Sunday Feb 15, 2009

So Long and Thanks for All the Fish

So the time has come for me to move on. I'm leaving Sun and headed off to try a few new things. It's been an incredible experience here and I will miss many of my current and former colleagues.

In case the blogging bug sticks I will be trying out blogging at a new location. So check it out, it will likely continue to be random ramblings based on what I come across...

Saturday Nov 22, 2008


The past month has been pretty hectic. I've traveled to 6 different conferences in the last 4 weeks. Done presentations, prepared Science Fair exhibits, presented and discussed new products and occasionally slept. Well, there were also a few days at home somewhere in the middle there too, but I'd have to look at a calendar to really figure out when they were.

The good news is that I'm home finally! I'll spend some time next week putting some more info into the blog about what's been going on. However, I'm definitely going to enjoy being home for some time.

Thursday Sep 11, 2008

Building and using a Solaris Ramdisk Image

I've been meaning to write this up for a while. There are a number of different uses for having a ramdisk image to the operating environment. I initially did this work as part of the Honeycomb platform development, but it applies equally well for any other environment. I'll specifically target this for the Nevada/OpenSolaris release, but I do also have the details for Solaris 10 if folks are interested.

So to start with the important aspect is to get Solaris installed onto a server somehow (use jumpstart/dvd/whatever). You may want to get it set up with the variety of packages you want in the image, but that's not necessary as you can add them later if you like. Once you are here it is then a matter of taring up the bits you want.

Once we have this tar image we can start doing the real work. So untar this onto a working directory and let's go through the steps to create a working ramdisk.

  • Modify /boot/solaris/bootenv.rc to remove bootpath specification
  • copy /kernel and /platform to boot slice
  • create ramdisk image from directory using root_archive
  • copy ramdisk image to boot slice
  • modify boot/grub/menu.lst on boot slice to have the module point at the ramdisk image

And that's it. This gives you a bootable version of a Nevada/OpenSolaris ramdisk image.

Monday Sep 08, 2008

New Beginnings

Times are changing and my role here at Sun is also changing. For most of the last 3 years at Sun I have been focused on either building Honeycomb, managing a team of engineers or sleeping. So now I am no longer going to going to managing a team of engineers. I'm going to have a more focused community role.

So let me provide a little background on my community involvement in the past. I first started using linux in the 1.2 timeframe (1995/1996) with RedHat 4.0. Since then I have been involved in a variety of different communities, including Perl, FreeBSD, Mesa3D and Autotools. More recently at Sun I have been involved in the Storage community and a leader of the Honeycomb project.

So what is this going to entail? I expect it means I'll be blogging more regularly ;-) I intend to put out more detailed technical information through my blog. I will also be looking at writing more whitepapers to discuss the interesting technologies we have here at Sun and different ways to combine them into solutions. It also means that you will be more likely to see me in person. To aid in you recognising me I look exactly like this:

Well not really, but you will see more of me. Make sure you introduce yourselves to me and we can talk about cool things!

Wednesday Jun 04, 2008

Embracing Open Leadership

I just came across a great article which contrasts the "command-and-control" style of leadership, with a more open collaborative approach. It's a really interesting discussion pointing out that in the technology world we need to encourage more ownership and innovation from our team, and that a traditional leadership structure doesn't handle that well.

For me personally a big part of leadership is making the team work best together. It's why I enjoy team sports and ultimately why I'm doing my job. It's good to see that someone out there is validating my inclinations ;-)

Monday May 12, 2008

Leadership in times of trouble

I came across an article that discusses leadership in times of trouble. It lists nine rules that it should be followed:

  1. Establish no more than five clearly stated and measurable objectives.
  2. Identify and remove the roadblocks that hinder your team's performance.
  3. Reward your people for results not how hard they work.
  4. Don't cut back on rewards and recognition during leaner times. Now more than ever, you need your core team to feel appreciated and important.
  5. Be honest and tell your team what's needed to win.
  6. Keep your employees well informed to help mitigate fear.
  7. Be extremely hard on performance and easy on people.
  8. Acknowledge success and reinforce the positive.
  9. Maintain the proper balance between passion and optimism with realism and judgment.

In the article the author clearly calls out the importance of communication. All in all this is an excellent read and a very insightful article.

Tuesday Apr 29, 2008

Cone of Uncertainty

I recently spent two days doing an estimation course that was run byConstrux. This was essentially talking about mechanisms to better provide estimates for projects so that it is possible to deliver on time. This is the holy grail of software engineering! This all took place in Bellevue, located near Seattle.

The course was presented bySteve McConnell. It was interesting to meet the man. When I first started working in the industry my boss was touting Code Complete as an excellent reference (to my shame I'm still yet to read it some 10 years later).

So what's this reference to the "Cone of Uncertainty"? It's probably one of the most useful ideas of the course. Essentially it's the idea that when a project starts the project itself is so uncertain that we have a significant error in estimating when we will deliver. As we get further on we can refine and reduce the error providing a more specific project end date range.

Monday Mar 17, 2008

Back from CO

Back from Colorado. I spend most of last week with the other half of my team, HPC. They are working on delivering ISER and OSD.

The team is from all over. I'm based in California, we have three people based on the East Coast (Nashua, Burlington), with the others based in CO.

I just recently took over managing this team so it was a great chance to meet everyone in person and get to know them.

Oh, yeah, it was a codefest, so they got a bunch done whilst being together too.

Honeycomb Opensourced!

So we did it. We finally put the source code out there for Honeycomb. We put it in several locations: OpenSolaris, SNIA and So there are several questions about this, eg what did we actually open source, why three communities, etc.

So we released several pieces. We released the "Honeycomb Open Edition", this is basically a standalone java version of the Honeycomb protocol stack. It doesn't have the reliability, nor the RAIN architecture. However the bulk of the code that provides that functionality was in the drop. We also released the source to the VIM which will allow Honeycomb to work with the reference implementation of XAM from SNIA (note that the standard is still in the development phase). We also provided a photo demo which links XAM and honeycomb together. We used this as part of a demo at SNW last year showing our XAM compliance.

The obvious question is what can you do with all of this? We've provided the pieces so that it's possible to craft a single node instance of Honeycomb. You would be able to write applications to our API to this instance. It's also possible just to use the "Honeycomb Open Edition" to be an application development environment for Honeycomb.

So where are we going? This was the first code drop that we've done, we're not going to stop here. We are currently working on getting more of the pieces that make Honeycomb out. We are planning to start developing in the open very soon, so stay tuned!


Peter Buckingham


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