Friday, March 16, 2018


As of today, I'm no longer an Oracle employee and no longer work on the Solaris (or, briefly, Linux) kernel. I'm not very good with goodbyes, even my 'out of here' mail had just one line about the past 9 years: "Was Fun".

And it really was. I've had a blast and learned a ton. There are five things that I ridiculously and perhaps irrationally loved about Solaris and the organization:

  1. Code should be beautiful: as in every big project, there are strict rules about the C style, to keep the overall aspect coherent. On top of those, there are a few extra facultative rules, such as those that the VM guys have used in the VM2 code. As much as I love those, the important take away for me has been to strive to make the code not just functioning, but visually and technically pleasant. The extra time you spend there pays back in dividends down the line, when you have to look at it again. I really hope ON will be open one day, as there are pieces written by Blake, Jonathan or the linker aliens (just to name a few) that are pure art. There are even folks that can make Forth look nice. How cool is that?
  2. Integrate the hell out of everything: every piece of Solaris technology leverages the existing ones as much as possible. The ARC (architectural) Committee won't let you integrate something that reinvents the wheel. Well, will try not to, as we're guilty of some "needs to go in, will come back and fix after $major_deadline" (as an example, we still have way too many malloc() implementations), but overall, the integration is great. If you invent a new command/subsystem today, you'll have to store the configuration in SMF, follow the output formatting rules, report issues through FMA and make sure that, if necessary, there are the proper Analytics hooks. This also ensures that you consume and are a consumer, which keeps you honest as you write stuff (personal mantra: never, ever, integrate something that doesn't have a consumer).
  3. SPARC relationship: building a chip in house and supporting it opens up tons of fascinating chances for learning about hardware and software interaction. Software in Silicon is perhaps the most known and successful public example, but many of the hardware meetings I attended to with my software hat on have been incredibly fascinating. Getting the hardware side perspective on things helps in understanding certain design decisions and better relate to a whole different set of issues. My love for low level stuff just grew a little bit further, there.
  4. Kernel and User Land unite: the ON code base contains both the kernel code and the key userland pieces, as system libraries, some commands and the linker. This means that in a single project you can modify all of them and have them working together, without having to move across different consolidations/organizations and respect different putback timings. I understand this sounds (and probably is) quite obvious, but I can't shake the happiness I felt adding the secsys() system call, the secext framework, sxadm, the linker changes and modifying libc in a single push. Felt like having control over the whole world.
  5. SCT meetings: every year, all engineers from around the globe met for a week of presentations  and hallway chats. Truly exciting and extenuating week, which gave me, year over year, a thermometer on how much I was really contributing (the first year I almost didn't participate in any conversation, towards the last years, I was grabbed here and there). Oh, and it had the traditional Beer and Sausage outing with the Ksplice, Security and Linker folks in San Jose, at Original Gravity. This last one is a tradition I hope to maintain every time I hit the Bay in the future.

I'm leaving out from the list the popular "the people", as I believe (with proof ;)) that there is great people in every company and I'm truly looking forward to the next round of meeting and learning. In Sun and then Oracle, I've had the luck of always working in cool teams, with cool people (lot of this luck has to be attributed to Jan, who's constantly been my mentor), many of which have been around for 10+ years, creating pretty strong relationships. I could occupy a whole page of names and stories about different folks, but I would surely forget someone and be called up on it, so I take the easy way out. Just like I took one with the mail and the single line: "Was Fun". Which really meant, "Thank you".


  1. Great post, Enrico. I think one could fairly summarise as, every great product has a great team behind it!

    1. And great users/customers. The feedback you get is the best way to shape up how to move forward.