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!

Wednesday Jun 10, 2009

Cluster Summit Recap and Photos

I'm happy to report that the first Open HA Cluster Summit last week was a fantastic event.

The summit kicked off with Professor David Cheriton's keynote address, The Network is the Cluster (pdf link). If the audience took away only one thing from the whole summit, I hope it was the point Cheriton made up-front on the second slide, that everyone needs high availability because the alternative is unpredictability and un-dependability. We all take availability of the computer services we use for granted until those services are not there. Here's a photo of Professor Cheriton concluding his talk:


As you can see the room was full and the audience attentive (I'm in the front row on the left):

After Dr. Cheriton's address, we had a discussion featuring panelists from Aster Data Systems, Google, and Sun Microsystems and moderated by Eve Kleinknecht.

One point I took away from the discussion is that high availability isn't for the 364 days a year that everything works right. It's for the one day a year when something goes wrong. Here Thorsten Frueauf (left) and I are watching the panel:

The morning session wrapped up with my talk on a minimal and modular HA cluster for OpenSolaris (pdf link). Here I am at the podium:

Lunch featured a nice centerpiece of an OpenSolaris Bible at each table for one lucky winner from that table.

I happily signed the books for all the winners.

The afternoon sessions included a variety of talks from both Sun and non-Sun participants. I particularly enjoyed Marcelo Leal's presentation on his AVS agent for Open HA Cluster (pdf link):

The event concluded with a fun "Casino Night":

First two photos by Thorsten Frueauf. All other photos by Tirthankar Das

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!

Tuesday Jul 15, 2008

Project Colorado

I've just proposed a new OpenSolaris project to port Open HA Cluster to the OpenSolaris distribution, including the new Image Packaging System. To quote from my proposal email, this distribution of OHAC will provide basic cluster functionality with a low barrier to entry and easy deployment for OpenSolaris. Additional functionality will be provided via optional IPS packages. The intended audience is system administrators needing simple HA and developers needing an HA framework for their applications or software appliances.

This project to me feels like the natural next step from the open sourcing work I've been doing for the past year and 1/2. Now that the code is out there, it's time to get it running on OpenSolaris. I'm particularly excited to get back to hands-on engineering after suffering through the legal and process work of open sourcing.

One note on the project name: Following the state-name precedence of Nevada and Indiana, I naturally chose the state in which I live.

Thursday Sep 20, 2007

Photos from Sun Tech Days Boston

I wrote last week that I was in Boston for the kickoff event of Sun Tech Days 2007-2008.

I thought the OpenSolaris day and Installfest went well. If you're interested, you can check out the slides (PDF file) from my talk on Open High Availability Cluster.

Here are some photos

Giving my talk

Continuing my talk

Stephen Lau, multitasking Solaris installs across four laptops at the Installfest

Monday Jul 23, 2007

My Upcoming Open HA Cluster Talks

I'll be presenting, "Discovering Open High Availability Cluster" at two different OpenSolaris User Groups in the next few weeks.

Both meetings are open to the public. If you’re in the area, please come by!

Thursday Jul 05, 2007

Globalization Source for Sun Cluster Agents

We've open-sourced some more Solaris Cluster code under the Open High Availability Cluster umbrella. The globalization (G11N) source code for the Solaris Cluster Agents is now available.

Browse the source

Download the source

Wednesday Jun 27, 2007

Open-Source Solaris Cluster

I'm excited to report that the HA Clusters community group on went live this morning!

In addition, we released over 200,000 lines of Solaris Cluster code, including most of the Sun Cluster Agents and the Data Services Automated Test Suite, under the name, Open High Availability Cluster. This code is available under the Common Development and Distribution License (CDDL), as is most of the code on OpenSolaris. You can download the code here.

The agents and test code compiles with Sun Studio 11, which is freely available from the Sun Download Center.

We're committing to open-source the full Solaris Cluster product over the next 18 months, including the agents, core, Geographic Edition, test suites, and docs. We expect to open nearly three million lines of code! (Two million lines of product code and one million lines of test code).

I'm looking forward to working with the new HA Clusters community on future Open HA Cluster development!


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


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