OpenSolaris: Just call it “Open Source”

Genetic Open Source doesn’t sound too bad.

When it comes down to it, nobody knows what Sun is doing with OpenSolaris. No different than any other company which must reinvent itself every five years, Sun is changing the way they do things. What’s different is that open sourcing a product creates an irreversible social event in the lifecycle of the product being released.

What’s difficult is that we’re all so used to Apache, BSD, Mozilla, and MySQL – other open source systems which have been around for more than a decade. Not only do these products have maturity in their communities but the products themselves are mature. While Sun has a mature product with OpenSolaris, the product is a newborn to open source.

Let’s also not forget that Linux is still just a kernel. OpenSolaris should be considered with regard to suse and redhat rather than Linux. And while yes, kernel development is being done with OpenSolaris, that is not relevant to the inevitable result of a community developing an Operating System and not just the kernel.

Sun is putting their OS out there and saying “hey, we’re putting our code where our mouth is, now you can too”.

If it’s anything like Mozilla, let’s not forget Firefox was a rebel project (called Phoenix); as such, I doubt we can expect anything out of OpenSolaris from Sun, the company. The best we can expect will be from a side project which Sun may or may not take under it’s wings. Neither was possible before.

Regarding TCO report and Suncritters, let’s not forget that, Sun has to make money too. The only thing RedHat has that Sun doesn’t is experience with an open source operating system. One question worth asking in that context is, what type of support did RedHat provide when it first started? The answer is free and by mailing lists; then RedHat became commercial (<1yr) and of course has 24/7 support now. OpenSolaris is a new OS for Sun, relative of course – Solaris has been around awhile, but as an OS built through-and-through by a community, it’s new. In fact, as you’ve pointed out – OpenSolaris doesn’t have a large community yet other than Sun engineers – why are your expectations so high (link)?. Moreover, TCO analysis is all crap with regard to open source and ‘end users’ typically don’t understand any better. How many folks who download open source actually modify the code? Last, the linked survey is from 2005 and not to be a chump, but, Open Source has exploded and changed dramatically since that survey. Firefox wasn’t even big yet and MySQL 5 was still beta.

Organic or not, marketing or not, community or not, OpenSolaris is still an open source Unix operating system. Open sourcing code is great, no matter how it’s done.

Let’s just call OpenSolaris “Open Source”.

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OpenSolaris: Just call it “Open Source”