Wednesday Oct 08, 2008

Emacs and OpenSolaris

Peter Buckingham has a blog entry about how he built Emacs on OpenSolaris.  It's very staright forward.

Rumor has it that Emacs is coming soon to the OpenSolaris repository so this type of thing won't be necessary unless you are truely hard core.

Friday Oct 03, 2008

Solaris Quality

When I joined Sun to work on the OpenSolaris website there was really only one thing that surprised me.  It was this.  Yes, that means runs on development builds.  Imagine, if we can get that kind of stability from development builds imagine how good the offically released product is? 

I know in the past I have used some commercial OS releases that I wished had the stability of a Nevada build.

Wednesday Sep 24, 2008

A Day on the Track


Today I got to experience driving on a race track for the first time.  Let me tell you it was a real thrill.  I have always been a fan of racing and pretty much like anything that goes fast.  In fact, I did not start off programming computer for a living, it was merely a hobby of mine.  I started off learning a learning to be pilot in the US Navy but developed a medical problem that prevents me from flying planes.  So this was something I always wanted to do.

A local dealer held an event to test their new car on the street and on a race track.  From a marketing perspective  I would say it worked because I would never would have considered this brand before until now.  Because if I can drive the thing at speeds on a race track that would land me in jail on the street and be safe it is certainly is a car to consider.  I really felt like I was "The Stig" around the track but I am sure since this was my first time my performance wasn't even up to the level of James May.

Wednesday Sep 10, 2008

Mobile Experience with OpenSolaris

Yesterday I had my first experience with being truely mobile with my laptop running OpenSolaris.  Before this mobile just meant running it different places in my house.  I spent about an hour working from a library with wifi access.   Attempting to do this with an older version of Solaris in the past would certainly be possible but not an easy task but I was suprised how smoothly it went.  The saving grace is NWAM.   I did have some problems with it at first and had to give it a kick by restarting it. This is done by invoking "pfexec svcadm restart nwam".  Once that was done a pop up window came up with the library's networks.   Once I clicked on a network and logged in via a browser I was good to go.  No messing with config files or anything.

Thanks to some of the new power management features battery life was fine.  According to battery applet's estiamte I had almost two hours of battery life while I used email, a web browser, and SSH.

The one feature that I am waiting for to perfect OpenSolaris for me as a mobile OS would be suspend and maybe hibernate.   That would really go a long way to extend battery life.

Tuesday Aug 12, 2008

Dtrace Once Again Saves the Day

I am in the process of setting up a back up source control server for the OpenSolaris infrastructure.  Unfortunately, the last time this was done was quite awhile ago, it isn't very well documented, and everyone who did that in the past is gone or doesn't really remember the details.  So I setup the server but there was an elusive bug with the new server.  I spent hours going through the configuration and source code to see what was different between the new server and the current server.  I had no luck and started to get frustrated.

I decided to take a look at the problem from a different perspective.  I got out my "Solaris Performance and Tools" book to get some ideas.  It is a great book that I highly recommend that has saved my behind on several occasions.  Brendan Gregg has this DTrace one liner:

dtrace -n 'proc:::exec-success { trace(curpsinfo->pr_psargs); }'

This little one liner showed the problem right away since it showed me that one of the arguements of a process was pointing to a non-existing file.  So it ended up being a bug in the source control server package that was missing a lib file, not a confiration problem like I thought at first.

I think next time I'll try DTrace sooner!  It might be a little earlier to start a New Year's resolution but I am also planning on resolving to get better with DTrace.  I am convinced it will save me time in the long run.


Friday Aug 08, 2008

Crazy 8's

Today 08/08/08 is my Birthday and I am 38.   As it turns out I was born at 8 am, so there's another 8 for the mix.  In reading about the Olympics today it seems that 8 is a lucky number for the Chinese. It seems to have something to do with fortune or wealth.  Maybe that's why I just received a statement for an investment account that I had thought I had closed a long time ago.  (I am still surprised this bank, which was not the place I orginally had the account with, was able to track me down after all the moves I went through over the years.)  The account had, you could probably guess, 8 cents in it.

Friday Aug 01, 2008

Updates to

There are a few minor bug fixes on the way to   The updated site is at  Go ahead and test it out and report any issues to the website-discuss discssion.  Along with this we are also upgrading the machine that hosts the site with that on that has more memory and more cpu cores.  As we go forward, will be regular part of the site for testing.  The ultimate goal for this rollout is to pave the way for future updates.  This release is pretty minor in the scheme of things but we will have an infrastructure in place for streamlined updates in the future.

Thursday Jul 31, 2008

OpenSolaris, Keeps Getting Better

I just updated my laptop to the latest image update from the OpenSolaris repository.  I am really happy with this update because now power management is working for me finally.  No more running on battery and wondering how much longer I have before it dies.   Now all I need is suspend and hibernate.   

Monday Jul 21, 2008

33 Four Leaf Clovers

Over the weekend I looked down at the my lawn to see how bad the weeds have gotten and I noticed a four leaf clover.  Immediately my twins came running over because they wanted it as a good luck charm.  Luckily I found another so they didn't have to fight over it. Then I even noticed a five leaf clover.  The twins continued to collect more of them and ended up with a total of 33 four leaf clovers and 2 five leaf clovers from one small patch.

Supposedly a four leaf clover is supposed to bring good luck.  All I know is not to buy the cheap weed killer.  It doesn't kill the clovers, just mutates them!

Thursday Jul 10, 2008

Emacs on OpenSolaris

One thing that right now that is missing from OpenSolaris and its repository is Emacs.  At least for me Emacs is one of things that has to part of  my desktop system.  The fact that it isn't there is not an issue because traditionally I build Emacs right from CVS.  I like to live life on the edge! 

Building Emacs on Solaris used to require some special steps to get the job done.  Fortunately with OpenSolaris it just builds right from CVS (as of today at least), all the I needed to do was was add "--with-gif=no" parameter to "configure" since the gif libraries are not on OpenSolaris.    There is only one issue with the default settings for building on OpenSolaris, the menus look "retro" like it came right out of Openwin desktop!  So I guess Emacs still need some fiddling to make it look good on OpenSolaris but until I have time to put into researching a fix I can live with the retro look since it meets my simple text editing needs. 

Wednesday Jul 02, 2008

A Cool use of Google Maps

As a fan of both Steve McQueen and the Ford Mustang I naturally like the Movie "Bullitt".  I really enjoyed this mashup of the chase scene from "Bullitt" and Google Maps:

Tuesday Jul 01, 2008

How to Name a Computer

No matter what operating system your are installing the most difficult task is coming up with a good name for your new machine.  You need to come up with a name that is meaningful and at the same time not lame.  Too often machines are named with completely boring names like using "app" for an application server or "db" for a database server.  This has a few problems.  First and foremost it is completely lame and shows no creativity.  That also causes a problem with Virtualization, machines now often do more than one specific task. 

The best strategy I have seen is to choose nouns from a grouping in the real world.  Choose a different class of nouns for different classes of machines.  For example, you can name all of your machines after sea creatures. Servers could be names after species of whales while workstations after fish.   Just make sure you pick a category that has enough items that aren't hard to spell.  

But there are drawbacks to this method.  The computer lab where I went to school used cars for names of the lab machines.  Machines had names like "Corvette" and "Ferrari" which was great when the 286 was fast but by the time I was using the machines a 286 just didn't deserve the name of great sports cars.  You also run the risk of non-computer literate people thinking your are insane as you discuss with your colleagues about upgrading "Chewbacca" and "R2D2".

 In my home network I use names like "Viggen" and "Gripen".  Bonus points if you can figure out the class I am using for my machine names.

Friday Jun 27, 2008

Life with OpenSolaris 2008.05

This is now the second work week as OpenSolaris 2008.05 and I can tell you I am not going back.  I really like it.  For me it beats out any Linux distro I have used and any other previous version of Solaris.  The week OpenSolaris was released I install OpenSolaris on my laptop just to try it out.  Before I made the plunge with my primary desktop I really wanted to make sure it would work.   So now my Sony Vaio Laptop and my Ultra 40 workstation are running OpenSolaris 2005.05 and life is good.  Sure there have been a few issues here and there with network connections that don´t work on startup but over all it has been a smooth transition.

 A few things I really like about OpenSolaris:  1.  Everything is ZFS.  It really makes ¨live upgrades¨ a piece of cake.  2.  The package manager.  It still a little rough around the edges but I think it will be the best package manager out there at some point.  The big thing we need now are more packages.  3.  Root shell is bash and the pfexec command.  Things are now much easier when you to do admin tasks on you workstation.  First when you su it is now a bash shell.  ¨bash¨ was always the first thing I always typed anyway when I became root.  But I don´t have to do that much anymore now because of the ´pfexec´ command.  Its kind of like sudo.  The best part about it was that it was just configured to work for my account.

Thursday Jun 26, 2008

Hello Sun, Hello World

It's official, I now work for Sun as a full time employee. It has been been a long road and even though it may sound cliché it is really a dream come true. I am working with the group that runs site which has historically been known as the Tonic team. The team is part of the Solaris Kernel Group.

So how does a Java Developer become part of the Solaris Kernel Group? Well for me it started at JavaOne in 2005. I attended a BOF on DTrace and Java. I was completely amazed at what Bryan Cantrill was doing on his Ferrari laptop with DTrace probing a live Java app. From that moment on I was hooked on OpenSolaris and got involved with the community. In March I was lucky enough to land a contracting job with Sun and this week I am now I am officially an employee.

Sun is truly a fantastic company to work for and I am very grateful for the opportunity. For one thing, I did not have to relocate thanks to Sun´s Open Work program. I have found Sun really values the employees and just doesn't view them as just another resource on a spreadsheet. But most importantly I can completely relate to the values and innovate thinking of Sun and obviously a ¨true believer¨ in the vision. This might sound a little over the top but it is really how I feel.


Bill Rushmore III


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