Wednesday May 03, 2006

Solaris in China Universities

On April 22, Sun held the Solaris Curricula Workshop in 大连 (DaLian: a beautiful port city north-eastern of China), ending the 6-city tour after 北京 (Beijing), 广州 (Guangzhou), 成都 (Chengdu), 西安 (Xi'an) and 上海 (Shanghai). 125 OS educators from 49 universities attended. Together with TsingHua, Peking, and JiaoTong Universities, 27 higher education institutes will add Solaris to their OS course this coming spring semester. When the semester ends, over 5000 college students would have studied the best operating system in the world, maybe building few new flavors with the source code from OpenSolaris.

From March to April, there have been 7 more University TechDays in other universities, with an average attendance of 300. Participants go to OpenTech.org.cn for source code and technological papers, and other materials.

Open technologies give China opportunities to catch up with the western world. Imagine few years from today, Lenovo will pre-install an OS that one of these students developed. This is real. China does not need to wait 20 years for the technology to mature. It can build from an existing foundation and add values of its own. With OpenSolaris, Chinese entrepreneurs do not need to worry about IPR and can proudly export their innovations to the world.

When that happens, I wish to be here to witness and to integrate those innovation into the operating system that Sun distributes. Everyone wins (well, except only one).

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Friday Apr 07, 2006

You guys are naughty..

I was in a MPK bathroom and noticed something curious. Upon examination, I couldn't help snapping a picture..

Thursday Nov 17, 2005

No cost to enter, no cost to exit

What is "Greater China?" It is a sales territory that covers mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau. But they are 3 very different entities (Hong Kong and Macau are usually lumped together) that deserve different business strategies. What they share is a common ethnical and historical ancestry and the same written language (well, kind of). Taiwan and mainland China also share the spoken language -- Mandarin. Regardless the governments' stance, the people in these regions try to work together. Most frequently out of social-economical needs and sometime for ethnical pride.

It is a beautiful day in Hong Kong. Blue sky, white clouds, a light breeze from the sea. If you are in the neighborhood around this time of the year, do stop by to stroll the street and people watch.

I keynoted at the 35th anniversary of JUCC (Joint Universities Computer Centre) Conference in Hong Kong on November 15th. Over 250 people attended from greater China universities. Practically all 1st tier universities from China participated. Among about 50 includes TsingHua, Peking, JiaoTong, FuDang, all 10 higher educational institutes in Hong Kong, and few from Taiwan and Macau.

Sun is one of the platinum sponsors. I presented right after the opening by Dr. Ng Nam, chair of JUCC. I talked about all the innovations in Solaris 10, OpenSolaris, and CDDL. There are few new points on the opportunities they bring to the acadamia, particular those in greater China.


OpenSource is great for academia

  • It is so much better to study the theories with the actual implementation for reference. Students and teachers alike get much deeper understanding on how things are really done. The source code is a powerful inspiration for innovations that almost always come from a keen observation on an existing implementation (maybe I can just tweak that a bit and see what happens?)

  • Think of how rich the curriculum can be. The professor knows every student can build his OS from a reliable source. He can point to the advanced scheduler and lecture at the scalability design. He can give a homework assignment for the students to design a new one or modify it for a special requirement. The computer architecture professor can ask the students to bring up a real OS from a classroom-CPU platform.

  • It guarantees security. When asked if Solaris has any backdoors, I was alwyas stomped on the impossibility of proving that something that does not exist. Now that it is opensourced. Anyone can recompile his/her own version or to inspect the code and until completely satisfied.
    With the whole world watching, vulnerabilities will be discovered quickly and plugged. If a piece of software is not open, the hackers who discovered the vulnerabilties have a lot longer time to exploit them.

Sun gives you the most choices

Every layer of Sun's stack, from hardware platform, to OS, to middleware, to end-user environment are integrated and integratable. They are based on industry standard, such as Java and J2EE, so that customers can freely switch to whatever give them the optimal solution.

Of course, today Sun offers the best choices in almost every layer. Sun's hardware platforms are faster and cheaper than whoever. Our Solaris 10 is free for use. Our middleware is offered at a ridiculous low-price on a revolutional price model.

For Solaris 10, it is cheaper, faster, more secure. It runs your existing hardware and soon your Linux applications, sometime faster than on your Linux version. It is opensourced too.


Sun offers platform solution stack that costs you zero to enter and zero to exit. Why wouldn't you give it a try?
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Tuesday Nov 01, 2005

OSS Global Emerging Technology Executive Summit


I spoke at "OSS Global Emerging Technology Executive Summit," organized by Taiwan's III, a semi-government organization chartered with enhancing the island's software industry. About 200 or so participated my session on OpenSolaris, mostly representatives from the industry. There are also people from the education and research industries.

My thesis is that Taiwan must shift to embedded software development and OpenSolaris provides the perfect opportunity.

First time, I blog bi-lingually.


台灣有她的硬體工業. 從新竹,五股, 到汐止,工程師們做出各種各樣的新東西. 立刻,變成了我們的必需品,或生活用品. 他們也外包去了大陸,降低成本. 我們享受便宜的價格. 當個台灣的消費者, 多好. Taiwan has an advantage of its superb hardware-oriented industry. From HsinChu to WeGu to XiZhi, smart engineers are figuring out the best devices that run much of your life, or make it so, so much easier. Further, they have outsourced the manufacturing to China so that you can enjoy the low, low price. Aren’t this good for us consumers?
可是社會呢? 拼製造成本, 太辛苦了. 尤其是你的平均公資是對岸的3到10倍. 唯一的出路,是提高我們的附加價值. 就是改行去設計. 不拼運行效率或製造成本. But what about Taiwan? Low-cost manufacturing is such a hard value, particular when the GDP per capita is 3 to 10 times higher than China, depending on where do you look. It seems the only way is to push for higher value-add. This means shifting the focus to design skill, from operational efficiency and low-cost manufacturing.
設計? 就是軟體. 硬體設計, 就是軟體設計. 誰不同意, 來和我拼啤酒. What is “design?” In a very simplistic (and a bit self-serving way), it is software. Design is software. Hardware design is just software design. Who wishes to argue with me get a case of beer first (wine works too).
設計,是個思考的過程.把全程一步一步的寫下來. 交給另一單位去執行. 這, 也就是軟體設計. Designing is about thinking through the whole thing, writing down every step, and handing over someone else to execute. That is just software.
一個強力的硬體工業, 要改行設計. 怎麼做? 答案是嵌入式軟體. 嵌入式軟體是那鐵盒子的靈魂. 加了她, 盒子就活起來了. 台灣,必須做嵌入式軟體. Let’s think. A superb hardware-oriented industry that is shifting up to design, what will follow that? I can think of only one thing – embedded software. That’s the magic that brings life to a box of metal and plastics. Taiwan must march toward the competency of embedded software.
可是,幾百幾千家硬體公司. 不能都去做嵌入式軟體. 力量散了, 就沒了競爭力, 那, 一切都別提了. 附加價值, 升值, 利潤, GDP. 都不必了. Here we encounter a problem. There are hundreds of small to medium hardware companies, if every and each one of them started to invest on embedded software expertise, Taiwan will end up with a fragmented, non-competitive, and ineffective embedded software industry. Forget value-adding, forget shifting up, forget profit, forget GDP.
政府站出來, 大家一起開發平台的嵌入式軟體. 做出來, 大家用. 每個人加上他的應用軟體. 每個人賺錢. 多好. There should be an alliance that develops the platform-level embedded software and share that with everyone in this island. Sharing is good, everybody wins. Let’s form a Taiwan embedded software alliance, fund it to develop an embedded software environment, everyone uses it and add application-level value-add, money rolls in, life will be good.
等一下. 這個”平台面嵌入式軟體聯盟”不能用Linux. 因為他是個聯盟,就必須有個牌子. 聯盟的創新發明, 不能是自由軟體. 不然他如何競爭? Wait. If the alliance chooses Linux, innovations must be contributed back to the society. The differentiation can only be service and support, and not technology. How would this alliance, and all those who will innovate on top of its creation, thrive then?
這就是我的議題了. 用OpenSolaris 的 CDDL. 可以有品牌, 可以有創新, 可以有科技. 可以贏. Yes, this is my punch line. I am so obvious. Right? Use OpenSolaris. CDDL gives you the choice. The technologies in it give you unlimited innovation possibilities. You can do your own brand and keep your technological leadership as long as you wish.

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Saturday Sep 17, 2005

JavaChina: Solaris Track

JavaChina was a huge success. 8000 people registered and attended from 8 cities. The event keynote, by Scott McNealy, filled the whole stadium. In fact, few hundred registered attendants cannot get in for security considerations. I keynoted the Solaris technical track. As far as I can tell, all seats were occupied and about a dozen people were standing. The title was OpenSolaris is Perfect for China. I approached it mostly from the perfect match of 4 point: Innovation, brand, intellectual property right, and standards. OpenSolaris helps in every ways.
  • Of course you need innovations - the most critical ingredient of software. Unlike other technologies, software needs art-like creativity - that sparkle of genius followed by lots of hard work. But innovation alone will not suffice.
  • Brand is where loyalty attaches and value identified. Linux, as a brand, represent the OS innovations that are open and free. Distributions of Linux operating systems must find other values. RedHat, for example, stands for the services and quality certification of a particular flavor of Linux. It does not, and cannot, stand for technological innovation. Whoever wishes to innovate at Linux OS level must do it for free and without commercial recognition. Put it differently, with no brand that represents technical innovations. OpenSolaris gives you the option to create your own OS brand. No string attaches.
  • What happens when you infringe on someone's IPR (intellectual property reight)? You may lose everything. Companies get ruined. All the hard works flushed down the toilet. Dreams shattered. Hearts broken. You may have saved precious development time using open sourced products. But if you intend to make money (remember, GPL assumes you do not make money from your software innovations), you cannot risk possible infringements. What to do? Make sure the open-sourced technologies have a license that protects you. CDDL does.
  • Lastly, innovations without standards lead to anarchy. Standards allow independent innovations to compliment each others. They allow superior solutions to supplement, or replace, inferior ones without incurring switching pains on the users. When choosing standards, society must pay attention to the hidden strings usually attached. Commercial interests of technology owners should not over-shadow the welfare of the society. Otherwise, government may have played the role of tax collector, in terms of royalty payments, on behalf of the IP owners.

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Sunday Jul 03, 2005

Governmental opportunities for OpenSolaris


Lin Lee and I brainstormed on concrete ways China can benefit from OpenSolaris. We came up with 3 main areas:
  1. Focused applications: It takes years, no matter how determined and well-funded an organization is, to develop a mature, enterprise-grade application software. China should allocate its resources smartly by focusing on what the country needs most. An industry forum, led by the government, that manages the resources for optimal productivity will speed up the software maturity.
  2. Standardize on APIs: Everything becomes obsolete faster than predicted. To protect the infra-structure, system components must adhere to standards that are mature, secure, and stable. If so, these components can be replaced with ease. The whole system can ride the waves of innovation without experiencing disruptions -- getting better all the time.
    China government should establish component-level standards, such as system APIs, and encourage adherence.
  3. SW/HW Integration at platform level: We know China has a great foundation for computer platforms and its components. But the country is missing a big opportunity. If these platform and component industries can be more integrated with system software or middleware, their effectiveness, performance, features, and cost structure can be greatly enhanced.


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Saturday Jun 18, 2005

Browsing Solaris


As a VP, this is way, way out of my league. As a nerd, I cannot resist.

No, I did not download Solaris source. (I am in an airport. Wasting 10 minutes or more of the purchased bandwidth does not seem right.) I browsed with the wicked fast tool.

Man. Am I proud of being part of this organization.

I never materially contributed to OpenSolaris. But I sat next to those people who made it happen. Did I say I am so proud of you guys? Yes, yes. I am getting old. Repeating is now a habit.

What did I browse? I search for PAM module. I explore the AMD hat layer. And for fun, I look for Tim's login name. After 30 minutes, I realized that I will never be bored again.

Can someone make me an engineer again? It would be so much more exciting. Or, sorry, Claire. Fanatically devoted (cult-like).

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Tuesday Jun 14, 2005

OpenSolaris perfect for China

WTO membership is a national goal. When this country sets a national goal, all 1.2 billions people march toward it. Like the rest of the world, the predominant desktop for government and industries is Windows/Office. Unlike the rest of the world, the number of licenses and the number of installations do not quite match. This gigantic gap does not jive with WTO.

What to do? "Legitimize all those unlicensed installations," says Microsoft.

But China has options. With the amount of money they must pay to legitimize and the talents they have. They can develop their own solutions, replacing Microsoft. After all, this is a country that 1.2 billion people will really march toward the same goal set by the government. Also, since this is about a quarter of world population, they don't really care for the existing market share. Whatever current market share, China's decision will change that. However, no amount of money and talents can cheat time. Large software developments take years, if not decades. China needs something faster. Enter open source solutions.

GPL gets in the way. Even with strong government support, companies must be able to make money. GPL requires you to donate the fruits of your labor back to the community. For years, China lives with the limitation of GPL as the only option. CDDL now gives innovators choices: donate if you wish, profiting from it will be just fine too. CDDL makes software truly free. China now has a true choice to rival Microsoft. Sweet.


Cheaper, Faster, Better, More Secure

For a country seeking a replacement OS for Windows, what are the requirements? Far and beyond, the top issue is the ability to innovate and control. Any open source OS will do. Now, they have 2 choices: OpenSolaris or Linux.

Linux has the installation base and the religion factor. Switching costs are real and religion discussions are non-engineering.

  • Solaris is cheaper than Linux. Unlike the real thing, commercially distributed Linuxes are quite expensive. The commercially distributed Solaris costs exactly zero. Can't go lower than that.
  • Solaris is faster. Just bring on the benchmarks. We beat Linux.
  • Solaris is better. Solaris can run years without rebooting. Solaris shines brighter with the latest CPU technologies - CMT, 64-bit, dual-core. Linux does not offer DTrace, Container, Least Privilege, FMA, SMF, and another thousand advanced functionalities.
  • Solaris is secure. It is so much harder to hack Solaris that most hackers do not bother. You can conduct business with a peace of mind if the OS is Solaris. After all, IRS runs Solaris. DoD runs Solaris. Wall Street runs Solaris.
China has 2 choices for an open source OS. One is cheaper, faster, better, and more secure.
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Sunday Mar 06, 2005

Solaris 10 Media Kit is here


Instead of March 7th, the media kits arrived yesterday (3/4). Three full days ahead of the schedule.

Everyone points out the faces they know. "Josie is here, Darrin is there, look at Chris." What I see is a smiling group that are comfortable with themselves. I can feel the room where the picture was shot. It is hard to remember the rain ouside that day.

I won't unwrap this box. It will be kept on my shelf wherever I go.

Saturday Feb 12, 2005

Solaris 10

How fast will 400 DVD kits disappear in Menlo Park?

Tuesday Sep 28, 2004

uname -r debate

Never have I thought a simple command can stir up so much passion. The more I dig, the less hopeful I am that any change will be acceptable.

We are our worst enemy

First is the revered taxonomy document. There shall be only 3 components in a release number: major, minor, and micro. All must be numbers whose numerical values can be compared. The value also must be ever increasing, but not necessarily sequential.

Then the fact that Solaris has not used the "micro" component for about 10 years now. The (re)introduction of this concept is to be taken seriously and extremely cautiously. People have written scripts and programs that assume no such component. Once present, these scripts and programs will cease working and hell will break loose.

Philosophically, what exactly is a "micro" release? This thing that we call "updates" are not -- nor are Solaris Expresses. Is it right that their uname -r yield exactly the previous mini-release number?

Application compatibility? Commitments made to customers (implicitly or explicitly)? Tradition? What behavior are we trying to encourage? Rules and policies?

Sigh, again.

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