RIP OpenSolaris.ORG

logo Belenix

 

Just noticed the site update today at http://www.opensolaris.org/. The website will be decom-ed after March 4th. This is the final symbolic nail in the coffin of what myself and many others I know had worked very hard for and shown great passion. The nail was driven long back with the Oracle acquisition of SUN, soon the post-mortem report will be filed in some dusty corner of the great hall of Oracle. It was simply a fantastic OS platform but a great example of Free and OpenSource software done wrong, completely wrong by clueless management who would not listen to people who have lived and breathed OpenSource for many years.

 

I still remember the churning and frustration I felt inside when SUN launched OpenSolaris (http://desktoplinux.com/news/NS2543956200.html) without even a passing reference to BeleniX on which it was built. The first release of OpenSolaris was simply BeleniX outfitted with new clothes. I had toiled hard, very hard to bring all the distro and livecd technologies to the OpenSolaris platform. Given it was OpenSource and a labor of love, but when you take something in it’s entirety and completely ignore the creator/origin, it is equivalent to stealing. Forget about mentions in public, I did not even get any recognition within the company (apart from a few bones in the form of a few $$ being thrown) for all that work that made one of their flagship OS platform releases possible. The vitriol that had had burned me from inside is hard to describe. It was at that instant I had decided on leaving SUN where once I had planned to build a long-term career.

 

People doing hard work, good work and not getting recognized within organizations typically happens due to lack of visibility of their work outside of their silos. All of SUN knew about my work till the CEO and still nothing. I was completely and thoroughly sidelined while other teams did launches and launch parties. I never quite understood what was my fault. Or was it politics?

 

This is now long past and I was over that hump by the end of 2008. However it still remains as the most bitter memory of my life till date (apart from my father losing both his kidneys). Fortunately the work environment I went into after leaving SUN is quite different, in a positive way and is far from these issues.

 

Anyway, may you rest in peace OpenSolaris.

Deutsch: Logo von OpenSolaris als Vektorgrafik

Deutsch: Logo von OpenSolaris als Vektorgrafik (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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4 thoughts on “RIP OpenSolaris.ORG

  1. Yann Collet (@Cyan4973)

    Didn’t know you had such a prominent role in BeleniX. Kudos for that.

    > I never quite understood what was my fault. Or was it politics?

    It was politics.

    I find it easier to understand such situation when reversing the role.

    Imagine a (completely fictional of course) man with no working quality, he has never been good at it, plus he dislikes that, but has a great desire to “climb up” in society. What the poor guy could do ? If judged by his working results, he will stand no chance. That’s a problem.
    Well, an easy if not compulsory answer appears : cheat.
    Pretend “working” is not that important after all. What matters is “communication”, “vision”, “message”, more concretely “visibility” (mainly “personal visibility”, especially “towards the bosses”, who cares about real customers) and deeper relations with important enough people, progressively building a defensive network of mutual interests.
    The funny thing is that, with mind 100% concentrated on such objective, never really bothered by “work” nor “quality”, it helps them to “focus” on what matters, improving success rate.

    Now get to stage 2.
    Just as an exercise, imagine a (completely fictional again) company where profiles such as the previous one have “won” : they are now occupying all the upper and middle management layers.

    Now answer these (purely theoretical) questions :
    How do they behave towards the working class ?
    What could be their consideration level about what matters and what does not ?
    About Who can join the “upper society” and who must remain within the labor class ?

    Warning : answering these questions can trigger a “lighbulb” moment.

    Reply
    1. moinakg Post author

      Very interesting points and in fact I can guess who some of the characters might be. The more unfortunate thing was that not all of these people were incapable. Think of a college prof who has a bunch of research and inventions to his name but treats students with disdain. There was also regional bias. SUN never quite had good management and business strategists. The only person who had provided me support and encouragement and in fact rewarded me where possible in all this was my direct manager. However he had limited reach and influence.

      Reply
  2. FrankH.

    OpenSolaris was a sobering experience for many amongst those “in the trenches”. I do remember the trememdous amount of work you had poured into Belenix, and on the technical side, particularly the HSFS prefetching investigation plus codechange you’d done to speed up booting from LiveCD; it always struck me as utterly d*mb you weren’t simply “let loose” within Sun to propagate the insight and knowledge to do these things alongside with the passion that made you do them, and with the authority to perpetrate changes to make doing such things easier. Instead, OpenSolaris was turned into a business justification for senior management to fly around the globe “hosting” developer events. That passion alone will eventually break like waves on a cliff when it encounters bureaucracy (anyone remember the “sponsoring” nightmare ?) seems not to have entered the minds of those on the pleasure trip.
    But in any case, without Sun’s demise and the spreading of Ex-Sun engineers everywhere the software industry would be a poorer place; just following where Ex-Sun engineers went (to all the “greats” in Software whether that’d be Google, VMware, Facebook, Apple, IBM, RedHat, MicroSoft, Citrix, ARM, … or into financial services, back into academic research, media technologies, all the startups founded by ex-Sunnies in all kinds of industry) shows how much seeding the “Sun Incubator” has done. In that sense, being able to say “I worked for Sun and wrote code you can find in OpenSolaris (or now, still, in Illumos)” is something to be proud of, especially when used in the past term. It’s definitely not a past experience that you’ve got to hide on your CV. In that sense: Sad how it turned out, but proud to have been there – that’s the best I can sum the “OpenSolaris episode” for myself.

    Good Luck to you !

    Reply
    1. moinakg Post author

      Thanks, excellent observations. One big take away for me was the amount of non-technical learnings I got from that episode. Reflecting back I have realized the mistakes/shortcomings on my part.

      Reply

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