OpenSolaris: on one year
By sch on Jun 14, 2006
Anniversaries provide a convenient excuse to be contemplative—not that I would struggle to justify contemplation. So, I'll take a moment to look both back and forward. At one year, the OpenSolaris effort has exhibited steady growth across the entire period; Patrick's community metrics have shown that the interest in participating isn't waning. The community has passionate evangelists and communicators, and their efforts in blogs, at conferences, and in various forums are unflagging. Just as valuable have been the reasoned critiques of OpenSolaris's technical gaps (and other challenges)—although there has been some concern about the conflict between advocacy and criticism.
As long as we keep this conflict vigorous and civil, and avoid dogma, it will be constructive. I know that the technical contributors have examined and adjusted for every concrete criticism they've read; these realizations I expect will emerge as more projects move to developing on opensolaris.org directly. On the other hand, hearing these critiques allows the evangelist to amend their presentation—to discover workarounds, to make counter-recommendations, and so forth.
I've written at length about the internal transformations underway as we move from an open-within-the-institution development model to one that is open to all. It's been just as gratifying to see the changes in the community-wide conversations, as the formerly-Solaris-only jargon evolves into a wider community idiom that we all share. The dropping of the most awkward or provincial terms is no cause for sorrow; the acquisition of new and useful expressions—like the Apache-style "+1" for "I agree"—has been a pleasant surprise. (Expressions that are unambiguous in email seem to be rare and therefore valuable.)
One of the things I'm looking forward to is unanticipated use. Jason Hoffman's entertaining presentation on their use of Solaris Express in production probed the boundaries of surprising use; I'll enjoy getting caught off guard by at least one project in the coming year. Or so I predict.
Don't get me wrong: obstacle-free anticipated use is good, too. But CDDL is so rational and relaxed compared to previous Solaris source arrangements that the bulk of previously impossible collaborations are now legit—so I want to be surprised by their output, not by their existence.
Whether or not my hoped-for dramatic novelty arrives, the coming year will bring change. Jim's off to a new stage on the other side of the Pacific; the community will hold elections for a new Governing Board, operating under a new and newly ratified Constitution; new requirements, be they technology-driven or technology-driving, will present new challenges for software systems. We might even get a new lead-in image on opensolaris.org.
There's no doubt it's taken much time and work to get here. There's also no doubt that it's been worth it. Enjoy the year past and the year to come—there's much to do.