When Oracle canceled the OpenSolaris project, communities in the enterprise and data-center worlds wept. So did Theo Schlossnagle, CEO of OmniTI. His company does whole-service IT consulting and had frequently used OpenSolaris to create custom solutions for clients. But when Oracle canceled the project, he was extremely upset.

“It was the most embarrassing moment in open-source history when Oracle un-open-sourced Solaris,” he said. “That was just awful in the pure sense of the word ‘awful.’ I was filled with awe. How do you release the source code for something, then decide you’re not going to release the source code anymore?”

Instead of complaining and lamenting, Schlossnagle and his team decided to do something about the situation. He noticed that the illumos project was having success with its fork of the OpenSolaris code, and he decided to build on top of that work.

“A lot of people are using illumos to make appliances,” said Schlossnagle. “But the operating system was to be the future of Solaris 11 that was open before, and that doesn’t exist, and we really wanted that. That was the vision we bought into. So, once the future became crystallized, we decided that it would be worth our while financially and time-wise to construct an illumos-derived distribution that resembled the OpenSolaris we had banked our future on.”

To that end, OmniOS is a fully KVM-compliant distribution of what was OpenSolaris, coupled with numerous up-to-date essentials. But the real draw, said Schlossnagle, is that OmniOS comes with so little pre-installed. That’s by design, to limit the amount of potential attack vectors and to negate the need to update client systems whenever a new version of Gnome ships.

Schlossnagle said that the only real technology hurdles his team has encountered so far come from Oracle’s refusal to open the code that allows Solaris to use its new Imaging Package System. IPS was designed to relieve packaging and installation woes traditionally associated with Solaris, but while Oracle has kept the IPS project itself open, the operating hooks it ties into are not.

Schlossnagle, however, said that his team is able to offer a software repository and to use the IPS system for installation.