The emails began about 7 AM.
“Is Ikey serious. Is this a joke. WTF?”
“Ken, have you seen this?”
“This has got to be a joke…right? Everything was OK yesterday? What happened?”
Here in the US, those of us who follow such things woke up to somber news:
“It is with a heavy heart that I must announce the closure of SolusOS. Simply put, there is no longer enough manpower to fulfil [sic] the vision. What began as a Debian derivative evolved into an independent distribution, without the large development team required to back such an effort.”
It was like a kick to the stomach for many of us.
Only 4 days before that Ikey Doherty made a fantastic announcement:
“On behalf of +SolusOS and the Numix Team, I’d like to announce that we are indeed collaborating on the Numix Desktop experience. (Numix DX)…”
What is Numix? See it here. Also, be aware that some of these links to the SolusOS Google+ community may be deleted soon.
So what happened in four short days? The news of SolusOS and Numix collaboration was a pretty big deal. It combined two potential FOSS powerhouses under one roof. It was certainly an exciting partnership.
I’m certain there’s more than meets the eye here, but I’m only certain about it within myself. I really don’t know any more than you at this point and that bothers me a bit. While I was part of the SolusOS “Inner Circle,” this came as bad news to me, just as it did for the rest of you. I was going to actually link to the Google+ SolusOS Inner Circle group, but it seems to have disappeared overnight.
Just like SolusOS
Ikey has struggled for the past year or so…even to the point of putting food on the table. But even through his prolonged unemployment, Ikey worked steadily on SolusOS. Those of us who could donated money via his PayPal account so he could concentrate on his work.
Where I come into play within SolusOS isn’t news. Ikey approached me over a year ago and asked if I would like to help create a customized version of SolusOS for the Reglue project. In that our former Ubuntu LTS was speeding toward end-of-life, I jumped at the chance. I was a SolusOS user already so it was a great offer. Ikey and I became friends.
So what happened? What transpired between October 20th and October 24th that would make Ikey Doherty just slam the door and walk away?
If I were to guess, it would probably be a combination of a couple of things:
Ikey had recently landed a fantastic job. While it is public record for those who want to look, in the last conversation I had with Ikey he asked me not to make a big deal out of it.
So I won’t.
Suffice it to say that it’s probably Ikey’s dream job. I believe the demands of that position, along with the stress and constant shifting of SolusOS collaborators, finally took its toll. I believe that the combined pressure of these things rolled over him like a tsunami.
Ikey and I had a conversation a year ago about the stability of “one man shows,” the distros that are created and maintained by a single person. Reglue needs stability in it’s operating system presentation. With Andrew Wyatt closing the doors of Fuduntu, I was a bit nervous.
Ikey assured me that there wasn’t anything that could come become between him and the people that counted on him.
It appears that either for the reason(s) Ikey stated, or a combination of other things, something drastically changed for Ikey.
So what now?
A few months back, friend and associate Dietrich Schmitz made the point for keeping a wary eye on the smaller distros. In situations where stability is everything, people who administer computers/servers or even people like me who have to count on stability…
It just makes sense to stay with the mainstream projects that have either large businesses behind their development and funding or that have a huge base of people that can step-in should something happen to The Prime Mover. A good case on point is PCLinuxOS. Bill Reynolds, the founder of that project, had to take some time off…a lot of time off. But since there were people that could step in, the project didn’t collapse.
Unfortunately for most of us, SolusOS did collapse.
And most assuredly from it’s own weight.
It appears that Ikey has gone dark. My guess is that he’s unplugged in order to keep focused on his job and not answering the myriad questions inevitably coming his way.
Will SolusOS resurface? Maybe…but for my organization I just cannot take a chance that this might happen again. I have people counting on me to deliver.
But through it all, Ikey Doherty is my friend and whatever decision he makes, I will support him.
So I will wait along with hundreds of other people to see what Ikey has to say further, if anything. According to him, the SolusOS website will be pulled down shortly.
We’ve all just witnessed the death of a distro.
It’s not something I want to witness again.
Ken Starks is the founder of the Helios Project and Reglue, which for 20 years provided refurbished older computers running Linux to disadvantaged school kids, as well as providing digital help for senior citizens, in the Austin, Texas area. He was a columnist for FOSS Force from 2013-2016, and remains part of our family. Follow him on Twitter: @Reglue