Thursday Jul 02, 2009

OpenSolaris Power User Tutorial at OSCON

I really should have posted this quite some time ago, but between getting the OpenSolaris 2009.06 release out, speaking at CommunityOne, speaking at the OpenSolaris user group in New York, and trying to sleep once in a while, it's been a little tough to keep up.  Anyway, Nick and I are giving a three-hour OpenSolaris tutorial at OSCON 2009 on July 21. Looking at the content draft, we've probably got more like five hours of material, but we'll figure out how to cram most of it in.  Even if you've read OpenSolaris Bible you're likely to learn a lot, as a fair amount of the material is on technology that's not covered in the book, such as Crossbow and the Automated Installer.  I'm also expecting to spend some time wandering around at the conference, so hope to see you there!

OSCON 2009

Wednesday Jun 17, 2009

Upcoming user group meetings

A couple of user group meetings next week in the northeastern US.  For those in New England, NEOSUG is meeting on June 23.  I won't be there, though, as I'll be in New York for some customer events and will also be speaking about the OpenSolaris deployment technologies at the NYC user group meeting on June 25.  Hope to see you there!

Monday Jun 08, 2009

OpenSolaris Bible at JavaOne bookstore

Hey, it's nice to see that the combined presence of Jerry, Nick and I at CommunityOne looks to have helped OpenSolaris Bible sales, according to the Top 10 at JavaOne list.

Thanks to all of you who came to our various talks.  If you're interested in the slides, they should all be available from the OpenSolaris @ C1 wiki.

Thursday May 21, 2009

OpenSolaris (and me) at CommunityOne

I undoubtedly am tardy in posting about this, but there'll be a big presence of OpenSolaris at CommunityOne West, which is happening June 1 at San Francisco's Moscone Center.  We've posted a schedule of the OpenSolaris events.  You'll notice that my OpenSolaris Bible co-authors and I will be among the speakers on Monday.  The "Power User" session is going to be about 50% new vs. the well-received version presented at C1 East back in March.

Jerry and Nick are also doing deep dive sessions on Tuesday about their respective specialties: zones and HA clustering.  I'm planning to kick back and relax a bit that day :-)

Since this is the first time the three of us have been in the same place, there's also a signing session for the book being planned; as soon as that's scheduled, we'll get it posted.

Oh, and it's important to mention that Tuesday's deep dives are free if you use the promotion code OSDDT when you register for them; the easiest way is to just click on the widget below.  I hope to see you there!

Friday Apr 10, 2009

Creating OpenSolaris USB sticks from Windows

A utility like this has been on my list of things to do forever, and I'm \*really\* happy to see that someone in the community has done the work.  Just a caution that I haven't tried it out yet, so no comment on how well it works.

OpenSolaris Live USB Creator (Windows/.NET) ‎(PID0.ORG DevZone)‎

If you do try it out, I recommend build 111, which we just released a couple of days ago.  It's getting pretty close to the end of development for the 2009.06 release, so we'd love some additional testing.

Anyone up for doing a similar tool for Linux (and adding a GUI to the OpenSolaris tool)?

Wednesday Apr 01, 2009

Toshiba + OpenSolaris laptops now shipping

Following up to my entry from January, the Toshiba OpenSolaris Laptops are at last available for order.  They come with 2008.11 pre-installed, and include a year's worth of OpenSolaris support.  I've been using the R500, which is the R600's little brother, for the past few weeks and can say that it's really an enjoyable, lightweight laptop for everyday use.  A little too slow to be a great development machine, but it does a fine job with all of the other things that take up a lot of my time, and it's a great size for travel, which is the reason I chose it.  I use VNC to my desktop shared via the Vino server for running heavy-duty development tasks like building OpenSolaris images.

Now we just need to include copies of OpenSolaris Bible with each one for the perfect bundle ;-)

Friday Mar 27, 2009

OpenSolaris Build 110 Available - Help Test CD Install Performance

Late yesterday we released build 110 of the OpenSolaris distro, see [osol-announce] OpenSolaris development package repository build 110, x86/x64/SPARC for the particulars.

Since I was traveling and missed posting a note about build 109, it's probably a good idea to mention one of the changes that appeared there and continues with 110: going to only a single, global CD image.  This had been our intention all along since starting the distribution, but it depended on the LZMA (de)compression support in lofi; we got that done before the 2008.05 release, but its performance was judged to be too slow at the time so we made the expedient decision to ship two different CD's, with the primary CD using the better-performing gzip algorithm.  We figured we'd come back to that issue once we got the LZMA code integrated into the ON gate, which just finally happened a couple of weeks ago.

In the meantime, OpenSolaris community member (and super-contributor!) Juergen Keil took an interest in the performance issue, and found the primary culprit in the lofi code, which was repeated decompression of the same data (see bug 1119 for the discussion if you're curious).  The performance improvement is, we believe, good enough to return to just the single image for the next release.  But we would like data to confirm that, so if you do an install from the build 109 or 110 CD, please send info on the time it took (you can just send the installation log if you like; it's found at /var/sadm/system/logs/install_log after installation) and the basic stats on your hardware (processor speed and number of cores, memory size) to, we'd appreciate it.

Thursday Feb 26, 2009

NEOSUG meeting on March 11

Notice of the next meeting of the New England OpenSolaris user group went out a short time ago:  [ug-neosug] Sixth NEOSUG meeting rescheduled!  I'll be one of the speakers, hope to see you there!

OpenSolaris build 108 now available

Per the usual drill, the repository has been updated with build 108 packages, and the various ISO images are on the DLC torrent and  See David's announcement email for more information: [osol-announce] OpenSolaris development package repository build 108, x86/x64/SPARC

Most of the boot and X issues that were present in 106 and 107 will continue to be seen with this build, but fixes in 109 should improve the situation.  Also, for those of you experimenting with the Automated Installer, you'll note that the server setup images for it have dropped in size by about 50%.  We finally finished up refactoring some of the installation packages to isolate the GNOME dependencies, which allowed us to remove a whole pile of packages from those images.

Wednesday Feb 18, 2009

OpenSolaris build 107 now available

Earlier today we pushed out the package repository update and the associated ISO images, see the announcement message for detailed notes.  The big news with this release is the upgrade of Xorg to version 1.5.  This will be transparent for most users, but if you have an existing xorg.conf file, such as I do for using the nVidia Twinview feature on a couple of my systems, you'll need to generate a new one.

Sunday Feb 15, 2009

Changing the world with OpenSolaris Bible purchases

If you're thinking of buying a copy of OpenSolaris Bible through Amazon, please consider doing so via the OpenSolaris Bookstore.  See Simon's blog entry, OpenSolaris - Changing The World Another Way [on Simon Phipps, SunMink], for more details on this initiative.

Tuesday Feb 10, 2009

OpenSolaris Bible sample chapters

This is just a quick note to publicize the fact that additional sample chapters from OpenSolaris Bible are now available for free download in PDF form from  The Table of Contents, Index, and Chapter 1 were previously posted on the book's web site, but we didn't feel that was a particularly representative sample of the book's content, since Chapter 1 is really introductory material to the overall OpenSolaris project, while the remaining 900+ pages are about the technology.  As a result, we've worked with Wiley and the OpenSolaris marketing team (and thanks to both for supporting this!) to provide free downloads of additional contents to give potential buyers a better sample of the book.

Chapter 3 should be especially valuable to those new to OpenSolaris, as it's a 54-page "crash course" introduction to using OpenSolaris, introducing you to the basics you'll need in the first day or two after installation.  Chapter 8 covers ZFS, and is more representative of the bulk of the book: it's a 40-page tour of the capabilities of this key feature of OpenSolaris.

I hope you'll find these samples useful and thank all those who've already bought the book!

Saturday Feb 07, 2009

OpenSolaris Bible now shipping

As I noted to my friends on Facebook last night, a few of the pre-orders of OpenSolaris Bible have been delivered.  I also note this morning that Amazon says it's in stock (and the sales rank has really jumped)!  So if you're one of those impatient types who needs more immediate gratification, you can now order and have it in your hands next day.  Ironically, neither Nick, Jerry nor I has received our own copies yet. Coincidentally, it was a year ago today that I got the Mercurial repository that we used for the project fully on-line.  Seems like an eternity, to be honest.

I'd also like to thank the website community for giving it the feature spot on, which has to be helping that sales rank!

By the way, if you come to CommunityOne East in New York next month, you'll be able to get at least two of us to sign your copies, as Nick and I are signed up to deliver one of the sessions there.

Tuesday Feb 03, 2009

OpenSolaris build 106 - now with SPARC support!

Today we released the latest OpenSolaris development build, number 106 (106a is used in the labeling of the various ISO images since it took a couple of spins to get it right).  As usual, see the announcement email for links and so on.  Although I note that we neglected to mention the availability of images via our friends at  We apologize, Al, and thank you for your continued service.  I'll proofread better next time!

The big news today is that this marks the first build with SPARC support.  At this time, the only installation option for SPARC is to use the Automated Installer (AI), which means you'll need to set up an AI server first.  Initial instructions are posted for this piece, questions and discussion should be directed to the caiman-discuss project mailing list.  The interesting IPS development that goes along with this is the release of fat (or phat) package support; there aren't separate repositories for x86 and SPARC, but instead a single repository with unified package instances.  Perusing a package manifest such as that of SUNWcs should give you some clues on how this works, but I'll let someone on the IPS team provide a more complete discussion of this feature.

Many thanks to all of the team who worked very hard since the 2008.11 release to get to this milestone!

Wednesday Jan 14, 2009

The Good(?) Book

As I was getting my hair cut the other night, the stylist asked if I had any New Year's resolutions.  Only one: to work less than last year.  Now, if you judge by my output to this blog over the past year, you'd say I was already slacking pretty well: 15 posts, most of which categorize as announcing OpenSolaris developments.  Of course, that's not a particularly fair criterion since we've kicked ass on two full releases of OpenSolaris, plus previews, a special student kit, and bi-weekly (more or less) development builds.

Nevertheless, I've been working basically two jobs, and writing a lot.  More than I ever have in my life.  All that prose (plus the equally length contributions of my co-authors, Nick and Jerry) will be published in the next few weeks, in OpenSolaris Bible.

The Amazon page has been up for close to six months now, so a few lost souls have stumbled upon it already and, apparently, pre-ordered.  I admire the patience of those who did - I'm usually not patient enough to pre-order anything, let alone six months early!

Like Jerry, this was my first venture into the publishing arena, and honestly, I wouldn't have without Nick, who was the originator of the project.  Nick's prior experience with Professional C++ meant we'd at least have a clue about how we should do things. The draft proposal he'd written was also very comprehensive.  Even so, I still had a lot of trepidation, since I knew how much work I had on my plate with getting the 2008.05 release ready and the 6-month cycle we're targeting for further releases.  It probably helped that I'd just come off a 3-week vacation when Nick got in touch with me; burnout had receded a bit.  But my wife said the one thing that tipped me over to signing up: it's unlikely you'll look back in 5 years and regret having done it, but you might regret not doing it.  With that, 2008 became a blur of working long days on the distro, then spending the evenings writing about it.  Hence my New Year's resolution.

As Jerry noted in his blog entry (which also includes the table of contents, which I won't repeat here), it was a pretty equal collaboration, with the chapters split among us.  Identifying which ones we each wrote is a good parlor game, I guess, but if you've read past entries here or looked at my profile you can easily figure out many of the ones I wrote.  It's a big book, not far from 1000 pages, and covers the breadth of the operating system for users and administrators, primarily those with little or no OpenSolaris experience, though I'm sure an experienced user will be able to learn a lot as well.  We all certainly did in the process of writing it!

We also really tried to eat open source dogfood in the writing process.  OpenSolaris was of course the OS we used, and OpenOffice was used in generating the manuscript; all of the files submitted to Wiley had to be in Microsoft Word format, but we were quite successful in generating those from OpenOffice.  We exchanged material primarily using Mercurial, with the master repository hosted on my OpenSolaris server.  The only point at which I had to venture off into proprietary software was during the final review, which was in PDF format, where Acrobat was needed to mark up the files.  That one was a bit complicated, since there isn't a current version of it for OpenSolaris.  However, I had good luck running the Linux version under Ubuntu inside a Virtual Box VM hosted on OpenSolaris.  Virtual Box was a very important tool, used in generating many of the examples and screen shots in the book.

I look forward to the book's release and the feedback from reviews.  There are certainly things I think could be better, and we'll see if those are at all similar to what readers think!


I'm the architect for Solaris installation, with a lot of background in networking and system management. I also play a lot of golf.


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