pkgsrcCon 2017 report


July 08, 2017 posted by Sevan Janiyan

This years pkgsrcCon returned to London once again. It was last held in London back in 2014. The 2014 con was the first pkgsrcCon I attended, I had been working on Darwin/PowerPC fixes for some months and presented on the progress I'd made with a 12" G4 PowerBook. I took away a G4 Mac Mini that day to help spare the PowerBook for use and dedicate a machine for build and testing. The offer of PowerPC hardware donations was repeated at this years con, thanks to jperkin@ who showed up with a backpack full of Mac Minis (more on that later).

Since 2014 we have held cons in Berlin (2015) & Krakow (2016). In Krakow we had talks about a wide range of projects over 2 days, from Haiku Ports to Common Lisp to midipix (building native PE binaries for Windows) and back to the BSDs. I was very pleased to continue the theme of a diverse program this year.

Aside from pkgsrc and NetBSD, we had talks about FreeBSD, OpenBSD, Slackware Linux, and Plan 9.
Things began with a pub gathering on the Friday for the pre-con social, we hung out and chatted till almost midnight on a wide range of topics, such as supporting a system using NFS on MS-DOS, the origins of pdksh, corporate IT, culture and many other topics.

On parting I was asked about the starting time on Saturday as there was some conflicting information. I learnt that the registration email had stated a later start than I had scheduled for & advertised on the website, by 30 minutes.
Lesson learnt: register for your own event!
Not a problem, I still needed to setup a webpage for the live video stream, I could do both when I got back. With some trimming here and there I had a new schedule, I posted that to the pkgsrcCon website and moved to trying to setup a basic web page which contained a snippet of javascript to play a live video stream from Scale Engine.
2+ hours later, it was pointed out that the XSS protection headers on pkgsrc.org breaks the functionality. Thanks to jmcneill@ for debugging and providing a working page.

Saturday started off with Giovanni Bechis speaking about pledge in OpenBSD and adding support to various packages in their ports tree, alnsn@ then spoke about installing packages from a repo hosted on the Tor network.

After a quick coffee break we were back to hear Charles Forsyth speak about how Plan 9 and Inferno dealt with portability, building software and the problem which are avoided by the environment there. This was followed by a very energetic rant by David Spencer from the Slackbuilds project on packaging 3rd party software. Slackbuilds is a packaging system for Slackware Linux, which was inspired by FreeBSD ports.

For the first slot after lunch, agc@ gave a talk on the early history of pkgsrc followed by Thomas Merkel on using vagrant to test pkgsrc changes with ease, locally, using vagrant. khorben@ covered his work on adding security to pkgsrc and bsiegert@ covered the benefits of performing our bulk builds in the cloud and the challenges we currently face.
My talk was about some topics and ideas which had inspired me or caught my attention, and how it could maybe apply to my work.The title of the talk was taken from the name of Andrew Weatherall's Saint Etienne remix, possibly referring to two different styles of track (dub & vocal) merged into one or something else. I meant it in terms of applicability of thoughts and ideas. After me, agc@ gave a second talk on the evolution of the Netflix Open Connect appliance which runs FreeBSD and Vsevolod Stakhov wrapped up the day with a talk about the technical implementation details of the successor to pkg_tools in FreeBSD, called pkg, and how it could be of benefit for pkgsrc.

For day 2 we gathered for a hack day at the London Hack Space.
I had burn't some some CD of the most recent macppc builds of NetBSD 8.0_BETA and -current to install and upgrade Mac Minis. I setup the donated G4 minis for everyone in a dual-boot configuration and moved on to taking apart my MacBook Air to inspect the wifi adapter as I wanted to replace it with something which works on FreeBSD. It was not clear from the ifixit teardown photos of cards size, it seemed like a normal mini-PCIe card but it turned out to be far smaller. Thomas had also had the same card in his and we are not alone. Thomas has started putting together a driver for the Broadcom card, the project is still in its early days and lacks support for encrypted networks but hopefully it will appear on review.freebsd.org in the future.
weidi@ worked on fixing SunOS bugs in various packages and later in the night we setup a NetBSD/macppc bulk build environment together on his Mac Mini.
Thomas setup an OpenGrock instance to index the source code of all the software available for packaging in pkgsrc. This helps make the evaluation of changes easier and the scope of impact a little quicker without having to run through a potentially lengthy bulk build with a change in mind to realise the impact.
bsiegert@ cleared his ticket and email backlog for pkgsrc and alnsn@ got NetBSD/evbmips64-eb booting on his EdgeRouter Lite.

On Monday we reconvened at the Hack Space again and worked some more. I started putting together the talks page with the details from Saturday and the the slides which I had received, in preperation for the videos which would come later in the week. By 3pm pkgsrcCon was over. I was pretty exhausted but really pleased to have had a few days of techie fun.

Many thanks to The NetBSD Foundation for purchasing a camera to use for streaming the event and a speedy response all round by the board. The Open Source Specialist Group at BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT and the London Hack Space for hosting us. Scale Engine for providing streaming facility. weidi@ for hosting the recorded videos.
Allan Jude for pointers, Jared McNeill for debugging, NYCBUG and Patrick McEvoy for tips on streaming, the attendees and speakers. This year we had speakers from USA, Italy, Germany and London E2.
Looking forward to pkgsrcCon 2018!

The videos and slides are available here and the Internet Archive.

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