Sun just announced the launch of their new OpenSolaris operating system distribution, formerly known under the code name of Project Indiana. This is supposedly a new “Way”, as people in Zen Buddhism say, of Solaris, that is meant to reach out to advanced users and developers of GNU/Linux to get them to take a look at OpenSolaris. At least that’s how I understand it.
From the screenshots I have seen, Sun has essentially taken a page out of Ubuntu, Fedora, openSUSE and others’ books of a of a 1-CD installable LiveCD, a new package management system for Solaris and a bunch of other things, and created a version of Solaris based around those ideas.
On paper it all sounds cool, you’ve got ZFS in there, along with D-Trace and other good stuff that Sun has come up with.
BUT, there’s a big but here, I am not very impressed with OpenSolaris at all. I admit I have not tried it, and I don’t really intend to (For reasons that I will explain in a moment), but if you go and take a look at the “License Terms” section of this page: http://www.opensolaris.com/get/index.html
You see this (Emphasis is mine):
The contents of the OpenSolaris™ 2008.05 Live Media Image are governed by the Common Development and Distribution License Version 1.0, with the exception of certain portions under other licenses (such as the OpenSolaris Binary License) as provided in the OpenSolaris Live Media License file included with the software and displayed when booting the Live Media Image. The additional software available from the OpenSolaris Package Repository and not included on the Live Media Image is governed by the licenses provided in the OpenSolaris Package Repository License file and/or in the individual software packages.
All of these licenses permit use, copying and redistribution of the software.”
Obviously that means the GPL and other free software licenses like it, since Sun uses GNOME as the desktop, they obviously have GPLed software in there, which is DEFINITELY not CDDL licensed. However, it also means a staggering amount of proprietary drivers and components. Sun has been quite honest about it, and there’s a detailed page, showing what parts are proprietary: http://www.opensolaris.org/os/about/no_source/
However, what makes the hairs on my neck rise is stuff like this:
“uata driver (B) IDE HBA driver
rtls driver (B) Realtek Fast Ethernet device driver
sbpro driver Creative Labs Sound Blaster Audio device driver”
Über basic hardware that have free software drivers in every other free (Read: liberty) OS out there such as GNU/Linux, FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD etc. Yet they are proprietary in “Open”Solaris. They ought to call this thing something like “semi-Open_Solaris”, because that’s what the thing is.
I’m sure some Sun fanboy is gonna accuse med of zealotry or whatever, because I want a completely free software operating system (A few exceptions can be made, but not with drivers), and tell me to write my own drivers. However let me rebuff you right now! Sun’s goal with OpenSolaris is to get GNU/Linux guys to use Solaris, which would create a bigger potential customer base for their supported Solaris, and increase chances, by a very small margin, that people buy a computer from Sun. Fair enough, that’s more or less what Red Hat and Novell does, that’s all fine. However, a GNU/Linux distribution such as Fedora gives me a very very good OS, with no proprietary drivers, or major proprietary components, and a freaking huge amount of supported hardware. ZFS is very cool, and I do have some real uses for it, but a file system is worthless without an operating system, and proprietary software is simple not an option for me, and even more so with supposedly free (Read: liberty) systems that one would need to use a proprietary driver in to be able to use it at all on one’s machine …. if it was supported!
That’s another thing about Solaris, AFAIK, the amount of well supported hardware is miniscule compared to that of GNU/Linux. Hell, even OpenBSD, supports more hardware than Solaris does, and they have absolutely N O proprietary drivers, hell, when people write songs (http://www.openbsd.org/lyrics.html#39) about why proprietary drivers (blobs) are bad, you really start thinking “Man, these guys are either really weird, or very serious!” and I am of the opinion of the latter, that they are really serious!
Also, I don’t have any bias towards Solaris, I would really like to give it a serious, real-world try for some storage stuff, but I only use operating systems that are fully free, and OpenSolaris, as it is today, is just right out inadequate, to be frank and honest. Anybody who values software freedom to such a degree that he or she, either uses no proprietary software at all, or minimizes their use of proprietary software to very minimal things, would be wasting their time messing with OpenSolaris in my opinion, they ought to go grab Fedora 9 (When it comes out in 8 days! YAY!) or OpenBSD (A truly free operating system).