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Illumos Changes From Spoon to Fork

08.19.2010
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Illumos, the project to make a fully open source version of Solaris, couldn't have arrived at a more perfect time.  The Illumos project lead Garrett D'Amore, a former Oracle Solaris engineer and current Nexenta employee, is pretty certain that the leaked memo about OpenSolaris' demise is genuine.  That's why today, D'Amore announced that Illumos is officially a fork of OpenSolaris, and not a parallel, downstream project.

"From here on out, Illumos and Oracle Solaris diverge. The funny thing is, based on the calls I've had today, I could hardly be more optimistic about the future of illumos and the code base that was formerly called Solaris.," said D'Amore.  

On the day the memo leaked, Nexenta quickly responded and revealed that they had been preparing for this possibility for a long time.  The timing of the Illumos announcement seemed almost perfect given the news of OpenSolaris' end almost nine days later.

The Illumos unveiling took place after the OpenSolaris community and OpenSolaris Governing Board were in limbo.  Oracle pretty much cut off communication with the board, and now we know why.  In the first Illumos presentation, D'Amore said that he didn't believe Oracle would 'shut off the tap,' but if they did, Illumos would be the insurance that the community needs to continue open innovation on the operating system.  It was important for Illumos to have no corporate dependencies and the freedom to fork, D'Amore said.

D'Amore says that more talented developers are signing up to work on Illumos every day.  He sees the current situation as an opportunity to jump-start the project's innovations.  Oracle's decision means that Illumos will no longer try to be 100% ABI compatible with the Oracle upstream.  It gives the project a great deal of freedom to innovate in directions that would take them away from ABI compatibility with Oracle.  They could add integrations for more hardware architectures and they could also license the project under Apache since they don't have to worry about conflicting with Oracle's licenses.  

Illumos made progress today with a couple of development milestones posted on D'Amore's blog.