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.'

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