Time for a merger
Sun definitely wants to get things done and is working toward the day when it can merge the OpenSolaris project with its internal "Nevada" development release (what we'll now call Solaris 11). Back in early 2005, when Sun launched Solaris 10, it took the code base and started making changes for Solaris 11, developing it internally as before, while at the same time open sourcing Solaris through the OpenSolaris project. To make OpenSolaris the true development foundation for Solaris, the internal and open development efforts - and their code - need to be merged.
Sun is not saying when this will happen, of course. But what Roberts will say is that OpenSolaris 2008.11 is on track for November this year, and that subsequent to that, Sun will shift to an April and then October roll-out schedule for OpenSolaris releases. This will get Sun better in phase with school and vacation schedules around the world.
He also said that Sun will sometime next year take all of the goodies in Nevada and OpenSolaris and merge them in the wake of one of the releases for OpenSolaris. That doesn't mean that Solaris 11 will be launched at that time, but rather that there will be a single Solaris development release that can become Solaris 11 when it goes commercial.
At that point, OpenSolaris will be on a six-month release schedule with commercial support, while Solaris proper will be akin to the Long Term Support releases done by Canonical with its Ubuntu variant of Linux. Except that Sun will be providing a minimum of 10 years of support for Solaris, rather than the 5 years that servers get on the Ubuntu LTS releases. In some cases, Sun has supported a Solaris release for 11 or 12 years - something that its customers often require, given the long-term nature of the servers they install.
Sun is not saying much yet about what OpenSolaris 2008.11 has in store, but Roberts raised the curtain a little. The Web-based image packing system that was part of the initial OpenSolaris release from May was pretty basic, and the next release will have a script-driven, network install feature that will make it easier for system admins to use OpenSolaris on their networks of servers and do snap upgrades on those instances.
OpenSolaris 2008.11 will also have the first phase of the distribution configurator, a custom OpenSolaris packaging tool like those available for Linux that allows users to create their own distros. Sun will also tweak the repository code in its OpenSolaris build system so users can store their custom distros locally on their own networks while still using that build system. And finally, there are some elements of Solaris that cannot be open sourced (because the companies that own the code are dead and gone) or won't be (such as video drivers or fonts) that Sun nonetheless wants OpenSolaris shops to be able to use. So these elements will be distributed from the Sun site, which has licenses to do so in binary form. ®