Ever since Oracle acquired Sun last year (it went official early this year), there's been uncertainty about the future of Solaris, more specifically, about OpenSolaris. Oracle's John Fowler, Oracle's executive vice president of systems, spoke with InternetNews.com about the future of Solaris, and it doesn't look for the open source aspect of it all.
"We have a large new version of Solaris coming out in 2011 called Solaris 11," Fowler said, "You'll see us really building on the gold standard capabilities that are in Solaris today with significant enhancements in virtually every aspect of the system."
What can we expect from Solaris 11? Well, it's planned for the second half of 2011, and will see major changes all across the system, such as upgrades to "networking stacks, threading, file systems, package management and maintenance". In addition, a lot of work will be put into scalability to get Solaris 11 ready for a new generation of hardware Oracle is developing.
While all this development is going on, the OpenSolaris community hasn't been sitting idly by. They are afraid that the lack of communication out of Oracle means OpenSolaris is pretty much a dead end, and as such, they started the Illumos project - while not a fork just yet, it will make it easier to create a fork of OpenSolaris if necessary. Well, what Fowler had to say about OpenSolaris and the open source community didn't exactly make my unicorn's horn glow, so that fork might be right around the corner.
"We're really getting our grip around building a mission critical operating system that includes technologies from openSolaris that we've been working on for some time as well as technologies that we've more recently developed," Fowler said, "Solaris 11 will be a superset of what is in openSolaris."
Simon Phipps, former Chief Open Source Officer at Sun and currently a member of the OpenSolaris Governing Board isn't particularly hopeful about the future after reading Fowler's interview. On Twitter he wrote that "Oracle apparently confirms it is no longer developing Solaris as open source", in reference to this interview.
It would appear to be the case that Oracle is developing stuff for Solaris 11 that will not become available as open source (the "superset" thing), and while that indeed is a bad thing for the OpenSolaris community, I don't think Oracle's professional, corporate customers will really care.