OpenSolaris has been in troubled waters after Oracle acquired Sun, the corporate sponsor of the OpenSolaris Project. The OpenSolaris operating system is a descendent of the UNIX System V Release 4 (SVR4) codebase, and OpenSolaris is was the name of the project initiated by Sun to build a developer and user community around the software.

A few months passed since the acquisition, but Oracle wasn’t communicating with the OpenSolaris Governing Board (OGB) about its plans for OpenSolaris’ future. The OGB set an ultimatum. A few weeks later an email from Oracle to its employees surfaced, making it clear that Oracle had no interest in keeping OpenSolaris going. After the deadline passed, the OGB resigned on 23 August 2010.

Does this mean that openSolaris is dead? Well, the source code is open and available, but there’s now no company behind the project to sponsor it and steer it in the right direction. Unless there’s somebody very motivated or a company with a special interest in OpenSolaris, the operating system will probably die a slow death. Maintaining and further developing a project like OpenSolaris without developers and without community, won’t be very rewarding.

During the time of unrest a group of former OpenSolaris developers decided to fork the distribution, and now development of an OpenSolaris based OS continues under a new project called Illumos.

With OpenSolaris being left to die, and IllumOS still being very young, should OpenSolaris users and developers not start looking for another mature operating system to use and develop for, instead of forking? An operating system that’s in a way similar? An advanced operating system that’s independent from any commercially driven owners?

FreeBSD has benefited from and ported some of OpenSolaris’ advanced features such as DTrace and ZFS. Beside that, FreeBSD contains other technologies similar to those found in OpenSolaris.

One of the advantages of moving to FreeBSD is that altough a number of companies contribute code to the FreeBSD base, non of them owns FreeBSD, neither can they push the project development in a certain direction. Interested companies, developers, volunteers and the community all work together.

So, should OpenSolaris users consider moving to FreeBSD? What are your thoughts on this?