Phoenix rising from OpenSolaris ashes
I got a little nostalgic over the weekend. As I was working on Solaris 11 x86 over the past few weeks, I got a little bit peeved about how much Oracle has changed the OS.
Command like ifconfig doesn’t not appear to be very functional anymore and instead ipadm has taken over most of the configuration options. And when I working with Jumpstart (damn!), it does not work the way that I know anymore. And now AI (Automated Install) has taken over Jumpstart and I got to relearn the whole what-ca-ma-callit. Dang!
I remembered the day when Solaris x86 first came out in the early 90s. I was ecstatic because I could finally test and run Solaris on x86 platform. I could get things running at home and have fun with it. Drivers were limited then (and still is but has gotten much better) but I was happily hacking away together with other Linux distros as the open source revolution was just beginning. After I joined NetApp, things started to change and I abandoned Solaris in favour of Linux as my job, as well as my interest, were on Linux, especially RedHat. I eventually got my RHCE and completely lost touch with Solaris. By 2005, when OpenSolaris was announced under CDDL (Common Development and Distribution License), I was no longer well versed with the developments of Solaris and OpenSolaris.
Enough about my nostalgia because I am beginning to see a young phoenix (a mythical firebird) rising from the mess of what Oracle did with OpenSolaris! Since Oracle purchased Sun in 2010, Oracle has practically burned OpenSolaris to ashes. On August 13 2010, Oracle announced the end of OpenSolaris in an internal memo and it read:
Solaris Engineering, Today we are announcing a set of decisions regarding the path to Solaris 11, and answering key pending questions on open source, open development, software and binary licenses, and how developers and early adopters will be able to use Solaris 11 technology before its release in 2011. As you all know, the term “OpenSolaris” has been used colloquially to refer to any or all of a collection of source code, a development model, a web site, a logo, a binary release, a source license, a community, and many other related things. So it’s taken a while to go over each issue from an organizational and business perspective, and align on the correct next step. Therefore, please take the time to read all of the detail here carefully. We’ll discuss our strategy first, and then the decisions and changes to our policies and processes that implement that strategy.
If you want the entire memo (and all the fa-lah-lah that goes with it), go to Steven Stallion’s blog. Incidentally Steven Stallion was the OpenSolaris kernel developer who leaked the memo into the open.
It became pretty obvious that Oracle business suit culture and “is this going to make money?” ways were suffocating talents and innovations of the Sun engineering tribes. Some of the high profile leavers were James Gosling (father of Java) and Jeff Bonwick (father of RAID-Z and led the ZFS development team in Sun). And there were many top talents exodus within 90-120 days after the Oracle acquisition.
The key technologies that went into OpenSolaris (and Solaris) were slowly but surely deprived of their inventors’ and maintainers nourishment. These technologies were:
- ZFS (Project Pacific)
- Zones (aka Solaris Containers, aka Project Kevlar)
- Fault Management Architecture (FMA)
- Service Management Facility (SMF)
- Advanced Network Virtualization (Project Crossbow)
- ZFS –> Matt Ahrens, Eric Schrock, George Wilson, Adam Leventhal, Bill Pijewski and BrendanGregg
- SMF –> Dan McDonald and Sumit Gupta
- DTrace –> Bryan Cantrill, Adam Leventhal, Brendan Gregg, Eric Schrock, Dave Pacheco
- Zones & Jumpstart –> Jerry Jelinek
- and many, many more.
KVM (the Linux kernel-based virtual machine) is being added into the Illumos operating environment, giving it the final piece of the puzzle.
I cannot help but to feel extremely proud that OpenSolaris (and Solaris) is not dead yet and it’s alive and rising. Oracle cannot lay claim to the source code and the rights of Illumos (according to Bryan Cantrill) without itself abiding to the CDDL licensing and distribution scheme that it had killed off a year ago.
And this is indeed the young phoenix rising!