Oracle Pulls Plug On OpenSolaris Development Work

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The news that OpenSolaris is being discontinued came in an internal memo to Oracle developers late last week that was leaked to the OpenSolaris mailing list and posted online Friday.

The memo said Oracle would devote its development resources to Solaris 11, the next release of the commercial version of the Unix-based operating system. Last week John Fowler, Oracle's executive vice president of systems, outlined the time table under which Solaris 11 will ship next year.

Word of the apparent demise of OpenSolaris comes just days after Oracle filed a lawsuit against Google claiming that its use of Java technology in the Android mobile operating system violates patents Oracle acquired when it bought Sun. Oracle filed the suit despite earlier moves by Sun to release key elements of Java code under an open-source license.

Prior to the Sun acquisition, some questioned whether Oracle would be as committed to the open-source community as Sun was. The acquisition itself, for example, was delayed by the European Commission, which raised concerns about Oracle's plans for Sun's MySQL open-source database software.

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Concerns about Oracle's open-source commitment were fueled by the departure of several key Sun executives in the wake of the acquisition, including James Gosling, the original designer of the Java programming language, and Simon Phipps, Sun's chief open-source technology officer.

"All of Oracle's efforts on binary distributions of Solaris technology will be focused on Solaris 11," said the memo written by Bill Nesheim, Solaris vice president; Chris Armes, director of Solaris revenue product engineering software; and Mike Shapiro, a Solaris distinguished engineer. "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."

Oracle plans to release a free developer version of Solaris 11 called Solaris 11 Express later this year, according to the memo. The company will issue updates to that OS leading up to the release of the full Solaris 11 next year.

The memo makes clear that Oracle's goals are to grow sales of the commercial release of Solaris, noting that the operating system is used by about 40 percent of Oracle's enterprise customers, "which means that we have a 60 percent growth opportunity in our top customers alone."

"We are increasing investment in Solaris, including hiring operating system expertise from throughout the industry, as a sign of our commitment to these goals," the memo said. "Solaris is not something we outsource to others, it is not the assembly of someone else's technology, and it is not a sustaining-only product."

The memo said Oracle remains committed to contributing technology to such open-source efforts as Apache, Perl and OFED (OpenFabrics Enterprise Distribution). Solaris source code already released under Sun's CDDL (Common Development and Distribution License) will maintain the same license, according to the note.

But the memo also said Oracle will be selective about those efforts, noting: "We can't do everything. The limiting factor is our engineering bandwidth measured in people and time. So we have to ensure our top priority is driving delivery of the No. 1 enterprise operating system, Solaris 11, to grow our systems business."