It was one year ago
today that Sun officially opened the doors to its OpenSolaris open
source operating system effort.
At the time there were questions as to whether there would in fact be a
community that would grow around OpenSolaris, whether it would actually get
used and how its technologies may or may not be adopted by others.
In fact, it would appear that OpenSolaris is a one year old that isn’t just walking but is running.
“The ramp up time has been amazing to be perfectly honest,” Chris Ratcliffe
director of marketing for System Software at Sun told
internetnews.com. “In the year since we’ve gone live it’s just been phenomenal to see the number of people that have signed up. ”
Solaris initiative itself was formally launched in January of 2005,
thought the first code drop and ‘opening’ of the project occurred on June
14, 2005. From June 14, 2005 to June 13, 2006 Sun claims the OpenSolaris
community has garnered over 14,000 members of which 1,500 are actually Sun
In the same period there have been over 33,000 downloads of
OpenSolaris source code though that figure is likely to be inaccurate since
it is difficult to properly track P2P client (such as BitTorrent) download
and mirror site downloads with a high degree of accuracy.
A key to success for any open source project is code contributions from the
community, an area where OpenSolaris has also apparently faired
reasonably well. In the last 365 days Sun claims it has had 170 code
contributions from the community of which 111 have been integrated into
That said, contributions by the community back into OpenSolaris represents
one of the largest challenges that the project faces according to Ratcliffe.
The problem is that contributions back into the community are
handled by a buddy system.
“So if you want to contribute back into the community as a contributor
you have to work or partner with a Sun engineer,” Ratcliffe explained. “What
we’re working on at the moment is to automate that process so that users
don’t have to partner with a Sun engineer and we can still get the code
through all appropriate code review cycles.”
The code review process according to Ratcliffe is critical to ensuring code
quality and compatibility. Code contributions are an area that Sun is hoping
to see larger contributions in overall for OpenSolaris.
“We expect to see a lot more activity where we’re not just looking at
contributions of relatively small bits of code or bug fixes but also the
larger projects that start to come in,” Ratcliffe said.
One such example that caught Ratcliffe by surprise was an effort by the
community to port OpenSolaris to IBM’s POWER architecture. OpenSolaris has
also spawned no less than three derivative open source distributions: SchilliX, BeleniX and Nexanta.
In the case of Nexanta, the OpenSolaris kernel is added to a Debian
GNU/Linux core derived from the Ubuntu Linux project.
“Personally I couldn’t have imagined it a year ago,” Ratcliffe said of
Solaris being used at the core of a Linux distribution. “Nexanta is a really
interesting example of a company that has seen a requirement and they are
just going and addressing that requirement and that’s what we want to see go
Other key OpenSolaris bits are starting to find their way into other OS’s as
well. The DTrace,
diagnostic tool, which enables a systems admin to trace point in the kernel
and collect data without the need to shut down a system, is a key part of
Sun’s Solaris 10. There is now a port of Dtrace that is being developed by
developers for the FreeBSD operating system.