It should have surprised no one that Oracle allowed the door to close on OpenSolaris and the source code to Solaris itself, asserts Mike Leventhal in his blog on The future of Solaris. Leventhal provides a link to Mike Shapiro's memo, portentously dated Friday, August 13, 2010, that explained Oracle's thinking on Solaris code and on the prospects for OpenSolaris.
"All of Oracle’s efforts on binary distributions of Solaris technology will be focused on Solaris 11. We will not release any other binary distributions, such as nightly or bi-weekly builds of Solaris binaries, or an OpenSolaris 2010.05 or later distribution. We will determine a simple, cost-effective means of getting enterprise users of prior OpenSolaris binary releases to migrate to S11 Express," Shapiro wrote, leaving no doubt as to Oracle's posture on the better part of open source.
Leventhal, in a refrain much heard these days, suggests "it could have been worse." Sun allowed OpenSolaris to lose its denotative meaning by fostering efforts in a variety of directions, such as "open source community," "source repository," and "distro" (better known to some as "Indiana"), he contends. In doing so, Sun lost ground to the competition in pursuit of enterprise users, Leventhal asserts, putting Oracle in position to "save Solaris from itself."
"As for OpenSolaris," he continues, "that decision too was likely simple for Oracle, never an overt fan of open source. Had 'OpenSolaris' simply meant a code base and user community, I think there’s a good chance it would have been allowed to live. Burdened, however, with the baggage of the Indiana distro and sundry projects incomprehensible to Oracle management, OpenSolaris was in a politically untenable position. Mike's 'Friday the 13th memo' merely made it official — Solaris was to be closed source once more."
What, then, for the legions of developers and community members who have contributed to and benefited from improvements to OpenSolaris? Is Solaris 11 the only option for them, Leventhal posits. His answer is "no," because of a new entity that calls itself Illumos, which describes itself as " ... a community-maintained derivative of the OpenSolaris ON source, including open source replacements for closed bits, and additional changes."
Simon Phipps thinks the answer will be "yes" to the question he poses in the title to his blog Will Illumos Bring OpenSolaris Back to Life? where he writes, " ... Illumos is ... a project to create a fully open-source-licensed version of the Solaris operating system and networking consolidation - the closest Solaris comes to a "kernel project". It's a downstream open source project, happy to contribute upstream but resolutely independent. As such it is a thoroughly good thing and a breath of fresh air."
With Illumos on the scene, Leventhal concludes, companies such as Joyent, Nexenta, and Delphix, as well as those unsung developers and community members who have hung their hats on OpenSolaris no longer stand to lose hats and all but rather have a strong hope of continuing the work already well along in keeping OpenSolaris a viable project.
Just this week, the Illumos Foundation launched OpenIndiana. Described as a continuation of the OpenSolaris operating system, OpenIndiana aims to be an alternative to Oracle Solaris 11 and Oracle Solaris 11 Express.
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