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OpenIndiana logo large.svg
OpenIndiana 2016.10 live desktop.png
OpenIndiana live desktop
DeveloperIllumos Foundation
Written inC
OS familyUnix (SVR4)
Working stateCurrent
Source modelOpen source
Latest releaseHipster 2019.10 (November 7, 2019; 2 months ago (2019-11-07)) [±][1]
Available inEnglish
Update methodImage Packaging System
Package managerpkg (IPS)
Kernel typeMonolithic
UserlandSolaris and GNU Core Utilities
Default user interfaceMATE
LicenseCDDL and others

OpenIndiana is a free and open-source Unix operating system derived from OpenSolaris and based on illumos. Developers forked OpenSolaris after Oracle Corporation discontinued it, in order to continue development and distribution of the source code.[2][3] The OpenIndiana project is stewarded by the illumos Foundation, which also stewards the illumos operating system.[2] OpenIndiana's developers strive to make it the de facto OpenSolaris distribution for production servers where security and bug fixes are required free of charge.[4]



Project Indiana was originally conceived by Sun Microsystems, to construct a binary distribution around the OpenSolaris source code base.[5]

OpenIndiana was conceived after negotiations of a takeover of Sun Microsystems by Oracle were proceeding, in order to ensure continued availability and further development of an OpenSolaris-based OS, as it is widely used. Uncertainty among the OpenSolaris development community led some developers to form tentative plans for a fork of the existing codebase.

These plans came to fruition following the announcement of discontinuation of support for the OpenSolaris project by Oracle.[6][7]

Initial reaction[edit]

OpenIndiana operating in console mode. View of the root directory

The formal announcement of the OpenIndiana project was made on September 14, 2010 at the JISC Centre in London.[8] The first release of the operating system was made available publicly at the same time, despite being untested. The reason for the untested release was that the OpenIndiana team set a launch date ahead of Oracle OpenWorld in order to beat the release of Solaris 11 Express.[9]

The announcement of OpenIndiana was met with a mainly positive response; over 350 people[10] viewed the online announcement, the ISO image was downloaded over 2000 times,[10] the Twitter account obtained over 500 followers,[11] and numerous notable IT press websites wrote about the release.[9][12][13][14][15][16] The broadcast bandwidth of the announcement was substantial, noted to top 350Mbit/second.[17] The network package depot server experienced 20x as much traffic interested in their distribution than they originally planned for, resulting in more threads later being provisioned.[18]

Not all reporting was positive, and some online articles have questioned the relevance of Solaris given the market penetration of Linux.[19][20] One article was critical of the OpenIndiana launch citing a lack of professionalism with regard to releasing an untested build, and the project's lack of commitment to a release schedule.[21] The initial OpenIndiana release was advertised as experimental and directly based on the latest OpenSolaris development build, preliminary to the OpenSolaris 2010 release.

Community building[edit]

With the OpenSolaris binary distribution moved to SolarisExpress and the real-time feed of OpenSolaris updates discontinued, concerns abounded over what would happen to OpenIndiana if Oracle decided to stop feeding source code back into the community. The OpenIndiana team mitigated these concerns when they announced their intention to move the source code feed to the illumos Foundation.[22]

Concerns were raised about possible discontinuation of free access to the Oracle-owned compiler being used to produce OpenIndiana. In response, OpenIndiana was modified to be able to compile under the open source GNU Compiler Collection.[23]

The HCL (Hardware Compatibility List) remains somewhat informal, fragmented and un-centralized requiring much end-user research for hardware selection.[24][25][26][27][28] The lack of a comprehensive centralized HCL follows from the fact that the OpenSolaris HCL was hosted on Oracle server infrastructure and the server-side code for the Device Driver Utility submission was not made available.

In August 2012, founding project lead Alasdair Lumsden stepped down from the project, citing personal reasons and frustration with the lack of progress made on the project.[29] Among the reasons for lack of progress were lack of developers and resources. In his resignation, Lumsden wrote, "For many of us this was the first open source project we had ever contributed to, myself included. The task at hand was vast, and we were ill equipped to deal with it."[29]

Since his resignation, the project is developed by a team of volunteers and is a completely horizontal and participative community effort.

Media reception[edit]

A September 2013 DistroWatch review stated that the OpenIndiana project has "seemingly been in steady decline for the last couple of years."[30] The same review concluded that OpenIndiana had not progressed significantly from the state of OpenSolaris five years before:[30]

Running OpenIndiana today feels much the same as running OpenSolaris five years ago, the tools are mostly the same, the desktop is the same. The software included is starting to show its age and I don't feel any truly significant features have been introduced in the past few years. I'm sure the developers behind the project are doing a good job of hunting down bugs and keeping drivers current, and that is great. Still, I feel as though OpenIndiana is treading water, not progressing in any meaningful way.

A May 2015 DistroWatch review of OpenIndiana similarly concluded that little major progress had been made to the system over the years.[31] The review stated that the package selection and hardware support seemed to lag behind other systems, while many of the system administration features have either replicated or ported to Linux and BSD. The review concludes that:[31]

While OpenIndiana appears to still be stable and functional, it also gives the impression of being stuck in the past, possibly due to a lack of developers willing to work on the project. OpenIndiana runs and may still be useful in situations where, for various reasons, the administrator really needs a version of Solaris, but it seems to me as though OpenIndiana has not moved forward in the past seven years. The operating system still features some great ideas and good technology, but it does not appear to have made any progress in recent years.

Claims about lack of package support may be mitigated by the fact that the 3500+ software packages provided by OpenIndiana Hipster are not split into several packages, which would artificially increase the package count (e.g. like in Linux distributions): the Image Packaging System is a file-based package management providing incremental updates and package facets, making such splitting an unnecessary burden. In the course of the first two years of its existence, the Hipster project has migrated and updated over 1500 packages: it maintains a collection of selected software packages while relying on third-party repositories like SFE[32] for add-ons. For extended selection, the pkgsrc system supported by Joyent[33] readily provides 20000+ packages for illumos systems.

Relation to other Operating Systems[edit]

OpenIndiana is a fork in the technical sense but it is a continuation of OpenSolaris in spirit. The project intends to deliver a System V family operating system which is binary-compatible with the Oracle products Solaris 11 and Solaris 11 Express. However, rather than being based on the OS/Net consolidation like OpenSolaris was, OpenIndiana is based on illumos. The project does use the same Image Packaging System (IPS) package management system as OpenSolaris.[4]

While the OpenIndiana codebase was initially based on the majority of publicly available code from Oracle, this is not the case since the oi_151a Development Builds which are based on illumos from September 2011 onwards. The project has effectively moved away from Oracle-owned tools such as Sun Studio: all builds since 2013, including the active Hipster branch, use the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) as sole compiler. The illumos project itself is built with GCC since June 15, 2012.[34]

Release schedule[edit]

Experimental Builds Development Builds Hipster/Gnome Hipster/MATE

Experimental Builds[edit]

The first experimental release of OpenIndiana, Build 147, was released on September 14, 2010,[35] while a second experimental release, Build 148 was released on December 17, 2010.[36]

Version Date Notes
oi_147[37] September 10, 2010

"Release Notes OpenIndiana oi_147".

oi_148[38] December 17, 2010

"Release Notes OpenIndiana oi_148".

Development Builds[edit]

A first development release, Build 151 was released on September 14, 2011. This is the first release to be based upon illumos. MartUX 151a0[39] was released as the first SPARC build for OpenIndiana. Build 151a7 for Intel/AMD architectures was released on October 6, 2012. Build 151a8 was released August 10, 2013. OpenSXCE 2013.01 SPARC Build 151a, formerly MartUX, was released through OpenIndiana on February 1, 2013 as the second and possibly last OpenIndiana SPARC build,[40] with subsequent releases based upon DilOS.[41]

Version Date Notes
oi_151a0[42][43] September 19, 2011

"Release Notes OpenIndiana oi_151a0".

oi_151a1 January 26, 2012

"Release Notes OpenIndiana oi_151a1".

oi_151a2 February 13, 2012

"Release Notes OpenIndiana oi_151a2".

oi_151a3 April 12, 2012

"Release Notes OpenIndiana oi_151a3".

oi_151a4 May 4, 2012

"Release Notes OpenIndiana oi_151a4".

oi_151a5 July 2, 2012

"Release Notes OpenIndiana oi_151a5".

oi_151a6 September 4, 2012

"Release Notes OpenIndiana oi_151a6".

oi_151a7 October 6, 2012

"Release Notes OpenIndiana oi_151a7".

oi_151a8[44] August 10, 2013

"Release Notes OpenIndiana oi_151a8".

oi_151a9 January 18, 2014

"Release Notes OpenIndiana oi_151a9".


The OpenIndiana Hipster

Since the development model inherited from the OpenSolaris project was unsuitable for a community project, the Hipster initiative was created late 2013 to reboot and modernize OpenIndiana. The Hipster project is a fast development branch of OpenIndiana based on a rolling-release model and a horizontal contribution scheme through the oi-userland build system[45] and the use of continuous integration.

Hipster is actively maintained: the repository receives software updates as well as security fixes, and installation images are published twice a year. Every snapshot release is announced via mailing list and Twitter.[46] The first snapshot release was delivered on February 14, 2014 and subsequent snapshots were based on a six-month development cycle.

Some notable features of Hipster:

  • MATE as the default desktop environment (since Hipster 2016.10)
  • Update to newer illumos KVM
  • Update of the graphic stack with newer Xorg and DRM support
  • Support for FUSE and NTFS-3G
  • Support for multimedia software[47]
  • Support for third-party SFE repository providing LibreOffice[48]
  • Migration to GCC as default compiler
  • Migration of legacy software consolidations to unified build system "oi-userland".

The list of features is updated for each development cycle on the Roadmap page of the issue tracker.

Version Date Notes
2014.02 February 14, 2014

"Release Notes OpenIndiana Hipster 2014.02".

2014.07 July 1, 2014

"Release Notes OpenIndiana Hipster 2014.07".

2014.10 October 12, 2014

"Release Notes OpenIndiana Hipster 2014.10".

2015.03 March 31, 2015

"Release Notes OpenIndiana Hipster 2015.03".

2015.10 October 12, 2015

"Release Notes OpenIndiana Hipster 2015.10".

2016.04 April 21, 2016

"Release Notes OpenIndiana Hipster 2016.04".

2016.10 November 2, 2016

"Release Notes OpenIndiana Hipster 2016.10".

2017.04 May 2, 2017

"Release Notes OpenIndiana Hipster 2017.04".

2017.10 October 31, 2017

"Release Notes OpenIndiana Hipster 2017.10".

2018.04 April 28, 2018

"Release Notes OpenIndiana Hipster 2018.04".

2018.10 October 23, 2018

"Release Notes OpenIndiana Hipster 2018.10".

2019.04 May 12, 2019

"Release Notes OpenIndiana Hipster 2019.04".


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ a b "Welcome to Project OpenIndiana!". Project OpenIndiana. 10 September 2010. Retrieved 14 September 2010.
  3. ^ Ljubuncic, Igor (23 May 2011). "OpenIndiana — there's still hope". DistroWatch. Retrieved 20 September 2013.
  4. ^ a b "Frequently Asked Questions". OpenIndiana.
  5. ^ "Project Indiana". Archived from the original on February 26, 2011.
  6. ^ Lumsden, Alasdair (August 13, 2010). "OpenSolaris cancelled, to be replaced with Solaris 11 Express". osol-discuss (Mailing list). Archived from the original on 2013-03-07.
  7. ^ Michael Larabel (September 10, 2010). "OpenIndiana — Another OpenSolaris Fork — Coming Next Week". Phoronix. Retrieved 13 September 2010.
  8. ^ "Announcement".
  9. ^ a b Sam Varghese. "OpenSolaris fork to be announced". ITWire. Retrieved 18 September 2010.
  10. ^ a b EveryCity Managed Hosting. "EveryCity Sponsors OpenSolaris Fork OpenIndiana". Retrieved 18 September 2010.
  11. ^ "OpenIndiana Twitter Account".
  12. ^ Timothy Prickett Morgan. "OpenSolaris spork ready for download". The Register. Retrieved 18 September 2010.
  13. ^ "Illumos Foundation launches OpenIndiana". The H. Retrieved 18 September 2010.
  14. ^ Luke Hopewell. "Illumos Foundation resurrects OpenSolaris". ZDNet Australia. Retrieved 18 September 2010.
  15. ^ Ted Samson (September 15, 2010). "Illumos aims to clone dying OpenSolaris". InfoWorld. Retrieved 15 September 2010.
  16. ^ Oliver Diedrich (15 September 2010). "OpenIndiana statt OpenSolaris". Heise Online (in German). Retrieved 15 September 2010.
  17. ^ "Twitter / openindiana: Hope you liked the announcement".
  18. ^ "Twitter / openindiana: Our pkg.depotd server for".
  19. ^ "From the Editors: Consulting the Oracle". Software Development Times. Software Development Times. 15 September 2010. Retrieved 15 September 2010.
  20. ^ Joe Brockmeier. "A Quick Look at OpenIndiana". Linux Magazine. Retrieved 18 September 2010.
  21. ^ Lawrence Latif (15 September 2010). "Open Indiana aims for default free Solaris distribution". The Inquirer. Retrieved 15 September 2010.
  22. ^ "What if Oracle discontinue providing access to the OpenSolaris source?".
  23. ^ "What if Oracle discontinue Sun Studio (the closed source and primary compiler for building OpenSolaris)?".
  24. ^ "Openindiana Community HCL".
  25. ^ "The Best Hardware to Use?".
  26. ^ "Nexenta Project | About suggested NAS SAN Hardware". Archived from the original on 2011-12-12.
  27. ^ "NexentaStor TM Hardware Supported List Version 1.0 – February 02, 2011" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-01-01.
  28. ^ "Joyent Validates TYAN Servers for Use in SmartDataCenter". Archived from the original on 2011-11-24.
  29. ^ a b Alasdair Lumsden (2012-08-29). "OpenIndiana lead Alasdair Lumsden resigns". Retrieved 2015-10-24.
  30. ^ a b "DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 523, 2 September 2013". 2013-09-02. Retrieved 2015-10-24.
  31. ^ a b "DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 609, 11 May 2015". 2015-05-11. Retrieved 2015-10-24.
  32. ^ "The Spec Files Extra Project".
  33. ^ "Joyent - Portable Package Management".
  34. ^ "Illumos will now build with GCC 4.4.4".
  35. ^ "oi_147 - OpenIndiana - OpenIndiana Wiki".
  36. ^ "oi_148". December 17, 2010.
  37. ^ DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 373, 27 September 2010
  38. ^ DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 406, 23 May 2011
  39. ^ "151a0 - MartUX SPARC Build 151a0".
  40. ^ "OpenIndiana: SPARC release deleted".
  41. ^ "Twitter / openindiana: Stable release candidate aiming".
  42. ^ DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 426, 10 October 2011
  43. ^ OpenIndiana 151a Desktop review |
  44. ^ DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 523, 2 September 2013
  45. ^ "Github: oi-userland".
  46. ^ "Hipster".
  47. ^ "The hipster-encumbered IPS repository".
  48. ^ "LibreOffice updated to for OpenIndiana Hipster".

External links[edit]