Having missed August and September’s reviews and, by the looks of things, October’s news review as well, it seems like now is a good time to call it quits and pass the torch to someone else in the OpenSolaris community. I just don’t appear to have enough bandwidth to produce these any more – my day job’s super hectic, and at home we’re expecting a new arrival in December: something has to give, and it’s the monthly review, sorry.

I believe that some sort of fine-grained journalistic role is really important for the OpenSolaris community – the existing newsletters are fantastic, but rely on contributions moreso than just digging in and seeing what people are talking about at a community and project level, so I really hope someone will continue on with this work. Glynn did an excellent job before me with weekly news (sample here), and Dan’s posts about what’s new in build… before that were also fantastic.

From a personal perspective, compiling these reports has also been highly educational, if you’re interested in OpenSolaris, this is a great way to get an overview of what’s happening and where you yourself might want to contribute to the code, so I strongly urge you to have a go!

All that said, I thought I could pass along some tips on how I put these reports together, in hopes it’ll be useful for whoever takes over.

The first place I tend to look for news, is the opensolaris-announce mailing list, checking for big announcements. Next up, is the the ON flag days list and the list of ON putbacks over the past month. Finally, the ARC caselog always makes for interesting reading.

After that, it gets a bit more random. I used some basic scripting to help out – opensolaris-lists.sh. Pass this a month as an argument, and it’ll proceed to open the thread list for that month for every OpenSolaris mailing list in your browser – 10 at a time, pausing for Firefox to catch up, and you to hit any key to proceed.

I wasn’t reading every email on every opensolaris mailing list (though I did read a lot), rather I scanned the Subject: lines, looking for interesting threads, looked at the length of threads to determine what other people found interesting, and over time, built up ideas in my head as to who’s emails were worth reading regardless.

Having done that, I’d started to build up a text file with the following format:

nth October 2008
Some headline text to explain the links
http://opensolaris.org/some/link
http://foo.com/some/related/link
mth October 2008
Another headline
http://opensolaris.org/another/link

Then, I passed that text file through a basic html formatter I threw together, format-monthly-opensolaris.awk and then published. Along with each link, I left a quick plea to have people comment on stuff I’d left out that they thought was interesting over the past month. In months where I was super-organised, I was compiling that list throughout the month, rather than waiting for the end of the month – but in cases where I’d left things too late, it’d take most of an evening to put the list together, 3 or 4 hours I’d say.

I think my editorial style tended to veer more towards the technical posts, covering new and notable putbacks, project creations and occasional media happenings. I was admittedly biased towards ON, where I now work :-) I also tried to cover flamewars on the lists with as balanced a view as I could. Most particularly though, I didn’t want to just have the monthly news posts turn into marketing material for Sun Microsystems, Inc – this was supposed to be a community service, for everyone contributing to OpenSolaris, so I hope whoever takes over has similar views! Here’s all the reviews I’ve written, from June 2005 to the present (at varying levels of granularity) to get you in the mood.

So there you have it : now that you know how to produce these monthly reports, we just need someone to do it – volunteers? I’ll update this post with a link to whoever puts together October’s report!

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