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CommunityOne Open Source Developer Conference - sponsored by Sun

05.06.2008
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CommunityOne is a gathering of many open source communities which precedes the JavaOne conference that begins Tuesday here at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, CA. This year’s event has 50% more attendees that last years, with double the number of sessions and triple the number of communities involved. That’s about 4000 attendees including several hundred students from 80 different countries, according to Sun.

CommunityOne

The opening session consisted of three main parts, the first of which saw Ian Murdock, Sun’s VP of Developer and Community Marketing, talk about how Sun is trying to be a leader of Open Source communities and help aggregators and innovators of products find a better way of working together. The strap-line for his talk was ‘Innovate. Collaborate. Integrate.” This was about encouraging communities of open source projects and enterprises and big companies to work more closely with each other. It led in to an interactive session with a panel of six speakers with representation from Red Hat, Google, SAMBA, MySQL and others.

Jim Zenlin, Executive Director of the Linux Foundation said that the majority of Linux kernel submissions are now made by developers paid by enterprises or corporations that need or want to see particular features in a project. He gave the example of consumer electronic device manufacturers contributing to kernel development by adding advanced power saving features.

MySQL is an open source product owned by Sun and today the SVP of Sun’s Database Group, Marteen Mickos gave his assurance that the core of MySQL will always be open sourced. However, there are concerns from the community because Sun is looking at creating some closed source add-ons to the core. Mickos explained that ultimately the corporation has to make money from it’s involvement with an open source project and the way they do that it is from offering tools and support that surround the core open source product. Clearly there is a delicate balance to be struck here for Sun, between making money for its shareholders and acting as the steward for an open source product and community.

Sun sees a place for itself in the middle of all this because they have experience of creating and organising communities now through their acquisition of MySQL which is distributed under the GPL and the open sourcing of the Solaris operating system. They are making a strong commitment to creating a core set of open source products and making money from supporting those products in the enterprise. In the follow-up press Q&A session, Rich Green stated that the company intends to continue developing and selling the Solaris 10 operating system but fully expects that as modules or components mature in the OpenSolaris system, they will be brought in to the Solaris 10 system.

Following on from the discussion, Rich Green, the EVP of Software for Sun told the gathering about the release of OpenSolaris. Because OpenSolaris was based on the Solaris kernel, Sun had some unique challenges in getting external involvement in the project and it is this kind of experience the company can use to the benefit other communities they get involved with.

Finally, there was a demo of OpenSolaris, to show off some of the pieces which Sun are pretty proud of. First was the fact that OpenSolaris uses ZFS as its file system and can be run from a LiveCD or LiveUSB. Installation on PC on the stage took about 14 minutes and they put a lot of work in to getting the number if installation options screens down to about 10 or 11.

Next was a demo of the Image Packaging System, something that Sun has developed with the opensolaris community over the last couple of years and it looks good. When installing new software, a snapshot of the file system is taken to provide a backup point, making use of ZFS to do so and the speed of the install was very fast.

The last part of the demo highlighted the capabilities of ZFS in all its glory. On the stage was a PC using a set of eight disks in double RAID configuration, a large anvil and a sledge hammer. Guess what’s coming. With one blow the chosen disk was quickly transformed in to a cup holder and while the RAID monitoring software noticed the disk had gone the PC happily kept on running. To add injury to injury, the lead designer of ZFS, Jeff Bonwick then showed up with a cordless power drill and took out another disk, again with no impact to the running system. The most impressive part of the demo was to follow when two new unformatted disks were plugged in, in place of the old ones and with a single command the system integrated the new disks in to the pool and started writing data to them. I took a video of the final part, here it is. I can safely say it’s the most extreme demo of any software or hardware I’ve seen at a conference before though!

This session was really about Sun explaining what they feel their role is in the open source world and they did a good job of explaining some of the challenges they face in playing that role. The demonstration of OpenSolaris was used well as a vehicle to showcase what success can be had when developing a product with an open source community and really set the tone for the rest of the day.

Published at DZone with permission of its author, Philip Cornthwaite.

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