July 22nd, 2010

About the OGB decision

I decided to wait for a few days before blogging about my thoughts on the OGB's decision to ask Oracle to either appoint a liaison by August 16, or to resign on August 23 and had the community reins to Oracle.

While it is easy to accuse the OGB of being cowards, there are some points that we should remember:
- The opensolaris.org constitution mandates that there must be an Oracle representative (my wording, but that's the gist).
- The OGB members have approached Oracle via formal and via informal channels seeking responses from Oracle on how they intend to interact with the community.
- Till date, there have been informal responses to the OGB members, and two formal mails to various mailing lists attempting to provide reassurance to the community. There has also been a series of conference calls (which I have been unable to attend due to my own workload - more on that someday).
- The OGB members have to ensure that they do what's expected from them in their capacity as OGB members. Asking Oracle to honor the constitution and to respond to community questions are part of those expectations.
- One could expose the fact that all development of the OpenSolaris distro (different from the opensolaris community) is happening (if at all) behind closed doors by asking the distro community for a progress report. However, given that Oracle employees are stating that they cannot respond to anything they are not authorized to respond to, is already a signal in itself. However, Alan Coopersmith has told various community members that there are some critical bugs that are being worked on and that the distro would indeed be out soon. This was the message some months ago - I don't know the status today.

Given that there has been zero change in the above status for the past few months, I think the OGB did the right thing.

- Some of the OGB members are technically strong enough to have distros or package ecosystems of their own (Joerg with Schillix, Moinak with Belenix, Dennis with Blastwave).
- The others on the OGB have a proven track record of understanding corporates and open source (John Plocher and Simon Phipps).

It's not very clear what Oracle wants to do with the opensolaris community. It's not clear if Oracle understands how to deal with a community that thinks for itself (as against various communities of users who are interested in Oracle showcasing them new products).

I sure hope that Oracle doesn't decide to remain quiet and thereby damage the community. I also hope that the ON stays open and that new technologies are put out. After all, Linux awareness is more than AIX or HP-UX awareness because one is free and open, while the other two are not. We'd all want Solaris to rank high in awareness given the amazing technologies that it has.

Update: Removed the Music label. The opensolaris planet was picking up the music label as the title of the post !

rpm, dpkg, apt-get, yum, smart ?

One of the many attractions of a distro, is the quality of packages, and the ease of use of the package manager.

Choosing a package manager is easy: Use either yum/apt and put smart on top of it.

yum means the underlying package format should be rpm, while apt means the underlying package format should be dpkg.

Both rpm and dpkg today are good enough in their own right.

package formats also usually imply that the build recipes should be based on existing recipes which produce output in those formats (e.g. Fedora/CentOS for rpm packages, Ubuntu/Debian for dpkg packages).

The Belenix repositories at present have recipes in the form of spec files - these are in a format different from the Debian world. The package build recipes too are borrowed from SFE/Fedora. At present, the package quality at Fedora/CentOS is definitely much higher than that at Ubuntu. Debian packages are definitely of high quality, but one concern is that the packages are not updated as regularly as we'd like them to be.

Another concern is whether the Debian community would welcome contributions (such as Nexenta's enhancements to apt to support useful Solaris notions). This is a dilemma that can be easily resolved by talking to Debian, I think, even though they have in the past lashed out at well-meaning posts by Nexenta folk. This blog post (http://ianmurdock.com/solaris/no-good-deed-goes-unpunished/) makes things a bit confusing, though.

Update: Removed the Music label. The opensolaris planet was picking up the music label as the title of the post !