January 6, 2006

EuroBSDCon 2005

Author: Mikael Vingaard

The EuroBSDCon Conference is the largest BSD event in Europe, attracting more than 220 attendees from 27 different countries. November's 2005 conference, the fourth EuroBSDCon, took place in the University of Basel, Switzerland. Here are some highlights.

Friday, the first day of the conference, was filled with several interesting full-day tutorials that were available for an additional fee above the price of the conference. Subjects included Event-driven Programming, Debugging Kernel Problems, Single User Secure Shell, and OpenBSD-based Wireless Networks. I attended the last one, where Reyk Floeter from Vantronix talked about how to implement and use OpenBSD-based wireless devices. While the tutorials were going on, the FreeBSD Summit for FreeBSD developers was unfolding in the conference hall.

On Saturday the conference opened with a session where the organizers' group welcomed everybody. After that, the presentations started in two different rooms, running as parallel tracks. It was sometimes tough to choose which talk to attend and which to miss.

One presentation that stood out from the crowd was on "Building Robust Firewalls with OpenBSD and PF," by Ryan McBride. McBride talked about how to use CARP between two OpenBSD PF firewalls. To show that no traffic was dropped when one of the firewalls was rebooted, he played a song from a PC outside of the firewall. After rebooting and pulling cables to show the redundancy, McBride took the demonstration one step further. He asked someone from the audience to select a numbers of cables. He then took an axe from under the table and started to hack the selected cables -- giving the word "hacking" a whole new meaning. The song didn't miss a single beat, and the 200+ audience members applauded loudly.

Another worthwhile talk was "Failover Mechanisms for Filtering Bridges" by Massimiliano Stucchi, one of the guys behind Freesbie. Also, Emmanuel Dreyfus from the NetBSD team talked about how to use BSD in remote user access VPN setups and gave examples about how to use the ESP and AH protocols.

Saturday evening a social event, dubbed "The Night of the Living Dead," was held in one of Basel's well-known cellars. It was a good party with lots of time to talk with the BSD developers and buy them a beer for the good work they have done.

On Sunday, some of the more interesting conference subjects were on how to use BSD in embedded systems. Talks regarding this topic included "Building a FreeBSD Appliance with NanoBSD" by Poul-Henning Kamp, and "Embedded OpenBSD" by Uwe Stuehler and Niall O'Higgins, who talked about how they and the rest of the OpenBSD team have ported the OS to the Sharp Zaurus PDA.

To sum up, EuroBSDCON was a series of well-prepared talks, each with a exciting focus and of high quality. The conference organizers did a very good job. A DVD with the keynote talks will be available from www.eurobsdcon.com soon.

Next year's EuroBSDCON is planned for Milan, Italy.


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