Lacking Oracle help, OpenSolaris group disbands

The OpenSolaris Governing Board dissolves itself after Oracle cuts off relations with the group. Will the Illumos rise from the ashes?

Stephen Shankland principal writer
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Stephen Shankland
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An end has come to a major part of Sun Microsystems' attempt to transform Solaris from a proprietary version of Unix to an open-source operating system built by others, too.

Instead of becoming a rival to the broadly developed Linux operating system, control over the OpenSolaris project essentially on Monday reverted to its new corporate master, Oracle, which acquired Sun and its assets in January. After Oracle gave the group the cold shoulder, the OpenSolaris Governing Board voted unanimously to disband, according to meeting minutes.

Some of the initiative to build an open-source version of Solaris remains at a new project called Illumos, but it will operate under very different rules: instead of releasing the underlying source code daily as it's created, Oracle apparently will issue it only when its finished versions of Solaris are complete.

Oracle's non-cooperation led to the following motion, which the governing board passed:

Motion concerning dissolution of the OGB

Whereas Oracle has continued ignore requests to appoint a liaison to work with the OGB concerning the future of OpenSolaris development and our community, and

Whereas Oracle distributed an e-mail to its employees on August 13, 2010, that set forth Oracle's decision to unilaterally terminate the development partnership between Oracle and the OpenSolaris Community, and

Whereas, without the continued support and participation of Oracle in the open development of OpenSolaris, the OGB and the community Sun/Oracle created to support the open Solaris development partnership have no meaning, and

Whereas the desire and enthusiasm for continuing open development of the OpenSolaris code base has clearly passed out of Oracle's (and thus this community's) hands into other communities,

Be it Resolved that the OpenSolaris Governing Board hereby collectively resigns, noting that under the terms of the OpenSolaris Charter section 1.1 (and Constitution 1.3.5) the responsibility to appoint an OGB passes to Oracle.

OpenSolaris never attained the kind of broad involvement Linux enjoyed--indeed, few open-source projects do--but open-source fans still mourned OpenSolaris' passing.

Simon Phipps, Sun's former leader of open-source efforts, said he was sad to report the news. And Dave McAllister, Adobe Systems' director of open source and standards, said Oracle's move showed it had assumed Microsoft's mantle of open-source foe.

"I have no problem making money from open-source code. I have no problem with others doing so. I do have problems with removing community involvement once it has shown that it can create, drive, and maintain such efforts. I do wonder who's next in the shift from open-source commitment that Oracle seems to be leading," McAllister wrote in a blog post. "No company is perfect. But these recent moves seem to indicate that the axis of evil has shifted south about 850 miles or so."