Sun Microsystems on Tuesday will release the long-awaited millions of lines of source code for OpenSolaris, the open-source version of its Solaris operating system, a move designed to expand the developer base for, and applications written to, that platform.
The single source code base covers the core operating system, networking, system libraries and commands for both SPARC and x64/x86 hardware platforms, giving developers and customers access to the code for all the innovations delivered in the Solaris 10 operating system, which was released earlier this year.
Among those innovations are Dynamic Tracing (DTrace), the source code for which was made available as open source in January, containers, and predictive self healing.
The move also drives Sun further into a support and services revenue model as opposed to the proprietary model of selling packaged software as Microsoft does with its many Windows products.
Suns goal is to use the open-sourcing of Solaris to drive a turnaround of the companys software business, which has lost mind share, if not market share, in the Linux and Windows crossfire.
Sun wants to foster a better internal software development process, work more closely with the community and then be able to drive innovation outside its own walls, increasing Solaris penetration and pushing it into new markets, its executives have said.
Claire Giordano, the leader of the OpenSolaris initiative at Sun, told eWEEK.com in an interview that Tuesday was “opening day for OpenSolaris” and that the code would be available for download at the new OpenSolaris community Web site portal from 8 a.m. PDT on Tuesday.
Developers would be able to download a full build environment with all the tools they needed to build and develop on OpenSolaris, while the portal would also have developer documentation and the communitys page would be the place where they could join the discussion groups and either join existing or create new communities, she said.
Asked what Sun had done about the third-party drivers and other third-party code that Sun had not been able to secure the rights to, Giordano said the Santa Clara, Calif., company had “worked hard to make that technology set as small as possible” and would also be making a road map available on the site that would detail when those technologies that could not be made available at launch would be available.
Stephen Harpster, the director of Open Source Software at Sun, added that those things Sun had not been able to negotiate the rights to or had not yet started negotiating for the rights to, would be delivered in binary form on Tuesday “so people will be able to build their own OpenSolaris.”
Next Page: Community development
Giordano said Sun was aware that community development was “a magnet” for developers and OpenSolaris was designed to help the company engage more with its development community and enable those developers and partners to leverage the Solaris technology for their own purposes.
“This means we are creating a platform for a whole new generation of innovation and will change the dynamics of the industry,” she said.
OpenSolaris was also going to allow Sun and its partners to participate in projects that require open source, whether in government agencies or university computer science departments or in the startup world, where people were building embedded appliances, she said.
“The bottom line is that this move will expand the ecosystem and the market for the OpenSolaris technology,” she said.
While some in the open-source community have criticized Sun for creating the CDDL (Common Development and Distribution License) for OpenSolaris, which is not compatible with the GNU GPL (General Public License), and which they say will exclude Linux developers from participating in the project, Giordano said Sun believed that the open-source community was a community of communities.
“We are focused on expanding the ecosystem for the OpenSolaris community and have received tremendous interest from people in government, including China and Japan, and how the license enables them to mix CDDL open-source files with other open-source and proprietary files,” she said.
Sun has been working with a pilot community of some 150 developers from the financial services industry to contractors, ISVs and individual developers on the OpenSolaris project for several months now.
Early on in that process, with very little involvement from Sun, a number of the participants in the pilot started collaborating on what it would take to do a PowerPC port, she said.
“We have a number of projects and efforts already under way on OpenSolaris that will all be visible and accessible when OpenSolaris goes live on Tuesday,” Giordano said, adding that some 1,000 Sun engineers across the world worked on Solaris.
Asked how their responsibilities and daily job functions would change, Harpster said they would have to “interact with the outside world a lot more, but their day-to-day job functions and responsibilities will not change much.”
With regard to how the next version of Solaris development would be structured and coordinated, Harpster said that was being worked out and defined by the OpenSolaris Community Advisory Board and those details were expected to be made public sometime in the next quarter.
The Sun engineering team had a roadmap going forward that they were working toward, but this was “mainly finishing up features that had been planned for Solaris 10 and finishing up projects that have not yet been completed,” he said.
But neither Giordano nor Harpster would comment on the time frame for the release of the next generation file system, ZFS, or Project Janus, which allows Linux binaries to run natively on Solaris.
These features did not make the final release of Solaris 10 and were expected to be released with OpenSolaris, but can now only debut next year.
Giordano also stressed that Sun would continue to deliver its own branded, reliable enterprise version of Solaris for its customers, along with paid support and service offerings.
“We will continue our proven development process, with the same amount of quality testing before a new version is released.”
Harpster added that the Solaris release cycles were based on many factors, including its hardware and middleware release schedules and the schedules of its ISVs.
“I expect the release cycle to be pretty much the same as it always has been,” he said.