The OpenSolaris Community v2: Prepare Yourself

Sun is a company I plan on covering a bit more as they continue to delve deeper into Open Source. I’ve commented on the current messaging issue Sun has around its Open Source participation previously. I haven’t been following Open Solaris as much as I’d have liked, but this post by Ben gets you up to speed on the current situation:

Ian Murdock’s distro formly known as “Indiana” will be birthed as “OpenSolaris” in less than a week, being debuted at CommunityOne on May 5th. This will be a major landmark even in the history of Solaris, right up there with the BSD-to-SysV transition and release of the code. There is no talk at Sun regarding Solaris 11, when pushed the only quote I get is “over my dead body”, apparently coming from high within the organization. While no one will clarify on the situation, the current vibe seems to be that Solaris 10 will be with us for a very long time, in update purgatory, while the future revolves around the OpenSolaris distribution. Ultimately the decision will probly be made by Sun’s attempts to get ISV’s behind OpenSolaris… but this is only my hunch, I’ll continue pushing Sun to clarify the roadmap, perhaps at CommunityOne will learn more.

… Its time for a community reset. With the release of the OpenSolaris distro the last bits of the community started by Andy Tucker and Claire Giordano will be, in my view, gone away. The experiment in community official ended and replaced. Rather than the community being joint owners of Solaris it will be affirmed that Sun is firmly staying at the helm and we’re free to board the train and pitch in if we choose. Those of us fighting against the tide are now presented with a choice… give up and try to re-invent our roles in the “new reality” or continue to fight the inevitable like so many of those in our community who still whine if an OS doesn’t run on an i386 with 512K of RAM looking like a senile prick.

It seems clear to me that Sun is not going to give up full control of Open Solaris. To be fair, Red Hat didn’t go as open with Fedora as was initially assumed either. In the end, much of it comes down to how Sun perceives Solaris driving its bottom line. It used to be that Solaris sold expensive SPARC hardware. That’s not as much the case any more. Where that leaves Solaris is unclear to me. Sun is still driving innovation – you need look no further than DTrace and ZFS to see evidence of that. Does that sell enough Sun hardware to justify the engineering costs associated with Solaris? I don’t know, but at some point Sun is going to have to look very at that question and they may not like the answer they get.

While catching up on Open Solaris, I also came across two good posts by Ted. In What Sun was trying to do with Open Solaris he looks into what kinds of participation Sun was originally looking for when they launched Open Solaris. His Organic vs. Non-organic Open Source follow up delves into a Brian Aker comment about projects moving between “organic” and “non-organic” (or in the case of Solaris->Open Solaris, moving between proprietary and either organic/non-organic Open Source). These kind of issues are going to be getting more and more scrutiny if I had to guess, as more and more commercial Open Source companies are going to have to figure out their business models and hit revenue goals. The commercial Open Source space is starting to mature, and I don’t think some people are going to like it.

–jeremy

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