OpenSXCE Continues OpenSolaris Tradition

by Ostatic Staff - Jun. 09, 2013

Posted under "things I hope get traction and thrive", OpenSXCE is the latest iteration of the once popular OpenSolaris Community Edition. OpenSXCE is based on Illumos, the operating system descendent from OpenSolaris, and as such inherits some of the great stuff that originated at Sun, like DTrace, ZFS, and zones virtualization. OpenSXCEs main claim to fame seems to be that it supports standard Intel x86 architecture as well as the all Sun Sparc architectures.

OpenSXCE is a hobby OS, created and maintained by Martin Bochnig. Hobby systems like this normally fall well outside of my interests, but competition drives innovation, and it is good to see projects popping up around systems outside of Linux. If you were to judge OpenSXCE by its Web site, or by its basic Gnome desktop, you would miss the opportunity presented by the underlying technology.

OpenSXCE boots with a ZFS formatted filesystem by default, presenting many interesting opportunities for Gnome desktop developers to create things that are difficult to replicate on other systems. For example, the ability to snapshot the entire filesystem and restore at will, or to backup and restore the entire environment to a new computer. ZFS is just begging for graphical development. Or, perhaps an ultra secure desktop environment where every application runs inside a zone, which could lead to exporting and importing entire application environments as zones which would run without needing a mess of required libraries. There are many opportunities waiting here.

The interesting thing about Illumos based desktop systems is that the hard work and core innovation has already been done on the server side, especially with SmartOS. What OpenSXCE needs is graphical developers and designers interested in tapping the latent potential of the technology. Bochnig obviously can't build the entire thing himself, but it is good to see that these opportunities exist. The open source community as a whole is better off for the work of individuals like Bochnig and his work with OpenSXCE.