While Oracle is effectively “closed the source” to key Solaris code by making updates available only when “full releases” are distributed, others in the “formerly OpenSolaris” community are stepping-up to carry the mantle for the community. In an internal memo – leaked to the OpenSolaris news group last month – Oracle makes the new policy clear:
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.
Frankly, Oracle clearly sees the issue of continuous availability to code updates as a threat to its control over its “best-of-breed” acquisition in Solaris. It will be interesting to see how long Oracle takes to reverse the decision (and whether or not it will be too late…)
However, at least two initiatives are stepping-up to carry the mantle of “freely accessible and open” Solaris code to the community: Illumos and OpenIndiana. Illumos’ goal can be summed-up as follows:
Well the first thing is that the project is designed here to solve a key problem, and that is that not all of OpenSolaris is really open source. And there’s a lot of other potential concerns in the community, but this one is really kind of a core one, and from solving this, I think a lot of other issues can be solved.
– Excerpt, Illumos Announcement Transcript
That said, it’s pretty clear that Illumos will be a distinct fork away from “questionable” code (from a licensing perspective.) We already see a lot of chatter/concerns about this in the news/mail groups.
The second announcement comes from thje OpenIndiana group (part of the Illumos Foundation) and appears to be to Solaris as CentOS is to RedHat Enterprise Server. OpenIndiana’s press release says it like this:
OpenIndiana, an exciting new distribution of OpenSolaris, built by the community, for the community – available for immediate download! OpenIndiana is a continuation of the OpenSolaris legacy and aims to be binary and package compatible with Oracle Solaris 11 and Solaris 11 Express.
– OpenIndiana Press Release, September 2010
Does any of this mean that OpenSolaris is going away or being discontinued? Strictly speaking: no – it lives on as Solaris 11 Express, et al. It does means control of code changes will be more tightly controlled by Oracle, and – from the reaction of the developer community – this exertion of control may slow or eliminate open source contribution to the Solaris/OpenSolaris corpus. Further, Solaris 11 won’t be “free for production use”as earlier versions of Solaris were. It also means that distributions and appliance derivatives (like NexentaStor and Nexenta Core) will be able to thrive despite Oracle’s tightening.
Illumous has yet to release a distribution. OpenIndiana has distributions available for download today.