Well, Oracle went from one of those big enterprise-serving companies most of us don’t deal with to one of the more hated companies in our little community. Not only did they just sue Google over Android and its use of Java-related technologies, they also just officially killed off OpenSolaris. Solaris will still be open source, but source code will only come after each major release – development will happen behind closed doors.
OpenSolaris kernel developer Steven Stallion was the one who broke the news by publishing an internal email sent to Oracle’s Solaris engineers. The email is extremely verbose and a little vague at times, but after a few thorough readings everything finally became clear.
Up until now, open source Solaris development took place out in the open, like the Linux kernel or GNOME. You could see exactly what was going on, and Solaris source code was updated continuously with nightly releases and all that stuff. This is going to end. Development will take place behind Oracle’s closed doors, and only after each major release will source code be released to the public.
“We will distribute updates to approved CDDL or other open source-licensed code following full releases of our enterprise Solaris operating system,” the email details, “In this manner, new technology innovations will show up in our releases before anywhere else. We will no longer distribute source code for the entirety of the Solaris operating system in real-time while it is developed, on a nightly basis.”
The reasoning behind this move seems a bit odd to me. Oracle cites they can’t do everything on their own due to a lack of manpower – and yet they cut off the entire open source community and all the work it could do. The second reason cited by Oracle is that by developing out in the open, competitors will have insight into what Oracle is doing.
Ben Rockwood’s assessment is pretty clear. Rockwood laments the role of the OpenSolaris Governance Board, which announced it would disband if Oracle didn’t take action on OpenSolaris, thereby playing right into Oracle’s hands. “As a community and governance, OpenSolaris has been a non-stop, end to end failure. Hands down. At every turn, it failed,” Rockwood writes, “As an open source project, it was luke warm at best.”
So, that’s that, then. In a single week, Oracle manages to upset the Android, Java, and OpenSolaris communities. Nice one, Larry.
Well no surprises there, still saddening though. But I guess we can all say we saw this coming.
What annoys me the most about all this stuff-which-we saw-coming-from-miles-away is that regulators in the EU were focused on the fate of MySQL. An insignificant piece of software in Sun’s portfolio compared to Java and OpenSolaris with plenty of (beter) alternatives (PostgreSQL, Ingres, FireBird to name a few).