Tech Industry

Apache founder to help govern OpenSolaris

Sun, trying to keep its software relevant, is looking to draw open-source credibility to advisory board for OpenSolaris project.

Sun Microsystems has tapped a founder of the successful open-source Apache software project to join a new advisory board governing the OpenSolaris operating system project, the software and server maker said Monday.

Roy Fielding, who helped write the original Apache software now used to host most Web sites, is one of the five members of the OpenSolaris Community Advisory Board. Fielding, now Day Software's chief scientist, helped to found the Apache Software Foundation that now includes several other server software projects.

As Sun promised, a minority of the board members are from Sun: Caspar Dik, a Solaris security programmer, and Simon Phipps, Sun's chief technology evangelist. The other two members were elected by people involved in an OpenSolaris pilot project: Al Hopper, a consultant at Logical Approach Engineering; and Rich Teer, a Solaris consultant and author of the 1,200-page "Solaris Systems Programming."

The board's first job will be to set up a governance structure so non-Sun programmers will be able to participate in the open-source project.

Attracting outside involvement is a key part of Sun's aspirations to build an effective rival to Linux and, ultimately, to build other open-source software projects. Sun, most of whose revenue comes from selling hardware, is trying to increase the relevance and use of its software.

"The main thing we're trying to avoid, the most common problem with sponsored open-source projects, is essentially being loved to death by the original sponsor," Fielding said in a conference call with reporters. By setting up the advisory board, Sun has "acknowledged that the OpenSolaris group needs to be independent, to act separately from what Sun does internally."

That's not to say the board is nonpartisan, though.

"I've been using Solaris for eons, it seems. This is the culmination of a Solaris evangelist's dream," Teer said.

"I've been a Sun zealot for 15 years plus," Hopper added.

The board had its first meeting Monday.

In January, Sun released its first tidbit of Solaris source code, an optimization and debugging tool called DTrace. The rest of the software--including tools that will enable programmers to build the operating system from the source code--will be released by the end of June, said Tom Goguen, director of operating systems marketing.

The board plans to conduct its work in the open, on public mailing lists, Phipps and Fielding said. The chairman position will cycle among the board members, who essentially are equals, Teer said.