Alan Hargreaves' Blog

The ramblings of an Australian SaND TSC* Principal Field Technologist

OpenSolaris is not Vapourware

There was a particularly insulting post to osnews that Fintan also took exception to.

I have to agree with Fintan’s sentiments.

My feeling is that the crux of the insult is in the word “vapourware”.

Wikipedia defines it thus:

Vaporware (or vapourware) is software or hardware which is announced by a developer well in advance of release, but which then fails to emerge, either with or without a protracted development cycle. The term implies deception, or at least a negligent degree of optimism; that is, it implies that the announcer knows that product development is in too early a stage to support responsible statements about its completion date, feature set, or even feasibility.

There is a similarity between vaporware and a species of hoax; both involve promoting a product or event which cannot later be produced. There have been a number of hoaxes in technological fields, wherein the hoaxter promises that proof of his offering will be forthcoming — eventually. Examples include Clonaid, the Raelian company which promised proof of human cloning; or any number of perpetual motion machine “inventors”. The distinction may be that in vaporware, the proponent truly does intend to produce the advertised product, while in hoax, he knows the product does not exist or cannot be produced.

Now by calling OpenSolaris “vapourware”, there are a number things which you are immediately saying (that I suspect you might not be meaning to – I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt).

Let’s address these points in order.

  1. … announced by a developer well in advance of release, but which then fails to emerge

    OK, we announced it and have been talking about it for a while, but now we are within a few months of release. I’d hardly call that “well in advance” at this point.

  2. The term implies deception

    To my knowledge we have not been involved in any deception and to imply otherwise is simple lieing and terribly insulting.

  3. it implies that the announcer knows that product development is in too early a stage to support responsible statements about its completion date, feature set, or even feasibility

    See above, it will be out this quarter. I have yet to see a statement by anyone involved with opensolaris that could be regarded as not a responsible statement.

  4. There is a similarity between vaporware and a species of hoax; both involve promoting a product or event which cannot later be produced.

    It’s certainly not a hoax. I and the engineers involved in this would certainly not lend my reputation (which I live by) to such a thing. Nor would the Sun engineers involved or the more than 110 people who are not Sun employees who are a part of the pilot. I’d also be surprised if Roy Fielding would risk his reputation similarly.

  5. wherein the hoaxter promises that proof of his offering will be forthcoming — eventually

    I’d hardly call “before the end of this quarter” eventually.

While I can see where the original poster was coming from (opensolaris is not generally available), I think they could have chosen a better word to express their views than “vapourware”.

opensolaris certainly exists, you only have to speak to anyone involved in getting it out there. There are a lot of us out there who both do and do not work for Sun.

I have to comment on the last line of the post that started this.


If Sun really is paying attention… STOP TELLING US ABOUT ALL THE GREAT THINGS SUN IS ABOUT AND EFFING SHOW US ALREADY! I’ve waited about seven years for Sun to make good on its promises.

Ummm what do you think Solaris 10 was? We spoke an awful lot about the great things in that. Hey, guess what? Solaris 10 is out and available.

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Written by Alan

April 25, 2005 at 8:04 pm

19 Responses

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  1. To the casual observer OpenSolaris seems all smoke, no beef. From the outside looking in, it very much appears there is nothing going on — except the release of Solaris 10, a static website and a bunch of talk. Where are all those community projects? They can’t all require source code to make happen.

    It’s completely within Sun’s purvey to change all that.

    Perception is reality — Puzzling at best.

    ds

    April 26, 2005 at 6:44 am

  2. Sorry but I must agree that at this point opensolaris is vaporware. Its a hyped up OS that is not available to purchase or download to the general public. I think that says it all. In a few months it might not be vaporware but right now that word describes opensolaris perfectly and I am writing this wearing my brand new solaris 10 t-shirt (thanks sun).

    a

    April 26, 2005 at 1:32 pm

  3. A, then after reading the definition that I posted I must respectfully disagree with you.
    I can certainly understand your frustration with us only being able to talk about stuff, however, put your self in our shoes. Honestly, how do you think our competitors would react if we released code and one could not actually get a properly running kernel, or there were other critical pieces missing?
    You saw the reaction when we released the DTrace code.
    Perhaps we should be openly talking about the code that has been released?
    I’d be interested in hearing comment.
    Alan.

    Alan Hargreaves

    April 26, 2005 at 5:38 pm

  4. Then where is it? Oh, that’s right it’s CLOSED. Only available to those who signed a NDA! Sun promised this almost a year ago and still nothing Open! Sure the source from DTrace tool is available but not “Open” Solaris. Where can real discussions about it be found? Oh, again CLOSED! The CAB page promises a mailing list to allow people to monitor CAB discussions but, it can’t be found so, it must also be CLOSED.
    Maybe not Vapourware but, CLOSEDSolaris!

    Anonymous

    April 27, 2005 at 3:48 am

  5. It’s not vaporware, the code does exist. However, what has materialized to date? Empty promises. Sun first anounced this last year. Just when it was thought they’d release it with the 4th Quarter Network Computing event, they pushed it to the end of 2004. As the promised time approached, they moved it until the beginning of 2005. 1st Quarter NC what happened? It was moved to the 2nd Quarter. That’s 3 times it’s been put off until later!!! When is later??? It needs to be soon or as the guy mentioned, SHUTUP about it already, admit it was pure Hype and be done. The community wants it TODAY not tomorrow!

    Anon

    April 27, 2005 at 7:58 am

  6. “The community wants it TODAY not tomorrow!” This should be “not promises of tomorrow” We’ve seen what the promises bring!

    Anon

    April 27, 2005 at 8:14 am

  7. I’m wondering exactly what it is that the anonymous posters here want me to say.
    Correct it’s not available now.
    It’s not a simple job to go through something ofthe size and history of Solaris and ensure that what we are releasing exactly what we have the rights to.
    There are a lot of people working on making this happen. It is happenning. I can certainly understand the frustration at the apparant lack of transparancy.
    There are, however, folks talking about it openly on such places as comp.unix.solaris and the yahoo solaris on x86 list.
    Please be assured that these concerns have been passed on.
    If we were to say “stuff it, to satisfy the people bitching about delays, we’ll drop the code out now”, about all we would achieve is more people bitching about how they can’t do anything with it. Solaris is not a simple piece of source code and the build is definitely non-trivial. Even more so given that we have to work around encumbered code that we cannot release due to things like contracts and licenses with the other code owners.
    I know that the detractors will shout things like “E-cache, bad system boards and the like”, but here at Sun we do like to release things with some level of quality assurance.
    I’ll also have to disagree with you about it being pure hype. I’d like to think that my reputation is above that kind of thing. I’m an engineer, not a marketer. OK, it’s late, it’s still coming. I’m sure that once it’s released you’ll find fault with something else about it.
    By the way, the release of DTrace was to serve two purposes.

    To show that we are serious about getting code out there,
    To show that we will releasing all of the new stuff as well.

    I notice that the FUD about “they won’t release all the great new stuff like DTrace and the like” has gone.
    Alan.

    Alan Hargreaves

    April 27, 2005 at 7:07 pm

  8. i like cheese

    Anonymous

    May 4, 2005 at 7:17 am

  9. A lot of promises thats outstanding on the Sun side OpenSolaris ZFS Janus, as resend as with the last NCQ05/02 Scott talked about the zeta byte file system as well as Running Linux within Solaris 10…Well I’ve got a paid copy of Solaris 10 no ZFS no Janus. Outside of Sun.com it is vaporware !
    “The distinction may be that in vaporware, the proponent truly does intend to produce the advertised product” But why spread the message while you cannot even deliver a Beta Version to
    the audience ? These days all a have preached Solaris to say ‘ immmm its coming you just don’t know when he, it does not help to advertise while you cannot deliver , Its coming and will arrive when Linux kernel 3 is stable and released. Your pick of the timeframe is as bad as mine ’
    Guest what, I stopped…energizing people about Solaris

    fjh

    May 5, 2005 at 10:49 am

  10. Put up or shut up. It is that simple. Until (if ever) OpenSolaris is released, it is indeed just VapourWare.
    Until now OpenSolaris is a 100% marketing stunt. And it is even at bad one. For half a year I can’t stand JGs bullshit blog. You are seriously pissing off potential developers. Just look at StarOffice, which has won the incredible amount of two (yes, two) regular external developers. How few do you intend to get for OpenSilaris?
    So once again: Put up, or shut up.

    Earl

    May 6, 2005 at 5:57 am

  11. Wikipedia may define it that way but the Jargon File is much more succinct:

    Products announced far in advance of any release (which may or may not actually take place).

    And from this side of the fence that describes OpenSolaris pretty well.

    I’m a Solaris fan. I believe Sun will release OpenSolaris, but it was announced a long time ago, and it’s still not here. It is vapour.

    You can’t really expect people to just sit around patiently and accept all the marketing that SUN is doing without pushing back. SUN is out there telling everyone how great they (you) are by opening up Solaris. You’re even setting up user groups for something that has no users (yet).

    You can hardly expect everyone to just sit around and smile nicely and nod politely and say “Wow Open Solaris is great”. Yes, you’re working your butt off trying to get it out the door. Yes, opening up such a big piece of software is hard. But all of that is your problem, not ours. SUN announced it long before you were able to deliver – that’s vapour.

    Get OpenSolaris into the hands of users and then tell us how great it is. Set up some user groups after there are some actual users.

    You’re trying get the credit for being open source before you actually do it – don’t act surprised when people pull you up on it.

    Tim Vernum

    May 6, 2005 at 8:06 am

  12. Who CARES if you open source solaris? As I posted already on fintanr’s weblog, your management has shown their stripes time and time again. They’ll surely find a way to screw this up just as they screwed up java. Or they’ll get in bed (again) with Microsoft. They’ll sue people over linux.. or something else equally shitty. They will find some way to make us all sorry we gave them another chance.
    So why on earth should I want open solaris? I’ve used solaris, I’ve bought solaris and Sun hardware. I’m sick of solaris, Sun, and especially your CEO and his business ideas. Remind me again why I want to do business with Sun when I can get my work done a lot easier with linux? Oh sure, tell me all the technical advantages of solaris. I don’t care, it’s not about that anymore. Your CEO caught a clue about 10 years late…

    Ben

    May 6, 2005 at 9:07 am

  13. Bah all these naysayers are an IMPATIENT lot…you guys at Sun keep up the good work.

    FlyingDorito

    May 6, 2005 at 11:13 am

  14. If we were to say “stuff it, to satisfy the people bitching about delays, we’ll drop the code out now”, about all we would achieve is more people bitching about how they can’t do anything with it. Solaris is not a simple piece of source code and the build is definitely non-trivial. Even more so given that we have to work around encumbered code that we cannot release due to things like contracts and licenses with the other code owners.
    Maybe OpenSolaris is not “Vapourware” but it sure is “…more people bitching about how they can’t do anything with it…”.
    I look forward to Sun actually doing something right for once… but has that time come?

    lk

    May 6, 2005 at 11:14 am

  15. After what Sun did with Java standardization, Sun’s so-called Java Desktop, and the rhetoric coming from McNealy and Schwartz directed against open source, you really shouldn’t be suprised if Sun has little credibility. Until Open Solaris is completely out under clear, approved open source licenses and actually compiles into a working kernel and user environment, anything is possible: last minute excuses, indefinite delays, or keeping some essential parts proprietary. Of course, Sun management is overestimating the importance of Solaris anyway: at this point, it’s little more than a curiosity.

    Anonymous

    May 6, 2005 at 11:29 am

  16. If we were to say “stuff it, to satisfy the people bitching about delays, we’ll drop the code out now”, about all we would achieve is more people bitching about how they can’t do anything with it. Solaris is not a simple piece of source code and the build is definitely non-trivial.

    Sun has been working on and shipping Solaris for more than a decade, Sun has been shipping the source code to its commercial partners, and you have known you are going to open source it for at least a year. You are saying that after all that time and work, you still don’t have an automated build process and you still can’t produce a set of sources and documentation that allows competent developers outside Sun to build it???

    Anonymous

    May 6, 2005 at 12:48 pm

  17. I think the main complaints are about the historical moving target date.
    There’s also some frustration about “Q2 2005”, which is either technical speak for “1 Apr 2005” and marketing speak for “30 Jun 2005”.
    That’s understandable, as most of the people really interested in the open-sourcing of Solaris are technical, and have little tolerance for imprecise interpretations.
    It’s well known that Kennedy announced the US moon effort as “within this decade” to give the people working on the problem a year of lee-way until the end of 1970, but if it had taken until the end of 1970, you would have seen a lot of the same grumbling.
    Personally, I’m willing to put up with the imprecision, since it was obvious that merketing people were involved from the start, as part of the price paid internally at Sun to get the code open-sourced at all.
    I’d suggest that other people back off from crying “foul!” until after 30 Jun 2005, assuming no delay announcements happen again.

    Terry Lambert

    May 6, 2005 at 7:21 pm

  18. It was supposed to be out in November 2004, and Sun has given no credible reasons for the delay. And right along with the announcement of delays in November, Schwartz again misrepresented other proprietary software from Sun as being open source.

    Along with the same article, Schwartz talks about “beating RedHat”, a company whose open source track record is nearly impeccable and a key part of the open source community. Why should anybody want to help Sun “beat” a cornerstone of open source software, in particular given Sun’s own mixed history with open source?

    And you wonder why people don’t trust Sun…

    http://www.internetnews.com/dev-news/article.php/3430661

    Anonymous

    May 7, 2005 at 12:47 am

  19. [Trackback] You never know what reactions a simple action might produce.
    On April 25, 2005, I wrote a ‘blog entry entitled What’s New in Solaris Express 4/05 (Nevada Build 10) . As is my custom, I posted a reference to said entry to OSNews , since I believe
    t…


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