jmsohn wrote in with a link to a press release announcing the launch of Wasabi Systems, formed to provide a commercial channel for sales, support, and service for NetBSD. With me in the Usenix terminal room is Perry Metzger, NetBSD's release engineer, and CEO of the new company, to talk about the company's plans.
N: How long have you been working on this?
P: A couple of months now. Things have moved far faster than we expected. For years we've been hoping that someone would stand up and do this, and no one did. It's a shame that no one's stood up to provide sales and support. There's no central place to get customization done, which is important for some of the commercial users who are using NetBSD in embedded systems, companies like Geocast, or IBM's Network Computer.
We're trying to be Cygnus of this space, rather than the RedHat.
N: How big is the company at the moment?
P: We're in the startup phase. We've got a few people who have already signed contracts, and a few people we're in negotiations with. The non-technical staff is relatively small at the moment, three to four people, the technical staff is larger, and growing pretty fast.
N: So you're hiring now?
P: We're very actively hiring. We're looking for developers, people to do support stuff for NetBSD using clients, infrastructure consulting for NetBSD using clients. We're tapping the NetBSD developer community right now, but we're looking for people who are good above everything else. Contact information is on the website, or just get in touch with me directly.
N: Why Wasabi?
P: It's a neat name. When all the bad names are already taken, why not use a good one? <laughs> We're a hot young company.
N: Are you going to be selling NetBSD on CD?
P: Yes. 1.4.3 on CD within a few weeks when the project releases it. 1.5 as well, which is expected at the end of September (when the RSA patent expires. . .)
We'll be doing a multi-CD release, and probably a couple of different CD options depending on what people want. We have to release for 29 different architectures, which complicates things.
N: How many NetBSD project members are involved in Wasabi?
P: At the moment we have a couple of members from -core, and most of the people involved are developers. We also have a couple of non-NetBSD developers involved.
N: If clients approach you for NetBSD development are you making sure that it's going to be released under the BSD license?
P: Everything that we can we will. There will be instances where clients come to us for work that will be used in house, or is uninteresting. But we're unequivocably an open-source company, and we want to release virtually everything we do as open source.
N: NetBSD is very community led. How is Wasabi going to be contributing back to the community?
P: We're members of the community ourselves. It's in our interests to help out the community where possible. This might mean covering developer's conference fees, hardware costs, all sorts of things. Whatever we need to do to eliminate barriers to improving the system.
N: Any plans for other NetBSD products?
P: You've seen the beachballs? [ At the BSD BoF last night Perry and others were kicking around 300 or so Wasabi beachballs "NetBSD support: it's not hot air anymore" ] I don't think that's a big revenue stream for us. But if people in the community want to buy that sort of stuff then we're happy to be the place they get it from, or to collaborate with other companies to make sure that there is somewhere they can get it from.
N: Any plans to provide support or consulting for the other BSDs?
P: Our area of expertise is NetBSD -- it's what we do best, it's what we know. But, if a customer came to us with interesting work involving another BSD we'd of course look at it. They're probably smartest hiring us for NetBSD stuff.
N: Is this going to be a U.S. operation, or will you be working with NetBSD developers worldwide?
P: We've already hired developers from outside of the U.S., who are staying where they are. We go where the talent is and where the customers are.
N: Perry, thanks for your time.