[oi-dev] Resignation as OI Lead

Alasdair Lumsden alasdairrr at gmail.com
Wed Aug 29 01:18:11 UTC 2012

Dear OI Developers,

It is with much sadness that I hereby resign as project lead. I may, if 
the situation improves under a new project lead, stick around to offer 
my opinion or occasional assistance, but my resignation is final; I have 
no wish to return to the project in a leadership capacity.

My resignation is primarily driven by a lack of time; I simply cannot 
commit the hours necessary to maintain a project of this size. I have my 
life, my health (primarily mental), and my future to think of.

But it is also in part due to frustrations with the difficulty of making 
any progress on the project. OpenSolaris was maintained by a large 
corporate entity. We however, are volunteers, contributing our personal 
time to work on a project we believed in. For many of us this was the 
first open source project we had ever contributed to, myself included. 
The task at hand was vast, and we were ill equipped to deal with it.

But what really, right from the very beginning, upset me, was the lack 
of interest from the large commercial players benefiting from Illumos, 
and from those who had been paid to work on Solaris at Sun. Instead, 
what we got, was grief regarding the name (Project Indiana seemingly 
being a sore point for Solaris engineers, something I was completely 
unaware of when we chose "OpenIndiana"), hostility towards IPS, and a 
total lack of interest, encouragement or friendship from people many of 
us looked up to when we were mere end-users of Solaris under Sun.

Right from the very beginning, Illumos was on life-support. I have no 
doubt that Nexenta, Delphix, and Joyent in particular will continue to 
innovate and that SmartOS will be a success, but support for Solaris 
from the open-source software community has over the past 2 years gone 
from bad to worse. Only the other day the MongoDB developers responding 
to an issue with it segfaulting on OI stated "OI isn't supported, use 


I lay the blame of this squarely on the lack of a successful general 
purpose distribution of Solaris/Illumos. OpenIndiana was my attempt at 
competing with the Linux distros, but our lack of progress has torpedoed 
it. Nobody in their right mind would use OI - it ships severely out of 
date insecure software, lacks some of the most common 3rd party apps 
such as LibreOffice, and so much simple shit that should just work, such 
as "pecl install", "gem install", "pip install" or whatever barfs due to 
nonsense SunStudio flags, to the point you need a background in computer 
science and compiler flags to get it to work. Not fit for purpose.

So what exactly are 3rd party software developers such as the FFMpeg or 
MongoDB developers supposed to use to develop and test their software 
on? Buy a SmartDatacenter? Install a storage product? Run it on a 
database appliance?

All of you, Joyent, Nexenta, Delphix, are complicit in the increasing 
irrelevance of Illumos. OI, even in it's current current state, is by 
far the most widely used Illumos distro, so by not supporting it beyond 
contributing to the Illumos core, you've all shot yourselves in the 
foot. With a fucking shotgun. What's sad is that you don't even see it.

It didn't have to be this way. With some assistance we could have made 
large strides forward - we had lots of solid ideas of how to get things 
moving. What we lacked was time, graft, and expertise from those who 
worked on this professionally - items easily supplied by those with deep 
pockets and plenty to gain from our success.

Instead we got the Illumian farce from Nexenta, along with their senior 
staff claiming OI is an existential threat to their continued existence. 
And when I asked for help back in November, we got Bryan Cantrill 
telling us all "when you want to do something, just do it" - rich coming 
from someone paid to work on all this whilst the OI devs volunteer their 
personal time, often at considerable personal sacrifice, to work on this 

With the ZFSOnLinux port becoming increasingly popular (so many of the 
Linux users I know are using it), and 
brtfs/dtrace-on-linux/upstart/whatever else slowly brewing away, even 
some of the core features of Illumos are becoming less and less 
important. Yes, the Linux equivalents suck in one way or another, some 
are completely and fundamentally broken by design, but it doesn't matter 
- what matters is perception and the typical Linux user is happy with 
"good enough". When I encourage my Linux-using friends to try OI they 
laugh in my face. OI and Illumos to them is a dead platform. Add to that 
our increasingly out of date and poor hardware support due to the march 
of never ending new LAN/SATA/SAS/motherboard/GPU chipsets and you start 
to get the picture.

I hope, I really do hope, that Illumos does not become entirely 
irrelevant. But when less and less software works out of the box, and 
when heavily used products such as MongoDB, Varnish, etc don't support 
Illumos (regardless of whether they actually work on it or not, what 
matters is whether these projects will help end users when they have 
problems), and when OI disappears and there's nothing left but a handful 
of fringe distros or niche products, what then? You think Riverbed are 
going to maintain Stingray (Foremly Zeus) LB on Solaris, or any other 
commercial software vendor develop for it, when nobody is using it?

Well, I've said my piece. This has been weighing on my chest for some 
time and I am glad to have gotten it off. I am not doing this because I 
want to start a flame war, I just had to say it or it would have bugged 
me for the rest of my life.

I would like to thank from the bottom of my heart those of you who have 
volunteered your time to work on OI. For those not mentioned directly, 
you know who you are and it has been a pleasure working with you. I hope 
we can continue to keep in touch.

I would, in particular, like to thank Richard Lowe for his unwavering 
support. He is without a shadow of a doubt one of the kindest, selfless, 
helpful and wise people I've had the pleasure of dealing with throughout 
this journey. He was always there to help, and to provide a modicum of 
sanity when all hope seemed lost. Without Rich, OI would  likely not 
exist, and we all owe him a very large debt of gratitude.

I would like to also thank Alan Coopersmith for his support and 
impartial help. His presence on IRC provided much comfort to all of us, 
and his insights were always highly valued.

My thanks go to Garrett D'Amore; without his stellar efforts creating 
Illumos things could have been catastrophically worse for us all. I hold 
him in high regard and in no way hold him responsible for the current 
situation with OpenIndiana, even if he did help spawn Illumian.

I'd like to thank Jon Tibble for his dedication to OpenIndiana, and for 
his hard work, especially with the pre-stable releases, which was 
greatly appreciated. Jon is a first-class citizen of the community and I 
hope he will continue to work on the project even if I'm not at the helm.

I'd like to thank Andrzej Szeszo for his contributions. His deep insight 
into complex parts of the distribution, along with his persistence and 
capacity for tinkering, have unstuck the project many times. Again, 
without his help OI may not have come as far as it did.

I'd like to thank Guido Berhoerster for his hard work on JDS and his 
support in getting the project off the ground - again without his help 
we would simply not be here.

I'd like to thank Albert Lee for his help in the beginning of the 
project, indeed Albert was responsible for pulling an all-nighter to get 
our first release out. We once again owe him a debt of gratitude.

Lastly, despite their lack of a handle on what's happening with 
Unix/Linux distros in the real world beyond kernels, I'd like to thank 
all those who have contributed to Illumos, without which OpenIndiana 
would not boot. You are the real heroes. I may have complained bitterly 
about our little distro being ignored by you, but you have my respect 
and thanks for your unique talents in developing a truly amazing kernel 
that we all love dearly.

I will continue, through EveryCity, to provide hosting for OpenIndiana's 
infrastructure. I also hope that a new project lead will step forward to 
look after things, and that they can carry the project forward. If no 
viable new lead steps forward then I would encourage the OpenIndiana 
developers to hand responsibility for it over to the Illumos Foundation.

Finally, I wish Illumos every success. Ultimately Illumos is what 
matters, OI was only ever going to be a vessel for delivering it's power 
to end users. May it go from strength to strength and get the 
recognition, attention and user-base it so rightly deserves.



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