They told me they were going to try to get lots of people to blog about the launch, but this is remarkable: this morning they knew about 132 bloggers and 215,000 words, and there’s another dozen pieces every time I turn on my aggregator. The communications and culture shift happening here is maybe just as interesting as OpenSolaris itself. Herewith observations, and pointers to some particularly sharp-edged samples. A new thing is in the world.
Linux Transparency vs. OpenSolaris Transparency · Mostly for reasons of history, the discourse around Linux development happens almost entirely on a bunch of mailing lists. The main kernel-developers’ list is famously so high-volume that it’s impossible for mere mortals to deal with. It seems to work OK.
If the Day One trends continue, the OpenSolaris developer conversation seems apt to be much more blog-centric. I suspect that if you’re a DTrace geek, you’ll be wanting to subscribe to Bryan Cantrill, the SMFanatics will cluster around Liane Praza, and so on.
Both approaches are reasonably transparent; let’s see which scales and hangs together better as the years pass.
Missing Pieces, Humanized · First off, check out Nico Williams on “Where’s ssh?”. Nico explains that the Solaris Secure Shell didn’t quite make it into the OpenSolaris source base on day 1, partly because he missed a little gotcha in the build system until it was too late. This is a new kind of communication; the person at the center of a feature delay tells you about it, takes personal responsibility, and reassures us that ssh will be there soon.
Maybe I’m naive, but this seems like a qualitatively better way to manage information flow around a product release than the way it’s done now. Way to go, Nico.
Twenty-First Century Teamwork · Then skip over to Tim Marsland’s place, where he’s got Part 4 of a big long series of how they ported Solaris to x86. That’ probably interesting only to kernel-porting mavens, but do skip down to the “Distributed Development” section, where Tim talks about focusing and integrating a team that’s splashed all over the world. The key finding: sometimes you need to get them all working, not in the same building, but in the same room. That’s a lesson I won’t forget.
Excluded Middle · Also worth reading is Hal Stern’s No Excluded Middle (hey, my boss blogs better than your boss, nyah nyah). “Opening the source code for Solaris doesn't mean we dismiss Linux” and more like that. Hal’s Distribution versus Compensation, written later the same day, is worth a look too.
Geek Fun · We’ll close with a note of pure geek fun:Eric Schrock explains how to add a new system call to Solaris. Dear World: please don’t all run out and do this. But it’s cool to know that you could if you wanted to.