Goodbye Oracle, Hello Joyent!

May 07, 2012

Back in 2001 when I started working for the BBC I was given a Sun Ultra 10 workstation running Solaris 8 and CDE to do my job. As a Linux/FreeBSD user at the time, and someone accustomed to things such as a working vi implementation, recursive grep and Window Maker, this came as something of a culture shock, and it wasn’t long before I was compiling my own software in a rapid attempt to build and configure a more usable desktop environment - or at least one I was more comfortable in.

Building all that software by hand quickly became tedious, and so I was delighted to find that Christos Zoulas had written a bunch of portability glue, known as Zoularis, which allowed pkgsrc (similar to the FreeBSD ports system I was used to) to be used on Solaris.

It was still early days, however, and so over the next few years I and others helped to improve Solaris support in pkgsrc. By 2004 we had over 1500 packages building on Solaris 9/SPARC using the Sun Studio compiler, and in 2010 there were 5000 packages for Solaris 10/x86, along with a native SFW package including pkgin (an “apt-get” clone), making it easy to get up and running.

It was always something of a disappointment to me though that pkgsrc on Solaris wasn’t more widely deployed as I felt it provided major benefits over Blastwave or IPS. So it was great to see Filip Hajný of Joyent join the pkgsrc developers in 2009 for his work on Solaris with Joyent using pkgsrc internally.

Since then they have:

  • hired a number of fantastic engineers from the ashes of Sun Microsystems, who have

  • ported KVM to their SmartOS descendant of Solaris, making it a clear differentiator in the cloud computing arena (DTrace+ZFS+Zones+KVM is the perfect combination for multi-tenancy environments), as well as

  • taken stewardship of node.js and again hired the most prominent engineers involved in that project

and thus over that time my desire to work there has only increased.

So, I am obviously delighted to say that today is my first day working for Joyent, focusing on making pkgsrc work even better on SmartOS.

It isn’t just the people and the technology which attracted me, though. A recent Twitter post by ex-Sun CEO and co-founder Scott McNealy says it well:

Joyent continue Sun spirit

As a long time fan of Sun (I got over the initial shock of Solaris) who was fortunate enough to work there, and as someone who experienced the fantastic company culture of MySQL AB, it is this chance to again join an engineering-driven company that “kicks butt, has fun, doesn’t cheat, loves its customers, changes computing forever” which excites me the most.

Let’s just hope Joyent don’t turn out exactly the same as Sun Microsystems ;)

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