Will Oracle Let OpenSolaris Wither and Die?

When Oracle began the acquisition of Sun, few doubted that MySQL was the main asset of interest. With MySQL still breathing six months later, users hoped Sun's other projects would survive as well. But despite Oracle's early claims and intermittent assurances that OpenSolaris would remain open source software, very little else has been said. Some, including the OpenSolaris Governing Board, are beginning to think OpenSolaris will be allowed to die a slow and quiet death.

On July 12 The OpenSolaris Governing Board unanimously carried a motion to set a deadline of August 16 for Oracle to appoint a liaison "who has the authority to talk about the future of OpenSolaris and its interaction with the OpenSolaris community." Otherwise, on August 23 the OGB will evoke a clause in their charter that will return control of the OpenSolaris community to Oracle. This effectively disbands the OpenSolaris Governing Board and will surely mean the end of OpenSolaris.

The six months of silence concerning OpenSolaris has left board members angry and frustrated. Faced with only the options of doing nothing, trying to continue to work in spite of Oracle's apathy, or forcing the issue; board members can do nothing but wait for now. A motion to resign immediately was defeated 3-3-1. All other meetings have been suspended until the August 16 deadline and future plans will depend on the response from Oracle.

In addition, lead Solaris developer, Greg Lavender, left Oracle in June with little or no information from either party. Anonymous sources inside the company confirmed the departure of Lavender but offered no other details. Solaris and OpenSolaris releases and snapshots have been missing or significantly delayed since Oracle's take-over and many are beginning to fear the worst for these two Unix-based operating systems. They are obviously not a priority for Oracle.

At the same time that the news of the ultimatum broke, Jaspersoft released the results of their survey taken from open source community members about the future of Java and MySQL. 43% of respondents stated they believe that MySQL will fare well under Oracle and 80% believe the same of Java. Interestingly, of those thinking of switching databases, PostgreSQL was the number one choice. The latest release of MySQL came June 17 with 5.1.48 and OpenOffice.org 3.2.1 was released June 4.

In unrelated news, Larry Ellison lost a bidding war for the Oakland, CA based Golden State Warriors basketball team to Joe Lacob.

Update: On July 21 developer and now Oracle employee, Alan Coopersmith, posted an email concerning of the needed updates to X.org IPS distro-import package definitions in Nevada build 145. No hints were given as when a release might surface, but the email does raise hope that OpenSolaris may survive afterall. Or perhaps it's a case of 'the employees are the last to know.'


Susan Linton is a Linux writer and the owner of tuxmachines.org.


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die opensolaris die

Anonymous's picture

care factor 0

Re Oracle to let Open Solaris to wither and die

Daschmi's picture

IF oracle does do this they will be making a pretty poor choice. If it is simply a "the Indians do not know but the chiefs do" type of situation, then that is more understandable. Open Solaris and the whole Solaris program as a whole is too much of a valuable asset to Oracle to just let up and die. I find OS to be a very capable OS and that it can work well with most hardware. I am in the process of switching over a laptop to OS so I hope that they do not make people get licensed to have this system on my system.

Greg Lavender, where are you!

Anonymous's picture

"Anonymous sources inside the company confirmed the departure of Lavender"... quite interesting. My well known sources (Greg Lavender - LinkedIn) said me he now works as VP at Cisco Systems!


Wrox's picture

Oracle is a monopoly like Microsoft. The Obama/Bush regimes (no change) take donations from both billion dollar companies. So, they both supported the Oracle takeover of Sun, MySQL, Java, etc.

No brainer: The death of OpenSolaris is just the beginning of the death of MySQL and Java. Larry Ellison owns two 550-foot mega yachts and Steve Ballmer only owns one. Do the math you Linux morons.


obx_ruckle's picture

Being intelligent does not limit one's ability to do stupid stuff, like shooting one's self in the head.

Oracle is letting the OpenSolaris community die on purpose...

Mark Round's picture

...At least, that's certainly how it appears to me. I wrote about this on my blog (http://www.markround.com/archives/60-The-setting-sun.html), but the short version is that Oracle seems to have a very different view of the future of Solaris, and how it will fit in their "enterprise" offerings. So they probably don't care at all about the community and commercial customers fleeing from Solaris. There's an interesting link in that post to a Slashdot comment from an (alleged) Sun employee that sheds an interesting light on their plans.

If, on the other hand, that's not the case, and Oracle really do want Solaris (and OpenSolaris) to be dominant players in the datacentre, then I have to say they are doing an appallingly cack-handed and incompetent job of it. They'll find it incredibly hard to win back customers and developers after their mishandling. I find that scenario difficult to believe though, given how long Oracle has had to plan the Sun acquisition and think about issues like this. Larry may be ruthless, and Oracle may be the epitome of a faceless giant monster corporation, but I don't think they are stupid. They must know what they are doing, and the effect it is having.

Like I said on my blog post though, either way I find it a tragic end for such a brilliant, innovative OS and company but that's the commercial world for you.

It's in line...

Anonymous's picture

Oracle is (not that they are intentionally trying to do this) killing off Solaris. I'm a part of a University student organization and we now have to pay to use Solaris, and we are being asked for the serial numbers of the machines that we run Solaris on. It is getting crazy enough to the point that we are making every effort possible to remove Solaris from our infrastructure ASAP. Oracle, if you want to play this way, we will. And you will lose.


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