Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Happy 1st birthday, OpenSolaris!

It was a year ago today that the OpenSolaris project opened to the public, releasing the first batch of source code under an OSI-approved open source license. The naysayers at the time said that Sun would never release the source code, or if they did, they'd only release the boring bits, keeping the "secret sauce" to themselves. They kept up this stance even after Sun released the source code to DTrace in January 2005, as a good will gesture.

The program to open up Solaris--called Tonic--had been going on inside Sun for years, and it wasn't until September 2004 that serious moves outside of Sun started happening. I was a member of the Solaris Cabal (the successor to the Secret Six that were so instrumental in getting Solaris x86 back from the grave), and a guy called Jim Grisanzio was a guest on one of our conference calls (which were, BTW, subject to a gentleman's NDA). During the call, Jim shared with us Sun's plans to open source Solaris, and said that he wanted to have a small pilot program. The pilot members would be subject to an NDA (a fact that frustrated Jim to no end!), but in exchange we would be privvy to and have input to Sun's plans. We would also get access to the Solaris source code months before anyone else outside Sun. Because of the people on the Cabal (Joerg Schilling, Dennis Clarke, Al Hopper, and me to name a couple of non-Sun people) represented the sort of people would be aimed at, the Cabal were the first non-Sun people to be invited to join the program. I think we all lept at the opportunity!

As the months went by, more and more people joined the pilot, until we had about 150 members. One of the hardest things for me as a pilot member under NDA was countering the FUD spreading naysayers. All we could do was repeat that Sun was serious about open sourcing Solaris--all of it--and that it would be made public as soon as possible (Sun's engineers had to go through the code with a fine toothed comb to make sure that Sun had the rights to publish the source code--an arduous task considering the millions of lines of code they had to inspect).

Here we are, a year later, and what a change we've seen! The OpenSolaris community has grown from about 150 people to over 14000 members, 13000 of which are not Sun employees. We have numerous community contributions, at least 5 OpenSolaris distributions, and dozens of projects (others have posted the exact figures, so I won't bother to repeat them here). For the most part, the naysayers have kept schtuum, although I see some die-hard Linux advocates still seem to have their heads in the sand. Which is their loss, really, because as a developer, I can't think of anything more interesting that hacking on the most advanced OS on the planet: Solaris. The Linux, Solaris, and BSD communities can learn a lot from each other, and it's gratifying to see bits of OpenSolaris technology in other OSes. For example, DTrace is well on its way to being ported to BSD, and I hear that a Linux port of ZFS is just getting started.

If you're not already invloved, come join us on, or IRC in #opensolaris on See you there!


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