The OpenSolaris Community v2: Prepare Yourself

Posted on April 30, 2008

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.

The existing open source community is in my eyes at a current all time low. A lot of effort turned inward, likely because of a feeling that the community was slowing down the process. There are many who are pleased to see arguments and heated mail exchanges die off, but those things are a sign of passion. Internal staff seems to be reorganized monthly, and many of the people being replaced are being done so with less transparent replacements… exactly how many people are associated with Tonic, the community or anything related directly to “OpenSolaris” becomes a deeper mystery all the time. The lack of leadership is becoming ever more evident. High level the project has continued to close inward. The board is dominated by Sun and Simon Phipps agenda for the future. Even Solaris related blog entries from non-Sun employees has been steadily on the decline. Sun’s dedicated to Open Source… they just don’t seem to care much about including the community, who they seem to be highly mistrusting of.

The project is still open and moving, do not be mislead, projects like the Image Packaging System (IPS) have been model open development efforts for all to model and new OpenSolaris User Groups are continuing to spin up around the globe. Projects integrating into Nevada as the basis of Indiana, such as the Image Package System and the new installer, Caiman, will please users who previously tossed Solaris DVD’s out the window in frustration. /usr/gnu has been added to bring even more GNU software to the system out of the box.

… 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.

I am, first and foremost, a self proclaimed Solaris zealot. I love Solaris and frankly, nothing Sun does is going to change that. I find myself in the uncomfortable position of looking like a negative prick in the face of progress and I f**king hate it. I believed in something and I still do… most of my comrades have already given up or moved on, and I’m feeling awfully lonely. At this point, however, I have no interest in being a retarded martyr declaring my frustration with the whole situation and proclaiming an exodus to Linux… Solaris rules, long live Solaris.

So as for myself, I’m dropping the negativity and caving into the future. I’ll still hold Sun responsible for releasing sub-par hardware (stop making me buy Dell!!!) but the brave new world of Solaris I shall embrace.

There is much yet to do. Solaris adoption is still low. There are still a lot of people who don’t know that Solaris has been open sourced. Solaris innovations like DTrace, ZFS, and hopefully SMF, will increasingly see adoption on other platforms, especially with Jonathan constantly teasing licensing changes. I’m hearing more and more positions for Solaris 10+ sysadmins that are going unfilled because there “just aren’t Solaris people out there”. I recently taught a Solaris 10 training session because the training centers can’t find competent Solaris trainers outside of Sun. The need for Solaris evangelists and mentors has never been greater. The OpenSolaris distribution is going to have a huge impact on Solaris adoption, we’ve got to ride that wave, no matter how big or small it is.

For those of us watching the day-to-day development of Nevada this new distro doesn’t look like too big a change, but lets remember that to the majority of “Solaris SysAdmins” out there running Solaris8 on older SPARC systems this is a mindbogglingly revolutionary rebirth of the platform! We have to get out both the message that Solaris is still Solaris, at the same time that we get out the message about modernization. This is no small task, but it can be done, and I intend to fight to bring our wayward brethren into the light.

I raise a pint, my friends, to progress and pushing onward and upward. To being part of the solution and not the problem. To knowing when to fight and when to ride.