Oracle's silence on the future of OpenSolaris planted the seeds of thought on the future of OpenSolaris and brought on a lot of speculation. Well, last week an email was leaked which confirmed everyone's fears: OpenSolaris is dead.
We will distribute updates to approved CDDL or other open source-licensed code following full releases of our enterprise Solaris operating system. In this manner, new technology innovations will show up in our releases before anywhere else. We will no longer distribute source code for the entirety of the Solaris operating system in real-time while it is developed, on a nightly basis.
All of Oracle’s efforts on binary distributions of Solaris technology will be focused on Solaris 11. We will not release any other binary distributions, such as nightly or bi-weekly builds of Solaris binaries, or an OpenSolaris 2010.05 or later distribution. We will determine a simple, cost-effective means of getting enterprise users of prior OpenSolaris binary releases to migrate to S11 Express.
It's definitely worth reading the whole email as it puts some perspective on the decision. They're effectively turning the OpenSolaris-to-Solaris relationship on it's head. The OpenSolaris-to-Solaris relationship will be more like the RHEL-to-OEL/CentOS relationship, and not like the Fedora-to-RHEL relationship (though this isn't as tight a relationship as OpenSolaris-to-Solaris was).
It saddens me to see Oracle make this decision, but now I've had the chance to work for Oracle for 6 months, their decision doesn't really surprise me. They're in the business of making money, like every other company out there, and they like to have full control of their business.
Oracle have come from a position of having to rely on someone else for their operating system and hardware (admittedly, they never really had a hardware vision before they took over Sun) and now they don't have to. Now they have full control of one of the most advanced operating systems in the world, they plan on taking full advantage of it and if it means upsetting a few people, then so be it. The corporate uptake of OpenSolaris has not been anywhere near the levels I imagine Jonathan Schwartz envisaged when starting OpenSolaris, so there won't be much of a backlash from Oracle's bread-and-butter customers. If anything, I suspect there will be some support from these customers.
As time progresses and Oracle learns about and invests in Solaris, I wouldn't be surprised to see some of their Linux investment decrease. I doubt it'll be anything significant, but I can see Oracle reshuffling some of it's investments into the OS it owns rather than the OS it doesn't.
On the plus side, it looks like Garrett D'Amore's hand has just been forced and Illumos will have to become a fork of the OpenSolaris code base. Whilst not what Garrett had intended, it's a necessary step to take to keep an active and up-to-date open source SunOS that other distro's can be built upon.