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OpenBSD hackathon 2003 (c2k3), Calgary, May 9-20

As in previous years, the OpenBSD project held its annual meeting, called Hackathon. 62 developers from all over the world showed up in May 2003, in the Hyatt Regency Calgary (in Calgary, Canada). Two conference rooms were turned into hacking rooms, stuffed with machines, network equipment, and the like.

Lots of work was done on the OpenBSD system, and grounds for bigger sub-projects were laid. The greater part of the changes found in OpenBSD release 3.4 are visible results. Some of these in detail:

  • Kernel Stack Overflow Protection
    Since we added a stack overflow detection scheme in the system compiler, and have been compiling the whole userland with this, the next logical step was to extend this to the kernel itself as well. It turned out that there were less hurdles than expected, and this was eventually commited. I shortly later added the ability to force the kernel to be compiled without Propolice, mainly for installation media where the kernel code size matters a lot.
  • The console/framebuffer framework on sparc and sparc64 was unified, and support for some more framebuffers was added.
  • Mozilla was made working on OpenBSD.
  • Many improvments in the SMP code. For the first time, both processors in the development machine (dual Athlon) were actually made usefull.
  • Hammer support: the grounds for supporting the AMD64 architecture were laid. OpenBSD/amd64 basically works, but quite a bit of polishing is still required unless it becomes a self-hosted environment. Official support will most likely show up in OpenBSD 3.5.
  • US III improvements: machines with the Sun UltraSPARC III processor can now boot into single user mode.
  • Many improvements in pf, our packetfilter:
    • support for arbitary packet tags was added, allowing to split classification and policy, as well as drawing cross-interface trust relationships, and much more.
    • after the hackathon tagging support was added to the bridge code so that the bridge filters can now work as classifier for pf.
    • adaptive timouts: decreasing timeouts with increasing number of state table entries help in preventing state table exhaustion.
    • synproxy: a generic synproxy was added, helping to fight syn floods
    • ...and as usual, tons of small improvements.
    Besides these, lots of ideas where born and get implemented over time.
  • And of course there was quite some social life. Beside going out for beer most evenings - actually, lots of good ideas where born there -, there were some social events:
    • The Plaid Tongued Devils, the band behind the songs on the OpenBSD CDs, played a concert for us
    • a trip to Banff, hiking at Tunnel Mountain
    • viewing "Matrix: Reloaded"
    • the traditional Moose BBQ at Theo's house

Because DARPA suddenly and unexpectedly cancelled funding for OpenBSD R&D, covering the hotel and travel costs for the 2003 hackathon was a problem. Nevertheless the event happened as scheduled with donations and contributions by companies and the user community continued to support the project.

We would like to thank especially the Stichting NLnet for covering the hotel costs of this event, without their support, it would not have been possible to organize the event at this scale.