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From my perspective, if this rumor is true, it's a relief. Solaris died the moment that they made the source proprietary -- a decision so incredibly stupid that it still makes my head hurt six years later.

Fortunately, Solaris was open long enough that we in the open source world were able to fork it with illumos[1]. And because illumos became the home for many of us that brought Solaris its most famous innovations (e.g., ZFS, DTrace and zones), it should come as no surprise that we've continued to innovate over the last six years. (Speaking only for Joyent, we added revolutionary debugging support for node.js[2], ported KVM to it[3], completed and productized Linux-branded zones[4], added software-defined networking[5] and developed first-class Docker integration[6] -- among many, many other innovations.)

So illumos (and derivatives like SmartOS, OmniOS and DelphixOS) is vibrant and alive -- but one of our biggest challenges has been its association with the name "Solaris": I don't think of our system as Solaris any more than I think of it as "SVR4" or "SunOS" or "7th Edition" or any of its other names -- and the very presence of Solaris has served to confuse. And indeed, it is my good fortune to be working with a new generation of engineers on the operating system -- engineers for whom the term "Solaris" is entirely distant and its presence as an actual (if proprietary) system befuddling.

So if the rumor is true (and I suspect that it is), it will allow everyone to know what we have known for six years: Solaris is dead, but its innovative spirit thrives in illumos. That said, I do hope that Oracle does the right thing and (re)opens Solaris -- allowing the East Berliners of proprietary Solaris to finally rejoin us their brethren in the free west of illumos!

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-zRN7XLCRhc

[2] https://github.com/joyent/mdb_v8

[3] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cwAfJywzk8o

[4] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TrfD3pC0VSs

[5] http://dtrace.org/blogs/rm/2014/09/23/illumos-overlay-networ...

[6] https://www.joyent.com/blog/triton-docker-and-the-best-of-al...

While I'd love to think that illumos will rise and be great like Solaris was again, after several years I now think that's an incredible long shot.

The death of Solaris may well be a death blow to illumos as well. It sounds like Oracle, the owners of the Solaris code and copyrights, aren't seeing a future for it. That's an incredible vote of no confidence from the very owners of the code. And the positive energy they have put into Solaris at large for years (marketing, sales, staff) will cease.

While I loved Solaris and illumos back in the day, in the end I'm glad I left and switched to Linux and FreeBSD. I'm working on similar technical challenges with much bigger impact. It's been more difficult, but also more rewarding.

Is it fair to judge Solaris by the fact that Oracle has mismanaged it? I don't mean to imply that Solaris necessarily had a brilliant and uncomplicated future before the acquisition, but it turned it from a product developed as a (profitable?) labor of love into a tool to extract ransoms from hostages. A vote of no confidence from a parasite just speaks to how valuable it is to the parasite, not any inherent value.

What would we need to see from Illumos for it to qualify as being great like Solaris was?

It's already great: SmartOS is the best one can get when it comes to running a cloud, public or private, and if that cloud must, without compromise, function correctly in the face of even the most severe failures, hardware or software wise. Zones + ZFS + fault management architecture (fmadm(1M) / svcadm(1M)) make it possible.

Have a piece of software which must run on GNU/Linux? No problem, it'll happily run inside of an lx-branded zone with zero performance penalty, where both it (/usr) and the illumos native commands will be available (/native), so one can keep one's cake and eat it, too. Otherwise - there are 14,000 packages ready to run, something Solaris never, ever had.

It's not a desktop operating system, it doesn't have that kind of a mass adoption. But on the other hand, when one considers just how Windows-like GNU/Linux became (systemd), it's better that it doesn't: it does one thing and does it well, and that's powering the high performance, massive clouds. For desktop, there's macOS, and that's fine.

FWIW the packages are essentially NetBSD and the dependencies can be spectacular (pkgin in git). But lx works really, really well.

I know I speak for many in the BSD camp when I say we thank you too for ALL your work in our corner of the open source world.

"Vibrant and alive" matches my experience with the SmartOS community. I have watched daily discussions with Joyent folks and the community, and it has been a delight.

Another factor feels critical for me as well. Troubleshooting has felt much faster on SmartOS and Triton due to the quality of logging and monitoring methods. Troubleshooting feels like O(1) because one often knows where to look and the tools are there to gather the data.

Triton and SmartOS are killer technologies, but the quality of interactions with the community are no less so. That's what makes them true open source, IMHO.

Bryan, I just wanted to say thanks for everything. I remember attending a Sun event (as a corporate C dev) where they introduced this thing called DTrace, and a very excited young engineer (clearly the smartest guy in the room), managed to infect us all with his enthusiasm. Though I haven't worked with Solaris much since then, I always was impressed with the quality of the engineering. I think I might check out Illumos this weekend :-)

Edit: Apologies for misspelling your first name.

Thank you for the kind words! One of the things that's exciting about illumos right now is I see so many young technologists who remind me of that excited engineer you describe. ;) For example, look at the presentations from this year's OpenZFS Developer Summit[1]. Yes, there are some established names there, but there are also new ones -- young engineers who are attracted to this system for the same reason I was two decades ago: for not the system itself but for its community of talented, passionate technologists who emphatically believe in innovation in the operating system.

So hoping that you do indeed check out illumos this weekend; I think you'll find that while some of the names have changed, the spirit remains vibrant!

[1] http://open-zfs.org/wiki/OpenZFS_Developer_Summit_2016#Prese...

A quickie take can be found on LX zones in this slideshare deck, also by bcantrill http://www.slideshare.net/bcantrill/illumos-lx

Big fan of Solaris and zones, though at the moment using a mix of other technologies.

One thing I did notice about Solaris at least in the Linux 2.6.x days: Solaris is amazing at handling low-memory situations. Once I logged into a server that was swapping continuously via SSH and had about 2MB RAM left over - it was still somewhat response; while under Linux of that era it would have bogged down under the same situation.

Even current Linux kernels behave very poorly under memory pressure (ssee the various 'kswapd 100% CPU issues', but also many issues with OOM, kernel panics and so on).

No kidding. If not for earlyoom [0], every few hours my machine would grind to a screeching halt with the hard drive thrashing (and yes, I got rid of swap ages ago but it still happens) because the kernel doesn't know what to do with large amounts of RAM being used. Before discovering earlyoom, I would powercycle my machine whenever it happened because a powercycle was faster than waiting for the kernel to finish its tantrum.

[0] https://github.com/rfjakob/earlyoom

Solaris does some odd things when emulating Linux memory. IIRC Linux will "always allocate" then randomly shoot things in the head if it overstepped the mark. Solaris will block until it can allocate the memory but that can be a long, long time. It's also possible (probably only on 'too small' boxes) to allocate memory faster than the ARC can get out the way (you can limit it, https://gist.github.com/RantyDave/4c3a3683a5403040434dda2ead...).

Is there a family tree anywhere of OpenSolaris/Illumos derived distros and what their userspace utilities 'look' like?

I'm mostly interested as a developer of config management tools where our support tends to look like "shrug, probably acts like solaris". I just want a rosetta stone for those distros, particularly when it comes to packaging and service management.

I'd be nice to know which ones are dead and which ones aren't as well, we're still carrying around definitions for nexentacore that i'm not sure are useful to anyone any more.

They have a base list at http://wiki.illumos.org/display/illumos/Distributions but it probably is a starting place and not quite detailed enough for the information you want.

Thanks that's actually a better start than anything else I've seen.

@bcantrill - I read about your implementation of the Docker remote API through Triton. Is this something that's open source that we can play with? The Docker Captains were talking about platforms available for the Docker engine today

@alexellisuk - If you need any help exploring docker on triton or lx-branded zones on vanilla smartos, you should definitely stop by #smartos on irc.freenode.net. There are about 40-60 active high quality SysAdmins / Engineers that can answer any questions and point you in the right direction. I've never received such incredible support, and I'm not even a customer. I recall one event where I was trying to run a KVM branded zone on a CN running on an esxi host using the vmx3net drivers and it would just core dump. 2 hours after talking to (The Man, The Myth, The Legend) rmusttachi, he had a new platform image compiled and running that fixed the min mtu size bug that was in the illumos vmx3net driver. "NEVER EXPERIENCED ANYTHING LIKE THAT" in any other community. Alexellisuk, I will warn you... once/if you switch... trying to go back is difficult, and your forehead might get sore, depending on how hard you slam it on your desk when you try to use something like "Mesosphere". "Come on everyone, lets create custom docker images to handle dynamic Marathon port assignments because I don't have an IP" (dig + awk to find https... ...isn't https 4...4..."STOP" "WRONG" it's ${PORT4} which is 10240... ...I sadly live in this reality at the moment) /barf.

I dunno, I think the word "Solaris" helps as being an enterprise (tm) thing - stops SmartOS from being a mere fringe OS into being a fringe OS that people have and do rely upon.

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