[ Recently, Alasdair Lumsden announced his retirement as leader of the OpenIndiana community. This is a copy of my response to that. ]
Here at the illumos Foundation, we are very sad to hear of your resignation as lead of the OpenIndiana distribution. You have demonstrated great leadership and have been a wonderful friend of the community. We understand that such projects can be very time consuming, and we wish you all the best in your other endeavors.
As a community, many of us share some of your frustrations. At times, progress does appear to be slow. At other times, there may appear to be a lack of interest from many of the former Sun employees. However, although you may feel that there is a lack of support or interest, many of us active in the community feel differently. While OpenIndiana served to carry on the banner of the OpenSolaris distribution, it was obviously a dead end because the desktop wars are over, and even the Linux community could not win. Meanwhile, the flourishing embedded and special purpose markets for illumos technology continue to grow.
For example, use of illumos technology is growing in the areas of internet and cloud infrastructure, database and storage appliances, and embedded products. Many successful companies are driving the technology forward and the future has never looked brighter for open source developers looking to contribute to the community and find interesting jobs.
Although you may think we don’t see that the expanding free and open source software marketplace is not our total playground, what we do see is a talented, dedicated group of volunteers committed to seeing illumos become an important part of specialized, niche technology solutions, especially for solving critical problems facing the Internet.
Honestly, we do not expect the illumos core itself to be economically viable. We do expect--and see--distributions built upon the illumos core becoming commercially successful and growing. This model is similar to the successful Linux model, where the distributions can achieve different results based on the needs of the constituents or the community; some commercial, some less so.
The model of OpenSolaris is broken. The model of OpenIndiana following OpenSolaris is broken. The illumos model is following the successful Linux model. This is exemplified by distributions such as the commercially supported, general purpose OmniOS, Joyent’s SmartOS, Delphix OS, and others.
In the future, we expect illumos to become a bigger part of the technological community, as many companies now emerging from stealth mode are incorporating our core platform functions. As our community grows, and word continues to spread of our stability, dependability and scalability, we hope to take illumos to even more specialized markets.
Among the illumos community of volunteers are some of the smartest, most talented, most dedicated and hard-working people I’ve ever had the pleasure of being associated with. Their years of experience, combined with their insight into the serious problems facing the Internet, assure a rock-solid future for illumos. As a community, we have a shared set of values, and while sometimes we’ve had our disagreements, it’s always been those shared values that have come through and helped the community - and the technology we are building - grow and improve. We will continue to build an enterprise-grade, highly dependable operating system.
Again, we are saddened by your leaving. On a personal note, I have enjoyed the collaboration that we shared in the formative days of illumos and OpenIndiana, and I hope we will be able to do so in the future. We thank you for all your efforts on behalf of OpenIndiana and illumos, and know that your efforts have not been in vain; we will take all that we have learned under your leadership and build on it. As a natural evolution of the community, distributions come and go; we take the lessons and move on. Our community has never been one to back down from a challenge; we will handle this in stride and continue to move forward with our mission and our future goals.