Unfortunately I don't feel personally passionate about OmniOS

May 17, 2017

In light of recent events, OmniOS badly needs people who really care about it, the kind of people who are willing and eager to contribute their own time and efforts to the generally thankless work of keeping a distribution running; integrating upstream changes, backporting security and bug updates, maintaining various boring pieces of infrastructure, and so on. There is an idealistic portion of me that would like me to be such a person, and thus that wants me to step forward to volunteer for things here (on the OmniOS mailing list, some people have recently gotten the ball rolling to line up volunteers for various jobs).

Unfortunately, I have to be realistic here (and it would be irresponsible not to be). Perhaps some past version of me is someone who might have had that sort of passion for OmniOS at the right time in his life, but present-day me does not (for various reasons, including that I have other things going on in my life). Without this passion, if I made the mistake of volunteering to do OmniOS-related things in an excess of foolishness I would probably burn out almost immediately; it would be all slogging work and no particular feeling of reward. And I wouldn't even be getting paid for it.

Can I contribute as part of my job? Unfortunately, this is only a maybe, because of two unfortunate realities here. Reality number one is that while we really like our OmniOS fileservers, OmniOS and even ZFS are not absolutely essential to us; although it would be sort of painful, we could get by without OmniOS or even ZFS. Thus there is only so much money, staff time, or other resource that it's sensible for work to 'spend' on OmniOS. Reality number two is that it's only sensible for work to devote resources to supporting OmniOS if we actually continue to use OmniOS over the long term, and that is definitely up in the air right now. Volunteering long-term ongoing resources for OmniOS now (whether that's some staff time or some servers) is premature. Unfortunately there's somewhat of a chicken and egg problem; we might be more inclined to volunteer resources if it was clear that OmniOS was going to be viable going forward, but volunteering resources now is part of what OmniOS needs in order to be viable.

(Given our 10G problem, it's not clear that even a fully viable OmniOS would be our OS of choice for our next generation of fileservers.)

(This echoes what I said in my sidebar on the original entry at the time, but I've been thinking over this recently in light of volunteers starting to step forward on the OmniOS mailing list. To be honest, it makes me feel a bit bad to be someone who isn't stepping forward here, when there's a clear need for people. So I have to remind myself that stepping forward without passion to sustain me would be a terrible mistake.)

Comments on this page:

From at 2017-05-18 00:01:55:

I have not heard a passionate argument for Omni OS.

IMHO if it is going to survive I need to hear that argument.

By cks at 2017-05-18 00:44:38:

My best argument for OmniOS is that it was the only Illumos distribution that had what we need, which boils down to a traditional Unix server environment with ongoing development but stable releases that are supported with security updates and important bug fixes for a couple of years.

My best argument for Illumos in general is that I still think it is the best overall platform for ZFS (provided that it has what you need), because ZFS has (still) not yet truly broken free from its origins in Solaris (at least in terms of code).

Written on 17 May 2017.
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