Thoughts on a probable opensolaris.comMarch 16, 2008 8:39 am OpenSolaris, Web
With much of the current growth of the OpenSolaris community coming from the user community, it should not be a surprise for those closely monitoring the lists that the idea of creating a more user focused site would likely be on the cards at some stage. A new site that focuses on using the operating system, rather than necessarily contributing to it’s creation, seems attractive to many – both the existing developers who have been frustrated by simply wanting to focus on writing code, and those who want to use and advocate the operating system they love. It’s clear we’ve come a long, long way from the original vision of an equivalent kernel.org.
The OpenSolaris web infrastructure has not been without problems, however, as most of the tonic web team will attest – issues with shoe-horning in projects infrastructure and source code management systems, re-writing the authentication systems, a new grants and election poll sub-system, the infamous jive-mailman bridge, planet aggregators, bugzilla defect management systems and a whole host of other headaches. It’s a testament to the web team, both past and present, to have what we have. And with all its faults, it does a pretty amazing job, with some great content there. But rarely do we provide the opportunity for the non-contributing user to download binaries and run them, find out about exciting technology that is available to them, and help spread the word about OpenSolaris. opensolaris.org just isn’t that kind of site, to some extent, and I think we can do better.
And that’s why I believe we absolutely need to be looking at building opensolaris.com.
A brief look at some other community sites like ubuntu.com, opensuse.org, and firefox.com shows a very different focus – the minimum mouse clicks needed to download and install a binary artifact, or buy a piece of branded merchandise, or find out about a piece of exciting innovative technology that sets that apart from everything else around it. A few key words come through as themes –
Only then, in my opinion, can we even think about Contribute, and encouraging those people to come through the system and contribute to its creation.
A couple of us sat down to brainstorm what an initial pass might look like, with heavy influence from some of the many other community sites out there that do a good job.
- Featured Articles
The featured articles would be a series of monthly updates to the home page, which could include information about upcoming events, profiles and interviews, technology overviews and such like. This section would act as the archive behind those feature articles or splashes.
News would provide the latest information about what is going on in the project. News would be briefly syndicated on the home page, to click through to a series of short paragraphs about the given news item. Press related articles and contact details for press queries may also be provided here.
The section would list various FAQs related to the project as a whole, rather than individual technology.
This section would list some of the awards that OpenSolaris has won in the past, including some profiles of the developers or technology who were responsible.
This is the phone-book for OpenSolaris, providing details of all types of contacts – site support, press queries, including links into certain mailing lists or user forums.
This section would list some of the corporate sponsors of the project, in the form of a small logo and background information about the sponsor and their involvement in the project.
This section lists all the user oriented forums that participants can contribute to. Those interested in development will be encouraged to join the lists over at opensolaris.org.
- Code of Conduct
If we had one, we might include it here, documenting the community rules of engagement and encouraging a positive collaborative environment.
This section would be the first landing block to a wider world of OpenSolaris development, introducing a set of guidelines for how to navigate a new domain, opensolaris.org.
This section could be an aggregation of several existing blogs, or a single blog with multiple authors.
The community events guide will list out all the OpenSolaris related events happening during the calendar year – Summits, Developer Conferences, Tech Days
- User Groups
This section will be a window to the OpenSolaris user groups right across the world, with their own separate portal to allow them to control their own content.
- User Guides
User guides will be provided in online HTML form, and downloadable PDF for off-line reading and printing. This will act as the core reference library to access a plethora of subjects – from documentation about install and package management, to system resource management and trouble-shooting.
- Manual Pages
This section will provide a list of all man pages for convenient online viewing.
This section will detail some of the common tasks during day to day use of OpenSolaris eg. how do I set up a WordPress instance on OpenSolaris?
- Audio and Video
This section will provide some of the new media like video screencasts, podcasts or other medium to facilitate on-line learning.
This section will detail some of the published books that are available, providing easy links (or associated ISBN information) to make ordering them simple.
- Release Notes
This section will detail the release notes for the latest releases of OpenSolaris, including any hardware requirements needed to run the image.
- Order a CD
The section will allow the user to mail order a set of packaged CDs containing the latest release of OpenSolaris for free.
- Other Distributions
This section will introduce some of the other OpenSolaris distributions available and where they can find out more information about them.
The archive will list all the previous releases of OpenSolaris, allowing the user to download an older release if desired.
- The store will contain a number of OpenSolaris branded articles for the user to order like t-shirts, caps, bags, stickers etc. The store could also contain (or mirror) some of the free items like on-line fan buttons.
- Report a Bug
The user would be brought to an on-line bug reporting interface, allowing them to submit a bug about a certain problem they have.
- Community Support
This section will link out some of the support options within the community eg. discussion lists, on-line user guides, IRC channels, FAQs and user groups.
- Professional Support
This section lists some of the vendor options for professional support.
- Hardware Database
A fully on-line searchable hardware database, similar to smolt.fedoraproject.org. The hardware database tool would allow users successfully running OpenSolaris to submit to this database.
I can’t claim to be an information architect, and there’s very obvious questions about content currently hosted on opensolaris.org that should move across to its .com equivalent. I’ve also glazed over many of the huge technical challenges ahead of us. What’s missing? What can be simplified? Where should there be close relationships with opensolaris.org, and where should opensolaris.com stand alone? I’ve started a thread about all of this on email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org – come and contribute!