Leaked memo suggests death of Oracle OpenSolaris, some say

A recently leaked internal Oracle memo has some OpenSolaris fans saying it means the death of OpenSolaris, but not all Solaris users are feeling so glum.

An internal Oracle memo regarding the future of Solaris has been leaked, with some seeing it as the death of Oracle OpenSolaris.

The memo is directed to “Solaris Engineering” and appears to prophesy that the Oracle OpenSolaris community will be prevented from guiding the look of future versions of the Solaris operating system. In the past, OpenSolaris projects such as DTrace would be released first on OpenSolaris and then integrated into Solaris. It appears that process will now be reversed.

“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,” the Oracle memo states, according to SearchDataCenter.com’s Server Farming blog. “[However] we will distribute updates to approved CDDL or other open source-licensed code following full releases of our enterprise Solaris operating system.”

An Oracle spokeswoman would not confirm the veracity of the internal memo, but at least one Oracle employee posted to an OpenSolaris discussion board to the effect that it was real. Oracle did not comment otherwise.

The news comes as no big surprise, especially considering recent tensions between Oracle and the OpenSolaris governing board, which recently threatened to dissolve.

Simon Phipps, the former Chief Open Source Officer at Sun, is a member of the OpenSolaris governing board. When Oracle finalized its acquisition of Sun, Phipps did not join Oracle. He did not want to comment  directly to SearchOracle.com on the internal memo, instead pointing to his comments regarding a recent Oracle press event during which the company addressed Solaris.

“Sounds like the rumours that Oracle was no longer going to engage in open source development of Solaris were true,” Phipps wrote about Solaris 11 last week. “The best it seems we can hope for is an act-of-grace, over-the-wall drop of some of the source code to Solaris 11 after it’s released.”

In particular, Phipps quoted Oracle systems chief John Fowler, who said at the event, “Solaris 11 will be a superset of what is in OpenSolaris.”

Another OpenSolaris governing board member, Dennis Clarke, pointed to an interview he gave this spring about the looming demise of OpenSolaris. Clarke, the CEO of Solaris software development company Blastwave, said in April that he was ready for OpenSolaris to separate itself from Oracle.

“If we need to hold a wake, then fine," Clarke said. "If we are waiting for a Lazarus effect, then that is not so fine. People need to take actions that have merit, and I am not one for sitting on my hands while people stand around looking for leadership.”

Meanwhile, not all Solaris users are disheartened by the details of the memo. Bill Bradford, a senior systems administrator at an energy services firm in Houston, said that -- with the memo -- “they’ve simplified the mess that has been made of OpenSolaris over the past couple of years, while still allowing people to make derivative products and environments based on the code of the shipping version of Solaris.”

“OpenSolaris isn’t dead, they’re just changing the development model,” Bradford added. “This is a good thing, as ‘OpenSolaris’ as a term had gotten confusing. Was it the released source? Was it the ’OpenSolaris’ distribution? Was it the ON/NET open-sourced overlays you had to put on top of an existing install?”


Mark Fontecchio can be reached at [email protected].

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