May 18-19, 2006, Gdańsk, Poland
by Mariusz Żynel
It was the second Unix conference almost entirely dedicated to Solaris held in Poland. Of course there are many events initiated by Sun or its affiliates, but they are driven by marketing. This is not the case with Unix Days. This conference is made by technical people who run Solaris to its extreme on a daily basis. It was supposed to be a meeting for technical people to exchange their experiences and it really was.
Again, the number of interested people to take part surpassed the expectations of the organizers. In result the registration form had to be closed the very next day it was opened. There were 180 seats in the conference room, all were taken, and there were people standing on stairs. Fortunately, not all of the 300 registered came.
We have actually started one day earlier, Wednesday afternoon, at the Indian restaurant trying hot and spicy food. It was a very good idea to get speakers together before the conference and let them know each other.
Robert started the conferences with his talk about OpenSolaris. He gave an overall view of the project, its goals and progress, and primary distributions of the OS. Must admit that Solaris Express CDs got taken away pretty quickly after the talk.
Generally, the presentations given at the conference can be divided into three groups: new features of Solaris, technologies behind Wirtualna Polska (one of the largest Polish web portals), and sponsors' talks.
As for new features of Solaris we could learn something new about Predictive Self-Healing, Service Management, DTrace, Zones, BrandZ and ZFS. Zones and ZFS gained most attention I think. No wonder as they are really cool toys. The most significant difference between this conference and similar marketing presentation is that we can hear real life arguments that speak for Zones, ZFS and the like. One simple command that creates a 18T (yes, 18 terabytes) ZFS pool within a glimpse of an eye convinces more than thousand words. It turned out that ZFS is in production at WP, which also speaks for itself. Robert learned ZFS to its very detail and made a lot of testing at his site. He is a good speaker and the knowledge he shared with us is very valuable. It looked like Veritas (currently Symantec) and EMC ignored ZFS to date and the details revealed during Robert's presentation made them little worried to say the least.
The series of presentations regarding WP and their IT backend were very unique as I think the conference was the only place when we could learn such intrinsic details. It is amazing that most of the software that is in use in WP they developed themselves. For example their web server was designed with extremely heavy load in mind. It has PHP scripting language built in. As the largest web mail provider they have impressing mail system. It handles over 15mln e-mails daily.
Robert Prus from Sun made us sure the Sun is a few steps before their competitors on CPU market, that is Intel and AMD. While Intel just entered double core CPU era, Sun is developing its 8-way core SPARC.
As it is seen from the program the schedule was very tight. On Thursday, after the presentations, we went to a very nice place near Gdańsk and enjoyed roasted wild boar, other delicacies, and of course beer.
Kudos to Robert Miłkowski and Andrzej Butkiewicz for their realy, realy hard work to organize the conference.