Wednesday, June 29, 2005

OpenSolaris Users Group Meeting

So last night I decided to take advantage of the fact that I live right down the street from Sun's Santa Clara campus by going to the June OpenSolaris Users Group meeting they were having there. We got to hear Keith Wesolowski and Mike Kupfer talk about the proper way to update a development solaris system using BFU (blindingly fast update, i.e. the internal solaris update mechanism that basically just cpios the new binaries down on top of your existing ones), and how to fix a system that had been "brickified" by an unsuccessful BFU.

Overall the presentation was pretty cool, and served to illustrate a lot of the differences between life in OpenSolaris land and life with other open source operating systems. The BFU process is quite a bit less polished than upgrade processes you might be familiar with from *BSD or Linux, but that's because it can be. It's intended for use by developers, people who can deal with a few rough edges and generally handle problems that come up, so it's not surprising that less time has been spent making the process user friendly.

There was also a question and answer period, where they had a bunch of Sun engineers get up and take questions from the audience. The topics ranged from technical stuff to community relations stuff to procedure stuff to "what new code will be in the next OpenSolaris drop" type stuff. All in all I was impressed with the answers, the Sun engineers know their stuff, and they're clearly committed to making this thing work. Now all that remains is waiting to see if the community responds. I expect that it will, although it will clearly take a lot of time before OpenSolaris has the kind of community you can see today in *BSD land or Linux land.

Oh, and for anyone who has the opportunity to go to one of these things, you really should, it was quite interesting, and at the very least they're willing to bribe you with free stuff. I would have walked out with a copy of Rich Teer's book on solaris programming and a free t-shirt, but well, I already have a copy of the book, and I got the same t-shirt from the Sun guys at ApacheCon, so I decided to limit myself to a Solaris 10 DVD ;-)

Oh, and one other note, it turns out that Sun's campus is freaking huge, and there doesn't seem to be an easy way to walk directly across it without running into large buildings that get in the way. The auditorium is on the other side from where my apartment is, and to get to it you basically have to take the long way around the outside of the campus. Next time, I think I'll drive instead of trying to walk...