What Does the OpenSolaris Announcement, Mean for Illumos?

The Future of Illumos

Jessica Thornsby

“I think its entirely possible that Oracle may wind up viewing Illumos as the upstream rather than the reverse!” says Illumos project lead.

It’s been a busy month on the OpenSolaris front. The big news,
of course, was that Oracle have decided to discontinue
, and only release source code after the official,
Oracle release.

This announcement has had a profound impact on the
Illumos project
. Illumos is an attempt to create a fully open
source version of the Solaris operating system, by replacing the
closed Solaris binaries and opening the internationalisation
libraries. However, the project was originally intended as a
parallel, downstream project. The Illumos team would integrate
changes in the OpenSolaris source code, into Illumos, whilst giving
the community the opportunity to contribute their own bug fixes and
patches to the project. There was even talk of Illumos contributing
upstream to OpenSolaris.

But now the situation has altered drastically, and project lead
Garrett D’Amore has announced that Illumos will change to reflect this. Illumos is now
officially a fork of OpenSolaris, which opens up new, more radical
possibilities for the project. “Frankly Oracle shutting down the
tap just really opened up the opportunity for us to really start
innovating, in ways that I would have been loathe to do if we were
still trying to maintain a very closely aligned source tree,”
D’Amore has blogged.

Bryan Cantrill also sees this as an opportunity for the OpenSolaris community. The
community now must rely on themselves and one another to fix bugs
and add features to the OpenSolaris source code, rather than
waiting for Oracle to do the work for them. This could be the
stimulant the OpenSolaris community needs. “Yes, hard problems lie
ahead — but ideas are flowing, and the future feels alive with
possibility; in short, innovation is afoot!” he says.

The OpenSolaris announcement, has also created more community
interest in the Illumos project, something that D’Amore alludes to
by saying that “even more talent is getting behind this effort
every day.” The project lead ends on a rallying and enthusiastic
note: “I think its entirely possible that Oracle may wind up
viewing Illumos as the upstream rather than the reverse!”

Please see the Illumos website for more information on the

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