Project Illumos Details

Fully Open Source Version of the Solaris Operating System

After much speculation, the purpose of project Illumos has been revealed!

Illumos will attempt to create a fully open source version of the Solaris operating system. The Illumos team plan to track the source code changes to Oracle's ON, and integrate these changes into the Illumos code, whilst giving the community the opportunity to contribute their own patches and bug fixes, for inclusion in Illumos. The project will replace the closed Solaris binaries and open the internationalisation libraries. The team also promise binary compatibility with Solaris and OpenSolaris.

The project was initiated by employees of Nexenta in collaboration with OpenSolaris community members and volunteers. Nextentra does sponsor the project, but the Illumos website points out that Illumos is independent of Nexenta. Nexenta, Belenix and Schillix plan to use Illumos as the base for their distributions in the future.

Simon Phipps has praised Illumos' stance as a 'downstream open source project,' which will contribute upstream while remaining independent. To him, this project has come at just the right time for the community, and he does have a point. From the claims that OpenSolaris is dead and the only option is to fork it, to the recent news that the OpenSolaris Governing Board came very close to dissolving itself, the mood within the community has become increasingly despondent. And, by keeping the project quiet until Illumos was ready to release a bootable version of ON, Illumos has had the maximum impact on an increasingly disillusioned community.

Phipps draws paralles with Illumos and the IcedTea project's free, downstream of OpenJDK. Like Illumos, IcedTea contributed everything upstream which, in Phipps' opinion, is the reason why OpenJDK eventually became a fully open source project. Illumos has offered to contribute everything to Oracle, although only time will tell whether this situation will play out like OpenJDK and IcedTea.

Jessica Thornsby

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