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 OpenSolaris, 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 project.

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