projects to better support FreeBSD sysadmins

Royce Williams royce at
Tue Jan 13 23:14:45 UTC 2015

At Craig Rodrigues' request, I'm starting a new thread here branched
from a freebsd-ports@ thread.  For those who want more context, the
original thread starts here:

It was initially about BIND REPLACE_BASE, but branched off into
general sysadmin concerns that Craig wanted to respond to.


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Royce Williams <royce at>
Date: Mon, Jan 12, 2015 at 7:10 AM
Subject: Re: BIND REPLACE_BASE option
To: ports <freebsd-ports at>
Cc: Deb Goodkin <deb at>

On Mon, Jan 12, 2015 at 4:08 AM, Kurt Jaeger <lists at> wrote:

>> No disputing that, just thinking, is FreeBSD being driven by user need,
>> financial contributer need, developer need, security need, making things
>> 'better' or just by people wanting to make their mark in a warped sense
>> of "it'll all get better"...?
> Probably by developer *capacity* (not need) and fire-fighting,
> like most IT stuff 8-(

But like most IT stuff, resources are being asymmetrically applied to
the root causes of the fires.

Read the list of projects from last quarter:

- Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR)
- amd64 Xen Paravirtualization
- bhyve
- Chelsio iSCSI Offload Support
- Debian GNU/kFreeBSD
- FreeBSD Preseed Installation (PXE)
- Jenkins Continuous Integration for FreeBSD
- New Automounter
- QEMU bsd-user-Enabled Ports Building
- VMWare VAAI and Microsoft ODX Acceleration in CTL
- ZFSguru
- Intel GPU Driver Update
- SDIO Driver
- UEFI Boot
- Updated vt(4) System Console
- Updating OpenCrypto
- FreeBSD on Newer ARM Boards
- FreeBSD/arm64
- LLDB Debugger Port
- LLVM Address Sanitizer (Asan)
- SSE Variants of libc Routines for amd64
- FreeBSD Python Ports
- KDE on FreeBSD
- The Graphics Stack on FreeBSD
- Xfce

The Foundation section also lists these items not overlapping with the above:

- FreeBSD Journal
- PostgreSQL performance improvements
- Ongoing release process
- Development snapshots
- VM images for releases
- Secure Boot planning
- Infrastructure hardware
- Java licensing
- Summits and summit sponsorship
- Travel grants, tutorials, and talks
- New Design and Implementation book
- Recruitment flyers

Are there long-term improvement projects that aren't being listed?  If
so, they should be.

At face value, the main project list is heavily weighted towards
relatively esoteric OS features. The Foundation list is heavily
weighted towards advocacy and communication (as it should be).

What is missing are high-level projects to help sysadmins maintain and
use FreeBSD on an ongoing basis.

Here are some projects that would help to close the sysadmin gap:

- Automatic error reporting and analysis
- OS and port debugging tools for sysadmins
- Independent project-wide usability analysis
- Ports dependency isolation and reduction framework
- Ports system reliability parity with Linuxes
- Searchable, taggable project FAQ
- Searchable hardware support matrix integrated with bug tracker
- Wiki curation and platform improvements

These projects decentralize and improve support for sysadmins and new
adopters.  As a business case for the Foundation, these projects
should also deeply free up developer resources to focus on other major

In the past, when I have pointed out this "sysadmin gap", I receive
one of two answers:

1. Sounds great. Let us know when you have it finished.

2. We're too busy to do any of those things.

... to which I answer:

1. These projects require technical skill and political capital within
the project.  They are ideally suited for well-established independent
FreeBSD consultants with large blocks of time sponsored by the FreeBSD
Foundation.  I can help (especially with the wiki work), but cannot
tackle these deeper problems in the way that others can.

2. The reason you're busy is that you don't have these things.

I applaud recent work on Jenkins and cluster infrastructure.  I also
appreciate Colin Percival's automated error reporting work, because
it directly attacks the sysadmin gap.  And I know that getting
releases out the door is time-consuming and keeps the lights on.

But the overall project list needed to be rebalanced towards system
administration.  I request that the Foundation consider this when
calling for proposals for the next round of funded projects.


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