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Oracle Kills OpenSolaris

Oracle is apparently rolling back Solaris to its pre-open source days

Oracle is apparently rolling back Solaris to its pre-open source days.

The company hasn't made an official announcement, and may never, but an internal e-mail ostensibly to its own remaining Solaris engineers outlining its position on OpenSolaris just happened to fall into the hands of OpenSolaris contributor Steven Stallion last Friday. He posted it under the headline "OpenSolaris is Dead" here.

Generally regarded as authentic, the e-mail says Solaris is meant to drive Oracle's newfound proprietary server and storage business, which is supposed to be worth "many billions of dollars," and as such "is not something we outsource to others, it is not the assembly of someone else's technology, and it is not a sustaining-only product."

It wants any innovations to turn up in the commercial code first.

That's why Oracle has been starving the open source project since it took over Sun in January to the point that the OpenSolaris board has threatened to walk. Instead it looks like the board has been evicted.

The e-mail, written by Mike Shapiro, Bill Nesheim and Chris Armes, states: "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."

It also says, "All of Oracle's efforts on binary distributions of Solaris technology will be focused on Solaris 11. We will not release any other binary distributions, such as nightly or bi-weekly builds of Solaris, or an OpenSolaris 2010.5 or later distribution."

The e-mail says Oracle will provide a free Solaris binary called Solaris 11 Express, available with optional support, by the end of the year, ahead of the full release of the next-generation commercial Solaris 11 rev next year.

That leaves open source malcontents the new breakaway OpenSolaris fork Illumos to fall back on. How long it stays in synch with Solaris is anybody's guess since Oracle means to keep technical descriptions of any innovations in future releases a secret.

Nextenta, the OpenSolaris-based storage appliance outfit leading the Illumos effort, means to introduce features that Solaris 11 may not mimic as well as replace Solaris components that were never open source.

Illumos' compatibility intentions may be doomed.

Nextenta CEO Evan Powell says sales inquiries for his product are up since the impasse became common gossip. Oracle is supposed to be focusing its Solaris efforts on its captive base.

The e-mail remarks that "Solaris is used by about 40% of Oracle's enterprise customers, which means we have a 60% growth opportunity in our top customers alone. In absolute numbers, there are 130,000 Oracle customers in North America alone who don't use our servers and storage yet, and a global customer base of 350,000 (the prior Sun base was ~35,000). That's a huge opportunity we can go attack as a combined company that will increase Solaris adoption and the overall hardware server revenue. Our success will also increase the amount of effort ISVs exert optimizing their applications for Solaris."

Nextenta could thrive without ever running into Oracle since its software appliance is more of a mid-market thing.

The ostensible Oracle e-mail said it would support upstream open source effort like Apache and Perl if it suits Oracle.

The news hit just as Oracle's infringement suit against Google's Android was filed.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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