OpenSolaris board may quit over Oracle's silence

The group in charge of the open-source version of Sun's Solaris OS has threatened to resign in protest at a lack of communication from Oracle about the project's future
Written by Matthew Broersma, Contributor

The OpenSolaris Governing Board (OGB), the body responsible for directing the development of OpenSolaris, has threatened to disband before the end of August in protest at a lack of communication from Oracle on the project's future.

OpenSolaris is an open-source version of Sun's Solaris distribution of Unix. Since Oracle's acquisition of Sun was finalised in February, the database specialist has failed to establish a channel of communication with the OGB or to clarify its plans for OpenSolaris, the board said.

In a meeting on Monday, the board agreed to issue an ultimatum: if Oracle does not appoint a liaison to the OGB by 16 August, the board will use its 23 August meeting to collectively resign. Under the current OpenSolaris constitution, such an action would result in control of OpenSolaris being returned to Oracle.

OpenSolaris was closely linked to Sun, which made efforts to add to the operating system's enterprise features and had introduced an enterprise-grade technical support plan. New features introduced in OpenSolaris were intended to form the basis for future versions of Solaris, according to Sun.

Under Oracle, such possibilities for "co-development" have not materialised, said former Sun executive Simon Phipps during Monday's meeting, according to published minutes. Phipps said in its current form, the OpenSolaris community has "come to the end of its usefulness", according to the minutes.

OGB member John Plocher argued that the current situation was damaging OpenSolaris' reputation. Plocher said that "the vacuum that's been created through lack of dialogue is leading to stagnation and allowing rumor mills to run riot", according to the minutes.

Members noted that Oracle's chief customer officer Jeb Dasteel had accepted an invitation to participate in the meeting, but did not appear.

In February, Oracle director of product management Dan Roberts participated in the OpenSolaris Annual Meeting and assured members that the company would continue to support OpenSolaris.

"Oracle will continue to make OpenSolaris available as open source, and Oracle will continue to actively support and participate in the community," Roberts said, according to an IRC transcription of the meeting. Roberts said at the time that Oracle would "continue to deliver OpenSolaris releases, including the upcoming OpenSolaris 2010.03 release".

That release, originally scheduled for February, and then pushed back to March, has yet to arrive. The current OpenSolaris release is 2009.06, launched in June 2009.

Oracle had not responded to requests for comment as of the time of writing.

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