Oracle sticks a fork in Illumos, OpenSolaris community

According to a leaked internal memo, Oracle won't cooperate with Illumos and OpenSolaris community; Nexenta CEO says this won't hinder ZFS storage development.

Oracle Corp. is not planning to cooperate with the Illumos project and OpenSolaris community, according to a leaked internal company memo.

Oracle's plans pose a threat to ZFS-based storage systems that use OpenSolaris code, although the CEO of Nexenta Systems Inc. said neither the vendor's ZFS storage system or Illumos will change as a result.

Software engineer Steven Stallion posted the memo, which laid out Oracle's plans for distributing code for its next-generation Solaris 11, on his Iconoclastic Tendencies blog last Friday. The memo, addressed to Solaris engineering, outlines Oracle's decisions regarding open source, open source development, software and binary licenses, and how developers and early adopters will be able to use Solaris 11 technology before its release in 2011.

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Stallion, who titled his post "OpenSolaris is Dead," is an OpenSolaris developer. According to the Oracle memo:

"We will distribute updates to the approved CDDL or other open-source licensed code following full releases of our enterprise Solaris operating systems. 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."

Oracle's decision has implications for both the OpenSolaris community and the development of the source code used for ZFS storage systems that has been left dormant since Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems Inc. Two weeks ago, former Sun and Oracle engineer Garrett D'Amore unveiled the Illumos project, a new governing body for the OpenSolaris community that has been frustrated with how long Oracle has been taking to incorporate bits developed by OpenSolaris developers.

D'Amore now is senior director of engineering at Nexenta Systems.

"It's too bad Oracle is taking this approach," said Evan Powell, CEO at Nexenta Systems. "My interpretation of this memo is that they are going to stop development in OpenSolaris and go to a more closed developer process. It does not look like they will be accepting any bits from the outside. They are not going to be accepting our bits."

But Powell does not necessarily see this new development as a hindrance to the Illumos project. "If this rumor is true, that means the developers of OpenSolaris now need another place to develop their codes," he said. "This gives them a place to go."

In his blog on the Nexenta website, Powell added: "For NexentaStor customers and partners, nothing will change. We've been planning for this contingency for a long time. We have the team to continue to support customers and partners and to continue our development. We look forward to picking up the appropriate pieces of Solaris when they are made available with Solaris 11 as well."

Oracle had no comment on the leaked memo.

The problem the OpenSolaris open source community has faced in the last several years is that important parts of the code distributed with OpenSolaris is closed sourced. But when he launched Illumos, D'Amore said progress has been made in some key areas of the Solaris closed source code. However, critical work in certain closed areas still needs to be done, such as the NFS/CIFS lock manager, full kdf module/daemon, trusted extensions and other drivers.

"It will be up to the community to decide what to do," Powell said. "There will be a lot of code contributions between now [and the Solaris 11 release]. How it will make it upstream is not clear."

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