Wednesday, June 28, 2006

All that's new isn't always good (or bad)

Despite my habit of upgrading to recent releases of , namely, Solaris Express Community Release (SXCR), I'm one of those people that doesn't like too much change in the technical lives. This has become more true recently, as I've been beavering away on a little business idea, which is close to fruition: I've been much too busy to play with new toys.

That said, I'm installing a new server for my wife's employer--a Sun machine (specifically, an X2100) of course!--so I took the opportunity to to get myself a new UNIX layout Type 7 keyboard. My current keyboard of choice is Sun's UNIX layout Type 5c, and my opinion of it's replacement, the Type 6, is no secret: it's a piece of junk, unworthy of the Sun logo. I'd heard some good things about the Type 7, so I though I'd check it out. My first thoughts are that it's better than the Type 6, but not as good as the Type 5.

The current SXCR also includes GNOME 2.14.1. It too is an improvement over the current 2.6-based JDSv3, but still isn't as friendly to us CDE types as I'd like. I htink I need to play with it more before I come to a final conclusion though.

I really didn't like the login screen background of S10 (the wavey S), and until recently SXCR came with a nice teal blue background. Very nice. Well, the background image has been updated again, and I have to say: I like it! It looks like a combination of the previous two iterations, and (to my untrained eye) it works.

Finally, I'm glad that Solaris 10 6/06 (AKA Update 2) is finally out: I have a couple of servers that are desprately awaiting a supported, ZFS enabled OS! Installation will have to wait a week or so, though, as we have family visiting from the UK, and we're off to the Rockies on Friday for a driving tour. No phone, and (more importantly) no Net access; how will I cope?! :-)

Some Summer fun

I watch Canada's Space channel quite often, for shows like Star Trek Enterprise, Voyager, Hex, and so on. There's usually a few minutes to fill between shows, so they show a feature. Sometimes that feature is a short cartoon, called Petey and Jaydee go Exploring. Petey and Jaydee are a pair of miniature aliens that take great delight in the mishaps that happen to each other as they explore common household artifacts. One of them invariably ends up getting made into soup ("The Blender"), chopped up ("The Binding Machine") on incinerated into ashes ("The Stove Top").

(Incidentally, Petey and Jaydee have, at least to my eye, a passing resemblence to Sun's V-Force droids from a few years ago.)

It's sick, but immensely funny to my warped sense of humour. Check 'em out, and enjoy!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Happy 1st birthday, OpenSolaris!

It was a year ago today that the OpenSolaris project opened to the public, releasing the first batch of source code under an OSI-approved open source license. The naysayers at the time said that Sun would never release the source code, or if they did, they'd only release the boring bits, keeping the "secret sauce" to themselves. They kept up this stance even after Sun released the source code to DTrace in January 2005, as a good will gesture.

The program to open up Solaris--called Tonic--had been going on inside Sun for years, and it wasn't until September 2004 that serious moves outside of Sun started happening. I was a member of the Solaris Cabal (the successor to the Secret Six that were so instrumental in getting Solaris x86 back from the grave), and a guy called Jim Grisanzio was a guest on one of our conference calls (which were, BTW, subject to a gentleman's NDA). During the call, Jim shared with us Sun's plans to open source Solaris, and said that he wanted to have a small pilot program. The pilot members would be subject to an NDA (a fact that frustrated Jim to no end!), but in exchange we would be privvy to and have input to Sun's plans. We would also get access to the Solaris source code months before anyone else outside Sun. Because of the people on the Cabal (Joerg Schilling, Dennis Clarke, Al Hopper, and me to name a couple of non-Sun people) represented the sort of people would be aimed at, the Cabal were the first non-Sun people to be invited to join the program. I think we all lept at the opportunity!

As the months went by, more and more people joined the pilot, until we had about 150 members. One of the hardest things for me as a pilot member under NDA was countering the FUD spreading naysayers. All we could do was repeat that Sun was serious about open sourcing Solaris--all of it--and that it would be made public as soon as possible (Sun's engineers had to go through the code with a fine toothed comb to make sure that Sun had the rights to publish the source code--an arduous task considering the millions of lines of code they had to inspect).

Here we are, a year later, and what a change we've seen! The OpenSolaris community has grown from about 150 people to over 14000 members, 13000 of which are not Sun employees. We have numerous community contributions, at least 5 OpenSolaris distributions, and dozens of projects (others have posted the exact figures, so I won't bother to repeat them here). For the most part, the naysayers have kept schtuum, although I see some die-hard Linux advocates still seem to have their heads in the sand. Which is their loss, really, because as a developer, I can't think of anything more interesting that hacking on the most advanced OS on the planet: Solaris. The Linux, Solaris, and BSD communities can learn a lot from each other, and it's gratifying to see bits of OpenSolaris technology in other OSes. For example, DTrace is well on its way to being ported to BSD, and I hear that a Linux port of ZFS is just getting started.

If you're not already invloved, come join us on, or IRC in #opensolaris on See you there!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

First annual OpenSolaris contributor awards

As part of the first birthday celebrations, the Marketing Community is accepting your nominations for the first annual OSCAs (OpenSolaris Contributor Awards). Despite the similarity in name to a certain other award event, there will be no limos for the lucky nominees--nor any red carpet. :-)

The polls close at the end of June 12th, so get your nominations in now!

Thank you

Just a quick line to say a big "thank you" to everyone who expressed their sympathy about Judge's passing. It is very much appreciated.

Friday, June 02, 2006

My little boy, Judge, has passed away

This is the saddest piece of news I'll probably ever have to impart: at 17:15 Pacific time on Thursday, June 1st, 2006, my little boy, Judge, passed away. He was my best friend, my constant companion, and my canine child; he passed away in my arms, while the vet did what he had to do.

Here's a photo of Judge, in our garden with his favourite toy:

Judge Teer, February 1991 - June 2006

I wrote a poem about Judge; it's not very good but here it is anyway:

My Best Friend
An Ode to Judge

by Rich Teer

My best friend is very special
He gives me all and asks for nothing
Except fresh water and a bowl of food
(And treats by the score if the truth be told)

My best friend lay by my side
During the long months I spent stuck inside
Down in the basement, writing my book
He'd melt your heart with just one look

My best friend used to run and play,
But now he just sleeps most of the day
Twitching and dreaming on his mat
I wonder if he ever caught that cat?

My best friend has big brown eyes
That twinkle like stars in velvet skies
With a fearsome bark and fluffy tail
His favourite songs made him wail

My best friend (his name is Judge)
Needs me for all, but I bear him no grudge
He gave me his love unconditionally,
Do I need to say he got the same from me?

My best friend has passed away
The house is cold and empty today
No more barking, no playing with toy
No more hugs with my little boy

When it comes for my time to end,
At last I'll be rejoining
My best friend

Rest in peace, little boy...