The Butterfly Effect Revisited

What a difference a year makes. A year ago this evening, I was up until about 3am helping others to put the finishing touches on the launch of OpenSolaris.org. Life was different... OpenSolaris advocates were beseiged by charges of vaporware. Critics used phrases like "Put up or Shut up," "There is no OpenSolaris," and "You Sun people are pathetic." It was an ugly time which I documented in a blog entry entitled: Beyond My Wildest Expectations: The Butterfly Effect.

Most of us know the butterfly effect: "Small variations of the initial condition of a dynamical system may produce large variations in the long term behavior of the system. ... Had the butterfly not flapped its wings, the trajectory of the system might have been vastly different." [Source: Wikipedia] I often think of this effect when I consider why something surprising happened.

Then at about 8am on June 14th, 2005, we opened opensolaris.org and invited the world in for a look, and to join us in developing a world class operating system. At the time I felt like part of a volcano of activity-- today it seems like another flap of the butterfly's wings.

So today I'm contemplating the butterfly effect of our actions last June 14. Who could have predicted a year ago what today would be like? How will this year's accomplishments be amplified in years to come? Just today we've reached 100 contributions-- I wonder if that milestone number serve to attract new developers? We've seen new faces and new perspectives emerge in the community. Several active distributions with different and interesting missions have arrived. User groups have sprouted up-- and attending SVOSUG meetings has been one of my favorite activities this year.

That's not to say we're done. There's a long list of things yet to be accomplished-- mostly summarized on the roadmap. But we've delivered a lot, and I hope that counts for something. As for me: In the next year I hope to sponsor more fixes, and help out with some redesign of the website look and feel (I helped to author today's redress of the home page, mostly assembled over the last 48 hours). The butterfly effect leaves me optimistic-- and fairly sure that the next year will bring new surprises...

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