Friday Oct 26, 2007

The impression of the OpenSolaris Developers summit 2007 (3)

Some small accident happened in the morning of the second day. Since the plan was to head to Santa Clara at night, we packed all the stuff and drove to the meeting by ourselves instead of taking the shuttle bus. But we got lost in the mountain area:( After driving for some distance, the environment didn't look familiar and we had to go back. The OpenSolaris Sign saved us at that moment. It pointed us to make a right turn and lead to the parking location.

The second day's first session was the lightning talk. It provided us a good chance to give some short topics(with audio):
\* Ben Rockwood's talk
\* Jim Walker: OpenSolaris test farm
The test farm includes Sun Fire T2000, Sun Fire X4200 M2 and Sun Fire X4600 M2. You can go to the test farm project page to reserve one to have a try. The users can access all these boxes through terminal. Is that possible that the GUI access could be provided in the future?
\* Alfred Peng: Mozilla DTrace
I didn't explain so much on the technical side of Mozilla DTrace. It's more about the cooperation with Mozilla community. DTrace is proved to be a good approach to introduce Solaris to another community, with the landing of the Mozilla DTrace framework, the Javascript probes, and also performance bugs fixed by Robert. To me, Mozilla community is one of the most successful communities in the open source world, with thousands of active code contributors, hundred thousands(or millions) of test contributors and evangelists, tens of millions of users, hundreds of millions of downloads. It's huge! OpenSolaris can benefit from this cooperation for sure. The development model is also another aspect that OpenSolaris community could learn from.
\* Al Hopper: Genunix
\* David Stewart: Intel driver support
David is from Intel. Laptop support is a hot point that Solaris users pay lots of attentions to. The "power suspend and resume" is just so necessary for laptop users. It takes me several minutes to boot the Solaris system every time. But for Mac OS users, just several seconds. A big different! It seems that the difficult part is on the power resume side. Hope that it can be resolved soon.
\* Jorg Shilling: OpenSolaris book in German
It's a pity that I don't understand German. But I'm still curious who takes this book finally?:)
\* Glynn Foster: What's community?
One of functions of the community is to connect people, from different parts of the world, and also stimulate information sharing and facilitate friendship. I can't agree with this more.
\* Brian Gupta: User Group

Following are the sessions:
\* Sara Dornsife: Naming and Branding
From the developers' point of view, the concern is the performance. String/Logo could have some impact on the performance. The release model is still the point that all the audiences felt interested. What's the relationship between distribution and the community projects? OpenSolaris community provide a platform for all the projects. Some of them are still under development. The users can download the release/experiment builds by themselves and have a try. There will be Stable/Unstable branches for the distribution to hold all of them.
Another thing I want to mention here is the intense relationship between Mozilla community and Debian, because of the Firefox/Thunderbird trademark issue. This seems to be one kind of fragmentation for Mozilla. But I still feel that merge is the way to go for Mozilla and Debian. The problem is just how to cooperate to handle the big patch that Debian has.

\* Glynn Foster/Stephen Lau/Alan Coopersmith: Community Structure and Involvement
What's the power of OGB(OpenSolaris Governing Board)? This must be a question for a lot of community guys. OpenSolaris community is a big community with many different projects. Every one of them have different interests. OGB doesn't have the power to control them. One big task for OGB is the development direction and promotion I think. For example, to provide better basic infrastructure for the community, to take some action to make decision when there are conflicts within the community itself, between different sub communities or with other communities, to promote OpenSolaris communities to other organizations and communities, and also, to stimulate communication and connection for different parts of the community.

\* Shawn Walker, one community contributor, stated the problems he met when he tried to do some code contribution to OpenSolaris. To my understanding, OpenSolaris community isn't very developer friendly for some certain aspects for other guys to contribute, with the existing of some private processes. That's the thing need to be improved in the future. Meanwhile, it's lucky for the OpenSolaris community to have all these awesome contributors even with the obstacle ahead. That's why open source is so important, and how powerful open source community is. It makes many people fly more than 12 hours to come to a same place from different parts of the world, and the goal is quite simple: to make OpenSolaris a better community.

\* Tim Foster: ZFS to the MAX
How does Indiana make use of ZFS? At least, it can do some help to replace the Live Upgrade to Snap Upgrade. Tim's demo is based on a USB snapshot disk. Network could also be a choice. The GUI of this upgrade can be improved a little bit. This could be a place that the desktop team get involved.

\* Glynn hosted the desktop sessions, about the desktop menu(to be more Ubuntu like?), the NWAN GUI design, the desktop search. Erwann demoed about Compiz, which is pretty cool and attractive. People are quite interested on whether there is plan to deliver it into Solaris. The package repository will be a solution to this. Users can get the compiz package by themselves with Indiana.

Ian Murdock gave the wrap up at last. It's great to know that this event will be held every 6 months. I can't imagine how cheerful people will be when Indiana is released the next time. With the successful experience, the next summit will be a bigger one, with more participants I believe.

It's wonderful to meet with Erwann, Alo, Glynn, Tim and all the other guys in this event. Have dinner together, chat with each other and see all the guys face to face are a great way for communication. I really had a lot of fun this time.

Thursday Oct 25, 2007

The impression of the OpenSolaris Developers summit 2007 (2)

Then how about the summit itself? It's well-organized and the facilities are nice. Thanks for the team, especially Jessy.

As the first priority task for the next few months is Indiana, Indiana is the focus for the first day. The welcome session was delivered by Ian Murdock. He gave a general talk on the topics we were going to discuss: the distribution model, the new installer, the new package system, modernization and the distribution constructor. This is the first time I met Ian. When Debian came out as a Linux distribution, the apt-get command changed our life. I can still remember the Debian related discussion between some friends and I back in the university:-)

The round table introduction session was great, with everyone involved, and I love this part. It set the fundamental key that people in this community could have a free platform to communicate, without any title. People from Sun(management team and engineers) showed their participation enthusiasm, interests, attentions and supports to the future development of OpenSolaris community. The community contributors also expressed their ideas, suggestions and concerns. The summit opens a channel for the communication between people from Sun and people in the community. And we were trying to build up some common understanding about this community.

Here I'd like to drag the topic a little bit far away. As an engineer works for Sun and joins an external community(Mozilla community), I prefer influence than control over an open source community. Different parties have their influence can help the community to grow in a benign way. If we want to make the decisions based on democracy, communication becomes the most important thing. I believe that's the purpose of the summit.

Following are the sessions, some with slides, audio recording and meeting minutes:
Stephen Hahn: Image Packaging System slides audio minutes
When I migrated from Linux to Solaris, one thing I wanted to have is just the packaging system. Blastware partly resolves the problem at that time. Just like the apt-get changes our life, this new image packaging system could be the key point to make Solaris much more user/developer friendly.

Dave Miner: Installation and distribution constructor slides audio minutes
It was mentioned that Developers will be the first priority, and enterprises later for Indiana. That's a great news for all the open source communities I think. The LiveCD demo was also good. BTW, the desktop China team also gets involved in the Caiman project, which is already in SXDE III.

David Comay: Modernization audio minutes
This brought some hot discussions in the OpenSolaris community before. Familiarity means a lot of things: to remove the outdated legacy commands, the obsolete directories, to make the system simple to configure, to make the development environment easily available. To provide a familiar system to Linux users/developers could make Solaris much more competitive from my perspective.

Several issues were raised during the meeting:
1. How to prevent fragmentation for OpenSolaris community? Different kinds of fragmentations exist in the history, BSD(FreeBSD/OpenBSD...), Linux(RH/Ubuntu/Novell...), Ubuntu(desktop/education...). The answer to this is that the repository of the image packaging system will be the source for all the distros to derive from. Solaris ON(OS and Network) and a set of core functions will be a must for distros to make sure binary compatibility. Within this limitation, fragmentation could be a benign thing for the community development. But this could still be a problem to pay attention to in future development.

2. Solaris has a strong backward compatibility guaranty. How will Indiana address this issue? The discussion was around whether it's important for attracting customers to have the backward compatibility. It's mentioned that Indiana only keep partly backward compatibility. Actually, the key idea is that different areas have different backward compatibility requirement. For example, I don't think it's so necessary for us to put a strong backward compatibility requirement to the desktop applications. But for Solaris ON, this is still important. This kind of loose statement could make the Solaris a more fashion look, especially for desktop environment.

3. Time to market. This is more about the release schedule I think. Currently, Solaris has a long development cycle. Solaris 10 is quite old(but stable), especially for developers. Indiana could provide a release vehicle to host all the latest features/applications. By a 6 months release schedule, it can shorten the time to market and also help collect some customers' feedback in a timely way. Then our development could benefit from this as well. A win/win situation.

The aboves are almost all the contents for the first day. It's quite helpful for me to know about these. Solaris is competitive to compare with Linux/Mac/Windows from my point of view, as a developer. It has so many features that the other systems don't have. Just like DTrace can help Mozilla in my previous posts, the other open source communities can also benefit from it. All the changes Indiana will bring to us are the key points for Solaris adoption. And I truly hope that it can be available ASAP and I can then recommend it to some other guys around, realistically or virtualizedly.

The party at night was also wonderful. Emily recommended me to have some Guinness. My impression is it's so different:-) Jack is funny. It's cold outside, but warm when close to the heater. The toast is short. I believe that we could have more toast when Indiana is available.

BTW, why is the code name Indiana? Is it because that Ian lives in Indiana?

The impression of the OpenSolaris Developers summit 2007 (1)


As I've mentioned in the previous post, the OpenSolaris developers summit was held in a beautiful city along the sea -- Santa Cruz, Oct. 13 to Oct. 14. I'm really lucky to be there because it's the first time that OpenSolaris community organized this event. It seems that there were some kind of pressures/doubts around before the beginning of the summit. But I want to say: The summit is a big success. It brought the happiness memory of the Firefox summit 2006 back to my mind. This is just what I feel an open source community should be, to connect people in an easy atmosphere.

However, nothing is perfect, even the weather became an obstacle for this event. Big rain stroke San Francisco at the eve of the summit. Traffic accidents happened on both sides of the high way. One telegraph pole was down because of the rain on our way to Santa Cruz. But we still showed up in the reception session at the bar, just a little bit late. Brendan Gregg was there too, and it's so nice that Mozilla DTrace was landed in Mozilla source tree finally, including the Mozilla DTrace framework and also the Javascript probes: 1 2 3. Nice to talk with the guys there, no matter whether I know their names or not. Anybody know why Ben always wear skirt? Because he is just so strong? One thing I had to mention is that the hotel is great. The big glass door faces the sea directly. We can watch the sunrise by just sitting in the balcony. It's really fantastic:-) There seems to be a pleasure ground along the sea, only open at night. A wharf goes to the mid of the sea. It provides a place for the seabirds to take a rest, some sea lions sleep down there at night, also for people to do fishing there.

University of California, Santa Cruz is another branch for UC, just like UC Berkeley, UCLA. It's located on the mountain area, seems to be the northwest part of Santa Cruz, with trees surrounding different buildings and some deers wandering on the road. The temperature is low in the morning and evening. I had to stand close to the heater at that time. But when sun goes up and shines in the sky. We could feel the warm immediately. Baskin Engineering 2 building is the place where we had the summit.

One thing amazing to me is that so many people in the states live in the mountain area, and stay far from each other. At the same time, they could enjoy the life with the supply of transportation(self own car), power, water... Maybe it's just because that I've got use to the situation that people live close to each other. And this is just so different.

Tuesday Oct 23, 2007

Mozilla DTrace -- Javascript DTrace probes were landed

I found Brendan Gregg's blog post about Javascript probes occasionally Sep. last year. 2007-10-19 15:24 is the exact time that Johnny Stenback checked in the patch into Mozilla source tree. And the RFE bug was marked as FIXED and closed finally:)

Thanks very much for Johnny's work, also the Mozilla DTrace framework. And everyone get involved. DTrace can really help Javascript, and Mozilla as well.

If you're curious what Mozilla DTrace can help, please get the bug list here. Robert Sayre has done a wonderful job in using DTrace to dig performance bugs.

If you're interested in this project, please come to our project website.

Saturday Oct 13, 2007

Get back online finally

It's a little bit hard to get on line these days. The travel is great till now. Las Vegas is really a special city for entertainment. The CEC conference was also nice, with lots of sessions from different divisions of Sun, and around 4000 people joined this event, including some vendors(I'll blog about the detail later on). I finally met with Glenn in Vegas, which is pretty exciting! BTW, the security Glenn gave was wonderful.

One great thing happened recently is that the Mozilla DTrace Framework was checked in to the Firefox trunk code, by Johnny Stenback on Oct. 10th. Thanks very much, Johnny. Some other works are still going on to make better usage of DTrace in the Mozilla development, such as the URI probes and the Javascript probes. If there are some specific probes you want to add to Mozilla code, just go ahead and do it:-)

Thursday Aug 30, 2007

The DTrace workshop in Mozilla HQ


There will be a DTrace workshop in Mozilla HQ Aug. 30th -- Aug. 31st. Brendan Gregg(one of the DTrace gurus, the author of the DTraceToolkit), John Rice, Padraig Obriain, myself from Solaris Desktop team will give this workshop. The main purpose is to introduce DTrace to Mozilla community and help resolve some performance and memory issues in Firefox. We've already got some patches for DTrace framework, layout probes and Javascript probes, detail is in bugzilla bug 370906 and 388564. Hope them can be merged into Firefox trunk code soon.

Following is the ageda for the workshop:

    August 30th - Thursday afternoon after the lunch, presentation to wider audience on DTrace.
    \* DTrace Intro. Look at general Firefox issues such as startup time, what I/O is it doing, what files, what read access patterns and so on.
    \* DTrace Javascript. Introduce the probes, show how we can combine these probes with other PID probes to narrow the focus on specific areas.
    \* DTrace framework. Discuss general issues around the probe framework. Concerns raised already on cross-platform issues, maintainability and support on Mac.

    August 31st - in depth 1 day work shop with Mozilla developers to look at specific performance concerns and get answers using the probes.

If you're interested in the topics above and close to the Mozilla office, welcome to join us. If you're interested in using DTrace on Solaris, you could try the vmware images here.

BTW, the video will be put online. Please stay tune.

Wednesday Jun 27, 2007

The Solaris VMware images with Firefox DTrace bundled are available for download

The Solaris VMware images with Firefox DTrace bundled have been uploaded to the Mozilla community. For more information, you can check the Mozilla wiki page: http://wiki.mozilla.org/SolarisVM. Many thanks to Mozilla community on hosting the VMware images. That helps us a lot.

As the development of Mozilla DTrace, we found that it's really important to provide a pre-configured Solaris system for the Mozilla guys to have a try. By that way, we hope to get more feedback from the Mozilla community. For example, where should the user defined DTrace probes be inserted? What's the use cases from the community's point of view?

Some possible candidates:

1. Break down Tp times by modules. The probes can be inserted in some phases of the page load, such as:
\* loadURLStart/loadURLEnd
\* dataStreamStart/dataStreamEnd
\* parseHTMLStart/parseHTMLEnd
\* domConstructionStart/domConstructionEnd
\* rendertreeConstructionStart/rendertreeConstructionEnd

2. The statistics of Javascript usage in Web 2.0, specifically, in some Google applications.

Please feel free to give a shot. Any feedback or suggestions are welcome :-)

Sunday Jun 10, 2007

The Solaris talk in Tianjin University

Thursday night, a Solaris talk was given in Tianjin University for the OpenSolaris programming contest. The event was hold in the Tianjin University students' activity center, about fifth students showed up. John Rice and I presented the Solaris features to them.

As I traveled to Tianjin a lot, I had some great memory in Tianjin University. It's pretty exciting to be there again. Tianjin University is beautiful during the sunset. It's comfortable to walk along the lake with the breeze passing by. Some people were even fishing there.

It only takes 70min for the D-class train from Beijing to Tianjin. John and I arrived at the center at about 6:30pm. And the talk began at 7:00pm. Jason gave the introduction of the Sun's culture and technologies first. The students are familiar with Java, but not Solaris. All of them uses Windows, a few of them are with Linux. Most of them know about Firefox.

Since Java is well-known among the students, John demoed the usage of the Netbeans. Although I don't program with Java so much, I can see that the IDE is really convenient and easy-to-use for the Java developers. Then I introduced the Solaris features in Chinese, including JDS/DTrace/Virtualization/ZFS/Developer Tools, and also talked about the OpenSolaris community. DTrace/ZFS will be bundled in Mac OS 10.5(leopard). During the demo session, SunStudio 12 was the focus to help students to join the programming contest. This IDE has beautiful GUI interface. It integrates some tools such as the parallel computing, memory leak checking and profiling. All of them are easy to configure and use. I made several demos about these features. John used DTrace to trace the resource usage of "gnome-system-monitor", which is really a nice demo.

After the demo, we had a talk with a guy from Baidu. He was interested in Solaris and DTrace/ZFS matches his requirement for the server system. We exchanged the contact information. It's great to have this kind of conversation and hope to have further discussion later.

Goubuli is one famous food in Tianin. John and I went to the head restaurant together and had a lunch there. It's yummy! There will be some pictures from John about the Baozi:-)

Tuesday Jun 05, 2007

A wonderful day--Mozilla visit


The Mozilla visit to Sun Beijing office is really a nice event. The schedule is in the previous post. Following are some writeup about the wonderful day, with part of John Rice's summary included.

Thanks Sin-Yaw Wang(VP, Sun ERI site leader) for providing the Welcome session. Sin-Yaw gave an introduction of Sun ERI, especially the Sun Beijing Browser team.

Mike followed with a very interesting overview of Firefox, the current status and where it's going. Firefox adoption is at over 100 million users! And it keeps climbing higher and higher everyday. Tab browsing changed the life for users to surf the web. Then how about Firefox 3.0? Lots of interesting things happening in Firefox 3, such as Reflow Refactoring, Places, Offline application support, cairo, APNG... Mozilla 2 is underway to completely revamp the platform and will act as the basis for future releases of Firefox. It'll include a new version of JavaScript engine--Tamarin, based on the flash VM from Adobe--with many of the language features familiar to Java users to help support production of large scale Web 2.0 apps. The VM overview is available here. It's a browser war towards more open sourcing in the future. BTW, the Firefox flicks are really interesting:-)

Emily, Dave and I gave an overview of the Sun Browser team (developers, QE and RE) covering all of the work we are doing in developing to head with Firefox, porting of Flash 9/Breakpad onto Solaris, A11Y support, Bugday/Testday, test automation based on LDTP/Dogtail/Orca and Tinderbox support for Solaris. The Flash 9 for Solaris is in the beta release phase and will be finally released in the next several month. Breakpad is an ongoing project in the Mozilla community. It's an open source crash reporting tool to replace the current one--talkback.

Li Gong described to us what exactly Mozilla China is all about. The Chinese name for Mozilla China is "Mou Zhi"谋智(Seeking wisdom). It's clear that to be successful in China, there needs a local presence and an understanding of what unique features the product must provide to be successful in China. This is born out in both the Search engine and IM market in China where the world leaders, Google and Microsoft are only poor seconds in to local Chinese firms, Baidu.com and QQ. There are a lot of opportunities for Sun ERI and Mozilla China to work together to really help Firefox shine in the Chinese market.

After lunch, we went to visit the Mozilla China office. It's still under decoration and Johnny took some pictures there. If the weather is good, you can see the Summer Palace from the office. It's wonderful, isn't it? The Google's office is just in the next building across the street. And, Sun and MS's office are also nearby.

John gave a presentation on the Mozilla Dtrace framework and some of the sample probes we have integrated, both in the layout engine and the Javascript engine. To compare with the last time when John Lilly/Chris Beard/Gen were here, the DTrace demo was added to the session and it's absolutely much more interesting. Lots of feedback, with some clear directions on next steps and areas that we could help both in Firefox performance, testing and beyond into Web 2.0 development with DTrace. You can go to the Mozilla DTrace community to get more information. And several guys from Sun will visit Mountain View to give the demo to a broader audience. Please stay tune.

Johnny gave us a very useful overview of the Mozilla platform. Especially, the description of what happens during a load URI could be a use case for Mozilla DTrace. There are some useful videos that we should chase up on Mozilla Developer center. Johnny also described the new CycleCollector which will be used to help GC stale references across Javascript and XPCOM.

The dinner was at Peking Duck Restaurant(全聚德), built in 1864. The Duck serviced to us was about the no. 115 million. Hrmm, almost the same as Firefox users:-)

That's the day. Thanks for your coming! Hope that more and more Mozilla developers can visit Beijing, and China can host some Firefox developer conference in the future.

UPDATE: Related blog post from Mike Schroepfer and Li Gong

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