The OmniOS Approach to Software Distribution

OmniOS embodies a philosophy we’ve dubbed KYSTY, for Keep Your Stuff To Yourself. Every OS requires a collection of third-party libraries and utilities to run itself. Applications need third-party libraries and supporting utilities too. However, the two need not be the same.

I’ll Use Mine, You Use Yours

In many other systems, there is a single version of a given library or language runtime that is used both by components of the system itself and by users of the system for their own applications. On the kind of time scales that enterprise OS support covers, large changes can occur in a given piece of software. A new library version might come out that offers desirable features not available in the version shipped with the OS. The new version may also break backward compatibility with existing applications. If that application happens to be a core component of the OS, then upgrading the library becomes much more difficult, if not impossible.

KYSTY is, above all else, about separating as much as possible the spheres of responsibility for the OS itself and the application environment. The two necessarily have very different goals and development timelines.

This Is Nothing New

It is true that there have long been, on other OSes, alternative or add-on repos full of packages, but OmniOS embraces KYSTY as a core organising principle. We purposefully ship only what we need to build and run the OS. In many cases, these are not the most recent versions. Except in the most basic circumstance, you should not use these things in your app stack. At best, their versions are stagnant; at worst, they may go away entirely as the OS components they exist for are rewritten.

But This Is Really Inconvenient!

It’s true, building (and maintaining) your own software stack is a lot of work. The payoff is that your application stack is truly yours. You’re not at the mercy of someone else’s idea of what the version of X should be, what plugins or modules are available, where things live, etc. You also have the power to make changes according to your own schedule, without waiting for someone else to provide you an update.

You might not care enough about the particular build options and just want something you can install and use. That’s fine. Find someone else who has done the work and made their packages available via their own publisher. OmniOS encourages a layer cake approach to the packaging ecosystem. Add packages from different collections to your system to get the tools you want.