OpenSolaris is dead… what now?

By | August 22, 2010

OpenSolaris is dead. Well, it’s not dead, but as good-as-dead.  As announced, er, leaked in mid-August, Oracle will no longer be using the OpenSolaris community as a way to build and strengthen the core Solaris bits with help from the outside community. Rather it is taking OpenSolaris internal, and only releasing Solaris 11 binaries (as Solaris 11 Express for free use by developers).

This is one of the fallouts of M&A activity in any industry. Sometimes good products get the axe. Sometimes it’s because there’s product-line overlap and a need for consolidation. And other times it’s because the new corporation doesn’t see the benefits of a “loss leader”.  OpenSolaris was the “loss leader” for Sun, in that it attracted new users to the Solaris fold (I am one of them.)  OpenSolaris also helped Sun via a free development community, from which they could cherry-pick tried and tested code and bring it into the mainstream Solaris code base.

As a recent convert to OpenSolaris, I’m saddened that the leading-edge development of ZFS will no longer be externally available via this “reference” build. The best way to get the latest features and bug-fixes was to stay in tune with OpenSolaris.

Or at least I thought so.  Just prior to the “demise” of OpenSolaris, some important members and contributors to the OpenSolaris community split off the Illumos Project as a way to protect the Open Source components of OpenSolaris, and to continue to foster growth and innovation in what had become a stale and ignored (by Sun/Oracle) OpenSolaris project. And just in time!

The Illumos Project promises to keep alive the development of ZFS and other great features of OpenSolaris, which are very important to other projects such as Nextena Core OS and commercial derivatives such as NexentaStor, as well as the myriad of other OpenSource projects that use ZFS for volume and file management.

What will I do with my OpenSolaris, ZFS-based file server for my home use? I’m going to convert it to NexentaStor Community Edition.  I’ll be able to import my current ZFS pools directly into the new installation, the conversion will be a minimal effort. [Edited later: Since I want to install other applications, including netatalk for AFP support, I think I will actually install the Nexenta Core Platform 3.0, not NexentaStor which is an excellent appliance but locked down and not great for general purpose application use]

ZFS is a great filesystem. It’s got modest support by a couple of non-Solaris-based operating systems, but the best support is supplied by Solaris-kernel-based operating systems. Since Oracle has taken the most direct path to great ZFS support away, enthusiasts such as myself will have to turn to projects like Nexenta for our access to this great filesystem.

I’d love to hear other opinions… please leave a comment!

Category: M&A Tags: , ,

About Bill Plein

I've been in the data storage industry since the 1990's, most recently with 3PAR, Fusion-io, and Pure Storage. I'm now with Diamanti, where we make Kubernetes easy and fast. I'm attracted to bright, shiny new objects.

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