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Why OpenSolaris Failed To Build a Community 280

Posted by Soulskill
from the diverging-interests dept.
xtaski writes "Ted Ts'o, one of the earliest Linux developers, points out some serious flaws in OpenSolaris. There is a severe lack of developers, for one. Apparently, after 3 years, the OpenSolaris 'developer community' is still struggling to get the proper tools for developers to develop! Ted also points out some other flaws which make it clear just how disconnected the executives at Sun are from what's really going on in their 'open source communities.' He notes, 'It was never ... Sun's intention to try to promote a kernel engineering community, or at least, it was certainly not a high priority for them to do so.'"
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Why OpenSolaris Failed To Build a Community

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  • mirror (Score:5, Informative)

    by asv108 (141455) <alexNO@SPAMphataudio.org> on Thursday April 24, 2008 @02:20PM (#23186982) Homepage Journal
    • Re:mirror (Score:5, Informative)

      by tytso (63275) * on Thursday April 24, 2008 @02:35PM (#23187226) Homepage
      Yeah, sorry about that. Thunk.org is a rather ancient machine (> 5 years old) living in a colo facility, and this is how I figured out I had been slashdotted. (The two uptime commands were about two minutes apart):

          14:21:06 up 121 days, 16:47, 2 users, load average: 40.47, 12.41, 4.55
          14:23:05 up 121 days, 16:49, 2 users, load average: 81.43, 36.97, 14.52

        Fortuantely I'm still mirroring my blog onto my old Livejournal account; please read it there for now! The two articles that you want are this one: What Sun was trying to do with Open Solaris and this one: [livejournal.com]Organic vs. Non-organic Open Source [livejournal.com], if you can't get through to thunk.org.

      • Re:mirror (Score:5, Funny)

        by tytso (63275) * on Thursday April 24, 2008 @03:05PM (#23187644) Homepage
        Not so ancient Chinese saying: "It is not enough to install wp-cache2 and activate the plugin; you must go to options->wp-cache and press then "enable" button to REALLY enable wp-cache."

        Doh!

        (Once I actually really enabled wp-cache, my server seems to have been able to keep up, for now...)
      • I've never seen the load on a Linux machine rise above like 6, and by then its unresponsive to anything.

        How's it get up to 80?
        • Re:mirror (Score:4, Interesting)

          by tytso (63275) * on Thursday April 24, 2008 @04:16PM (#23188678) Homepage

          How's it get up to 80?
          Lots and lots of apache daemons. :-)

          I've never seen the load on a Linux machine rise above like 6, and by then its unresponsive to anything.
          I was disk-bound, because wp-cache wasn't enabled even though it should have been, so it didn't take me that long to recover once I managed to run shutdown the apache server. Then it was just a matter of setting up a firewall rule to only allow access from my home IP address, restarting the server, figuring out that I needed to enable the wp-cache plugin, then remove the firewall rule, and pray.... :-)

          But yeah, I was pretty impressed that my 1 GHz Pentium III with only 512 megs of memory running 2.6.16 linux was able to not only survive, but recover from a slashdotting without needing to reboot. If I had only checked earlier to make sure that wp-cache really was enabled, but as the old saying goes, "no one expects the Spanish Inquisition!"
        • by ATMD (986401)
          Dude... have you actually heard of Slashdot?
  • ...serious flaws in OpenSolaris. There is a severe lack of developers, for one. Apparently, after 3 years, the OpenSolaris 'developer community' is still struggling to get the proper tools for developers to develop!

    No developers or any tools?
    At least we won't have to blame another Solaris bomb on George Clooney this time.
    • There are plenty of tools, just not the kind you are thinking of. These tools have proper names that must be capitalized.
  • by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy&gmail,com> on Thursday April 24, 2008 @02:26PM (#23187074) Journal
    The answer is: "They acted like a bunch of dicks."

    OSS is a labor of love. You've got to want to work on the project, and you've got to be able to work on the project.

    If you put a big chunk of your time into something and get rudely dismissed, then its hardly likely that you'll continue to contribute.
    • Wait (Score:2, Funny)

      by ISoldat53 (977164)
      Sun has an OpenSolaris?
    • by JerkBoB (7130) on Thursday April 24, 2008 @04:06PM (#23188536)
      Speaking as someone on the inside -- you're right. There are a lot of big egos here.

      I didn't come to Sun because I like the Kool-Aid, I came by acquisition. I haven't decided yet whether or not this whole "we love Open Source" thing Jonathan keeps plugging is real or a charade. I'm optimistic, but we'll see.

      On better days, I like to think that the people way up at the helm really "get it" and are just waiting for the rest of the ship to slowly (slowly!) turn. On not-so-good days, I start to wonder if maybe someone's trying to pull a fast one.

      There are lots and lots of people here who really and truly believe that Linux is just an upgrade path to Solaris. In other words... Once people start running Linux on Sun hardware, they'll "want more", and "step into the big league" with Solaris. It's kind of sad, when it's not irritating.

      Anyhow... I could bitch for a while, but I won't.
      • The problem with Sun hardware is that it's too awesome. Where I work we have two sun mainframes; nice and all, and I can occasionally blow peoples minds regarding the things that you can do with the system, but they cost more than all the rest of the crap in the server room combined, without providing the same level of performance.

        I once applied for a job whose sole perk was that the site was a huge testbed for Sun hardware, and I'd have the ability to just play with it...To play with big iron.

        But I can't i
        • by JerkBoB (7130) on Thursday April 24, 2008 @04:45PM (#23189128)
          The thing is, Andy's [wikipedia.org] back, and as far as I can tell, he doesn't give a rat's ass about Solaris. He just wants to make interesting hardware. That's where the money is, after all. Software is a pathetic fraction of corporate revenues here. All the more reason to be mystified about the internal hostility toward Linux.

          So, for example, the Thumper [sun.com] is one of Andy's creations. It's pretty hard to beat the storage density you get for the price. Put a mess of those under a Lustre filesystem, and people start to take notice of Sun as a player in HPC. The recent TACC Ranger [utexas.edu] system is all Sun gear: storage, compute, and network (with sun-built Magnum [sun.com] switches). The OS? Linux.

          There's more interesting stuff coming down the pike, and from my perspective, it seems that there's a shift toward making money on volume rather than margins. In other words, somewhat less awesome, but more of it.

          I dunno. I don't profess to have much more special knowledge than anyone outside of the upper echelons. I'm hopeful, though. I read somewhere that many of the big Solaris egos were hired away by teh google. Hopefully they keep going. They can have our kool-aid-drunk sales and marketing people too. :P
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by afabbro (33948)

          Where I work we have two sun mainframes;

          Um, no you don't.

      • by Kent Recal (714863) on Thursday April 24, 2008 @08:00PM (#23192082)

        There are lots and lots of people here who really and truly believe that Linux is just an upgrade path to Solaris. In other words... Once people start running Linux on Sun hardware, they'll "want more", and "step into the big league" with Solaris. It's kind of sad, when it's not irritating.


        Funny. It has been exactly the opposite for us.
        We're running a bunch of xfires (14 boxes total, 4100, 4200, 4150) here
        and initially started out with solaris because the wise guys said it's faster,
        more stable, oh and no least you get that shiny "platinum support" badge...

        Yea it was all that and the zfs hype, what could possibly go wrong?

        Nothing much to be honest. We fell in love with the hardware immediately
        and the machines hummed along without too much trouble. Postgres performs
        well, java performs well, and ZFS snapshots are a blessing.

        Despite all that superficial happyness we switched most of the hosts to linux
        (and aim for 100% linux) after a few months. We still love ZFS (and can't wait
        for a linux equivalent) but that alone couldn't justify sticking to solaris for us.

        What broke it for us is the userland with all its subtle differences
        to linux, or in other words: the learning curve. This may sound strange when
        talking about a UNIX OS but as a linux shop we're spoiled by the GNU toolchain,
        by dead-simple package management and all the little everyday things that just
        work a tiny little bit different under solaris.

        I'm not saying the linux-UI is better (actually, it is in many
        places, but that's not the point here), it's just that we all grew
        up with linux, so the solaris CLI "felt like a really old version of linux"
        (to paraphrase a coworker) from the start.

        We didn't slack, mind you. We tried hard to make that feeling stop. We read the
        books and collected bigadmin bookmarks like trophies. We changed the default-shell
        to bash and installed the GNU tools to keep our sanity but otherwise did our best
        to treat solaris with respect and resisted the urge to dress it up to look more
        like linux.

        It didn't work out.

        I could rant for days about the many little things that drove us away but
        I'll try to focus on a few of the most significant points here:

        1. Package Management (the lack thereof)
        Pkg-add is bad joke when you're used to apt-get and emerge. JumpStart feels
        like an insult when you're spoiled by FAI. I can only guess how Sun expects
        us to keep our multiple solaris boxes in sync. Maybe they sell that as
        one of their many enterprise service?

        2. Google doesn't work well for solaris
        Not really something we can blame on solaris or Sun but time after time we
        were astonished as to how hard it is to find useful help for specific solaris
        problems via google. Howto's and Tutorials about all things solaris are generally
        very sparse. Due to this "learning by doing" doesn't work as well for solaris
        as it does for linux.

        3. The sun website SUCKS
        Sure there is a lot of documentation, if you can find it in the pile
        of rubble that sun calls a website. But even the stuff we found was
        not always helpful. Sun documentation tends to be very verbose while
        still often glossing over important details. Sun docs often feel like
        they expect you to print them out and put them under your pillow.
        We don't work that way. We're spoiled by straighforward howtos,
        examples, stuff that gets us going fast. We're the impatient
        youngsters.

        Well, this got longer than I intended. I'll close with saying that
        we'll keep buying sun hardware. The xfire series is the best piece of kit
        (at a very competitive price) that I have ever seen and it runs linux
        like a champ.

        But linux as an "upgrade path to solaris"? Ha. Good joke.
        In my world solaris has it's place on big iron and in areas where
        the last bit of performance really matters. For everyone else the
        natural choice is what they're familar with. And who grows up with
        solaris these days?
        • by SoupIsGood Food (1179) on Friday April 25, 2008 @12:43AM (#23194140)
          Umm. I'm more than a little dismayed that you gave up containers, ZFS, SMF, dtrace and JumpStart for... GNU shell tools and apt?

          As a cross-platform sysadmin with a decade-plus of experience, dude. Just... dude. My "Ineptitude" sense is tingling.

          I mean, how much messing around on the command line do you really need to do on a daily basis? If the answer is "A Lot" - then I can sort of see Linux taking the advantage. Kinda. Yet, most, if not all, command line wrangling on modern servers is to munge shell scripts, and that's mostly been supplanted by python and ruby these days, anyhow. You've never even heard of JumpStart? "pkgadd -d" is too hard for you? You can't find anything on Solaris administration by googling the problem keywords with "sun Solaris administration" appended after? Really? Wow.

          Not to be mean or anything, but seriously. If you can't handle Solaris, you shouldn't be in the sysadmin game. Only OpenBSD us easier for Unix wonks to tinker with. Stuff like AIX and NonStop would =break= you into a quivering pile of goop. Based on your post, I have doubts you'd be able to hack the more challenging Linux distros, too, like Slack or Debian.

          There are good reasons to go with Linux on Sun hardware - pure speed, cross-platform compatibility (esp. with LAMP stack stuff), the need to tinker with the kernel to meet project objectives, or stripping down the OS to a bare minimum for performance or security advantages, re-purposing old hardware with an up-to-date OS that demands fewer resources. Then there are the reasons you gave.

          I suppose if you really wanted to re-orient your entire computing platform around the needs of the sysadmins to play with the shell rather than the needs of the project to utilize its very expensive hardware to its fullest with modern OS features not yet available on Linux, your reasons are valid. Stupid, short-sighted, luddite and likely to get you fired at any other Unix shop of any size, but valid. I guess.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Skrynesaver (994435)
            I kinda agree with you, but I'm over 40 too ;)
            Most of the younger staff here take a few months to get used to Solaris, it's the little things, netstat doesn't work as they expect (Why can't I just see the PID/binary name), ls doesn't have the switches they expect and to perfectly honest, while pkgtools is familiar to anyone who's used Slack etc kids today are spoiled with apt and they're right to like it, it "Just works"
            We can't over modify the system as they need to be able to provide advice to clients
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Kent Recal (714863)
            Hm, I'll go through them one by one.

            Zones are indeed amazing but we don't have a use-case for them on our
            production hosts. Maybe we could have used "zone-images" to deploy our
            stuff but that'd really only be an excuse to use zones for a task
            that seems to be better suited to apt (dependency tracking, controlled
            distribution of updates etc.).

            ZFS, no doubt, is something we miss.

            SMF. Well, as often with solaris I love the concept but hate the implementation.
            Yes, it beats sysv-init hands down. But, gah, XML, and m
    • by devjj (956776) *
      This isn't specific to OSS, obviously. Apple dismissed (arguably rudely, given how poorly worded the rejection email was) many would-be iPhone developers. Who wants to invest time into a platform with no guarantee when or even if you'll be able to sell your product?
  • Bureaucracy (Score:5, Informative)

    by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Thursday April 24, 2008 @02:29PM (#23187116)

    I think Sun underestimated the importance of casual users. A lot of times the people choosing an OS for a project (be it enterprise deployment, inclusion with hardware, or just use within IT) go with what they are familiar with and also what their current interests are. When Sun open sourced Solaris, there was a lot of interest from the Linux and BSD communities. A lot of those people decided to download a copy and give it a try. The difficulty these casual users had in grabbing an installable copy and getting it running easily were significant. A lot of people just said, "meh" and moved on. The last time I grabbed a developer preview I still had to fill out a bunch of forms with my personal data then deal with Sun's "download manager" and then spend significant time getting it to install, even within a VM customized to run OpenSolaris in particular. That is still better than it used to be. I only have a success rate of about 50% in getting Solaris to install to date.

    For most people I think it is just too much of a hassle and all the developer momentum is on Linux. I guess when Sun thinks about open sourcing Solaris, they see it as a way to try to stop their hardware customers from moving away from Sun, which is fine, but does little to leverage the real benefits of an OSS community such as Linux has been doing for a long time.

    • Download barriers (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SgtChaireBourne (457691) on Thursday April 24, 2008 @02:55PM (#23187508) Homepage

      Downloading is a royal PITA. The registration is usually a deal-breaker. Almost nothing I've ever run across that's worth anything requires registration for download. However, as a (former) long-time Solaris / SunOS user and major FOSS user, I felt compelled several times to try to circumvent that. But then there's no real way do a network install and othewise week download choice.

      That gripe aside, the article is a bit premature. Though time is running out and it could become true if Sun decides to keep downloads off of anonymous FTP, AFS and Bittorrent.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        That gripe aside, the article is a bit premature. Though time is running out and it could become true if Sun decides to keep downloads off of anonymous FTP, AFS and Bittorrent.

        I agree with that last bit, the article is way immature and innacurate.

        If you read the comments of one of the blogs cited, you will see OpenSolaris members clearing up the situation and showing how she was a bit hasty in her comments. At least that's my opinion.

        Like signing and NDA for a OpenSolaris User Group meeting. Turns out, even by the blogger's own statement that The NDA was for confidential information in case for instance something got left behind in the meeting room. Since OpenSolaris related

      • by JerkBoB (7130)
        The reason downloading ANYTHING from Sun is such a PITA is because of US crypto export restrictions.

        Can't have those pesky Iranians downloading munitions, you know.

        You think I'm joking? Go read about it [epic.org].

        Sun does a huge amount of business with the US Gov't. Sun would rather annoy users than risk its lucrative government relationships. Ergo, stupid download portals that make you verify that you're not from the axis-of-can't-get-strong-crypto.
        • Is this really still accurate? The article you reference is from 2000. I thought things had relaxed quite a bit now that implementations of various crypto are in the hands of developers outside the US. With AES implementations in universally available GNU/Linux distros why would they bother?

          Mind you it would not suprise me in the least if the USG was still being this stupid but I seem to remember hearing otherwise... So, here is what I dug up in a few minutes of googling [google.com]. (and yes, Wikipedia is close to the
  • by Jeffrey Baker (6191) on Thursday April 24, 2008 @02:33PM (#23187200)
    You have to have a good product before you can have a community. Linux built its early community based on tinkerers and hackers who found it easy to play with. Early Linux distributions, you may recall, were all inclined to integrate well with DOS. Some of them could even be installed _in_ DOS. You could install Slackware and be up and running with an editor and compiler in half an hour. OpenSolaris doesn't follow this example. Using it is a tremendous pain in the ass. Its installer runs for 2-4 hours on the midrange PCs I've tried to install it upon. Once it's "installed" you still have to grope around trying to find familiar tools, which are maybe under UCB or perhaps under GNU subdirectories. It's hard to download software from the 'net and ./configure it. Hardware support is very thin.

    To get a hacker community, you have to offer fun. OpenSolaris is simply not fun. It reminds me of work.
    • by Hatta (162192) on Thursday April 24, 2008 @02:42PM (#23187338) Journal
      How are the GNU distros built on the opensolaris kernel though? I'm thinking of Nexenta [nexenta.org] specifically. Seems like it would be the best of both worlds if done right. World class UNIX kernel + world class userland utils. But then if it's just thrown together, it could suck too.
    • Linux community (Score:2, Informative)

      by bobs666 (146801)
      Linux had a community. It was the Minux community that was starting to had problems with patches. Since the base code had a bad copyright, and thus could not be freely transmitted. And patching patches or still more patches just got out of hand. The GPL that Linux used ended all that and allowed Linux to take off.
    • by thsths (31372)
      > Using it is a tremendous pain in the ass.

      I agree. The structure may be close to the "original" UNIX, but where is all the comfort you are used to from any Linux distro off the shelf? The command line is positively hostile, unless you hunt down and install all the typical Linux tools. And on the GUI front things are not much better. It makes a certain kind of sense to write everything in Java, but unfortunately it is horribly slow, ugly and often difficult to use.

      Solaris can be a nice system, but by the
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by FrozenFOXX (1048276)
        I have to admit that I feel the same way. Oh sure, there are some nice things (Solaris Volume Manager, once you get the hang of it, is actually not bad though I still have some gripes), but on the whole it ends up feeling like I have to go and reinvent Linux from scratch just to get the system working like I think it should.

        Good thing I used to run Gentoo otherwise that kind of thing might actually tick me off. ;)
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      Not only that, but many people will simply ask "why?" There are already several fabulous free/open source software communities gathered around several fabulous free/open source operating systems, each having its own niche:
      • - Linux, which is geared around being the UNIX-like Swiss Army Knife OS for PC people, built around good hardware support and solid application support.
      • - FreeBSD, which is geared around bringing genetic UNIX on a PC (note the not-entirely-semantical difference), which aims for pretty good
      • by thsths (31372) on Thursday April 24, 2008 @03:28PM (#23187970)
        > So where does OpenSolaris fit in? It seems to be an OS lacking a niche.

        The niche for OpenSolaris is the 64way mission-critical server. Unfortunately, even ultimate kernel hacking enthusiasts rarely have one of those at home.
      • by jandrese (485)
        NetBSD is for people who want to install Unix on their Ukranian made MIPS powered PDA like device.

        OpenSolaris was supposed to be for people who really like Solaris but don't much care for official support or something. I've only ever used it once, for a precompiled application that was built on it. It's not really that bad to configure although it did require several trips to google to get everything set up properly. My subjective opinion was that it was kinda slow for the hardware we were running it o
        • by thsths (31372)
          > My subjective opinion was that it was kinda slow for the hardware we were running it on.

          "They also called is Slowlaris."
  • by gearloos (816828) on Thursday April 24, 2008 @02:34PM (#23187218)
    Another issue with opensolaris for me was the installation. Being a fairly experienced *nix user, years of sunos, aix, linux, bsd, etc.. under my belt and a fairly competent programmer. I tried quite a few times to install OpenSolaris and there was always some major problem. I never did get a stable system working and finally gave up. That said, this all comes as no surprise to me whatsoever.
  • by GuyverDH (232921) on Thursday April 24, 2008 @02:44PM (#23187354)
    The OpenSolaris development community is alive and well, vibrant and resourcefull.
    There have been a lot of great development work on OpenSolaris in both the x86/x64 and SPARC worlds.

    OpenSolaris (much like it's big brother Solaris) does have a list of valid / tested hardware platforms that work out of the box without issue.

    If your specific hardware isn't listed and it's fairly well mainstream, document what didn't work, submit it, and it will more than likely get fixed.

    I've used OpenSolaris on IBM/Lenovo thinkpads, IBM xServer hardware, SuperMicro / Intel hardware, homebrew systems with rarely an issue.

    I've enjoyed the support of the OpenSolaris community as a whole, and found them to be as resourceful as any *inux / bsd community.

    It all depends on what you like / want.

    For me, gaining the ability to work with Solaris during development cycles to help in some small way guide / assist with the efforts is worthwhile.
  • Instant success (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mooreti1 (1123363) on Thursday April 24, 2008 @02:46PM (#23187396)
    Yes, because Linux was such an instant success! Wait...no, it wasn't. Everyone forgets that any community, either real or virtual, takes time to build. I believe that counting OpenSolaris as a failed community is premature, at the least.
    • by realmolo (574068)
      It's not premature at all.

      Linux wasn't an overnight success, that's true. But it's a success *now*. OpenSolaris needs to do everything Linux does, but better. Until it can do that, no one will bother with it. The problem being, of course, that if no one bothers with it, it will NEVER be better than Linux. So, yeah, it's dead. Everyone but Sun knew this would happen.

      It's the same issue that prevents any truly *new* operating systems from gaining traction. Simply being *technically* better doesn't mean
      • You hit the nail on the head.

        Linux drivers, sucky as they can be, are still chugging along because there are hackers that want to make things work. Sun sells hardware, and they have a hardware maker's mentality that the software just sells the hardware, folks. That's partly why they went 'open' in the first place-- but it was a lame attempt at building a community that McNealy couldn't stomach and Schwartz pays lip service to. It's all about shareholder equity-- make no mistake about this. Sun couldn't figu
    • by quanticle (843097)

      Well, the community may not be a failure yet, but if Sun continues being recalcitrant in providing dev tools (like a proper code repository) the community may very well decide that OpenSolaris isn't worth the potential benefits and move on to other projects.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nrozema (317031)
      I guess success vs. failure comes down to what your initial expectations were.

      If you were looking for Yet Another Open Source Linux Replacement, and have failed to receive it from a barely four year old project, then sure, I suppose to you that project has "failed".

      If, like me, you saw OpenSolaris as a sandbox and open dialogue with the community to shape the next version of Solaris, and not a Linux replacement, then perhaps you aren't so disappointed at the moment.

      The development of ZFS in particular has c
  • Schily
  • Gnu/Solaris (Score:4, Interesting)

    by obender (546976) on Thursday April 24, 2008 @02:47PM (#23187406)
    Licensing Solaris under the GPL might give it a chance and now is the time. Due to the GPL 2 vs 3 debate it has a good opportunity of becoming the second Gnu kernel.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by BrainInAJar (584756)
      Dear $deity no!

      GPL was a reactionary statement to the BSD licenses' freedoms being taken advantage of by corporate powers. The license OpenSolaris is under now ( CDDL ) is much more balanced. It keeps the code under a viral clause ( change it? share it! ) but it doesn't spread to the surrounding code like the GPL does ( link to it? share it! )

      The GPL illustrated some fine points about giving users too much freedom, and now it's time to lay it to rest with Marx and pure Smith economics as political tool
  • How coincidental - I've just spent an hour trying to find out what would be the best card to use to support a bunch of SATA II/NCQ disks for a ZFS box based on OpenSolaris and I haven't come much closer to an answer. I decided to give up on it for a bit and read Slashdot for a few minutes...
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by sethmeisterg (603174)
      Any AHCI-based SATA controller will work. Marvell-based SATA controllers (models 88SX5081, 88SX5080, 88SX5040, 88SX5041, 88SX6081, and 88SX6041), nvidia nforce sata, silicon image 3124. AHCI and Marvell are good choices. There's also a ton of SAS support (e.g. LSI, Adaptec).
      • Thank you! So much.

        Somebody said the Marvell driver tended to lose links - just curious if you had any contrary experience?
  • of course not (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nguy (1207026) on Thursday April 24, 2008 @02:52PM (#23187460)
    OpenSolaris was an attempt by Sun to throw some sand in the gears of Linux, not to build an open source project. They are doing the same thing with OpenJava.

    I mean, who is going to contribute to such a project if (1) Sun engineers keep calling the shots, and (2) anything you contribute needs to be given to Sun so that they can sell it to paying customers?

    If Sun were serious about making Solaris and Java open source projects, they'd release them under a single, open source license only. That would probably have to be BSD.

    And why not? Solaris was BSD licensed to begin with; it was Sun that made it proprietary.
    • by guacamole (24270)
      Solaris >=2 is based on SunOS 5 which was derived from closed source system v.

      SunOS 4 was indeed based on some kind of BSD, but got killed by Solaris 2 long time ago
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by nguy (1207026)
        Solaris >=2 is based on SunOS 5 which was derived from closed source system v. SunOS 4 was indeed based on some kind of BSD, but got killed by Solaris 2 long time ago

        Solaris >=2 still contains plenty of BSD code. Furthermore, System V contains stuff derived from Berkeley as well.

        Without BSD, Sun wouldn't even exist.
      • A consistent naming scheme would be nice. Having it live in both the world of 2.5, 2.6, 2.7, 2.8...etc and 5.7, 5.8, 5.9, and 5.10 is silly for the time it takes to explain to management
    • by GuyverDH (232921)
      You don't pay for Solaris or OpenSolaris, you only pay for media, or support.

      You don't even have to pay for minimal patch support. ie security / vulnerability / stability patches are freely available to registered users - without paying for a support contract. This is on their Enterprise Solaris product, not the OpenSolaris product.

      Sun has the reigns to make certain that everything works and works well as they end up having to support it on their hardware (and other vendor's as well - Read IBM / Dell agre
      • by nguy (1207026)
        Sun has the reigns to make certain that everything works

        Yes, and that's the problem: Sun holds the reigns. Even if they were using that control well, it would be a problem. But Sun engineering and management doesn't know what they are doing, and that makes it worse. Of course, it doesn't matter for Solaris (who cares?), but Java has become so much a part of the computing infrastructure that Sun's continued screw-ups are a real problem.

        Can you even download a copy of RedHat Enterprise Server and use it, w
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by GuyverDH (232921)
          Incompetence?

          Dtrace?
          ZFS?
          Zones / Containers?
          Ultra SPARC T1, T2, T2+?

          They took their source code and chip designs, opened it up with their version of opensource license, while keeping control of what gets put back into the distributions for the OpenSolaris and Solaris projects, and it's working - quite well.

          If opensource were all on an even playing field, there would only be one opensource license.

          Considering the numerous versions and variations, there's obviously some things that everyone just can't agree on
        • by Smauler (915644)

          holds the reigns

          It's actually "reins", not "reigns", direct metaphor from horses and other domesticated animals. Sorry for being a grammar Nazi, anyway...

  • by suck_burners_rice (1258684) on Thursday April 24, 2008 @02:53PM (#23187470)
    The disconnection between Sun's executives and the kernel developers might be one reason why OpenSolaris is failing to build a community, but I believe a much larger reason is the lack of any substantial need for OpenSolaris in the market at this point. Currently there is so much development around Linux and the BSDs that these projects fulfill most of the users' needs and offer people looking for an OS something quite compelling, with a developer community in the millions of knowledgeable people. OpenSolaris is first and foremost suffering the chicken-and-egg problem that since there isn't much of a developer community, nobody wants to join, and secondly, since Linux and the BSDs can carry out nearly all the functions that OpenSolaris carries out, there's no compelling need for developers to join that community. Let's face it, Sun should concentrate their efforts on improving Linux and selling distributions and support for their custom distribution. Part of this improvement would entail porting the few advantageous features that Solaris has over Linux currently. OpenSolaris would eventually be phased out completely. Otherwise, they are simply throwing good money after bad.
  • Only reason I ever used Solaris was for the Sparc hardware. Soon as Sun went Intel based, they where dead to me. Why spend more money for the same level of hardware when the OS has less support then Free(tm) options?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      You know, when Sun started shipping opteron hardware, the sparc stuff didn't vanish into thin air. It's still very much alive and well.

      BTW, what white-box linux platform competes with, say, the Sun Fire X4500 + Solaris?

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-zQ5RLAyA7w [youtube.com]
      • by Kenja (541830)
        Its still around, but its not progressed much or sold with the same fervor. Its a dead platform it seems. Course I'd still recommend it for a massive database platform. Nothing says sexy like hot swappable CPUs.
      • by Digi-John (692918)
        Ooh, we just got one of those in the machine room. If it performs OK during the 60 day trial, I guess they're gonna buy a whole bunch of fully-loaded units.
        It's a sexy, if heavy, machine.
  • by i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) on Thursday April 24, 2008 @03:03PM (#23187622) Homepage Journal
    We ran Solaris boxes at the government agency I worked for and it was easy as heck to just replace Solaris with RedHat. OpenSolaris = one more free *nix initiative in a world with too many free *nix initiatives as it is.
  • by saleenS281 (859657) on Thursday April 24, 2008 @03:04PM (#23187626) Homepage
    I guess I disagree. I'm on several of the opensolaris mailing lists, and they're ALWAYS busy. And not just with people from Sun, people from all walks of life. To claim that opensolaris has failed is preposterous to me. I guess I don't quite understand what this mans idea of *success* is, but apparently having users and contributers from both sun and the public abroad isn't *success*.

    Is his complaint that the majority of code comes directly from Sun? If so... let me just say *DUH*. If you have thousands of PAID programmers writing code, nobody is going to waste their free time re-writing from scratch. On the flip side, there's TONS of public side-projects, I can think of several around zfs like the automatic snapshots. Or maybe that little side project called nexenta.

    I think I understand what his issue is... he doesn't even know what the opensolaris community is. By his definition, one distribution of linux is a measure if its success or failure. Last I checked, when we talk about linux, we're encompassing ubuntu, redhat, suse, slackware, etc, etc, etc... Guess what, the same holds true for Opensolaris.

    So... basically, it sounds like a linux zealot casting a stone because he's most likely upset that Sun wont' release solaris under the GPL so that linux devs can start ripping code.
    • by tytso (63275) * on Thursday April 24, 2008 @04:05PM (#23188508) Homepage
      Please let me make this clear. I was not disparaging Open Solaris as an operating system. And I was quoting Jon Plocher, a Sun Engineer working on Open Solaris, when he admitted that Sun didn't get the community they were hoping for. So it you can call it failure in terms of Sun being to get the results that it had hoped for when it released (most of) Solaris under an Open Source license. Other people who were major Solaris fans, and who were excited with whatever scraps Sun might throw from the table, might be mightly pleased with what Sun did. But nevertheless, it is interesting that Sun hasn't achieved what they hoped to accomplish with Open Solaris after three years.

      The reason why I found Jon Plocher's candidate statement for the Open Solaris Governing Board so interesting was that it was first that I had seen someone from inside Sun comment about the what Sun had been hoping to achieve by release Solaris under a Open Source license that didn't appear influenced by Sun's marketing/spin machine. I don't believe Sun's officially stated reasons (that show up on the CEO's blog, for example) because after three years their words have not been matched by their deeds.

      So for me, it's more about correcting the marketing spin. If Sun salescritters want to pay analysts to create Total Cost of Ownership white papers which compare the cost of the most expensive get-someone-on-the-phone 24x7 Red Hat support with a support-by-email Solaris support subscription, I might mock their desperation.

      Similarly, if Jonathan Schwartz wants to talk about how wonderful it will be that Open Solaris is Open Source, and how they will reap the benefits of having Open Source developers, but three years later still have processes that result in 0.6 patches/day being accepted into Open Solaris, then I think it's only fair that to point out the chasm between his words and his company's actions.
    • by g2devi (898503)
      Actually, it's more the case of a French man complaining that an Irish man needs to speak French.
      Speaking French might be expected if you're in France, but if you're in Ireland, then perhaps the shoe is on the other foot.

      OpenSolaris users choose OpenSolaris because they trust Sun, its track record. its binary backwards compatibility (Solaris 2.6 binaries still run unmodified on Solaris 2.10), its way of doing things, and its 10 year life cycle. If they didn't they would be using Linux. The binary compatibi
  • by Archangel Michael (180766) on Thursday April 24, 2008 @03:14PM (#23187782) Journal
    Too Little, Too Late.

    There is no need for it now. Linux had already supplanted Solaris
    • by Digi-John (692918)
      Every new OS effort improves the quality of all the others. You think Linux was developed in a vacuum? It's pulled in stuff from many different Unixes, Windows, Mac OS, and Plan 9 over the years.
    • by tbuskey (135499)
      Solaris 10 is very different IMO from Solaris 9.

      Heck, if you go by desktops, MacOSX has already supplanted Linux.

      In any event, having the right tools for the job is great.

      I wanted a file server with redundant RAID - ZFS is way easier to admin then Linux LVM/RAID. Easier then Windows, easier then Sun's Disksuite. As easy as a NetApp really.

      I'm also picking supported hardware for it & not stuff that's lying about.

      Then I wanted to run a virtual Windows to deal with TiVo stuff. Looks like Linux is the an
  • by blind biker (1066130) on Thursday April 24, 2008 @03:20PM (#23187862) Journal
    Give it some time - it's still growing, and while there are some adjustments to be made, the situation is far from catastrophic for its stage of development. After all, there's a number of people contributing to it, and hopefully as processes and community contacts improve, the contributors will increase in number. You have to take into consideration that it's a huge chunk of code and some people are still just lurking to find their place under the sun (no pun intended).

    OpenSolaris is an interesting operating system, I don't doubt it'll grow in popularity among developers, however slowly. As I said, give it some time, we have only just begun.
  • by planetralph (944937) on Thursday April 24, 2008 @03:23PM (#23187880) Homepage
    This is news?
  • by diegocgteleline.es (653730) on Thursday April 24, 2008 @03:46PM (#23188236)
    In opensolaris (just like in openoffice) you need to give your copyright rights to Sun.

    I can't imagine why anyone would want to take part of a community that requires the copyright assignment. Yeah, the FSF also uses a copyright assignment, but then the FSF is a foundation, Sun is a company. I mean, I write the code and Sun takes my rights??? (yeah, i can fork opensolaris and keep my copyright, but it just shows how community-unfriendly opensolaris is...)

    I'm definitively not wasting time with a project that requires copyright assignment to a copmany....
    • by EvilRyry (1025309)
      That is my issue #1, my issue #2 is that Solaris has a single company with a tight grip on it.

      I use Linux in the server room. If one vendor really gets me peeved, there's nothing stopping me from going elsewhere. With Solaris there is really only Sun. In that respect, its as bad as Windows.
  • by turgid (580780) on Thursday April 24, 2008 @04:34PM (#23188954) Journal

    I spent over a week trying to get Open Solaris build 85. Sun just doesn't get the free distribution thing. You have to register and log in to the Sun Download Centre, from where you can download the CD or DVD images. They try to persuade you to get the Sun Download Manager which is some Java app that gives you pause and resume buttons for the download.

    I tried 5 or 6 times to download on different days with the download stalling at sometimes as much as 90%. On the 8th day, I got the whole image. So much for their download manager. You just have to overwrite the chunk you have and start again.

    After all these years, they still haven't sorted out the auto-layout of the filesystems. There's not enough room partitioned to install their developer tools.

    I went to build gcc-4.2.3. That took 5 days and about a day of CPU time. OK it's an ancient 500MHz USIIi that I got for nothing, but...

    See, Solaris's /bin/sh is badly broken (archaic) and can't be used to build gcc. So you set CONFIG_SHELL to be ksh. Only the configure scripts in gcc are still broken from gcc-3.1.x days and two of the scripts it generates, bin/as and bin/collect-ld at each stage of the bootstrap are broken because they begin #!ksh instead of #!/usr/bin/ksh or whatever.

    When I used to build gcc on Solaris, I just sed'd all the scripts to replace /bin/sh with /bin/bash or whatever.

    So, for the casual SPARC/Solaris power-user/Linux developer myself, it's just too darn inconvenient.

    And the stuff in /usr/sfw/bin, which is where the "Open Source migration" into Solaris proper was supposed to happen still looks like it did in 2005, 3 years ago.

    Solaris has a brilliant kernel. Putting the DVD images on Bittorrent (officially) like OpenOffice.org, would be a great start. There are too many hurdles for the average user to go through who might have been interested in trying it out. I don't have to register to download Slackware, Ubuntu, KNOPPIX, NetBSD etc.

    Sort out the default install so that the disk layout is sane and make it trivial to install the GNU toolchain.

    But I've been through all this years ago, and it pains me to see that it still hasn't been fixed.

    • That's really a crock, sorry.

      The download manager works just fine. I even live in Southern France which has about the most primitive internet capability, a real pain after my stints in the Netherlands and Germany. If I can get the downloads in one go, anybody can. Sounds like a problem with your computer, not Sun.

      I've installed openSolaris dev edition from scratch and 4 months later performed a live update to the new version. It worked perfectly to the letter as outlined on Sun's excellent documen
  • One of the things I've noticed about the computer culture on the internet is that these people like to read technical articles on cool new stuff. One of the reasons for the various BSD's increase in mindshare is that they've started doing more presswork, so that they announce stuff, here, on kernelthreads, etc, when there's a new feature or mechanism and how it's great. OpenBSD does this especially well. It usually starts flamewars about this vs. that, but the point is that it gets people to read about t
  • Typical Sun (Score:5, Insightful)

    by codemachine (245871) on Thursday April 24, 2008 @05:35PM (#23189900)
    Their OSS stuff is generally high quality production code: Java, OO.org, Solaris...

    But the OSS projects themselves have problems involving people outside of Sun. In the case of OpenOffice, Novel had to fork to get their improvements in at a reasonable pace. NeoOffice had to fork to get a useable Mac OS X version at all.

    OpenSolaris may head down the same path, with Nexenta having the better and more available build than the main project does.

    It seems that Sun knows how to code. They just don't know how to be open. Websites with registrations and download managers are barriers. Projects that accept outside contributions at a glacial pace, if they accept them at all, are barriers. And these are typical of everything Sun.

    If they could learn how to create vibrant open communities, while still retaining the ability to guide/control the projects as much as needed for their purposes, they'd be an even more incredible force in the OSS world.

UNIX was half a billion (500000000) seconds old on Tue Nov 5 00:53:20 1985 GMT (measuring since the time(2) epoch). -- Andy Tannenbaum

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