Saturday Mar 17, 2007

OGB Elections - Week One Overview

The first week of voting in the OpenSolaris Governing Board Elections is over, and right now less than 20% of voters have voted, so there's still plenty of opportunity to investigate candidates. Personally I have found it very helpful indeed to speak to the eleven candidates who have so far agreed to be interviewed. For your convenience, I've built the following list of the nein published during the first week. Still awaiting editing are interviews by Michelle Olson and Shawn Walker, expect those soon.

All these podcasts can also be found on iTunes by those of you using Windows or Macs.

[John McLaughlin][MP3][Ogg](13' 35")
[Jörg Schilling][MP3][Ogg](12' 58")
[Rich Teer][MP3][Ogg](13' 35")
[Alan DuBoff][MP3][Ogg](12' 41")
[Ben Rockwood][MP3][Ogg](21' 12")
[Garrett D'Amore][MP3][Ogg](17' 21")
[Karyn Ritter][MP3][Ogg](7' 40")
[James McPherson][MP3][Ogg](14' 52")
[Glynn Foster][MP3][Ogg](12' 33")

Tuesday Mar 13, 2007

LiveMink OGB Special: Alan DuBoff

It's the middle of the first week of voting and we still have plenty of candidates to hear from, but I'm happy to have spoken to so many so far.

The candidate in this interview is Alan DuBoff, who spoke to my by phone from his office in California. You can see him pictured to the right working at his smithy, forging I-know-not-what. Listen on!

[MP3]—[Ogg]—[iTunes]—(12' 41")

Wednesday Mar 07, 2007

Testing the OpenSolaris Voting System

The voting system for the OpenSolaris Governing Board elections needs testing. Stephen Hahn has done tremendous work in the last few weeks constructing the OpenSolaris voting site. The current temporary OGB decided it would be smart to have a test run with it before the actual election, so it will open for a trial vote at 00:00 PST tonight, closing Sunday at 23:59 PDT.

We'll be asking a set of opinion questions about the infrastructure and function of the OpenSolaris community, and it would be wonderful for every core contributor to try out their vote. That way we'll be ready for the OGB election, and in addition we'll have some great guidance for the new OGB on key issues.

Thursday Mar 01, 2007

OpenSolaris Elections - Nomination Deadline Approaching

The nomination phase of the elections for the first democratically elected OpenSolaris Governing Board comes to a close on Monday. Right now there is a wide field for the seven positions but there is room for more candidates. Al has posted a helpful summary of the election on several lists.

If you believe yourself to be a contributor to OpenSolaris, you should also check the voting system and ensure you are listed on the Grants tab. Al's e-mail has instructions on what do do if you aren't. If you are, you need to get your SSH key generated and included in your profile pronto.

Wednesday Feb 28, 2007

Get OpenSolaris

I'm in Berlin today opening the very first OpenSolaris Developer Conference. I'll be announcing that the new site that allows anyone in the world to order a kit containing DVDs of OpenSolaris distributions, documentation and source.

With a nod towards the good folks at Ubuntu, Sun is sponsoring the kits so that they are completely free of charge, including global delivery. Hopefully this will mean even folks without the bandwidth to download DVD ISOs will be able to join the OpenSolaris community.

Update: If you'd like you'd like a banner graphic like the one above, check out the selection.

Tuesday Jan 23, 2007

OpenSolaris Governance Ready to Boot

As Ben Rockwood notes, the time has finally come for the OpenSolaris community to pay close attention to the community governance. The Board (OGB) has completed a proposed governance document - the OpenSolaris Constitution - and it's time to hold an election. The work was actually completed at the end of 2006 just before the OGB's term expired, and while it would be feasible to select an entirely different group to run the voting, Stephen Harpster (to whom responsibility has reverted under the Charter) felt it would be smarter to ask the OGB to hang on for a little longer to oversee things.

If you trawl back through the OGB discussions you'll see we toyed with having separate votes to ratify the Constitution and to elect the new OGB under its terms, but Roy Fielding pointed out (and I agreed) that really all that's needed is one vote - if the Constitution needs radical revision, the OpenSolaris Community can elect a Board to go do that.

So, now is the time to sit up and take note. Please read the Constitution Draft, then consider if you would make an ideal Board member for the community and be ready for the announcements. This is the moment many of us have been anticipating with both excitement and concern - when OpenSolaris truly steps out as a member-led organisation. Get ready, the project needs you.

Saturday Dec 23, 2006

OpenSolaris Internationalisation

Sphere within Sphere

There was an announcement yesterday that may seem uninteresting to those of us in the English-speaking world, but which could have profound impacts elsewhere. One of the key attributes of the community is that, while there is a core group of developers doing an excellent job evolving the productivity suite, there is a huge international community making sure that is localised globally.

The most important feature of the community is that it provides speakers of 100 different languages and dialects with an office productivity suite in their own language. That's an achievement that the supposed market leader can only dream about - and it makes ISO 26300 ODF all the more valuable as an international standard. The truly world-changing aspect of Free and Open Source software is that everyone can have it in their own language because local people are free to localise it. More than that, because the work is done locally, it can be within an appropriate cultural frame, rather than carrying with it the linguistic prejudices of a foreign company.

So to that announcement. I am delighted to be able to say that Sun has just contributed the Globalisation source code for the Solaris operating system to the OpenSolaris community under CDDL, so that everyone everywhere in the world can have OpenSolaris-based operating systems in their own language and cultural frame. Starting the community was a huge step; this move could prove to have an even greater impact. Congratulations to the team!

Tuesday Nov 28, 2006

Planet Collision

No-one harmed. Actually, the result looks pretty good - OpenSolaris has a new Planet. Great work by Glynn Foster and others. And thanks for the cool Hackergotchi, Glynn!

Thursday Oct 19, 2006

Pioneer Perils

Bodie Wagon

Solaris has deep roots. Indeed, Sun was founded in 1982 by the combination of a distribution of BSD Unix and a clever use of commodity parts to build industry-changing systems. You might say that Sun was the first open source startup company.

The downside of being a successful pioneer of course is that you have to invent your own infrastructure. The choices you make are always justifiable in context, but once the stuff you're working on turns mainstream, it's not at all unusual for the rest of the industry to make different choices. It's like the way pioneer homes look so antiquated in modern towns. They once stood proud and alone, but surrounded now by slick new housing they look out of place. Not that they are - they define the place, and they have stood the test of time.

This is all to say that OpenSolaris had an issue with version control systems when the community opened. The Sun team used TeamWare - venerable, historic, but only used by Sun. Being NFS-based, it didn't scale out to the sort of community OpenSolaris was becoming, so the community chose to select a modern replacement. After extensive evaluations, they picked Mercurial as the main VCS and Subversion as an option for individual projects.

Waiting for a public VCS has been a burden for the OpenSolaris community. It has meant that all non-Sun committers have had to work through volunteer proxies to "sponsor" commits back into the source. Plenty of people have used that path and it has been pretty successful. But there's no doubt that a public VCS would be better. A great team of people has been working hard to make this happen.

So I've been delighted this past week to see both Subversion and Mercurial instances starting to spring up across OpenSolaris. The main ON repository (that's the heart of OpenSolaris, the kernel and networking systems) has a beta Mercurial instance open for testing, and the JDS Subversion system (with the desktop environment) is now live. As public VCS spread across the huge OpenSolaris community, the opportunity for participation will grow and the artificial barrier that has hindered participants will be gone. Excellent news, and great work by the teams building the VCS.

Monday Oct 02, 2006

OpenSolaris on PPC

Excellent news - Sun Labs has just released into open source its Solaris PowerPC codebase. John Crowell said in an announcement on the community mailing list:

Sun Labs is pleased to announce the release to the OpenSolaris community of a long awaited update to the Solaris PowerPC code base.  This release provides the community with a functional Solaris PowerPC development environment on selected target platforms.  This is a modest, but important step toward reaching the goal of developing the Solaris PowerPC port project to the point where it includes the latest source tree, provides a shell or single user prompt on the target platform, and has enhanced debugging, ie: KMDB.   Community members are encouraged to check out the latest information on the Solaris PowerPC port project page and/or join the discussion list.

Tuesday Jul 11, 2006

Love at tera-byte

I was going to write about the new X4500 (I still prefer "Thumper" as a name but I guess people could easily get confused between 24TB of storage and a cartoon rabbit), but my friend Tim beat me to it and wrote pretty much everything I was going to say. So go read his stuff instead. Then the things I really like:

  • This monster is going to be available on try & buy! Yes, you can get one free for 60 days, no strings attached (soon, anyway).
  • The idea behind the huge number of inexpensive disks is that you can allow a load of them to fail and just have an annual service call when the disk guy drops round and replaces the ones with a light next to them. Lower service costs, less fuss.
  • This is just a perfect use for ZFS - cheap drives made usable by clever storage software.
  • The attention to detail is great. People on Slashdot have been bleating about how anyone could make one of these with just a 4U case and a stack of disks, and the price would come out less, but they're wrong - this thing is an engineering feat that will take quite some cloning, what with the 4U size, the drawer-format so you can open the thing out on rails to replace disks, the air flows to keep it all cool, the sleeves for the drives, and so on.

Summary: I want one. Not sure why, as my MP3 collection would rattle in it like a pea in a supertanker, but the geek in me just wants one on the LAN. And if I was buying storage for a data-centre - well, these things would be just magic. No wonder Ben is in love.

Sunday Jul 02, 2006

OpenSolaris Governance

Work on the OpenSolaris Governance is very nearly complete - almost at 'Release candidate' stage. If you are in any way interested in how the OpenSolaris Community will govern itself, I recommend you go take a look and then give feedback on the CAB DIscuss forum/list.

If you've been wondering what has happened to the CAB Elections, they're coming as soon as the governance is released - the limit in the Charter was reached, and rather than blowing up the nearly-complete work, Sun chose to request the existing CAB to finish its work.

Sunday Jun 25, 2006

A Tale of Two Filesystems


I can't help reflecting on the difference between WinFS and ZFS as I read the news that WinFS has been canned (as Robert McLaws puts it - "it's not dead... it lives on in productized form in Katmai!" Yeah, and Bob lived on to become Clippy). It contrasts two approaches to the marketplace - the one from the passing age of The Firm and the one from the coming age of Social Production (assuming you are a student of Benkler).

The first approach uses market power (Monopoly power, even) at best to generate unduly optimistic comment and at worst to FUD competitors into touch. Charles Miller reminds us that WinFS (and the things it's been called before) has been a vehicle for FUD to try to stifle the innovations of competitors like Apple for maybe a decade. The dread work is carried out in the voice of the PR department - Charles also points out what many commentators have noticed, that the official death announcement sounds horribly contrived and tries to hide the truth (even Scoble agrees, as he tries some different spins and is called on it!).

Meanwhile, the radical new file system that's in OpenSolaris (and now in Solaris 10 if you dig a bit in the rather contrived release that ironically hides the good news) has been relatively unsung by comparison. Yet ZFS is revolutionising the way enterprise servers are used, energising the base of new storage products and all available today, complete with source, for porting to other operating systems.

Time will tell which approach will succeed in the emerging market, but you can guess where my money would be if I were a betting man.

Wednesday Jun 14, 2006

Birthday Gifts

OpenSolaris 1 Year Anniversary

I'm still in the midst of The Travel Itinerary From Hell but I have to stop for a second to wish the OpenSolaris community a happy first birthday (and do click through to see the cool graphic). While it's easier to see the formal news, and there's plenty of life on the forums and on IRC, the best indicator of health for me is to see that there have been one hundred code contributions integrated into the project.

The real test of an open source community is not the noise, it's the code, and despite OpenSolaris not quite having a public version control system yet to make contributions easy, there have been plenty of bug fixes and other code contributions. The best birthday gift an open source community can receive are code contributions and OpenSolaris has a mound of them - delightful.


Thoughts and pointers on digital freedoms and technology markets. With a few photos too.


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