Have You Read the Release Notes?

I can't count how many times I've read in the various OpenSolaris forums "Read the release notes."

It's true, the OpenSolaris release notes are chock full of good information. However, where are these mysterious release notes?

The release notes are posted by David Comay to the osol-announce and indiana-discuss mailing lists. However, you have to filter through all the other traffic on those lists to find them.

I've thought about setting up a wiki pointing to them, but that's just one more thing I'd forget to maintain. Instead, here's a quick Google search that seems to do the trick. If you can think of a better way to customize it, please let me know.


Release Notes for a mass-market desktop distribution are a bug in itself, and serve as a general purpose cop-out for not doing the right thing in the first place. Look at the recent gdm bug which affected the OpenSolaris login experience. The correct thing would have been to fix the problem in the release rather than condemn the user to a crappy (potentially first-time) experience and having to issue a command-line workaround.

Release Notes are great if your audience consists of grizzled enterprise sysadmins who pore over such material before doing an installation on a production system. They're plain lousy for modern distros where it is expected that the simple things (like logging in!) just work.

You should be striving to eliminate the Release Notes mentality for OpenSolaris. Don't believe me? Look at how many users are _not_ reading the Release Notes!

Posted by Moon on February 03, 2010 at 12:38 PM GMT #


I am not a sysadmin just a simple user and believe me or not i am using opensolaris on my desktop and read the release notes on the osol announce list. I am looking forward to install the 10/03 release...


Posted by Fabian Spindler on February 03, 2010 at 01:57 PM GMT #


I think you're a bit disconnected from the reality of OS development. Windows, OS X, and every other operating system I've ever used always have release notes. They just get cutesy and call them a "knowledgebase". And yes, RedHat, Ubuntu, and SuSE all have release notes too!

While no one wants to ship a product with bugs, if developers never did, they'd never ship a product. You have to evaluate each issue at release time and determine how severe it is when determining whether it will prevent a release.

Posted by Shawn on February 03, 2010 at 04:41 PM GMT #

These release notes are incredibly important, especially since the transition from SXCE to OSOL along with all the updates to OSOL has made a string of unstable releases. I've tried every new dev release and had to back down to 111b on my v20z box every time because of this. There are so many things I'd love to try. I'm hoping that we clear out these problems before the new "stable" release in March or April.

The release notes have been instrumental in getting me to make the attempts.

One thing that can make this better is to reiterate items from an earlier release not that wasn't fixed yet. I have to keep reading every release note after 111b to the new one to see if the problems I'm having have workarounds described.

Posted by Gary on February 03, 2010 at 06:51 PM GMT #

Shawn: Sure, release notes are important, but another point is still valid - can a two weekly dev snapshot be done with such severe bugs like last snv_130 gdm/OpenGL "white screen" caused by messed up directory names? May be it worth first to fix such severe usability bugs, and only after that to push a release to public, even if it's a bit delayed?

Posted by shmerl on February 03, 2010 at 07:54 PM GMT #

@Shawn: Suggest you go read the notes about "The Death Spiral of Quality" aka "FCS Quality Always".


If you raise the obstacles to using an OS build (e.g. popup an cryptic X11 ICE message at login time resulting in a blank screen), people will go elsewhere for their OS fix. Yes, you're of course correct in that not all bugs can and will be fixed in a two-week cycle. But the heavy-hitters should be addressed. OpenSolaris is, after all, a desktop-focused OS where login usability rates high.

Also, Ubuntu has no requirement to read Release Notes/visit Knowledge Bases before installing. Will you agree that this would be a reasonable goal for OpenSolaris 2010.03 FCS?

Posted by Moon on February 04, 2010 at 05:27 PM GMT #

Short question. Is the picture under GPL or CC

Thx Markus

Posted by Markus on February 05, 2010 at 11:41 PM GMT #

Dear Shawn, I already busted you multiple times on this.

You can't keep producing half-cooked implementations and keep excusing it with "release early, release often".

Either you're a good programmer churning out quality code, or you are churning out half-baked stuff.

Jeff Bonwick wrote:

"FCS all the time"

and he's right. Your "release early, release often" is a Linux/web developer mindset which has no place in the Solaris community, because Solaris is about QUALITY and SCALABILITY.

You keep doing what you're doing, and the community will keep losing people like myself, and getting more and more "me toos".

How much longer can the community withstand losing technical people because of mindset like yours?

You're lost in IPS, so lost that you no longer have any focus.


Posted by UX-admin on February 08, 2010 at 08:39 AM GMT #


Sorry, I don't know about the image. I'm referencing it from here: http://bbs.keyhole.com/ubb/z0302a1700/Extra.gif .


Posted by Brian Leonard on February 08, 2010 at 10:29 AM GMT #

@UX-Admin: you haven't busted anyone. While FCS quality all the time is the goal, resources are finite, and thus tradeoffs ultimately have to be made.

Posted by Shawn on February 08, 2010 at 02:48 PM GMT #

@shmerl: Determination of whether to hold a release is done on a case-by-case basis. Sometimes the results of those evaluations may not agreeable to all parties.

Posted by Shawn on February 08, 2010 at 02:51 PM GMT #

Shawn is so busy sucking Sun's lollipop that he brings zero credibility to the table. Guy is such a shameless brown noser that reading him makes me want to hurl. Seriously.

Posted by George on March 01, 2010 at 11:42 PM GMT #

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