May the source be with you, but remember the KISS principle ;-)
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(slightly skeptical) Educational society promoting "Back to basics" movement against IT overcomplexity and  bastardization of classic Unix

(Slightly Skeptical)
Solaris Enterprize Strategy Page


See also

Books Sun Links Licensing Solaris by Stanislav Lem History Humor Etc

Instead of introduction I recommend to read the relevant part (Sun under the Linux siege ) of the chapter 4 of the Open source Pioneers book that discusses the Solaris relationship with Linux (and thus IBM) that was the counterpoint of the last five years or so.

Currently the key issue for Sun is the level of interoperability with Microsoft.  The key to this is their 2004 agreement:

SAN FRANCISCO, CA, April 2, 2004 — Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT) and Sun Microsystems, Inc. (NASDAQ: SUNW) today announced that they have entered into a broad technology collaboration arrangement to enable their products to work better together and to settle all pending litigation between the two companies. The companies have also entered into agreements on patents and other issues.

Unless Sun brass take serious steps in this direction, their competitive position is pretty slippery.  Of course low power consumption of T1 and good transactional benchmarks result is an additional plus.

Dr. Nikolai Bezroukov

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Old News ;-)

[June 9, 2006] Visiting Sun's CEO

Jonathan Schwartz, CEO of Sun Microsystems, just dropped me off at the lobby of building 10. So, I'm sitting on the floor near a power outlet and am blogging my experiences.

What an enjoyable guy! We walked across the street to a Togos sandwich shop. Little-known trivia, Togos was started by a couple of San Jose State University students. I have lots of great memories of eating in Togos over the years (there was one across the street from our high school - I graduated in 1983).

Anyway, at one point we were having such an engaged conversation I had to remind myself that he runs a company with 37,000 employees and billions in revenues. We instantly were talking like long-lost friends.

There was a serious tone to our lunch, though, we talked a lot about the business difficulties facing Sun Microsystems. They are about to layoff thousands of people.

One thing I look for in leaders, though, is willingness to take the worst of times in stride with a clear eye on what comes next. Jonathan exceeded all my ideas of what a leader should do. And he has great pride in Sun, too, and says that the business is starting to turn around.

For one, Sun is going to encourage all the laid off workers to continue to blog - on Sun's dime. Now, I can imagine the kind of vitriol and crud that'll get posted by workers who've just lost their jobs. That takes real corporate bravery and my hat is off to him. One good thing about this? It'll make it possible for new employers to get in touch with laid off workers. There's a lot of companies that are hungry for workers right now.

At one point I asked him about the Business Week cover I saw (Marissa Mayer at Google was staring at both of us, being crowned by BusinessWeek as queen of innovators) and said "what innovations is Sun doing?" Later I asked him if there's something that Sun and Microsoft could innovate together on?

He told me about some of the innovations that Sun has been working on in the past few years. He's in the midst of a large-scale corporate upheaval and rebuilding.

One of the things he's proudest of is Sun's engineers found a way to dramatically lower the power consumption of their servers. How did they do that? By getting rid of things that Web servers don't need - and by slowing down the chip which didn't hurt Web performance, since most of what Web sites need is high throughput, not high turnaround time (he told me that I really care if 1,000 people can all download my blog at the same time, not that any one of those getting it a microsecond faster). He told me that they found that customers of the size of Ebay weren't using much floating point performance on its datacenters. So they removed that functionality, and other stuff. That saves power. Good for the environment, good for his customer's bottom lines, and good for Sun too.

He's deeply concerned about the amount of power that Internet sites are using. He says that for many Internet companies it's already one of their top three costs. Reduce power and heat on servers and you can save companies like Google or Ebay or, even, WordPress, a lot of money.

How could Microsoft and Sun innovate together? That's a tough one cause our businesses are aimed at different places at the moment, but we brainstormed a few places and I'm sure we'll get something going offline. The fact that we were even talking about working together demonstrates that it's a new world and that the only constant in the business world is change.

He's most passionate about the growth of content around the world. Talked about how a friend of his showed him the popularity of Indian Cricket games world-wide, something that hasn't caught on here in Silicon Valley, but has up to a billion people interested around the world. That kind of content will be delivered over the Internet, which means more business opportunities for Sun. He sees the effect that blogs, Wikis, MySpace, podcasting, and video and videoblogging are having on the growth of the Internet too and is looking for ways that Sun could help those networks grow and thrive.

Why invite me over for lunch? Cause he is seeing the deep effect that blogging is having on his company (it's helping recruitment at Sun too, even in the face of layoffs) and wanted to meet me and get to know me a little better. That's very flattering, but I too was trying to learn something about Sun that hadn't been reported already.

One thing I found out? That he's a staunch proponent of working at home. At Sun they found that people who work at home are far less likely to leave Sun than employees that have to come into the office. He sees that as a competitive advantage and doesn't understand why some companies force their employees to come into the office.

He also went into great detail with me about why Sun is in the position of having to lay people off. I found that to be fascinating behavior on the behalf of a CEO meeting with an employee of one of his fiercest competitors. He's bummed out by having to lay people off which seems trite to say when you talk about a CEO that isn't seeing his own job threatened, but he told me he grew up in a poor family and wants to put Sun into a position so it can hire back all those workers.

He won me over. I've met a few CEOs over the years and a lot of them just want to tell me their point of view. Jonathan was noticeably different: he asked ME questions about how I looked at the world. He was curious, personable, someone I could see drinking a lot of beer with and still remaining friends with. And that's my point of view from the floor of Sun Microsystems' corporate headquarters.

Next time Jonathan, you gotta come up to Microsoft and I'll buy lunch and let's take the relationship further.

[June 02, 2006 ] Jonathan Schwartz's Weblog/Sunlight is the Best Informant

I was with a big potential customer yesterday - in the Fortune 100. After a day of briefings from our technical folks, I joined the meeting to see how we were doing. I asked him and his team how much of what they'd seen was new to them.

He said, "about 70% was a complete surprise."

Ouch. That's not good.

To test, I asked, "before today, did you know that Solaris was open source, or ran on Dell, HP and IBM hardware, not just Sun's?" "Nope."

And like I said, this was a Fortune 100 opportunity.

Despite the ample advice I receive, getting through the din, especially in the world of IT, doesn't happen with a superbowl ad (can you remember a single one?), or buying every billboard in every town, or every ad word on-line. We know, we measure their effectiveness.

We know the most valued information travels by word of mouth. Through blogs, on-line reviews, or other on-line conversations. Or "kneecap to kneecap," as we sit across the table from customers in our briefing centers. And frankly, the most valuable information about Sun doesn't come from Sun, it comes from other customers.

So how do you get the word out if you don't have a $500M ad budget? To me, it's not so much about getting the word out, as letting the eyes and ears in. You can tell I'm a big fan of transparency - that's why I write a blog (with comments on, and yes, I read every one, as do a host of others at Sun). It's why I encourage others to drive the conversation in the market, as well. Transparency's at least a part of the solution. If not an outright competitive weapon.

A very wise man once said, "Sunlight is the best disinfectant" - and in my view, exposing our internals to the outside world also helps us respond to problems more rapidly. True, we have to expose the occasional unhappy customer (I hear this one, in particular, recently became happy), but we expose them to people who can help, too - from within Sun, or within the community. We can't solve problems we don't know about. Like the good justice said, sunlight's a good disinfectant.

Which is why you'll see something very interesting next week start to appear on Sun's web pages and throughout our on-line store. You'll start to see product reviews written by users. You'll see user defined ratings, right on our products. Just like book or product reviews at Amazon. We're starting with just a few products, but it'll ultimately extend all the way up to our highest end enterprise offerings.

What's the risk? That we're exposing ourselves to criticism? That we may have on display the fact that one product or another isn't perfect? (That our competitors may try to rate all our products?)


The far bigger risk is that we'd meet another customer surprised by what we had to offer. Unaware that our systems were 5 times as energy efficient as our competitors. That Solaris was free, open source, and available on Dell or HP. Or that Thumper was about to reset the economics of the storage industry.

And to my mind, sunlight's not just the best disinfectant.

It's the best informant, too.

From a voice you'll trust more than ours - your own.

[May 4, 2006] InformationWeek Weblog Sun's R&D Chief Gets Out His Magnifying Glass

Scott McNealy's decision to cede his Sun Microsystems CEO title to his protégée, Jonathan Schwartz, last week after 22 years at the helm has grabbed most of the computer industry's interest around the storied company. When pressed on how his tenure would differ from McNealy's, Schwartz downplayed any shift in strategy. "The network is the computer," then and now, he said on a conference call with reporters.

But an overlooked artifact of the CEO switch is Schwartz's order for a top-to-bottom engineering review of Sun's technology projects over the next three months, headed by Greg Papadopoulos, who took on the new title of executive VP of research and development at Sun last week. When I talked to Papadopoulos late last week, he said no Sun engineer will escape his scrutiny. Could there be more changes in the offing than appeared at first glance?

Sun made its change at the top after losing $217 million during its third quarter ended March 26, though revenues increased 21% to $3.2 billion, largely on sales of storage and x86 servers. According to Schwartz, Sun's big brands--Sparc, Solaris, Java, and Sun Fire servers running Advanced Micro Devices chips--"have yet to really bear fruit and deliver the value they ultimately can." It's Papadopoulos' job to unlock that value.

Sun spends about $2 billion annually on research and development, pouring a greater percentage of revenue into R&D (16.5% in Q3) than many of its competitors. But the budget needs some fixing, shifting funds from engineering projects that emphasize the performance of single computers running alone to technology that can boost the performance of a whole network of systems--increasingly the way IT managers run their business apps. "As we go through and look at the R&D, we say, 'Is this old school or new school?' " says Papadopoulos. "You can't do that informally." Designing systems meant to operate in clusters and elevating the importance of software delivered as a Web service rather than shipped in a box are part of the plan. The ability to do so will define "what it really means to be a computer company" in the next few years, he says.

There are signs Sun is on the right track. The company recently delivered its new UltraSparc T1 "Niagara" processor, which gains performance through packaging hardware on a single chip that can run 32 simultaneous application threads, each in its own Java virtual machine. Those could be search engine requests, Oracle transactions, or other popular workloads. And Niagara chips run on about the same amount of electricity as a household light bulb--cooler than Intel or AMD parts in tests. Sun has been trying to sell T1-based servers to Google, and though no deal has been reached yet, "there's no doubt this stuff is meshed well with the stuff they run," Papadopoulos says. Sun also just "taped out" Niagara 2, or sent its final design in for manufacturing. That chip could ship some time next year.

Earlier this week, Sun said it would deliver a 128-bit file system for Solaris in June, creating a computing runway for the next 10 years.

Sparc and Solaris are still vibrant brands, and Sun's Sparc business actually grew during Q3, according to Papadopoulos. "This stuff has differentiated value in the market," he says. Still, customers aren't buying in the numbers they once were--Sun's share of the $51.7 billion worldwide server market last year slipped again to less than 10%, its fifth straight year of decline, according to market research company Gartner.

To get Sun's R&D more in line with customers' desires, Papadopoulos figures he'll review some 500 projects under way at Sun. "There are 9,000 engineers at the company, and you get asked the question, 'What are they all doing?' " he says. Along the way, he'll identify opportunities for cuts. As for whether projects get axed or management uses a lighter hand to redistribute funding among projects, "that's Jonathan's call," says Papadopoulos.

Schwartz's public stance so far has been to execute on the plans he and McNealy have already put in place. But look a little closer and it appears Sun is actually tinkering with its formula to try to cure what ails it.

[Apr 26, 2006] Will Schwartz add more Windows to Sun

Perhaps the changing of the guard at Sun Microsystems Inc. was no shock to some. Now pundits can dish over whether or not it will be the start of a new era at Sun – and one that might mean more collaboration with Microsoft.

The company said earlier this week that CEO Scott McNealy was stepping aside so chief operating officer Jonathan Schwartz could take the reigns. Not everyone thinks the new CEO will bring big changes. Gordon Haff, a senior analyst at Illuminata Inc., Nashua, N.H., said he doubted the change was much more than Schwartz taking over a role he had already started and fine tuned even while McNealy was in control.

Major moves, including the adoption of x86 architecture, the move to AMD's Opteron processor on low-end hardware and the open sourcing of the Solaris operating system, all bore the mark of Schwartz, Haff said.

And more importantly Schwartz's background, based in software, is one that could see some interesting collaboration in the future -- mainly with Microsoft. Relations between Sun and Microsoft have improved in the past few years -- the "sword has been sheathed," Haff said – and have included healthy doses of interoperability work between the two companies.

The interoperability reflects what the end users have been demanding, said Tony Iams, a senior analyst with Rye Brook, N.Y.-based IDEAS International Inc., and now the idea of pre-installing Windows Server onto Sun boxes is not unthinkable.

"Now that Sun is with x86, to realistically compete in that market you have to have some level of support for Windows," Iams said. "If Apple [Computer] can come in and support Windows, then it makes even more sense for Sun to do so too."

Broad support for Windows would also help Sun stem the flow of lost customers who have defected from Solaris to Linux thanks to free migration programs offered by IBM and Hewlett Packard, said Charles King, founder of Hayward, Calif.-based Pund-IT Research.

However, King said that Sun has made inroads with x86 in the interim with an aggressive campaign to present its Galaxy servers, based on AMD's Opteron processor. And while not as pronounced as the gains in the hardware business, Sun has also seen up ticks in popularity with ISVs thanks to its efforts into open source software.

"Typically systems vendors like Sun don't make a huge amount of money selling open source software, but they do manage to make a healthy profit through alliances with the ISVs and by selling ancillary products to support the open source ISV applications," King said.

As for Java, the pundits said they believed Sun will continue to be careful about retaining control and managing Java for the time being. Schwartz has publicly said he has considered options regarding Java, but to date the company has been reluctant to open source the technology.

ScienceDirect - Business Horizons, Volume 49, Issue 1, Pages 1-86 (January-February 2006)

A personal view of Sun Microsystems DISCUSSION
Pages 17-20
John C. Shoemaker
SummaryPlus | Full Text + Links | PDF (72 K)

Slashdot Alternatives to Citrix Remote Computing Sun sold Tarantella to ProPalms.

Sun's x86 strategist steers straight ahead Newsmakers CNET

Microsystems' server future in his hands.

As executive vice president of the Network Systems Group, one of two server groups at the company, he leads Sun's belated but now vital push to sell servers using x86 processors. Only a small fraction of Sun's revenue comes from x86 servers, but the overall market has been growing consistently for years--and Sun craves revenue growth.

Sun's mainstay business, servers using the company's own UltraSparc processors, has been hit hard by IBM's charge into the market and the arrival of Linux. Now x86 servers are key to Sun's attempt to outflank its rivals. Sun has made some gains, ranking sixth in the x86 server market. The goal is to be No. 4 by the end of this year.

Sun's x86 push began in 2002 with undistinguished Intel-based machines running the Linux operating system. It picked up some steam in 2004 when Sun released its first servers based on Advanced Micro Devices' Opteron. But the systems were designed outside of Sun and lacked certain features, such as redundant power supplies, that were demanded by businesses. In October, Sun began selling its own Opteron servers designs, code named Galaxy and designed by Sun co-founder Andy Bechtolsheim.

I'm not a basher. I may talk like a wild man, but inside the team we take a different approach.

Fowler, 45, is a somewhat unlikely pick for a hardware executive. His background is in software, including two years as Sun's software chief technology officer. When Sun's software chief, Jonathan Schwartz, was elevated to president in 2004, he named Fowler to the x86 server post.

Fowler discussed a range of subjects with CNET, including his belief that Opteron will lead Xeon for years.

Q: How is 2006 going to be different than last year for Sun?
Fowler: I won't be explaining AMD anymore. We spent a lot of energy in 2005 explaining what it was about. In the enterprise part of the customer base, they've gotten that message. The second thing I won't be doing is answering the question, "You guys are in the x86 business?" Or, "Are you serious?" Customers have gotten their hands around the idea that this is something we're really doing.

But only a few months ago (Sun President) Jonathan Schwartz and others were saying customers still didn't know about your x86 servers.
Fowler: The Galaxy launch was huge. We measure penetration into customer accounts and awareness factors. We're getting there. In SMB (small and medium businesses), in particular, we're not well known. That's part of a longer-term thing to work on. But in core Fortune 200 we're known.

We'll have bunch of new products in 2006. The first Galaxy products were the beginning of the family. There is a set of common architectural elements you'll see carry over into more rack-mount products and blades.

Your designs use higher speed-grade Opteron processors (models that run faster but consume 120 watts compared to 95 watts for standard Opterons). Do you expect to stay one speed-grade ahead of the pack?
Fowler: Absolutely. AMD will continue to produce some kind of higher speed-grade. We didn't do it just to get one speed-grade ahead in one generation. In some applications, adding speed-grades makes a lot of difference. If you have a very expensive software license, having an additional speed-grade makes you that much more effective in software.

On classic Web services workload, Niagara will spank any Opteron.

Are you going to launch the eight-processor system and the blade system separately?
Fowler: We're still trying to figure out what are the best ways to launch the products.

High-end x86 servers are rare. Do you have to educate customers that eight-socket big-iron servers are worth buying?
Fowler: Absolutely. People have to go a life cycle in purchasing. Initially, it'll be by people in technical computing and people who are classic early adopters building Web services infrastructure as opposed to people doing (enterprise resource planning) and (decision support systems). People aren't going to get up in the morning and say "I'm going to run my Oracle database on an eight-socket system."

You say you monitor your customers. What fraction are using Galaxy?
Fowler: I don't have a handle on that. The fraction is really small compared to total number of enterprise customers, which is in the thousands.

What's the Solaris/Linux mix, and what's the goal for 2006?
Fowler: The attach rate of Solaris is very difficult to get to the bottom of. Last year, we moved to preinstalled Solaris 10 on all my machines. Every one that goes out the door, as long as it's not diskless, includes Solaris 10. What happens after that is hard to figure out. Customers can install their own operating system.

But we just introduced the Solaris 10 update 1. It includes a registration automatic-update facility. We're going to start getting statistically relevant data on how many people are running Solaris and what updates they're dong.

In the past, we quoted 20 to 25 percent in terms of Solaris usage. Now Solaris usage is way up.

And do you have a goal for 2006?
Fowler: No, we don't have specific goals for Solaris' percentage. We're looking at the overall picture of unit volume. If we sold a million servers and the percentage of Solaris isn't very high, it would still be good for Sun.

But not better for profit margins?
Fowler: There are a number of reasons Solaris is important to us. We can bundle service with hardware. We wrote it, so we can fix it. Recently we had a situation with Niagara (Sun's new UltraSparc T1 processor) where a customer noticed something odd. In less than 24 hours, we found and fixed the issue. You can't do that if you didn't write the operating system.

With Solaris running on eight-socket x86 servers, are you competing against your company's Sparc product lines?
Fowler: The product lines overlap today. The (UltraSparc-based) V120, V240 and V440 potentially overlap with the (Opteron-based) V40z. The decision we made quite some time ago was that we were going to go and make a server product line that would solve whatever problems people had.

If you look at the newer UltraSparc stuff like IV+ and Niagara, the workloads they're best at are different from what Opteron is good at. On classic Web services workload, Niagara will spank any Opteron. On general-purpose workload, Opteron is faster than Niagara. The sales force figures out what is the best way to solve problem then uses whatever technology works. Having Sparc in the back end a V20z and V40z in the front end is a common engagement now. People are using Niagara with Galaxy.

Who are you up against in customer accounts?

Fowler: The companies you see over and over are the big three: Dell, HP and IBM. In financial services, a selection of customers strategically chose to go with Opteron and they're no longer purchasing Intel. In those accounts, it's invariably us and HP. In more general x86, it's constantly the big three. A year ago, I wasn't necessarily even getting invited to compete.

There are customers who buy Opteron only?
Fowler: There are companies that have chosen to make future purchases be Opteron only for the entire infrastructure of x86, and they're quite large. It's not that surprising. Years ago, they decided to be Intel only. The way it works is: you can buy something else, but you have to go through an exception process in purchasing.

Do you think the changes out of Intel will be significant this year and next year? They have "performance per watt" emblazoned on their marketing materials these days.
Fowler: They'll use the advertising side to promulgate a message. On the technology side, they're going to make an incremental improvement, but the challenge is the front-side bus architecture (the data pathway that links the processor to the computer's memory system and other components) is something that doesn't change. You can tweak the front-side bus speed and do other things, but what we've discovered: Niagara has on-board memory controllers. If you can tackle memory latency, almost everything runs faster. Memory latency is not going to change (with Intel). I don't see the competitive landscape changing a lot between Intel and AMD.

AMD's transition to new 65-nanometer manufacturing technology is slower than Intel's, which has price consequences. Are you concerned?
Fowler: Intel has the world's best manufacturing. At the end of the day, the architecture and capability of the technology is as important or more important than the nanometers of the process you can put it in.

One advantage AMD has with the onboard memory controllers is that they can get away with smaller (memory) cache sizes. They are achieving their great performance with 1MB caches. One of the side effects is they don't actually need the same number of chips-per-wafer yield to get to the same price points because they're not trying to put 8MB of cache on a chip. Intel needs 65 nanometer parts because they have to put these put on these huge caches.

Sun's core customers are big companies. To compete against HP's x86 strength, you have to go after smaller companies.
Fowler: We have a pretty good channel structure and partner structure to reach the companies with 1,000 employees and up, or 500 and up outside the United States. As we continue to grow we will extend the reach.

We have healthy respect for our competitors. I'm not a basher. I may talk like a wild man, but inside the team we take a different approach. For example, in our product strategy, we built products around not just market analysis and size, but mapped it against emerging technologies and Sun technologies like Solaris. Our engineering strategy is aligned with areas we think are going to grow. A traditional IDC analysis shows the eight-socket x86 market is not very big. When we looked at technology trends and Solaris and virtualization, we concluded that it's going to be huge.

You like AMD chips and say they're good for general-purpose computing. But your counterpart at IBM, Susan Whitney, sees things differently, saying Opteron is only good for the narrower segment of high-performance technical computing. Why?
Fowler: If you don't have an Opteron line, that's an important statement. If you look for example at SQL Server benchmarks (or) directory services on Opteron, the commercial benchmarks are compelling, and in the commercial space people care endlessly about performance per watt. I see a lot if interest in enterprise and outside high-performance computing. I think it's my word against hers.

Jonathan Schwartz Solaris is the Future of Unix -

Jonathan reminded us that the Test-Drive version of Solaris is available today for everyone to download and try out. The final version of Solaris (commercial release) will be in January and that would be the time that the source will be completely opened as well. He would like to see Solaris scale from small embedded machines (submarines, hospitals) to big mainframes.

Jonathan does not believe that the OpenSolaris will have an impact on BSD's or Linux's growth. He doesn't see these platforms as competitors per se, in terms of growth, but he believes that all these platforms will equally evolve in the future in their own ways, because there is no hammer that fits all nails. Some needs require highly scalable systems, other more secure, other more latency-friendly etc.

Instead, the two companies that he sees as definite competitors are Red Hat and mostly, Microsoft. But he is confident that OpenSolaris will help the Solaris platform in general to keep its robustness and good name in the Enterprise. In fact, he maintains that Solaris has better scalability, affordability and security than any Microsoft OS product currently, plus it runs Java --which is truly cross platform-- delivering services that .NET would be able to deliver only on Microsoft products. Points like these make the Sun platform very valuable.

And speaking of the competition, he mentioned that Apple's focus is not the Enterprise at large and therefore, not a competitor: "That's not Steve's focus". Jonathan has several Macs to his home and his family owns some more too. We should not forget where Jonathan comes from, either: the NeXTSTEP community, right before Sun purchased his software company. Jonathan likes Mac OS X a lot and he believes that Apple should continue to innovate in its field and continue create "beautiful and elegant products".

Jonathan says that the main focus of Solaris in terms of the architecture it runs on will continue to be primarily SPARC, accompanied by 32bit and 64bit x86. He invites the open source community to port Solaris to other architectures too, but he doesn't see much commercial value in doing so. For example, he believes that the Itanium is not a durable architecture, while IBM's Power5 is so proprietary that it doesn't make it a good candidate for a port/business. Instead, he welcomes companies to use Solaris on purpose-built embedded system devices.

We asked about his thoughts on Red Hat re-implementing the Java platform from scratch and the implications that would have for Sun. He believes that there is no danger of Red Hat going very far within the Enterprise with this new project because of several reasons, including the fact that it would be a "tough sell" for established customers of the Java platform including Samsung, Nokia and Google. In fact, he fears that IBM is the one that would have the most trouble from the whole Red Hat-Java deal, because as they use Red Hat for their POWER projects, using a non-certified Java version could create potential runtime problems.

The obvious question, then, was why Sun doesn't "Free up" their version of Java, and the answer is that Java is already "open," but not under a more liberal license because Sun doesn't want to open up the potential for a fork. The same fear is not present in the OpenSolaris situation because Solaris is more closely defined and controlled by Sun, while Java can be shaped by external forces easier, and so Sun doesn't want to take that risk. With over 2 billion devices worldwide running Java Sun is 100% committed to ensuring that anything 'stamped' Java is compatible. Folks really depend on that assurance.

Sun does seem to have a beef with Red Hat; that much was obvious from our conversation. Jonathan believes that Red Hat's ways in the business are not fully honest. He believes that Red Hat locks Enterprise customers in, just like Microsoft does, by steadily moving away from the LSB, by patching and forking code (including using a very non-standard Linux kernel) and so applications get certified or only work in the Red Hat codebase and no other Linux distro. Such an example is Oracle, where they do not support any Linux distro other than Red Hat-based ones. Jonathan believes that Red Hat, by differentiating the code so much, has created its own incompatible platform, and is therefore virtually pushing customers to continue use Red Hat instead of Debian or Gentoo or other.

We asked Jonathan about his opinion on patents and he summarized it thus: Patents are useful, but most of them are "silly" and unfairly approved (in the US). In its official position, Sun respects Intellectual Property, and as such they will offer indemnification to all new versions of Solaris.

Lastly, we asked Jonathan about his opinion on the future of Unix and he sees a "vibrant and dynamic" future for all "branches and leaves of the same tree", including BSD and Linux ("which comes from the same swamp") but most importantly --surprise, surprise-- Solaris. He looks forward to a strong community build to help out with the development of this high-integrity, robust and promising platform.

Linux News Commentary The Importance of Solaris 10

The newly released Solaris 10 includes a radical new technology called DTrace which lets you look inside the usual black box of a running production application to see exactly where the bottlenecks are and what their impact is. As a result, I've been telling clients with big Solaris operations that they should dedicate a machine with at least two US3 or later CPUs to Solaris 10 and use it to train their people on Solaris 10 and DTrace by having them test all major systems.

It's easy to explain the value of stuff like that to management. For the IT people, you just talk about combining hardware and licensing dollar savings with increased deployment flexibility -- and for senior management you correlate software quality with reductions in error and failure risks. Either way, you're really talking about software which enables operational improvements within Sun's existing customer base, and that, I'm sure, is why Sun is energetically marketing these new capabilities.

Look a bit deeper, however, and there's so much more in Solaris 10 that the release should eventually become known as SunOS 3.0. (Note: SunOS 1.0 went to release 4.1.4 with its successor, Solaris, initially known as SunOS 5.0 and then relabeled as Solaris 2. Despite marketing's best efforts, therefore, releases up to 2.8 were publicly known as 2.X ,with 8 and 9 still known internally as 2.8 and 2.9, respectively.)

Deeper Innovations

Hot, new intrinsic capabilities like DTrace, ZFS and the ability to run Linux binaries are the realizations of deeper technological innovations like microstate accounting. Solaris 10 brings a lot of those out of the labs and into production environments where they'll receive the kind of intensive real world testing that will ultimately determine how important they are. Consider, for example, this list of Solaris 10 top 11-20 new features put together by Adam Leventhal (one of the key developers behind DTrace):

  1. libumem -- the tool for debugging dynamic allocation problems; oh, and it scales as well or better than any other memory allocator.
  2. pfiles(1) with file names -- you can get at the file name info through /proc, too; very cool.
  3. Improved coreadm(1M) -- core files are now actually useful on other machines, administrators and users can specify the content of core files.
  4. System V IPC -- no more clumsy system tunables and reboots, it's all dynamic, and -- guess what? -- faster too.
  5. kmdb -- if you don't care, OK, but if you do care, you really, really care: mdb(1)'s cousin replaces kadb(1M).
  6. Watchpoints -- now they work and they scale.
  7. pstack(1) for java -- see java stack frames in a JVM or core file and through Dtrace.
  8. pmap(1) features -- see thread stacks, and core file content.
  9. per-thread p-tools -- apply pstack(1) and truss(1) to just the threads you care about.
  10. Event Ports -- a generic API for dealing with heterogeneous event sources.

Things like these are invisible to IT management and of little importance to the press, but this is the stuff on which technology revolutions like DTrace and ZFS are built. Thus, their presence in this release signals the importance of Solaris 10, not as an end product but as a work in progress.

Systemwide Functionality

To me it seems that Sun is driving toward what I think of as Plan-9 compliance; not at the code level but in terms of systemwide functionality. Plan 9, you might recall, is a kind of second generation Unix liberated from the single machine focus of the original design to make full use of multiple machines on a network. Originally, Sun's marketing people said that "the network is the computer"; realistically, Plan 9 reverses that to make it: "the computer is the network" -- and that's exactly what's going on with Solaris.

Adam Leventhal's list, above, reflects the achievements of people working to put in place the foundations for future software, while the forthcoming Niagara and later SPARC designs do the same thing at the hardware level -- putting the equivalent of a traditional 32-way SMP box into a single processor.

Bring them together in production systems and what do you get? The ability to organize your business around a single physical computer redundantly implemented in processors spread across your network -- meaning that a lot of business processes now limited by technology costs and software complexity can be simplified right down to affordability. That's what Solaris 10 is really about, and the 10-year impact is likely to be like nothing we've seen before.

LXer Sun versus Linux The Real Story

by Tom Adelstein
November 22, 2004

On December 01, 1999, published an article in which I chronicled the emergence of Windows NT from a small five percent share of the server market to approximately 50 percent. During the period, Novell fell from around an 80 percent share of the PC nodes to around ten percent. With Novell flattened, Microsoft started to go after UNIX until interrupted by Federal Anti-Trust actions over the Netscape Browser.

The article called "Did Microsoft Try to Kill UNIX?" no longer exists and neither do the many links that documented Microsoft's famous ascent in the server space. Evidence of the article's existence still remains at this link. You will notice this remnant:

"Microsoft claims that the United States Justice Department has interfered with innovation in the computer industry. One can't help but wonder what people would call the collective effort of the developers who created Linux."

In December 1999, Microsoft Windows held a 41 percent share of the server OS market globally up from 38 percent in 1998. Surprisingly, Linux had showed a 27 percent share of new server shipments that year while NetWare held 17 and UNIX 14 percent as reported by market researcher IDC.

But go back to 1995 and you'll discover that Novell had a 65.6 percent market share while Microsoft had approximately 6 percent and OS/2 held steady at around 15 percent according to periodicals from the time. During that period, Sun Microsystems held a 40 percent share of the RISC UNIX workstation market. Go back a little further and Novell NetWare and UNIX owned the entire server market give or a take a few percent.

What happened to Novell? In almost missing the Internet, Microsoft scrambled. In fact, Bill Gates saw what Sun Microsystems had done and jumped through hoops to get into the game. Novell missed the Internet entirely until hiring Sun's Internet architect Eric Schmidt in 1997. It was just a little too late and still took Novell time to gear up and once it had, Schmidt went to work at Google. Many people who worked in the industry ten years ago remember how the Internet saved Sun Microsystems and caused her to hold the most prominent place in the server operating system market.

Along Comes GNU/Linux

During the Federal prosecution of Microsoft, which began in October 1997 and ended in November 2001, Linux rose to prominence. Microsoft needed a competitor. But the young upstart Linux didn't even have an officially supported graphical Internet browser at the time. As Microsoft came to realize the serious intent of the Department of Justice and Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson, Redmond began to act a little more convinced of the prowess of Linux. A few nudges in the press and a few attacks on Linux and soon others began to look into the seriousness of Linux.

Once, Microsoft escaped the threat of a corporate breakup, Linux had gone from a user base of two to approximately twenty million. In addition, Linux became a favorite of IBM, HP and thousands of value added resellers.

As Microsoft shook off its anti-trust haze and looked around, it began to focus its attention on growing its server business once again. NetWare posed no threat and IBM had agreed to stop marketing OS/2. But, IBM embraced Linux and began taking market share from wherever it could. Microsoft had a formidable adversary in the server space in IBM.

Through Linux, IBM made refugees of the Santa Cruz Project, HP's UNIX and to a certain extent Microsoft's NT. IBM also trained its eyes on long time nemesis Sun Microsystems and actively undercut Sun's hardware and software prices. Then something happened that makes little sense: IBM turned from its attack on Microsoft and focused entirely on Sun Microsystems. IBM sent its entire Linux team to Siberia, dropped its plans for a Linux desktop and became obsessed with Sun. This served Microsoft well. IBM would continue to compete with Microsoft but not to the extent that it wanted to endanger Sun and perhaps turn them into the Data General of the early twenty first century.

Enter SCO

Through SCO, Microsoft succeeded in transferring the angst of the open-source community from itself to other entities primarily the SCO Group and Sun Microsystems.

The SCO phenomenon doesn't make sense when you attempt to connect the dots. Microsoft could not have asked for a better situation in which to display its agility at manipulating perception.

C/NET reported on the Sun transaction in June 2003. Explaining the situation, C/NET wrote:

SCO's Unix licensing plan got a major boost of publicity in May when Microsoft announced its decision to license Unix from SCO, but Sun actually was the first company to sign on. SCO and Sun confirmed the licensing deal on Wednesday.

The pact, signed earlier this year, expanded the rights Sun acquired in 1994 to use Unix in its Solaris operating system...Sun's expanded license permits Sun to use some software from Unix System V Release 4 for software components called drivers, which let computers use hard drives, network cards and other devices. Sun needed the software for its version of Solaris that runs on Intel servers, Sun spokesman Brett Smith said. A source familiar with the deal said the new contract was signed in February, but neither Sun nor SCO would comment.

Microsoft could not have asked for better timing. Seizing the opportunity to seed SCO in its efforts to disrupt Linux, they bundled another enemy into the fray: Sun Microsystems. Then, to shift the attention away from themselves further, Microsoft cleverly paid Sun money for the damages owed in court losses by hosting a "love-in" between the Sun and Microsoft CEO's. Microsoft then announced a licensing deal where Sun would receive intellectual property it could use to connect to Microsoft servers.

Suddenly, Sun became the target of open-source angst. Microsoft used a clever psychological trick to transfer the hatred of technologists from themselves to others. In the eyes of the media and others, Microsoft and Sun became sudden partners against Linux.

And just to show how good a partner they really have become, the same Microsoft has made a major effort to undermine the Linux wins Sun made in China. How? By trying to scare the Chinese with threats of patent infringement.

Sun Plays Checkers, Microsoft Plays Chess

I don't wish to disparage Sun, but their press relations need as much of an overhaul as their product line. Known internally as fascists, they could have served as campaign advisers to any flip-flopping politician one might choose. Here's Sun management opening themselves to the community with a blogsphere and yet no one inside the company can talk to the press, write an article or issue a press release without the guiding hand of the Sun media relations. What's the difference between that and saying I don't own a SUV but my family does? Or, saying I voted for the Bill before I voted against it?

Sun began work on its Linux Desktop in September 2002. It opened sourced its Cobalt software, provides the major support for Gnome, purchased StarOffice and gave the code to the community, supports Mozilla and pays a ridiculous sum for open-source projects at Now, people see them as the enemy. Let's just say that Sun's media relations team has done a wonderful job of confusing the public, making the company seem like an enemy of open-source, stressing proprietary software and embarrassing management. Way to go.

Is Sun against Linux?

In September, O'Reilly and Associates published a book written by Sam Hiser and me called "Exploring the JDS Linux Desktop". In actually, it could have taken the name "Exploring the Linux Desktop" or "Exploring Linux with JDS". We settled on the Sun distribution of the Linux desktop because it provided the best migration and management tools for Microsoft users. Also, Sun provided us with support, which we couldn't get from other distributions of Linux. Let's say Sun cooperated with us.

All parties involved in the book needed convincing that Sun had a long-term and proper commitment to Linux. We did extensive due diligence and came away feeling we made the right choice. Writing and publishing the book required a major commitment on our part and O'Reilly's. The technical book market requires more precision today than ever. You cannot just throw a book out there and expect it to sell. So, we felt comfortable with the Sun Linux team.

Note: The "A" players in the Linux business all had a chance to have their own distribution in the name of the book. Some even had an inside advantage. At decision time, JDS prevailed. As someone who put eight months into the project and helped form a community support web site, Sun's floundering around on the PR front has disappointed me, personally and professionally.

Recently, I saw a glimmer of light with regard to Sun regaining its deserved community standing. In Jonathan's Blog, he explained the company's commitment to Linux:

Our desktop efforts, and linux product strategy, are well ahead of the cynics in the industry - and are helping us make progress on the globe's ambitions for a truly cheap PC. We've tried working with a few of the larger PC OEMs, but they, unlike WalMart, aren't all that interested in lowering prices in the PC industry. They're trying to maintain margins, not make PCs more affordable. Bridge the digital divide? I doubt that's on Dell's list of strategic priorities. Hear this: it is certainly on ours. It's even good for our business.

And before more of the conspiracy theories show up, let me quash (or start) a few of them.

In addition to JDS/linux, yes, we are committed to JDS/Solaris. An open source Solaris, with its security and virtualization infrastructure, is a perfect match for JDS. And as Red Hat's rhetoric continues to alienate customers and the open source community, we're finding a welcome audience for bringing an open source Solaris 10 to new markets. Competition is a good thing for the open source movement. Those who truly believe in open source welcome competition - those hiding behind marketing veneer and vendor lock-in hate it.

Should UNIX Go?

Left with the choice between only Microsoft and Linux, I cannot get comfortable. Microsoft looks like they may have gross revenues of $36 billion. Novell projects around $1 billion and Red Hat around $125 million. With Sun in the mix, you have an $11 Billion player.

I don't see much complaining from the open-source community about IBM selling a mix of operating systems including OS400, which you need to run Linux on their iSeries (AS400) platform. They continue to sell AIX and no one complains.

HP and SGI, other major Linux OEM's, sell UNIX and Microsoft and you don't see any flames against them. Contrary to Jonathan's claims, HP denies they have discontinued their version of UNIX. Given the chance to sell HP-UX or IRIX, neither company will say no.

Another argument that favors keeping UNIX involves the installed base. UNIX has a massive base of users in health care, government, the military, education, manufacturing, telecommunications, and financial services. Linux cannot replace UNIX entirely. As the director of distributed computing at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Joseph Panfil related in this issue of ComputerWorld:

A key issue with the Merc's use of Linux is support. With Sun, Panfil says, the Merc deals with a mature and responsive support organization that will immediately fly out a kernel expert if needed. But he says he thinks the Merc's Linux vendor, Red Hat Inc., needs to improve its support. Currently, he says, Red Hat emphasizes purchasing more products as a way to fix problems. "When there are issues, they need to step up better," Panfil says.

Michael Tiemann, Red Hat's vice president of open-source affairs, says he understands Panfil's concerns; he acknowledges that his company is still learning and says it is making changes.

Tiemann says that Red Hat's goal is to sell products upfront and that the important thing is that when the Merc had problems, they were solved. "Ultimately, Red Hat was able to dig into its technical knowledge and expertise ... and help that customer get to the place that they wanted," he says.

Ultimately, Red Hat may become a larger player in the market. Today, it just doesn't have the bandwidth to compete with extant companies. If you start looking around at the existing players they all have signficant ties to Microsoft with the exception of Sun. And while Microsoft has helped create the perception that Sun is a partner, the guys in the bullpen haven't bought it. In fact, of the major players only Sun is a UNIX company first and foremost. They don't depend on Microsoft for their air supply like IBM, HP, Dell and others.

Final Thoughts

Some people may find it difficult to understand that in baseball, I'm a Yankees fan. Living in Dallas that may not make much sense. I learned some time ago that George Steinbrenner doesn't hit, catch or throw. He even has made many enemies along his career path as the Yankee's skipper. He does find and pay for the talent. I don't have to like him to like his players.

Using the analogy of the Yankees, I tend to look at the team and not the executives. I personally like the Sun Linux team and the people working on OpenSolaris. I like it that they're making Grub the bootloader for Solaris 10 and enabling Linux apps for their main stream customers. Those items work for me. Spelling Linux with a small "l" doesn't. In fact, I would consider it a personal favor if the blogger that does that starting acknowledging the community that disrupted Microsoft's technological dominance. Scare 'em all, I say!

[Nov 19, 2004] Sun will shine again and leave Linux in its shade Not many open source aficionados will realize the impact, but by making Solaris 10 free and capable of operating on any kind of hardware, Sun is making a coup in the server market.

Let me start by saying that I'm not a technical expert. Although this might be a handicap it could very well be a positive in looking at the issue of Sun versus Linux in the server business from a decision maker's point of view.

Until today, the discussion around Linux pushed by Red Hat and recently by Novell after it took over Suse has been around the risks and opportunitites of the open source model versus the costs and slow adaptation of the proprietary model.

Opponents of open source software always argued that due to its nature there is a risk that version control, compatibility, future development and support is not guaranteed and could leave companies who use it at some point with a free but outdated system that is difficult to maintain.

Companies like Red Hat and Novell and on occasion other big players have tried to take away these arguments by committing to the open source model and vowed to make it work. Despite their efforts and some success, there still is a lot of skepticism within corporate IT departments and as a result Linux is not taking the market by storm.

With the decision by Sun to give away their latest version of their software, Solaris 10 for free all of these concerns have evaporated in one blow in favor of the now open source and compatible Solaris 10 supported by Sun.

Looking at the advantage of going the Sun route versus the Linux route it is hard to see why any IT executive would chose to switch to Linux.

As a result Linux will probably not grow much beyond its current market share of about 10 % leaving Red Hat and especially Novell with a big problem

Of course I might very well be overlooking something here, if so, please let me and other readers know by posting your opinion in a reaction (see below).

Sun CEO takes a swing at, well, everything

McNealy, visiting customers and the press in Toronto on Nov. 5, bristled at the suggestion that Sun was pressured into making its latest version of the Solaris operating system (OS) available to open source developers.

"Pressure? It fascinates me how people think the world operates, that I'm some sort of politician running for office. There are absolute legal issues," McNealy said, pointing out that Sun had to rid the OS of some proprietary code before open sourcing it.

On Nov. 15 Sun plans to unveil Solaris 10, the first example of the OS to be available on an open-source basis. It features technology called Dynamic Tracing (DTrace), a way for administrators to tweak the platform for maximum performance. Solaris 10 also sports "containers" that isolate applications for further performance improvement, and a new TCP/IP stack that Sun says provides efficient communication processing.

McNealy said Solaris 10 is merely the latest in a long line of Sun contributions to the open source crowd.

"We're the number-one donator of code to the open source community on the planet," McNealy said. "To say that we need to be pressured - we invented open source, gang. That's a little Al Gore-ish. The number one donator of open source code is (University of California) Berkeley. Know where all that came from? (Former Sun chief scientist) Bill Joy, who invented open source while at Berkeley with the BSD licence. We were the Red Hat of Berkeley Unix before Linus Torvalds was out of diapers."

McNealy took IBM Corp. to task for high OS operating costs. He said Sun could offer Solaris 10 at a price of US$1 per CPU, per hour - customers would pay just a greenback for 60 minutes of access to the platform.

"IBM has…300,000 employees and they're hiring more," McNealy said, explaining why he thinks Big Blue can't match Sun's metric. "Where's their dollar per CPU-hour? They can't do it, because they're at more than a dollar per CPU-hour just in pension costs."

McNealy said Sun would offer Solaris containers in an application service provider (ASP) model, whereby the company serves up the OS packages via a data centre, and enterprises would access the containers online.

The data centre is an "N1" environment. N1 is Sun's server load-balancing and virtualization model that aims to improve server utilization rates. Industry analysts have said most servers operate at just 15 per cent of their capacity. Servers in an N1 environment can at 80 per cent, according to Sun.

Sun's goal is to become less of a front-line tech provider and more of a background operator, McNealy said, likening his firm's future to the way certain other gear makers do business. "Nobody chooses Lucent or Nortel or Alcatel as your switch environment. You just sign up. You don't know what's on the back end."

Sun has faced problems recently. In April the company recorded a US$760 million loss for Q3 2004. The company laid off 3,500 employees. Sun ousted Neil Knox, the executive vice-president of low-end servers, Clark Masters, executive vice-president of high-end servers, and Mark Tolliver, chief strategy and marketing officer.

Things got better in the fourth quarter as Sun landed US$795 million in the black, but in October the company recorded a US$174 million loss for Q1 2005.

McNealy put a positive spin on the most recent numbers, pointing out that Sun has US$7.4 billion in the bank, and Q1 would have been profitable if not for unusual charges, such as a US$92 million cheque written to Eastman Kodak Co. to settle a court case.

McNealy said the ASP Solaris model is temporary, merely a way to "irritate the market" in the hopes of convincing service providers like Bell Canada and Telus Corp. to create their own N1 data centres and serve up Solaris containers. So far not one Canadian service provider has signed on.

[Nov 8, 2004] Oracle Database 10g Standard Edition One

[Nov 8, 2004] Open-Source Path Not an Option for Oracle, Exec Says - Computerworld

... ... ...

Does Oracle still believe that the typical open-source user is price-sensitive and therefore can't afford Oracle products? We have extremely competitive pricing on our entry-level products, like the Standard Edition One product, that are at a list price of $149 per user (Minimum 5 users so this actually $750 - nnb) This price is highly competitive with open-source databases, which charge a great deal more for their support services.

Yet haven't companies like MySQL been cutting into your market share at the low end with open-source databases? MySQL does not claim the same database market as Oracle. Their product is used typically in the middle tier for storing data such as catalogs or Web sites and things like that. In fact, open-source database products are a good thing for Oracle, because they give a lot of users their first exposure to relational databases and give them an opportunity to learn about the technologies.

Why do you think companies like CA are open-sourcing databases? There are more than two dozen different database companies out there. Some are open-sourcing very old technologies in an effort to rejuvenate their business and grow shrinking market share. I don't see that as very viable.

Now that Red Hat has released Sistina Global File System under the GNU General Public License, do you need to continue updating your cluster file system? We believe that by providing the complete technology infrastructure, including the cluster file system, it is easier to install and maintain our products. The cluster file system is an important component of our clustering technology. In order to make it easier and simpler for our customers to install their products and maintain them, we want to provide a complete technology stack.

... ... ...

[Nov 4, 2004] Stone Rolls Away From Novell By Michael Singer Chris Stone, who was instrumental in Novell's acquisition of SUSE Linux, has left for other pursuits, the company said Thursday. No successor has been named.

Stone served as Vice Chairman of the Office of the CEO and was one of the most visible figures in the Provo, Utah-based company's forays into open source. Stone had been responsible for engineering, product management and alliances, the company said. One of his last projects was getting Novell (Quote, Chart) to join the IBM-backed Eclipse Project.

"It is with some regret that I have decided to leave Novell and pursue other professional opportunities," Stone said in a statement. "I am proud of my work and accomplishments at Novell, but now is the time in my career to do something else, and I look forward to new challenges. Novell is strategically well positioned to remain a viable and significant vendor in the enterprise software space."

Novell chairman and CEO Jack Messman said he will oversee Stone's responsibilities on an interim basis.

"We thank Chris for his service to Novell over the past two and one half years," Messman said in a statement. "He made significant contributions to changes in our strategic direction, and his vision and energy will be missed. We wish him well."

Stuart Cohen, CEO of OSDL, who worked closely together with Stone after Novell joined OSDL, also offered his condolences.

"Chris Stone has played a key role in the acceleration of Linux, and we wish him all the best," Cohen said in a statement. "Stone was instrumental in Novell's acquisition of SUSE and in joining and taking a leadership role with OSDL."

The news barely impacted the company's stock, as shares of Novell ended the day up 1.1 percent, or 8 cents, at $7.18.

Comment from Linuxtoday:

tone ( Nov 5, 2004, 23:51:51 )
I never heard of this guy before, but I will tell you what: Novell is a great company poised to do big things...however, I have the sense that they have a real lack of direction -- that is, they are all dressed up with no where to go.

So, to me, that usually means executives with little or no ideas, or executives with so many competing ideas that there is no coherence to the business. For example, the Suse product, should be much further along in terms of quality and functionality, after a year or so under Novell's tutalege. I just see them re-releasing the same thing over and over again -- the consumer is going to not to want to pay $70 every 3 months for that (!!)

The departure of a senior exec from such an environment should be seen as a great weight lifting from the back of Novell and a reason to buy more stock.

John Bailo
Texeme Construct

Why Sun's JDS deserves a try Tech News on ZDNet.

Something rather strange happened earlier this month. Sun released -- but did not announce -- a Solaris-based version of Release 2 of its Java Desktop System (JDS). Given the significance of JDS R2, for which a Linux-based version has existed since May 2004, why would Sun avoid drawing attention to this release?

Though it comes with an operating system (Linux or Solaris), JDS' primary value proposition is as a productivity tool. JDS is no Microsoft Office, but it does address most productivity needs for most users and, in what may be an advantage to some but disadvantage to others, it often does so in an MS-Office-incompatible way. (That incompatibility may be rectified as a result of a recent cross-licensing agreement between Microsoft and Sun.)

At a subscription price of $50 per year (officially, it's $100, but the $50 promo price shows no signs of changing), any software product that includes an operating system (Novell's SuSE Linux or Sun's Solaris 9, both for x86), a full-blown productivity suite (StarOffice), Exchange-compatible mail and calendaring (via Novell's Ximian Evolution Client), a complete suite of Java development tools, and upgrade protection via automatic updates (the key benefit of the annual subscription), is a bargain.

Talkback - ZDNet I admire Sun more and more every day.

In the past, I often thought Sun was shooting itself in the foot with their "we must get Microsoft" attitude and actions. Today I see Sun having settled their differences with MS to the always popular tune, "north of a billion dollars by a fair piece", grasped they can't be a CPU company effectively in today's market, developed Java with community involvement while maintaining ownership/control, recognized the value of Solaris if positioned/priced properly, supported open source where it makes sense, and made the decision to not be a services company ala IBM.

I've seen lots of posts about the "Sun setting" but I honestly believe Sun is turning the company around and by offering multiple ways to buy/lease/rent/subscribe/use software they are introducing alternatives to the more traditional methods and that's a winner for consumers. Some would argue their marketing is too fragmented and going in different directions, to that I would say that sometimes, especially in a stagnant market, you have no choice but to throw stuff against the wall and see what sticks.

Oh, and not to make a dig against Linux but if Sun plays Solaris on the X86 right then all bets are off. With Sun's financial power and technical know how, a serious contender in the proprietary OS market is all but a sure thing. In all my contacts with people using Solaris, I have never heard any serious negatives about it and that's saying a lot.

Last, I find it striking that the author suggests a very cheap PC (or device?) based on the technology outlined, and that Steve Ballmer said much the same thing just last week. Two very different views of the market, in fact almost polar opposite views, arriving at the same conclusion. Now tell me how scary that is...

Sun Responds to HP We stand by our opinions -- Chilling Effects Clearinghouse

We write in response to your letter dated September 28, 2004 regarding what you allege as "misstatements of fact" concerning HP/UX.

Claim 1: "HP's problems spawn from the death of... their operating system, HP/UX. Like IBM, they've elected to ask their customers and ISV's to move to Red Hat Linux or Microsoft Windows on x86 systems."

Jonathan Schwartz, Sun's President and COO, has confirmed that he does in fact believe that HP's problems spawn from the death of its operating system. The editorial comments found in his personal blog provide an accurate and good faith account of his opinion of HP/UX.

As you know, Section 43(a) of the Lanham Act requires that the allegedly false statement be one of fact, not opinion, and representations of opinion are not actionable under a theory of trade libel. Nevertheless, and in the alternative, assuming HP's problems are in fact verifiable statements, Mr. Schwartz's claims have a surplus of substantiation.

Sun's claim that HP/UX is dead is based on the following:

A. HP/UX is currently the operating system for HP's family of HP 9000 servers, which are built on PA-RISC processors.

B. HP has announced that it will EOL the HP 9000 series and move away from the PA-RISC architecture. HP recommends migration to HP Integrity servers, which are built on Itanium processors. HP has stated publicly that HP/UX will only be available on Itanium and that it will not port HP/UX to x86.

With regard to HP-UX, one of the biggest indictment against its survival is the fact that it is dependent on Itanium and customers moving to that platform. Three facts further support this claim. First, market pick-up has been very slow for Itanium with HP selling in excess of 90% of the product in this market, and no other vendor selling any significant volume. Second, much of the Itanium market to date, approximately 80%, has been in the 1-4 way space and the new Intel Xeon 64 and AMD Opteron are showing much stronger acceptance in this space verses Itanium. Third, migration to Itanium, whether it be from Tru64/Alpha or HP-UX/PA-RISC, requires a disruptive migration, and according to a survey done at the most recent HP World show (August 2004) 50% of the respondents said they would never undertake such a migration.

Further support for our claim of Itanium's failing performance in the market is the fact that quarter over quarter sales this year are declining, as well as HP's own public withdrawal from the chip for its workstations.
C. Given the cost and complexity of porting applications built for PA-RISC platforms, Sun believes that many independent software vendors (ISVs) currently offering applications for the HP 9000 (PA-RISC) architecture will choose not to port those applications to the new Itanium architecture.

D. For similar reasons, detailed more fully below, HP/UX on Itanium is not a meaningful choice for a second group of current HP customers -- customers of HP's Alpha servers which are built on HP's Alpha processors, and which run the Tru64 UNIX operating system.

The evidence in Sun's files clearly supports the fact in Claim 1 that HP has asked and continues to ask its customers to use Red Hat Linux or Microsoft Windows on x86 systems and is actively marketing these platforms. See HP's own web sites and HP recently claimed to be the marketshare leader in this area, see IDC Worldwide Quarterly Server Tracker Q2 2004, August 26, 2004 Release, based on its sales of Red Hat Linux or Microsoft Windows on x86 systems.

Claim 2: "HP/UX won't even run on HP's own industry standard servers."

Anne Livermore, Executive Vice President and head of HP's Technology Solutions Group, has stated that HP will not port HP/UX onto its industry standard x86 servers. See article "Q&A: HP's Livermore Sees No Need for HP/UX on x86," August 17, 2004,,10801,95312,00.html. The data verifies that HP/UX does not run on industry standard servers. Industry standard servers, which is a de facto standard, are defined by and across the computer industry as x86 based servers. Based on HP's data, the HP Industry Standard Server Product Family is the ProLiant server family, not the Integrity family, see
HP's own web site lists the Industry Standard Server Operating Systems as Microsoft, Novell and Linux. HP/UX is not listed here, see, nor it is included or even referenced in HP's Industry Standard Server Product Family. Accordingly, the evidence clearly supports the fact that HP Integrity servers (which run HP/UX) are not industry standard servers. See also, HP's earnings slides for Q3FY04, where HP breaks out their x86 business separately and calls it "Industry Standard Servers." By contrast, in the transcript of its Q3 FY2004 earnings call, HP clearly states that UNIX (which HP uses to reference HP/UX and Tru64 UNIX offerings) resides in its Business Critical Systems division.

Claim 3: "Is HP running from you and its HP/UX and Tru64 Commitment?"

This question is not provably false and is not actionable under Section 43(a) or any theory of trade libel. Your letter interprets this question as an implication by Sun that HP is not committed to HP/UX and Tru64 UNIX customers. Even if this question were a provable statement, Sun's evidence confirms a clear lack of commitment by HP to both its HP/UX and Tru64 UNIX customers. HP's public statements and road map for HP/UX plainly show that HP plans to stop developing HP 9000 beyond the PA8900 server (due in 2005). See HP Server Strategy presentation by Ken Surplice, HP Product Manager, EMEA, May 2003. This abdication by HP and its decision not to continue with this line of products is an abandonment of those customers who want and who use those products. We understand your statement that HP is committed to its HP/UX customers provided they move to Itanium. Based on this evidence, however, HP offers no path for those HP/UX customers who do not move to Itanium. Moreover, Sun believes that Itanium is not a meaningful choice for all of the reasons we state in this letter.

As discussed in item B, above, Sun's support for its claims against HP/UX's survival is the fact that it is dependent on Itanium and customers moving to that platform. Again, as further support: (1) market pick-up has been very slow for Itanium, (2) much of the Itanium market to date has been in the 1-4 way space and the new Intel Xeon 64 and AMD Opteron are showing much stronger acceptance in this space verses Itanium, (3) migration to Itanium, whether it be from Tru64/Alpha or HP-UX/PA-RISC, requires a disruptive migration, and according to a survey done at the most recent HP World show (August 2004) 50% of the respondents said they would never undertake such a migration. Moreover, Itanium has exhibited a failing performance in the market with quarter over quarter sales this year declining, and HP has publicly withdrawal from the chip for its workstations.

Things look equally bleak for Tru64 UNIX customers. HP announced its plans to EOL the Alpha processor and server family (and consequently the Tru64) approximately two years ago. Customers using the Tru64 operating system are on the last version of the Alpha server, the EV7z. Like HP/UX customers, Tru64 UNIX customers have to migrate to the HP/UX Itanium platform if they want an enterprise class UNIX platform from HP. Moreover, these Tru64/Alpha customers will have no viable option for migrating from HP to another HP system until at least 2006. According to HP's current roadmap, Version 3 of the HP/UX11i operating system, the first version with some key enterprise -level features, will not be available until 2006 at the earliest.

It is our belief that HP's actions constitute an abandonment of both of these customer bases.

Claim 4: "Less than two years after abandoning its inherited Tru64 UNIX customers, HP seems on the same path once again to abandon another one of its very loyal customer bases. This time it is its HP/UX UNIX customer base, which is now beginning to see signs that HP may not be committed to the HP/UX UNIX business for the long haul." (See

Again, the above are subjective statements and reflect Sun's opinion of why Sun detects a lack of commitment to both Tru64 UNIX and HP/UX customers. Alternatively, Sun has evidence to show that HP is offering no viable choices to either its HP/UX or Tru64 customers. Accordingly, it is reasonable to believe or even to conclude that once a product has been EOLed, like Alpha has been, the ISVs will withdraw their support.

Claim 5: "More importantly, for both the Tru64 and HP/UX customers, HP/UX 11i v3 was going to be the same version for both the HP 9000 family and the HP integrity family. . . . and it was promised for late 2004. ... The slippage of HP/UX 11i v 3 by up to 18 months is major concerns for existing HP customers. . . . ."

You letter claims that Sun is referring to an out of date HP/UX roadmap. Our statements were based on the then current data, which is still current today, that show Version 3 will not be available until 2005 and may slip back to 2006. Your letter also states that "in fact, many of the features previously scheduled to be included in HP/UX 11iv3 were included in HP/UX11i v2." However, there is no contrary evidence in your letter or from our research that contradicts our claim that the key Tru64 UNIX features like clustering and advanced file system will be included in Version 3. As such, we believe that HP/UX 11i v2 is little or no help to many Tru64 UNIX customers, who would appear to still have to migrate to Itanium or wait for Version 3 in 2006.

All of the above statements of fact are truthful and correct and have adequate substantiation. Our substantiation is based on well established evidence. According to HP's HP/UX roadmap, HP/UX11i v3 is planned to be the same version for both the HP 9000 family and the HP Integrity family running on Tru64 and HP/UX systems. HP claims that it can thereby present customers with the features and functionality of both HP/UX and Tru64. However, the data shows that HP has not delivered some of the key features and functionality with HP/UX 11iv2.

Although there is the same version for both PA-RISC and Itanium, it still does not include the functionality from Tru64. Therefore, while we do not dispute that HP has delivered a common HP/UX release for both PA-RISC and Itanium, many Tru64 customers are still left out in the cold without the functionality they need to make sound architectural decisions. Accordingly, only HP/UX customers can purport to benefit from HP/UX 11iv2, not Tru64 customers, and then we believe only mildly.

Claim 6: "HP is abandoning HP/UX."

Once again, in certain of the places this is a statement of opinion by Jonathan Schwartz. His opinion is based on his good faith assessment of the current climate of HP. Alternatively, however, Sun will also stand behind this as a statement of fact that is true and accurate based on the above substantiation. As detailed by the above facts, we have seen signs that HP is abandoning HP/UX.

Jonathan Schwartz's opinions and even his vigorous debate on this subject as well as Sun's product comparisons and dialog on these commercial matters are inherent in Sun's competition with HP and are part of the free market system in which our companies operate. For our statements of fact, Sun has valid, objective and verifiable evidence. Accordingly, and based on the above, Sun affirmatively stands by its claims regarding HP/UX and will not agree to cease making such truthful and/or subjective claims.

From readers comments:

This arguing over Unix between Sun and HP is like arguing about the placement of deck chairs on the Titanic. Unix is losing its appeal. The nasty comments about who is better in an ever decreasing market sounds like the false bravado of Apple advocates for the corporate workplace - simply wrong.

  1. All...

    Well, Mr. Schwartz does seem to have acceptable Intel from HP and I agree that the response to the ice queen's minions was almost so quick that his contacts may include HP legal. I also agree that I don't see herself making quite so big of a meltdown as to pursue this: she has to know that too many past and current HP vets would love to "have to" provide info that would support ANYONE over queen carly (aka., killer of the "HP Way"). No, HP will not pursue this in any tech arena and I suspect they will miss the courtroom too... but I would have to wonder if the *nix folks who already seem to be circling the wagons might blow the reasonable conclusions away rather than blast a major player... sad that, should it happen... especially when the evil queen needs a serious slap. IMHO, of course.

    Comment by padraig - Friday, October 22 2004 @ 10:08 am

  2. I'd have to agree with the comment that this is like arguing about placement of deck chairs on the Titanic, with one caveat: HP seems to be concerned with providing a ferry service off the ship. As an OpenVMS manager I'm quite content with the fact that it can't be ported to the IA-32 chipset and achieve reasonable performance. To the extent that ISVs migrate to Windows or Linux on IA-32, we add those systems; to the extent they program to the Enterprise featureset, we run them under Tru64 or OpenVMS, as appropriate. Given the very small marketplace penetration of Solaris on IA-32, I fail to see how HP's lack of HP-UX on IA-32 is an issue. I'm rather more concerned with the 10-20 year lead DEC/Compaq/HP have on integrating Windows, IA-32 Unix, and Enterprise systems, over Sun's traditional wars with Microsoft and IA-32 Unix...

    Comment by Jeff - Friday, October 22 2004 @ 10:36 am

  3. My only comment is, it seems Mr. Schwartz has a lot of time on his hand to be industry critic. I think it would best he focused on his own dirty laundry and tending to his own matters. This reminds me of when I was high school. A guy who wants to date a young lady. He cannot think of enough good things to say about himself, so he says a lot of bad things about the other guy to level the playing field.

    Mr. Schwartz and Mr. McNealy, No one has every talked their way to a championship . Stop being NATOlistic (No Action Talk Only) and get down to business.

    Friendly Spider Man

[APR 12, 2004] Customers in Charge - Computerworld

(COMPUTERWORLD) - No question about it, this one belongs to you. IT customers were the driving force, the ultimate bottom line, the wake-up-to-reality call behind the historic Sun-Microsoft accord announced the morning of April 2 [QuickLink 45970]. Scott McNealy and Steve Ballmer spoke softly but carried a big peace treaty with your names on it -- wrapping up years of angry rhetoric and a fierce, often counterproductive rivalry that bedeviled enterprise IT operations with interoperability headaches and unnecessary expense.

"We're in a new era of customer-driven competition," Ballmer said.

McNealy agreed, "The customer is in charge."

No kidding. But were you impressed by this dramatically staged ending to the industry's most legendary feud? Well, not exactly.

"I want to see something concrete and real," said Daniel Morreale, CIO at the North Bronx Healthcare Network in New York, voicing what was no doubt the skeptical reaction of many of his peers across the nation.

Tony Scott, chief technology officer at General Motors, was quoted in The Wall Street Journal about his pointed advice to both CEOs to get their acts together. He's had to educate the pair on "the real pain that customers go through when you have multiple incompatible standards and technologies."

That message seems to have finally struck its target. McNealy and Ballmer, usually glib and cheerfully combative with the press, were subdued and serious at the announcement of their truce. Once the initial element of surprise wears off, they'll have a lot to prove. As technology buyers have gained more power over suppliers, they've lost patience with petty product warfare.

"It's good that there is going to be an era of cooperation, but what does it really mean to people?" asked Satish Ajmani, CIO of the Santa Clara County government in Sun's home state of California. "What are they going to deliver that's different from what we have today, and will it result in an overall cost reduction for us?"

Answering those questions had better be the primary focus of both vendors as they move into detente. Microsoft will pay its longtime rival $1.6 billion to settle Sun's antitrust suit and resolve several patent claims. Far more meaningful to users, however, is the potential of the 10-year commitment to collaborate on technology and to license each other's intellectual property.

Customers will be waiting -- and not all that patiently -- to see the concrete follow-through on those lofty assurances of improvements in server integration, easier interoperability between products such as Java and .Net, and seamless support of each other's protocols.

Beyond the customer issues, some significant external factors also took a turn behind the wheel of this deal.

Both companies are worried about the rise of Linux and the ever-present threat of IBM's enterprise dominance. Sun has suffered through years of financial setbacks and faces yet another quarterly loss and an upcoming layoff of 3,300 employees. Microsoft has spent tens of millions of dollars in courtroom battles over antitrust issues, and its stinging defeat last month by the European Commission moved its legal troubles as a monopolist onto the world stage.

What both vendors now face is a journey just as arduous as the year of secret talks that brought them this far. They must now mutate 15 years of competitive DNA, convince thousands of startled employees to embrace the enemy and finally readjust to a new reality. The one where customers are in charge.

Maryfran Johnson is editor in chief of Computerworld. You can contact her at [email protected].

Sun readies hardened solaris

In an effort to batten down its operating system, sun microsystems inc. this week will unveil a sweeping set of security enhancements to solaris, as well as new managed security services.

The moves, which include a rewriting of parts of the Solaris kernel as well as a major partnership with VeriSign Inc., are in large part a response to well-established security initiatives from rivals Microsoft Corp. and IBM.

The advancements are also the latest indicator of how seriously software developers and manufacturers take the issue of security, according to experts.

"It's easier to use security as a selling point in an OS than in an individual security product," said Pete Lindstrom, an analyst at Spire Security LLC, in Malvern, Pa. "This is a shot against the growing discontent with security as well as against [Microsoft's] NGSCB [Next-Generation Secure Computing Base]."

To incorporate some of the new security features in Solaris 10, which is due in the fourth quarter, Sun engineers rewrote portions of the Solaris kernel. The move, said company officials in Santa Clara, Calif., will likely prevent competitors from being able to replicate those features.

Most of the enhancements due in the operating system are designed to prevent users from escalating privileges or to halt malicious behavior before it leads to a compromise or data loss.

Among the biggest improvements is the addition of Solaris N1 Grid Containers, a technology that lets administrators create virtual instances of Solaris within running versions of the operating system. The instances share common features and capabilities, but each acts as its own copy, complete with an independent naming service.

Even if an administrator has a root account on one instance, known as a zone, he or she won't be able to affect other zones, which limits the damage attackers can do if they obtain root access, Sun officials said. Customers will have the option of installing a stripped-down Solaris 10 with no network services or interfaces available. Users can then turn on whatever they choose.

Sun has also added a technology known as process rights management to Solaris 10. Lifted from Sun's military-grade, hardened Trusted Solaris operating system, this concept implements the principle of least privilege, which is common on many sensitive systems.

By assigning each user account and process the lowest level of privileges needed to complete a given task, the technology is able to restrict what actions even highly privileged users can take. For example, a Web server can be bound directly to port 80, preventing it from being used for other purposes by an attacker.

On the services side, Sun is partnering with VeriSign, of Mountain View, Calif., to offer vulnerability assessment, threat monitoring and 24-hour network security management, according to Sun officials. The offerings will be based on VeriSign's Intelligence and Control Services.

The changes to Solaris are significant, given Sun's wide lead in the enterprise Unix market. In the third quarter of last year, the company shipped nearly 77,000 copies of Solaris. Hewlett-Packard Co. shipped about 31,000 copies of its version of Unix, while IBM sold 27,000 copies of Unix, according to numbers compiled by market researcher IDC, of Framingham, Mass.

Red Hat Buys Netscape Server Software from AOL (LinuxWorld). The two products Red Hat's picking up include Netscape Directory Server, a LDAP server for storing user profiles, policies, and application settings; and Netscape Certificate Management System, a digital certificate-based authentication system.

Red Hat announced yesterday, at its analyst day in New York, the acquisition of Netscape server software, from America Online.

AOL has owned the software since 1998, when it bought the Netscape property. The move is a means for Red Hat to broaden its horizons beyond its core Linux operating system. The company will release Netscape Enterprise Suite as open source code. While specific licensing terms are not yet known, Red Hat's intent is to use the GNU General Public License (GPL)..

Netscape had tried, but failed, to use open source tactics to fend off competition from Microsoft's Internet Explorer, when it released the source code of its namesake browser. Netscape kept its server software, which Red Hat purchased for a reported $20.5 million, as a proprietary asset.

Red Hat's CEO Matthew Szulik said he feels there is sufficient support within the open source community to breath life into the browser. To some analysts, the decision to purchase the server is confounding. Joe Keller, vice president of application and development at Sun, said, "They're buying antique software. They used to find the best open source and bring that forward. Now they're buying the oldest of commercial software and making it open source."

Szulik disagrees, pointing out that when Netscape released the source code in 1998, development of the server software continued. Part of AOL's acquisition included a team of about 50 programmers. Szulik further noted that the directory software is included in Hewlett-Packard's Server Suite for UNIX. Red Hat's acquisition includes both Netscape Directory and Certificate Server.

Ultimately the price of Red Hat Enterprise Linux will rise because of the purchase. Red Hat will be incorporating its newly acquired software into its current line-up of products. Szulik said the new acquisition will enable the company to, "achieve deeper penetration into the enterprise and government market."

Sun currently employs Netscape technology that it acquired as a provision of AOL's Netscape purchase dating back to 1998. Parts of Netscape's intellectual property have found their way into several of Sun's open source development platforms, including Sun Open Network Environment and Java Enterprise System.

What do you think? Join the Feedback to this item. - Business - At peace with Microsoft, Sun chief whips off the gloves over Red Hat

By Hiawatha Bray, Globe Staff | October 2, 2004

Sun Microsystems Inc.'s combative chief executive, Scott McNealy, fresh from resolving his long-running quarrel with archrival Microsoft Corp., has found a new target for his wrath: Linux software maker Red Hat Inc.

''We love Linux," said McNealy at yesterday's meeting of the Massachusetts Telecommunications Council in Newton. ''We just don't love Red Hat."

Sun Microsystems was one of the dominant computer companies of the late-1990s Internet boom. But it has lost nearly $4.5 billion over the past three years, hammered by an industrywide slump and growing competition from Linux.

Most Sun computers run Solaris, the company's own version of the high-powered Unix operating system. But many Solaris users have been moving to Linux to save money. Linux is an ''open source" operating system that was created by a worldwide network of volunteers and can be modified by those who use it. Linux, like other open-source products, can be obtained free of charge.

But McNealy says switching to Red Hat Linux is a false economy. Even though Linux itself is free, Red Hat charges high prices for customer service and support. ''You can run Solaris for 20 to 30 percent of the cost of 'free,' " McNealy said.

McNealy stressed that Linux wasn't the enemy. He noted that Sun is one of the leading contributors of free software to open-source projects, that Sun sells computers equipped with Linux, and that the company plans to release the next version of Solaris as an open-source product. ''Open source is not a threat," he said, just Red Hat. ''They're a competitor," McNealy said, ''and we're going to blow them out of the water if we can."

Earlier Sun crusades haven't worked out so well. During the 1990s, McNealy vowed that Sun's Java computing technology would eventually render Microsoft Windows obsolete. Later, Microsoft licensed Java, but made modifications to the code that Sun considered illegal. That began a lengthy series of contract and antitrust lawsuits.

This year, Sun mended fences with Microsoft, which paid Sun nearly $2 billion to settle their disputes. Now the two companies have formed a technology alliance aimed at ensuring their products work well together. During his talk, McNealy flashed an image of himself and Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer laughing together like old friends. ''There's a scene you probably never thought you'd see," McNealy quipped.

Still, McNealy, once famous for his anti-Microsoft insults, couldn't resist taking a few more jabs at the Redmond, Wash., giant. At one point, he referred to Microsoft's popular e-mail program Outlook as ''Lookout," because of its vulnerability to computer viruses.

Hiawatha Bray can be reached at [email protected].

Linux Today - Boston Globe At Peace with Microsoft, Sun Chief Whips Off the Gloves over Red Hat

Hmmm Let me see...
Who was involved with Linux from the earlier days... RH
Who GPLS all of their code....RH
Who would NOT be involved with OSS if they did not have to be Hmmm SUN
No brainer if it comes to supporting RH or SUN
Sun will lose

Those are valid points. So are these ones:
Who has the longest history of open standards?... Sun.
Who has contributed the most code to open source?... Sun.
Who has done the most to stop MS?... Sun.
Remember that Sun has contributed more code to open source than any other entity except possibly UC Berkley.
I don't love either Sun or RH. Both are big companies who care about money first. RH has a history of breaking compatibility with the rest of the Linux community. I resent that. Sun is inconsistent and it lacks a clear vision.
The comment about RH being expensive is accurate. Over here we use Solaris, and we are planning a migration to Linux. We looked at RH, and it turned out we wouldn't be any better off with them. Even if you account for the cheaper Intel hardware. So we'll look at some other distribution, or perhaps develop in-house.
In any event, I don't like the idea of choosing the lesser of two evils. If I were to purchase Linux desktops from someone, it would not be JDS or RH. I think I'd pick Mandrake.
Daniel Carrera. volunteer.

Slashdot Solaris vs Linux Continues raffe writes "Solaris Kernel Developer Eric Schrock is bloging more about the Solaris vs. Linux issue and linux kernel moneky Greg is answering on his blog. Eric's first part is is also still up and Greg's answer " Another reader also submitted reviews of the Linux desktop vs. Solaris 9. User reviews are welcome; please note that ITMJ is part of OSTG like Slashdot.

Why (Score:4, Insightful)
by Second_Derivative (257815) on Monday September 27, @12:43PM (#10363667)
Because the Sun guy actually makes coherent and valid points whereas this guy says a load of what is essentially meaningless cheer-leading? I think you'll find a lot of businesses like to have a reasonable degree of reliability in their servers. Telling people to get stuffed when ReiserFS decides to randomly shit the bed and completely annihilate your business data won't impress many people (it's done this several times for me on MAINLINE KERNELS, there is absolutely NO excuse for that. Don't tell me to send in dumps and patches, mainline means "this does not NEED debugging and is safe to use", period). I'm not talking running a major financial institution or a nuclear power plant here, I'm talking about being reasonably sure th a br>
That's just filesystems. Once upon a time Linux was really great because it was amazingly robust, small, fast and elegant. Today we have frequent kernel panics and X server flakiness, gigantic frameworks for desktop environments and gigabyte sized base installs. I suppose I can forgive flaky and sometimes limited support for exotic hardware because PCs are really complicated beasts these days, and a lot of hardware manufacturers are incredibly pig headed about these things but it would really be nice to have my two year old laptop actually wake up from ACPI sleep. No it's not a DSDT error. No I do not want to use Software Suspend because it is a hack. Nevermind the fact that it takes 5 minutes (as in around 300 seconds) to suspend on a 1GB swap with 256MB of RAM and several minutes to wake up again.

Linux sucks, get over it. Yes I use it, that's because everything else sucks more.

Solaris is superior to Linux in many ways (Score:5, Informative)
by Serveert (102805) on Monday September 27, @12:23PM (#10363424)
I have used Linux for years but I've also used Solaris. Solaris is simply more reliable and more fault tolerant hardware-wise. It's a fact and as Solaris is opened up and more people become aware of it, it will be obvious. Linux is a great OS and works wonders but it's not up to Solaris standards in many ways. Likewise, Solaris isn't as widely used as linux and doesn't support nearly as many peripherals and isn't as good on the desktop.

That said, Sun's cash cow or former cash cow was its hardware not software. Solaris was a nice OS that was icing on the cake. Now that their cash cow is gone, their emphasis will be on Solaris but there's less revenue here. I hope they go bankrupt and GPL solaris personally. :)

The rebuttal wasn't a rebuttal either. It didn't mention kgdb which allows you to debug kernels using source code.. it can also work with UML kernels. Also the rebuttal didn't address the points raised:

Reliability - Reliability is more than just "we're more stable than Windows." We need to be reliable in the face of hardware failure and service failure. If I get an uncorrectable error on a user process page, predictive self healing can re-start the service without rebooting the machine and without risking memory corruption. Fault Management Architecture can offline CPUs in reponse to hardware errors and retire pages based on the frequency of correctable errors. ZFS provides complete end-to-end checksums, capable of detecting phantom writes and firmware bugs, and automatically repair bad data without affecting the application. The service management facility can ensure that transient application failures do not result in a loss of availability.

Serviceability - When things go wrong (and trust me, they will go wrong), we need to be able to solve the problem in as little time as possible with the lowest cost to the customer and Sun. If the kernel crashes, we get a concise file that customers can send to support without having to reproduce the problem on an instrumented kernel or instruct support how to recreate my production environment. With the fault management architecture, an administrator can walk up to any Solaris machine, type a single command, and see a history of all faulty components in the system, when and how they were repaired, and the severity of the problems. All hardware failures are linked to an online knowledge base with recommended repair procedures and best practices. With ZFS, disks exhibiting questionable data integrity can automatically be removed from storage pools without interruption of normal service to prevent outright failure. Dynamic reconfiguration allows entire CPU boards can be removed from the system without rebooting.

Observability - DTrace allows real-world administrators (not kernel developers) to see exactly what is happening on their system, tracing arbitrary data from user applications and the kernel, aggregating it and coordinating with disjoint events. With kmdb, developers can examine the static state of the kernel, step through kernel functions, and modify kernel memory. Commands like trapstat provide hardware trap statistics, and CPU event counters can be used to gather hardware-assisted profiling data via libcpc.

Resource management - With Solaris resource management, users can control memory and CPU shares, IPC tunables, and a variety of other constraints on a per-process basis. Processes can be grouped into tasks to allow easy management of a class of applications. Zones allow a system to be partitioned and administrated from a central location, dividing the same physical resources amongst OS-like instances. With process rights management, users can be given individual privileges to manage privileged resources without having to have full root access.

And of course windows is but a Play Thing.

Re:Solaris is superior to Linux in many ways (Score:0)
by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 27, @01:02PM (#10363860)
Solaris isn't as widely used as linux and doesn't support nearly as many peripherals and isn't as good on the desktop.

That's right. The place of Linux is the DESKTOP. Stupid Readhat PHBs capitilized on Sun's stupidity when they dropped the x86 server market. Now it seems, Redhat can see no other life for themselves but the Sun customers switching to Linux. Sun ain't going to give them up though. Silly Redhat should persue the desktop and small server space. They can't compete with Solaris on the real servers. Readhat is the problem, not Sun.

Solaris is where it is today because of Linux. (Score:0)
by cphenry (204895) on Monday September 27, @12:31PM (#10363505)
I found it interesting that almost all of the Solaris features that Eric used to back his arguement are new. It looks like Solaris 10 will probably kick ass, in part due to many of the features that Eric mentioned, such as dtrace, zones and zfs. That said, would those features even exist if Linux hadn't appeared on the scene? I think Sun was resting on its laurels in the mid to late 90s. They were in a position of pretty much dominating the data center UNIX market, and it wasn't until Linux scared the daylights out of them that this started to change.
I'm looking forward to working with Solaris 10, but I have no doubt that half the reason it's as good as it will be is because of linux.

This article was published in Computer Sweden - Ski resort company abandons Linux

Ski resort company abandons Linux
Sälen-based Skistar first Nordic company to deploy
Oracle 9i RAC

Snow safety. Skistar's new system won't guarantee snow but higher availability. </
Sleeps soundly. Anders Beronius gets a good night's sleep. He rests assured that his booking system is crunching away.
Cluster machine. Skistar's entire booking system is based on two Sun Fire V480R with twin processors.

By: Anders Nordner
Translation by: Anders Lotsson

Oracle's committed support organization for its Linux customers wasn't good enough for Skistar. The company went for Linux in mid-2001, but now it's switching to Solaris. At the same time, Skistar's Oracle 8 database is replaced with Oracle 9i Real Application Cluster. When Skistar, then still called Sälenstjärnan, deployed a new system in May 2001, it was based on Oracle 8 and Linux. The company chose Linux because it offered better performance and higher stability than NT (see Computer Sweden, May 25th, 2001). Cost was another factor. "If there are two solutions that work perfectly, we'll get the one that's free," Anders Beronius, IT director of Skistar's ski resorts in Sälen said then. Now the company has replaced Linux with Sun Solaris. And the Oracle 8 failover configuration is replaced with the cluster version of Oracle 9i RAC. This makes the company a Nordic pioneer of that type of cluster installations.

Couldn't handle emergencies

"We switched from Linux because it was difficult to solve emergencies using Linux," says Anders Beronius.

Running Oracle on top of Linux turned out to be almost untried. There is limited competence in that type of system. Also, the company needed to increase scalability and improve performance even more.

The booking systems that the system is running are at the core of Skistar's business. That is where hotels, lift tickets, cottages and everything related to the business are booked.

Always available
"Availability is the top priority. The system must never fail," says Anders Beronius.

Availability is expected to be achieved by means of the cluster installation. The system runs on a pair of Sun Fire V480R machines located in Sälen.

"Competence in Sun products is significantly easier to get hold of than Linux competence. Linux may be cheaper, but you can hold Sun responsible for any Solaris problems", says Anders Beronius.

The cluster installation provides reliability, he says.

"Now, we don't have a so-called single point of failure any more", says Anders Beronius, IT director of Skistar.

Sun Microsystems seeks to avoid oblivion by pursuing a simple but powerful strategy.

Its plan? Attack Red Hat, use control over the operating system and the platform to disrupt competitors' pricing and business models, out-engineer everybody in the x86 space and use an alliance with Microsoft to fight a common enemy: IBM.

Last week in California, I visited two Sun bigwigs: Jonathan Schwartz, president and chief operating officer, and Scott McNealy, chairman and CEO. When Schwartz asked me, "What do you think of Sun?" I gave him an honest answer. "Sun risks becoming the data general of the decade. The company could easily slide toward becoming a 'zombie'--a lot of cash but no life, staggering and lurching with a fading heartbeat at each step," I said.

Schwartz's comeback was, "You're wrong, and here's why." He then laid out the surprisingly simple and cohesive strategy that Sun will follow in pursuit of a recovery. Here it is, in a stripped-down form.

Linux is like every other operating system; it's about the foibles, greed, mistakes and engineering prowess (or lack thereof) of one vendor--in this case, Red Hat.

If Sun goes down, it's going to go down taking very big swings.

George Colony is chairman and chief executive officer of Forrester Research.

More Perspectives

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Click on a comment to explore replies (10 total replies - 5 NEW )
Problem is that Red Hat is not evil or stupid. M K -- 09/20/04
Ironic and doomed Unknown -- 09/20/04
Redhat!?! How about IBM and HP. R M -- 09/20/04
Sun=SCO, Sun's leaders are draging down a great company. Stephen Ensor -- 09/21/04
Too narrow a view of Linux Bruce Lowry -- 09/21/04
Holy Cow Bob Ess -- 09/21/04
Interesting strategy Unknown -- 09/22/04
Sun/Suse versus Red Hat Danny Strickland -- 09/22/04

Sun's novel idea ZDNet Australia Insight Software

The company's desperate attempt to regain its footing has reached new heights. Jonathan Schwartz, Sun's chief operating officer, has gone public with his latest idea -- to buy Novell for its Linux business.

The justification? If Sun acquires Novell, IBM's Linux strategy would be in disarray.

Last year, Novell outbid Sun to purchase SuSE Linux for US$210 million, with IBM making a $50 million investment in Novell.

Schwartz believes that IBM will increasingly push SuSE as the preferred Linux platform at the expense of its partner, Red Hat.

In a blog posting, he said IBM "is in a real pickle". To him, Red Hat's dominance "leaves IBM almost entirely dependent upon SuSE/Novell" and "whoever owns Novell controls the OS on which IBM's future depends."

Sun could have bought SuSE last November but was outmanoeuvred by Novell, which has a current market capitalisation of $2.6 billion. Is Sun now compensating for its folly?

"If you're an IBM customer, you've probably received (or should prepare to receive) the pitch from IBM incenting you to move off Red Hat to SuSE -- it's clear they're worried that Red Hat's lock on customers is divorcing IBM from their customer relationships," Schwartz said.

His entire thought process is pretty myopic.

IBM is simply doing what every big business does -- executing what I define as a "promiscuous plot". Get into bed with as many partners as you can, keep them happy and reap the rewards. Doesn't Schwartz see it?

Big Blue long realised that in order to win the mindshare of the open source community, it has to play with everyone and play nice. Well, maybe not everyone but you know what I mean.

Sun is trying very hard to diversify and shed its "pure Unix shop" image. Buying a Linux company might improve matters but instead of Novell, perhaps a more viable option would be Mandrakesoft.

Mandrakesoft, which survived bankruptcy, shares one thing in common with Sun -- it hopes to see Linux-based computers in the mainstream. In France, a month-long project is underway with retail giant Carrefour to sell computers equipped with the Mandrakelinux operating system. In the US, Wal-Mart sells computers running on Linux, including Sun's version.

And so the struggle to re-invent itself continues. Sun's share price hovers around the $3.80 mark, thousands of employees have been laid off over the last few years, and its market share is dwindling.

To Microsoft, Linux has become more of a threat than Unix. And this is bad news to Sun -- when you become irrelevant to your competitor, you're virtually doomed.

Sun has an excellent research, development and engineering history, and the gift of Java has had an immeasurable impact on the computing industry. But as it attempts to confront its demons, Schwartz's impetuous announcement will surely ruffle some feathers within the company.

Well, empty vessels do make the loudest noise. Maybe it's time for Sun to take a step back and develop a proper vision and strategy instead of shooting from the hip.

Who'll Buy Novell First, Sun or IBM (LinuxWorld)

"With our balance sheet," Schwartz said in an interview on Sunday, "we're considering all our options."

"What would owning the operating system on which IBM is dependent be worth?" he continued, going on to add a comment that has already unleashed considerable resentment and disbelief here among the Linux faithful in San Francisco: "History would suggest we look to Microsoft for comparisons," Schwartz remarked.

What the open source community is asking is whether Sun is perhaps just playing footsie with such an acquisition idea in order to steal the thunder from Novell's highly successful SUSE Linux distro. Certainly Sun's own Linux-based Java Desktop System, reviewed recently at, will get a huge publicity boost.

But what is the true story? Is Sun genuinely considering such an acquisition?

The answer to that, undeniably, is yes. As befits a major public company with a long history in the technology industry - cash and marketable securities of $7.61 billion, according to the latest figures - Sun is in good financial health, balance sheet wise. It has deep pockets right now. As such it has every right to be looking at acquisitions, and Novell's market cap of $2.64 billion based on July 30 figures puts it within range.

But the likely real story is that Sun is horrified at the thought that someone else might buy Novell. Especially if that someone else turned out to be IBM.

"IBM is in a real pickle," Schwartz wrote yesterday in his increasingly widely read blog. "Red Hat's dominance leaves IBM almost entirely dependent upon SUSE/Novell. Whoever owns Novell controls the OS on which IBM's future depends. Now that's an interesting thought, isn't it?"

The Schwartz blog continued:

"But if IBM preemptively acquires Novell/SUSE, the world changes: Linux enters the product portfolio of a patent litigator not known for being a social-movement company. But where else will IBM go? With its current market cap, Red Hat seems unacquirable - but absent action, IBM's core customers will be eroded by Red Hat's leverage. And Sun's ability to leverage our open Solaris platform (on industry standard AMD, Intel or SPARC), or Java Enterprise System, even on IBM's hardware, gives us a significant - and sustainable - competitive advantage. With the demise of AIX, IBM is once again vulnerable."

"I'd keep a close eye on the Novell/SUSE conversation," Schwartz concludes. "If IBM acquires them, the community outrage and customer disaffection is going to be epic... but where else does IBM go?"

Meantime here at LinuxWorld, Sun will today announce availability of its Sun Studio 9 IDE, with C/C++ tools for building applications on Sparc, Xeon, and Opteron, and for Java Desktop System (JDS) 2003, SUSE LINUX Enterprise Server 8, and Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3, and will demonstrate its "SunRay" server software running natively on Linux.

It remains to be seen what visitors to LinuxWorld will make of the fact that the Novell and the Sun exhibit booths are just a stone's throw from one another in the Moscone Center here in San Francisco.

BW Online July 26, 2004 Sun A CEO's Last Stand

Sun: A CEO's Last Stand
{ } deck-->scott mcnealy knows he made many mistakes. is it too late to recover?{ } /deck-->

{ } STORY-->Talk with ever-voluble Sun Microsystems Inc. (SUNW ) CEO Scott McNealy, and you may hear one of his favorite quips: "Conventional wisdom doesn't contain a whole lot of wisdom." He believes it because of his own experience. Consider 1995: All of Sun's competitors -- Hewlett-Packard (HPQ ), IBM (IBM ), and Digital Equipment Corp. -- were busy developing new servers to run the next version of Microsoft Corp.'s Windows software. Wall Street pundits begged McNealy to show some common sense and do the same. But he refused, instead cranking up his investment in Sun's own software, called Solaris. What happened next made McNealy look brilliant. Rivals couldn't match the speed, reliability, and security of Sun's servers. As the tech boom took off, Sun's boxes became the must-have gear for thousands of Internet startups and financial firms. Sales soared; profits exploded.

Six years later, as the boom of the late 1990s came to a crashing end, Wall Street had more advice for McNealy: Batten down the hatches for the storm ahead; slash research; lay off staffers; and get serious about low-cost products. Once again, McNealy held his ground. But this time, he was dreadfully wrong. Sun's sales have tumbled 48% in the past three years, it has lost a third of its market share -- and it continues to head south even as its rivals ride the economic recovery. Its stock, which reached $64 in 2000, trades at about $4. No other major player has been weakened as much during the tech downturn. "Right now it looks pretty grim," says Geoffrey A. Moore, author of several tech-industry books, including Crossing the Chasm.

It's a classic management tragedy, and to a striking degree the responsibility lies with the 49-year-old McNealy. His greatest strengths -- the uncompromising determination, sharp-tongued irreverence, and unblushing idealism -- turned out to be critical flaws. Through interviews with 38 current and former Sun executives, including nine departees on the record, BusinessWeek has learned that as Sun's situation deteriorated, McNealy was bucking not just the counsel of outsiders but also that of his own lieutenants. After the tech industry went into its long slide in late 2000, virtually his entire management team, including Chief Scientist Bill Joy and President Edward J. Zander, pleaded with McNealy to scale back his vision and adjust to meaner times.

Time and again, McNealy refused. An economics major during his days at Harvard University, he was convinced that the economy would snap back quickly from its slump, insiders say. Plus, he believed that the Net was so critical to companies that they couldn't hold off buying gear for long. "The Internet is still wildly underhyped, underutilized, and underimplemented," he said in early 2001. "I think we're looking at the largest equipment business in the history of anything. The growth opportunities are stunning." Preparing for the next upturn, he felt, was much more important than whittling expenses for a brief lull.

As the tech wreck went from bad to worse, McNealy's contrarian instincts kicked in. After all, he had been right to ignore the consensus within Sun's ranks before. In the 1980s, he overruled execs who were skittish about dropping Motorola Inc.'s microprocessors for chips developed by Sun -- a move that paid off in a big way. This time, as his team urged him to cut back, he felt the stakes were even higher. He was determined to fight off what he thought were short-term thinkers, particularly on Wall Street, so that Sun could be preserved as an innovative force. Although he had thought about quitting during the boom, McNealy recommitted himself to Sun in late 2001, convinced that his credibility, experience, and sheer nerve were what the company needed during its darkest days. "I'm here, and I'm not going away. This is a really tough situation, and we're going to get through this," he told staffers at the time, according to former Executive Vice-President Larry Hambly.

It would be nice to think that McNealy was doing the right thing. After all, here was a chief executive who was taking the heat to protect his employees, fund R&D, and plan for the long term. Alas, it was not to be. He badly underestimated the severity of the downturn and dismissed customers' desire for low-end servers. As time wore on, the losses piled up, and McNealy's high-minded resolve began to look to others like simple-minded obstinacy. One by one, his team lost faith and departed. All told, almost a dozen of McNealy's most trusted lieutenants have left over the past three years, including Zander, Joy, and John Shoemaker, chief of the server business. Like many others, Masood Jabbar, Sun's longtime sales chief who retired in 2002, says he admires McNealy's courage. But the standoff became counterproductive. "The fight just didn't seem worth it anymore," says Jabbar. "It was an untenable situation."

Now some investors believe it's time for McNealy to follow his former execs out the door, or at least give up the CEO post and retain only a chairman's role. Says analyst Andrew Neff of Bear, Stearns & Co. (BSC ): "It's pretty standard that if the ship keeps going toward the iceberg, you change the captain."

But this captain likely will remain at the helm for the foreseeable future. Two Sun directors who agreed to interviews for this article, M. Kenneth Oshman and Naomi O. Seligman, say the board is squarely behind McNealy. "There's no plan for Scott to step down. I think we've got a great leader," says Oshman, CEO of networking player Echelon Corp. (ELON ).

As for McNealy, he says he still has what it takes to bring Sun back. "Maybe it's time to get rid of me," he says. "But this company has a lot invested in training and developing me. I have 20 years' experience. I'm 49 years old. I'm in good shape. Healthy. Lot of energy. Lot of wisdom. Relationships around the world." He seems remarkably unperturbed by the withering criticism of the past few years. Although he admits to some mistakes, he's just as acerbic and cocky as ever. He's not prone to self-doubt, or even much self-reflection. "I don't do feelings," he has said. "I'll leave that to Barry Manilow."

Instead, McNealy is focused on turning Sun around with what he calls "disruptive innovation," the same approach that has saved it so many times before. While most rivals make plain-vanilla computers and slug it out on price, Sun's plan is to change the rules of the game. At the high end of the server market, Sun is developing "throughput computing" chips that can handle dozens of tasks at the same time. At the low end, Sun servers built around Advanced Micro Devices Inc.'s (AMD ) inexpensive chips will handle not only processing tasks but also the basic networking that rivals' boxes can't. And its pricing approach is something no server company has dared try before: It's planning to give away low-end servers to customers that agree to buy its software for several years. "We have a maverick strategy," says McNealy. "I think there's a huge opportunity right now."

He insists that concerns about Sun's future are vastly overblown. He points out that unit sales of the company's servers have risen more than 20% in each of the past three quarters. Despite huge write-offs, Sun has $7.5 billion in cash and investments, including nearly $2 billion from a landmark settlement with Microsoft in April. And he pledges that he's getting serious about whacking away at Sun's bloated costs, having laid off 28% of his workforce in three rounds.

While McNealy's plan may look good on paper, it will be difficult to pull off. The new strategy calls for Sun to move in two directions at once: build bare-bones servers while also inventing cutting-edge technologies. Those are diametrically opposed pursuits, like trying to be Wal-Mart (WMT ) and Gucci (GUC ) at the same time. McNealy contends that Sun is more focused than major rivals. Dell Inc. (DELL ), for instance, sells printers and digital music players, while IBM gets half its revenues from services. "We're not doing digital cameras. We're not doing printers," says McNealy. "We're fundamentally focused, much more so than any company I see out there."

But Sun's competitors are focused in other, potent, ways. Dell concentrates on efficiency and low costs, spending a mere 2% of sales on R&D. That'll cause trouble in basic hardware for Sun, which invests 17% in R&D. At the same time, Sun will struggle to out-innovate larger, and deeper-pocketed, rivals such as IBM. And Sun's track record of diversification is lousy. The reality is that every major initiative to move beyond high-end servers over the past decade has failed. "Scott's a smart guy, but I don't see a way out for Sun," says Kevin B. Rollins, chief executive of Dell. "Will they disappear? No. But most of the customers we talk to are looking for reasons to use less of their products."

The bottom line is that McNealy's moves probably come too late to resurrect the icon-turned-also-ran. When the company reports earnings for the fourth fiscal quarter on July 20, analysts expect slight improvements, including stronger low-end sales and narrower losses, excluding special charges. But revenues are forecast to be about 5% below the year-earlier quarter. And for the fiscal year ended June 30, analysts expect revenues to have slipped 4%, to $11 billion, and net losses to have hit $1.2 billion, excluding any gain from the Microsoft settlement. Most industry experts expect larger and stronger competitors, including ibm, Dell, and Hewlett-Packard, to continue making off with blue-chip customers, relegating Sun -- and McNealy -- to side stage. "Scott is kind of like Moses," says Paul Saffo, director of the Institute for the Future, a Menlo Park (Calif.) think tank. "[He] led the world to the land of milk and honey, but he got left behind."

McNealy's willingness to buck popular opinion dates back to his days growing up outside Detroit. His father was vice-chairman of American Motors Corp., and Scott was an accomplished kid -- honors student, standout clarinetist, captain of the tennis team. One summer, he worked in an auto-parts factory. When the United Auto Workers at the plant went on strike, McNealy didn't think twice about crossing the picket lines -- despite bomb threats and jeers from angry union members. "It seemed incredibly stupid," he said. "I couldn't see how highly paid uaw workers were helping their cause" by losing the company money.

He didn't rush to Wall Street or a tech giant after getting his MBA from Stanford, either. Instead, after "majoring in beer and golf," as he describes it, he helped found Sun in 1982, taking on the workaday manufacturing duties, while Joy and others cooked up the sizzling technology. After being named CEO in 1984, McNealy quickly showed a bent for making brash bets to stave off disaster. Boosting investments in Sun's Solaris software in 1995 was the boldest. Then, as the Net boom began, McNealy helped turn Java into Sun's own tsunami. Because Java makes it possible to write Net programs that run on any kind of hardware, developers jumped on the bandwagon, seeding the market for Sun's gear.

The result was a frenzy of sales. By 2000, Sun was turning in scorching growth of 50% a quarter -- faster than Microsoft (MSFT ), Intel (INTC ), or Dell. It racked up gaudy profits, nearly $2 billion in 2000. For that short-lived era when quality was an imperative and price was no concern, Sun ruled.

But Sun's success laid the seeds for the trouble that would follow. The company poured billions into R&D for a mind-numbing galaxy of projects -- from UltraSPARC chips for closet-size servers to software for smart credit cards. Sun hired 7,000 new staffers in the year ending July, 2001, and opened a 600,000-square-foot headquarters in a refurbished 19th century mental-health facility.

Even inside Sun, though, McNealy was repeatedly warned about the company's "soft underbelly." Three insiders recall a planning session in 1997, when several engineers made a presentation about the increasing power of low-cost chips from Intel. Gene Banman, an exec who had just returned from running Sun's business in Japan, argued that Sun could get a chip from Intel for 30% less than it cost Sun to make an equally powerful SPARC chip. Chet Silvestri, who ran chip design, shot back that his staff would never let that happen. After a 20-minute debate, McNealy put an end to the meeting. "I don't see the problem here," he said, according to one insider. Then he laid down his orders: For the time being, no Sun computers would have Intel inside. Today, Intel's processors are twice as fast as SPARC chips, and McNealy admits that his biggest regret is "not putting Solaris on [Intel's chips] six or seven years ago."

Instead, McNealy continued to insist that Sun rely on its own innovation. A classic example was the September, 2000, purchase of Cobalt Networks Inc. By this time many Sun customers were asking Sun for cheaper servers based on Intel chips and Linux, the increasingly popular open-source software. Zander persuaded Sun's board to O.K. the $2 billion acquisition of Cobalt, which had figured out how to make hefty 51% margins selling specialized "Lintel" servers costing just $1,500. With the help of Sun's 8,000 salespeople, Zander felt he could turbocharge Cobalt's sales and learn how to compete with commodity products.

It never happened. From the beginning, Cobalt was attacked by the heads of Sun's old-line server businesses, who didn't want Sun to invest in the very technology that was threatening their livelihoods. Stephen W. DeWitt, Cobalt's boyish chief executive, became known derisively as the "$2 billion blond." When it came time to set budgets, Cobalt's was cut repeatedly, crippling product development. "The work didn't get done," says former sales chief Jabbar. "The company religion didn't allow it." McNealy says the acquisition was a mistake. "There were some other people who thought it was a good idea, and I trusted them," he says.

Cost-cutting bordered on blasphemy, too. In late 2000, some of McNealy's top lieutenants began to suggest cutbacks, given that the stock market had been tumbling since March, and cash-starved dot-coms were imploding. Even Joy, a devotee of R&D, says he told McNealy to make a bold move. "I thought we should have cut more sooner," says Joy. "But I could never get the discussion to go anywhere." Around New Year's Eve, Zander grew concerned as well. In one meeting with his staff, he said that Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO ) CEO John T. Chambers had told him Cisco was seeing a large drop in revenues. "Shouldn't we be equally concerned?" he asked the group. "That's when the serious discussions began," says Hambly, the former executive vice-president.

They got a lot more serious on Mar. 8, 2001, when Cisco rocked Silicon Valley by laying off 18% of its workforce. Quickly, Zander's staffers set down the broad outlines of a plan. The consensus was that Sun should cut as many as 20% of its employees, more than 10,000. Many also wanted to jettison the underperforming storage unit and give up on McNealy's hope of creating a viable alternative to Microsoft's Office. "When times are hard, you've got to shoot activities that aren't making money," says Shoemaker, the former server chief.

McNealy would have none of it. Time and again, Zander would end staff meetings by saying: "Well, what do you guys want to do?" says a source who was in the room. As the execs went around the table expressing their views, it was clear everyone believed in some sort of austerity plan -- except McNealy.

McNealy was convinced that the Internet had fundamentally changed the nature of the economy. He thought the highs and lows of the business cycle would be far more extreme and short-lived than in the past, with sharp spikes up and down. "We don't have rolling waves," he said during a conference call with analysts in 2001. "We seem to have real edges." If he was wrong, he promised during one session with his execs, he would "take the heat" from Wall Street and Sun's board. Today, McNealy declines to discuss those gatherings in detail but says: "There's a lot of revisionist history out there."

The executive-suite standoff didn't just cost Sun precious time -- it contributed to a damaging exodus. That had started the previous September, say sources, when McNealy and Zander met for their yearly talk about their personal plans. McNealy had been letting Zander run the show, leading the second-in-command to believe he might soon get the top job. But McNealy said he planned to remain CEO for a few more years -- prompting Zander to decide to move on, ultimately to the CEO post at Motorola Inc. (MOT ). By mid-2002, half of Sun's top-level executives had departed.

As Sun's fortunes waned, customers and insiders, including outspoken software chief Jonathan I. Schwartz, urged McNealy to change course. A key step: McNealy needed to drop his long-running, and distracting, feud with Microsoft. Finally, last June, McNealy says the customer requests won him over. He swallowed his pride and called Microsoft CEO Steven A. Ballmer.

Bringing tech's longest-running feud to a close was not without its funny moments. Microsoft Chairman William H. Gates III visited Sun's headquarters the week of July 4, when the office was closed. The famous exec escaped notice, until he and Sun's chief strategist, Mark Tolliver, went for a bathroom break and ran into a Sun staffer who had come to the office, dog in tow. "He looked Gates straight in the eye, and he had the most stunned look on his face," recalls Tolliver. Still, the meeting stayed secret as negotiations continued over the next few months. Then, early on the morning of Apr. 2, McNealy and Ballmer announced the blockbuster deal. Sun would get $1.95 billion in exchange for calling off two landmark lawsuits. And thanks to a 10-year technology pact, Sun's servers will be certified to run Windows.

The détente was a public-relations coup, at least temporarily. Sun's shares jumped 19% during the two days that followed. But internally, reaction to the day's news was mixed, say insiders. Not only had Sun racked up a net loss of $750 million for the spring quarter, but McNealy had named Schwartz to be Sun's new day-to-day chief. Many say that while he is known for his razor-sharp mind, the ponytailed 38-year-old lacks experience and alienates employees and customers with his arrogant style. When McNealy told other executives about Schwartz' promotion the night before the announcement, the silence on the phone was deafening, according to former execs.

Today, McNealy is as combative and optimistic as ever. During a series of interviews, he sketched out bold plans to jump back to the fore of the server market. Servers based on Sun's throughput computing chips are expected to hit the market in 2006. Meantime, Sun's experiment with freebie low-end servers started in June. The idea is that the low-end servers will open the door for Sun to sell more lucrative software. The company is selling a package of its e-business software called Java Enterprise System to corporations for $100 per employee per year -- a simpler and cheaper alternative to buying from suppliers such as BEA Systems Inc. (BEAS ) or IBM.

Still, McNealy faces a hard slog to win back credibility among customers. For years corporate buyers bought from Sun in part because it seemed to know where tech was heading. Now, many believe Sun spent several crucial years with its head in the sand. "They've always had lots of great things on paper. But when it comes to execution, they're lacking," says Gary Feierstein, vice-president for information technology at Premier Inc., a San Diego company that manages 1,500 hospitals. "They always seem to be behind where they need to be."

Therein lies the true tragedy in Sun's decline. Throughout the company's history, McNealy's risk-taking spirit resulted in innovative alternatives to the offerings of giants such as Microsoft and IBM. Unless he pulls off a longshot turnaround, it may ultimately be a blow to Silicon Valley and even America's technological prowess.

Why Open Source Doesn't Always Mean Free
Sun Microsystems President Jonathan Schwartz sounds off on why open source figures into his company's new strategy.
Wednesday, June 23, 2004
By David Kirkpatrick

The software wars continue, more dramatically than ever. Sun Microsystems is in the thick of it, but up to now, not to its advantage. It hasn't been able to turn off the tap of red ink. But Sun President Jonathan Schwartz remains a consummate optimist, as he showed in a detailed e-mail in response to my June 9 column, "Surprised by the Microsoft-SAP Talks?"

The column dealt with how software is becoming the indisputable center of the IT industry, and thus a more dynamic arena of competition, acquisition, and contention. I explained that Schwartz (along with Microsoft Chief Software Architect Bill Gates) had recently said we were approaching a time when hardware essentially would be free. Then I wrote the following paragraph:

"Last week Sun made the particularly confusing announcement that it would soon open the source code to its crown jewel, the Solaris Unix operating system. Nobody I know can figure out how Sun will make money in a world where hardware is free and the operating system is given away, but that's what Schwartz said."

Since open-source software can be used freely by anyone, at least in its raw form, I didn't understand how open-sourcing Solaris, which by all accounts is Sun's most critical asset, would help the company. Up until now, its revenues have mostly come from shipping its own hardware running Solaris. It's an expensive way to box software-inside the only kind of computer it will run on. But as we'll see in a moment, that's no longer the only thing Sun is doing.

Schwartz, like a few other readers, chides me for misunderstanding the economics of open source. Yes, the code may be freely available, but in reality customers need to have someone to call if something goes wrong, someone who will vouch for the reliability of the particular version of open-source code they use. This is most true when a company uses an open-source product, like the increasingly popular Linux operating system, in the core systems on which they operate their business. As a result, customers are willing to pay someone quite a bit of money as a service fee or a subscription when they use open source, which can amount to the same amount or more than they'd pay if they were "buying" the software.

Schwartz says it's critical to understand Sun's revised attitude toward computers based on x86-based microprocessors from Intel and AMD. Just about every company is attracted to them because they are very inexpensive. Speaking of Linux running on x86 three years ago, Schwartz writes, "It was hard not to love-Solaris didn't run on x86 systems…and Linux was 'free,' as in, 'you could use it on any system free of charge.' It was a tough environment for Sun to compete in."

He continues: "Since then, a few changes have made the world a tad different: Solaris runs on x86. This was the first, and biggest change-we're now qualified to run on over 200 hardware systems, including those delivered by Dell, HP, and IBM."

Moreover, he explains, Sun itself sells inexpensive systems based on x86 hardware from AMD, and has big plans to make them even more powerful.

Then Schwartz launches into the most vituperative part of his letter-where he takes on Linux leader Red Hat. He correctly points out that Red Hat dominates the Linux market. "Just look at the numbers," he writes. "There's only one viable Linux company out there, especially in the enterprise server arena." The companies that sell applications that sit on top of servers, he says, generally now design their Linux versions around Red Hat's versions and release schedules. That makes it hard, he claims, for customers to move to any other version of Linux.

He goes on: "Red Hat has annoyed customers with their [approach to] accountability and licensing. While 'open source is a community asset' was a great catch slogan, at the end of the day the banks and trading firms with whom I meet don't want a community asset-they want a trading system to stay up. Having Red Hat say, 'We'll ask someone in the community to fix that,' is really angering them… Moreover, given that Red Hat now enforces MANDATORY licensing of all systems, at upwards of $2,000 a box, they've given us a price umbrella. Think about that for a moment-'open source = free software' is now no longer true. So for us to think about open-sourcing Solaris is now no longer a sacrifice to our business model. Red Hat proves we can…even raise prices given how they're pricing-and build our business. Open source isn't free-it may be freely available, but when it comes to paying for support, and getting bug fixes and patches, that's something we know how to do, and how to be paid for."

Finally, Schwartz insists that Sun has "gotten religion" on open source. He notes that the company is seeing "volume deployments" of its open-source desktop software, including the Microsoft Office alternative StarOffice and the desktop suite Java Desktop System.

His conclusion: "Remember, Bill Joy is the author of the quote: 'innovation happens elsewhere.' We're taking that to heart-and given what we see going on in the landscape, we know there's opportunity in that shift."

What Schwartz's remarks underscore, and what I admittedly hadn't fully digested until now, is that open source means something quite different once it becomes a critical part of the enterprise infrastructure. Companies will pay a lot to ensure that their backbone systems are properly cared for, regardless of the development model under which the software was created.

Nothing shows this more than the success of Red Hat. Its revenues for the fiscal year ended in February rose 39% to $126 million. And while it lost money the previous year, it made $14 million this time. And growth is accelerating. In the most recent quarter, ended in May, revenues grew 53%. More important, CEO Matthew Szulik has made a deft transition to a subscription and support model. Red Hat's enterprise subscription revenues are more than doubling annually. Since the renewal rates of these subscriptions exceed 85%, this is a great annuity. No wonder Sun wants a piece. In the past year Red Hat's stock has roughly tripled, and its market cap stands at $3.7 billion. Not bad for a company whose product is supposedly free. (Sun's market cap stands at $14 billion, and its stock is about 20% lower than a year ago.) Perhaps Red Hat will want to respond to Schwartz in a future column.

The software industry is changing fast. Which company will be transformed next?

For true geeks, here's the full text of Schwartz's note:

"Here's some background on the Solaris discussion:

If you looked at Linux/Intel [note[EMDASH]he means the Linux open source operating system running on Intel hardware] three years ago, it was hard not to love-Solaris didn't run on x86 systems (AMD or Intel-which was where the biggest source of savings arose on small scale systems); and Linux was 'free,' as in you could use it on any system free of charge. It was a tough environment for Sun to compete in.

Since then, a few changes have made the world a tad different:

1. Solaris runs on x86. This was the first, and biggest change-we're now qualified to run on over 200 hardware systems, including those delivered by Dell, HP, and IBM. Moreover, Sun now ships those very x86 systems (and a complete lineup, bolstered by the acquisition of Andy Bechtolsheim's company, Kealia, and John Fowler's Network Systems Group--more on them at some point in the future).

2. "Linux" has now become Red Hat on servers. Just look at the numbers-there's only one viable Linux company out there, especially in the enterprise server arena. It's Red Hat. ISV's almost exclusively qualify to their distribution of Linux (basically, their assemblage of code and release dates)-which makes it impossible for customers to move (The ISV's have to agree to move, and most don't want to support any of the more than 50 "distros" you can find on

3. Red Hat has annoyed customers with their [approach to] accountability and licensing. While 'open source is a community asset' was a great catch slogan, at the end of the day, the banks and trading firms with whom I meet don't want a community asset-they want a trading system to stay up. Having Red Hat say 'we'll ask someone in the community to fix that' is really angering them-when what they thought they paid for was Red Hat's support, not email pass thru.

Moreover, given that Red Hat now enforces MANDATORY licensing of all systems, at upwards of $2,000/box, they've given us a price umbrella. Think about that for a moment-'open source = free software' is now no longer true. So for us to think about open sourcing Solaris is now no longer a sacrifice to our business model-Red Hat proves we can price for it, even raise prices given how they're pricing--and build our business. Open source isn't free-it may be freely available, but when it comes to paying for support, and getting bug fixes and patches, that's something we know how to do, and how to be paid for.

4. We've gotten religion. With the volume deployments we're beginning to see of Open/StarOffice [two open source alternatives to Microsoft Office], of our Java Desktop System [a desktop suite], and as one of the single largest contributors to the open source/GPL community (true, just count the lines of code)-we're figuring it's about time we brought our operating system to a community model.

Remember, Bill Joy is the author of the quote: 'innovation happens elsewhere.' We're taking that to heart-and given what we see going on in the landscape, we know there's opportunity in that shift."

Questions? Comments? E-mail them to me at [email protected].

The curse of Linux is the excessive number of discributions

There is a big difference between both (open source and open standards).
Sun's president and chief operating officer, Jonathan Schwartz

Linux News Commentary Can Sun Emulate Linux by Open-Sourcing Solaris

Can Sun Emulate Linux by Open-Sourcing Solaris?

by phil albert
{ } date-->06/15/04 6:00 am pt

while we can only speculate about sun's motivations, it is fair to point out that emulation is a sign of respect. We emulate mentors, teachers or role models. Imitation, on the other hand, is a sign of flattery. We imitate rivals or competitors. Perhaps, in the long run, this distinction will provide all the insight we need into Sun's decision.

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Sun recently announced it would open-source its Solaris operating system. While declining to get specific about timetables and the type of open-source license the company plans to use, John Loiacono, executive vice president of Sun's software group, promised that Sun will "be very aggressive and progressive in our approach." For now, all we can do is speculate.

There is a widely held assumption that Sun's motivation is to emulate the Linux phenomenon with Solaris. If we apply the computer-science principles of emulation to this announcement, the license (once it is available) will provide considerable hints as to where Sun is going.

Emulator design is the process of examining aspects of a system in its native environment and determining which native aspects are essential, which are undesirable and which "emulator aspects" should be introduced to further the goals of the emulator designer. A well-designed emulator removes the undesirable aspects and introduces emulator aspects not present in the native system, while replicating the essential aspects as closely as possible.

A tornado simulator is a good example of an emulator. A well-designed tornado simulator will accurately replicate and measure airflows -- either in the lab or in a computer model -- that are found in the tornado's native environment, remove undesirable aspects like flying houses or cars, and add emulator aspects such as cameras in the eye of the tornado.

Emulation Design Focus

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A good example of computer emulation is my Palm (Nasdaq: PALM) Latest News about Palm OS emulator, which allows me to run Palm OS programs on my PC. The essential aspects include interaction with a Palm OS database and presentation of a user interface that replicates the Palm display and buttons. Undesirable aspects include a requirement that I own each version of the Palm device I want to emulate. Other emulator aspects include the ability to monitor variables and step through programs more slowly than real-time.

Another good example of an emulator is the SimCity line of computer games, wherein the essential aspects of a town (layout, citizenry and economy) are replicated while leaving off undesirable aspects (such as the money, the timescale and the land needed) and introducing emulated aspects, which includes the ability to put a whole town in suspended animation while you go to your day job in real life.

Looking at the differences between the native system and the emulation features, you can discern the emulator designer's focus. In SimCity, you cannot insert a tornado or provide eight types of cream cheese on the bagel shop's menu because that was not something the SimCity designers focused on. But you can generate a daily newspaper, emulate a mayoral election and so on.

What does this have to do with Solaris?

Let's assume that Sun wants to emulate the success of the Linux movement. The terms of the license agreement the company uses to open source Solaris will indicate what aspects of the Linux phenomenon the company considers essential, what it sees as undesirable and what emulator aspects it decided to add.

The Linux phenomenon is more than just the code. It includes a community, a perception, a market, press coverage, developer attitudes and corporate attitudes. In essence, it is a brand. There is more to it than just the wrapper.

Essential Aspects

So what essential aspects of Linux does Sun want to emulate? First would be widespread use of the code and considerable mindshare. If Solaris could get half the installed base of Linux to switch, Sun would succeed beyond everyone's expectations.

To get there, Sun needs open-source terms that keep everyone talking about Solaris, which would encourage programmers to tinker with it, create jobs and, most importantly, get discs to people who would put them in their drives and install the operating system.

At a minimum, the license would allow others to tinker freely without Sun's prior permission or oversight.

Of course, Sun could replicate the Linux phenomenon by just running the native environment and distributing Linux itself, but then it would not really be emulation. It could not remove the undesirable aspects and add the emulator aspects.

Undesirable Aspects

We already know that one of the aspects of Linux that Sun considers undesirable is that it is splintered into several code forks. We can expect Sun to craft licensing terms that it hopes will reduce the incidences of code forking.

Another is that Linux is licensed under a "modified GPL license." Because the text of the GPL is arguably ambiguous, the interpretation of the terms by different licensors creates legally different licenses from the same words. Under the modified GPL license, it is not clear exactly when a derivative work is created. While this is not part of the code, it is part of the Linux phenomenon. Sun would likely not want to replicate this aspect, given the heat that some have -- wisely or unwisely -- put on the GPL.

If Sun's goal is widespread development for corporate use, Sun might include licensing terms where downstream constraints against constraints are not required.

The revenue model also is undesirable. The original developers do not receive direct remuneration from Linux, while others, such as RedHat, make significant money. The developers get speaking engagements, prestigious jobs and the adoration of fans. But without salaries, these benefits are not aspects of Linux that Sun would care to emulate.

Emulator Aspects

Sun will undoubtedly add emulator aspects that provide more control. Expect to see license terms that provide control over third-party claims, such as third-party, patent-infringement claims over some elements of Solaris. With the appropriate license terms, Sun can terminate downstream licenses to specific elements of the code base to prevent ongoing infringements, or allegations of infringement, of third-party patents.

Another emulator aspect Sun might want is an improved provenance, and one that originates with Sun. For instance, Sun might want license terms that limit an ability to claim that a distribution is Sun-authorized or that originated with Sun when other code was added. Sun might also want to include a requirement that added code be vetted by Sun to make it into an "official" distribution, something that cannot be entirely accomplished with Linux.

Divining the Emulator's Intent

So far, we can only guess what Sun is up to. Once Sun specifies exactly what its open-source license will look like, we can examine it carefully and extract the company's intent -- what it believes is essential and undesirable, and what it hopes to add.

To be clear, the license terms only provide limited insight. Some terms of the Solaris open-source license will derive not from any emulation paradigm but from the need to reduce risk. Sun also might want a patent-retribution clause to pull the rug out from under anyone who might sue them for patent infringement. There is no guarantee that what Sun has in mind will actually come to pass.

While we can only speculate about Sun's motivations, it is fair to point out that emulation is a sign of respect. We emulate mentors, teachers or role models. Imitation, on the other hand, is a sign of flattery. We imitate rivals or competitors. Perhaps, in the long run, this distinction will provide all the insight we need into Sun's decision.

Jonathan Schwartz Bio
President & C00
Sun Microsystems

Prior to this position, Mr. Schwartz served as executive vice president of Sun's software group where he was responsible for the company's software technologies and business. While in this position, he revolutionized Sun's software strategy with the introduction of the Java System, an innovative collection of highly integrated software for the development, deployment and operation of Java technologies. Mr. Schwartz also re-established Sun on the desktop with launch of the Java Desktop System which has quickly become the industry's number one desktop alternative and is responsible for the launch and proliferation of the popular web properties. These business strategies accelerated Sun's market leadership for the Solaris Operating environment and the Java software language and development platform.

In his previous role as chief strategy Officer for Sun, Mr. Schwartz directed the company's long-range planning and corporate development activities including mergers and acquisitions and Sun's venture capital portfolio. He also oversaw strategic initiatives for the industry, including the Liberty Alliance, an industry alliance to promote standards around network identity. Previously, Mr. Schwartz headed Sun's investment group and ran Sun's development tools and Java product marketing organizations.

Before joining Sun in 1996, Mr. Schwartz was chief executive officer of Lighthouse Design, Ltd., which Sun acquired. He began his career as a consultant with McKinsey & Co., Inc., serving financial services companies.

Sun warms to open source for Solaris CNET

SCO trumps Sun's open source Solaris bid The Register Leaks effects depend upon the abilities of the leadership of the company to chose the right direction and for a company with weak leadership they might be the source of considerable confusion and lost revenue. For example I personally am afraid that after so many incoherent moves in Linux space Sun again demonstrates the problems within the company more that any "probing" and thus does not serve their intended purpose. The main question here is "How the ability of Sun to compete with IBM in commercial space will be affected by Jonathan Schwartz desire to win some China government contracts ?" Here Novell's experience might serve as an additional anxiety factor. Rumors like this might even further alienate enterprise customers who saw in Solaris 10 the sign that the period of Sun's flirting with Linux and OSS licensing instead of efforts to improve the Solaris itself was over. IBM had found its strategy in VM space with the latest AIX able to run Linux like satellite OS similar to VM/CMS capabilities. Sun now has zones as an alternative(and attractive) light-weight VM design. Opening OS might endanger this intellectual property.

SHANGHAI, China--Sun Microsystems continues its tilt toward the open-source world.

The company's president and chief operating officer, Jonathan Schwartz, said here Wednesday that Sun plans to give its proprietary Solaris server operating system an open-source flavor, but he declined to give a timetable for the shift.

I don't want to say when that will happen," Schwartz said in a press conference in conjunction with the company's SunNetwork conference. "But make no mistake: We will open-source Solaris."

The declaration is another indication of the company's grudging acknowledgment of the rising popularity of open-source software such as Linux, which presents an opportunity for Sun to undercut rival software maker Microsoft but also poses a competitive threat to Sun itself.

On the opportunity side, Sun this week released a second edition of its Java Desktop System, its version of Linux for desktop computers, which reproduces some features of Microsoft Windows.

It was only four months ago, however, that Schwartz himself suggested that Solaris would remain within proprietary bounds. "We've been somewhat unfashionable of late by saying we're not going to throw away our operating system and run everything on Linux," he said at an analyst conference in February.

Solaris is not widely used, except on Sun's UltraSparc chip, but the company has been predicting recently that Solaris and its accompanying development tools will be increasingly of interest to developers writing software for x86 servers--that is, those running more mainstream processors from Intel and Advanced Micro Devices.

In Shanghai, Schwartz invoked the precedent set by Sun's popular Java programming language.

"Look, you only need to look at what we've done with Java to understand how Sun views the value of incorporating community feedback," he said. "Java could not exist if only Sun is supporting it. It exists because there are hundreds and thousands of partners. We need to now take the model with Java and bring it to Solaris."

Schwartz declined to say what form the licensing model for an open-source Solaris would take. He did, however, point to the way Sun has adjusted its pricing model for Solaris to a subscription one that is "significantly less expensive" than that of Microsoft and Linux software maker Red Hat.

Sun will be turning up its engagement level with partners in bringing open-source Solaris to its users, Schwartz said. The company will "continue to grow the community in both the open-source and closed-source world," he said.

A problem that Schwartz wants to avoid is having Solaris splintered into different distributions like Linux, which he said creates application incompatibilities. Going the way of Linux-type licensing, he suggested, creates open source but not open standards.

"There is a big difference between both (open source and open standards). There is one Linux company in the world today that's confusing the two concepts, and that is Red Hat. And it is very dangerous," Schwartz said.

"They are saying that because they are open source, they are open standards. But they are losing track of something that we've always been focused on, which is that open standards enable substitution, choice and competition. Customers want to use our application server, or they may want to use WebSphere, or BEA or a J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition)-compliant JBoss," he added.

On the subject of a probable licensing model for the open-source Solaris, John Loiacono, executive vice president of Sun's software group, said: "We have to consider what licensing model we use and what levels of free usage we want. Then we also need to consider if we want to (segment the licensing model to address) commercial, private and academic use."

"We are finalizing these things right now. You'll see that we'll be very aggressive and progressive in our approach."

Addressing the question of how Sun plans to make money with an open-source Solaris, Loiacono simply said Sun doesn't have to rely on only the operating system. "We have hardware, storage, services and support. What we are doing is taking that whole thing and selling that whole thing," he said.

In a keynote address earlier Wednesday, Schwartz showed off a future Sun desktop operating system called "Looking Glass," as he had at another event last September. Among the notable features were 3D pivoting windows, an extended desktop and translucent application windows.

Schwartz said the company has shifted its focus. Instead of adding more features to the operating system, Sun is focusing on making Looking Glass robust enough for launch soon, but he declined to give specifics about Looking Glass' availability.

Ong Boon Kiat of CNETAsia reported from Shanghai. CNET's Stephen Shankland contributed to this report.

What Sun Really Wants to Sell in the x86 Market

But after talking with Jack O'Brien, Sun's group manager for x86 operating system marketing-aka Solaris x86 and Linux-I think Sun has decided to really support Solaris 86. In short, Solaris x86 will no longer be the red-haired stepchild of the Solaris family.

When I last spoke with Dan Kusnetzky, IDC's guru of all things operating system, we agreed that Solaris on Intel had always been a few features short of Solaris on SPARC.

Your customers would get a taste for Solaris, but then they'd find out that to really get the most out of it, they'd need to upgrade from Intel to SPARC systems. That worked for a while, but these days customers-used to the bottom-line prices of x86 systems and Linux-aren't willing to pony up the cash for SPARC.

Now, Sun, according to O'Brien, is making sure that Solaris 10 will be "feature- and bug-compliant" on both the x86 and SPARC platforms. Now, I'm a show-me kind of guy, and this isn't the first time I've heard similar things about Solaris x86. But this time, Sun appears to be walking the walk and not just talking the talk.

One of Solaris' best features has been its clustering support. Hewlett-Packard Co.'s TruCluster and IBM Corp.'s AIX are fine and dandy, but I've always really liked the unified view and control that Solaris gave me over clustering.

It also so happens that this is one of the areas where I think Solaris has a clear edge over Linux. And this crown jewel of Solaris has never been available on Solaris x86-until now.

On May 11, Sun made Sun Cluster 3.1 4/04 available on Solaris x86. OK, so maybe I'm wrong, and Sun is trying to make Solaris x86 a serious operating system for its customers and resellers.

Of course, companies don't make their buying decisions based on operating systems alone. According to Kusnetzky, they usually base their decisions on either the applications or the infrastructure software (DBMSs and the like) that they use.

And it seems that Solaris on Intel is making headway here with its ISVs. For example, Oracle Corp., I'm told, will be bringing Oracle 10G for Solaris x86 in its next quarter.

Of course, the first place resellers should look for Solaris x86 customers is in existing Solaris shops. For these users, moving from SPARC to Advanced Micro Devices Inc.'s Opteron servers will be a no-brainer. Their existing IT staffs should have no problem running Solaris on either platform.

Where does Linux fit into Sun's plans? According to O'Brien, all other things being equal at a customer's site, Sun will be pushing Solaris x86.

Enterprise Unix Roundup Solaris x86 Resurgent, Sun's Side of the Story

The rest of the conversation was more or less about Solaris for x86, which we've derided on the good word of sys admins in the field who don't much like it as a pale shadow of Solaris on SPARC.

Loiacano's on an offensive to undo much of the criticism Solaris x86 has endured, pointing to its growing base of supported hardware types (Pentium 4, Xeon, dual-processor, grid, and blade servers); ongoing efforts to optimize the platform (the Atlas programs, which he says have improved Solaris performance upward of 60 percent in some benchmarks, but generally a respectable 10 percent to 20 percent overall); and an increase in simple personnel resources directed to the operating system, with 150 to 175 employees being pushed into the breach.

We admired Loiacano's candor about Solaris x86's deficiencies. (The software catalog remains a concern despite recent additions, sitting at around 1,000 applications vs. SPARC Solaris' 10,000 to 12,000 title list.) However, he soon got to a point familiar to Sun watchers -- dressing the limitations up as a qualified recognition of Linux's value proposition over Solaris in parts of the commodity server market:

"I'm not going to compete in a white box environment ... I'm not going to go head to head with Dell on a $2,200 server, and that's all I'm going to sell you. My value add is that I sell a system. It's the hardware; it's the operating system; it's the middleware stack; it's support services on a worldwide basis."

Start with the positive. That's what Dale Carnegie always said, and Loiacano managed that. So while explaining the success of Linux in the past few years, even his negatives came off as more of a matter of perspective:

"[IT people] want to get on x86 because it's fast and cheap [...] When people say there's a Linux phenomenon, from an IT perspective I would argue that it's more of an x86 phenomenon. That said, the development community is very much interested in the open source aspect, the ability to control their destiny, controlling their code, etc. IT is not enamored by that, but some of the developers are."

Loiacano went on to argue that much of Sun's apparent dithering on Linux has been the product of a fickle market, as well. The company's ill-fated in-house Linux distribution (Sun Linux), for instance, fell victim to customers too sensitive to Red Hat's brand:

"Even though it was primarily Red Hat 7.2 [and] open source, people said 'yeah, but you know what? It doesn't say Red Hat on it, so I'm not gonna do it.'"

Exit Sun Linux, and enter resulting OEM deals with Linux distributors Red Hat and Suse, which represent the operating systems on which the Java Enterprise (JES) and Desktop systems will run.

According to Loiacano, although Linux support for the JES will lag behind Solaris x86 by a (convenient) 90 days, the operating system remains supported at Sun -- something even Schwartz wasn't denying when he crossed his own Linux PR Rubicon several weeks ago. The price of the software stack in which Linux will reside, though, comes out lower for Solaris customers, reinforcing a lesson Loiacano was clearly out to stress during our interview: "There is no longer a free Linux," because no one among the sort of IT operations that constitute Sun's bread and butter can work up much enthusiasm for downloading a few CD ROM images and calling it an infrastructure.

Our takeaway? Primarily that, Mr. Schwartz's comments notwithstanding (not to mention the lurid tales of Mr. McNealy's "decapitated penguin head"), Sun is largely rational in how it is addressing the Linux question. It knows where its market lies: Not in one-off Web server installs for corporate intranets, or trusty but under-taxed SMB servers for workgroups, where Linux can't help but dominate if a Unix is to be used at all. Sun has better things in mind for Solaris x86 and its Intel-based offerings in general, and we expect a bitter fight there.

The real change is in the rhetoric.

As we mentioned earlier, much of HP's recent "Linux Lifeline" was as much an emotional appeal as it was a great deal. In the years we've covered Linux, we've come face to face numerous times with a sort of emotional resonance you don't get from "Windows enthusiasts" or the "Solaris community." Perhaps that's the David and Goliath story coming to the top, with the traditional "everyone loves an underdog" narrative finding itself recast in terms of operating systems. Perhaps it's because Linux has created a lot of converts due to its ubiquity and growing ease of use, representing the cherished first love of many a dedicated Unix nerd. Whatever its cause, and no matter how much some observers poo-poo the Mao-like fervor of some Linux enthusiasts at full froth, that emotional resonance is there, and waiting to be either mined for profit or stumbled through like a mine field.

HP figured it out, IBM has certainly figured it out, and some time in the past few weeks, Sun decided to see if there's a middle road, neither picking a fight nor walking away from one, where its own operating systems is concerned.

As long as we're all clear.

In Other News

  • JupiterMedia's Enterprise Linux Forum is set to take place in Washington, D.C. next week, on Wednesday and Thursday (the 22nd and 23rd).

    Security Roundup

    Sometimes we run into problems picking noteworthy exploits and bugs to cover because it's impossible to cover all the errata every vendor posts, and because we aim for security issues that concern a healthy number of common Unix variants. This week, one that would be hard to top in terms of ubiquity reappeared two years after being identified: Four of the most common Unix shells are affected, and we're still scrolling down the list of affected vendors.

    The shells in question are sh, tcsh, bash, and ksh. The vulnerability is a behavior in those shells that allows for fairly arbitrary access of files in /tmp by any user using the shells' << redirection operator. Since /tmp is a sort of DMZ in the average Unix system, there's the potential for malicious users to replace temporary but important files with contents of their own choosing, making it possible to give themselves higher privileges or to corrupt files.

    Security Focus has a complete list of affected vendors and an in-depth discussion of the bug.

    As we noted last week, laziness and sloth can be more potent enemies than the most determined cracker. Here's a case of an old exploit (it's been known about for a few years already) still being patched and replaced by vendors.

    Tips of the Trade

    Last month, we provided a series of tips on regular expressions (regexps). Since then, several of our tips have featured programs that use regexps. This week, we'd like to revisit regexps to point out a truly handy application that first explains in plain English how to say something in regular expressions: ^txt2regex$.

    It's written using bash, so there's no need to compile or build anything, and it supports many, many regexp idioms, including, according to the Web site, "awk, ed, emacs, grep, perl, php, procmail, python, sed, and vim."

    The nice thing about this sort of tool is that it offers fast answers for users first stumbling through the process of learning their way around regexps, while also providing an education in one of the trickier aspects of Unix life. Good stuff.

  • Linux Today - Computerworld Sun Exec Open-Source is Irrelevant

    With all the desktop distros such as Lindows, Lycoris and Xandros building their proprietary extensions into otherwise open software, I have to take issue with that. How can I use the argument that I won't use Windows because of it's proprietary nature, and then be expected to fork out a bunch of dollars for Lindows which is trying to do the same thing? The fact that it is a Linux distro will not fool me into buying it, because of it's proprietary nature. I don't want to get so engrained in using a particular distro, only to have it close it's doors in six months time and be left without an easy replacement. Or worse yet, they try to leverage their proprietary offering to try to get you to buy other products or upgrade. Forget it, I'm sticking with the distros that take a totally open approach. Once bitten...

    Sun exec Open-source is irrelevant - Computerworld Open standards matter far more, he argues
    Opinion by Jonathan Schwartz, executive vice president, Sun Microsystems

    SEPTEMBER 12, 2003 (COMPUTERWORLD) - Last weekend, I went to go look up a patent filing at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO). It was a really engaging experience-it's a fascinating site, with filings dating back to 1790. Just for yuks, I decided to explore what it takes to file a patent. I was in for a rude surprise: The site, and the PTO, demand that all online patent applications be submitted using Microsoft Word.

    Now, why is that a problem?

    Well, it's a problem because my company doesn't use Microsoft products. Nor can most people afford them. And if you don't have a copy of Word, does that mean you have to pay Microsoft for the privilege of submitting a patent application? To protect your own intellectual property? And the government has mandated that? Something must be wrong here.

    One school of thought says, "Open-source will stop this nonsense."

    I don't buy it.

    To me, open-source is irrelevant to the discussion. And as the industry's single largest contributor to the open-source movement, I don't say that lightly.

    The issue for patent submitters isn't the licensing convention used to build the word-processing application. At least for my customers, purchasing decisions are never made on the basis of the licensing convention used to build the product-customers care far more about product quality, price/performance when compared to the competition, and (especially of late) their security attributes. None of those issues have anything to do with open-source any more than whether Sun employs left-handed engineers to build the products, or marketing folks who work weekends (we do, both).

    What's at stake isn't whether the source code to Microsoft Word is available. Even if it were, you'd still need a copy of Microsoft Word to submit a patent. And you'd have to pay for the brand, or be smart enough to build the source tree.

    The issue isn't open-source, folks-it's open standards.

    If the file format used to submit a patent were publicly available, it'd be up to me to determine how I elected to submit my application-so long as I followed the standard. And if I stopped liking the word processor I was using, I could move to another that supported the standard. My choice. And if the standard were royalty-free, such as those formats available through OASIS, then any organization that wanted to interact with the PTO, or with the patent submitters, could do so without fear of dependency upon proprietary technology.

    Now a variety of technology companies are delivering proprietary technology into the world, and they're creating dependencies while hiding under a shroud called "open-source." Don't be fooled, they're shirking the very open standards that guarantee interoperability. Why? Because they don't like interoperability-they like dependency.

    As the supplier of the only cross-platform office productivity suite on the market, StarOffice, I don't say the following lightly: Ignore the fact that StarOffice is open-source. It's an irrelevance.

    Focus on the open standards we follow.

    They matter far, far more.

    [May 28, 2004]Linux Today - Linux Vs. Windows CeBIT Panelists Weigh The OS by Jacqueline Emigh

    Do Linux security exploits really belong in the same league as Windows security holes? Are OpenOffice and its derivatives actually as good as Microsoft Office? These are just a couple of the questions debated this week by a panel of experts at the CeBIT America show in New York City.

    Comparing Linux and Windows security amounts to a "chicken and egg" issue, according to Kathy Ivens, an author and consultant.

    Given that Linux is a more secure environment, it's tough to know whether this is because Linux is "inherently more secure," or because Windows is still the more prevalent environment, Ivens said, during a panel moderated by Paul Gillin, VP of Editorial at TechTarget.

    Also during the session, Nicholas Petreley, an analyst and consultant at Evans Data, contended that regardless of the numbers of exploits per platform, Windows exploits are often much more severe. Citing materials produced by Microsoft itself, Petreley said that many of the growing population of worms targeting Windows let outside hackers "completely take over" a server.

    In contrast, Linux exploits are generally more limited in scope, and more likely to lend themselves to insider attacks, Petreley suggested. One Linux exploit, for instance, permits information in Firebird servers to be overwritten.

    Generally speaking, though, Windows is still easier to administer, according to several of the panelists. "That's where Linux is behind, especially in directory services," Petreley observed.

    Jon "Maddog" Hall, president and executive director of Linux International, pointed to third-party tools, available from vendors such as IBM and Computer Associates (CA), for managing Linux along with MVS and Unix, for example.

    "In enterprise environments, that's what (you're) looking for," said Hall. Yet, he admitted, companies need to pay for such tools.

    "(Administrative) controls are a lot better (in Windows)," Ivens asserted, citing printer set-up as one example.

    Meanwhile, other panelists pointed to freely available Linux tools such as Samba.

    What about Linux on the desktop? OpenOffice and its derivatives lack some of the features of Microsoft Office, according to Mark Minasi, a writer and consultant

    Petreley, though, argued that EI (Evermore Integrated) Office, an office suite from Evermore Software, contains a similar feature set to Microsoft Office. Unlike Microsoft Office, however, EI Office doesn't allow anti-aliasing of fonts, he acknowledged, attributing this distinction to a decision by authors of the Java-based program to reduce overhead. EI Office runs on both Linux and Windows.

    OpenOffice types of suites also tend to come with fewer fonts, indicated Hall. One rather obvious reason is that some font creators charge for the fonts, according to Hall.

    On an overall basis, Linux applications still lack the "fit and finish" of Windows apps, Minasi charged. To gain more traction on the desktop, Linux needs a better GUI, he insisted.

    Ivens, however, argued that GUIs aren't necessarily the way to go for all applications. In fact, some database and accounting apps have actually taken performance hits from the advent of the Windows GUI.

    "There's no reason to have a GUI to punch in numbers," Ivens said. She harkened back to the days when the MAS 90 accounting system was at its zenith. Back then, MAS 90 was sold in Unix and DOS flavors. "My clients loved it," according to Ivens.

    Ivens would also like to see fewer features in today's office suites. Microsoft Office, she quipped, seems to be evolving under an illusion in Redmond that "everyone in the world is collaborating on a single document."

    Yet most users take advantage of only a small fraction of Office features, and migration to Microsoft Office 2003 has been particularly slow, Ivens observed.

    In terms of third-party desktop applications, Linux is now starting to catch up with Windows, panelists generally concurred. Quicken, for instance, is now available for Linux, said Hall.

    Desktop gaming, however, is one area where Linux still lags, according to Petreley. Yet with increasing improvements to game consoles such as Game Cube, more consumers are migrating from Windows-based PC games to consoles.

    On the other hand, Windows doesn't necessarily hold much of an edge when it comes to ease of installation, according to the CeBIT panelists. Many users don't know how tricky Windows can be to install, since Windows still comes pre-installed on most PCs, members of the CeBIT audience were told.

    Hall said that he'll be more than happy if Linux ultimately captures 30 percent of the desktop space.

    "Competition is good," he declared. Hall reasoned that, as a result, no operating system -- not even Linux -- should totally dominate any market.


    Common Development and Distribution License (CDDL) Information

    We have drafted a new open source license based on the Mozilla Public License, version 1.1 ("MPL"). We have worked hard to make the Common Development and Distribution License ("CDDL") as reusable as possible.

    We submitted the CDDL to the OSI for review and approval via the [email protected] mailing list on 2004-Dec-01.

    More details about the OSI and the license review processes can be found at

    What follows are the materials that were submitted to the OSI:



    Groupthink : Two Party System as Polyarchy : Corruption of Regulators : Bureaucracies : Understanding Micromanagers and Control Freaks : Toxic Managers :   Harvard Mafia : Diplomatic Communication : Surviving a Bad Performance Review : Insufficient Retirement Funds as Immanent Problem of Neoliberal Regime : PseudoScience : Who Rules America : Neoliberalism  : The Iron Law of Oligarchy : Libertarian Philosophy


    War and Peace : Skeptical Finance : John Kenneth Galbraith :Talleyrand : Oscar Wilde : Otto Von Bismarck : Keynes : George Carlin : Skeptics : Propaganda  : SE quotes : Language Design and Programming Quotes : Random IT-related quotesSomerset Maugham : Marcus Aurelius : Kurt Vonnegut : Eric Hoffer : Winston Churchill : Napoleon Bonaparte : Ambrose BierceBernard Shaw : Mark Twain Quotes


    Vol 25, No.12 (December, 2013) Rational Fools vs. Efficient Crooks The efficient markets hypothesis : Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2013 : Unemployment Bulletin, 2010 :  Vol 23, No.10 (October, 2011) An observation about corporate security departments : Slightly Skeptical Euromaydan Chronicles, June 2014 : Greenspan legacy bulletin, 2008 : Vol 25, No.10 (October, 2013) Cryptolocker Trojan (Win32/Crilock.A) : Vol 25, No.08 (August, 2013) Cloud providers as intelligence collection hubs : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2010 : Inequality Bulletin, 2009 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2008 : Copyleft Problems Bulletin, 2004 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2011 : Energy Bulletin, 2010 : Malware Protection Bulletin, 2010 : Vol 26, No.1 (January, 2013) Object-Oriented Cult : Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2011 : Vol 23, No.11 (November, 2011) Softpanorama classification of sysadmin horror stories : Vol 25, No.05 (May, 2013) Corporate bullshit as a communication method  : Vol 25, No.06 (June, 2013) A Note on the Relationship of Brooks Law and Conway Law


    Fifty glorious years (1950-2000): the triumph of the US computer engineering : Donald Knuth : TAoCP and its Influence of Computer Science : Richard Stallman : Linus Torvalds  : Larry Wall  : John K. Ousterhout : CTSS : Multix OS Unix History : Unix shell history : VI editor : History of pipes concept : Solaris : MS DOSProgramming Languages History : PL/1 : Simula 67 : C : History of GCC developmentScripting Languages : Perl history   : OS History : Mail : DNS : SSH : CPU Instruction Sets : SPARC systems 1987-2006 : Norton Commander : Norton Utilities : Norton Ghost : Frontpage history : Malware Defense History : GNU Screen : OSS early history

    Classic books:

    The Peter Principle : Parkinson Law : 1984 : The Mythical Man-MonthHow to Solve It by George Polya : The Art of Computer Programming : The Elements of Programming Style : The Unix Hater’s Handbook : The Jargon file : The True Believer : Programming Pearls : The Good Soldier Svejk : The Power Elite

    Most popular humor pages:

    Manifest of the Softpanorama IT Slacker Society : Ten Commandments of the IT Slackers Society : Computer Humor Collection : BSD Logo Story : The Cuckoo's Egg : IT Slang : C++ Humor : ARE YOU A BBS ADDICT? : The Perl Purity Test : Object oriented programmers of all nations : Financial Humor : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2008 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2010 : The Most Comprehensive Collection of Editor-related Humor : Programming Language Humor : Goldman Sachs related humor : Greenspan humor : C Humor : Scripting Humor : Real Programmers Humor : Web Humor : GPL-related Humor : OFM Humor : Politically Incorrect Humor : IDS Humor : "Linux Sucks" Humor : Russian Musical Humor : Best Russian Programmer Humor : Microsoft plans to buy Catholic Church : Richard Stallman Related Humor : Admin Humor : Perl-related Humor : Linus Torvalds Related humor : PseudoScience Related Humor : Networking Humor : Shell Humor : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2011 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2012 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2013 : Java Humor : Software Engineering Humor : Sun Solaris Related Humor : Education Humor : IBM Humor : Assembler-related Humor : VIM Humor : Computer Viruses Humor : Bright tomorrow is rescheduled to a day after tomorrow : Classic Computer Humor

    The Last but not Least Technology is dominated by two types of people: those who understand what they do not manage and those who manage what they do not understand ~Archibald Putt. Ph.D

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    Last modified: March 12, 2019