Eye on Oracle

Jul 14 2010   2:14PM GMT

OpenSolaris governing board threatens to dissolve

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

The OpenSolaris governing board, which includes members such as former Sun open source chief Simon Phipps, is threatening to dissolve unless Oracle appoints a liaison to the group.

That decision came at a meeting of the board on Monday, where members expressed disappointment at the lack of communication between the OpenSolaris community, which the governing board represents, and Oracle. Apparently, Jeb Dasteel, a senior vice president at Oracle, was supposed to attend the meeting but didn’t show. That upset board members, who according to the minutes of the meeting seemed ready to throw their hands in the air:

The bottom line is that Oracle (doesn’t) have any information to pass on and that they’d like us to wait a couple of months before we make any moves to disband. The vacuum that’s been created through lack of dialog is leading to stagnation and allowing rumor mills to run riot.

Simon (Phipps) then discussed the options available to the OGB. For whatever reason the possibility of a co-development effort between Oracle and the OpenSolaris Community does not seem to be materializing. He believes that the current setup of the Community has come to the end of its usefulness.

What does that mean, exactly? If the OpenSolaris governing board disbanded, it would just mean that Oracle and Oracle alone would be responsible for the development of OpenSolaris. There essentially wouldn’t be an open source community to also work on development.

That’s a bad idea according to Ben Rockwood, the director of systems engineering at cloud computing company Joyent. Rockwood wrote in his personal blog that the governing board disbanding would be a “cowardly act.”

“The body has been useless for a long time, but only because it has chosen to be,” Rockwood wrote. “The majority of the OGB’s life (has been) wasted by trying to restrict its own authority by endlessly debating and (re-writing) the constitution. It’s never lead (to) anything, and it isn’t now. But the fact that it’s a wet rag doesn’t mean we should simply thrown in the towel. A weak seat of power is better than no seat at the table.”

Meanwhile, some comments over at the news site of IT venture firm Y Combinator indicate that many don’t think there’s that much in OpenSolaris worth saving anymore.

(Open)Solaris died a few years ago,” one wrote. “It has got some great features like Zones and ZFS, and it’s still very stable. However, they lost the hearts and minds of almost everyone.”

As for what Oracle’s reaction will be, time will tell. One commenter at Y Combinator had a theory, though:

That’s a threat?!Larry Ellison: “Uh, sure, we’ll get right back to you on that.”

[Larry alt-tabs back to his word processor with a draft of his Solaris Developer Trial licensing plan: (free) for 30 days followed by a $9000-per-seat licensing fee]

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