First things first: I’m the new kid on the BSD block. While in the process of still figuring things out on PC-BSD — dang that Synaptics! — and finding a place to contribute in the community, I have no real handle on the nuances of the inner workings of the wider BSD community. To my self-promoting credit, I am a quick study and the learning curve is not as difficult as I imagined. On the whole, I like what I see in those contributing to BSD, especially in the way of eagerness to help new users.
However, when Randi Harper decided to bail on participation in FreeBSD as she outlined in her blog, it raises the question, “Where have we seen this before?” Taking a step back, it raises the question, “Why does this keep happening in FOSS communities?”
Before we begin to answer those questions — and answers to those questions extend far beyond this commentary — I’m less interested in the “he said, she said” of the past than in finding workable solutions to permanently removing the 500-pound gorilla in the room — the quarter-ton simian of harassment and lack of proper channels to adequately address it.
I’m still sad I had to leave. That is a heartbreak that will probably never go away. I’ll miss the conferences and hanging out with so many incredibly talented people to discuss an operating system and open source project that I loved. This project helped me get to where I am today. I’m not advocating that minorities don’t join FreeBSD, but I hope those in charge of the project read this and understand that they’ve got to do better. I hope someone else helps them find their way.
If a volunteer project has a volunteer who is honestly so dysfunctional that he doesn’t understand why he is offensive, the project does not need him. And the volunteer needs to get help until he’s capable of behaving in a civilized manner.
Some years ago, I contributed $1000 to be one of the seed funders of the Ada Initiative, which worked to assist women in participating in Open Source projects. That worked out for several years, and the organization had sort of an ugly meltdown in their last year that is best forgotten. There was something really admirable about the Ada Initiative in its good days, which is that it stuck to one message, stuck to the positive in helping women enter and continue in communities in which they were under-represented, and wasn’t anti-male. That’s the way we should do it.
Sorry, I’m no expert, but have you ever, like, just noticed that women inject many kind of undermining phrases in their day-to-day speech?
This is the time of year when we look back and go, “Wow. How did this all ever happen?” Or something to that effect. And after about a month of PC-BSD daily use, the verdict so far (subject to appeal) is overwhelmingly positive with a couple of bumps (e.g., someday I will turn off tap-to-click on my touchpad).
Of course when I look back on the year, I can only look back as far as the time I have been using BSD. It wouldn’t be fair to go all the way back — one time back in the aughts, by some miracle, I got NetBSD to run on a PowerBook G3 until I updated the system and then poof — so this retrospective goes as far back as the month I’ve been using PC-BSD.
It took two decades, but BSD -- the operating system that dominated the Unix world during the 1980s and 1990s before being supplanted by the open source Linux kernel -- is now ready for embedded computing. That's according to the RetroBSD project, which has announced success running BSD on modern embedded hardware.
DragonFlyBSD's Francois Tigeot has done some more great work in allowing their open-source Intel graphics driver to be more featureful and comparable to the Linux i915 kernel DRM driver for which it is based.
While DragonFly's i915 DRM driver started out as woefully outdated compared to the upstream Linux kernel code, the work done by Tigeot and others is quite close to re-basing against the latest mainline code. With patches published recently, the DragonFlyBSD driver would now be comparable to what's in the Linux 4.0 kernel.
Linux server distributions get compared all the time. And in the end, the discussion typically ends up around CentOS (from RHEL) and Ubuntu (from Debian). Why is this? When Rackspace discusses Linux server options, many more distributions are mentioned: Gentoo, Arch, Fedora, etc. Let's focus on Gentoo and Arch.
First things first: I know that the wide number of variants in the BSD family are primarily aimed at servers. That said, it’s clearly understandable that with the exception of PC-BSD and BSD variants like GhostBSD, desktop/laptop users are not the primary focus in the BSD constellation. I get that, and regardless I am still using it for about 80 percent of my overall computing needs, and still using it on a daily basis on my go-to daily laptop.
I received a very generous offer to create a new logo and donate it for the project's use. The benefactor is Justin Dorfman, and he has been very patient to wait for me to select from among a number of good alternatives (part of what made it so tough).
FreeNAS Logo Contest: Okay, artists, get those colored pencils sharpened, those brushes cleaned and ready, because you have an assignment — that logo isn’t going to design itself. FreeNAS — “founded in 2005 on the guiding principle that network storage software should be available to the public at no cost and free of license restrictions” according to its site — has initiated a logo contest, urging the community to contribute artwork to become a part of FreeNAS history.
What’s good to know is that BSD will be well-represented at both of these events. At SCALE 14x — which is the first-of-the-year FOSS event worldwide from Jan. 21-24, 2016, in Pasadena, Calif. — the FreeBSD Foundation (along with FreeBSD in its own booth, of course) will be there, as well as pfSense. What’s more, there’s a BSD certification exam being offered, as it has been for the last several years at SCALE. More on this in a later post.