Tuesday, September 11, 2007

OpenSolaris vs. Linux

Have been following this story for quite some time and knew even 3 yrs back that Solaris WILL have to be GPLed for it to compete with Linux. I seriously think this is a bit too late. While Solaris definitely has better features, GPL v2 would have been suicide as Linux is on an upswing and all these features would have been put into Linux faster that you could have blinked (well maybe inside of a year).
Going with v3 is a very smart move considering the Linux may stay with GPL v2 and thus unable to use Solaris code. This strategy is fraught with the risk that other hardware/software vendors may not play ball. It will be easier to put in binary blobs drivers and these companies can then be convinced that freeing up the code may be a good thing. Take ATI for example. GPL v2 was flexible in that respect. What does v3 say about this?
SUN will have to show excellent value to their vendors for the vendors to open up.
While I really welcome this move, I suspect uptake with the community will be slow due to reasons like comfort factor, established user and developer base, packaging ease (livna, rpmfind.net, rpm, apt-get, no of packagers) and given that Linux is still viewed as a community while Solaris is still a 'SUN sponsored project'.
The 2 big challenges for OpenSolaris are:
  1. Vendor buy in.
  2. Building and nurturing an open, motivated and thriving community.
and I suspect thte the second one is going to be tougher. Only if SUN had done this 3 yrs back when it had much clearer advantage over Linux.......I saw the writing on the wall moved from Solaris to Linux fulltime in 2000.
I am starting to like SUN more and more with their strategy on Java and OpenSolaris.
Will either SUN or an independent company work on Solaris on the desktop and handhelds? I do not see any obstacle here. While hardware cos. like DELL, HP, may look at Linux with suspicion/scepticism, they will definitely be more favorable to an OS with a company like SUN behind it providing support and indemnification. Opensource is sure getting interesting as we go along.

Will this turn out to be GPL-v3 vs. GPL-v2? It will be a great benefit to end customers in the long run. And GPLv3 does indeed have some practical drawbacks over v2 and is superior in some respects.

Need to give openSolaris a thorough try out and see if my clients like it better that Linux if they want to migrate their environments. Will have to check out the value proposition in more detail.

One thing is for sure, R-Knowsys WILL launch a product for OpenSolaris under GPLv3.

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