Wednesday, June 14, 2006

OpenSolaris turns 1

1 year ago, I was nearing the end of my internship at Sun. During that internship, I was able to observe the internal efforts to bring about the open-sourcing of Solaris, aka OpenSolaris.

I was elated when OpenSolaris went live. I still have the initial source code tarballs and build tools stashed safely away on my iPod shuffle. Here was my opportunity to continue working together with smashingly good software engineers at Sun when my internship ended.

I had a short and unproductive stint as a blastwave maintainer, but that was probably due to my own fault.

On the plus side, I've managed to contribute a few small putbacks, with the most recent (about to be) putback being a rewrite of hostname(1) to fix bug 6413595.

Looking back on the past year, we've made great strides as a community.

  • ZFS was made public before it was even shipped as part of S10U2, and the ZFS developers are ever so ready to entertain emails on the zfs-discuss mailing lists.
  • The packaging tools have been opensourced. (though I haven't observed much work on this)
  • JDS as a consolidation has been opensourced
  • Xorg code drops of what Sun ships with S10 have been made available

Those are just some of the key events which I can recall.

I've had the pleasure of working with Sun engineers, as well as witty and intelligent external contributors, such as richlowe (IRC) . The #opensolaris IRC channel is a delightful mix of technical discussion, help and sarcastic humour.

And what I've found incredibly impressive about all the interactions I've had so far is how polite and civil everyone is. I don't see Sun Engineers flaming non-Sun community members during arguements, or vice versa. Instead, conversations always focus on the technical merits of demerits of a particular approach of providing functionality in Solaris (the ON consolidation more specifically).

I come away impressed: this is a community of very smart folks with many accomplishments under their belt willing to share their opinions in a helpful manner.

Of course, all is not perfect. Namely,

  • As a community, almost all development efforts and projects are being driven and led by Sun folks.
    • We need to allow non-Sun developers build ownership of code and projects in OpenSolaris.
  • It is non-trivial to build vanilla (non-JDS) Gnome on Solaris/OpenSolaris. This means that developers find it difficult to choose OpenSolaris as their development platform of choice. The same can be said for many pieces of software.
    • Non-bundled OSS can be obtained from multiple sources, such as blastwave, sunfreeware and the companion cd
    • Essentially, we as a community are wasting time patching/porting software to work on OpenSolaris over and over again instead of pooling our efforts. I've seen plenty of talk and discussion about this, but it all boils down to this: We better fscking do something and work together on this NOW.
    • Ultimately the more OSS that builds out of the box on OpenSolaris, the more users and developers we can attract to our community.
  • Hardware support sucks.
    • This makes it difficult to attract developers.
    • This is probably because most developers who are hardware geeks already work on Linux and the *BSDs
    • We need more folks, like you to step up and hack on drivers!
For me, I've been hacking away on a ZFS feature that I hope Eric Schrock will be willing to help me putback. It has been great fun so far, with kernel panics and much ZFS code reading, though my day job is making it difficult to complete it. I hope to have some code to show you folks later this week.

A grateful thanks to all those who have been patient with me this past year. In particular, jmcp, dclarke, dan mick, eric saxe and dan price. Thanks! :)

Happy Birthday OpenSolaris!


Blogger iwan ang said...

You've gone a long way in Solaris indeed since the first time we met at Sun office.

Just a suggestion, for the benefits fellow students or graduates, you might wanna consider writing about your first encounter with Solaris, and how you got to like it. I think it will be useful for them. Many, as you know better, are still new or afraid or ignorant to Solaris.

e1, IT Architect, Sun.

7:32 PM  

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