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11 August 2008, 08:53

Quarrels about Blastwave Solaris repository

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Dennis Clarke removed all the packages of the Blastwave project from the mirror master last Wednesday after a debate on principles. The software repository is maintained by a community of volunteers and provides a huge number of open source programs for OpenSolaris. Programs are easy to install via pkg-get in a similar way to the Debian packages installed with apt. Since the packages were removed without advance notice and the start page only showed a trademark note, the rumour mill has been working overtime. Users in blogs, mailing lists and on usenet are speculating about whether Blastwave could be caught up in a legal dispute.

The move was triggered by ongoing disputes about the general future direction of Blastwave. Dennis Clarke, the project's administrator who owns the Blastwave trademark and provides the project's hardware infrastructure, wanted to provide packages mainly for Solaris Express and OpenSolaris and thought the time had come to stop supporting Solaris 8. Many maintainers - including Philip Brown, the father of pkg-get - wanted to provide packages mainly for the stable Solaris versions 8-10, which are also officially supported by Sun. Quarrels initially flared up last May, when Dennis Clarke suspended Phil Brown's account for two weeks. No new packages were released during that time because only Phil Brown holds the signature key.

To continue development both in the modern and in the traditional direction, the developers agreed to continue developing the packages for Solaris 8-10 at the subdomain. To avoid another situation like that in May, was hosted on a server in Switzerland and not on the Blastwave hardware. Clarke, who recently acquired new hardware, felt aggravated by this and deleted not only all the packages but also the Blastwave DNS zone file in a knee-jerk reaction.

As a result, any Solaris packages on mirror servers which don't synchronise in override mode were also deleted, although most repositories were restored by the end of last week. Dennis Clarke, however, was unwilling to relent even after deleting the files and withdrew the maintainers' right to use his domain.

Developers will continue to support the project regardless, even if they have to do so from a different domain. In an interview with heise open, CSW package maintainer Dagobert Michelsen said that he had already registered the domain today. The next few days will reveal how exactly the project will continue. For the moment, the new domain won't have any IPS (Image Packaging System) packages for OpenSolaris and provide only those for Solaris versions 8-10 which are officially supported by Sun. However, the Blastwave server went back online on Friday and is providing packages again. It remains unclear whether the developers will reach an agreement or whether there will be two big community sources for Solaris packages in the future.


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