I’m reading the news from CommunityOne yesterday, and it seems most people missed what I think was the biggest news: That John Fowler revealed that OpenSolaris 2009.06 is “the preview release of the next major release of Solaris”. (Yes, I and others have suggested this would be the path forward for Solaris—eventually—but this, to my knowledge, is the first time it’s been “official”.)
OpenSolaris 2009.06 is more than just something for early adopters and for technology aficionados—it’s also the preview release for the next major release of Solaris which will go to all of our enterprise customers.
Note that he didn’t say “Solaris 11”. For a variety of reasons, it probably won’t be called “11”. But that’s essentially what this is. “Solaris 11” will be based on OpenSolaris.
Personally speaking, this is an extremely gratifying moment. Thinking back to my Purdue days, when I lusted after the Sun workstations only the privileged few had access to, I sometimes have to pinch myself to believe that I, in some small way, had a hand in a change to Sun’s OS platform as profound as the move from SunOS to Solaris in the early 1990s. (The real “through the looking glass” moment was when, early on in the Project Indiana days, I went to the Executive Briefing Center to give my pitch—which included a blow by blow of how Sun had dropped the ball—to a big customer, only to walk into the room and see Scott McNealy sitting at the table. He loved it.)
Note: While Project Indiana was indeed a catalyst for big change in Solaris, I get a lot more credit for the resulting change than is deserved, because a lot of the work that ultimately got folded into Project Indiana was already underway when I came along. David Comay had been tirelessly pushing something he called “Solaris Modernization” internally for about a year. Dave Miner and team were nearing completion of Project Caiman, the rewrite of the Solaris installer. Stephen Hahn was prototyping a new package system. One of the first meetings I attended during my first day on Sun’s Menlo Park campus included Bart Smaalders presenting on “dim sum patching” and how major architectural change was needed in Solaris. Etc. So things were already moving in the right direction. They just needed a unifying theme, a name, something people would rally around.
Project Indiana turned out to be that rally point, an umbrella under which to collect the efforts that were already underway (and the impetus to start a few new ones). It was also a unifying vision under which to present the collective whole to the executives whose support was needed. And, probably most importantly, it provided the momentum (once the media got wind of it, thanks to Jonathan) needed to overcome the inertia that had been hindering progress.
When people thank me for Debian, I like to point out that others did the vast majority of the work—or, as I prefer to put it, “I just gave the first push”.
With OpenSolaris, I guess the right way to think about my role is this: “I just gave the last push”.
Both are equally gratifying, in different but subtle ways.