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Illumos sporks OpenSolaris

Spooning Oracle for now, but ready to fork

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Oracle's goals for Solaris are to run it on its own and a select number of other platforms, and tune it to run its own software stack well. But OpenSolaris and now Illumos may have divergent goals, and some code this new community wants and needs may not be added into the OpenSolaris distribution by Oracle.

"We will make changes in the code that Oracle will not take back into the code," D'Amore concedes. "This has more to do with Oracle business decisions. Some of the code we create Oracle would like to have open source replacements for. But the things that people in the community want to work on are not the same things Oracle wants to work on."

As for Sun's idea of getting Solaris running on everything possible, D'Amore says that "Oracle totally gets that this was the wrong way to capitalize on Solaris" and the fact that Oracle could buy Sun for $5.6bn is the only proof you need. "I think Larry is right," D'Amore says, referring to Oracle's chief executive officer. "Solaris is going to be in a lot more shops, but on a much tighter base of hardware."

For now, D'Amore says the main thing is for the contributors of the Illumos project to create their tweaks to the ON core and submit them back to Oracle through OpenSolaris and submit them to the same quality control and monitoring processes that Sun used.

D'Amore is currently in charge of Illumos as a benevolent dictator, and Nexenta is supporting his work on the project and kicking in some funds. A dozen developers have joined the effort so far, and D'Amore is soliciting corporate sponsorship of the effort.

The project could expend over time to include other affiliated projects, such as those dealing with X11, desktop, and C++ runtime components as well as alternate OpenSolaris distributions on Power, ARM, and mainframe processors.

Having said all the delicate things about wanting a "collaborative and cooperative relationship" with Oracle for OpenSolaris development, D'Amore says that if the OpenSolaris community were abandoned or shut down by Oracle, "then this starts a big fork".

Illumos is for the moment a kind of insurance policy for the OpenSolaris community, until Oracle announces its plans for the project - perhaps at OpenWorld 2010 in late September. ®

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