Developer Illumos Foundation
Written in C
OS family Unix (System V Release 4)
Working state Current
Source model Open source with closed source binary blobs, targeted fully open source
Initial release 2010
Available in English
Platforms IA-32, x86-64, SPARC, ARM (under development)[1]
Kernel type Monolithic
License BSD, MIT or CDDL
Official website .org.illumoswww

illumos is a free and open-source Unix operating system. It derives from OpenSolaris, which in turn derives from SVR4 UNIX and Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD). illumos comprises a kernel, device drivers, system libraries, and utility software for system administration. This core forms the basis of several operating system distributions (see below). illumos has a similar role as the Linux kernel, which forms the basis for different GNU/Linux distributions. Thus, after the de facto demise of the open-source OpenSolaris project there are different open-sourced OpenSolaris distributions now based on the illumos kernel.

The maintainers write illumos in lowercase since some computer fonts don't clearly distinguish a lowercase L from an uppercase i. The name is derived from the Latin illuminare meaning "to enlighten," and "OS" for 'operating system'.


  • Overview 1
  • Development 2
  • Features 3
  • Relatives 4
  • Distributions 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


illumos was announced via webinar[2] on Thursday, 3 August 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 allowing illumos to evolve into a kernel of its own.[3]

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.

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.[4]

The illumos 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.[5]

Bryan Cantrill’s talk at LISA11 Fork Yeah! The Rise and Development of Illumos discusses the history of illumos and some of its strengths from a developer's perspective.


Its primary development project, illumos-gate, derives from OS/Net (aka ON), which is a Solaris kernel with the bulk of the drivers, core libraries, and basic utilities, similar to what is delivered by a BSD "src" tree. It was originally dependent on OpenSolaris OS/Net, but a fork was made after Oracle silently decided to close the development of Solaris and unofficially killed the OpenSolaris project.


  • ZFS, a combined file system and logical volume manager providing a high 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, (or 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.



  • OpenIndiana, a distribution that is a continuation and fork in the spirit of the OpenSolaris operating system
  • SmartOS, a distribution for cloud computing with Kernel-based Virtual Machine integration
  • EON, a distribution geared towards an embedded network-attached storage (NAS) system
  • OmniOS, a distribution with a minimal initial package set geared towards server class systems
  • XStreamOS, a distribution for infrastructure, cloud, and web development
  • OpenSXCE, an illumos distribution for both 32-bit and 64-bit x86 platforms and SPARC microprocessors
  • StormOS, is another effort to port the illumos kernel and userland to Debian. Abandoned in favour of Dyson
  • Dyson, Debian on illumos
  • DilOS illumos based platform with Debian package manager (dpkg+apt) and virtualization support.

Official Illumos distributions page


  1. ^ Clulow, Joshua (25 October 2012). "Raspberry Pi Bring-Up". Illumos Foundation. Retrieved 14 November 2013. 
  2. ^ Garrett D'Amore (3 August 2010). "Illumos - Hope and Light Springs Anew - Presented by Garrett D'Amore". Retrieved 3 August 2010. 
  3. ^ Garrett D'Amore (13 August 2010). "The Hand May Be Forced". Retrieved 14 November 2013. 
  4. ^ Deirdré Straughan (16 May 2012). "Illumos Developers' Council Meeting". Retrieved 13 August 2012. 
  5. ^ Garrett D'Amore (27 October 2010). "New Illumos logo". Retrieved 14 November 2013. 

External links

  • Official website
  • OpenSolaris Community: OS/Net (ON)