I'm cautiously optimistic about the new OmniOS Community Edition

July 20, 2017

You may recall that back in April, OmniTI suspended active development of OmniOS, leaving its future in some doubt and causing me to wonder what we'd do about our current generation of fileservers. There was a certain amount of back and forth on the OmniOS mailing list, but in general nothing concrete happened about, say, updates to the current OmniOS release, and people started to get nervous. Then just over a week ago, the OmniOS Community Edition was announced, complete with OmniOSCE.org. Since then, they've already released one weekly update (r151022i) with various fixes.

All of this leaves me cautiously optimistic for our moderate term needs, where we basically need a replacement for OmniOS r151014 (the previous LTS release) that gets security updates. I'm optimistic for the obvious reason, which is that things are really happening here; I'm cautious because maintaining a distribution of anything is a bunch of work over time and it's easy to burn out people doing it. I'm hopeful that the initial people behind OmniOS CE will be able to get more people to help and spread the load out, making it more viable over the months to come.

(I won't be one of the people helping, for previously discussed reasons.)

We're probably not in a rush to try to update from r151014 to the OmniOS CE version of r151022. Building out a new version of OmniOS and testing it takes a bunch of effort, the process of deployment is disruptive, and there's probably no point in doing too much of that work until the moderate term situation with OmniOS CE is clearer. For a start, it's not clear to me if OmniOS CE r151022 will receive long-term security updates or if users will be expected to move to r151024 when it's released (and I suppose I should ask).

For our longer term needs, ie the next generation of fileservers, a lot of things are up in the air. If we move to smaller fileservers we will probably move to directly attached disks, which means we now care about SAS driver support, and in general there's been the big question of good Illumos support for 10G-T Ethernet hardware (which I believe is still not there today for Intel 10G-T cards, or at least I haven't really seen any big update to the ixgbe driver). What will happen with OmniOS CE over the longer term is merely one of the issues in play; it may turn out to be important, or it may turn out to be irrelevant because our decision is forced by other things.

Written on 20 July 2017.
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Last modified: Thu Jul 20 23:47:29 2017
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