I presented An Introduction to OpenSolaris last Saturday at OSS BarCamp – my contribution to Software Freedom Day 2009.


You can download the odp presentation or the pdf, which I’ve exported with my notes for the talk that explain each of the slides a little more – I hope this is useful if you’re planning on giving a similar talk.

A few things struck me while preparing for and giving the presentation. Firstly, it seemed odd to be giving an introduction to an operating system that’s been around for quite a while now: clearly we haven’t been doing enough of this sort of thing (and from personal experience, yes, ie-osug isn’t as active as I’d like, I just sadly don’t have the bandwidth)

Then secondly, it’s really hard to cover all of the interesting features of OpenSolaris in sufficient detail over the course of an hour. My take, was to try to whet the appetite, rather than explain every feature fully – and in some cases, go for the features I thought the audience might be interested in (for example, mentioning NWAM as one of the major networking features – perhaps it’s not as full of rocket science as other aspects of Solaris networking, but it makes a huge difference to the novice user)

Finally, and slightly embarrassingly, I had to spend about 5 minutes in front of an expectant audience futzing around with the display settings on my R500 laptop to get it to talk to the projector. It was doubly annoying that both xrandr (and indeed gnome-display-properties) were able to see the separate screen, but try as I might, I couldn’t get any output to appear externally. Ultimately, a kind audience member offered me a USB key by which I transferred the pdf over to my EeePC (running nv_122) which was able to see the projector, but didn’t have any of my demo material setup (some ZFS settings, some zones, crossbow, flows etc.) Oh well.

Here’s hoping that at least some of the audience left with an impression that OpenSolaris was worth taking a second (or perhaps a first?) look at, despite the brevity of my talk and the initial teething problems I had. My new mantra:

Never work with children, animals, or weird exernal VGA projectors.

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