OpenSolaris R.I.P.: The Day is Finally Here.

Posted on August 13, 2010

This is a real thing. This is not hype or idle rambling. OpenSolaris is, as of Friday the 13th of August, 2010, dead. Read the full skinny in the leaked internal email to Solaris Engineering.

Here is the short version: OpenSolaris is dead. No more real-time/nightly code pushes. OpenSolaris 2010.05 will not happen, nor will any in the future. Solaris 11 Express will be the new “developer” release which will be available through OTN. Solaris will remain open source, but code will only be released after the product ships, not before.

Now, lets go bit by bit.

Today we are announcing a set of decisions regarding the path to
Solaris 11, and answering key pending questions on open source, open
development, software and binary licenses, and how developers and
early adopters will be able to use Solaris 11 technology before its
release in 2011.

So, Solaris 11 is the new hotness and the “community” is reduced to “early adopters”.

Solaris must stand alone as a best-of-breed technology for Oracle’s
enterprise customers. We want all of them to think “If this has to
work, then it runs on Solaris.” That’s the Solaris brand. That is
where our scalability to more than a few sockets of CPU and gigabytes
of DRAM matters.

This goes on for a while, but the message is clear. Solaris needs to not simply be another UNIX OS… it needs to be, as it was in the 90’s, the enterprise platform of choice.

We will continue to grow a vibrant developer and system administrator
community for Solaris. Delivery of binary releases, delivery of APIs
in source or binary form, delivery of open source code, delivery of
technical documentation, and engineering of upstream contributions to
common industry technologies (such as Apache, Perl, OFED, and many,
many others) will be part of that activity. But we will also make
specific decisions about why and when we do those things, following
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.

This, really, isn’t so bad. But again, no community, just end-users. A return to focus isn’t a bad thing.

We will continue to use the CDDL license statement in nearly all
Solaris source code files. We will not remove the CDDL from any files
in Solaris to which it already applies, and new source code files that
are created will follow the current policy regarding applying the CDDL
(simply, that usr/src files will have the CDDL, and the very small
minority of files in usr/closed might not have it).

Ok, so existing code will not be closed. So, no drastic change.

We will distribute updates to approved CDDL or other open source-
licensed code following full releases of our enterprise Solaris
operating system. In this manner, new technology innovations will
show up in our releases before anywhere else. We will no longer
distribute source code for the entirety of the Solaris operating
system in real-time while it is developed, on a nightly basis.

So here is the killer… what I’ve been afraid of. No more nightly code. The upshot is that the code will still be available following releases to assist with DTracing, debugging, etc, but you won’t get real-time updates. The biggest downside is that you can’t see bug-fixes as they are put-back, and obviously anyone developing on Solaris is always playing catch up. It says “full release”, so I can’t expect that code will ship with each Express release. Maybe it will, I hope so.

It goes on to say that “technology partners” (such as Intel) will have full source access via OTN.

We will encourage and listen to any and all license requests for
Solaris technology, either in part or in whole. All such requests will
be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, but we believe there are
many complementary areas where new partnership opportunities exist to
expand use of our IP.

This is a sticky place. Code is shipped CDDL post-release, however they want to establish partnership opportunities. Clearly they are trying to ensure any businesses which rely upon Nevada will not escape from the partner programs and thus revenue opportunities for Oracle.

We will deliver technical design information, in the form of
documentation, design documents, and source code descriptions, through
our OTN presence for Solaris. We will no longer post advance
technical descriptions of every single ARC case by default, indicating
what technical innovations might be present in future Solaris
releases. We can at any time make a specific decision to post advance
technical information for any project, when it serves a particular
useful need to do so.

Flush… there goes ARC. So the external view into Solaris development is now closing. We now only see what they wish us to see.

We will have a Solaris 11 binary distribution, called Solaris 11
Express, that will have a free developer RTU license, and an optional
support plan. Solaris 11 Express will debut by the end of this
calendar year, and we will issue updates to it, leading to the full
release of Solaris 11 in 2011.

So, back to the old days.

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.

There is the axe on OpenSolaris, present and future. The distro isn’t coming. No nightly. No BFU’s.

We will have a Solaris 11 Platinum Customer Program, including direct
engineering involvement and feedback, for customers using our Solaris
11 technology. We will be asking all of you to participate in this
endeavor, bringing with us the benefit of previous Sun Platinum
programs, while utilizing the much larger megaphone that is available
to us now as a combined company.

And here we see again, its “back to the future” . Pay to play.

The Verdict

Frankly, I’m not surprised by any of this. Saddened, certainly, but not shocked. The sleigh ride is officially over.

As far as the community and governance is concerned, the OGB played right into Oracle hand. It might as well have been engineered this way. On Monday, the 16th, the OGB will disband and default on the charter. Great work guys! Thanks for truly representing the needs and desires of Ora…I mean, the community.

As a governance, OpenSolaris has been a non-stop, end to end failure. Hands down. At every turn, it failed.

As an open source project, it was luke warm at best.

What I will miss is having full access to Solaris Engineering. What’s happening, where we’re going. That was amazing. An all access pass. I will truly miss that.

The plus side is, that for all the ups-and-downs, the code is out there. They can’t take that back. And we have reasonable assurances that it will stay out there following “full releases”. That’s not ideal, but its something. Something very valuable.

As for me… Illumos will now carry the torch, and I’ll participate in that with all the more gusto. This blog existed prior to OpenSolaris and it will continue to be a Solaris blog after. Solaris is the best platform on earth, it continues to be, in any given form.