Fortunately, Solaris was open long enough that we in the open source world were able to fork it with illumos. 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, ported KVM to it, completed and productized Linux-branded zones, added software-defined networking and developed first-class Docker integration -- 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!
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.
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.
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.
Edit: Apologies for misspelling your first name.
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!
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.
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.