Should OpenSolaris users consider moving to FreeBSD?

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?


  1. mgp says

    I think it would be best if the important and interesting parts of OpenSolaris merge with FreeBSD and OpenSolaris’ developers come to the FreeBSD community and continue their work. This way OpenSolaris won’t be dead, it will continue to live through FreeBSD and great technologies won’t be lost forever.

  2. says

    Yeah, I’ve been thinking ’bout moving somewhere, esp. FreeBSD. However, implementations of ZFS and DTrace seem to me a bit awkward compared to those in OpenSolaris. What’s more, FreeBSD doesn’t have my beloved Service Management Facility (SMF), Solaris Zones (Jail maybe good instead but I never used it) or network virtualization (am I wrong?). Also FreeBSD lacks cluster software (am I wrong again?) and support of high-end hardware (i definitely know I’m not wrong here).
    So, my opinion is: FreeBSD is an interesting OS for those who love open source. As a user I will be more satisfied and familiar with Solaris 11 Express that will be free, or even Solaris 11, if it’s not too expensive. And I don’t care whether it’s open source or not – it works well and that’s the most important for me as a user.

  3. aric says

    I moved from OpenSolaris to FreeBSD several months ago when purchasing a new workstation because of the uncertainty surrounding OpenSolaris and the probability that the packaging/installation system would be completely revamped, thus why not just change OS? FreeBSD was the logical choice due to the availability of ZFS, even though it is a much older version and I could not just perform a ZFS send. FreeBSD has much better support in the ports for a wider variety of scientific programs than are available to Solaris. It is really much more productive to just install something I need from ports rather than attempting to compile and find out why something does not compile, which was the usual issue with OpenSolaris. I hope that FreeBSD presence grows within the scientific community.

  4. mgp says

    Gleb, I’d say you’re rather wrong about most of those topics.
    – ZFS/DTrace implementations are not awkward or anything…they are not separate implementations … it’s the same code that is in OpenSolaris only a little older version…e.g. ZFS v28 is about to be committed to FreeBSD (
    – there’s no exact equivalent of SMF on FreeBSD but there’s something similar which actually does the same … it’s the rc.d system (
    – there is network stack virtualization – VIMAGE (
    – Jails are one of the really interesting, cool and useful features (virtualization) in FreeBSD … you should definitely check it out (
    – unfortunately many people are just not aware of the fact that FreeBSD clustering is far far from impossible (
    – it’s funny that you think you are definitely not wrong about the hardware support but you actually can’t be more wrong here – not only FreeBSD has great hardware support but I can tell it’s actually better than Solaris’ in the last years especially for mainstream hardware as I’ve played with both FreeBSD and Solaris on different hardware quite a lot

    Although the famous statement “FreeBSD is the most advanced operating system on the plant.” might sound ridiculous or like a TV commercial it’s actually not too far from the truth. The FreeBSD community is so active and unique and this makes the system really great. Once you try FreeBSD you will never want to go back.



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