Open Solaris To Oracle: Fork Off

A fork that is not officially a fork, Open Solaris fans move beyond Oracle

Tired of the indifference shown by its new corporate master,some of the developers and supporters of the Open Solaris project have started what amounts to a fork of Open Solaris called Illumos (Illum as in light and OS as in operating system). They claim it is not a true fork and if Oracle shows interest in can be rolled back into the Open Solaris codebase.

While that sounds very conciliatory to Oracle, make no mistake there is some deep resentment towards Oracle's apparent indifference. Looking at it from the Oracle point of view, they "don't do science projects". Unfortunately that may be exactly how they view this.

The board of the Open Solaris project had given Oracle until August 16th to appoint a liaison to work with on behalf of the company with the board. However, with no apparent move in that direction, some folks have not waited. You can read some background on the people behind Illumos here and here.

While I am glad that the former Sun and Open Solaris people are not taking this lying down, I am cynical. I know several people who are big fans of Open Solaris. Its security, virtualization and other functionality are superior to Linux according to these people. But with so many Linux distributions available, is Open Solaris destined to be another dead 'nix?

Is there room for another open source OS without a major company sponsoring it? Will Open Solaris or Illumos become a footnote and niche player. As much as it pains me I am afraid so. Without an Oracle type of benefactor, I don't know if it can muster the support to be a viable Linux alternative.

I wish the Illumos folks well.  I will be watching and hoping it reaches a critical mass. But without Oracle or some other mentor, I don't know how long it will continue to be relevant. It is a shame standing by and watching the dismantling of so much of what made Sun a legend.

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