According to ComputerWorld’s Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, “OpenSolaris is on its way out” once the Oracle-Sun acquisition is complete. Simply put: Oracle already has a Linux-based operating system, Unbreakable Linux, and will have no use for another open source operating system. Well, maybe too simply put.
What is Vaughan-Nichols basing his claims on?
He says that “Sun, Oracle and third-party sources are telling (him)” that OpenSolaris developers are worried about their futures after the acquisition, but he never gives any specific names or examples. While Vaughan-Nichols is entitled to his opinion, perhaps justifiably not many people are buying it.
So, what are some of the counter arguments? Other bloggers and those commenting on Vaughan-Nichols’ blog have had little difficulty coming up with a steady stream of them including:
- Getting rid of OpenSolaris would hurt the whole Solaris Operating System, a platform that is a critical part of Sun’s roadmap.
- Dumping OpenSolaris would mean ignoring many existing OpenSolaris/Solaris customers. Compounding that problem is that many existing Oracle users now run Solaris.
- Oracle already has a multi-OS strategy including Unix, Linux and Windows.
Another reason for Oracle to hold on to OpenSolaris is stack selling. Oracle has made it clear, as recently as July 1 at its Fusion Middleware announcement, that it intends to do more selling of integrated hardware-software stacks, all the way from the chips to the disk. You can’t sell a bunch of Sun servers without the operating system that fits Oracle’s databases and middleware like a glove. It would like an Oreo cookie without the filling.
Similar speculation occurred a couple of months ago as people wondered what Oracle would do with Sun’s open source database MySQL. Like, MySQL, OpenSolaris is free and open to the community. Therefore, even if Oracle were to abandon it, OpenSolaris could live on, the question is what would that quality of life be? Vaughan-Nichols had this to say:
“What I’m very much afraid I see happening is that Oracle is going to let OpenSolaris and other non-core to Oracle Sun projects like MySQL and VirtualBox wither and die on the vine without corporate support.”
But would Oracle really do this to a system that already has such a strong customer base? Do you think there’s any chance that Vaughan-Nichols is right about the future of OpenSolaris? How successful do you think MySQL or OpenSolaris could still be without Oracle’s support? Would one be more successful than the other?