Illumos Makes OpenSolaris Board Threat Moot

On August 3 Nexenta hosted a conference call to announce a new open source project called "Illumos." Illumos is an open source alternative to a critical part of the OpenSolaris distribution free from the binds of Oracle. Still several days short of the deadline set by the OpenSolaris governing board to Oracle, perhaps this announcement makes it all moot.

The effort is headed up by former Sun and Oracle Solaris developer Garrett D'Amore. He said that Illumos is not a fork of OpenSolaris, but more of a code base that perhaps Nexenta, Belenix, and SchilliX can be built on one day. Most important to D'Amore and Illumos supporters is that the code base will live on and be free from the control of any corporate entity.

There is proprietary code in OpenSolaris that still needs to be replaced. D'Amore hopes to eliminate that by the end of the year, but it's a large task even with the talented developers already committed to the project. The goal is to be 100% open source and perhaps to eventually release Illumos under the Apache2 license.

Since Oracle is ignoring community developers and their code as much as the board, the community has all but dissolved. Illumos could give developers a place to innovate. D'Amore is hoping to recreate the community development phenomena found with Linux and the resulting distributions.

With the days counting down to the probable disbanding of the board and the constant threat of losing access to the source, Illumos might be all that remains of OpenSolaris sooner or later. Several distributions are based on OpenSolaris now, and its loss could have spelled disaster for those systems. That's why most of them as well as several current and former OpenSolaris developers have committed to Illumos. Other community partners include Joyent, berliOS, Greenviolet, and Everycity.

D'Amore said that if Oracle shuts down OpenSolaris, then time would be right for a fork, but for now they have invited Oracle to collaborate. As one might expect, Oracle has yet to respond. While Illumos is being developed in case of shut out or as an alternative, it may turn out to be the savior of the code. In fact, with enough interest from the right people, Illumos could replace OpenSolaris in the hearts and minds of all concerned.

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