I really wanted OpenSolaris to succeed. Up until 2007 I was a pretty happy proponent of Linux, preaching its benefits and the joy of using various distributions such as openSUSE, Ubuntu, and Mandriva. But some time around the middle to latter part of 2007, Linux's overall quality began to decline; updates to distributions released in the early part of 2007 (openSUSE 10.2, Ubuntu 7.04) were suffering breakages in various packages and the loss of certain capabilities. I became less enchanted with my distributions of choice. Then I stumbled onto OpenSolaris, specifically the Project Indiana Developer Preview, which I wrote about.
Later in 2007 I ran a mini-comparison between openSUSE 10.3, Ubuntu 7.10, Fedora 8, and the same Project Indiana Developer Preview by booting all four on two seperate Gateway notebooks. While openSUSE 10.3 came away as the best of the four under those circumstances, it was surprising to me that OpenSolaris actually booted to a full GUI with wireless networking on a Gateway M680 notebook. Fedora 8, it should be noted, failed to boot on either Gateway notebook in that test.
Finally, in 2008, when my annoyance was greatest with Linux, I booted the LiveCD of OpenSolaris 2008.5. I was able to boot the LiveCD on my two home machines and my most current work notebook, a Gateway M685. In hindsight OpenSolaris 2008.5 was a remarkable achievement, more than I appreciated at the time; it integrated the heart of Solaris with a then-current Gnome desktop. And all the various drivers, including the video card drivers, Just Worked. Buoyed by those good experiences, and watching OpenSolaris improve release after release, I wrote "OpenSolaris is here to stay".
I wrote it in response to an article published by Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, "OpenSolaris Arrives just to Die." Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols rattled off a series of fatal flaws with OpenSolaris, the most notable being:
Still, all that said, I think OpenSolaris could survive, and possibly even thrive, if it wasn’t for one sad, simple fact. Sun may not have the IP (intellectual property) rights to open-source Solaris in the first place. (emphasis mine)I said it then, and I say it now: bullshit. Sun had as much right to Unix IP ownership as anyone else, including SCO, which as time and circumstance proved, Novell had not transfered ownership of its Unix IP to Caldera/The SCO Group.
All of this who-owns-what is moot now. It wasn't Linux that killed OpenSolaris or Novell asserting its Unix IP over Sun; it was Oracle's indifference after it purchased Sun that has killed OpenSolaris. To be sure, there's talk of forking OpenSolaris, and the rather remote possibility that Oracle will finally decide to support OpenSolaris. I don't know; I'm no mind-reader and certainly no seer. But if we loose OpenSolaris, we'll loose one of the best non-Linux open distributions on the market today, and that won't be good for anyone.