Showing posts from 2012

hackathon project: pfiles - postmortem analysis

During the first days of October 2012, we had an illumos day , and a one day illumos hackathon that was very well attended by some of the best and brightest in our community (and I daresay, in any  open source community.) The purpose of the hackathon, besides just doing some cool projects, is to give folks a chance to interact with other domain experts, and code, particularly in areas outside  their particular area of expertise. This year a number of interesting projects were worked on, and I think some of these are at the point of starting to bear fruit.  The project I undertook was the addition of post-mortem analysis support for pfiles (1).  That is, making it possible to use pfiles against a core (4) file.  Adam Leventhal suggested the project, and provided the initial suggestion on the method to use for doing the work. This is a particularly interesting project, because the information that pfiles reports is located in kernel state (in the uarea) and has not traditionally b

Latest Apple EarPods - Success!

A couple of months ago I purchased the rather expensive pair of Apple in-ear earphones, to replace an older pair of standard earbuds I'd given to someone else.  They never fit my ear correctly, and I hated them. Recently I've also taken up getting more physically fit -- so going to the gym more often, including spending a lot of time running on the treadmill. But my earphones kept falling out.  And my iPhone 4 is kind of heavy and inconvenient. So I picked up the iPod nano (7th gen) today at Best Buy.  And it comes with a new style of earbud. I've been wearing them now for about 7 hours, including a fairly intense 40 minutes of running on the treadmill.  They haven't budged once.  And while I'm no audiophile, the audio quality seems  to be better than any of the other earbuds I've used. And the nano -- really light, really nice.  It doesn't do everything, and I've not tried out all the functions yet, but for playing music, it works great.  And

GNU grep - A Cautionary Tale About GPLv3

My company, DEY Storage Systems , is in the process of creating a new product around the illumos operating system.  As you might imagine, this product includes a variety of open and proprietary source code.  The product itself is not delivered as a separate executable, but as a complete product.  We don't permit our customers to crack it open, both from the sense of protecting our IP, but also to protect our support and release engineering organizations -- our software releases consist only of a single file and we don't supply tools or source for other parties to modify that file. One of the pieces that we wanted to integrate into the tree is an excellent little piece of software called Zookeeper , produced by the Apache organization.  Like illumos, Zookeeper has a nice non-viral copyleft license, which makes it nice for integration into our product. However, I discovered that as part of our integration, one of my engineers had decided to integrate GNU grep.  Why? Becaus

Infographic - Programming

I was forwarded the following infographic from  While I'm not normally one to just regurgitate someone else's posting (especially advertising), I think this one is worth looking at -- especially if you're at a point where you're contemplating future career or learning plans.

illumos and ZFS day!

I'm pleased to announce that DEY Storage Systems, Inc. , along with Joyent  and other community members, is sponsoring the illumos and ZFS Day taking place in October 1st and 2nd at the Children's Creativity Museum in San Francisco.  My partners and I will be in attendance, along with a few other of my colleagues, and we'll be speaking on related topics. Additionally, Joyent is hosting the 2nd illumos hackathon at their facilities on October 3, and we will definitely be participating there.  We had a blast doing this last year (some excellent work came out of it), and we're looking forward to doing it again. If you can make, I hope you'll register.  The event itself is free, and while there will be online recordings of the material, its more fun to get together in person -- especially with a beer or three.  (Did I mention there will be a Solaris Family Reunion party on Monday night? In many ways, I view this event as a belated 2nd birthday party for illumos,

The Case for a new Reference Distro for illumos

With the recent announcement and discussion around OpenIndiana, I think its time to bring to the light of day an idea I've been toying with for a while now -- and have discussed with a few others in the community. illumos needs a reference distribution. Now just hold on there... before you get all wound up, let's discuss what I mean by a reference distribution. A reference distribution should be a base  for additional development, and testing.  It should support automated installation for mass deployment in test lab/QA/build farm scenarios. It must support "self-hosting" -- i.e. illumos-gate itself should be buildable on this distribution -- with as few additional steps as possible. It must be valid as a QA platform -- for example, it needs to support the packaging tools we use in order to validate the packaging metadata (manifests).  (Yes, this means it needs to support - and be packaged with - IPS -- in spite of my loathing of IPS itself.) It should be

Response to Alasdair's Resignation

[ Recently, Alasdair Lumsden announced his retirement as leader of the OpenIndiana community.  This is a copy of my response to that. ] Dear Alasdair, Here at the illumos Foundation, we are very sad to hear of your resignation as lead of the OpenIndiana distribution. You have demonstrated great leadership and have been a wonderful friend of the community. We understand that such projects can be very time consuming, and we wish you all the best in your other endeavors.  As a community, many of us share some of your frustrations. At times, progress does appear to be slow. At other times, there may appear to be a lack of interest from many of the former Sun employees. However, although you may feel that there is a lack of support or interest, many of us active in the community feel differently. While OpenIndiana served to carry on the banner of the OpenSolaris distribution, it was obviously a dead end because the desktop wars are over, and even the Linux community c

Women in Tech Adverstising - a rebuttal

So, there has been some that have argued vehemently against the advertising policies of GoDaddy , and its ilk.  (See for example of the complaints.) I have a different point of view.  What about sites that always picture a beautiful woman on a headset for their representation of tech support?  Should we also boycott them?  Would you prefer a site with an ugly  person answering the phone?  After all, it's a phone or text chat, so it shouldn't matter at all what the person looks like, right? Conversely, what about all the sites that use men  in their advertising? My hosting provider, , uses both .  Take a look .  Does the pretty blonde in glasses have anything to do with domain names or web hosting?  Of course not.  The guy wearing the headset for the tech support line isn't exactly hideous either, if you swing that way.  Are you likely to talk to this guy if you call?  Probably not -- he's probably ju

Ivy Bridge Motherboards -- Don't *Really* Exist!

So, if you're like me, and you've been shopping for a new system lately because you're last one is dying or dead, you might see some fancy looking Intel E3-1200v2 Xeon systems.  (Why Xeon?  Because ECC memory is a good  thing.  I attribute some of my difficulty with my last system to using non-ECC memory.  Because its not ECC, I don't really know  whether the problem was in RAM or CPU, but I digress...) Great, so you pick out a E3-1240v2 Ivy Bridge CPU, and then you look for a System Board. I found the Supermicro X9SCA-F-O.  Looks like a sweet board.  The spec claims support for the E3-1200v2 cpus, and 1600MHz RAM.  It has a separate IPMI LAN support, as well.  Sweet!  (Look closer though....) So, package arrives from NewEgg, and you're ready to go. Assemble the kit.... if you're a software guy like me this might take a couple of hours. Power it on. Beep!  Beep!  Beep!  Beep! WTF does that mean!?  Google "4 beeps supermicro". Oh, "

Why I *hate* external dependencies!

So, I've been trying to setup a system that can build illumos-gate.  Because my old system had a memory DIMM fault, and isn't usable anymore. I thought, hmm... let me try something other  than OpenIndiana. Big mistake. Only OpenIndiana seems able to build vanilla illumos-gate right now. Why?  Because of external dependencies!   I tried building on OmniOS.  The stopper there -- Python 2.4!  On SmartOS, the dependency is IPS itself.  It seems only OpenIndiana is suitable for building stock illumos-gate. The problem is that our build is inherently very sensitive to the build environment.  It makes life incredibly unpleasant if you try to build on any system that is not configured exactly  as we specified. This, IMO, is an unacceptable situation. I will speak loudly against any  attempt to make changes that introduce further external dependencies.  The fact that some already exist is no excuse.  Every external dependency makes working on the tree more painful.  If yo