The Hand May Be Forced
Well, as you may have read, Oracle has decided that at some point very soon, we're going to lose normal regular access to the source code for OS/Net. (I.e. the Solaris kernel and supporting programs.)
While I would have vastly preferred for Illumos to have a cooperative and collaborative relationship with Oracle, it appears that Oracle doesn't value this. In fact, the exact words were from the management at Oracle were as follows:
Solaris 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.
While I understand the need to own the technology, there are few things that could be stated that show a stronger NIH attitude than this. Its unlikely that there will ever be a way for Oracle and the greater community to have a collaborative relationship.
This is a dark day for OpenSolaris -- its effectively dead now. (Its parent, Solaris, lives on however.)
For Oracle that is.
Because from the fertile ashes of the dead springs forth new life bringing hope and light in the form of Illumos.
Illumos has garnered the support of some of the top minds in the industry; already the list of names of Solaris contributors and potential contributors that have already publicly committed to supporting this project is extensive. Many of the names are famous, people like Bryan Cantrill. Oracle's actions and inaction have actually made this possible.
I can also say, the list goes even further -- considerably so. I have had private conversations with quite a few other people who have quietly committed to involvement. Some of the names are very surprising, and I hope that they will soon be in a position to announce their involvement for themselves. These are people that are big name contributors; folks who have made very large numbers of code commits to Solaris -- some of the deepest and most "challenging" parts of Solaris, too.
The upshot of this is that the future for Illumos is surprisingly bright. Rather than a dependency on the good will of one corporate sponsor with dubious intentions, the project will have the diverse backing of some of the most well-known innovators (and their employers) from the OpenSolaris -- nay, Open Source -- community.
So, by their actions here, Oracle may be forcing Illumos to "fork", which was always a prospect, even if not one I cherished. But with the backing of the innovators I know who are with us, I think we have a chance to actually be the premiere foundation for SunOS derived technology. Oracle may be investing more into Solaris, but if the best and brightest have left for greener pastures and are contributing to Illumos, then I think we'll have the "best" investments in the base. Following Oracle's lead when the brightest minds have already left looks less and less desirable by the moment. (And to be fair, there are still many bright folks within the Solaris organization at Oracle. But the balance is changing, and changing in favor of Illumos and the open development community.)
Oracle Solaris will not be the only source for this technology, and now it appears it may not even be the best source for this technology.
I once said I never intended for Illumos to compete with Solaris. That was true, but if Oracle forces the issue, then even despite their vast economic resources, I say, "Bring it!"