Good-bye, Sun

In Februrary 1996, I came out to Sun Microsystems to interview for a job knowing only two things: that I wanted to do operating systems kernel development — and that I didn’t particularly want to work for Sun. I was right on the first count, but knew I was wrong on the second just moments into my first conversation with Jeff. He was emphatic that I should join him in forging the future, sharing both my enthusiasm for what was possible and my disdain for the broken, busted and boogered-up. Fourteen years later, I don’t for a moment regret my decision to join Jeff and Sun: we fostered an environment where the OS was viewed not as a regrettable drag on progress, but rather as a nexus of innovation — incubating technologies that today make a real difference in people’s lives.

In 2006, itching to try something new, Mike and I talked the company into taking the risk of allowing several of us to start Fishworks. That Sun supported our endeavor so enthusiastically was the company at its finest: empowering engineers to tackle hard problems, and inspiring them to bring innovative solutions to market. And with the budding success of the 7000 Series, I would like to believe that we made good on the company’s faith in us — and more generally on its belief in innovation as differentiator.

Now the time has come for me to venture again into something new — but this time it is to be beyond the company’s walls. This is obviously with mixed emotion; while I am excited about the future, it is very difficult for me personally to leave a company in which I have had such close relationships with so many. One of Sun’s greatest strengths was that we technologists were never discouraged from interacting directly and candidly with our customers and users, and many of our most important innovations came from these relationships. This symbiosis was critically important at several junctures of my own career, and I owe many of you a profound debt of gratitude — both for your counsel over the years, and for your willingness to bet your own business and livelihood on the technologies that I helped develop. You, like us, are innovators who love nothing more than great technology, and your steadfast faith in us means more to me than I can express; thank you.

As for my virtual address, it too is changing. This post will be my last at; in the future, you can find my blog at its new (permanent) home: (where comments on this entry will be open). As for e-mail, you can find me at the first letter of my first name concatenated with my last name at

Thank you again for everything; take care — and stay in touch!

Posted on July 25, 2010 at 5:17 pm by bmc · Permalink
In: Fishworks, Solaris

46 Responses

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  1. Written by Eduardo Pelegri-Llopart
    on July 25, 2010 at 5:55 pm

    My best wishes to you in your new endeavours, Bryan. Hope we cross paths in the future soon.

  2. Written by Derek
    on July 25, 2010 at 6:39 pm

    What a terrible loss for the (Open)Solaris community! From a relatively non-technical reader, thanks for all the insight and laughter since opened. Best of luck in the future!

    (If you haven’t had the chance to see Bryan speak, check out the LISA ’09 videos or Google TechTalk session on DTrace…)

  3. Written by Deirdré Straughan
    on July 25, 2010 at 7:12 pm

    Bryan’s LiSA09 talk can be seen here:

    and the Google Tech Talk is here:

  4. Written by morklebork
    on July 25, 2010 at 8:27 pm


    Oracle will be forever poorer for losing you.

    DTrace alone would have been a worthy legacy, but you gave them and us so much more.

    It pains to me say Goobye (at least from a Sun/Oracle perspective) to more than just a visionary, but someone that could not only ‘get stuff done’, but could do it himself, and inspire others to ‘do more stuff’ in the process.

    PS: Please don’t take Adam or Brendan etc with you! Oracle really *really* need them and the rest of the FishWorks team now…

  5. Written by Dave
    on July 25, 2010 at 9:11 pm

    Agreed that this is a major loss for Oracle and OpenSolaris. Gutted to read this :(

  6. Written by Rennie Allen
    on July 25, 2010 at 9:22 pm

    Sad to hear your leaving Sun Bryan. Any possibility of seeing you join up with QNX?

    (selfish wish on my part, as I’d love to have dtrace on QNX).

  7. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jacobo Tibaquira, Hernán Saltiel. Hernán Saltiel said: Oracle pierde otro de sus grandes cerebros: [...]

  8. Written by Przemyslaw Bak (przemol)
    on July 26, 2010 at 12:08 am


    you haven’t written any blog post for many, many weeks. You also was not active on dtrace list. I thought that maybe you are working on something new and exciting like Dtrace or … think of leaving Oracle/SUN. Sadly it turned out that the latter was true. For me you, Brian, was one of those who guarantee high, technical level of Solaris. Personally Dtrace was one of those features which was crucial when we had to decide whether install Linux or Solaris. Now you leave SUN/Oracle. Sad. Really sad …
    I really hope that we will hear soon something like Dtrace2 ;-)

  9. Written by JAF
    on July 26, 2010 at 12:51 am

    Bryan, You were a shining example for how great work can still be produced from a big company. I wish we could work for the same company again sometime. Let me know if you want a good hacker in your new venture.

  10. Written by Twitted by tdjfr
    on July 26, 2010 at 3:24 am

    [...] This post was Twitted by tdjfr [...]

  11. Written by Jignesh Shah
    on July 26, 2010 at 4:19 am

    All the best for our future ventures!

  12. Written by digitalrinaldo
    on July 26, 2010 at 5:01 am

    So many great ideas unfinished with dtrace, models of a system and deviation from it as it is running, interfaces to Wonderland so you have a real time virtual world where you could go sit by the L2 cache, :) . Thanks for dtrace.

  13. Written by links for 2010-07-26 « Wild Webmink
    on July 26, 2010 at 5:09 am

    [...] Good-bye, Sun Bryan Cantrill says his farewells but rehosts his blog promisingly at and makes this great observation: "One of Sun’s greatest strengths was that we technologists were never discouraged from interacting directly and candidly with our customers and users, and many of our most important innovations came from these relationships." (tags: Sun OpenSolaris DTrace) [...]

  14. Written by prasad
    on July 26, 2010 at 6:06 am


    This is devastating news, we have no one else to lookup to in Sun (err — Oracle ;-(

    Good luck in all your endeavors. I am curious to read/hear on your new projects.

    Best Regards.

  15. Written by Dennis
    on July 26, 2010 at 6:30 am

    Hello Nexanta, are you listening? Here is a great hire….

  16. Written by :(
    on July 26, 2010 at 6:37 am

    To bad ! To many highly skilled devs move away from a very good project.

  17. Written by :)
    on July 26, 2010 at 6:39 am

    Maybe a port of entier code under a nicer license

  18. Written by Gordon Haff
    on July 26, 2010 at 6:42 am

    Best of luck Bryan!

  19. Written by Jason Dixon
    on July 26, 2010 at 6:48 am

    Anyone notice that he didn’t mention Oracle at all?

  20. Written by james governor
    on July 26, 2010 at 6:48 am

    assume this will be in the Economist Obituary section? Obviously – Oracle’s loss. Starting something up? Can i buy shares ;-)

  21. Written by Sean
    on July 26, 2010 at 7:36 am


    It’s a shame to see you leave Oracle, their loss, as everyone pointed out.

    The way I see it, however, is that your thoughts are no longer bound by the corporate walls. So it may be a good thing from the technology innovation point of view.

    Thanks for the great work!


  22. Written by Wez Furlong
    on July 26, 2010 at 8:09 am

    I look forward to seeing what your next great thing will be, and hope that our paths will cross again in the future!

  23. Written by bmc
    on July 26, 2010 at 3:07 pm


    Thank you all for the kind comments. James: I hope to not grace the pages of Obituary for quite some time — but I’m relieved that you continue to show the refined tastes of a scholar and a gentleman. Rennie: I obviously have many fond memories of QNX, but I’m afraid that I won’t be reemerging in Kanata — though please give my best to dtdodge, and I hope the RIM deal is working out for everyone. Finally, for those that lament my departure, note that it in no way denotes the death of the technologies that I have worked on — especially those that are open source. (Indeed, I would point to Simon’s observation about where I have elected to host my blog.) To be clear, I do not intend to abandon the open source technologies that I have developed; quite the contrary, I hope to energize them by being an advocate for them outside of their traditional corporate walls…

  24. Written by Michael Ernest
    on July 26, 2010 at 7:44 pm

    I have enjoyed greatly reading your blogs, playing with the wonderful toys you made, and watching your presentations as they’ve cropped up. Having worked in a past life with Oracle, I knew this was inevitable. Not disappointed; hopeful you’ll find another place that wants you thinking and making new stuff. I look forward to playing with that too, whatever it is. Courage!

  25. Written by Tao
    on July 27, 2010 at 2:27 am

    “One of Sun’s greatest strengths was that we technologists were never discouraged from interacting directly and candidly with our customers and users” – so that might be the reason behind your decision. Now you can enjoy doing that again.

  26. Written by L’autore di DTrace lascia Oracle | Giovanni Raco
    on July 27, 2010 at 4:02 am

    [...] Via | Dtrace [...]

  27. Written by » L’autore di DTrace lascia Oracle
    on July 27, 2010 at 5:40 am

    [...] Via | Dtrace [...]

  28. [...] Cantrill’s latest blog entry – which any mention of Oracle is noticeably absent from – he details his 14-year career with Sun, [...]

  29. Written by carmine
    on July 27, 2010 at 11:11 pm

    I study dtrace on my company….good good audit tech!!
    GG Bryan

  30. Written by adam
    on July 28, 2010 at 12:22 am

    Thank you for your innovative work to Sun and Solaris!
    Take care and Good Luck!

  31. Written by Richard Elling
    on July 28, 2010 at 9:53 am

    Congratulations Bryan! A change of scenery can be good for the soul.

  32. Written by Trevor
    on July 28, 2010 at 3:24 pm


    It was a pleasure working with you and listening to the Bryan and Mike show at OS.amb conferences.

    Good Luck in your new venture it’s taken time but I’ve now left Sun after being asked to leave 14 months ago.


  33. [...] The Observation Deck Good-bye, SunThe Public Observation Area at YVR Inside Vancouver Blog [...]

  34. [...] does not say where he will be working in future, but has moved his blog to’s blog hosting, suggesting his future work will be related to DTrace itself. DTrace is a powerful [...]

  35. Written by Tommy McNeely
    on July 29, 2010 at 7:34 am


    I am sad to see you go, but I feel that it may be inevitable for many. I wish you good fortune in your future endeavors. Thanks for helping us out on soo many occasions and thanks for bringing all these wonderful products to Sun.


  36. Written by Gavin Gibson
    on July 29, 2010 at 7:07 pm


    I am glad I had the opportunity to meet you. I thought you might embark on a stand-up comic career (the Lisa video is great) but it sounds like you will settle for the VP job :-)

    Good luck with everything and thanks for the inspiration.


  37. Written by Jim Grisanzio
    on July 29, 2010 at 11:46 pm

    Congrats, Bryan. :)

  38. Written by The Observation Deck » Hello Joyent!
    on July 30, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    [...] I mentioned in my farewell to Sun, I am excited by the future; as you may have seen, that future is joining Joyent as their VP of [...]

  39. Written by Bruce Basil Mathews
    on August 2, 2010 at 11:15 am


    I have admired your work, and the work of others in our community, for a very long time. I, too, joined Sun in 1996 and found it to be an extremely stimulating place for the first five years. Unfortunately, those with the greatest and most innovative ideas have left and those remaining do not seem to possess the same ingenuity and/or integrity in their craft!

    Best of luck at Joyent! I hear it is a very good company!

  40. Written by sid wilroy
    on August 2, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    It was great to meet the great “Bryan Cantrill” @ lisa 09 in DC. It’s truly amazing the tracing framework you co developed – I’m a total novice at “D”; but I’m still impressed..

    What will happen to fishworks?

    Good luck with cuddletech dude..

  41. Written by The Observation Deck » OpenSolaris and the power to fork
    on August 3, 2010 at 10:34 am

    [...] change is afoot: over the last six months, the monopoly over Solaris engineering talent has been broken. And now today, we as a community have turned an important corner with the announcement of the [...]

  42. [...] and has the involvement of some illustrious and recently ex-Sun/Oracle people – including Bryan Cantrill. Garret D’Amore (formerly Sun/Oracle, now of Nexenta) is the project [...]

  43. Written by Derek
    on August 3, 2010 at 6:23 pm

    We’re happy you’ve found a home at Joyent. But in order to remind ourselves of the magnitude of a change like this, some of us will be using this as our system alert sound for some time to come:

  44. Written by bmc
    on August 3, 2010 at 8:14 pm


    I was just discussing today with Jason that we need to resurrect the old Joyeur podcast “ps | grep” (I was confiding that I had always been bothered by the fact that it wasn’t just “pgrep”). And now I really think that ‘truss -p `pgrep -d, “”`’ is a much catchier name. Or maybe I should just resurrect BattleTris and use this as a tetris sound…

  45. Written by Links for 26 Jul 2010 - 6 Aug 2010 :: Col’s Tech Stuff
    on August 6, 2010 at 12:04 am

    [...] The Observation Deck » Good-bye, Sun – Sad day for Sun/Oracle – Bryan Cantrill has left the building. Filed under: Links   |    Tags: Eclipse, Google, Java, license, Oracle, Security, Solaris, Sun, techie, wave.   |  SHARETHIS.addEntry({ title: "Links for 26 Jul 2010 – 6 Aug 2010", url: "" }); [...]

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