Wherefore art thou, open source Solaris community?

Ted T’so did a good job of analyzing the current poor state of open source solaris as a community. He points to a number of community building and engineering failures (such as building a mercurial repository … really it is easy). He points to the marketing and business case issues. On a humorous note, he points to the response of a Solaris engineer to posts by David Miller on why Linux outperforms Solaris on some microbenchmarks.

I guess that when you don’t have a good answer, humor is a good thing. But this was more sad than humorous, and shows something many of us outside Sun have experienced when talking about uncomfortable (for Sun) issues to Sun people.

Ted did a good job of dissecting this. I have pointed out here in the past that Solaris looks well on its way to specific niches. Few people care what OS runs on their appliances as long as it is secure, and it works. This is where I think Solaris is headed. NexentaStor is a great example of this, and likely to be one of the very few successful Solaris implementations.

Solaris as an OS suffers from declining mindshare across its markets. It isn’t an HPC OS, never was. Going OSS was a way to “stem the tide” as it were in a general sense. This of course depends critically upon forming the large self sustaining community that Ted did a good job of discussing. But it hasn’t stemmed the tide.

Talk to Sun people and they will happily talk up Solaris. Look at their sales figures, well the ones that they have had in the past, and you see that they ship quite a bit more Linux than Solaris.

Unfortunately, the writing is pretty much on the wall for Solaris at this time. Unless a real large community can be built around it, fast, and overtake Linux … well …

FWIW: I don’t expect that to happen. The OSS of Solaris, as Ted points out, may have had more benefit from a marketing perspective than a technical/community one. Solaris is simply not attracting the mindshare that Linux is. Linux is driving lots of sales at Sun. More so than Solaris it seems, at least from the data indicated above.

I am sure Ted and others will get lots of response. Hopefully it will be better than the one he noted David Miller got.

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