Tuesday, January 13, 2009

FreeBSD Kernel Internals Lecture Posted

The first lecture from Kirk McKusick's full length FreeBSD Kernel Internals course has been posted to the BSD Conferences channel on YouTube. It's been about 10 years since I first took a shortened version of this course at FreeBSDCon 1999, and only a few years since I took the follow up kernel code reading course in Berkeley, and I highly recommend this unique resource to others.

This makes the 24th video uploaded to the BSD Conferences channel since I created it just over a month ago. Thanks to Julian Elisher, Jason Dixon, Tomasz Dudzisz, and Kirk McKusick for uploading the conference videos and for contributing to our growing page of tips about video production and publishing on the FreeBSD Wiki.

As of this writing we have 644 unique subscribers to the channel and approximately 400 daily views of these videos. To date the most popular videos have been Kris Kennaway speaking about the New features in FreeBSD 7 at MeetBSD 2007, and Jason Dixon's tongue-in-cheek BSD is Dying talk at NYCBSDCon 2006. Note to conference organizers: high level talks about the new features, or talks by speakers as entertaining as Jason Dixon are likely to be well received. The YouTube analytics to the right show the top 10 most popular videos from the channel as well as some demographic information.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Follow FreeBSD on Twitter and send tweets from FreeBSD command line

It just came to my attention that Eric Anderson setup a FreeBSD feed on twitter. There you can find updates from the FreeBSD website, from the blogs aggregated at FreeBSD Planet, and other FreeBSD related RSS feeds published as 140 character tweets with tinyurl links to the full posts. I've been using twitter for a while now for two quite separate purposes. Primarily, I enjoy following people like Tim O'Reilly to get an endless stream of interesting tech links, ideas, and thoughts throughout the day. The updates are 140 characters or less and I only click through to those that I have time for so I find it less of a time sink than logging into my feedreader (Google Reader) and really digging into the news I'm interested in. I also find it quite useful for arranging social engagements. I use it as an SMS broadcast medium to make plans and arrange to meetup with friends for dinner, drinks, movies, or whatever after work. For the latter purpose Twitter works best in conjunction with a GPS-enabled smartphone and something like Loopt.

Following Eric's lead I setup a couple of more specific FreeBSD related twitter accounts using Twitter Feed to automatically publish the updates from RSS. The first account freebsdannounce consists of all the RSS feeds from the main www.freebsd.org website (most of which I added almost exactly one year ago). The second account freebsdblogs consists of the FreeBSD Planet combined RSS feed. If you want everything subscribe to Eric's main FreeBSD feed, but if you want only a subset of that content subscribe to one of my two more specific feeds.

Finally, I couldn't find a way to make simple updates to twitter from the base FreeBSD system command line so I created a patch for very basic HTTP POST support for fetch. Apply this patch, rebuild and reinstall libfetch(3) and fetch(1) and then you can update twitter from the command line (or send a simple POST request to other web services) with :

$ fetch -x status='Experimenting with Twitter API.' http://twitter.com/statuses/update.xml

fetch(1) will then prompt you for the HTTP authentication credentials of your twitter account.

I'm not sure how useful other people find HTTP POST support in fetch. If you would find this useful let me know and maybe I'll clean up the patch above and send it out for review.