Well, it seems like a dark time for us geeks. Oracle's basically pulled the plug on gratis Solaris, and it seems like OpenSolaris has slowed down too. Their acquisition of Sun also means they now own MySQL. What does that portend? Nothing good, I think. I expect to see it get axed. It's open source, so it'll never completely die, but if it gets cut adrift by Oracle, I expect to see it become a lot less relevant. I hope I'm wrong.
If OpenSolaris stays alive, then the worst impact to the Open Source community might be mitigated, but if it dies, I have some worries. ZFS is an impressive piece of tech. Fortunately it made it into FreeBSD and there's ZFS-FUSE on Linux. Putting ZFS back in the realm of things that cost tens of thousands would not be a good thing for the state of the art in filesystems. The only other thing that comes close is Linux's btrfs, and that's still very alpha. Maybe it's beta by now, but even its dev won't trust his data to it yet. My big worry is that this removes one more competitor to Windows.
Now, I don't know. Maybe this really will make people buy support contracts who wouldn't have before, but my gut feeling is that it won't. This probably isn't a huge deal now, as the people who have the money for support contracts also have the money for Windows licenses, and those who don't will use Linux or BSD. Or they'll pirate, which is a problem, but a different one. But, if Oracle pulls the plug on Solaris completely, this could get icky. I suspect they won't, but they may make it so that it's not available except as a completely proprietary stack of SPARC hardware, Solaris and the Oracle DB, designed as a database appliance. This will put some other applications of Solaris on either Linux or Windows, helping to encourage software monoculture.
Monoculture is bad, even though the Linux fan in me likes seeing more Linux adoption. But, to an even bigger extent, I'd like to see Microsoft's effective monopoly weakened, not strengthened. I want to see the migration to Linux come from Windows, or be new deployments. I don't really want to see folks tearing down existing Unix installations in favor of Linux. As I said, I think monoculture sucks. I'd be just as dissatisfied if the 800-kilo gorilla were Red Hat, instead of Microsoft. (I might hate using the result a little less, because I prefer the set of strengths and weaknesses that Linux has, to those Windows has, but that's another matter.)
Anyway, I'm annoyed about it. I'm annoyed because of all the Unices that survived the Unix wars, Solaris was the most relevant. If it goes away, I can't imagine HP-UX and AIX will be very far behind. IRIX is already dead and SCO is a shambling, necrotic zombie. If Solaris goes away, I suspect that Linux and the OSS BSDs will rapidly become the last bastions of Unix as geeks know it. Some might argue that they already are. Yes, I know about Mac OS X and its NeXTSTEP and BSD roots, but it's not Unix as geeks know it, even if it can be used that way, kinda.
Luckily, Linux, BSD and Mac OS X are still relevant. If my only choice were Windows, I might end up giving up computer tinkering as a hobby.
Ok, maybe I exaggerate on that one. But it's a different world. I just don't feel in control of a Windows machine. I feel like I get to do a few things, when Microsoft deigns to let me. But that's Another Rant.