Thursday Oct 02, 2008

OpenSolaris User Groups Going Top Level

I sent a note out to all 72 OpenSolaris User Groups last night to update everyone about important governance and website migration issues that will come about in the next six months. And I got some good feedback in return. The OSUGs have been waiting for better tools and real estate on for a long time. Well, that's coming.

Actually, we've been working on this for a while now. First we had a bunch of OSUGs stuffed into individual pages inside a single Community on the site. That broke jet fast when we grew too quickly for the site's architecture. Then we moved all the OSUGs to be individual projects on the site. That was a great way to solve the immediate problem for each UG by offering them their own project spaces, better URLs, blogs, announcements, etc. But as a result of that move, the OSUGs were then automatically listed among more than 200 development projects, and some argued -- correctly -- that that was confusing. But it was always an interim solution. And that's why I have always been listing the OSUGs in this grid here as the main pointer. That didn't solve the project page, but it was the best I could do since we couldn't change the webapp itself (it's a long story). So, now we are coming to the final step of this long migration: moving the OSUGs into their own collective group on the site and giving that collective the same top level status as Projects and Communities. Part of this move is to also remove the OSUGs from the Advocacy Community in that hierarchal relationship. So, now User Groups will hold User Groups, and Projects will hold Projects, and Communities will hold Communities. All equal.

This all becomes possible because we are moving to an entirely new with xWiki as the underlying content engine, and we are also moving to a new and more flexible community structure. Here is some background reading on this: infrastructure update to the OGB, OGB reorg update, and the new wiki we will be implementing. Over the next few weeks I'll pull some of these disparate documents (there are more, actually) into a simple one pager. These moves will require multiple migrations and tests and even some site re-designs, so this is going to take more than a few months to do. We'll need a good one page outline to point people to so everyone understands the very basics of how things will flow.

Tuesday Jun 17, 2008

What to do with the OpenSolaris User Groups?

I started a thread on advocacy-discuss about the OGB community reorganization and new webapp coming (here, here) in the near future. I hope it generates some discussion and some consensus.

As the OpenSolaris Governing Board (OGB) discusses the possible reorg and community simplification, I wanted to bring up the OpenSolaris User Group (OSUG) issue so we could go back to the OGB with our input. The time for this discussion is right now, so I wanted to make sure everyone in the Advocacy CG and the OSUGs had an opportunity to participate.

There are a few issues involved: (1) the OGB's community reorg, (2) the progress on the new webapp, and (3) the desire of some in Advocacy to see the OSUGs have a higher profile on the site. History: I migrated all the OSUGs to individual projects within the merged Advocacy CG last year. But at the time I felt, and many agreed, that this was a temporary solution to solve an immediate problem and that in the future we could do more to help the OSUGs evolve on the site. That future is now.

There are two key features of the new webapp related to this discussion: (1) it will be able to recognize new collective groups (user groups, SIGs, consolidations, or whatever we want to specify) so we'll have new options for organizing the community, and (2) it will include a new content management system based on a wiki so it will be easier to edit and maintain. The new webapp will be implemented over time, of course, so we will all have to go through a migration of content to move to the new site in the future. So we may as well decide now how we want OSUGs to be characterized in the new webapp.

We have some obvious options:
  • Do nothing. Leave the OSUGs as sponsored projects inside Advocacy. The new webapp will allow horizontal relationships between collectives as well as hierarchical relationships. So, we can just leave things alone and see what the OGB comes up with -- whether the new system is horizontal or hierarchical or just a cleaned up version of what we have now.

  • Move the OSUGs to, which is supposed to evolve into the central user site for the community. The big issue there would be that moving OSUGs to another site would remove them from the OpenSolaris governance system, and we don't know how OSUG members would feel about that.

  • Choose to assert that OSUGs should be their own collective along with Community Groups and Projects when the new webapp is implemented. The new webapp will allow this functionality. Also, this option would keep the OSUGs within the OpenSolaris governance system, thus preserving all the Contributor and Core Contributor grants. How we grant Contributor and Core Contributor status would have to be considered, but that issue is also being discussed as part of a potential OGB reorg.
The OGB is a dependency here. I'm not sure how the OGB will implement a reorg at this time, and there is no time line or schedule at the moment. Also, we can't actually change our status without going to the OGB, but we don't necessarily have to wait for reorg, either. The two issues are not necessarily joined. There's nothing stopping us from going to the OGB and asserting what we want independent of the reorg. That would be helpful to the OGB, actually, since Advocacy is the largest CG in the community, and the OGB needs to hear from the entire community about these issues well before a reorg actually takes place.

Here's my view: I propose we ask the OGB to let the OSUGs become a new collective -- User Groups -- on the site when that functionality becomes available whether the reorg is specified or not. This would not get in the way of a potential reorg. In fact, it could be part of a multi-step reorg, but more importantly, it could enable the OSUGs to have the same status as Community Groups and Projects if the reorg is delayed, or we decide a reorg is not needed, or if the reorg is relatively minor with no structural or relationship changes to what we have now. The OSUGs are different from CGs and Projects, so they ought to have their own space. My goal is to move the OSUGs out from under the Advocacy CG, maintain governance status for the 4,000 people involved, and help the OSUGs grow in size, activity, and number. In other words, I want faster growth, more exposure, and less process.

Agree? Disagree? Any other options we should consider?

Wednesday Feb 20, 2008

New User Group Proposal Process

We updated the OpenSolaris User Group proposal process in Advocacy. It's much easier. So, if you want some infrastructure -- a project space and mailing list -- for your OpenSolaris User Group, just send a proposal to advocacy-discuss with the name of the user group, two or more initial participants listed with their OpenSolaris user IDs, and a one paragraph description of the group (including location, activities planned, related organizations, etc.) That's it. Easy. There are some voting items and such, but it's all spelled out at the bottom of the Advocacy CG front page and also at the bottom of the main user group page. Everything is based on based on the OpenSolaris Constitution and the OpenSolaris Governing Board's Project Instantiation Policy, but we streamlined the process for user groups so we can move faster.

Friday Jan 25, 2008

The Future of OpenSolaris Advocacy

I started a little thread to flush out some ideas about where we could take the Advocacy Community Group and the OpenSolaris User Groups -- [advocacy-discuss] Advocacy & User Groups: The Future. We've made some progress, but there is so much to do since we are still very much in our infancy as a user community. The opportunity is overwhelming (in the very best sense of the term). But it's not only about where we want to go. It's also about how we get there and who does the work. Talk is nice, but eventually someone has to pick up a shovel and start digging. So, I hope we can start implementing some interesting new ideas. Feel free to check in.

Friday Sep 28, 2007

User Group Movements: Update

Four OpenSolaris User Groups migrated to their own projects this week: London, Kansas City, Great Lakes, Sydney, and Dallas. And Melbourne, a new group, opened today as well. I updated the user group leaders table and removed the "migration" column because we are almost finished with the migrations at this point. The table is much easier to read now, too. We also have a new link to the user groups from the front page of, so I hope it's easier for people to find user groups and get involved. And I streamlined the user group proposal process even further as well. It's all just one click from the front page. Next step is next Friday. That's when I delete the old User Group Community and send a final report to the OGB outlining the UG migrations and the consolidation of the Marketing Community, the Immigrants Community, and the User Group Community into the Advocacy Community Group. I can't believe this is finally almost done. Three months. Whew ...

Saturday Sep 08, 2007

3 More User Group Projects

Since my previous report, an additional three user groups have moved to projects this week in the "Great OpenSolaris User Group Migration" going on out there: Turkey, Israel, and Silicon Valley. So, here are the totals to date: 36 user groups have migrated, 11 are currently migrating, and 4 are not responding. I deleted the infrastructure for about a half dozen abandoned groups a couple of months ago.

Three things are occurring simultaneously here: (1) we are merging the User Group Community, the Immigrants Community, and the Marketing Community, (2) we are moving the existing user groups to be projects, and (3) we are using the OGB project proposal process to create infrastructure for new user groups. So, it's been confusing at times, no question about it. But we are absolutely making progress now. When this is over we'll have about a dozen fewer groups, but those groups will be more active, they'll have significantly better infrastructure and potential for growth, and we'll all have much better data showing who's doing what and where. I'll have to write up a "lessons learned" post when this is done because I have surely learned a lot.

All about user groups here

Wednesday Sep 05, 2007

Advocacy CG Merger Update

Over the last two months we've been merging the old User Group Community, the Immigrants Community, and the Marketing Community into the new Advocacy Community Group (ACG). That operation also involves moving the 51 OpenSolaris User Groups to project spaces sponsored by the ACG. All of this history is documented in the discussions page of the Advocacy CG.

Here's a quick update:
  • Immigrants Community closed. Content moved to ACG.
  • Marketing Community closed. Content moved to ACG.
  • 34 user groups moved to projects sponsored by ACG (projects are open).
  • 13 user groups currently moving to projects (projects are still closed).
  • 4 user groups not responding to move requests yet.
  • 51 total user groups.
Thanks to the UGs who have moved so far and to Linda, Tim, and Patrick for moving their content as well. I'm sure there are a few broken links here and there, but I think I got most of them. This entire process has been 100% manual, so if you find broken stuff, just let me know. The old User Group Community will have to remain open until the remaining user groups move.

Here are the 34 user groups that have moved to their new projects (a few are teamed up with the portals, which is cool):  Argentina | Atlanta | Bangalore | Beijing | Bhimavaram | Bloomington | Capital Region | Columbus | Czech | Finland | Front Range | French | Hyderabad | Irish | Italy | Japan | Moscow | Mumbai | Netherlands | New England | New York City | Puget Sound | Pune | Russia | San Antonio | San Diego | Shanghai | Shenzhen | Silicon Valley | Singapore | Spain | St. Louis | Sweden | Switzerland

Almost done.

If you want to find an OpenSolaris user group in your area, check out the Leaders, Locations, Lists chart. And if you want to propose the creation of a new user group in your area, go to the OpenSolaris User Groups home page for details. And, of course, you can chime in on advocacy-discuss as well -- sign up, archives, forum.

Saturday Aug 04, 2007

User Group Project Status: Half Way

Here's a quick OpenSolaris User Group Project update. We are about half way through migrating the user groups to projects, and we'll finish up at the end of August. That's the deadline for deleting the old User Group Community, so if you have any content there, move it to your project or it gets deleted on August 31st. Background on the Advocacy CG merger and User Group Project migrations here

Friday Jul 20, 2007

User Group Project Migration Update

We've made a lot of progress the last two weeks migrating the existing OpenSolaris User Groups to be User Group Projects -- with the same status and site functionality as development projects on This is an idea Stephen Hahn had a couple of months ago to fix the organizational mess that had developed in the old User Group Community (a mess due to fast growth, though, which is a very good problem to have).

We now have 13 user groups open as projects, 24 more in the process of moving but have yet to open, and 18 more sort of waiting in the wings. I expect we'll lose some of those 18 since they have not responded to pings to migrate. But that's ok. If a user group is not active, I really don't think we can call it a user group. No matter. We're happy to re-engage anytime. You can follow all of these migrations here in the user group project grid. I've been working it every day, so it's a pretty big table now. The user group projects are also listed among all the OpenSolaris projects. I also updated the user group project creation process, which outlines what people need to do to get infrastructure for their group. It's easy. And well worth it.

This migration experience has taught me a great deal -- especially that it takes a lot of time to manually migrate 54 user groups! But I'm actually way ahead of schedule, so I'm not complaining. But also, as user groups get their projects I think they are realizing that a project space on has value and will help increase the status of user groups and offer them more options to build community. Project infrastructure offers user groups some advanced features -- including a dedicated space on the site, project editing privileges, a blog aggregator, source code management (via Mercurial and/or Subversion), a Mailman mail list with administrator access, an RSS-enabled announcement section, and spaces for news, file hosting, discussions, observers, and leaders. That's not a bad start, don't you think? And as the site evolves, whatever additional features are added to the projects the user groups will see and benefit from as well. And because user group leaders are simultaneously project leaders who have earned the right to open and manage a project with site infrastructure, they stand a very good chance of gaining contributor and/or core contributor status within the Advocacy Community Group (which sponsors all the user group projects). So, user group leaders and participants can become full Members of the OpenSolaris Community as defined by the OpenSolaris Constitution, which will enable them to participate in community-wide governance issues -- including voting.

This is an excellent situation. As the community grows globally and diversifies to include non-technical participants, we are at the same time offering a convenient way for more people to get directly involved in the community, earn membership status, and contribute to the governance of the community itself. This is only one such mechanism, of course. More on the way ...

Monday Jul 09, 2007

OpenSolaris Advocacy Community Group

The Advocacy Community Group is now open. The new group represents the ongoing merger of the User Group Community, the Marketing Community, and the Immigrants Community. Content is still be moved to Advocacy, and the other communities will be closed as content is moved and URL re-directs put in place. Part of the merger involves the migration of the 53 OpenSolaris User Groups, which will all migrate to become individual projects. That migration has started with approximately 20 groups in the last few days. Here is the background on the merger and list archives from all four communities.

Sunday Jun 17, 2007


On Friday we began merging the Marketing Community, the User Group Community, and the Immigrants Community into the new Advocacy Community Group.

The first step was to create a central list for conversations for the 350 or so people coming together from all three communities. If you'd like to participate in a variety of conversations advocating OpenSolaris around the world, subscribe to advocacy-discuss here and/or post from the Jive forum here. The three old lists -- opensolaris-mktg, immigrants-discuss, ug-discuss -- will be decommissioned shortly, but we'll keep all three sets of archives available and clearly visible from the new community's pages. Some next steps include having leadership discussions, merging and migrating content, opening the new community on the site, combining contributor/core contributor lists, and migrating the user groups to projects. Feel free to get involved.

Thursday Apr 05, 2007

Community Consolidation: Marketing and User Groups

During the recent testing of the polling system on, we found out that the community has some priorities for the upcoming year:
  1. Deploy a public defect management system.
  2. Deploy a public Request To Integrate (RTI) system.
  3. Deploy a public code review facility on
  4. Reorganize the existing Community/Project organization.
  5. Deploy a public wiki on
Number 4 has been discussed on and off for about a year, and it will be interesting to see where the new OGB takes that issue for the whole community and when it will be addressed. It's probably not as important as some of the technical issues, but over the long term as we grow how we are organized will become more and more important. But there are some pretty easy steps we can take on some specific communities to consolidate and focus our efforts, which should make the reorganization of the overall OpenSolaris community a little easier for the OGB. So, I started a conversation on the marketing and user group lists and proposed the consolidation of those two communities under a new name (whatever that name would be).

It seems to me that the User Group Community and the Marketing Community have many important things in common and could benefit from a merger and a focusing of talent and resources but under a slightly different mandate for both. I don't think anyone has ever actually tried this on OpenSolaris, so I wonder if I'll be successful or go down in flames.  So far, I don't see a clear consensus in the conversation to do it, so I doubt it will happen. But some good ideas are being talked about that may help both communities.

Friday Jul 29, 2005

OpenSolaris User Group Community Opens

The OpenSolaris User Group Community is now open on This is a community of user groups, basically. It will attempt to be a resource to help people find user groups and to provide a way for those groups to collaborate with each other. The OpenSolaris User Group community offers a mechanism for user groups to contribute ideas, connections, and resources to help focus the entire user group effort. As the community grows, there will be individual pages for each user group and individual user group mail lists on If you are considering forming an OpenSolaris User Group -- or already have one -- please ping Jim Grisanzio (jim dot grisanzio at sun dot com) to get involved.

Friday Jul 01, 2005

Proposal: OpenSolaris User Group Community

I'm getting a lot of calls regarding OpenSolaris user groups, and some user groups are already starting to crop up out there -- Brazil, UK, USA, Australia, and I hear some guys in Canada are interested, too. There has also been some interest at universities, so this could get pretty big. Special thanks to Alan Duboff, Alan Hargreaves, Ulf Andreasson, and Simon Phipps (and I'm sure I'm missing some people here) for initiating the groups that are already up and running.

Sun doesn't have a lot of resources to support these activities directly, so why don't we leverage what they do have and create a user group community on There are 21 communities on right now and many more proposed. An OpenSolaris User Group community would be a way for the entire community to contribute ideas, connections, and resources to help focus the effort. Sun can participate in the community, of course, but it will be a community gig from the start.

How about this to get going:
  • We open a user group community on
  • Sun engineering and marketing would lead the community initially, but we'd be looking for community leaders to help share the responsibility real quick.
  • The user group community site will have links, descriptions, and contact info for all the user groups currently out there.
  • We'd be looking to grow the community globally.
  • The user group community will have its own lists, announcements, news, and blog feeds.
  • The community can also develop resources for starting a user group, such as presentations that can be customized for local areas and informational packages that would provide contacts and tips on organizing and running successful user groups
  • Through Sun employees around the world, we can help establish contacts for potential speakers -- sometimes this is brain dead easy; other times it's extremely difficult. But we can easily start working the network and developing the contacts.
  • Speakers can also come from the community as we figure out where everyone lives and where people regularly travel.
  • Sun marketing can help provide some swag for inaugural user group meetings. Establishing connections with marketing generates additional benefits as well.
  • Community members may be able to provide meeting facilities at companies and universities, and in some instances Sun may be able to help as well.
  • If we connect all the user groups in this community, we can improve communications and perhaps leverage existing conference venues since we'll all know who is attending various events around the world.
  • Sun will announce the formation of new user groups on the main announce page, but all subsequent user group announcements would take place within the user group community itself. The purpose of this is to simply help drive awareness about the user group community itself.
  • Sun will encourage other groups at the company to get involved in the user group community.
  • We could hold educational sessions for people to learn how to use Solaris, such as installing, optimizing, troubleshooting, and upgrading.
  • Anything else?
If you are interested in participating or offering some advice, leave me a comment here. Also, feel free to watch the discuss list for this topic. We have a simple system of offering community proposals for discussion before we open a new community on the site. That's pretty much what this is, and I'm taking feedback from the community on this right now. We'll probably open this community in a couple of weeks.

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