Wednesday Mar 26, 2014
Friday Jun 21, 2013
By Calum on Jun 21, 2013
Erwann reminded me yesterday of how nice a job the UK Government, of all places, has been doing of revamping and unifying all their websites to make a lot of complicated information really quite accessible. They even won the London Design Museum's 2013 Design of the Year Award earlier this year.
Their design principles are well worth a look, too.
Wednesday Feb 13, 2013
By Calum on Feb 13, 2013
Many of us Solaris folks have spent many years working in the open source communities of projects that Solaris either includes (like X11 and GNOME) or originated (like dtrace and ZFS, not to mention OpenSolaris itself), so it's nice to see a regular open source evening happening at the TOG hackerspace in Dublin, starting next week.
If you're in the Dublin area and can either lend some experience or just want to find out more, why not pop along… hopefully it'll be a roaring success!
Monday Sep 17, 2012
By Calum on Sep 17, 2012
So a couple of weeks ago, after a fraction over 12 years, I bade farewell to the Solaris Desktop team to join Oracle's Systems Experience Design team, known internally as sxDesign, which has a wider but still largely Solaris-focused usability remit.1
There's been a good deal of overlap and collaboration between the two teams over the years anyway, so it's not exactly a step into the unknown. The elders among you might remember a GNOME 1.4 usability study I presented at GUADEC in 2001, for example, which was primarily the handiwork of a previous incarnation of sxDesign… I pretty much just turned up at the end to steal the glory for the Desktop team. In your face, people I'm going to be working with now!2
1 A move I was first approached about making in about 2003, I think… who says I'm rubbish at making snap decisions?
2 I'm not really. They all left years ago.
Tuesday Apr 03, 2012
Monday Apr 02, 2012
Thursday Feb 16, 2012
By Calum on Feb 16, 2012
You may have noticed that Oracle have now turned off redirects from blogs.sun.com to blogs.oracle.com. I confess it's not immediately obvious to me why this was worth doing, and I'm certainly not going to bother going round fixing all the now-broken links in my old posts. But just in case you somehow end up here to find out why internet links into the past eight years' worth of collective Sun employees' knowledge and whimsy no longer seem to work, now you know...
Manually replacing "blogs.sun.com" with "blogs.oracle.com" in the URL should get you to the right place in most cases. Some dormant old blogs were also purged altogether at around the same time, but luckily you can still go wayback for those.
Sunday Jan 08, 2012
By Calum on Jan 08, 2012
Said farewell to an old friend today: the 14" Sony KVM1400U TV that my parents bought for me when I left home in June 1993. (I well remember double-checking with the man in the shop that it had a SCART input, as I was desperate to get a better picture from my Commodore Amiga 500+ than the RF input I'd been using up to then gave me… and eschewing the slightly more expensive variant that had teletext, as that seemed like something I'd never use.)
It's been used almost daily since then and was still working perfectly, and I hate replacing stuff that does. But if nothing else, it had been dropped so many times that the case was in several bits and I couldn't really guarantee it was still electrically safe. So off to the great recycling plant in the sky (well, Argos) it went. Somehow I doubt that the 19" LED TV we bought to replace it, for almost exactly the same price in numerical terms, will last another couple of decades.
(We aren't a completely CRT-free household yet, though—we have a larger and equally well-used Sony warhorse in the dining room that's probably still got a year or two left in it!)
Wednesday Nov 09, 2011
By Calum on Nov 09, 2011
Much has been written today about the enterprise and cloud features of Oracle Solaris 11, which was launched today, but what's new for those of us who just like to have the robustness and security of Solaris on our desktop machines? Here are a few of the Solaris 11 desktop highlights:
- GNOME 2.30: It may not be the bleeding-edge GNOME 3, but GNOME 2.30 is the most stable version of GNOME ever released, and has many improvements over GNOME 2.6 as found in Solaris 10.
- X.org 1.10.3: See Alan's blog for details of this X server update.
- Updated Firefox and Thunderbird: Solaris 11 ships with Firefox 6.0.2 and Thunderbird 6.0.2 from Mozilla.
- Compiz: Solaris 11 uses this compositing window manager by default, enhancing the desktop experience with judicious use of customizable effects such as translucency, drop shadows and transition animations. (Not supported on all graphics cards, which will fall back automatically to the metacity window manager.)
- Package Manager: IPS is the new package management system in Solaris 11, and it has a full-featured GUI that allows you to quickly browse and install new packages, or perform a live update of your entire OS in a couple of clicks, safe in the knowledge that it can be rolled back to a previous version just as quickly in the event of any problems.
- Time Slider: Making its debut in OpenSolaris, the Time Slider feature that allows you take automatic, periodic ZFS snapshots and explore them in your file manager application now also allows you to make backups to removable media and network devices.
- Network Auto Magic GUI: Allows configuration of the NWAM subsystem, including creation, editing and switching of network profiles and locations.
- Visual Panels: A suite of GUI tools for system administration tasks, such as configuring firewall and SMF services.
- GParted: The venerable Linux graphical disk partitioning tool, now ported to Solaris and included on the Live CD.
- CUPS: The lp printing subsystem has been removed, and Solaris 11 now uses the open source *nix printing technology from Apple, with the same system-config-printer GUI found in several Linux distros.
Solaris 11 is free to download and use for most non-commercial purposes (but IANAL, so do check the OTN License Agreement on the download page first -- it's short and sweet, as these things go), and you can download various flavours, including a Live CD and a USB install image, right here.
By Calum on Nov 09, 2011
Nearly seven years after the launch of Sun Solaris 10, today sees the official launch of Oracle Solaris 11 at an event in NYC
There's a host of new enterprise-class features in Solaris 11, including a modern package management system, live upgrade with the ability to reboot to previous known good versions, network virtualization, ZFS encryption and reduplication, and many SMF, DTrace, zone and security improvements. On the desktop, CDE has taken its final curtain call, and now GNOME takes centre stage. Solaris 11 is fully supported on both SPARC and x86, and it still has the best binary compatibility guarantee in the business.
The road to Solaris 11 has been a particularly long and winding one, of course. Starting from the closed source base of Solaris 10, Solaris was gradually open-sourced, mostly under the CDDL license. The OpenSolaris project was founded, part of which was a Sun-built distro called Project Indiana, under the brief leadership of Debian founder Ian Murdock. Project Indiana was a Fedora-like concept, with its own release cycle and the eventual intention of being forked to produce Sun's next commercial release of Solaris (which at that time was codenamed Nevada, and seemed unlikely to be called Solaris 11 at launch).
Before its first milestone release, Project Indiana was somewhat confusingly renamed OpenSolaris, a fully-fledged, developer-focused distro that saw three releases, snappily called OpenSolaris 2008.05, 2008.11, and 2009.06. Then, of course, Sun was sold to Oracle, who (regrettably, IMHO, without any official announcement to the OpenSolaris community, just a leaked internal memo) closed it all up again
Nearly two years of spit and polish, and an intermediate Solaris 11 Express release later, here we are at last. Enjoy!
Wednesday Jul 06, 2011
By Calum on Jul 06, 2011
Just been playing with the new Oracle Virtual Desktop Client for iPad, which to you and me means "the first Sun Ray client for a tablet". Here I am playing with GIMP on a Solaris GNOME 2.30 desktop, which is running on one of the Sun Ray servers in the Dublin office:
There are a couple of rough edges -- the main one, perhaps, being that you can't scroll the content of windows on the remote desktop in the same way that you'd scroll any other content on the iPad. Right now you have to grab and move the scrollbars, which isn't so easy on a touchscreen. But other than that, it's pretty tidy for a first release.
If you have access to a Sun Ray desktop and want to join in the fun, the app is a free download from the iTunes App Store.
Monday Jun 27, 2011
By Calum on Jun 27, 2011
Today's maintenance release of Oracle VirtualBox (4.0.10) spreads the GNOME 3 love a little further -- following the fixes in 4.0.8 for GNOME 3 guests on Linux hosts, GNOME 3 now finally works glitch-free on OS X hosts in 4.0.10.
Guess this means I have fewer excuses than ever before for not knuckling down on the GNOME 3 HIG :)
Monday May 16, 2011
By Calum on May 16, 2011
If you use Mail.app on OS X, you're probably aware of the Previous Recipients list that you can use to autocomplete email addresses. You're probably also aware that it's a pain to edit the list, as the search box at the top only matches email addresses that begin with whatever you type, which is next to useless. Bad Apple.
A lot of us legacy Sun folks at Oracle have a lot of sun.com addresses in there that are no longer relevant, so it would be handy if there was a quick way to clear those out, right?
With a little inspiration from this discussion that Google turned up, it turned out to be a simple task, with a single SQLite command:
% sqlite3 ~/Library/Application Support/AddressBook/MailRecents-v4.abcdmr
sqlite> delete from ZABCDMAILRECENT where ZEMAIL like '%sun.com%';
Friday May 06, 2011
By Calum on May 06, 2011
EDIT: Apologies for any broken image links you're seeing -- blogs.oracle.com doesn't seem to be serving PNGs or embedded video files properly at the moment. Hopefully just a teething problem that'll be fixed soon...
Tuesday Nov 16, 2010
By Calum on Nov 16, 2010
Yesterday, Oracle released Solaris 11 Express 2010.11, the first interim step along the road to Solaris 11 since OpenSolaris 2009.06 was released almost 18 months ago.
The change in name reflects that, unlike its OpenSolaris predecessors, Solaris Express is not a freely-redistributable distro, and it remains free to use only for "the purpose of developing, testing, prototyping and demonstrating your applications"—business or commercial usage now requires a support contract. However, the download itself for x86 or SPARC remains free of charge, and it's also possible to upgrade from an existing OpenSolaris installation (see the release notes for details).
As you'd expect, there are many new things to play with in this release—the one I've been most closely involved with is the new Network Auto-Magic GUI, which has many more features than the one that shipped in 2009.06.
Why not take it for a spin in VirtualBox and let us know what you think?
I am an Interaction Designer in the Systems Experience Design team, arriving at Oracle via Sun where I've worked since 2000. I currently work on sysadmin user experience projects for Solaris. Formerly I worked on open source Solaris desktop projects such as GNOME, NWAM and IPS.