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OpenSolaris Illumos


See also: OpenSolaris & illumos derivatives History of OpenSolaris distributions OpenSolaris distributions Tree OpenSolaris distributions list

illumos is a fork and consolidation of software that forms the core from which distributions (Operating System) can be created, being a partly free and open source Unix operating system which provides next-generation features for downstream distributions, including advanced system debugging, next generation filesystem, networking, and virtualization options.

In this sense, illumos is similar to a BSD source tree, or Linux's

illumos is developed by both volunteers and companies building products on top of the software.

illumos is an excellent base for both traditional and cloud-native deployments.

illumos comprises a kernel, device drivers, system libraries, and utility software for system administration. This core is now the base for many different open sourced illumos distributions, in a similar way in which the Linux kernel is used in different GNU/Linux distributions.


The project name is a combination of words illuminare from Latin for to light, and OS for Operating System.


illumos was announced via webinar on 03/08/2010, as a community effort of some core Solaris engineers to create a truly open source Solaris by swapping closed source bits of OpenSolaris with open implementations.

The original plan explicitly stated that illumos would not be a distribution or a fork. However, after Oracle announced discontinuing OpenSolaris, plans were made to fork the final version of the Solaris ON kernel (Solaris OS/Net kernel) allowing illumos to evolve into a kernel of its own.

As of 2010, efforts focused on libc, the NFS lock manager, the crypto module, and many device drivers to create a Solaris-like OS with no closed, proprietary code. As of 2012, development emphasis includes transitioning from the historical compiler, Studio, to GCC. The userland software is now built with GNU make and contains many GNU utilities such as GNU tar.

illumos is lightly led by founder Garrett D'Amore and other community members/developers such as Bryan Cantrill and Adam Leventhal, via a Developers' Council.

The ollumos Foundation has been incorporated in the State of California as a 501(c)6 trade association, with founding board members Jason Hoffman (formerly at Joyent), Evan Powell (Nexenta), and Garrett D'Amore. As of August 2012, the foundation was in the process of formalizing its by-laws and organizational development.

At OpenStorage Summit 2010, the new logo for illumos was revealed, with official type and branding to follow over

  • ZFS, a combined file system and logical volume manager providing a high level of data integrity for very large storage capacities.
  • Solaris Containers (or Zones), a low overhead implementation of operating-system-level virtualization technology for x86 and SPARC systems.
  • DTrace, a comprehensive dynamic tracing framework for troubleshooting kernel and application problems on production systems in real time.
  • Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM), a virtualization infrastructure. KVM supports native virtualization on processors with hardware virtualization extensions.
  • OpenSolaris Network Virtualization and Resource Control (or Crossbow), a set of features that provides an internal network virtualization and quality of service including: virtual NIC (VNIC) pseudo-network interface technology, exclusive ip zones, bandwidth management, and flow control on a per interface and per VNIC basis.


The project aims to continue the development and maintenance of the Oracle OS/Net (ON) code in an independent and community-based manner. These are its main objectives:

  • To replace the proprietary binary files of the main tree (libc_i18n, NFS/CIFS Lock Manager, parts of the cryptographic framework, some important drivers...) and to allow an independent, community based and driven development, but compatible both at legal and binary level with the main OpenSolaris branch.
  • Incorporate experimental changes or changes that could not take place in OS/Net as part of OpenSolaris.
  • Offer those changes back upstream so that they can be integrated into OS/Net.
  • Deliver a completely free operating system, with 100% compatibility with operating system software running on OS/Net Solaris / OpenSolaris (the goal is 100% ABI, Application Binary Interface).

illumos focuses on the operating system and is not interested in the graphical subsystem, desktop components, package system.... The project does not intend to create its own distribution either, but aims to provide all the components to other projects that want to build on the OpenSolaris kernel.

The operating system is intended to cover x86, AMD64, SPARC, VMWare, VirtualBox (and, in perspective, s390, PowerPC, ARM) architectures.


illumos is available under the Common Development and Distribution License (CDDL).

Active illumos derivatives

  1. DilOS, with Debian package manager (dpkg + apt) and virtualization support, available for x86-64 and SPARC.
  2. NexentaStor
  3. OmniOSce
  4. OpenIndiana
  5. Tribblix
  6. v9os, a server-only, IPS-based minimal SPARC distribution.
  7. XStreamOS, a distribution for infrastructure, cloud, and web development.
  8. SmartOS (TRITON SmartOS), a distribution for cloud computing with Kernel-based Virtual Machine integration derivative from Joyent. SmartOS is a specialized Type 1 Hypervisor platform based on illumos. It supports two types of virtualization: OS Virtual Machines (Zones, Containers), and Hardware Virtual Machines (KVM, Bhyve).
  9. Danube Cloud Community Edition, OS based on SmartOS with ZFS, KVM and zones. Danube Cloud is an open source software that enables to create cloud data centers on customer hardware.

OpenIndiana is a Operating system and a Project.

OpenIndiana OS

OpenIndiana is an advanced enterprise OS from the Sun branch of the Unix-like family tree, and as such it can sometimes seem quite complex (Spending several decades running important servers can do that to an OS!). As with most Unix-like operating systems it can be completely controlled via a Command Line Interface (CLI) shell, but it also supports a windowing GUI system.

The first releases or consolidation of OpenIndiana, oi_147, was released on 10/09/2010.

From the CLI, it supports a number of different shells, the two main ones being ksh93 and Bash. It also supports the original SunOS SVR4 commands, Like the command and syntax familiar to BSD users, and a large portion of the GNU userland commands that most GNU/Linux users are familiar with.

By default, the windowing GUI system is based on the popular Mate system.

OpenIndiana also has a powerful package manager, IPS, for updating and installing new software.

OpenIndiana supports a wide range of popular software, including the main open source Internet server software, databases, Internet client software, development languages and tools and more. The Popular Software provides some links and notes about some of the community favorites, but many more are supported. In addition to the Hipster IPS repositories, OpenIndiana can also use the SFE and pkgsrc package repositories which provide additional software options.

OpenIndiana Releases History
Version /
Release Date Kind
oi_147 10/09/2010 Experimental
oi_148 17/12/2010 Experimental
oi_151a0 19/09/2011 Development
oi_151a1 26/01/2012 Development
oi_151a2 13/02/2012 Development
oi_151a3 12/04/2012 Development
oi_151a4 04/05/2012 Development
oi_151a5 02/07/2012 Development
oi_151a6 04/09/2012 Development
oi_151a7 06/10/2012 Development
oi_151a8 10/10/2013 Development
oi_151a9 18/01/2014 Development
2014.02 14/01/2014 Hipster/GNOME
2014.07 01/07/2014 Hipster/GNOME
2014.10 12/10/2014 Hipster/GNOME
2015.03 30/03/2015 Hipster/GNOME
2015.10 03/10/2015 Hipster/GNOME
2016.04 21/04/2016 Hipster/MATE
2016.10 30/10/2016 Hipster/MATE
2017.04 02/05/2017 Hipster/MATE
2017.10 31/10/2017 Hipster/MATE
2018.04 27/04/2018 Hipster/MATE
2018.10 23/10/2018 Hipster/MATE
2019.04 11/05/2019 Hipster/MATE
2019.10 06/11/2019 Hipster/MATE
2020.04 04/05/2020 Hipster/MATE
2020.10 31/10/2020 Hipster/MATE
2021.04 01/05/2021 Hipster/MATE
2021.10 05/12/2021 Hipster/MATE
2022.10 04/12/2022 Hipster/MATE
2023.04 21/04/2023 Hipster/MATE
2023.05 04/05/2023 Hipster/MATE
2023.10 28/10/2023 Hipster/MATE
2024.04 28/04/2024 Hipster/MATE
OpenIndiana Project

The OpenIndiana Project is the open source community which develops, maintains, and supports the OpenIndiana distribution, an Illumos based Unix-like operating system derived from OpenSolaris. The purpose of the OpenIndiana Project is to ensure the continued availability of an openly developed distribution based on OpenSolaris. The OpenIndiana project is also a continuation of the collaborative effort and community spirit of the OpenSolaris project.


OpenIndiana obtains its name from Project Indiana, an open source effort by Sun Microsystems (now Oracle Corporation) to produce OpenSolaris, a community developed Unix-like distribution based on Sun Solaris. Project Indiana was led by Ian Murdock, founder of the Debian GNU/Linux distribution.

OpenIndiana and Illumos

The illumos project is the open source community which develops, maintains, and supports illumos-gate, the core software used by the OpenIndiana distribution.

Similar to a BSD src tree, illumos-gate includes the illumos kernel, along with many of the device drivers, core libraries, and system utilities.

To form a complete distribution, the OpenIndiana project combines illumos-gate with oi-userland, and with other free and open-source software. This melding of software from many different open-source projects is similar to how GNU/Linux distributions use the Linux kernel along with software from the GNU and various other open source projects.

How does OpenIndiana differ from OpenSolaris?

Some of the differences between OpenIndiana and OpenSolaris can be characterized as follows:

  • Sun's OS/NET consolidation (closed by Oracle) has been replaced with illumos-gate.
  • Many of the original OpenSolaris software consolidations have been reorganized into a single oi-userland consolidation.
  • Oracle's Sun Studio has been replaced with the open source GNU GCC compiler.
  • XVM (XEN) has been replaced with the illumos-kvm port.
How does OpenIndiana compare to BSD or Linux?

All of these operating systems follow the Unix paradigm and contain tools and commands which bear a similar resemblance, although specific feature sets and command usage may be dissimilar. If you are coming to OpenIndiana from either BSD or GNU/Linux, you will quickly learn these differences. In no time at all, you'll feel right at home working with OpenIndiana's tools and commands.


OpenIndiana contains the following enterprise class features and more:

Feature Description
ZFS ZFS File System and Volume Manager
DTrace Dynamic Tracing Framework - (System Introspection)
Crossbow Network Virtualization and Resource Control
SMF Service Management Facility
FMA Fault Management Architecture
COMSTAR Common Multiprotocol SCSI TARget - (ISCSI Target Framework)
KVM Kernel Virtual Machine - (Operating System Virtualization)
Zones OS Level Virtualized Application Containers
Time-Slider Automated ZFS Snapshots and Rollbacks
RBAC Role-Based Access Control
IPMP IP Network Multipathing
DLMP Data Link Multipathing


Tribblix is an open source operating system created by Peter Tribble. It's based on OpenSolaris, OpenIndiana, and illumos, with a retro style and modern components. The base kernel and commands come from illumos, with everything else rebuilt from scratch.

Tribblix is a traditional system. Software is distributed as SVR4 packages, lightweight window managers are preferred over heavy desktop environments, the primary desktop option is Xfce, and MATE and Enlightenment are also available, plus many others. The system is flexible, fast, and familiar to those who've used Solaris in the past, while shipping modern software on the solid foundation it's based on.

Tribblix isn't just a spin or repackaging of another illumos distribution. It's a completely independent distribution that, while sharing the key illumos technologies such as ZFS, zones, DTrace, and SMF, has been essentially built from scratch, with its own build and packaging system.

A version for SPARC is also available. Due to limited availability of hardware both for myself and the illumos community as a whole, hardware support might be limited. This was bootstrapped with OpenSXCE, and doesn't yet have the full range of packages that are available for x86 systems.


OmniOSce (OmniOS Community Edition) is an open source enterprise server Unix operating system, and a direct decendent of OmniOS, with similar charactersitics.

  • OmniOS was a continuation of OpenSolaris, and OmniOSce is a continuation of OmniOS, building on the advanced technology in illumos to make a complete OS, and takes a minimalist approach suitable for server use.
  • The key feature difference in OmniOS is the GNU/Linux emulation (LX) Zone system, which isn't present in vanilla illumos.


On April 21st 2017, Robert Treat announced that OmniTI would suspend active development of OmniOS and support contracts would not be renewed. After five years of releases twice a year, OmniOS had become highly popular, yet a goal of making OmniOS community operated had not been realized.

While the announcement of this “radical” approach stunned many, Treat explained that the action was taken in part in hopes that it might catalyze the community, stating “To be clear, our goal is not to abandon OmniOS, but to divest OmniTI from the open source project in order to spur others to participate more.”

14 weeks later, OmniOS Community Edition is a reality.


NexentaStor is a proprietary Unix-like operating system based on OpenSolaris, and more recently based on illumos, built by Nexenta Systems on top of the Nexenta Core Platform (NexentaOS).


NexentaStor it is optimized for use in virtualized server environments including NAS, iSCSI, and Fibre Channel applications, and is built around the ZFS file system. It features iSCSI support, unlimited incremental backups or 'snapshots', snapshot mirroring (replication), block level mirroring (CDP), integrated search within ZFS snapshots and a custom API.

Through its focus on ZFS, it carries with it potential benefits for virtualized server farms in terms of performance and thin provisioning. The operating system is currently distributed as ISO and VMware disk images with pricing determined on a per-terabyte and per-server licensing basis.

The NexentaStor Community edition was available free of charge for users with less than 18 TB of raw disk space (pre-redundancy and volume creation), and includes all the common storage area network features of the production version.

This free tier model changed with the release of version 5.0 (community edition only) to a 10 terabyte limit of assigned and usable (post-redundancy and volume creation) disk space. It is the same as the enterprise version, except for the lack of paid plugins and commercial support. It can install many of the free and open source plugins that are developed and hosted on the community edition website. The "community edition" though is only intended for hobbyist use. Production use of the "community edition" is forbidden by the NexentaStor EULA. Therefore, the use of the term "community edition" remains very disputable.

Discontinued illumos derivatives

  1. Dyson
  2. Illumian
  3. OmniOS
  4. OpenSXCE, based on SXCE (Solaris Express Community Edition), it's a distribution for developers and system administrators for IA-32/x86-64 x86 platforms and SPARC. OpenSXCE included GNOME and IceWM desktop environments. OpenSXCE creator is Martin Bochnig, who is also (previously) creator of martUX distribution based on OpenSolaris SXCE.
  5. marTux

Dyson (Debian GNU/kOpenSolaris or Debian GNU/killumos), was a general-purpose operating system derived from Debian using libc, and SMF init system, with illumos kernel and GNU userland and packages from Debian. It is not a successor of any existing or existed distributions based on illumos or OpenSolaris. Dyson was constructed from scratch to be like Debian as much as possible. Namely, most of Debian packages can be built on Dyson without any changes, and arch-independent packages (arch all in Debian terms) can be installed directly as is.


OmniOS was an Open Source distribution designed to provide a reliable and scalable Unix based operating system for systems practitioners, folks involved in web operations, developers of data-intensive, real time applications, and those working on highly scaled infrastructure. OmniOS was a continuation of the OpenSolaris legacy, building on the advanced technology in illumos to make a complete OS. With OmniOS, users can take advantage of a number of advanced technologies such as advanced filesystem support (ZFS), leading edge systems tracing (dtrace), fully fledged containers (Zones), and software defined networking (Crossbow). This technology is combined with a minimal package set, delivering a self-hosting enviroment with simplified processes for ongoing maintanance.


marTux was an LiveDVD based OpenIndiana/[[illumos][ for reviving SPARC hardware support.

  • MartUX_OpenIndiana is based upon OpenIndiana oi_151a, which was released for x86 hardware in 2011.
  • The founder and developer of MartUX is Martin Bochnig. He develops OpenSXCE, which is based on Solaris Express Community Edition.
  • This was the first SPARC release of an OpenIndiana/Illumos distribution.

MartUX was targeting sun4u and sun4v with 64-bit Sun UltraSPARC I, II, III, IV, T1, and T2 processors. There was also support for Fujitsu SPARC64-V, SPARC64-VI, SPARC64-VII, and SPARC64-VII+ processors. It also provided hardware accelerated graphics drivers with openXSun for the Sun XVR graphics processors plus Elite3D, Creator, and other select models.

Previously, MartUX was based upon OpenSolaris and originally released only on sun4u or sun4v architecture.


Illumian it was an open source operating system that combined technologies from Nexenta OS, OpenIndiana and Debian GNU/Linux.

illumian was the successor to the discontinued Nexenta OS made by a merger of the Nexenta OS and OpenIndiana development teams.

illumian uses the illumos kernel and Debian userland, including the APT package manager.

illumian was available as a double-arch installable CD ISO image that included software packages optimized for both 32-bit and 64-bit architectures.

The first (and last) version of the illumian distribution, illumian 1.0, was released on 01/02/2012, and included only a minimal collection of packages, similar to what is installed using the OpenIndiana "text mode" installer.

  • This distribution used the same versions of externally maintained packages used by the OpenIndiana project, most of which are maintained in the illumos-userland port.