Last weekend I was in Vienna for EuroBSDcon, an event where BSD users are gathering from Europe (and all around the world). And while you could follow the event online, to me, the greatest value of the conference was not in the talks themselves (not to lessen their value of course, as they were fantastic) but rather in meeting people during the hallway session. The line-up consisted of sudo and syslog-ng users, BSD users and developers, and even some people from history books :-)
This year the conference took place in Vienna, in one of the buildings of the technical university. Talks were given in two large and small small auditoriums. Luckily, there was enough space for the hallway session too. And not just enough space, but also enough time for discussions. Coffee and tea helped us to stay awake :-) Wearing a mask was mandatory in the building, but luckily, we could take it off for drinking a coffee or when giving a talk.
The best part of the event. At most conferences, people try to hide away their badges. Here, most of the badges were perfectly visible. Anyone less introvert than me could easily read names from badges and start a discussion with other participants.
To me, approaching people is not so easy. Luckily, I got some help during the event. I participate in various Bastille discussion groups, and one of the members introduced me to many interesting people from the BSD community. There was one case where I collected all my courage and asked for a selfie with someone without any help: Eric Allman. He is the creator of sendmail and syslog. I’m not that good at taking selfies, but luckily, he was patient :-) The first one, with masks on, was probably the best photo of the series, but I also wanted one with his badge and my syslog-ng t-shirt visible… Eric explained that he is still using the original syslogd, but was curious to learn what new features syslog-ng provides. He was surprised to hear that even syslog-ng is 24 years old already. :-)
The social event was fantastic in many ways. It was probably the nicest venue that I have ever visited for a conference event: the Vienna City Hall. The city of Vienna was one of the main sponsors of the event, with one of its council members opening it. The food and drinks were really good, but those just provided a comfortable environment to many good discussions.
Listing here everything would probably be too much, as I listened to more than ten talks all together. Neither of the keynotes were strictly BSD-specific, however both had a strong message also for the world of BSD. Frank Karlitschek of Nextcloud talked about decentralized infrastructure and the importance of open source and open standards. Dylan Beattie of Microsoft talked about legacy code and also a few words about the rockstar programming language :-)
From the more BSD-focused talks, Eirik Øverby described the very same problems I had 15+ years ago while running thousands of web servers: default kernel parameters and web server parameters are not so well-documented and need lots of experimentation and tuning to survive attacks.
Toshaan Bharvani, who participates in the work of the OpenPower Foundation, described the current status of FreeBSD on OpenPower and the resources available currently to developers. He also talked a few words about the upcoming Power SBC arriving hopefully mid-next year.
Netflix is active at open source events, and proudly explains how they use FreeBSD to serve the world with movies, using a FreeBSD-based platform. Almost every time they give a talk, the performance they demonstrate is doubled. This time, they explained the hardware and FreeBSD tuning they use to reach 800 Gbit from a single host.
This year, I gave a combined talk at EuroBSDcon about sudo and syslog-ng. The focus was on the very latest sudo features, and I also demonstrated how to work with the logs of these features from syslog-ng. Sudo logs, both traditional and JSON-formatted, are automagically parsed by syslog-ng. Parsed messages are easier to alert on in real-time in syslog-ng, and also more efficient to work with in various NoSQL databases, where name-value pairs enable easier searching and reporting. Of course, as I was talking at a BSD event, I also talked about the history and status of syslog-ng in FreeBSD ports.
There were some good discussions already before my talk. Python support both in sudo and syslog-ng resonated well with the audience. BSD users consider syslog-ng to be the best maintained logging application in ports, which I was very happy to hear. :-) Of course, I also learned about some technical problems – luckily, none of them cause any real problems, only some ugly error messages. Still, I’ll try to reproduce them. Version 4.0 syslog-ng news were also well-received, as many users use syslog-ng to forward log messages to Elasticsearch.
I hope you could feel from my blog that I really enjoyed this conference, both from the BSD and from the sudo / syslog-ng points of view. So I hope to participate the next EuroBSDcon as well!