By Alasdair Lumsden on 11 Aug 2010
Well, it was a long time in coming, but Oracle has finally announced Solaris 11 will be arriving in 2011. Which is jolly good news!
The unfortunate thing is that Oracle barely mentioned OpenSolaris, and the whole OpenSolaris community is still left hanging.
But fear not! The community are working on plugging the gap left by Oracle. The Illumos project is a spork of OS/Net (The kernel and core userland tools of OpenSolaris) that will track the official Oracle OpenSolaris repo, whilst merging in community contributions, including replacements for closed source components (such as the closed libc_i18n), and closed userland binaries (such as tr/pax/awk).
The Illumos project provides a community rallypoint for all downstream OpenSolaris distributions, such as Nexenta, Schillix, Belenix, etc. Instead of using the Oracle source tree directly, they build from Illumos. Community changes can be merged in far more easily than was the case with Sun/Oracle, and should Oracle ever stop providing updates to the open source codebase, the community forks gracefully in a very much “Business as usual” type of way, just at a slower pace.
What’s still missing is a fully blown distribution, something to replace the void left by the missing OpenSolaris 2010.03 release. However I can confirm that the community is working on this too, behind closed doors; an announcement should be forthcoming by the end of this month, which is really really exciting news. I happen to be in contact with the people doing this, and if anyone reading this would like to get involved, please get in touch by mailing me on alasdairrr at gmail dot com.
The past year has been a turbulent time for Solaris/OpenSolaris users. The Oracle takeover resulted in a kind of communications blackout, leading to widespread fear, uncertainty and doubt, and a general community meltdown. Finally, news is trickling out of Oracle, at least as far as Solaris 10/11 is concerned, especially now that Oracle confirmed the support options available for Solaris on non-Sun Hardware. Corporates that like to pay for their operating system are no doubt going to be very happy by these recent moves.
However, the future of the OpenSolaris distribution is still very much unclear. But it really doesn’t matter. Oracle’s failure to act regarding OpenSolaris has resulted in the community taking direct action to reclaim what should have been theirs to begin with. OpenSolaris, under Sun/Oracle, was open source, but not led by the community. That, ladies and gentlemen, is about to change.
Thankfully, Oracle’s failure to act has resulted in direct community action to resolve this, and I’m very much of the opinion that this will actually be better for OpenSolaris in the long run.