OpenSolaris Community Innovation Awards Program

What? A chance to win big bucks

No, not some silly hunt big whitetail deer like you'd see on Outdoor Channel, but serious Moula - aka beaucoup deneiro - for slinging some code the runs on Solaris. It's the OpenSolaris Community Innovation Awards Contest.

I got sucked in by Jesse, Jim, Teresa, and Alta into this community advocacy project a few weeks back. Alta was the real culprit, though. She's reviewing this device driver white paper (part 1 of 3) that's going on Sun's BigAdmin someday soon, and then suddenly, with 80% of the HTML formatted she said there was this big pot of money and Sun was giving away $1Million. Now, if you're in the EU, or any other foreign country, you're probably yawning and mumbling..."WTF... no biggee, what's a $1Million USD worth these days anyway..."

But to make a long story short... Alta hinted this was a big project... aka...double speak meaning that she's probably holding my whitepaper hostage until we deploy. So I got interested and checked in on the conf call and got pulled into helping drive this contest; anything to speed this up, so eventually she'll get around to finishing the review and edits and putting it up on the web.

In short, the contest is only 1 part in 6 smaller contests. Each part, whether OpenSolaris, NetBeans, OpenOffice, or HPC, or Java, gets around $175K. Added together it's over $1M USD. Each group consults its own community and makes up the rules. Sun insists only primarily on contestants being individuals or teams of individuals (not companies) and that everyone signs the Sun's Contributor Agreement which binds all contributions to the CDDL open source licensing. Beyond that, each group makes up their own schemes for judging and payout. Sun's legal kicks in resources just to make sure the rules are legal and can be fulfilled in all the participating countries that are eligible.

For OpenSolaris, the Contest is seeking code and non-code entries that run on OpenSolaris, play on OpenSolaris, that advocate and help others use OpenSolaris... just about anything that's goodness earth-mother-apple-pie kinda stuff related to OpenSolaris. The prizes aren't bad. The team decided to break things up. $100K for the contest and $75K for undergrad university research. For the contest, top prize is around $30K I think, with 3 x $15K second level prizes, and 25 x $1K prizes. Which means if anyone is one of 29 contestants that actually submit anything, they could win some money. On the University Grant side, (which is opening soon), the prizes are anywhere from $1K - $5K and designed to fund a small research project or augment something bigger. The prizes are given out for proposals, and not actually the results, although winners who take money are obligated to give a final summary (short one) on their results.

The registration process

Due to shortage of web resources, I got picked to offer my time on nights and weekends to building the registration. We managed, after quite some hassle to obtain a solaris zone inside Sun's firewall, and stage the pages there. Eventually, Sun's IT team would assign the "Awards.OpenSolaris.org" domain to the Zone and we'd be live. Jim Grizansio gives me some credit for putting up the site. It was simply a bunch of jsps and servlets I've had for about 5 years which I developed for my school's PTA website nimitzpta.org. I created a simply flat file database which stores entries encrypted in separate files. That way, if the ISP isn't all that safe, at least the data is pretty useless to the hacker unless they have a strong Math and decompiler background and can figure out my storage system (which stripes part of the key remotely and is fetched at server startup). Anyway, I hope the interface isn't to geeky. The real designer for the UI, I found out, was Derek Cicero and possibly others. They helped with all the standard CSS stuff that would take me forever to format in stock HTML. Coding is easy. UI is hard.

Hopefully people won't balk at the UI. I apologize in advance. But give the contest a try. Registration isn't too difficult. I hope it's logical. Steps are the following:

  1. Go to awards.opensolaris.org and register on that system. It's separate from the main OpenSolaris.org site for a number of reasons which I won't explain here. But just register as a user.
  2. Next, if you have an idea for a contest entry, you can submit it and it will be stored along with your profile.
  3. You have a few options to select if you want others to see your private information or not, or if others can join or not. But as a community effort, even if you don't publish your name and contact info, the title and brief description of your submission are posted on the list.
  4. When you're ready, you can upload your wad. We support upto 10MB as wad of stuff. Standard tarballs are accepted (e.g. .zip, .tgz, .tar, etc.). If it's bigger than that, then you can submit a URL to us.
The system will allow you to edit, clobber and refine your submission, entry, registration data up until the deadline for submitting the actual contest entry. So you can visit early and tweak often. Hopefully, if you have the initiative and are one of the favoured 29, you'll win some money.

Comments:

What does this phrase "original and new, innovative and/or high-performance use or uses of OpenSolaris" mean? Does it means that the source code must be original and new, or that one can port (including modifying) an exist code to OpenSolaris? Thanks.

Posted by W. Wayne Liauh on March 27, 2008 at 05:43 PM PDT #

There should be a pointer to an FAQ at awards.opensolaris.org that points to code submission and judging criteria. That should clarify the basis on which code submissions are valued. But in general, code can be "original and new", or they may be existing but this would be a "port". Both make valid entries.

Posted by James C. Liu on March 31, 2008 at 07:40 AM PDT #

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