Thoughts on a probable

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

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. 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

A brief look at some other community sites like,, and 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 –

  • Get
  • Use
  • Learn
  • Love
  • Spread

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
    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.
  • FAQ
    The section would list various FAQs related to the project as a whole, rather than individual technology.
  • Awards
    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.
  • Contact
    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.
  • Sponsors
    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.
  • Discussions
    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
  • Code of Conduct
    If we had one, we might include it here, documenting the community rules of engagement and encouraging a positive collaborative environment.
  • Developer
    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,
  • Blogs
    This section could be an aggregation of several existing blogs, or a single blog with multiple authors.
  • Events
    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.
  • Howtos
    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.
  • Books
    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.
  • Archive
    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 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 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, and where should stand alone? I’ve started a thread about all of this on and – come and contribute!

8 Responses

  1. Alberto Ruiz Says:

    I agree with most ideas there, but to be honest, I can’t see why this should be in, instead of moving what we have to and use as that front end.

    On top of that, I’m pretty sure that “.com” is not going to be welcomed to the people who sustain that Sun is not very sensible to the community culture.

    On the other hand, setting up yet-another-opensoaris-thingie is going to raise even more the barrier to understand the project. I’d rather simplify what we have, with focus on all the issues you just pointed.

  2. links for 2008-03-16 | sun Says:

    […] Thoughts on a probable This looks like a pretty rational step. All the development of the code-base (and optionally the distros themselves) on and all the user/sysadmin forums and downloads on (tags: OpenSolaris) […]

  3. News » links for 2008-03-16 Says:

    […] Thoughts on a probable This looks like a pretty rational step. All the development of the code-base (and optionally the distros themselves) on and all the user/sysadmin forums and downloads on (tags: OpenSolaris) […]

  4. Damian Wojs?aw (trochej) Says:

    I believe such refactoring would do much good to OpenSolaris. I think that while is a great resource for us, who know what we are talking about, people that I encourage to try are often confused. On the other hand I’m not sure if .org and .com are proper ways of managing this difference. I think it’d do more sense what Alberto Ruis already said.
    What really is missing is a strong and simple message what really OpenSolaris is, something along the lines: “OS is a core and a basis of an operating system kernel and userland tools. For a working distribution look here”. And it ought to be bold, big letters and a first message on the page.

  5. EdwardOCallaghan Says:

    “ and use as that front end.”
    That’s a fantastic idea!

  6. tecosystems » links for 2008-03-17 Says:

    […] Life is so good, it gets better every day » Blog Archive » Thoughts on a probable a look at some of the ideas for; i think some of the top level nav elements are a bit abstract, but it’s otherwise pretty good (tags: glynnfoster informationarchitecture) […]

  7. Ian Murdock’s Weblog » Order is important Says:

    […] Glynn Foster: “Get. Use. Learn. Love. Spread. Only then, in my opinion, can we even think about Contribute…” […]

  8. Anton Parol Says:

    Its so true. Its really easy to GET with ubuntu, and thats probably been one of its biggest stengths. People don’t feel burdened trying to use it, meaning they give it that little bit more time. Given how strongly Jonathan feels about getting Solaris out there, it can only be a good thing!