD’s or Linux?

TG: I started using FreeBSD back in the early 4.x days.  When I was a teenager I had some friends that invited me to some 2600 meetings in a town near Pittsburgh.  There were a bunch of really cool nerds there that helped me get into the world of Linux and the BSDs.  We worked on everything from OpenBSD to FreeBSD and Slackware to Debian. After that I was hooked on *nix.  When I graduated I made certain to find a job that allowed me to use it.  For the majority of my professional career I have been lucky enough to use Linux and FreeBSD on a daily basis.

GvE: How do you use FreeBSD? Is it used on your own servers and desktops? Do you install it on customer’s PC’s / Servers?

TG: I used to use FreeBSD as a desktop, however, I needed to run a few things that it couldn’t support.  Now I am running a Mac (don’t forget, Jordan Hubbard is their lead Unix Engieer now).  However, I make sure to stay up on my FreeBSD skills because we run FreeBSD on our mail servers, VPN server, Samba servers, print servers, and LDAP servers to name a few.  Whenever I get an opportunity to get FreeBSD on a box I do it.

FreeBSD has been so rock solid over the years for me that I have come to trust it in the harshest environments and for the most intense services.

I’ve also used FreeBSD to create custom routers based on embedded devices from Soekris Engineering.  I’ve used it to create appliances for various things and just love the architecture.  There is a beauty in knowing that things are always where one would expect them.

GvE: Is there anything that you’d like to see changed in or added to FreeBSD to make things easier and better for you?

TG: I would love to see FreeBSD get more support from the business community.  There are times when it is just not viable to use FreeBSD.  Either some device is not supported or some CTO hasn’t heard of it so it mustn’t be good.  It would be great to see businesses like Google, NetApp and Juniper really step up and let everyone know how they use and how much the use FreeBSD.  It would also be great to see companies like that donate more code back to the project.

GvE: Is there anything you’d like to say about your company, FreeBSD or anything else?

TG: First, thanks for what you do, Gerard.  FreeBSD evangelism is an incredibly important task and you do a great job at creating a buzz about it.  Also, if you are located in the western Pennsylvania area and have technical needs get in touch with me at http://www.groveitc.com or support[at]groveitc[dot]com.  FreeBSD, No Bikeshed!

Thanks, Tom, for selling the domain and giving your time for these questions.

Released: FreeBSD 8.2-BETA1 and 7.4-BETA1

The first of the test builds for the FreeBSD 8.2/7.4 Release Cycle is now available for amd64, i386, ia64, pc98, and sparc64 architectures. Files suitable for creating installation media or doing FTP based installs through the network should be on most of the FreeBSD mirror sites.

Read the announcement: FreeBSD 8.2/7.4-BETA1 Available

Quick news and links: ghostbsd, pfsense, doing business with BSD

Some links to recent project updates and howtos.

pfSense

GhostBSD

Setting up FreeBSD Wireless

Successful businesses do it with BSD!

The hidden underbelly of Mac OS X is; yep you guessed it BSD. Originally based on OpenBSD however since 10.2 or shortly there after FreeBSD. So this begs the question why do some many manufacturers rally behind Linux when Apple has clearly demonstrated beyond a shadow of any doubt that if you wish to be truly commercially successful building on the back of Open Source you’ve got to do it with a BSD. Consider all of those netbook producers out there with deploying Windows XP in most cases or some flavorless Linux distribution. …. Contintues

FreeBSD Events (Athens Digital Week, NLLGG)

NLLGG BSD Day (Utrecht, 11 Dec 2010)

The NLLGG (Netherlands Linux Users Group) has organised a BSD Day in Utrecht, the Netherlands, for 11 December. This is the 3rd year running that the Group has organised a BSD Day. More information can be found here (Dutch).

Video Presentation of the FreeBSD Project at Athens Digital Week 2010

Elias Chrisocherias has uploaded 2 videos of his presentation at the Athens Digital Week 2010. As both videos are in Greek, I can’t understand what is being said, though some of the slides give an idea. The interesting thing you’ll notice is the number of attendants, including a number of females!



BSD Events 2011 – call for speakers (FOSDEM, BSDCAN)

Marius Nünnerich has called for speakers for FOSDEM 2011  (5 and 6 Feb 2011)

FOSDEM 2011 will take place February 5-6, 2011 in Brussels, Belgium.
We want to continue the great success of the last years and again we have a booth and a devroom.

Please submit your proposal to me asap. We have a devroom on
saturday this time. Talks will be 45 minutes including discussion (feel free to ask if you want to have a longer/shorter slot).

Every talk is welcome, from internal hacker discussion to real-world examples and presentations about new and shiny features. The talk committee consists of Daniel Seuffert and me.

Please submit your proposals to:

marius [at] nuenneri [dot] ch

and include the following information:

* Your name
* The title of your talk (please be descriptive, as titles will be
listed with ~250 from other projects)
* A short abstract of one to two paragraphs
* A short biography introducing yourself
* Links to related websites/blogs etc.

The deadline for submissions is 20th December 2010. The proposals will be considered by committee. If your proposal has been accepted, you will be informed by email within one week of the submission deadline. [...]

BSD Can 2011 – Call for papers – 11-14 May 2010

BSDCan 2011 will be held 13-14 May, 2011 in Ottawa at the University of Ottawa. It will be preceded by two days of tutorials on 11-12 May.

NOTE: This will be Fri/Sat with tutorials on Wed/Thu.

We are now accepting proposals for talks.

The talks should be designed with a very strong technical content bias. Proposals of a business development or marketing nature are not appropriate for this venue.

If you are doing something interesting with a BSD operating system, please submit a proposal. Whether you are developing a very complex system using BSD as the foundation, or helping others and have a story to tell about how BSD played a role, we want to hear about your experience. People using BSD as a platform for research are also encouraged to submit a proposal. Possible topics include:

  • How we manage a giant installation with respect to handling spam.
  • and/or sysadmin.
  • and/or networking.

From the BSDCan website, the Archives section will allow you to review the wide variety of past BSDCan presentations as further examples.

Both users and developers are encouraged to share their experiences.

The schedule is:

1 Dec 2010 Proposal acceptance begins
19 Jan 2011 Proposal acceptance ends
19 Feb 2011 Confirmation of accepted proposals

Current and future FreeBSD events can be found on my FreeBSD conferences and events calendar (gcal). If you come across any that are missing, let me know.

5 new TCP Congestion Control Algorithms Project (FreeBSD Foundation)

The FreeBSD Foundation has announced it is funding the 5 new TCP Congestion Control Algorithms Project:

“The FreeBSD Foundation is pleased to announce that Swinburne University’s Technology’s Centre for Advanced Internet Architectures has been awarded a grant to implement five new TCP congestion control algorithms in FreeBSD.

Correctly functioning congestion control (CC) is crucial to the efficient operation of the Internet and IP networks in general. CC dynamically balances a flow’s throughput against the inferred impact on the network, lowering throughput to protect the network as required.

The FreeBSD operating system’s TCP stack currently utilizes the defacto standard NewReno loss-based CC algorithm, which has known problems coping with many aspects of modern data networks like lossy or large bandwidth/delay paths. There is significant and ongoing work both in the research community and industry to address CC related problems, with a particular focus on TCP because of its ubiquitous deployment and use.

Swinburne University of Technology’s ongoing work with FreeBSD’s TCP stack and congestion control implementation has progressively matured. This project aims to refine their prototypes and integrate them into FreeBSD.

The project will conclude in January 2011.” (source: freebsdfoundation.blogspot.com)

The five protocols are:

If you’d like to see the Foundation fund more of these sort of projects, why not considering making a (small) donation?

This month I will be donating any affiliate commission I receive from Bordeaux Software (run Windows software on FreeBSD / PC-BSD) to the Foundation. If you’d love to use FreeBSD and/or PC-BSD but need to use Windows software as well, incl Microsoft Office, why not buy a copy of Bordeau ($10)?

Colin Percival will be donating his profits from tarsnap.com this month.