Siberian coal mine digs out FreeBSD funding

Builder: A FreeBSD programmer has hit his funding targets - with donations coming in from firms as far afield as Siberia

A Danish developer of the popular FreeBSD operating system, who was seeking sponsorship to support him while he works on the filesystem and disk-I/O subsystem, says he has been successful in his search.

The donations, for the requested 33,000 Danish kroner (£2,900) a month, will support Poul-Henning Kamp through to November 2004. Announcing the success of the search for funding, Kamp said he had KK8,684 spare.

The funding is significant for those who develop and use FreeBSD because it illustrates that the users are willing to support full-time development at least of parts of the operating system. FreeBSD is available for no charge under the BSD License and does not enjoy the huge corporate sponsorship that Linux has attracted from the likes of HP and IBM.

Kamp issued the request after losing one of his big contracting customers. In his initial request he said this meant that his order book was empty for the second half of 2004. Kamp is known in FreeBSD circles for, among other things, his work on the Jail facility which provides the ability to partition the operating system environment, while maintaining the simplicity of the UNIX "root" model.

"We have some major development tasks in front of us and many of those tasks are almost impossible to complete on a spare-time basis, but three to six months' full-time attention of one of our most senior developers would solve the problem," said Kamp.

Many donations were in the range of 10 to 100 euros, but some went further. The largest donor by far was Pittsburgh, US-based Web-hosting company Pair Networks, which according to Kamp donated $20,025 (£10,900). Another sizeable donation, for $1,000, came from Germany-based consultant Claudio Eichenberger of Working Solutions GmbH.

Eichenberger, who has been using FreeBSD himself and installing it for clients since 1994, said he made the donation because he sees FreeBSD as being an essential and rock-solid operating system. "It's a great system and I make a lot of money from installing it for clients," said Eichenberger, adding that he does not feel comfortable using something without giving something back.

This is not the first time that Eichenberger has donated to FreeBSD. Four or five years ago, he said, he donated about 5,000 Swiss francs to the project for Java. "And now we have Java on FreeBSD, so it was worth it. It's not just that I give the money for anything -- I have to give it for something specific." Eichenberger currently has issues with stability of FreeBSD 5 on multi-processor systems. "I think he'll work on that a bit," he said. Kamp has posted details of the work that the funding will cover here.

Sergei Plaxienko, chief information officer at Belon, a Siberian coal-mining company with 7,000 employees, donated $1,203 to Kamp because, he said: "I know this guy, I know he is experienced and driven."

"I cannot be there [developing] myself personally, but I can be there by this small amount of money," said Plaxienko, who acknowledged that the donation is a substantial sum for anyone in his home town of Novosibirsk. "Development of FreeBSD is very important to me because we use it for our Web servers, mail exchanges and internal firewalls. It's core to our operational system."