Category Archives: opensolaris

RIP OpenSolaris.ORG

logo Belenix

 

Just noticed the site update today at http://www.opensolaris.org/. The website will be decom-ed after March 4th. This is the final symbolic nail in the coffin of what myself and many others I know had worked very hard for and shown great passion. The nail was driven long back with the Oracle acquisition of SUN, soon the post-mortem report will be filed in some dusty corner of the great hall of Oracle. It was simply a fantastic OS platform but a great example of Free and OpenSource software done wrong, completely wrong by clueless management who would not listen to people who have lived and breathed OpenSource for many years.

 

I still remember the churning and frustration I felt inside when SUN launched OpenSolaris (http://desktoplinux.com/news/NS2543956200.html) without even a passing reference to BeleniX on which it was built. The first release of OpenSolaris was simply BeleniX outfitted with new clothes. I had toiled hard, very hard to bring all the distro and livecd technologies to the OpenSolaris platform. Given it was OpenSource and a labor of love, but when you take something in it’s entirety and completely ignore the creator/origin, it is equivalent to stealing. Forget about mentions in public, I did not even get any recognition within the company (apart from a few bones in the form of a few $$ being thrown) for all that work that made one of their flagship OS platform releases possible. The vitriol that had had burned me from inside is hard to describe. It was at that instant I had decided on leaving SUN where once I had planned to build a long-term career.

 

People doing hard work, good work and not getting recognized within organizations typically happens due to lack of visibility of their work outside of their silos. All of SUN knew about my work till the CEO and still nothing. I was completely and thoroughly sidelined while other teams did launches and launch parties. I never quite understood what was my fault. Or was it politics?

 

This is now long past and I was over that hump by the end of 2008. However it still remains as the most bitter memory of my life till date (apart from my father losing both his kidneys). Fortunately the work environment I went into after leaving SUN is quite different, in a positive way and is far from these issues.

 

Anyway, may you rest in peace OpenSolaris.

Deutsch: Logo von OpenSolaris als Vektorgrafik

Deutsch: Logo von OpenSolaris als Vektorgrafik (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Network Installer for OpenIndiana

I had to upgrade a build server running BeleniX 0.8 recently to OpenIndiana. This was needed to move to a more updated environment for building the next BeleniX release. Obviously BeleniX 0.8 being a custom-built distro based on SVR4 packaging had no upgrade path to an OpenIndiana release based on IPS.

What I actually needed was to have OpenIndiana installed into a new ZFS boot environment and boot from it which would allow me to go back to BeleniX 0.8 if I needed it. I of course had the same capability in BeleniX via the Network Installer that I had written earlier. Now I needed the same for OpenIndiana. So I spent a week modifying and experimenting and I now have a network installer for OpenIndiana. You can grab it from http://www.belenix.org/binfiles/install_openindiana.

Obviously I will have to update the BeleniX version once the next release is out since we will be moving to an RPM5 based packaging. This network install technique can be adapted to any distro and will allow a multi-boot setup based on ZFS boot environments. Apart from this there are other possibilities that I can think of. At present the network install script uses the package collection from the slim_install package group. A new package group for a non-GUI base environment can be leveraged via this script. This can also play a part in a minimal CD based environment to quickly install predefined setup, something not unlike the Automated Installer but without all that complexity. If gPXE can be properly made to handle booting an OpenSolaris kernel then it will be possible to deliver such install environments over HTTP for eg.

Howdy OpenIndiana

I have recently started playing with OpenIndiana as part of renewed effort in the BeleniX space to realign with the latest developments. We intend to collaborate and participate in the OpenIndiana community. We are still firming up the plans and approaches.

In the meantime I have been playing with OpenIndiana a bit and find it quite appealing once the few initial hiccups are worked around. They are minor in any case. It is fast and smooth especially the speed with which Firefox loads. This is how the OpenSolaris distro project should have been setup I feel, driven and “owned” by the community from which SUN could have derived value. However communities were formed and then messed up. For example http://lwn.net/Articles/370157/, and BeleniX efforts which were broadly leveraged to build a flagship product and then the original source summarily ignored.

However that is all past now the organization having succumbed to the many problems that riddled it. Some things stand out like diversity issues and lack of business innovation.  There are interesting developments happening now in the fledgling community around Illumos and OpenIndiana. I am excited by all that and motivated to participate and contribute.

OpenIndiana in all this is really looking good and I highly recommend it for folks to try out. The technical credit no doubt goes to the erstwhile SUN engineers around distribution, OS, install, desktop and related groups who put in countless hours of effort. Credit also goes to folks like Alaisdair, Guido for getting the community to rally round all this, organizing and actually delivering something excellent which was earlier missing in action. This is just the start though and a lot of concerted effort is needed by the community to keep this going and developing. Lets hope for the best.

OGB Candidacy Details

On the lines of the excellent bio by Peter Tribble I am posting my own bio here as required by the OGB candidacy rules.

DECLARATION OF INTERESTS

  1. I am Platforms Engineer cum OS and apps Developer presently employed with Goldman Sachs. Goldman uses SUN Solaris and Redhat Linux among other platforms in the firm. However my engagement with the OpenSolaris community is a hobby activity that I do outside of my work with my employer’s consent. As such all my views and actions are entirely my own done using personal resources and time and not related in any way to my employment.
  2. I have been a user and developer on Solaris and Linux platforms for the last 12 years (of a total industry exposure of 13.5 yrs) and have been participating in the OpenSolaris community from it’s early days. I have previously been employed by SUN in the Solaris Sustaining engineering group working on various aspects of the OS from userland to the kernel.
  3. I am also the creator of the BeleniX distribution of OpenSolaris: http://www.belenix.org/. It was the second distribution of OpenSolaris that came out after SchilliX borrowing some concepts from SchilliX. It was the first non-SUN OpenSolaris distro to bring a full-fledged GUI desktop based completely on the X.org OSS stack and eventually matured into a stand-alone desktop distro. It brought in several innovations to OpenSolaris and formed the foundation for the OpenSolaris distro from SUN.
  4. I am a core contributor in a few OpenSolaris communities like X-Windows, Distribution etc. I contribute to the Fully Open X project off and on and have recently started another project called libtaskq (http://sourceforge.net/projects/libtaskq/) based on the TaskQ kernel framework from OpenSolaris.
  5. I co-lead one of the oldest and very active OpenSolaris user groups, the Bangalore OpenSolaris User Group with another OpenSolaris community member Sriram Narayanan.

BRIEF BIO
I live and work in Bangalore, India’s Silicon capital. However I was born in the eastern city of Calcutta which was once the capital of the British rule in India. I did my studies in Calcutta at Asutosh College under the auspices of the University of Calcutta. However I do not come from an Engineering background. My majors in Graduation were Geography, Geology and Economics while I studied Economics, Statistics and Maths in high school. I had a deep interest in Biology and Geomorphology till high-school and actually wanted to do Biotechnology as a career!

However I developed an interest in Computing as a hobby during the March of 1990 (thanks to my mom) and my first exposure was on the BBC Model B microcomputer which I hacked to death at my Mom’s office – Birla Industrial and Technological Museum. After that I completed all the typical topics of a Computer Enginering course as a hobby while studying Geography and moved from the BBC to a PC-AT and all the subsequent Intel processor models.

After hacking around with Borland Pascal, C/C++, Win32 etc. my first introduction to *nix was on Slackware Linux 0.1. By that time I have completed a PG diploma course on Software Engineering and my first job had me working first on FoxPro and then on Oracle on WinNT.

My second job provided me a big break when I joined HCL Technologies in the southern tropical city of Chennai where I started working at the dedicated Cisco offshore development center. That was the time when I came into touch with Solaris 2.5.1 logging onto large engineering servers via big-screen TektroniX X-Terminals. That experience at HCL – Cisco provided me with a wealth of resources and expertise. I later started having my first SPARC desktop and SUN Ultra 5. I worked across various Cisco groups including Test Automation group, Network simulators, Network Management group with my work touching a vast array of computing technologies starting from router chips and OS platforms and continuing till Java and webservices frameworks. I played with the guts of routers costing hundreds and thousands of dollars apart from a variety of SUN Servers.

After my 5.5 yr stint at HCL – Cisco I decided to accept an offer at SUN Microsystem’s Solaris Sustaining Engineering group and worked there for 4.5 yrs till the middle of 2008 when I jumped ship to Goldman Sachs in their Platforms Engineering group. In SUN I worked on various pieces including, commands, libraries, systems management and a few kernel components as part of my OpenSolaris dabblings.

I have been a voting member of the OpenSolaris community from some time.

Ksysguard working on OpenSolaris

Ksysguard working on OpenSolaris

Ksysguard working on OpenSolaris

Anyone who might have tried the earlier KDE4.3 packages for BeleniX may have noticed that Ksysguard (CTRL+ESC or Kmenu -> Applications -> System -> System Monitor)  basically shows a blank slate. The process list is empty, CPU and Network stats are unavailable. The number of exposed sensors are too few.

I spent the last few days hacking on that component and got an initial working version that implements all the basic functionality for the OpenSolaris platform. There are still bugs to iron out and new sensors to add (using DTrace here can open up lots of possibilities). The current patch is here. The kdebase4-workspace package has been published into the BeleniX repository.

A Magnum Opus on OpenSolaris

OpenSolaris Bible

I recently received my complimentary copy of “OpenSolaris Bible” thanks to Wiley. I have been identified as one of the contributors as I helped review content for Chapter 2. There are good write-ups on the various OpenSolaris distributions and I am happy to note the nice stuff written about BeleniX.

This is one massive piece of work no doubt apparent from the bulk of the book itself. I have been leafing through the pages and found this to be an invaluable reference for my day to day work. The text is detailed and lucid with lots of good examples. I found the little “Cross-Ref” entries to be very helpful. These direct the reader to related content in other chapters – probably the closest that one can come to hyperlinks in printed content, but at the same time a fair bit more detailed than simple hyperlinks.
I’d recommend anyone using or working on OpenSolaris to grab a copy of this very definitive reference.