A supposedly internal memo from Oracle has been posted to the opensolaris-discuss list. The most important part of this is probably that it finally states that OpenSolaris as a distribution is dead, Oracle will no longer make OpenSolaris available in binary form as a release or in bi-weekly development builds. The source will for most parts continue to be open, but will not be pushed out in realtime as it does today, it will be posted after a Solaris 11 release has been made available. This way Oracle will always be first in line to productize their latest innovations and fixes. neither will Oracle continue to post most of the PSARC externally. There will however be options for partners to gain early access to source and binaries from Oracle. Solaris 11 will be made available in an Solaris 11 Express form as a preview to the next release of Solaris 11. It will be free to use for developers and has an optional support plan.
As am enterprise customer the message is great, to know that Oracle really believes and invests in Solaris and that Solaris 11 will be made available early. The availability of the source after a release is also very important. I also feel that Oracle genuinely are going to make Solaris even better and are willing to put in the resources to do so. Looking at all the new features available in OpenSolaris since Solaris 10, Solaris 11 will be a huge leap forward for Solaris.
As someone involved and personally interested in the OpenSolaris community this is not very good. I will be cut of from the day-to-day changes in the source and no free OpenSolaris distribution will be available to attract new customers outside of the large enterprises. I think there will be some other distribution that will try to take the place of OpenSolaris, but with the access to the source cut, except for snapshots from releases it will not be as interesting as the weekly builds have been. It would also stall months behind Solaris 11 as it has to wait for the release to be made available.
If Oracle just would make Solaris 11 available at a lower price with obviously less support commitment it might come something good out of this even for businesses with smaller budgets. I think this is really something Oracle must do, otherwise the adoption rate of Solaris will decline drastically. It would neither undercut the sales of the enterprise support contracts, they will still be sold, mission critical deployments are not run with patch or mail-only support options. I've been involved with several smaller startups which love Solaris and like to use it, but neither need or can afford the support contracts for Solaris today, it would be sad if there was no open option for them to continue to use Solaris for a, for them, reasonable price.
So in short, I think that this will make Solaris even better for the large customers, Oracle will put much effort in keeping Solaris the most capable and advanced operating system available. But smaller companies, startup and hobbyist will have a harder time to adopt Solaris 11. I will continue to use Solaris 11 express for my private servers if possible, but I can obviously not be as involved as before since I get cut off from frequent builds and changes to the source.
The full memo is available here.
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