Friday the 13th, Part II: Oracle Officially Ends OpenSolaris

An internal memo reveals the unfortunate fate of OpenSolaris

Well, Oracle seems determined to make this a memorable Friday the 13th. Just as the open source community reels from the impact of an Oracle lawsuit against Google for alleged Java patent infringements, it has now been revealed that Oracle has internally killed OpenSolaris.

In an apparent internal memo addressed to Oracle Solaris engineers, Oracle outlined plans to effectively end the OpenSolaris project.

The memo, signed by Mike Shapiro, Bill Nesheim, and Chris Armes, was posted on the blog of OpenSolaris kernel developer Steven Stallion, with the headline "OpenSolaris is Dead." Indeed, after reading through the memo, this seems to be the case.

Specifically, the company will continue to make all Common Development and Distribution Licensed (CDDL) code available per the terms of the license, but will no longer release binary versions of OpenSolaris 2010.05 or later:

"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," the memo states.

Oracle's reasoning for this move seems to be two-fold. The memo cites that all decisions regarding Oracle's participation in open source projects will be based on "two core principles":

"(1) We can't do everything. The limiting factor is our engineering bandwidth measured in people and time. So we have to ensure our top priority is driving delivery of the #1 Enterprise Operating System, Solaris 11, to grow our systems business; and (2) We want the adoption of our technology and intellectual property to accelerate our overall goals, yet not permit competitors to derive business advantage (or FUD) from our innovations before we do."

If the first reason seems a little odd, given the global resources of Oracle and whatever Sun Microsystems staff would have remained onboard after Oracle acquired Sun last year, the second reason seems to completely misread the intent of open source development. When code is developed in the open, it is true that competitors can see it, but you can usually see their contributions, too.

And, if indeed resources are a problem, what sense does it make to cut off an entire community of volunteer workers who have been working on OpenSolaris? If anything, it seems that Oracle just made Solaris development that much harder.

The memo takes care to emphasize that all code under any open source license will still be made available, and Oracle plans to continue to provide upstream contributions to projects it uses for the Solaris 11 (and beyond) operating system. It will be interesting to see what, if anything, people will make with this code.

For my part, as a long-time member of the Linux community, I can only express dismay at this ignominious end for OpenSolaris. Competitor it may have been, but projects like this lend to the overall health of the open source, and watching one die by corporate apathy is just nauseating.

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