Friday, April 16, 2010

The Future Of OpenSolaris...Still Unwritten and Uncertain

I've been following the activities of the OpenSolaris project for some time with interest. With the acquisition of Sun by Oracle, it's future is still uncertain. Since my last entry on the subject, I have only played with it a few times inside a virtual machine.

I remember back when I was in college and OS/2 Warp came out. It was so cool and I was immediately converted. Despite the coolness factor, the conversion was short lived. I don't remember my reasoning for abandoning OS/2--maybe it was my introduction to Linux in a computer lab or the lack of OS/2's ability to satisfy my computer needs compared to Windows or Linux. Whatever the reason, I can't help but recall that experience as I now look at and ponder the fate of OpenSolaris.

I don't think OpenSolaris has a large enough community outside of full-time, paid developers to support the operating system's advancement. Sure, there are a few different distributions out there, but these deal primarily with packaging the kernel--not low-level kernel development. As with OS/2 warp, a few cool technologies found in no other operating system (i.e. DTrace and ZFS ) will not be enough to grow the community and keep the system alive. Without a large and fully open community, a code base the size of an operating system needs some major company-backed financing to grow.

Only time will tell the true fate of OpenSolaris. I think some years down the road I'll look back on my OpenSolaris experience and remember the brief experience with a smile and wonder what may have been.

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