"There is no OpenSolaris," read an anonymous post on operating systems news Web site OSNews.com. "Show us the code or quit mentioning it." The post was responding to an article detailing the latest preview of Sun's Solaris flagship operating system. The open-source version is expected to be fully launched by July.
The comments easily raised the ire of at least two Sun engineers, who in turn rebuked the statements on their blog sites.
"Like many of the other people posting about OpenSolaris, I am an engineer, bottom end of the corporate ladder.
"If you wish to choose not to believe that we are going to open source Solaris please feel free, it's your choice -- we look forward to proving you wrong (and believe me knowing that we are going to prove you, and all of the other naysayers, wrong is a nice feeling)," said Sun's Fintan Ryan.
Ryan said OpenSolaris developers were working "feverishly" on the project, with the aim of releasing code that would have no legal encumbrances.
"It takes some time to get an operating system ready to be open-sourced," concluded Ryan. "Last time I checked no one has ever tried to open-source something the size or complexity of Solaris."
Australia's Alan Hargreaves -- a well-known Sun kernel engineer -- also reacted, posting a complex five point argument on why OpenSolaris was not vapourware.
"OpenSolaris certainly exists," Hargreaves said, "you only have to speak to anyone involved in getting it out there. There are a lot of us out there who both do and do not work for Sun."
The developers' sentiments may reflect wider defensiveness within the Sun development community. An insistence on proving the existence of OpenSolaris is evident in more than a few official Sun blogs, with some developers focusing on producing screenshots, and others such as OpenSolaris community manager Jim Grisanzio debunking articles which put a negative slant on Sun's efforts.
Sun's plans to open-source Solaris are widely seen as being driven by the popularity of open-source rival Linux. While several industry commentators -- notably Linux creator Linus Torvalds -- have been unenthusiastic about the move, Sun has released at least one innovative piece of software to the community: Dynamic Tracing.
DTrace allows systems administrators to analyse performance and software bugs in a much more detailed way than previously possible.
ZDNet Australia's Renai LeMay reported from Sydney, Australia.