On OpenSolaris

In a recent article, Ted T’so makes some interesting points on Sun’s motives behind OpenSolaris, and how it fares today in the FOSS ecosystem as a result.

“Fundamentally, Open Solaris has been released under a Open Source license, but it is not an Open Source development community.”

It’s quite sad that this is the case simply considering the enormous potential that OpenSolaris had back in 2005, and the opportunities for cross pollination with Linux had the licenses been compatible. Given some of killer features of the operating system, it’s quite a shame that it has not been able to rally the developer community that it deserves.

At this point, I think the only hope for OpenSolaris is GPLv3 and a truly open development process. Then for once, Linus’ kernel will have a strong contender and a raised bar on licensing grounds.

Nexenta (a project unaffiliated with Sun), and essentially a Debian distribution with an OpenSolaris kernel, has been a strong attempt at attracting developers. Debian is by far is the most developer friendly GNU/Linux distribution out there, with a mature and proven development model, and to build an OpenSolaris distribution with user land tools of Debian makes the most sense.

I’ve been a Solaris user since version 6, which I attempted to run (quite foolishly) on a 333MHz Pentium. The user experience was anything but smooth, but still ended up gaining a lot of respect for the platform. Only time can say whether the tide changes for OpenSolaris or whether it ends up relegating to the Minix boat.

Updated: 03 May – Corrections on Nexenta