“Is Oracle getting ready to kill OpenSolaris?” FUD

Posted on July 13, 2009

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols is at it again. The publishing game isn’t really about how good your writting is, just how many people read it. If you look at Steven’s articles you’ll notice they all have that ridiculous tabloid “the sky is falling!” flare to them. It gets readers, nothing more. And if you’ve come across todays FUD which just got posted to Slashdot, Is Oracle getting ready to kill OpenSolaris?, I just want to help reassure you.

There are a great number of misconceptions in that article. The first is that Solaris and OpenSolaris are separate things. They can appear that way, but they aren’t. The “OpenSolaris” staff, that is people dedicated simply to it, is minuscule and mostly dedicated to builds and website and infrastructure. The real development team is working on Nevada, which is the basis of SX:CE and OpenSolaris. There is a team that works on back-porting and sustaining Solaris10 releases as well. So in some sense its wrong to refer to development of either Solaris or OpenSolaris, since the reality is that the real development is in the middle.

Considering the current roadmap, which was really poured out publicly at CommunityOne SF, OpenSolaris will be the next Solaris. The Sun roadmap has been, for a very long time, to keep Solaris10 around in perpetual update mode and to transition everyone into OpenSolaris. In otherwords, there is no Solaris 11.

So to get back to the point, is Oracle going to kill OpenSolaris? No.

Now, it is possible that what Oracle may do is dramatically alter the roadmap, especially from a branding perspective. Like it or not, Solaris still has more market brand value than “OpenSolaris”. It is entirely possible that Oracle may decide that OpenSolaris is introducing too many changes, such as the new installer and ZFS root and new package system, and decide to release Solaris 11 which would look very much like Nevada SX:CE… thats entirely possible. While IPS and the Caiman Installer are revolutionary, they introduce a lot of change which translates to pain for large established shops, and they still aren’t actually ready for true enterprise deployment.

As for the more general issue of fearing the great and mighty Oracle… not much has changed. There is a lot of fear and uncertainty. I’ve talked to perhaps hundreds of Sun employees since the deal was announced, at all levels of the company… universally people say the same three things:

  1. They wish Sun was going to stay independent
  2. They were surprised by the deal, there was no warning. (People were pretty prepared for IBM, like it or not, but there was no advanced warning of Oracle.)
  3. They aren’t sure whats going to happen exactly, but they don’t think it’ll be as bad as people are making out.

Almost everyone is glad that if they had to be acquired it was Oracle rather than IBM. Also, there is a huge undercurrent of rage toward Jonathan and Scott, particularly Jonathan. Opinions on Jonathan have varied throughout the years, but within Sun people errored on the side of optimism and trust… no longer. Finally, people know layoffs are coming but vary between estimations of 20% to 50% of the total workforce, but the only people that I’ve met that are really nervous are folks who have a spouse that’s already out of work. In general there is a “wait and see” approach.

So Solaris isn’t going to die. OpenSolaris isn’t going to die. Things may be redefined a bit, but that’s it. As I’ve said before, like it or not, Oracle will probably do more to save Solaris than to hurt it.