“It goes to 11”

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”.)

Full quote:

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.

19 comments on ““It goes to 11”

  1. farmerjohn

    ‘For a variety of reasons, it probably won’t be called “11″.’

    Open Unbreakable Enterprise Cluster Grid Solaris 11h?

    Sorry, someone had to.

  2. Mikael Gueck

    Modern Solaris administration features have gone a long way in a few years, and the organisations I’ve talked about in Sun blogs are, as far as I understand, tentatively giving it another try. The Sun tech efforts made Solaris good, and the Oracle merger is making it safe.

  3. Colonel Abraham

    “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,”

    From whom? I’ve yet to hear anyone say anything good about your involvement with the project, apart from you.

  4. Chris Smart

    I could be wrong Ian, but I think Brigadier comes after Colonel? :-)

    Perhaps it’s just the wider open source community which gives you “a lot more credit” than you deserve? I don’t know how much work you actually did internally because I’m not an employee of Sun’s, but I know that since you went on board that OpenSolaris has become a truly powerful and impressive operating system, in terms of competition with GNU/Linux and BSD.

    From the outside looking in, you were the one who pulled Project Indiana together to create what we now know as OpenSolaris. Rightly or wrongly, well done and thanks!

    (And thanks for Debian too!)


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  7. webmin

    can we use Open Solaris in a production environment?
    it will run php-mysql-apache, would be nice to know if it’s stable enough to run a high traffic web server, (dont know why, but Solaris 10 looks too huge & scary for me)

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