posted by Thom Holwerda on Mon 9th Mar 2009 23:21 UTC
IconAt the end of January this year, I wrote a rather harsh, but honest article on the state of SkyOS. I was very worried that the closed-source operating system, for which users have to pay in order to beta test it, would never reach a final version, something that was promised to the people paying the price. This feeling was strengthened by a lack of updates; we were five months without news, six months without a release, and 8 months without a changelog update. My article got the ball rolling, but now that we're five weeks down the road, is that ball still rolling?

After the article went live, Robert Szeleney, lead developer, clarified the current status of SkyOS, citing several very valid reasons why he had been unable to work on SkyOS. He officially declared development on SkyOS halted, and explained he was now mulling over the future of SkyOS - open source it, release a free version, specialise on a niche, stop development altogether.

The community around SkyOS on both OSNews and the SkyOS forum was clear: most of them prefer the open source route. A lot of people did differ on the specifics of how to actually implement such an open source strategy, but probably the most reasonable proposition I've seen, from Matt Turner, goes something like this:

  • Release SkyOS under a MIT/BSD style license, to allow projects SkyOS has used code from (like Haiku) to reuse SkyOS code
  • Implement a Linux-like development model, where Szeleney controls what goes into the repository, defines targets and makes releases, and points people in the right direction

The rest of Turner's proposal deals with what direction SkyOS should follow, and what direction it should go into. The above two points seem like a very reasonable and solid future plan for SkyOS development, as it still allows Szeleney to exercise control, while the open source community can contribute and in return use code from SkyOS to benefit the rest of the community. It also offloads the development burden of SkyOS from Szeleney's shoulders - up until he halted development, SkyOS was a one-man show, with him doing all the work.

Sadly, there has been no word yet on where SkyOS will go from here. Szeleney hasn't given any indication of on which path he intends to send SkyOS, which effectively means that in five weeks we haven't gotten a whole lot further on the issue. Turner did indicate he has had email contact with Szeleney, and Turner explains that Szeleney is "trying to find motivation to work on SkyOS again".

Let me assure you that I'm not trying to be a bully or something, but the fact of the mater is that SkyOS has to deal with paying customers, and they deserve some answers. I'm just concerned about SkyOS' future, and without any communication about the future of SkyOS I'm afraid that it will slowly slip into irrelevance, where it will benefit nobody. Something needs to happen fast, because the longer we are without any official statements on SkyOS' future, the less people will actually give a rat's bum.

Lewis Caroll said it so well.

'Would you tell me please, which way I ought to go from here?'
'That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,' said the Cat.
'I don't much care where-' said Alice.
'Then it doesn't matter which way you go,' said the Cat.

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