back to article Solaris, OpenSolaris, and the Oracle wall of secrecy

Sometimes, Google's search engine does a better job of telling us about IT vendors than the vendors' own public relations and marketing machines, which are often there mostly to deflect questions rather than answer them. So it is with the next commercial and development iterations of Oracle's Solaris Unix operating system. The …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Which is why there is no project work any more for Solaris

    I am a Sun-trained Solaris specialist and up until now have never had trouble finding project work installing and configuring Solaris on Sun boxes, but my last contract ended in November and there has been no sign of any project involving Solaris installation since. The Oracle deal has spooked the Sun shops and they are all looking at alternatives to Solaris as a result.

    I'll keep looking and hoping until the end of July, and if nothing shows up, then I'll switch my career path. I'm not holding out much hope though.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Jobs Halo

      Try Apple

      They have been a big Solaris shop.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Not only the deal.

      Training costs have increased considerably. My colleague is doing a course that is over 50% more expensive than when I took it late last year.

      Operating system licensing costs have also increased. If you want to upgrade the Solaris on your box, you end up buying a maintenance contract to get access to updates (with which comes the licence) but if you ditch the maintenance contract and need it somewhere down the line for a vital patch that your application vendor insists you have ... you've got to pay the missing years and a reinstatement fee. Just like some other vendors I know.

      So, the cost of ownership has changed markedly from my perspective. When you consider companies who have racks of this gear, like a certain large telecoms company that I won't mention because it's engineers were in the same training session as me, (what databases and hardware did you think drove our telephone bills?) then that will certainly make a considerable dent in their profit margins, and decisions will have to be made.

      Realistically Sun have to make a profit. But what I've seen so far could kill them.

      Who wants to tie themselves to an allegiance with a company that changes their structure and payment systems like this. One of the reasons for not going with the others was because SUN could be counted on. When MS hiked the software licences last year, it caused us to choke on our coffee. They want HOW much? In a RECESSION?!?! Sun is now going the same way. Better to not be allied to such a risky ship that could take all our treasure and make us walk the financial plank.

  2. BoydWaters

    Real signs of progress

    I am an OpenSolaris user and I've been following this issue closely these past two weeks, in an effort at deploying a ZFS-based SOHO server.

    Updates to the development branch of OpenSolaris were frozen at build 134, in preparation for the 2010.03 release. I never saw that release, but Oracle posted an official update of thier "Open Storage" server software that seemed to incorporate those bits. Google for the "Fishworks" storage appliance.

    Richard Lowe posted a "build 142" update to OpenSolaris at last week. This drop shows active development to address performance issues with ZFS de-duplication, which is quite interesting to me. But I was advised to wait for the release of OpenSolaris 2010.H1 by another developer, who said that this new release would be out very soon.

    Your article is spot-on: Oracle have "gone dark" regarding any Sun development, an about-face to the blogging culture that many Sun developers enjoyed. What remains is not a controlled, focused message, but rather significant confusion. As a tech-head I can put up with some measure of this, but enterprise customers must stand by what little reassurance thier support contacts have to offer.

  3. No Use for A Name

    oracle's sun pr is a desaster!

    oracle's pr with respect to sun is a major deaster no less. they let the uncertainty about solaris/opensolaris (and to some extend sparc) just grow and grow, the fudsters are having a field day.

    we had a rep in recently and he was very reassuring and presented nda'd material that was promising. I asked him why they just not release that stuff in public and he doesn't understand either. even with this info our cto is taking a wait and see stance until oracle talks openly and markets and investors see that they are committed.

    it will be expensive to fix this pr mess and regain the markets trust. good job oracle.

  4. jake Silver badge

    "None of Oracle's actions (or inaction) could be construed as being proactive"

    No shit. Now ask why professionals are no longer specing Solaris.

    Sad, that ... but then, Larry never really had much of a clue when it comes to users and processes. Someone should tap him on the shoulder and point out that without users, he has no business.

  5. Mark 122

    Well done, Oracle.

    Oracle are doing a superb job of killing Solaris.

    They’ve completely alienated and scared off the community around OpenSolaris (check the -discuss group on forums over the last few months); killed any lines of communication by clamping down on employee blogs and ignoring open letters from highly influential and important community members begging for *any* kind of information. They’ve forbidden Sun/Oracle employees from heading up the Solaris user groups and booted the meetings out of their buildings; turned Solaris 10 into a 30-day trial, and pushed back the 2010.x release of OpenSolaris with no word as to it’s planned release date, or even if it is being continued as a product. People are having support requests disappear into a black hole, and no one at Oracle is being any kind of help whatsoever - presumably because they’re as much in the dark as the public.

    As a long-term Solaris user, admin and community contributor, I find this tragic. I know Sun’s new-found open culture may not have been brought in the big bucks they way they hoped, but if they had kept things closed down they way they used to (and Oracle is now reverting to), they wouldn’t have even lasted the last 5 years or so. Oracle also seem to forget that the community around OpenSolaris is not just free-loading open source geeks - it’s also made up of system managers running large Solaris shops. And right now, those managers are running scared. Shops are fleeing Solaris left and right; jumping ship to Linux, AIX, BSD - Anything is looking a safer bet at the moment.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re:Well done, Oracle

      >Oracle also seem to forget that the community around OpenSolaris is not just free-loading open

      >source geeks - it’s also made up of system managers running large Solaris shops.

      Oh yes?

      Care to tell us, well actually better yet, tell Oracle who are those "large Solaris shops" running OpenSolaris?

      Right, I thought not.

      Solaris 10, (the Real Thing TM) is alive and kicking with Updates being released without much hiccups.

      1. Mark 122

        Not OpenSolaris in production...

        I didn't mean they were running OpenSolaris installations. Just that a large number of Solaris 10 (and 8/9 ... still plenty of legacy systems knocking around still!) admins and developers are also part of, or are observing the OpenSolaris community, and are getting nervous about everything Solaris related, not just OpenSolaris. It doesn't exactly engender confidence, and it's going to take a massive effort to recover the the goodwill and interest that had been developing among the wider open source community.

        But then, I suspect that Oracle may be quite happy to see Solaris as nothing more than the bottom layer in an Oracle database machine (which it does admittedly excel at). In that case, if they don't see the need for wider data centre adoption, they don't really need a community or open source project.

        Even on the "enterprise" front, things aren't rosy, though. Requests for information and clarification are going unanswered, I know of several managers who have had hardware quotes and support tickets ignored, and there's a near total blackout of information from Oracle.

        Some of this may well be due to teething troubles trying to mesh the two companies together, but they've had long enough to think about it by now.

      2. ripratm

        not what he's saying

        He's not saying they are running large shops on opensolaris genius, he's saying that a lot of people in the opensolaris community are the same people buying the sun hardware and running solaris 10 in the datacenters (the engineers). So while alienating your "free-loading open source geeks" with crapping on opensolaris, those "free-loading open source geeks" are also the same system engineers that are still paying you money.

        Don't confuse Updates with patches. Patches are fixing bugs on existing software, not adding new features. Since Oracle has taken over we have not seen any true Updates to Solaris proper (update 9).

  6. Paul Johnston

    Show Stoppers

    From the OpenSolaris site there is constant mention about "shop-stoppers" preventing a release after version 134 but internally they seem to be well past this, last mention was for 142. If OpenSolaris is going to morph into Solaris 11, or whatever it is going to be called, I think a lot of goodwill has been lost and that might be difficult to get back.

    Pity as it has some really nice features such as dtrace and zfs.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My home server

    I had to wait until the end of February to get the build for my home server (I think it was 133) which I believe is the 2010-3 build of Open Solaris 64 bit.

    I did do an upgrade last weekend and it went up one version number. On the one hand, that's one version number in three months, on the other hand, it was a fair old update. It doesn't look like Open Solaris is dead yet, just very quiet.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    well there are still 10 days for a first half update left ;-)

    paris, as she knows how to string the punters along with flashes to keep them interested but no substance ;-)

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Nothing new

    Guys when Oracle took over BEA it took two years before they gave a statement of direction over BEA's portal and BPM products. It was complete madness and only as of a few months ago was a clear picture given. I imagine the same thing will happen for the Sun products which were not the primary goal of the acquisition.

    Oh yeah and to the Sun guys joining Oracle get used to no bonus or salary increases. If you are smart you will start working out how to sell your soul to the license sales division otherwise you are just another sucker.

    Best of luck to Solaris!

  10. -tim


    Sun forgot why we run Sun OS. We wanted the most secure and stable OS out there but they got confused about the Solaris operating environment and decided features were cooler than security. I want my OS to be rock solid and I have to be able to not load the operating environment when I don't need it on production servers. Too bad Sun forgot that. Meanwhile they handed the keys to the castle to idiot junior programers who managed to do things like "fix" ssh so anyone can login as root or link in a very broken xml library to init. If these idiots were selling solaris in the early 1940s some of idiots submitting code to Solaris 10 would have been taken out and shot. As a user I want Sol9 running on sparc hardware (since it can't run code on its hardware stack). I don't care about performance but I care about security and I just don't see that under Sol 10. I hear Sol 10 is great because of its new features but I still tell it to "rewrite the damn disk, there is private info there that I must erase" and ZFS decides to rewrite a different disk so strings /dev/diskname shows the info. Dtrace is cool but its a dev tool and shouldn't be allowed at all on production systems. We have auto healing systems which seem to be a mix between bad AI and bad hardware. How about failing cleanly and let me know the box is soon to end up on the trash? That last think I want is a sick machine in my network.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    PT Barnum here we come

    "Oh yeah and to the Sun guys joining Oracle get used to no bonus or salary increases."

    Anonymous - I can't remember the last time there was a pay rise or 'bonus' worth mentioning. No point in spoiling us.

    Mark 122 and all the other hand wringers - the best advice I can offer is to not wait around for the news you expect to hear when it is finally said and done because if you think you aren't going to like that news, you very, very likely aren't going to like what is coming. When VPs say 'giving it away for free' with a sneer, you probably don't need to do complex math to understand how things are going to play out.

    "What ever happened to Solaris 11? In April 2009, when Solaris 10 5/09 was launched, the expectation was to get a new rev of Solaris – called alternatively Solaris Next or Solaris 11 depending on who you were talking to – out the door in the middle of 2010. "

    Solaris Next is still on the project map - slated for Q3/4 of 2011 for relase. What actually happens in reality is anyone's guess at present.

  12. Anonymous Coward


    the commitment to the open source principle here is breathtaking. Companies out there make money supplying paid-for services to support a FOSS base, Microsoft are crumbling and NOW is the time to stifle interest in an alternative to windows? I don't think so.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Upward or downward spiral?

    Sometimes it looks like an upward whirlwind might occur, Oracle is (supposedly) providing new investment, new CPU'sare set to come and new OS features will come to keep Solaris current, encourage interest and new sales and further development will grow etc. You start to hope your company architects will again inisist on decent hardware instead of x64 crap (how many x86 system hangs have we seen, resets that occur with no feckin idea why, no crash, ilo unresponsive to breaks or sysrq's so not OS dependent) vs getting good crash dumps/breaks and so forth on sparc.

    Other times it looks like they are just milking existing companies, demanding platinum contracts, ahem : "premium", and yet the corporate tossers are pitching offshore support folks as worthy of the premium contract money. Whoa!!! Six months ago they were handling the bronze and silver, why the f@ck are they now worth platinum (ahem, premium) contracts??

    Linux is f@ckin immature, one glance at the VM management approach (like RHEL6 beta bringing executable pages vs buffer cache differentation which is Solaris 7 / 8 territory) or lack of dtrace, zfs etc but el-cheapo prices drive the OS sales. It's not good OS features driving the hardware sales, it's the other way around.

    Doesn't help when plebs at the top hold the purse strings who have no idea what doing an RCA actually means and platform differences in achieving that.

    Lots and lots of sympathy beng provieded to the VMS folks out there.....

  14. Anonymous Coward


    Things are sure strange at the moment, Solaris subscriptions are expiring and it is impossible to renew them. The Oracle wall is impenetrable (or Oracle sales are dreadful and do not respond) even if you want to part with your cash.

    With Oracle not engaging then one is tempted to reluctantly look for alternatives.

  15. asdf

    RIP slowaris we'll hardly miss you

    I do have fond memories of Sparc/Solaris being decent but that was the late 90s. Today in 2010 both suck sweaty balls. Oracle knows this as well as knowing Sun couldn't make money on either so why put much money into a sinking ship. Oracle wanted Java plain and simple. They will probably keep Slowaris around to move more Oracle licenses but don't expect reasonable pricing from Oracle.

  16. Anonymous Coward

    "apparently porting LatencyTOP" ?

    You write "Sun is apparently porting Intel's LatencyTop system latency measuring tool to OpenSolaris and is working on a tickless kernel too, like Linux already has. Tickless kernels reduce system latency on jobs that are more real-time in nature."

    You're *really* out of date here.

    Firstly, LatencyTOP was integrated into build 125, which means it's now been in the OpenSolaris ON consolidation since 28 September 2009. Definitely not a "apparently porting" effort but a completed project.

    Secondly, the tickless kernel project integrated into build 129 on 13 November 2009.

    If you'd wanted to get some clues about what has gone into OpenSolaris, you could have checked the push notifications (archived at, or the flag days pages (archived at

    Finally, the schedules for "Solaris Next" are quite, quite different for the schedules for Solaris 10 Updates. If you'd read through the mailing list posts, you'd realise that.

  17. gnufreex


    No more Solaris. Now it's SoLarry's.

    1. jake Silver badge


      Nice one, gnufreex :-)

      Mind if I use it?

      1. gnufreex
        Thumb Up

        RE: ::heh::

        Go ahead :-). Use it however you like.

  18. Anonymous Coward

    Shake the magic 8-ball

    Greg Lavender, the VP of software development which included opensolaris, apparently 'resigned' last week with another re-org on the way in his wake. Depending on what the magic 8-ball says, it might signal a decision is coming soon.

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