OpenSolaris – not so “open” after all

OpenSolaris 2010.03 missing in action has spawned a number of articles questioning its fate, some of them bordering on ignorance and FUD … or pile of junk and total bullshit if you don’t care being too polite.

Personally I am not too worried that OpenSolaris is going anywhere, I am quite certain that both @c0t0d0s0 and @pfuetz know something that I don’t when calling articles about the death of OpenSolaris as FUD. But it does show that with Oracle OpenSolaris will no longer be “open”.

We still have no idea when the 2010.03 release is coming out. And while I appreciate that Oracle states facts when they are facts they need to understand that “Open” should not only refer to the code but the release dates (and numerous other things) as well. Nobody talked about the death of Windows when Vista was delayed, noone announced the death of Debian, in spite of its numerous  jokes about its release cycle, yet people were quick to do so for OpenSolaris. A simple  announcement about a revised expected release date would go much way in silencing the critics. A page on release critical bugs, allowing everyone to peak and potentially assist in fixing currently open issues, would go even further. But there is nothing of that sort. No insight on fixes still pending, no release engineering group to provide a new ETA, no official statement from Oracle.

Sure, the code is still -and will hopefully will be- there for anyone to grab. Yet, calling OpenSolaris open doesn’t make it any more open than Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Sure, the source is published but other than that everything else is tightly controlled by a corporate overlord. Which makes both of them not so open, at least in my book.

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2 Responses to “OpenSolaris – not so “open” after all”

  1. Giovanni Tirloni Says:

    People expect that the relationship between Solaris and OpenSolaris is like RHEL/Fedora but it’s not. They also expect that the OpenSolaris distribution (as opposed to the OpenSolaris codebase) is a community effort. Again, it’s not. The community can help with bug fixes, testing, etc.. but the final word about anything is Sun’s (or Oracle’s now).

    IMHO, that’s totally wrong and subverts the open source philosophy. They have plenty of examples where open sources works and one would thought the RHEL/Fedora history would be one but Sun/Oracle doesn’t seem to agree. They want control even if that means diminished contributions.

    Personally I’m aligning my expectations regarding OpenSolaris. It’s hard to feel as a part of the project when there is so much secrecy. I think people haven’t forked everything yet because it hasn’t hit a critical mass of external developers willing to contribute. But then, Sun is mostly to blame for being so controlling.

    When (and if) it reaches a critical mass of people interested in carrying on the proejct through paths that Oracle/Sun doesn’t want, a fork will seem likely but I don’t see that happening anything soon. Companies like Nexenta that could be a force behind it seem happy enough with the “open core” business model that they aren’t a threat to Oracle/Sun.

    Sun/Oracle are free to do whatever it wants though. After all these years I just think things could be much better regarding open collaboration than they are now.

    If you look at other Linux and BSD projects they are very welcoming to new participants. Fedora is one of the best communities that I’ve had the pleasure to participate and it took no time for me to be in a position to contribute. IMHO, that’s the real value behind open source.

  2. mperedim Says:

    The community can help with bug fixes, testing, etc.. but the final word about anything is Sun’s (or Oracle’s now).

    +1. I still think though that Sun tried to made attempts, albeit a half-hearted one, to gradually open things up and didn’t hide everything under a veil of secrecy. Nothing compared to Fedora but at least we knew that 2010.02 would be 2010.03 since last Autumn.

    Thanks for the feedback

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