By binujp on Dec 04, 2007
"""I will not carry my camera or other electronic items in my checkin baggage as it is not covered if baggage is lost.""" \* 10 I already sat in my time out chair.
Some time back I was asked to write an article on Sun IECs (India Engineering Center) contributions to Opensolaris. This was to coincide with the first anniversary of the grand unbolting of Solaris. I agreed on the condition that the article be allowed mention of "underwear" and that it will not be a "business" document. This week the clock caught up with me and I realized that this is not going to be published. Why waste perfectly normal alphabets, eh? So here it is...
The code had been compiled, debugged, re-written, re-formatted, cstyled, brought-over, putback-ed, backed-out, thousands of times. The tortures were endless. The spirit of ownership that comes along after submitting the code to all this and more has to be felt to be believed. Functions and files and modules were owned. Thousands of customers depended on it, hundreds of businesses survived on it, many were the developers who adored it, many more were the geeks who swore by it. Over those countless modifications and bug-fixes it had become the best ever OS on the planet. We were proud to own it and be able to do our bit by renaming a variable to make it go faster. And then... we decided to give it away.
At IEC there is a big bunch of fanatics who discuss how cute little threads chase each other between the slabs and magazines and the dispatch queues inside the Kernel. They narrate how the timely tick pokes through the defenses of an on-cpu thread. The magic behind those all powerful probes of DTrace used to expose the innards of the most reticent of programs. How the omni-all root was sliced and diced and shredded into privilege heaven so that one daemon becoming demon will not kill all and take all. All this we used to explain to each other and to curious college kids, Linux fanatics, BSD converts and Windows lovers. We were always silenced when the 2.6 kernel fan cackled ominously and said "Oh yeah! You and which code base? Show the code and speak, people of the Sun." We would mutter 'doubting Thomases' and slink away. And then... we decided to give it away.
Why would anyone want something owned and used? Take used underwear as a case study. It doesn't seem to carry neither weight-age nor demand around here. Arguments about its pliability and comfort doesn't fly. They say it was tailored for the owner. For volunteer day cloth collection, after a great internal struggle, if I take one to them, they say it isn't safe to care at that deep a level. Owners say it is difficult to let go of something which is so close. Other's avoid it altogether to spare themselves the pain of letting go. A few others admire it on someone else's cloth line. Something similar to the underwear is the OS and the code. It sits right on top of the hardware and we all love our OS. Others are free to admire and wish for it, but give it to you I will not. Why would you want my OS which won't fit you or your hardware as it is? And then... we decided to give it away.
Life and work at IEC has changed a lot after "The Great Sharing", when we gave the world that one piece of software that embodied what Sun's software Engineering stood for. Now there are people here who loose their sleep to bring out distros. Minds busy drawing mindmaps till then have designed logos and source browsers. Many who wouldn't dream of sharing their thoughts even about the quality of coffee have blogged with passion about what they did for Solaris on some rainy Wednesday. Mail servers are starting to feel the heat from the various OSUGs sprouting all over India. More than a few colleges around Bangalore are seeing a rise in the open mouth syndrome when told ".. and you can also download the code anytime from opensolaris.org." The guys who are telling them this are roaming the wild country side in search of colleges, while earlier they would be tanning themselves on the glow from the CRT or LCD. Tech-conferences and FOSSs have a new entry and many more entrants, bunches of escaped Solaris fans from IEC trooping after the OpenSolaris banner. Some of them are spending quality fooz-ball and TT (ping-pong) time on being opensolaris advocates.
Admins have more to do, so do facilities and security. Managers show off their laptops running Solaris. OpenSolaris T-shirts are of lower temperature than even volunteer T-shirts. It is suddenly cool to be \*in\*. Even before when OpenSolaris was launched a year ago, it had lit the fuse under a few IEC-ians. From when the code had to be trawled for the hidden legal trap and the offensive lurking copyright. That was also when Chandan (before he decided to sprout wings) came up with the logo. It spawned coffee table discussions on the true Sanskrit translation of "open". It went on for hours and spanned the seven eves to surviving the next ice age. The point was we wanted open as in "opensolaris" and not "free" as in disease. Then again Chandan demo'd the prototype of opengrok. Many were sad to see the beloved, ancient, hated and loved cscope stutter before it's new-age competitor.
Discussions on what to blog on and secret pacts of the kind "if you blog this I'l blog that and buy you Samosa" could be overheard. That excitement has carried itself all through last year and doesn't show any signs of abating. We have Moinak who achieved enlightenment via the light of Belenix that shone forth from the Opening of Solaris. Venky started muttering UG UG UG .. in his sleep not long after. The forming of BOSUG solved that. He doesn't sleep anymore. "Only three names yet?" you say! Those are the unlucky few. Now you'l go and search for their blogs and ask them why you did this and why you didn't do that and what is the meaning of all this. Those others who I didn't mention will continue their guerrilla war and evangelisation unhindered.
Tens of universities they visited last year, thousands of CDs of Belenix and Solaris Express they distributed, tens of Tech-Conferences they attended and presented on Solaris. OSUGs have started sprouting in a per-state basis and their strength is growing rapidly. Hundreds of laptops they installed with Solaris, hundreds of home machines now run Solaris because of them. They are the ones driving IEC into the era of Sun and Sharing. They are the ones that bring OpenSolaris alive in India and light the flame to love the best OS the planet has yet seen. I bow to them, them who raised OpenSolaris high and promises us more as the future creeps all over us.
Finished reading Terry Pratchett's "Hatful of Sky". Laughed enough, felt the familiar feel good stretch after I put it down. Although I have to admit, this time I didn't read it in the usual "deeep breath, until finish do I sit here" style. My daughter (4 months) takes prime spot. Most of it was read in the loo and part of the rest with her sitting on the book or by reading to her. The reading was interspersed with my evil cackles which interested her far more than the story line.
This book again has the "Edge Witch" or the "When push comes to shove" problem. A real witch has to work on the edge of things and incidents, and a real witch has to take a decision whether others like it or not. Do we have it in us to make the correct decision and not the nice decision? After finishing the book I took some decisions which only time will tell whether they were correct or just nice. Putting it that way, I would have taken decisions even if I didn't read the book ;-)
I am now trying to get pygtk to display SMF dependencies of a given service properly. When I started of, I had decided on a minimal ascii only display. I thought that the real problem is in extracting the dependency, not in displaying it. After watching screen-fulls of ascii tree scroll by I concluded that a good output is part of the problem and not just extracting dependancies. I have done something I don't like here, calling "svcs -abcdef...." to get me what I want. I hate it when child processes dangle at the end of a pipe. The correct approach would be to write a python binding for libscf (yup not libsmf!) and get myself a progasm. But with python it is all so painless, I end up not designing enough. That is Bad. I won't blame Python for that either.