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The Setting Sun

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Well, that’s that, then. Solaris as we knew it is pretty much dead. I’ve suspected for a while now that Oracle’s intentions regarding Solaris were not what the community, or us "old-school" Solaris sysadmins wanted or had hoped for.

In the last few months, Oracle have completely alienated and scared off the community around OpenSolaris, killed any lines of communication by clamping down on employee blogs and have ignored open letters from highly influential and important community members begging for any kind of information. They’ve forbidden Sun/Oracle employees from heading up the Solaris user groups and booted the meetings out of their buildings; turned Solaris 10 into a 90-day trial, and pushed back the 2010.x release of OpenSolaris with no word as to it’s planned release date, or even if it is being continued as a product. And now, in a final act of desperation, the OGB has essentially threatened to "shoot itself in the head".

Even ignoring the OpenSolaris project, It’s not at all rosy in "real" Solaris land, either. Requests for information and clarification are going unanswered, and I know of several managers who have had hardware quotes and support tickets ignored - there’s a near total blackout of information from Oracle. People are fleeing Solaris in droves, and migrating to anything they can: Linux, FreeBSD (Dtrace and ZFS), AIX - hell, even HP-UX looks like a safer bet at the moment. And I never thought I’d find myself saying that!
It certainly appears that Oracle are doing a superb job of killing Solaris. But why would they do this, having paid all that money for Sun and announcing that they will increase spending on Solaris development ? 
Well, this post on Slashdot (allegedly from a Sun/Oracle employee) confirms my suspicions as to why they may be doing this. Oracle just really doesn’t care about Solaris as a general purpose data centre OS any more. There’s just no money in it, and although I personally find it tragic it does make sense. It’s probably also why they’re killing all their OEM deals - why help a competitor sell hardware, when all you’ll see from it is a possible support contract for the OS ? Oracle’s overall aim is to have Solaris relegated to the role of running as the bottom layer in an Oracle "database machine", Java appserver bundle or inside a "Fishworks" storage appliance. It excels at these tasks, and it would obviously fit into Oracle’s stated goal of being a one stop shop, where if you want to run Oracle, they’ll sell you the bundle - hardware, storage, OS and software. If they no longer want Solaris to be a dominant general purpose OS, then their approach makes sense. They don’t need a "community" around the product, they don’t need open source developers porting applications to it, and they certainly don’t need the overhead of running and managing a community portal any more. Unless you are running (and paying for) Oracle applications on Solaris, you’re probably more of an annoyance to them at the moment and I get the very strong idea that they’d rather you just quietly went elsewhere. I just wish that if this was their plan, they’d make some sort of statement about it; rather than ignoring the Solaris community in the hopes that they’ll eventually get frustrated and leave without Oracle having to spell it out for them. I think the way they are going about it reprehensible and it’s a tragic end for such a historic and innovative OS. Sadly though, Larry is all about the bottom line and the old, altruistic Sun approach just wasn’t bringing in the big bucks. As the Slashdot poster said : "Profit is king here. Anything else is overhead, and overhead eats into Larry’s yacht fund." Edit: Now it’s official : http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/08/13/opensolaris_is_dead/

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