BSDay 2003: The first BSD conference in Poland

by Jacek Artymiak

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21 May 2003 was an important day for the Polish BSD community. That was the day that BSDay 2003, the first BSD conference in Poland, was held in Warsaw. If I'm not mistaken, it was also the first ever conference in Poland sponsored by O'Reilly.

The conference was split into two tracks: business and technical:

  • Business track:

  • Mac OS X: Mac and BSD under one roof (Jacek Artymiak)

  • Migrating from Linux to BSD: A case study of migration to BSD systems in the Polish Ministry of Health (Marcin Swietochowski, Selinet)

  • Technical track:

  • A VoIP network infrastructure based on FreeBSD (Jakub Klausa, IP Telecom)

  • What's new in pf? (Jacek Artymiak)

  • Security in FreeBSD (Przemyslaw Frasunek, ATM)

  • Inside the BSD kernel (Pawel Pisarczyk, IMMOS)

  • Presentation of NetBSD (Dawid Szymanski)

  • OpenBSD form the point of view of an auditor and an attacker -- is it really a secure system? (Aleksander Czarnowski, AVET)

  • Software packaging systems in the Unix environment (Tomasz Luchowski)

The conference opened with my presentation of a short history of BSD systems, which quickly turned into a presentation of the history of Apple's own Unix efforts and their Mac OS X system. Next, after a short session of Q & A, we were treated to a very interesting presentation of a difficult task of migrating the Polish Ministry of Health's systems from Linux to FreeBSD. It was no mean task, with hundreds of users, dozens of networks and a lot of detective work done when trying to discover various server's functions. Marcin Swietochowski gave the audience a lot of good reasons for switching from Linux to FreeBSD and other BSDs, and I'm sure many of the conference participants will use his tactic to convince their clients and managers to migrate to BSD systems. Although not all of the things that weren't working well were Linux's faults as such, it was hard not to agree with Marcin's comments about that system's shortcomings.

The next item on the agenda was a long and extensive presentation of VoIP implementation done on FreeBSD. I admit that I learned more about VoIP that I ever wanted to learn, and if anyone wants to know how to do it, I say should ask Jakub. My second presentation was about the latest changes in pf, the famous packet filter covered in this series here at ONLamp. The number of questions that I was asked about pf convinced me that the number of pf users is growing, which is a good thing.

Przemek Frasunek's talk on FreeBSD security was very interesting, as always. Przemek is one of the authors of the rexec module for FreeBSD and knows a lot about security and secure programming. You can always learn something new from his presentations. (Among the participans was also one of the authors of the FreeBSD Cerber security module, Pawel Jakub Dawidek.)

Pawel Pisarczyk's presentation of the history and the innards of the BSD kernel was entertaining and gave everyone a refresher on context switches, virtual memory, and other bits and pieces of the basic kernel functionality. Pawel wrote the Phoenix operating systems and knows a lot about operating system design (he ought to as he's an academic teacher). He has plans to continue his work, and who knows, maybe Phoenix will make some waves worldwide?

Dawid Szymanski (with help from Tomasz Luchowski) bravely endured the barrage of questions about NetBSD code, the glue layer, portability and the project's business models. (Personally, I think that NetBSD is an ideal system for new hardware platforms, because of the high portability of the code. That's where I see it's future, but I could be wrong, of course.)

Aleksander Czarnowski teased the audience asking if OpenBSD was a truly secure operating system and if it could be used as auditing tool. His presentation was provocative, entertaining, and informative. Alek uses OpenBSD in his company for auditing IT systems and has many interesting things to say about the system's security, reliability, and usefulness for many security applications.

The last presentation was Tomasz Luchowski's talk about software packaging tools for Unix systems, with the main focus on NetBSD. Tomasz is one of the NetBSD developers with well over three years of experience with the system (Tomasz joined the project as a developer in 2001). I was particularly interested in future plans for the NetBSD packages, in particular the design that helps take care of component version mismatch.

I enjoyed BSD 2003 a lot and I truly hope that the conference will grow and that I'll be able to write about the 2nd edition next year! I hope that next year we will be joined by BSD users from abroad.

Last but not least, I would like to thank the following people:

Tim O'Reilly and Josette Garcia of O'Reilly & Associates for sponsorship; Alek Czarnowski, Przemek Galczewski, Dorota Pietkiewicz, and the rest of the gang from AVET for coming up with the idea for the conference, taking care of the communications with the speakers, managing and organizing the conference; Marek Ryszka of
Edu-Tel for taking care of the logistics and other mundane, non-IT organizational matters.

PS. Pictures of some participants, including yours truly can be found here.

UPDATE: 2003/05/26:2:28pm GMT+1 (1) Jakub Klausa sent me a link to his set of photos from the conference. Thanks, Jakub!
(2) Pawel Jakub Dawidek wrote to clarify that Przemek Frasunek is not one of the authors of the cerber module. Przemek wrote rexec, while cerber is the work of Slawomir Zak and Pawel Jakub Dawidek. Both projects reside in the same repository on SourceForge, hence the confusion. Thanks Pawel!