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You all expected it, and now it has come to pass: Oracle has killed off the OpenSolaris development project.

There was never any need for the OpenSolaris governing board to commit ritual suicide — they were going to be ignored to death just the same.

A lengthy email sent out to the Solaris development team by Mike Shapiro (distinguished engineer, Solaris kernel development), Bill Nesheim (vice president of Solaris platform engineering), and Chris Armes (director of Solaris revenue product engineering software) of Oracle was outted in an abridged form here by OpenSolaris kernel programmer Steve Stallion. Subsequently, Alasdair Lumsden, one of the key members of the OpenSolaris community, posted the full internal message on the OpenSolaris forums.

In short, the Oracle executives said that the open source, community-driven OpenSolaris project as conceived and built by Sun Microsystems five years ago is dead. Get over it.

Instead of OpenSolaris being coded well ahead of the commercial Solaris release that it will eventually become, Oracle is doing a 180-degree turn: now the only open source version of any future Solaris stack will come after the commercial product ships.

"We will distribute updates to approved CDDL or other open source–licensed code following full releases of our enterprise Solaris operating system," the Oracle executives wrote in the memo. "In this manner, new technology innovations will show up in our releases before anywhere else. 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."

Anyone downstream from Oracle that is consuming Solaris source code for their own distributions or amusement will continue to be able to do so, much as Oracle waits for Red Hat to finish its Enterprise Linux releases and versions, and then makes its own snapshots, replacing logos and such to make Oracle Enterprise Linux. So the OpenSolaris-based distros from Nexenta, Belenix, and SchilliX can continue to base themselves on CDDL-licensed Solaris code, but they are passive recipients of whatever Oracle cooks up, and not part of the development process as that Solaris code is being created.

With one caveat: if you are a strategic technology partner with Oracle, then you can get a special pass from the Oracle Technology Network that will give selected partners access to in-development Solaris source code and binaries and, where appropriate, make changes to the source code. Like, for example, if you are Intel. And maybe no one else.

"All such partnerships will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis," the Oracle executives explained, "but certainly our core, existing technology partnerships, such as the one with Intel, are examples of valued participation."

Oracle says that it will continue "active open development" of Solaris, including upstream contributions such as in the Gnome, X11, IPS packaging, Apache, OpenSSL, and Perl projects. Oracle will not open the kimono on future Solaris developments as it did during the OpenSolaris project, but will provide documentation and technical design information through the Oracle Technical Network. "We can at any time make a specific decision to post advance technical information for any project, when it serves a particular useful need to do so." Or, this being Oracle, not.

And if you were thinking that those free Solaris binaries were going to last, forget it.

"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 binaries, or an OpenSolaris 2010.05 or later distribution," the execs wrote. "We will determine a simple, cost-effective means of getting enterprise users of prior OpenSolaris binary releases to migrate to S11 Express."

Oracle is setting up a Solaris 11 Platinum Customer Program, giving key customers direct engineering involvement and feedback into Solaris 11. And, ironically, Oracle is inviting the OpenSolaris community members to participate.

"We will be asking all of you to participate in this endeavor, bringing with us the benefit of previous Sun Platinum programs, while utilizing the much larger megaphone that is available to us now as a combined company," the Oracle memo ended. "We look forward to everyone’s continued work on Solaris 11. Our goal is simply to make it the best and most important release of Solaris ever."

And to have complete control and pump some money out of it, like Sun should have done to avoid being eaten by Oracle, IBM, or anyone else.

John Fowler, the executive vice president of Oracle's Server and Storage Systems group, said earlier this week in a webcast explaining Oracle's server, storage, and operating system strategies, that Solaris 11 was due to be launched in 2011. The graphical roadmap pegged it to around the second half of 2011, and Fowler said an early-adopter program for Solaris 11 would kick off before the end of the year.

Fowler never mentioned any of these changes in the Solaris development process during his 35-minute presentation, and didn't answer questions that might require him to. When contacted by The Reg on Friday, Oracle declined to comment on the executives' email.

Now the ball, it would seem, is in the court of former Sun and Oracle software developer Garrett D'Amore and his Illumos project. Illumos, launched last week, seeks to be a new open source development community to work on the core OS/Network guts of what was once called OpenSolaris. D'Amore said he didn't want to fork OpenSolaris, but Oracle may have just forced his hand. ®

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