Tuesday, June 21, 2005

OSUG_UK Inaugural Meeting last night

Well last night's inaugural meeting of the OpenSolaris User Group UK, held in Sun's Customer Briefing Centre in London was a rip-roaring success!!! This, of course, had nothing to do with the free beer and wine ;-) As a community-building exercise, it worked very well - there was a lot of lively banter (much around the superiority of CDDL over GPL and MPL), and grafting drivers (especially for network hardware) into OpenSolaris. Also the crowd varied from people who knew little of Solaris to people who have been part of the OpenSolaris Pilot Programme for ages. And many Sun engineers...

Master of Ceremonies for the evening was Ulf Andreasson ( blogs.sun.com/ulf ) of Sun. He did a wonderful job of orchestrating the evening and gave us a great intro at the top. However, he was pushed hard when having to prise the delegates away from the beer and back into the room after a mid-session break ;-)

Next up was Simon Phipps ( blogs.sun.com/webmink ) of Sun, who is Sun's Chief Open Source Officer. He explained that he chose this title because it contained no "reserved words" like "manager" :-) Simon has been active in the Open Source arena for the past 7 years, and has championed open source within Sun for the last five - a tough job to turn around the point of view of "it's ours, let's guard it carefully" to "it's everyone's - let's all contribute towards its future". Simon talked about an "open source commons" which is essentially a bunch of open code; and the mechanics of how members of the community can contribute source to this commons. He also spoke about the OpenSolaris Community Advisory Board, where it came from, and the wheels that are in motion to provide the OpenSolaris community with a set of guidelines and methods of working.

Third was Peter Tribble (petertribble.blogspot.com ), who works as Senior Sysadmin at the MRC Rosalind Franklin Centre for Genomics Research in Cambridge, UK. Peter spoke of his experiences (similar to my own) in going through Solaris Beta Programmes over the years, from Solaris 7 Beta through 8, 9, 10 (and all update Betas therein), and finally emerging, as I did, onto the OpenSolaris Pilot Programme. He went into special detail about his presence on the Solaris 10 Platinum Beta Programme, and his close interaction with "his own personal Sun Engineer" as part of the programme. He also spoke of the value that he felt of meeting many of the Sun engineers in Menlo Park - Sun has shipped him out there twice so far as part of the Platinum Beta Programme. Peter also spoke about the hardware and software used by his company, and touched on a number of aspects that they had or were currently using and/or evaluating, eg. they use Solaris 10 Zones extensively, and are currently evaluating ZFS.

Then we had the beer-break.....

The next segment was due to be Gary Pennington talking about the new, and truly wondrous source code browser you can access through www.opensolaris.org It has been designed and developed by chandan ( blogs.sun.com/chandan ), and will allow you to search for just about anything (symbol / text) in the published source code, and will take you to any reference to your search item. You have to see it to believe it. Unfortunately we were running late, and rather than go through the wonders of the source code (all n-million lines of it) and the source code browser, we instead had a Q&A session with about 8 guys at the front, composed of both current and previous (but all definitely eminent) Sun engineers. The questions were completely varied, some regarding licensing, others technical, others logistical, and a great overview of how changes are made to Solaris via RFE's, FastTrack, and multi-person Projects. It was even suggested that any member of the community could search the OpenSolaris bug database ( bugs.opensolaris.org ), choose a "bite-size" bug, create a bugfix, and find a Sponsor within Sun who would be able to do a putback into OpenSolaris to fix the bug. The mechanics of this process are evolving... Simon Phipps, seated in the audience, naturally chipped in when appropriate, and also played the role of sneaky photographer. I think he might have got one shot of me, judging by the sound of lens-glass shattering ;-) The Q&A session was definitely the high-point of the evening IMO; and I suspect will play a greater role in future meetings.

After a wrapup by Ulf, a number of us adjourned to The Walrus for a couple of swift tinctures and a little more lively banter, prior to wending our weary ways home.

All in all, it was a thoroughly good evening, and cred again to Ulf for putting it together at pretty late notice. I suggest that these gatherings should happen quarterly, punctuated by ad hoc gatherings should any Sun guru be visiting the UK. We did discuss the possibility of getting Bryan Cantrill over at some point to enthuse about DTrace in a way that is apparently all his own.....

Well, I had a thoroughly good evening. I am certain that I have missed out many of the important bits from the evening (I wrote no notes), and all of the fun bits, such as the bit about the OpenSolaris mascot being currently either a Fast/Turbocharged Slender Loris called "Laris", or a cool dude Polar Bear (favoured by many, including Simon) called "Poll". Cred to Chandan for the artwork.

Come along to the next one!!!


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