Pierre Pronchery runs BSD

I’m a freelance IT-Security Consultant. This position I am in just sort of happened, a lot like my relation to the BSD community. I will try to remain brief while not skipping the important parts.

I had access to the first computer at home when I was around seven: a 286 with 640K of RAM, running MS-DOS and Windows. By then it was mostly about video games for me, but I was also into figuring out how the system worked, from hexadecimal editors to productivity suites.

I did not have regular Internet access until around 1998 though, when I was also introduced to Linux by a friend in high school. I got hooked by Open Source, gave FreeBSD and OpenBSD a try but held onto Debian. Never fully satisfied by major distributions, I first tried to fork Debian in 2001, with a graphical install CD, before basing this new distribution on Linux From Scratch.

I gradually gave up gaming in favour of programming at the same time. I figured that I would learn more by reimplementing the wheel than by packaging software, and started an Operating System project called DeforaOS. A lot of this work got me interested in security and into this community, eventually landing a job there.

This is also when I was introduced to NetBSD during a Systems Administration class in 2004. We were in groups of four, with three computers per group. The assignment was to network a Windows client with a server and another client, enterprise-grade with shared authentication and roaming profiles. Our group was strong and the teacher wanted to make our life harder by forcing us to use NetBSD as the second client.

I got instantly hooked by NetBSD instead. I re-oriented my Operating System project around NetBSD’s kernel, and migrated all my systems to this platform. This included unusual hardware like an Ultra 60 that I used as my main desktop until 2009, or tablets like the Zaurus or Nokia N900 for instance. I keep working on my dream smartphone since then, which would of course run NetBSD.

Finally, I became a member of the NetBSD Foundation in 2012. I am even serving on the Board of Directors since 2017. So what was meant to be a handicap on a school assignment got me pretty far into the project!

You can find me on Twitter, Mastodon, and GitHub.

12 Jan 2019

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