Solaris free software portal faces closure

update Lack of funding may force free software portal Blastwave, one of the only sources for pre-packaged Solaris software, to close its doors. Since 2002, the portal has been bundling publicly available software in an easy-to-use format for download by users of Sun Microsystem's Solaris operating system.

update Lack of funding may force free software portal Blastwave, one of the only sources for pre-packaged Solaris software, to close its doors.

Since 2002, the portal has been bundling publicly available software in an easy-to-use format for download by users of Sun Microsystem's Solaris operating system. Its founder, Dennis Clarke told ZDNet Australia the project's software archive was being mirrored by thirty other repositories around the world, and probably saw around 10 million individual downloads in the past year.

Usage has also doubled since Sun launched its open source version of Solaris back in June. However, Clarke has been unable to garner needed corporate sponsorship for the project.

"I can assure you that there are many billion dollar corporations that use the software daily across the infrastructure, and they contribute nothing in return," he said. "There is exactly zero dollars coming in," he wrote in an online appeal for dollars to the Blastwave community in early August.

That appeal was not Clarke's first. Late last year saw him conduct a similar exercise, with the result being US$3,500 in donations to keep Blastwave running.

"I combined that with the money from the sale of my house to cover off the past due bandwidth bill of well over US$10,000," he stated in his August appeal. Sun Microsystems also chipped in to keep the portal alive by paying Clarke to run advertising.

Blastwave maintains close ties to both Sun and the OpenSolaris project.

"Sun has always had a hand in Blastwave," said Clarke. "There are Sun engineers that work with us daily and nightly, around the clock. We have hardware and software from Sun. We have been involved with the OpenSolaris pilot project since it was an idea on a whiteboard."

"The Blastwave software set is built to install into OpenSolaris builds," he added.

Clarke pointed out the demise of Blastwave would also cause problems for Blastware, a project aimed at porting OpenSolaris to the PowerPC platform. The project is being orchestrated by members of the Blastwave community.

One vocal member of the OpenSolaris community voiced his sentiments about the potential demise of Blastwave in an exhortation to action posted to the OpenSolaris project's forums.

"What message does Blastwave failing send to the OpenSolaris/Solaris community?" asked systems administrator James Dickens. "It surely is not favorable. How will the new people coming to OpenSolaris/Solaris install their favourite utilities and applications?

"No other freeware source comes close to what Blastwave offers," he said. The death of the project would be "a massive loss", concluded Clarke.

Clarke estimated the project would need funds equivalent to "the cost of a single technical systems administrator or software engineer" to keep it running on an ongoing basis. His original fundraising target was US$80,000.

"That would allow for the creation of an OpenSolaris grid [of servers] that would exist in the community as well as a full-featured build stack for everything we would need," he said.

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