FreeBSD's problems as seen by the community

Aryeh M. Friedman aryeh.friedman at
Wed Jan 9 17:02:02 PST 2008

Hash: SHA1

Mark Linimon wrote:
> I appreciate the fact that you took the time to write this post and
>  raise serious issues in a non-confrontational manner.
> On Thu, Jan 10, 2008 at 12:20:13AM +0100, Dominic Fandrey wrote:
>> Even minimal I/O load on a hard disk suffices to lock up whole
>> systems. Posts on the mailinglists current and stable have often
>> been answered with denial or have simply been ignored.
> The responses on the mailing lists can indeed vary in quality.  My
> own experience is that many of the key FreeBSD developers respond
> fairly well -- when they've got time to do so.  Some exceptions
> exist.  But I don't think any one person is working on amd64 to the
> exclusion of i386. Perhaps that is what it would take.
> Other than trying to identify individuals whose responses are doing
> more harm than good, I don't have any suggestions here.
>> What we think might be a solution to the regression problem,
>> would be the establishing of a Regressions Team, similar to other
>> teams like the Security Team.
> Unfortunately it requires volunteers to constitute such a thing.
> I've been trying to come up with ideas on how to get more people
> involved in what we would consider 'maintainence' activities, but
> I've yet to make an impact.  A few people have expressed interest
> in helping to go through the PR backlog, but the big shortage is
> committers who are willing to work with them on such unglamorous
> tasks.  (I am working on a proposal to at least make it less
> frustrating to do so, but I don't want to tie that into this
> thread.)
> Having said that, I would join such a team and try to work with it.
>> PRs remain unanswered or the reporters are told that the
>> regressions they report do not exist.
> We clearly have a disconnect on PRs.  More come in than we have any
> way to handle.  This is clearly most distressing when the PRs
> contain patches and/or test cases.  Again, I'm open to ideas on how
> to set up something where more people can participate.
> I've tried to flag certain PRs with '(regression)', fwiw, which is
> necessary but clearly insufficient.
>> To solve the performance problems it appears to us, that a guide
>> to tracking performance problems or a performance test suite is
>> required.
> I think that's 2 separate issues.  I had not thought much about
> trying to categorize certain PRs as 'performance' but it really
> does make sense. I will try to work on this issue.
> There is actually work on performance tests, but it goes on behind
> the scenes and is not publicized.  (The jump in performance for
> most workloads on i386-7 is due to the efforts of many individuals
> who have been relentlessly testing MySQL, Postgres, Bind, and other
> real-world workloads since the 7 branch was created.  Kris, the
> other respondent in this thread, is one of the people doing a great
> deal of work on this.) Some of this is documented at
>  If there's more specific
> information that needs to be added there, let me know off-list.
> There is also the work at
>, which I do not know the
> state of.  This sounds encouraging.
> FreeBSD is mostly driven by individual efforts (we are, however,
> seeing more interest from corporations, some of whom see network
> performance as a key issue).  To some extent it's more
> "interesting" to do new work than do maintainance work; this is a
> classical software engineering problem.  Again, I'm completely open
> to suggestions on how to get more people interested in working in
> this area.

Not to start a flame war but most of the problems listed in their most
general form come down to flaws in the development model (or any other
FOSS-like model... the main flaw is lack of rewards for working on
what is needed vs. what is fun)... I am *NOT* recommending FreeBSD
change it's basic model in anyway (even though some good alternatives
do exist) I am just saying we should look at how to reward people for
doing unglamerious but needed work.

- --
Aryeh M. Friedman
FloSoft Systems, Java Developer Tools
Developer, not business, friendly.
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