Monday Aug 17, 2009

OpenSolaris for Puppets

At OSCON last month I had the pleasure of discussing OpenSolaris, the OpenSolaris Bible, and Open HA Cluster with “Jack”. It was fun playing the “straight man,” especially since we hadn't planned anything ahead of time so I had no idea where the conversation was going to head. Take a look and let me know what you think.

Friday Jun 19, 2009

OpenSolaris Bible Co-Authors Together

As I mentioned last week, my two co-authors of OpenSolaris Bible and I were at the CommunityOne conference in San Francisco earlier this month. What I didn't note in that post is that this was the first and only time we've all three been in the same place at the same time. Luckily Tirthankar Das was present to record this moment for posterity:

From left to right, Jerry Jelinek, Dave Miner, and me in front of the bookstore in the Moscone Center in San Francisco.

Thursday Jun 18, 2009

Become an OpenSolaris Power User at OSCON

OSCON 2009

Dave and I are pleased to be offering a tutorial on OpenSolaris at the O'Reilly Open Source Convention (OSCON) this summer in San Jose. The three hour tutorial, Becoming an OpenSolaris Power User, will be on Tuesday, July 21 at 1:30 PM in Ballroom A8. As usual, this tutorial will be based strongly on our book, OpenSolaris Bible.

OSCON this year features an amazing lineup in addition to our tutorial, and should be a great conference. You can use this registration code for a 20% discount: os09fos. See you there!

Friday Jun 12, 2009

OpenSolaris Bible Makes Best-Seller List at JavaOne

According to this list, OpenSolaris Bible was the tenth best-selling book at the JavaOne bookstore, and the only book in the top ten not aimed at Java, Web, or Application developers. Although Dave, Jerry, and I didn’t get a whole lot of people for our book signing, I’d like to think that our presence, our various presentations, and the book giveaways at CommunityOne on Monday and Tuesday helped drive the book sales.

Thursday May 28, 2009

OpenSolaris Bible Book Signing at CommunityOne on Monday

It looks like Dave, Jerry, and I will be doing an OpenSolaris Bible book signing at CommunityOne on Monday from 3:30-4. Come by and take advantage of this rare opportunity to get signatures from all three of us simultaneously!

Also, here's one last plug for our presentations at CommunityOne. My “Developing On OpenSolaris” talk will be Monday morning at 10:50. Dave and Jerry will both be presenting that day as well. Then on Tuesday, Jerry and I will be part of a “Deploying OpenSolaris in Your Data Center” deep dive track. This track is completely free – you can register with the link below. See the full schedule here.

Finally, don't forget about the Cluster Summit on Sunday!

Thursday May 07, 2009

At CommunityOne West June 1-2

I'm looking forward to the upcoming CommunityOne West conference in San Francisco at the beginning of June. This is a great event at which to learn about OpenSolaris and other FOSS software, and I'm particularly excited about the several opportunities that I'll have in which to share some information about OpenSolaris and Open HA Cluster.

On Monday, June 1, Dave and I will be giving two talks based on our book, OpenSolaris Bible.

The first talk, Developing on OpenSolaris will provide a tutorial on using OpenSolaris as your development platform, focusing on the features unique to OpenSolaris. This talk, at 10:50 AM, will kick off the "Developing On OpenSolaris" track.

Our second talk of the day, at 11:50 AM is titled, Becoming an OpenSolaris Power User. If you missed us at CommunityOne East, come check this one out, with revised and updated content for the OpenSolaris 2009.06 release. This presentation is part of the "Managing OpenSolaris" track.

Jerry, the third author on OpenSolaris Bible, will also be giving a talk on Monday at 1:40 PM on Virtualization in OpenSolaris.

Also on Monday, the three of us will do a book signing for OpenSolaris Bible, though the time and location haven't yet been finalized.

On Tuesday, Jerry and I will be part of a “deep dive” tutorial on Deploying OpenSolaris in your Datacenter. I'll cover High Availability, including SMF, FMA, and Open HA Cluster (of course!). Jerry will cover Zones. Additional topics will include ZFS.

Attendance at CommunityOne is completely free on Monday. I'm not sure yet if the deep dive on Tuesday will also be free.

When I'm not speaking, you can probably find me in the pavilion at the Open HA Cluster booth.

I hope to see you at Moscone in June! Also, don't forget about the Open HA Cluster Summit on the preceding Sunday, May 31.

Tuesday May 05, 2009

OpenSolaris Bible on Google Book Search

Thanks to Jerry for pointing out that our book, OpenSolaris Bible, is now available on Google Book Search. You can't see every page, but Google let's you browse quite a bit. Check it out here.

Saturday Apr 11, 2009

Becoming an OpenSolaris Power User

Dave and I attended CommunityOne East last month in New York City and gave a talk called Becoming an OpenSolaris Power User based on our book, OpenSolaris Bible. Thanks to Deirdré Straughan, the presentation is now available online for free!

Because the book is almost 1000 pages and the talk was only fifty minutes, we were only able to scratch the surface of most topics. As I said at the beginning of the presentation, the talk could more accurately be titled, "Introduction to Becoming an OpenSolaris Power User." I started the presentation with an overview of the power features of OpenSolaris, and then we discussed three areas in more detail. Dave talked about the ZFS file system and some of the network virtualization features and I finished up with an overview of DTrace.

Without further ado, here's the presentation. And if you want to follow along at home, here are the slides.

You can also download the talk in mp4 format for your iPod.

If this talk piqued your interest, look for us at the O'Reilly Open Source Convention (OSCON) in July, where we'll be doing a 3 1/2 hour version.

Friday Mar 06, 2009

At CommunityOne East March 18

I'm looking forward to attending the CommunityOne East conference in New York City the week after next. Dave and I will be giving a talk on Becoming an OpenSolaris Power User, based on our book, OpenSolaris Bible. This session will be at 4 PM in Breakout 5. Come learn about ZFS, DTrace, and more! Also check out the complete session schedule for some other great topics. If you're new to OpenSolaris, I particularly recommend the Moving to OpenSolaris talk at 10:10, also in Breakout 5.

When I'm not presenting, you'll probably be able to find me in the demo pavilion. Swing by for a sneak preview of project Colorado (Open HA Cluster running on OpenSolaris 2009.06), or for help installing OpenSolaris on your laptop.

Finally, Dave and I will be happy to sign any copies of OpenSolaris Bible that come our way!

Friday Feb 13, 2009

We’re Number 1,742!

As I think is common among authors, I’m somewhat obsessive about checking my books’ sales rankings on amazon. Since OpenSolaris Bible started shipping last week I’ve been tracking its ranking closely, and have been quite pleased with its sales. This week, the ranking stayed below 5000, with a peak around 1,742:

Additionally, OpenSolaris Bible has been the #1 best-selling book in both the Solaris and Unix categories all week, the latter of which is significant considering that the Unix category seems to include such popular topics as Linux and Perl. OpenSolaris Bible also hit #6 in the Networking category, as shown in the above screenshot. I think that these numbers are indicative not only of interest in our book, but of enthusiasm and excitement about OpenSolaris in general.

Tuesday Feb 10, 2009

Free Sample Chapters from OpenSolaris Bible

Although I didn’t mention it in my previous post, Chapter 1 of OpenSolaris Bible has been available for a while from the book website. And now I’m pleased to announce that Wiley and Sun have collaborated to provide free access to two more chapters! Check out Chapter 3 and Chapter 8, both available from

To put these chapters in context, you can look at the table of contents. As you can see, both Chapters 1 and 3 are in section I, "Introduction to OpenSolaris." As Dave points out, Chapter 1 is not really representative of the rest of the book, as that chapter is mostly a non-technical introduction to OpenSolaris, while the remaining 23 chapters focus on the OpenSolaris technology. Chapter 3 is a detailed overview of the OpenSolaris operating environment, including introductory information on the GNOME desktop, the bash shell, SMF, the Image Packaging System, networking, and more. Most of these topics are covered in more detail in later chapters, but this chapter, combined with Chapter 2, "Installing OpenSolaris" is a great "crash course" in OpenSolaris for the new user.

Chapter 8 is most representative of the book as a whole, as it’s a thorough examination of a single area of OpenSolaris, in this case ZFS. This chapter falls in Section III, which covers file systems, networking, and security.

These three chapters are just a small part of the full 1000 page OpenSolaris Bible, and we hope, of course, that you will consider purchasing the book. However, we also think these chapters are useful in their own right, and we encourage you to download them and use them as a tutorial or reference even if you don’t buy the book.

Finally, I can’t end this post without noting that OpenSolaris Bible has hit the shelves, so to speak. The amazon page says it’s in stock, and one of my co-authors spotted it at a local Barnes and Noble. That said, I still haven’t seen it myself, and am eagerly awaiting my complimentary copies.

Tuesday Jan 20, 2009

Announcing the OpenSolaris Bible

Last year, I wrote a bible. No, I didn’t change my name to Paul or Ezekial. I mean bible in the fourth definition sense of the word. My bible, on the topic of OpenSolaris, will be released next month under the appropriate enough title, OpenSolaris Bible. It’s available now for pre-order from any of the online booksellers.

If you’re interested in OpenSolaris, whether you’re a novice or an experienced user or admin, this book should have something for you. The only prerequisite is some experience with UNIX or Linux; and at close to 1000 pages, we’re able to cover both the basics and many advanced topics. The detailed table of contents (note: PDF link) and index (also PDF link) on the book web site give an idea of the topics and scope of the book.

I’ll have more to say about the contents of the book later, but in this post I’d like to write a little about how and why I wrote it. Four years ago, my first book, Professional C++, was released. I did the project somewhat on a whim, mostly because I was offered the opportunity. I knew I didn’t want to write full-time, but couldn’t turn down the opportunity to try my hand at it. And of course there was the lure of getting the chance to influence thousands of programmers to code the "right" (i.e. "my") way. However, after spending almost one year working every night and weekend on it, I was ready to focus on other things for a while.

Given that I’m still working full-time for Sun, have added a child to my family, and my wife is just starting her own business, why did I decide to again spend almost a year writing every night and weekend? As any author this side of John Grisham can attest, it’s certainly not for the money. Nor, if I’m being realistic about the market for C++ and OpenSolaris books, is it for the fame. However, there are a few reasons other than just seeing my words in print again.

First and foremost, I strongly believe that the OpenSolaris community needs this book. At the time we started writing there were no books available or, as far as we knew, even in the works, on OpenSolaris. In fact, OpenSolaris Bible will be the first English-language book on OpenSolaris. A good tutorial and reference book on OpenSolaris is imperative in order for the technology to gain hold and grow market share in the open source community.

Of course, that doesn’t explain why I wrote the book myself, especially since I’m not a core Solaris engineer directly involved in developing the OpenSolaris distribution. To be frank, one reason is simply that I enjoy taking opportunities that come my way.

More importantly, however, I work for Sun, am involved in the OpenSolaris community, and use OpenSolaris every day. I am quite familiar with the details and intricacies of OpenSolaris and knew that I would be comfortable writing the content of the book. As with Professional C++, I wrote the book that I would want to have as my tutorial and reference. Additionally, having written Professional C++, I had the contacts at Wiley, and knew that I was capable of writing a book of this magnitude.

That said, there was no way I could have written this book by myself. I had a great experience working with Scott on Professional C++, and at first wasn’t sure I could repeat it. However, I was extremely lucky to find two amazing co-authors: Jerry and Dave. They both have a rare combination of exceptional technical knowledge and the ability to explain it clearly in writing. (If you’ve spent much time around technical folks, you’ll know that second quality is in short supply). In particular, Jerry’s understanding of Zones, virtualization, file systems, and a host of other topics, and Dave’s knowledge about the OpenSolaris distribution, IPS, Networking, and pretty much everything else were invaluable. They wrote all the hard chapters, including some material that took significant research and testing.

And in addition to their technical abilities, Dave and Jerry were both a pleasure to work with. Although I don’t think we’ve all three ever been in the same place at the same time, we didn’t just each go off into a locked room and write our chapters. We had weekly phone conversations and innumerable email exchanges about all sorts of subjects from global chapter topics and ordering to detailed questions about a particular technical issue. Additionally, we each reviewed each other’s chapters in detail several times, and all kept our eyes out for OpenSolaris changes that would impact any of our material. I believe that this diligence shows, and that the resultant tome, in my obviously biased opinion, is a well-organized, comprehensive, and cohesive tutorial and reference on OpenSolaris.

But that’s just my opinion. I’m looking forward to hearing yours!


Nick Solter is a software engineer and author living in Colorado.


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