Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Interview: Kent Riboe from BSDEater.org

Kent Riboe from BSDEater.org is the next person I interviewed. 

Not familiar with BSDEater? Well, you should be, as it's here for quite some time. But that's something you can read in interview! Enjoy!

Q: Could you, please, shortly introduce yourself and BSD Eater? 

A: BSD Eater was originally started as planet.openbsd.nu to collect all news regarding the, at the time, BSD flavours in one place. It grew over the years to a user base of about 1000 readers per day and was later relocated to its own domain at www.bsdeater.org.  Openbsd.nu was mainly developed by me (Kent Riboe), Olof Kasselstrand and Maxim Bourmistrov with help from a bunch of good people to make a user-friendly site for Swedish OpenBSD users.  It was discontinued a couple of years ago due to some domain problems (stuck in provider-transfer) and bsdeater.org is the only living part at this point and I’m the caretaker.

As a CTO for a forex company, the security and stability means a lot to us, which is why we have always been using OpenBSD especially and in most cases run various BSD & Linux for our platforms, because we trust the developers and the open source community that drives progress forward.

Q: How about you, how did you get involved with BSDs and BSD community?

It all started long ago in the cellar of my parents’ house, when I found out from a friend that I could split my 128kbit ISDN with my neighbours. I started a company, hired my friend (Kristoffer Björk) to set up a firewall for this and we created a local provider of xDSL-, LAN- and later WiFi- connections. Obviously we needed a squid proxy for this as well and setting all this up together, he had to teach me a lot, and he would be the reason why I got in to BSD. I started with OpenBSD and still devoted.  (of course, the Obsd-songs helps during late night hacking as well - HUMPPA NEGALA!)

Llater when we started www.openbsd.nu I met the nice people over at netbsd.se via IRC and had a lot of knowledge exchange from them as well. We set up cvsup/cvsync/ntp/ftp/*-services at openbsd.nu and that got us even closer to all the users out there with questions, suggestions and feedback. The good thing about running a community is all the users you gain contact with. It’s been a long journey and as for most of the BSD-users, we’ve only scratched the surface of what’s next to come.

During the years I’ve run BSDeater, I’ve gotten in contact with the wonderful people of NetBSD, DragonflyBSD, Darwin, MidnightBSD, DesktopBSD among others and lately ArchBSD, plus of course all the users, writers, commiters and sitekeepers out there. It’s always fun and exciting to get in touch with new passionate people, and to find new things out there, like your site discoverbsd.com. It’s the people and the community that drives all of us to continue our journey.

At this point I’ve run most flavors of BSD on my laptops and all of them have their own usage. Currently I am thinking of trying the new ArchBSD release (2013-12-25, imagine releasing on xmas-day, that’s devotion) and see what’s around that corner.  Commits have been done to various projects, and bits are bits until they become bytes, which is what communities are about.

Q: Yes, community is one of the things keeping BSD going forward. How long are maintaining BSD Eater project? What do you think was the biggest thing you learnt in process?   

The BSDeater project have been running for some years now, but the original planet.openbsd.nu was started somewhere in the mid 2000 if I remember correctly, which makes it still quite young in the world of BSD. But the plan is to keep it going for many years ahead. Maybe sometime later on it will be passed on to another passionate individual to keep it rocking.

I think the best thing learnt is "less is more". If you can remove something, remove it. Unnecessary things should be avoided to keep things clear and functional. Of course every system has it's own purpose, use them properly but at the same time it's important to play and learn. :)  One of the big lessons learnt is that it’s always okay to ask for help. There’s always someone knowing more than you. I think that was proven when we made an SSH-bridge and sent layer 2 info over it even though it should’ve been impossible according to devels. That shows that software is at best when it enables more than it was thought to do (this was done to use PA-assigned IPs for customers in different parts of the world coming out via Swedish IPs, today this is a common thing though)

Q: So I guess your recommendation to BSD newbies is to spend some time on IRC?  

In one way yes, there’s always people that lets you elaborate and discuss openly there, almost always someone that had the same issue and can help you through it, and then later, you can pass that knowledge on yourself. A good example for that is the NGINX chat on freenode. A lot of new users come in with basic or common problems, get help and then stays in the channel and helps other new users with similar issues. The same happens for most applications/packages and you always have the trusty channels like openbsd, netbsd, freebsd etc on various networks. Find one that suits you and things will work out well. Just remember, if people are patient with you, be patient with others.  

Earlier there was a google.com/bsd that was very helpful, bsd-oriented search, but that has been removed. Still search engines are one of the best ways to find more information, usually solutions and help can be find in mail archives like marc. (marc.info)

Q: You mentioned you run different BSDs for different usage, can you tell us more? 

A: Sure. I assume most people use different BSDs for different usage, like for instance OpenBSD for routers and firewalls, FreeBSD for web and fileservers and perhaps Darwin for desktop. In my case it’s the same, OpenBSD for network, FreeBSD or NetBSD for applications (web, etc) and then ArchBSD, Darwin or Dragonfly for Desktop. In some cases we also run Linux of course. An environment should always be standardized to keep cost and time to a minimum, but diversity helps stability in many cases since different systems are good for different purposes and depending on the administrators’ level of knowledge. 

Q: What are current sources for BSDEater? Where can people find you if they think you are missing some important source? 

We made a clean-up recently and removed some feeds that were inactive for a long period of time. If we miss or lack any feed that could be useful, we are happy to get a mail about it, simply contact us: bsdeater [at] riboe.se and we’ll add it as soon as possible. I’ll add a co-maintainer in the next couple of days, hence the “we”.

Our current sources are:
DragonFlyBSD Digest
Jeremy C Reed
There is always room for more.

In the last couple of months we added comments functionality, because we want to grow a bit as a community, to have more interaction. Some badly formatted feeds have made a problem for sites like ours since they provide only limited part of the article. Feeds like that will be removed because it’s a bad way of using rss. In my honest opinion, we always include a link to the full article, but people shouldn’t need to read first half on one site and then click it to read the following part somewhere else.

Thanks for interview!