BSDCan2016 - v1.1.24a

BSDCan 2016
The Technical BSD Conference

Nick Wolff
Day Talks #2 - 11 June - 2016-06-11
Room DMS 1140
Start time 16:00
Duration 01:00
ID 687
Event type Lecture
Track System Administration
Language used for presentation English

FreeBSD 8 to 10

One ISP's journey forward and backward in time

This talk will discuss OARnet's (regional nonprofit ISP) ongoing transition of 100+ servers providing network services and management infrastructure from FreeBSD 8 to 10 and the work done to make this possible. The transition had two major goals: Integration of modern changes and updates with legacy modifications focused on minimizing custom work; and raising the already high standards for uptime and reliability of services our customers have come to expect. It was very important for this transition to find the right balance between progress and tried and tested designs.This transition had to find solutions for limited physical access limiting install/provisioning options, limited personnel(1 person), all software being compiled from source by hand for legacy reasons and more. All of these were overcome with careful engineering and integration of parts of FreeBSD, PC-SysInstall for installs with modifications for provisioning, Life-Preserver for backups, ZFS filesystems, and many more technologies.

I will be discussing how we (OARnet a regional nonprofit ISP) made the transition from FreeBSD 8 to FreeBSD 10 which involved touching many systems including the install process(PC-SysInstall), system provisioning(custom), backups(Life-Preserver),and others.

The transition FreeBSD 8 to FreeBSD 10 was accomplished by first identifying a mix of past decisions that had been made starting in the freebsd 4 era and making stops at 6 and 8. Then sorting the decisions made and carried forward into their underpinnings which mostly fell into 4 categories:

  • inspired designs
  • obsoleted technical issues
  • personal preferences
  • coin flips

These decisions were combined with our use case for servers and restrictions from various sources especially time to come up with a FreeBSD 10 infrastructure that was easily maintainable and superbly stable.

This is really in the end about my discovery of the lesson that many are already aware of which is "your problems are not just your own when it comes to system administration". Simply said most problems a sysadmin face have solutions that are already out there and that there are usually many interested parties if there isn't a shared solution . I believe this is one of the great strength of open source software. This talk is also my attempt to share some of my own/OARnet's solutions in return and as thanks for all the great ones I’ve gotten from the community.