On what "community" really means

Recently on the OpenSolaris discussion (osol-discuss) forum there has been a thread about Adobe Acrobat for Solaris x86.

One particular poster seems to find it difficult to do more than troll and be abusive, inflammatory and insulting about all the hard work that the OpenSolaris community (that's Sun people as well as non-Sun people) has done and continues to do in order to make (Open)Solaris better.

One Sun poster this afternoon asked:

Sure, and Mac OSX, Linux, Windows, \*BSD, and a host of other systems would be nice if they had DTrace, ZFS, Zones, SMF, et all...

Alas, Sun can't solve all the problems in the world, but they have been able to solve some pretty difficult ones, and they've released much of that technology to the open source world.

Have you made any contributions to Solaris yet, or tried?

A very valid question. After all, this is a community we're talking about here, and one of the benefits of being part of a community is that you get to voice your opinions. One of the concommitant responsibilities that comes with being a community member is the requirement to contribute in some way. That can be large (eg porting an app or driver, putting back code to $SRCTREE or evangelising the community) or small (logging bug reports, answering survey questions, answering questions on newsgroups or mailing lists, talking about your experiences using constructive criticism in both public and private fora) and anything in between.

Our non-Sun protagonist responded:

1) I'm not a programmer.
2) I shouldn't need to do something that is SUN's job.

Which I think totally misses the point.

As far as I can determine, our non-Sun protagonist deems everything about OpenSolaris to be Sun's responsibility. Well guess what, it's not wholly Sun's responsibility. Sure there are things which Sun can do that community members cannot (like work on the presently-closed parts of the source tree), but that doesn't mean that non-Sun people cannot contribute or should feel that they can't contribute. The OpenSolaris community is more than just Sun. Anybody who cares to can look at the discussions going on or even at the code which has been contributed by non-Sun people. There's even a page of metrics which right at the top shows that of the 13650 people registered on www.opensolaris.org, only 1400 are Sun employees.

I don't particularly care whether you're a programmer or not. What I care about is that you contribute constructively to the community, to make it better for all of us. If you want to give feedback, make it constructive. Offer to help the desktop, games, laptop, immigrants or any of the other groupings/projects/communities that make up this community as a whole.

That is what a community is --- a group of people who help each other.

Don't just whinge and irritate from the sidelines, get in there and be \*part\* of it.


This is the problem with the FOSS community, some of them have the weirdist view of what a FOSS community is.

I guess there will be a bunch which will not stop trolling till solaris is dead, so this is something were going to have to live with.

With the adobe and flash apps they don't seem to get that a buisness will not just throw money down a hole when it is unlikely to get anything back from it. If Sun was going to get into the Desktop buisness in a big way it would make sence to spend money to get these apps.

Posted by kangcool on May 28, 2006 at 05:46 PM EST #

Very well put, I couldn't have said it better! (Although I tried, you can see my postings throughout that thread..) I think the key point you hit on, is the fact that this is the OpenSolaris \*community\*. It isn't "Sun's OpenSolaris" now. It is simply, "OpenSolaris". We need to make it very clear to all non-Sun people (myself included, mind you...) that OpenSolaris is a community project. The fate of OSOL lies in \*our\* hands (the community.) OSOL will live or die based on what we contribute (in any fashion - evangelism, code, you name it.) As a community, we need to strive to do what is best for our fellow community members, and also do our best to make the community enjoyable! OSOL is very - I repeat, \*VERY\* - impressive. The sky is the limity for the community. We just need to focus our efforts, using our talents (whatever they might be) for the greater good of the community, as well as OSOL. This is the responsibility of each and every community member, just as it is the responsibity of each and every person in our society, as humanity, to do the best we can for the greater good. This is a utopian view, but it is the basis for every successful society on earth. Some deviate from the path, and the results are evident. Let us work together and bring OSOL forward as the project with the most impassioned community around. It just so happens we have the amazing Sun engineers contributing, and participating in this community, and bringing forth absolutely wonderful technology and insight (do NOT underestimate mindshare) to the table. All for one, and one for all - let our community represent this. The Three Musketeers had it right. ;)

Posted by David on May 31, 2006 at 10:26 AM EST #

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I work at Oracle in the Solaris group. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own, and neither Oracle nor any other party necessarily agrees with them.


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