Oracle Acquisition

OpenSolaris will Die of ‘Benign Neglect.’

Jessica Thornsby

The community debates the future of OpenSolaris under Oracle, following the OpenSolaris Governing Board’s vote to suspend board meetings.

Steven Vaughan-Nichols has posted his thoughts on the future of Sun’s open source
line under Oracle stewardship. He predicts that OpenOffice, MySQL,
and VirtualBox will continue to be developed, but the other
products will be allowed to slowly die by “benign neglect.”

This is in contrast to what Oracle imply with their dedicated
Oracle’s Support for Open Source and Open
‘ page, where the company lists its open source
projects, including all those it inherited from Sun. “Don’t think
for a minute that all those programs are actually going to be
supported. They’re not,” Vaughan-Nichols warns.

In his opinion, the product most obviously getting sidelined, is
OpenSolaris. “Oracle has decided to let OpenSolaris die by benign
neglect,” he writes, and there seems to be significant evidence to
support this theory. Recently, the OpenSolaris Governing Board
called a meeting
to discuss the future of OpenSolaris under
Oracle, and invited an Oracle representative – who didn’t
participate. The OGB voted to suspend board meetings, pending
contact with Oracle. However, if Oracle do not arrange a meeting
before 23rd August, 2010, the board will disband and hand control
of the OpenSolaris community back to Oracle.

At the meeting, there was some debate on whether handing control back to
Oracle, would have any effect on the present, stagnant situation,
with Ben R stating it wouldn’t, “as Oracle is not communicating at

Prior to this meeting, OGB board member Dennis Clarke had made
his thoughts on Oracle’s stewardship of
OpenSolaris very clear, claiming that “the OpenSolaris project is
on life support. Or dead already.” He proposed that the community
should fork OpenSolaris, but how viable an option is this? At the
same post, Clarke revealed that 90% of the OpenSolaris
contributions came from within Sun, which means the community would
have to step involvement up from 10%, to 100% if they’re to
continue developing OpenSolaris at the same rate. Vaughan-Nichols
is skeptical about the prospect of the community successfully
forking OpenSolaris: the OpenSolaris kernel is a few million lines
of code, the top OpenSolaris kernel engineers work for Oracle, and
there are closed parts that would need replacing in a forked

“There’s a reason why so many leading open-source lights from
Sun, such as Java’s creator James Gosling, XML co-inventor Tim
Bray, and Simon Phipps, Sun’s chief open source officer left Sun
after the Oracle acquisition,” he concludes. “They knew they had no
home at Oracle. Neither do most of Sun’s open-source projects

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