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.

Comments:

Heck, TeamWare doesn't even scale very well outside Menlo Park, from my experience. As someone who has suffered through TeamWare from a non-MPK location for a few years now, I've been very happy with what I've seen for Mercurial performance so far.

Posted by Dave on October 19, 2006 at 06:48 AM PDT #

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