Rebellion in the OpenSolaris Ranks

Michael Vizard

Although Oracle has generally received good marks for its stewardship of MySQL and Java since acquiring Sun Microsystems, criticism in the open source community of the company's handling of the OpenSolaris operating system has continued to mount.

This week that criticism has broken out into a full-scale rebellion with the launch of a new Illumos project, a derivative of one of the last distributions of OpenSolaris to the open source community before Oracle began to rethink Sun's approach to OpenSolaris.

Led by Nexenta Systems, the group forming this new distribution of OpenSolaris is trying solicit support from Oracle for its efforts. In the meantime, it's inviting developers of all types and classes to contribute to the project.

What's motivating Oracle's apparent intentions to take a more proprietary approach to OpenSolaris remains a little unclear. But clearly as Oracle gears up for a fight with Cisco, Hewlett-Packard and others over the future of convergence in the data center, the company may feel that a more proprietary approach that will allow the company to respond faster to competitive threats is required.

Nevertheless, there is still a significant OpenSolaris community that invested in the Sun server platform because it has a much richer set of a features and functions, especially when it comes to management, than what can be found on Linux.

Garret D'Amore, technical lead for Illumos, says one of the primary focuses of new OpenSolaris distribution will be to optimize it on lower-end commodity hardware, partially in expectation that Oracle will pretty much ignore this segment of the market.

One of the challenges that the open source community contends with is the continued fragmentation of the market. There is virtually no binary compatibility across multiple distributions of Linux. And now it appears the OpenSolaris community will also fracture across two or maybe even more distributions.

None of this means that these operating systems are going away any time soon, but in terms of building applications that run on them, things don't appear to be getting any easier.



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