In My Reflecting Pool



A year ago today, the realization of something that many of us at Sun had pushed and wished for finally came true - the open sourcing of the Solaris source code and the creation of the OpenSolaris Project. On that date, I wrote about one aspect of OpenSolaris that I had been working on for a number of years, but what really was even more exciting than the technology being released was the possibilities for the future.

Reflecting after a year, I see a tremendous amount of progress including accomplishments in areas, such as the selection of a source code management (SCM) system, which I dared not hope to be complete after one year's time. Many of the changes that have taken place the past year represent fundamental changes in the way Sun does Solaris development and though the OpenSolaris community has a long way to grow, everyone should feel good about how much has already taken place. And the fact that there are already four distributions based on OpenSolaris including Schillix, BeleniX, NexentaOS, marTux as well Sun's own Solaris Express is a reason to celebrate.

One of the areas of OpenSolaris that I was fortunate to have worked on the past year was with a team working on a proposal on what the OpenSolaris development process should look like. The team was led by Teresa and I was asked by Andy if I wanted to contribute to this effort. The team consisted of a number of people both within Sun and outside including John Beck, Rich Teer, Al Hopper, Stephen Hahn, Ed Hunter, Joe Kowalski, Keith Wesolowski, Casper Dik, and Bill Sommerfeld. Although the development process draft that we eventually published does look in many ways like the Software Development Framework used within Sun for its product development, the process by which the proposal itself was developed was entirely organic. The team initially discussed what the scope of the proposal should be and examined the high-level requirements of an operating system such as OpenSolaris. These design principles and other fundamentals were something that was always kept at the forefront when we then examined other open-source projects including Apache, FreeBSD, Linux, NetBSD and OpenOffice.

After reviewing other open-source projects and their development processes, we brainstormed over the steps necessary to take an idea from conception to realization, again taking into account the guiding requirements discussed earlier. One very important notion that weighed heavily on our discussions was that of "shrink to fit", where steps in the process can be reduced or even eliminated when it makes sense. The result is a fairly streamlined process that is meant to handle both the introduction of large pieces of framework into OpenSolaris as well as the simple bug fix.

The draft was released last November and we received many insightful comments from the community. I would definitely encourage others who have not read the draft to do so and provide comments to the above thread or on the OpenSolaris cab-discuss forum.

As exciting the first year of OpenSolaris has been, it seems obvious that the coming year is going be even more so. And as impressive as it is having a hundred community integrations into OpenSolaris this first year, I suspect that we will be seeing a far higher number in the coming year along with the introduction of some large scale projects where the community will be playing an larger part in the design, implementation and integration phases.


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