Solaris software portal faces closure

Having already sold his house to help fund bandwidth bills, the Webmaster of Blastwave has launched an urgent appeal for funds

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's Solaris operating system. Its founder, Dennis Clarke told ZDNet UK sister site 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 $3,500 (£1,900) 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 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.

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.

Systems administrator James Dickens asked: "What message does Blastwave failing send to the OpenSolaris/Solaris community? 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 declined to disclose the exact amount of funding Blastwave needed to keep it going on an ongoing basis, or how far short his project was of that total.