Tuesday Feb 19, 2008

Drawn to SCALE

Last weekend I attended SCALE (Southern California Linux Expo) for the first time.  The event, which was held at LAX Weston and featured talks and booths, turned out to be a great place to meet folks and chat. 

Jono Bacon, community manager for Ubuntu kicked off the event with a great keynote.  After Jono's keynote I tried to get into Josh Berkus' Postgres talk in one of the break out rooms but it was too packed.

A blast from the past: Kevin Lahey shows off a couple of Cobalt boxes running NetBSD. 

While there were a lot of GNU/Linux folks there, contrary to the name, the event covered much more.  All three BSDs (Net, Free and Open) were there and Sun had a booth where, among other things we were demonstrating OpenSolaris and Indiana developer preview #2. (A big shout out to Matt Ingenthron who tirelessly worked the booth on Saturday).

I also met three new Canonical employees based in the US and, armed with my trusty recorder, I was able to grab three interviews which I hope to post later this week -- Open SUSE's new community manager, Zonker Brockmeier, Dave Roberts, marketing VP from Vyatta and Tom "Spot" Callaway the Fedora engineering manager for Red Hat.

All in all, a great little show.

Pau for now... 

Monday Jan 07, 2008

OpenBSD coming to an UltraSPARC T1 near you

David Gwynne tipped me off on Friday that Mark Kettenis is jamming away at bringing OpenBSD to the UltraSPARC T1 platform. 

Back in October the OpenBSD crew got SMP working on old school boxes as exotic as the Sun Fire Enterprise 4000.  That was ok but there was a desire to "really push the envelope with heavily parallel boxes like the Niagaras." 

The chip guys here were able to get a T1000 over to Europe and Mark has taken it from there.

As of Friday, Mark has gotten the machine to run multi-user and true SMP support should be a matter of days.  (Check out the details here.)

Go Mark, Go!

Pau for now...

Sunday Oct 14, 2007

Neptune Docs make their public debut

On Friday, the engineering group pushed out the "Project Neptune Programmers Reference Manual (Open Form).  In case you're not familiar with Neptune, its succinctly described in the PRM as a "PCI Express 1.1 compliant Dual 10Gbps Ethernet/Quad 1G bps RGMII Network Interface Chip."

The Neptune PRM along with a bunch of others can be found on the FOSSdocs page on wikis.sun.com. 

Im really happy with the progress we've been making on the Open Docs team.  Next on our hit list are a whole bunch of errata including those from the UltraSPARC III line.

Pau for now...

Tuesday Aug 28, 2007

Let there be Docs!

About two months ago my boss Simon got tasked by Jonathan Schwartz to work out a process to respond to and, where ever possible, deliver on requested chipset documentation.  The key ingredients of the process, as set forth by Jonathan, were to be openness and transparency.

Who wants old docs anyway?

The value in old chipset documentation is that it allows developers, such as those in the \*BSD communities, to write drivers that enable their OS's to run on older (sometimes very much older) Sun gear.  Appropriately, Simon described the start of this effort in a blog entry entitled "Hardware Archeology."

Unlike other makers of chips who create their products for external use, for most of Sun's history our chips and their docs have been produced for use in our own products and not intended for external audiences (this however has recently changed with the launch of Sun Microelectronics).  In order then to make these often "ancient" documents public they need to be scrubbed by both engineering and legal to make sure there is no third party trade secrets and that they are "public-ready."  

To drive this effort a cross-functional team was put together with engineering, legal and members of the FOSS group. We started by tackling seven ASICs that the OpenBSD community had previously identified as their top priorities.

A wiki is born

Two months later, thanks to the hard work of the Microelectronic engineering teams who took this on as their "night-jobs,"  the documentation for four of these (Psycho, Fire, Cheerio and Tomatillo) have been made public and the docs for the other three (Gem, Cassini, Schizo) are well on their way.  During this process I worked closely with David Gwynne of the OpenBSD community to determine priorities and to determine the next batch of chips that OpenBSD is interested in.

But the idea here is not simply to have one-on-one conversations with select individuals but to open the process up so that anyone can make requests for documentation and then track the progress of the request.  The vehicle we are using for this is the FOSS Open Hardware Documentation page which is part of the new wikis.sun.com site that launched at the beginning of this month and was created with the idea of enabling exactly this type of open communication.

Since the Wiki was launched on Friday, a column has already been added for implementations and David Gwynne has not only signed up for access to the wiki but has posted OpenBSD implementations for three of the four chips we've recently made docs available for!

So please join in.  We cant promise that we'll be able to provide all documentation but we'll try our best and if we cant we'll explain why.

Pau for now...

I look after Sun's relationships with the various GNU/Linux communities as well as our relationship with the FSF. Last year, my family and I emigrated from Silicon Valley to Austin, TX.


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