OpenSolaris goes live: What happens next?

OpenSolaris goes live: What happens next?

Summary: It's been a little more than a year since Jonathan Schwartz confirmed that Sun was going to open source Solaris, and it looks like the big day has finally come: OpenSolaris is now available to everybody under an honest-to-goodness OSI-approved open source license. (Actually, several licenses, if you count the other open source tools that make up OpenSolaris...

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It's been a little more than a year since Jonathan Schwartz confirmed that Sun was going to open source Solaris, and it looks like the big day has finally come: OpenSolaris is now available to everybody under an honest-to-goodness OSI-approved open source license. (Actually, several licenses, if you count the other open source tools that make up OpenSolaris...)

There's still work to be done. Some parts aren't available in source form yet, and the much-publicized Janus technology is also missing, but the project is rolling forward and interested developers and users can start digging in to OpenSolaris code today. Not only that, Sun engineers are sharing a lot of information about OpenSolaris for the launch. (And, presumably, going forward.)

Sun Distinguished Engineer Geoff Arnold challenges IBM, HP and Microsoft to follow suit:

But surely Microsoft, IBM and HP aren't going to take this lying down; they're not going to give in without a fight - are they? C'mon, you guys: I want to see OSS releases of Windows XP, z/OS*, and VMS! And... oh heck, why not throw in OS/2 Warp as well - just for old time's sake?

I'm with Arnold, but something tells me that Microsoft isn't feeling any peer pressure to follow Sun's lead -- but I'm not going to say "never," just in case.

Assuming the rest of the industry abstains from open sourcing their OSes, what kind of effect is OpenSolaris going to have on the market? I'm sure that many pundits will predict doom for Linux now that Solaris is available under an open source license, but I have my doubts that OpenSolaris is the "Linux killer." (Not that Sun is touting it as such -- but I expect many pundits to jump on that meme.)

While I applaud Sun's move, a lot has to happen for OpenSolaris to gain momentum as an open source project. Just as when Netscape went open source, OpenSolaris is a huge project, and it will take some work to get developers outside of Sun integrated into the project to make meaningful contributions. It will take a lot more to get organizations with investments in Linux to switch to Solaris/OpenSolaris even if Sun's open source OS is the best thing since sliced bread. I wonder how long it will be before independently-packaged versions of OpenSolaris start popping up? That will be a true sign of success.

As I've said, there's a lot to take in with OpenSolaris. I'm looking forward to spending a little quality time with the release and testing out interesting features. Congrats to Sun for hitting this milestone, it'll be fun to follow OpenSolaris' progress and see how that affects the open source landscape.

Topic: Operating Systems

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  • This might have been cool

    five years ago. Back then, we had Sun workstations on all the engineers' desks and a server room full of Sun kit. Our tools all ran on Solaris. Having full source for documenting bugs or making enhancements would have been very useful indeed.

    Fast forward:

    The Sun workstations are gone. The Sun servers are almost all gone aside from a couple used in case someone wants to dust off an old project. Our vendors all support Linux first and then port to Solaris and maybe AIX [1]. Linux is starting to replace MSWindows.

    Aside from historical curiousity, why would we care about Solaris?

    [1] Per interviews with developers at DAC98 (!) software developers switched to developing on Linux at least in part because they could debug or optimize clear down to device drivers if they had to.
    Yagotta B. Kidding
    • Give it a try. It won't bite you.

      According to Yagotta B. Kidding:

      "Aside from historical curiousity, why would we care about Solaris?"

      Who's the "we" in that sentence? The OpenSolaris community is *very* interested. Stop by the site at opensolaris.org and talk to them. I think you'll be surprised.
      jimgris
      • Who is "we?"

        Engineering shop with a few thousand Unix users. We pretty much quit using Sun systems several years ago, and really don't see any reason to go back.

        For one thing, none of our tools run on Solaris/AMD64, and we certainly don't want to spring for SPARC hardware.
        Yagotta B. Kidding
  • Awesome!!

    I have been waiting for this. There is new excitement in my life now! Man that sounded bad... Horay for Sun!
    xstep