Request Sponsor

The open question: "The Open Solaris community has more than 70,000 members, most of whom are users, Phipps said. 'There are about 750 committers right now, and almost all of them are within Sun. We haven’t quite finished the external version control system [for the community]. So the situation is a bit more complicated on OpenSolaris right now. To make a commit, you currently need an internal sponsor.' That will change, Phipps said, when the version control system goes outside Sun's firewall.'" -- Sean Gallagher, Government Computer News

By "internal sponsor" Simon is referring to the OpenSolaris Request Sponsor Program: info here, list here, forum here, tracking tables here.

Initially, the program was created by John Beck and managed by Bonnie Corwin to support the OS/Net consolidation, but it's been expanding to include other consolidations as well. It's a manual and interim step for OpenSolaris to enable us to take code contributions, educate external community members about internal development processes, and create new engineering relationships on The program was also necessary since it was impossible to open all the source code and all development tools and all development precesses all at once. The opening of Solaris quite literally has had to be a phased approach.

The main OpenSolaris kernel source code management gate is still internal to Sun, but that will move across the firewall after first moving off of Teamware and on to Mercurial. The website already supports Mercurial as well as Subversion, and projects are already using both. See the SCM Migration Project and the SCM section of the Tools Community for more details.

Request Sponsor is a simple process, really. Community members offer code, and Sun engineers work with those contributors on testing, code reviews, and ARC cases and then they do the final integrations. Currently, there are 26 sponsor requests waiting for engineering assignments, 92 in progress with sponsors assigned, and 181 final integrations. All the community members and sponsors and the data involved is tracked in a table on the site, including the ARC cases. Many of the putbacks have been bug fixes, but many are substantial fixes and many include substantial new contributions -- including ksh93 and the first putbacks form the Intel project.

The Request Sponsor Program will continue even after the main gate moves external, though, since the opening of these development tools will take time, and there will still be some internal dependencies initially (such as the RTI tool and bug database). In fact, at least initially, the Request Sponsor Program could well evolve into a mentor program.

For me the best thing about the Request Sponsor Program is that it's been a quiet performer all along underneath all the noise around OpenSolaris. The list is low traffic. There are no flames. And the people are doing the best they can with the tools that they have. Sure, things get backed up from time to time, but the bottom line is that code is being offered and it's being integrated. And it's great to see some press about it.

As for the 70000 users - how many of them were active in the last year or so?

I'm asking because there doesn't seem to be a way to unregister on, so any monotonic growth on would be by design, not by merit (and leads to inflated numbers).

Posted by Patrick Georgi on September 12, 2007 at 04:07 PM JST #

Hi ...

The number of active users grows all the time since the community is always growing and this is quite clear from virtually all of our metrics. The database on says 72,245 as of tonight, but those are people who have registered on the site. That's just one way of starting a relationship with OpenSolaris, that's all. That number will be well over 120K next year. But not all of those people are active on the site at any given time, of course. There are about 8K or so people registered on various lists, and the list and forum traffic grows consistently pretty much every month. And it's perfectly normal for someone to register on the site, get a free Starter Kit, and then just observe for a while or participate in a local user group and not even be active on the main site. And there are many people who are just users of the technology and we have no way to track them after an initial download. And then there are the people at the very center -- the contributors and core contributors -- who are contributing code and running projects and communities and holding the entire community together (which is all merit based). Simon's comment is correct that the majority of people around here right now are users. And that's perfectly normal.

Posted by Jim Grisanzio on September 12, 2007 at 04:45 PM JST #

I'm pretty sure I said to Sean that I thought it was a great program that would live on after the code was outside the firewall. Which is what I think, FWIW,

Posted by Simon Phipps on September 13, 2007 at 12:39 AM JST #

Thanks, Simon. That's great. The program will always be a bit under the radar, as it should be I suppose, but you've give it more exposure than anyone. :)

Posted by Jim Grisanzio on September 13, 2007 at 02:28 AM JST #

All steps int he right direction. When I learn more I would like to start working on some things for OpenSolaris.

Very Informative Post for me. I was thinking about this the other night.

Posted by David Vasta on September 13, 2007 at 09:36 AM JST #

Thanks, David. Hopefully when you start working on this, we'll be through some of the backlog. :)

Posted by Jim Grisanzio on September 13, 2007 at 05:22 PM JST #

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