Leaked Internal Memo Reveals Oracle' Plans for OpenSolaris

Has Oracle Killed OpenSolaris?

Jessica Thornsby

A leaked internal memo, posted at the OpenSolaris forums, reveals that Oracle will no longer release source code prior to the Solaris release, and will replace OpenSolaris with Solaris 11 Express.

Has Oracle killed OpenSolaris? According to a reportedly leaked internal memo, this could be the case.

Alasdair Lumsden has posted the memo at the OpenSolaris forums, detailing “the path to Solaris 11” and the open source casualty that’s fallen along the way.

For Solaris customers at least, the news is encouraging. According to the memo, Oracle will make good on their promise to increase investment in Solaris, by hiring new operating system experts and encouraging all Solaris engineers to deliver innovations that will increase the operating system’s value to customers.

Oracle have a plan for fostering a “vibrant developer” community around Solaris. This includes delivering open source code, technical documentation and engineering upstream contributions to common industry technologies, including Apache and Perl. However, in the memo Oracle make it clear that Solaris is their number one priority: source code will only be released, after the Solaris version goes live. It is plainly stated that Oracle do not want to risk enabling competitors to derive a business advantage from Solaris developments, before Oracle itself has the opportunity to reap the benefits.

But, what does this mean for the open source community in practical terms? Moving forward, Oracle will continue to use the CDDL license statement in “nearly all” the Solaris source code files, and CDDL will not be removed from any Solaris files, to which it already applies. Updates will only be distributed to CDDL and other open source licensed code, following full releases of Oracle’s enterprise Solaris operating system. This means that source code will no longer be released in real-time during the development process and that the OpenSolaris-based distros will only be able to release their own versions of the codebase, after Oracle’s own Solaris release.

There is one way to get your hands on some pre-release code, but there’s one catch: you have to be an approved Oracle business partner. Oracle will permit its partners full access to the in-development source code, through the Oracle Technology Network. However, even if you are a business partner, membership will still be granted on a case-by-case basis.

Oracle do make some concession to the open source community, in the form of ‘Solaris 11 Express,’which will be a Solaris 11 binary distribution released under the RTU license. Existing OpenSolaris enterprise users will be encouraged to migrate to this Solaris 11 Express release, although the memo implies that Oracle do not yet have a clear strategy when it comes to migration.

With this strategy shake-up, Oracle are hoping to increase Solaris adoption amongst their enterprise customers. Currently, around 40% of Oracle’s enterprise customers use Solaris – this translates to around 130,000 Oracle customers in North America who don’t use Solaris, and is what the memo refers to as “a huge opportunity” for Oracle.

This announcement isn’t a complete surprise; John Fowler has previously stated that Solaris 11 is currently scheduled for a 2011 release and that Oracle will be firmly focusing on this product in the future, which implied OpenSolaris was in hot water. In related news, the Illumos project was launched earlier this month, which is attempting to create a community maintained derivative of the OpenSolaris ON source. How this latest development effects Illumos, remains to be seen.


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