NetBSD celebrates 10 years

This week marks the tenth anniversary of the NetBSD operating system and in honour of the occasion developers worldwide are having a party.

Celebrations are being held in Germany, France, USA, Canada, Japan and Australia. Luke Mewburn, a member of melbsd, the Melbourne NetBSD group, said it is inviting developers and friends tonight, 21 March, to an open party at the London Tavern in Richmond. The party starts at 6pm for anyone interested in having a chinwag and swap source code stories and ideas.

Mewburn has been using NetBSD since its first release and was using its predecessor (386BSD) since early 1992. He says other developers in Melbourne have been heavily involved making NetBSD "the most portable UNIX in the world by 'porting' it to non-x86 platforms".

Mewburn is one of the five directors of The NetBSD Foundation and one of the four members of the NetBSD Core team. He says there is a reasonably large user base of NetBSD, including people influential in the early development of UNIX and the Internet, in Australia. "However, our users are not as evangelical as the stereotypical Linux user," he said.

Approximately 5 per cent of the 200 active developers in the world live in Australia (there are also some in New Zealand).

In the past decade various companies in Australia have done development on NetBSD, Mewburn said. "DEC (nee Compaq nee HP) had a development centre in the Gold Coast that was involved in porting NetBSD to the StrongARM-based "shark". Motorola in Sydney is using it in some systems, and Wasabi Systems [where Mewburn is employed] has ported NetBSD to various ARM, MIPS and PowerPC boards."

NetBSD is also used by corporations and institutions in roles such as firewalls and other network appliances, application servers, and development boxes, he said.

The NetBSD operating system is one of the oldest actively maintained, freely-available operating systems.

According to a release on the NetBSD Project Web site the first commits were made to the NetBSD source code repository on 21 March, 1993, and the first release of the NetBSD Operating System, NetBSD 0.8, was announced on Usenet shortly thereafter. Since version 0.8 there have been 19 releases of the OS with the latest being NetBSD 1.6 which was released in September 2002.

The upcoming NetBSD 2.0 will include support for x86-64 processors. It will include support for symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) on x86, Alpha, and SPARC systems and on PowerPC-based Macintoshes.

More information can be found at the NetBSD site: http://www.netbsd.org/

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