FreeBSD has existed as an operating system, project, and foundation for more than twenty years, and its earlier incantations have exited for far longer. The old guard have been developing code, porting software, and writing documentation for longer than I’ve existed. I’ve been using it for more than a decade for personal prohects, and professionally for half that time.

While there are many prominant Australian FreeBSD contributers, sysadmins, and users, we’ve always had to venture overseas for conferences. We’re always told Australians are among the most ardent travellers, but I always wondered if we could do a domestic event as well.

And on Tuesday, we did! Deb Goodkin and the FreeBSD Foundation graciously organised and chaired a dedicated FreeBSD miniconf at the long-running linux.conf.au event held each year in a different city in Australia and New Zealand.

Me awkwardly presenting my talk on FreeBSD at OrionVM

We had room 9 at the Gold Coast Convention Centre and a selection of excellent speakers including:

  • Ben Woods, who flew over from Perth to discuss the FreeBSD Ports system and help run the event. It was his first talk, but it didn’t show!

  • Philip Paeps, one of the community’s most fun speakers who pontificated on the state of FreeBSD security and detailed the use of ZFS to those unfamiliar.

  • Me… gulp, on how OrionVM and I use FreeBSD, with a slant towards how to get Linux people interested, now that my new role has me pitching it to new clients. Thanks Deb for the photo!

  • G Matthew Rice who flew all the way from Toronto to talk about the Linux Professional Institute’s BSD certification programme, and some of the interesting trends he’s seeing in the industry.

  • Peter Grehan, yes, that Peter Grehan, talking about the FreeBSD hypervisor bhyve. He also helped me clarify a few points on my own slides, for which I’m tremendously grateful.

Perhaps the biggest challenge was overcoming the global press about the Australian bushfires, something I certainly didn’t help with. But we had a great turnout, and some genuine interest was shown in the project. Ben may have also convinced me to be a port maintainer which is now high on my list of personal projects to get started on!

Thanks to Deb, the FreeBSD Foundation, Ben for helping convince the Foundation to run an event here, and everyone who spoke and attended. In my own selfish way, it was equal parts humbling and… dare I use the marketing phrase everyone uses now, exciting, to be making history down here with everyone. Thanks also to the lovely Michael Dexter who put in a good word for me with the Foundation to present a talk. I’m overcoming shyness one step at a time.

We missed Groff, but maybe he can come down here one day :).