Linked by Eugenia Loli on Tue 19th Nov 2002 09:24 UTC
Oracle and SUN This past year has been a breakthrough for Sun for both their Linux and Solaris products. The most intriguing news of all is possibly the challenge Sun poses to Microsoft with their Desktop Initiative announced a couple of months ago. We spoke to Bill Moffitt, Product Line Manager of the Solaris Lifecycle, about Linux, the desktop and Solaris. Update: Bill Moffitt replies on our forums.
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Good
by CrackedButter on Tue 19th Nov 2002 10:47 UTC

Good article, i wouldn't mind looking at what they are going to offer. I'd buy a Sun Desktop.

GTK+ bindings for Java
by Yama on Tue 19th Nov 2002 10:49 UTC

Are the GTK+ Java bindings for Solaris only or can they be used on other platforms (e.g. GNU/Linux, BSD) also? Are they free (libre) for all to use?

RE: GTK+ bindings for Java
by Eugenia on Tue 19th Nov 2002 10:50 UTC

I was not given that information, so I really don't know.

So, go to Red Hat
by Xavier on Tue 19th Nov 2002 10:52 UTC

RH have done a perfect move with rh8 :
- They have understood that Linux have only two interesting desktop application : Mozilla and OpenOffice. Mainly the future success of desktop Linux is driven by the success of Openoffice.
- They have, thanks, understood the fonts problem.

Unfortunatly they still lack the drivers and, not at the same level, the multimedia problem. Ok, Linux is nearly empty here.

Anyway Sun will not, at least immediately, solve them.

"better integration" ? Has anyone yet see a company coming with a "worst integration" ?

No Solaris kernel ( even closed ) ? So, go to Solaris. Yas it is far more expensive, but then the term "it's rock" is justified.

I prefer spending my time to look at more featured project.

Why not this very promising Indian move : the simputer ?
http://www.simputer.org/

The origin and the objective of this machine/architecture/system are safe and clear : "allow one computer to be shared by everybody in a village. Their data stored on a simple floppy". This obviously address an economic issue, give access to computing for poor people; Don't be angelist here, i just mean that the aim of the project is outside pur technical stuff. A very good begining for any system.


Multimedia
by Yama on Tue 19th Nov 2002 10:58 UTC

How hard is it to improve multimedia? All Sun has to do is include MPlayer and XMMS, right?

The same goes for Star/OpenOffice which, according to Moffitt, might not offer all the Microsoft Office features, but is still plenty robust for 99% of users out there.

Well, finally someone admits that. Though I don't agree with the "99%" figure. Of all the people I know, 2 only can dump Windows. Which is me (*blush*) and a friend (who BTW uses Office 95, with Windows 95 on a 486, I doubt Sun is targeting that group of users that had just dump WordStar...).

But then 40% of the time, I still use Office? Why? 60% of the time, I use KOffice. It is small, light, easy to use, and very productive. If you use little features that is. When I need more features, I normally rather use Office on Windows than OpenOffice.org (or StarOffice). Office is much more intuitive, less annoying, way more faster and crahses less often. Oh why am I talking about this? I need to get out more often.

Evidently, Sun employees use it daily and have no problems with the feature-set or with the exchange of .doc or .xls files via email with external sources.

Evidently, Sun rarely uses the .xls and .doc formats :-) And of course, for sure Sun employees didn't use Office in a long time, so they make do with what they have....

OSNews was also told that Sun will not commit Solaris code to the Linux kernel (Solaris is known to have one of the best, if not the best, SMP scalability in the industry with the only real competition coming from HP-UX and IRIX).

Not suprisingly, this isn't the first time they said that. Besides, Linux don't need much SMP capablity, they are to be going (well, it seems now) the NUMA route.... Besides, SGI and HP are there to help, who needs Sun? :-)

"Linus Torvalds and the community are doing a fine job on it. Sun will not attempt to hijack the open nature of the Linux kernel in any proprietary direction,"

Adding SMP code into the Linux kernel (the one at kernel.org) isn't hijacking. It is contributing. If that is called hijacking, wow, Linux was hijacked a lot then :-). Sun however can't force its code into the kernel. They have to use the same process every other contributor (including IBM, mind you) uses.

Distinguishing Sun's Linux policy with IBM's, is important to Moffitt. IBM is endorsing Linux at the cost of not evolving AIX anymore, and this is not what Sun plans for Solaris.

Actually, AIX is evolving still (slowly), but IBM is investing to make Linux as good, if not better than AIX to replace it totally one day. I think Sun should do that too. Becuase in 5-10 years, looking at Sun's and Linux's pace, Sun's competitive egde would be watered down. Plus with Red Hat's plan to conquer Sun before Microsoft... Sun should drive up Linux ala IBM.

Having this very controlled update from Sun ensures they get support and a guarantee that everything works as it should.

Does that guarantee also includes a warranty?......

Sun encourages programming in Java 2 (Sun has created bindings and widgets so Java apps now look like Gnome/GTK+ apps!)

Suprise suprise! Not. Sun should push GTK+ over Java because Java gives Sun little competitive egde in terms of their OS. Unless a product needs to be available at other platforms, I don't see any reason why it should be in Java. It isn't the fastest thing around.

So Eugenia, this is the scoop? :-) Well, it just confirmed what we have guessed (and critized) all alonng...

RE: Multimedia
by Eugenia on Tue 19th Nov 2002 11:04 UTC

No. MPlayer does not allow distributions or binary packages and moreoever, all the interesting formats that come with MPlayer, are pretty illegal.

As for XMMS under Red Hat, it does not support MP3.
As you can see, there is a problem on the multimedia side, playing mp3s and popular/windows/Qt/Real video formats that are really needed on many corporations today (many send video files for work, while design companies are sending test video/sound files to marketing/sales departments of companies).

As you might know, there are some departments on some companies that really need full multimedia and popular format support. And it is unfortunate that IT admins do not want to have some departments on Windows, other on Macs and other on Linux/Unix. They prefer to run the company with the same hardware/software (more or less, there are always some small exceptions to the rule) so having the whole company on RH Linux and marketing on Windows it does not make mcuh sense... Sun and Red Hat will have to work and pay the licenses for multimedia formats.

As I said in the past, Be, Inc. paid for these 2 years ago to include them in BeOS 5, at a time that their financials were really bad. But they needed these formats for their desktops, so they did the right thing to purchase licenses. All it needs to be done is RH and Sun to put the hand in their pockets.

>So Eugenia, this is the scoop?

What else do you need to know?

>Well, it just confirmed what we have guessed.

Nice to have a confirmation then, isn't? Bet you didn't know about the official Java bindings on GTK+ or the port of XRender. ;-)

re: GTK+ bindings for Java
by anonymous on Tue 19th Nov 2002 11:08 UTC

Just do a search at Freshmeat/Google. There are already Java bindings to both GTK and GNOME (and Qt/KDE for that matter).
Working nice also.

My opinion about SUN
by Bernhard Sumner on Tue 19th Nov 2002 11:14 UTC

It's so sad that SUN Microsystems went the way of replacing CDE with GNOME. I was playing with GNOME 2.2 (the CVS) version some days ago and must say that I can't belive why they really want to use that stuff. I know CVS is still not finished but it doesn't look much differently than the 2.0 release. It's quite non-productive for me and my little company. I may understand that GNOME may be interesting for little kids that play at home with their style and eye-candy tricks on GNOME but here in my company I have to deal with serious customer informations and material. Well we will wait and see what happens with GNOME and SUN and if it doesn't go better then we may switch from Solaris/CDE (GNOME) to WindowsXP or maybe KDE after we made a clear test with the components.

re: GTK+ bindings for Java
by Eugenia on Tue 19th Nov 2002 11:17 UTC

> Just do a search at Freshmeat/Google. There are already Java bindings to both GTK and GNOME.


They are both old (GTK 1.x) and discontinued. Sun's implementation is for GTK+ 2.x.

RE: My opinion about SUN
by Eugenia on Tue 19th Nov 2002 11:20 UTC

> It's so sad that SUN Microsystems went the way of replacing CDE with GNOME.

Can't you read? I clearly write there that Sun will still offer CDE as the *default* DE, not Gnome2.

And if in the future (Solaris 10 or something) they replace it with Gnome2 completely or offer Gnome2 as the default DE, by that time Gnome2 will have already be many times better than CDE. It already feels better, but it is not as stable as CDE yet (I installed tonight Gnome2 Beta-3 on my loaned SPARC Blade 150 and it froze after 30 mins of using it ;) )

RE: My opinion about SUN
by Anonymous on Tue 19th Nov 2002 11:44 UTC

I may understand that GNOME may be interesting for little kids that play at home with their style and eye-candy tricks on GNOME but here in my company I have to deal with serious customer informations and material.

You don't like Gnome2 because it's kiddy, and you may switch to Windows XP?

RE: Multimedia
by Yama on Tue 19th Nov 2002 11:46 UTC

No. MPlayer does not allow distributions or binary packages and moreoever, all the interesting formats that come with MPlayer, are pretty illegal.

That hasn't been true for quite some time. MPlayer is GPL, and it can use the ffmpeg library to play proprietary formats like Windows Media and DivX. Maybe there is some kooky US law (like the DMCA) that this violates, but this looks perfectly legal to me. Quicktime is probably the only major format poses a problem: MPlayer currently needs DLLs from the Windows Quicktime player to play Sorenson v3 encoded files. As for RealMedia, Real already have a player for *NIX. MPlayer can play some (but not all) RealMedia files, too.

As for XMMS under Red Hat, it does not support MP3.

Thompson/Fraunhoffer have not changed their MP3 royalty structure. Other distros (e.g. Mandrake) ship with MP3 players, and nothing has been done to stop/charge them. I respect Red Hat's decision to be careful about licensing costs, but I think they are being a little too paranoid here.

RE: My opinion about SUN
by Bernhard Sumner on Tue 19th Nov 2002 11:48 UTC

@Eugenia, you can't read either. I wrote that it's sad that SUN wants to replaced CDE with GNOME. Maybe not today but one day this will happen.

@Anonymous, yes Windows XP has eyecandy too but it's productive. Microsoft Office (Excel, Word, Powerpoint, Outlook Professional...) Supports a variety of Hardware. And it still dominates 90-95% of the Desktop marketshare. You get work done easily, fast, effective.

Re: Sun, Solaris, Linux and the Corporate Desktop
by Yama on Tue 19th Nov 2002 11:59 UTC

rajan r: Sun should push GTK+ over Java because Java gives Sun little competitive egde in terms of their OS. Unless a product needs to be available at other platforms, I don't see any reason why it should be in Java. It isn't the fastest thing around.

Java is a language. GTK+ is a toolkit. You can't replace one with the other because they are different things. If you mean that Sun should push GTK+ over Swing/SWT (which are native Java toolkits) then you may have a point, but I don't think you meant that.

About multimedia
by Aki on Tue 19th Nov 2002 12:07 UTC

You can by all means run XMMS and MP3 under RedHat 8.0, there is no other problem here except that RedHat does not come with the MP3 drivers and you have to download them from Internet by yourself.

The same goes with RealMedia Player, download it and run.

Naturally, having these already in the distro package would have been nice.

What is productive about excessive eye candy and unnecessary bloat in the form of media players and "movie makers" that come pre-installed and bolted to the OS?

If you have employees who can't use a computer without these "things", fire them. Obviously they're not there to work as they see amusing their simpleton minds with flashy interfaces and clippies as their job.

As for the replacement of CDE, I beat you've never even use a UNIX workstation let alone the SUN version of GNOME that is under development? How about getting some experience before casting judgement on technologies you know nothing about.

Oh, and for the record, I have set up small businesses with GNOME, and everyone of them are very happy in that their employees are knuckling down and doing work rather than trying to find their Feng Sui through computer themes and where they place the pot plant in their cubicle to ensure the "good spirits" can flow through their work space.

Oh, and for the record, there are people who do get paid to do the above.

RE: Bernhard Sumner
by Bernard Sumner on Tue 19th Nov 2002 14:01 UTC

@Matthew Gardiner

To make it short, I care for my company and business and you for yours. I have my vision and sight of things and you yours. Claiming that I know nothing about the GNOME technology is false and I would like you to stop spreading such false assumptions. GNOME is not ready for production and not ready for companies. It's still the 'hackers toy' made by people with questionable references and capabilities. I don't say that I trust Microsoft more but they offer a well made Operating System, easy to install and works.

Rajan r
by mario on Tue 19th Nov 2002 14:04 UTC

Eugenia: Nice, interesting article! But I do wonder what will be of x86 Solaris. It's very peculiar that Sun would continue developing it. OTOH, maybe they calculated the number of paying customers and came up with a profitable model, who knows.


Rajan r sez: Becuase in 5-10 years, looking at Sun's and Linux's pace, Sun's competitive egde would be watered down.

5-10 years? Who the heck are you to be able to see 5 or 10 years forward? Not to mention that your comment about Sun's and Linux's pace is crap: Solaris development has progressed about as fast as Linux had, so the margin that Solaris holds is still huge. And Solaris is supported on some pretty interesting hardware, like the new WildCAt interconnect technology, LOM and OpenBoot. Well, of course, OpenBoot being open, could be supported by Linux, too, but then there's that margin that I talked about...

Gnome very much for production
by Aki on Tue 19th Nov 2002 14:22 UTC

Linux is about making choices - on several levels.

In our company, we decided to make the choice for Linux on the servers (last year) and on the desktops/laptops (this year). We chose RedHat Linux as our sole distribution.

Selections from there on we left for RedHat. Which GUI to use? Which browser? Which email? Which office? And so on. RedHat has its preferred selection of apps and we are happy with that. We trust that they know better than us what is usable and what is not. Naturally we can spend time making all the decisions by ourselves, but why bother.

As RedHat prefers Gnome and no KDE is installed by default, so be it - no KDE in our company as long as RedHat says so. Our freedom to select is exercised by letting RedHat do it for us.

We are very happy with Gnome, minor stains here and there but really nothing that wouldn't go away in the next laundry day.

To make it short, I care for my company and business and you for yours. I have my vision and sight of things and you yours. Claiming that I know nothing about the GNOME technology is false and I would like you to stop spreading such false assumptions. GNOME is not ready for production and not ready for companies. It's still the 'hackers toy' made by people with questionable references and capabilities. I don't say that I trust Microsoft more but they offer a well made Operating System, easy to install and works.

--

Compared to your false assumptions about GNOME! thats the old pot calling the kettle black.

You have not given ONE example of why Gnome isn't ready, NOT EVEN ONE! Now, if it is in terms of development, sure, I could understand it, however, as an end users perspective, it is more than ready for the desktop.

As for Microsoft operating sytems are "easy to install and works", first of all, the operating system comes pre-installed on computers and secondly, the works part, well, if you are given a 4 cd's and told, "wack this in when the whole system goes tit's up", then sure, no problems.

If I was in your country, I would quite happly deploy a fleet of desktop systems + wager to PROVE that, yes, Linux + GNOME can be effectly used as a desktop. I've done it before, and I'm quite willing to prove another person wrong.

Sun's real motive? To kill Linux of course
by Red Pill on Tue 19th Nov 2002 15:00 UTC

Longterm what is really trying to do is to kill Linux. This new upstart OS is a bigger threat to their company than Microsoft. Cheap "Unix" hardware with free/low-cost software. That's a death blow. And that is why Sun is continuing Solaris for X86. So there is something else other than Linux that runs on cheap Intel hardware.

First, Sun will get Java wormed all the way into Linux... and then have people write Java apps... and then Sun can switch them over to Solaris X86 or Solaris SPARC. Which is why Solaris will be Linux Standard Base (LSB) compatible. Ease of porting.

Sun is no friend of Linux. That is why there was the statement about not "hijacking" the kernel.

The Linux community needs to get Sun far and away from anything to do with Linux. They are a worse evil than Microsoft when it comes to the future of Linux.

@Matthew Gardiner
by Bernard Sumner on Tue 19th Nov 2002 15:06 UTC

It has been prooven by many people what disadvantages were in GNOME go and read it all over the places. What do you want me to show you now ? We both have different opinions of what GNOME is what lacks, what is required and what not. At the final end you are trying to convince me why I should like GNOME. I don't - END.

And I told you once again that you should stop making assumptions that I don't know nothing about GNOME. I told you once that I know if perfectly enough from the point of programming and from the point of using it. So stop that once and forever.

HIGHLY Unlikely
by Duh on Tue 19th Nov 2002 15:38 UTC

I think that you'll find most helpdesks and desktop engineers will resist the idea of deploying Linux on the desktop. This will be a nightmare to deploy and support. This is due to a lack of graphical deployment/packaging tools with strong dependency management capabilities and policy based deployment tools. Also, let's not forget the training costs associated with all of these new apps. Finally, most of the people supporting these desktops will be people who have minimal or no experience with *nix environments. These people are usually Novell/Microsoft junkies. I'm doubtful Sun will make serious headway unless they specifically target task workers like customer service reps, POS systems, etc. Oh yes, StarOffice and Evolution are giant step backwards - why would any CTO/CIO in his right mind dump a stable environment that already uses Office 2000/XP for the unknown??? Highly unlikely.

To Matthew Gardiner
by mario on Tue 19th Nov 2002 15:43 UTC

Hey Matthew, I read your comment in the other thread, and I must say I tend to agree that Sun should consider dropping TI and going for the Taiwanese fabbers. And on a tangent, did you see/read about the new Fujitsu Sparcs? Seem to be somewhat faster than the Sun Sparcs, but of course, MHz is not the whole story.

Red Pill: ew, man, whazzup with all that FUD there? Do you really think people are not going to check up on the stuff you say (provided they are ingorant enough not to know already)?

Aki, all I can say about your companie's decision is "höpö höpö". The same goes for this brilliant statement: "Our freedom to select is exercised by letting RedHat do it for us." This is bordering with braindead.

Re. duh
by mario on Tue 19th Nov 2002 15:47 UTC

Finally, most of the people supporting these desktops will be people who have minimal or no experience with *nix environments. These people are usually Novell/Microsoft junkies.

Tell me, which part of "The target customers will be the existing users of Sun hardware and software around the US (mostly SUN contractors in the government, big companies and education), so this is an addition to the catalog Sun already offers these companies." is unclear to you?

You didn't read the article, did you?

Need seemless Samba/SMB support not mutimedia
by tony c on Tue 19th Nov 2002 15:55 UTC

A corp desktop needs seemless SMB print and file sharing support. RH 8 fails at this big time.
The SMB browser that it comes with sucks and there is no options to setup windows networking options such as domain username and password.

re: Need seemless Samba/SMB support not mutimedia
by anonymous on Tue 19th Nov 2002 16:08 UTC

>A corp desktop needs seemless SMB print and file sharing >support.
Yes, and no. It certanly should have better support SMB, for easy intergration in Microsoft networks.
However SMB is not the way to go if its an all Linux/*nix network. SMB is ugly, and there are far better things out there.

SUN is a Dying Company ..
by linux_baby on Tue 19th Nov 2002 16:15 UTC

Do you see anything new or exciting about this Sun Linux desktop? What value are they adding to RedHat 8? They mention Mozilla, OpenOffice, Evolution, Support, and so what?? If you were an IT manager, would any of those items persuade you to go with a SUN desktop, instead of, say, Redhat?

Oh, that bit about "hijacking" the linux kernel was just laughable! Its a stupid, downright unbelievable excuse not to contribute meaningfully. IBM single-handedly ported linux to their mainframe. They have also made a lot of useful contributions to Apache. And they have done all of these by working with the larger Open Source community. So, the SUN excuse is crap. Sun could easily help with the Linux SMP code, but they won't. Not until somebody else does it, as invariably will happen sooner or later. And then you will see SUN rushing to JOIN the effort belatedly.

My feeling is: SUN has run out of gas. They are no longer an innovative company, and have no direction. They are confused, and just bouncing around with the wind. When they are not fighting Microsoft, they are playing catch-up in some other area where they should be leading. You know, throwing verbal jabs, and wasting money on anti-Microsoft lawyers, can only take you so far.

Very Interesting
by Jay on Tue 19th Nov 2002 16:27 UTC

Thanks Eugenia - I can't wait to see these Sun desktops!

And, SuSE has just anounced a huge desktop push for January!! Things are getting more and more interesting.

RE: mario (IP: ---.nokia.com)
by Matthew Gardiner on Tue 19th Nov 2002 16:48 UTC

Hey Matthew, I read your comment in the other thread, and I must say I tend to agree that Sun should consider dropping TI and going for the Taiwanese fabbers. And on a tangent, did you see/read about the new Fujitsu Sparcs? Seem to be somewhat faster than the Sun Sparcs, but of course, MHz is not the whole story.

--

The downside I have heard is that there are some quirks between Solaris and non-SUN hardware. I'm not too sure about that rumour as I tend to keep with SUN hardware 100% of the time when purchasing Sparc hardware, so, I can't confirm or deny the rumour.

As for Taiwan fabbers, they've (SUN) FINALLY! started pushing off a small about, apparently the Ultra Sparc IIe, however, IHMO, they should push the whole lot off.

Sun should have gone with Debian.
by nh on Tue 19th Nov 2002 17:03 UTC


They could have licensed Xandros for their corporate desktop. With Debian they'd have a good blend of the ability to constantly update and the sturdy Sun upgrading method.

Not to mention it comes with the Cross Over Plugin and the whole OS is designed to replace Windows.

Re. Matthew Gardiner
by mario on Tue 19th Nov 2002 17:42 UTC

The downside I have heard is that there are some quirks between Solaris and non-SUN hardware. I'm not too sure about that rumour as I tend to keep with SUN hardware 100% of the time when purchasing Sparc hardware, so, I can't confirm or deny the rumour.

The Fujitsu Primepower servers are serious hardware, and run Solaris. I just can't fathom that there would be "quirks". These are beasts that scale up to 128 CPUs and cost millions of buxors. I'm just saying that it wuld be good to determine what exactly are those rumors saying.

So, the US IIe is fabbed in Taiwan? Makes sense, and I guess next up is the US IIi.

Eugenia-

Well written overview - thanks! Yes, we may already have read much of this, but it's a 'well-formed' update!

As to Matthew Gardiner's comments on Windows XP, I can only say that MS Office 2000, at least, is easier to use than my (still, stubborn) favorite: WordPerfect (9 currently) and Office 97. If XP has made the same sort of strides, it would be better still.

One might ask: "Just what sort of work do you DO?"

If you need to create DOCUMENTS, Office is a polished produce. OO is clumsy & unintuitive. On top of that, Star Office Write and OO Write are really desktop publishing programs (more complex), NOT word processors.

I recall my first encounter with a Mac. After getting over the fact that I couldn't get to the internals, I realized for simply DOING WORK, the platform was wonderful! Linux has a long way to go here.

Sun is in transition
by Paul Hubert on Tue 19th Nov 2002 19:21 UTC

Not unlike IBM entering the 90's, Sun is in the middle of a transition dealing with today's competitive realities which include the Linux incursion into the proprietary UNIX space.

Though Sun says it will not contribute Solaris code to the Linux kernel, I think they will be VERY hard-pressed to maintain the Solaris competitive edge vs. commodity Linux solutions from other vendors.

Caldera is also swimming against the stream.

Re-inventing onesself as a company is a difficult undertaking. Sun is doing some intelligent things with the options it has. I wish them well. I wish ANY alternative to Microsoft VERY well!!

RE: My opinion about SUN
by dL on Tue 19th Nov 2002 22:25 UTC

"I may understand that GNOME may be interesting for little kids that play at home with their style and eye-candy tricks on GNOME but here in my company I have to deal with serious customer informations and material." [Bernhard Sumner]

Are you exclusively referring to Gnome2 for Sun?

I don't understand this at all. Red Hat 8.0 uses the Gnome2 desktop with Evolution, Mozilla and OpenOffice, and it's pretty rock solid. I have it running on a 266 MHz PII laptop for weeks (meaning no reboots), and it has not crashed (the desktop or the operating system). I've been using Evolution for over a year now -- it's unbelievably stable, and it gets the job done plus much more. Mozilla 1+ is extremely stable, and it's the most compliant browser out there, plus it truly does render fast (although it's a memory hog). Galeon is also just as stable, and it's less resource hungry, and Opera has many nice pluses of it's own (namely, AA fonts). This looks like a serious desktop to me.

CVS snapshots...

As far as I understand, the latest CVS snapshots are development versions and are entitled to have problems -- development is all about making changes and improvements, and the code is not ready for production use.

"Well we will wait and see what happens with GNOME and SUN and if it doesn't go better then we may switch from Solaris/CDE (GNOME) to WindowsXP or maybe KDE after we made a clear test with the components" [Bernhard Sumner]

KDE3 has much more eye candy than Gnome2, plus KDE3 uses much more memory than Gnome2. Much complexity has been removed from Gnome2 while KDE3 keeps adding new features. These are facts, not opinion. So again, I don't understand what you're talking about.

"@Anonymous, yes Windows XP has eyecandy too but it's productive. Microsoft Office (Excel, Word, Powerpoint, Outlook Professional...) Supports a variety of Hardware. And it still dominates 90-95% of the Desktop marketshare. You get work done easily, fast, effective." [Bernhard Sumner]

MS dominates becauses it sucked people into useing their proprietery file formats. Windows was a toy OS and it is still a toy OS. Also, except for the fact that Star Office 6.0 has an ugly interface, it is intuitively clear how to do all common tasks with it, and it does everything that a business needs for office productivity. It will never import/export .doc files 100%, and that's expected when the file format is proprietery. Maybe it's time for people to realize this and stop supporting MS's formats.

A few comments
by Bill Moffitt on Wed 20th Nov 2002 00:29 UTC

First off, thanks to Eugenia for writing this piece and to the folks who have responded to it. I'm gratified that this many people are interested enough to comment!

A comment: I am much more involved in Solaris than in Linux here at Sun, and, as such, more closely focused on server-side features than desktop. I wanted to answer Eugenia's valid questions about our desktop efforts and if I misrepresented anything I apologize.

One minor quibble about the last line of the interview: I think I said that next year is going to be a "fun" year, not a "funny" year (at least that's what I meant to say) - I am really enjoying being able to tell Sun's customers that we are embracing both Solaris and Linux for x86. It's just a great option for folks who are deploying small servers, and the folks who buy these things by the dozen (or hundred) are responding very favorably.

I do have to take sharp exception to "Red Pill" saying that,

"The Linux community needs to get Sun far and away from anything to do with Linux. They are a worse evil than Microsoft when it comes to the future of Linux."

This seems to stem from the common misconception that Linux is the enemy of Solaris. We at Sun don't see it that way at all: Solaris and Linux are open operating systems (in that the interfaces are openly published, standard-conformant, and non-proprietary) and the enemies of both are closed, proprietary operating systems in which the interfaces needed to effectively write applications are considered secret and/or proprietary. We are embracing Linux for the same reasons we embraced UNIX back in the 80's.

But Linux and Solaris are very different critters, aimed at very different users. Solaris is really going after the "heart of the datacenter," to replace the old mainframes and UNIX servers with something that's stable, reliable, extremely scalable, well-controlled and well-supported, but at the same time much less expensive, much more open, and multi-vendor (yes, Fujitsu's Solaris is the same as ours, and, remember, SPARC is an open standard - www.sparc.org). Linux is new, fast-moving, not as well-controlled (speed and control are somewhat in opposition, and that's a good thing), very open, multi-vendor, and a center for innovation. Linux's natural enemy is Windows, because both use the same hardware platform and tend to be deployed in similar ways. The real competition is between open standards like LDAP, Kerberos, XML, and even POSIX vs. closed standards like "Active Directory," proprietary file formats, and single-vendor APIs. Openness has to win, and Solaris and Linux are on the same side in that fight.

One last comment...
by Bill Moffitt on Wed 20th Nov 2002 00:47 UTC

My last comment is on StarOffice/OpenOffice. The absolute best office software is the one you use most of the time. When I first moved to StarOffice 5.2 from Microsoft Office (both running on Windows, sorry Scott) it was clunky, buggy, hard to use, counter-intuitive, etc. When I moved to StarOffice 6.0 it got better. Now that I have StarOffice 6.0 on Linux on my laptop, it's really, really good. I still have Windows and Microsoft Office on this laptop (dual-boot), but when I have to go over to use Office on Windows it seems (believe it or not) clunky, buggy, hard to use, counter-intuitive etc. I'm just used to StarOffice now, so it's my most productive environment.

One more note: I haven't gotten a Microsoft Office document that didn't open just fine in StarOffice in months. It works great for me. Maybe I just get simple documents (I don't enable VBA, for instance, but does anyone any more???), but the last problem I had was with an animation on a PowerPoint slide that didn't work properly, and that was a while ago.

Just my own experience in an organization (a pretty big organization, however) that has standardized on StarOffice. There was plenty of Microsoft Office being used at Sun two years ago (Scott really doesn't fire you for using Microsoft products, but he does fire you for either not doing your job or for wasting money), but you don't see very many Office documents going around any more. For the most part, we have been able to move from Microsoft to StarOffice. You can, too, if you decide you're not going to pay the $300-$600 Microsoft charges for Office. I have lots of good things I can do with the other $220-$520, and I'll bet you do, too.

Your mileage may vary, can cause drowsiness, please see a physician if rash develops. ;-)

Paul Hubert (IP: ---.cslnss.com), That is what I was looking for. Good stuff mate. I was actually waiting for some one to say more that "GNOME isn't ready". You've have outlined why one of the many alternatives out there are not suited to your needs, and I respect those reasons.

I was continiously on the other posters back because of the parrot like mentality he had when responding to my question. It is like an 8 year old say, "no, and I'm not going to tell you why". Make a statement, then back it up. For example, if I have a bone to pick with Windows 2000 stabibility, I say more than "Windows 2000 sucks!", I lay out the REASONS why Windows 2000 could be unstable.

RE: mario (IP: ---.nokia.com), the should push the whole bloody lot off. The US is the third most expensive place to do business in. It only makes good business sense to move production overseas to Taiwan or some other country. Dell found this out, and now assembles all of the Asia-Pacific region computers in Malaysia, which has a GDP per capital of around $US11,000, which is only around $US2000 less that New Zealands.

"We are embracing Linux for the same reasons we embraced UNIX back in the 80's"

What did Sun do with UNIX in the 80's? Sun 'embraced' UNIX, and then 'extended' UNIX, doing everything in their power to make their totally proprietary UNIX variant, SunOS/Solaris, into the market dominant UNIX. Sun has no history of trying to be compatible with any other UNIX flavor. In the UNIX world, Sun has been very much like Microsoft.

Let me check in for a moment:

- One still has to port apps from other UNIX flavors to Solaris, right?
- The user community has had to take out ads in prominent newspapers just to get Sun to keep Sun's own promises regarding Solaris X86. From McNealy on down, Sun proved they had a very anti-customer attitude with Solaris X86 as well as a reputation of LYING.
- Sun is still keeping Java out of any recognized standards committee.

I could make a very long list, but I will stop there.
Sun has to take action on these issues first.

What is Sun going to do with Linux? We heard the words right here on OSNews. The first thing they said was they weren't going to "hijack" it! That just goes to show what is on Sun's mind.

Yes, soon Sun's customers will get their own very special custom Linux. Is that good for Linux? No. Is that good for Sun's customers? Probably not. Sun may add some value that is specific for their machines and that would be good for Sun's customers. There is also the hanging question of "N1" which to date is mostly Sun marketing vaporware.

Until proven otherwise, the safe view is that Sun has no motives that are any better than those of Microsoft. Their behavior in the UNIX world was very Microsoft-like. And it is Linux that has come along and taken the UNIX world by storm, not Windows.

Oh, and for anyone who has ever used StarOffice, it is horrible compared to Microsoft Office. It drives like a clunky old car that hasn't been repaired in 10 years.

Don't trust Sun marketing when it comes to selling their own software. Try it out, side by side, with Microsoft Office and you decide.

Linux and its REAL openness is a large threat to Sun and Sun's history of rapacious prices for system software, programming tools, documentation, hardware, etc. Linux drives the cost curve way down and that is the big threat to Sun. Microsoft is not out there chopping prices anymore. In fact, Microsoft is raising prices. Microsoft is a giant company with giant overhead. So it is not Microsoft that is the big threat to Sun anymore.

Sun is still ripping people off on hardware, charging 8X market rate for RAM, 4X for hard drives, 2X-3X for displays, 10X for Ethernet cards, etc. It is shocking to see how expensive Sun computers are.

Contrast a Sun machine with a Intel-based machine running Linux. Again, it is the cost curve. Intel/Linux is far cheaper than Sun/SPARC. And Sun/SPARC is the mainstay of Sun's business today.

At the end of the day, Sun is just another corporate giant trying to subvert Linux and open source software for their own profits. And Sun employees? All they care about is their stock options. Subverting Linux is a ticket to making their stock options worth something.

Be very careful with what Sun has to say about Linux. They are very late to the party and their enthusiasm is forced. As we learned with Solaris X86, they do not tell the truth.

re:Red Pill
by No Pill on Wed 20th Nov 2002 11:28 UTC

SUN blah, blah evil blah, blah, it just like MS blah, blah.

Maybe in your shrill little world you have not noticed that there have been many conversions from solaris to linux in many varied companies. You can draw many conclusions from this but one thing that is an UNDENIABLE FACT is that solaris has to be a very open system for this to happen so easily. You go on and on about how rapacious and subversive SUN is, why don't you tell us if SUN has any closed formats, protocols, API's etc.?

Gee, you mean there aren't any? Whether you like SUN's corporate aggressiveness is irrelevant, they have and still continue to support open protocols and have contributed to linux such things as NFS, YP/NIS, OO and many others. Unlike you favourite MS which neither supports open protocols, file formats or API's and has contributed nothing to free software.

Yes you don't fool me with your supposed pro-linux stance. MS has done a lot of astroturfing against SUN and no doubt some pro-linux anti-SUN bashers are just that, MS astroturfers. So come back when you have evidence of SUN's duplicity and not some shrill accusations.

Network File Systems
by Craig Ringer on Wed 20th Nov 2002 11:37 UTC

>>A corp desktop needs seemless SMB print and file sharing >>support.
>Yes, and no. It certanly should have better support SMB, for >easy intergration in Microsoft networks.
>However SMB is not the way to go if its an all Linux/*nix >network. SMB is ugly, and there are far better things out >there.

CIFS, for one. Sure, its all icky with MS goo but it is standard and kicks SMB out of the water. Plus, its properly supported by MS gear which can be handy in a hetrognous network or during migration.

NFSv{2,3} MUST DIE. I don't know enough about NFSv4 yet but unless it supports good crypto and real authentication it can go stuff itsself too.

There are other interesting possibilites coming up too - AFS, etc. We shall see.

...
by rajan r on Wed 20th Nov 2002 12:36 UTC

Eugenia: Nice to have a confirmation then, isn't? Bet you didn't know about the official Java bindings on GTK+ or the port of XRender. ;-)

XRender, I didn't expect it this soon. Sun (and any commercial X11 vendor) would have to heed what XFree86 is doing because it is practically the most used implementation out there, plus many OSS software is beginning to take advantage of it. What suprised me was that stuff like XFT2 wasn't included too.

As for the GTK+ bindings, I guessed as much that it would come out one day.

I may understand that GNOME may be interesting for little kids that play at home with their style and eye-candy tricks on GNOME but here in my company I have to deal with serious customer informations and material.

And I don't see why you have to throw these informations and material away. If it is in the desktop itself (maybe in the centralized address book, if any), IIRC Sun has a migration app that moves all these information to GNOME. If your apps uses Motif (native to CDE), I don't see why not you use GNOME to run them. they may not be native-looking, but they do work.

CDE is dying. I still think Sun would be much better off with Qt and KDE, but GNOME is much better anyway. At least GTK+ is much better than Motif.

Besides, Sun isn't forcing you to use GNOME. What Sun is doing is making GNOME the default. You could use CDE if you want. (and for now, CDE would still be default).

Yama: As for RealMedia, Real already have a player for *NIX.

A old, crappy, outdated, slow, unstable player, mind you.

Yama: I respect Red Hat's decision to be careful about licensing costs, but I think they are being a little too paranoid here.

Thompson wasn't very clear on the seperation of open source apps and commercial apps. You see, RH can be considered both OSS and commercial. RH doesn't want to be a guinnea pig, it is unlikely they should sue Mandrake, but Red Hat with its large market share becomes a bigger target.

Java is a language. GTK+ is a toolkit. You can't replace one with the other because they are different things. If you mean that Sun should push GTK+ over Swing/SWT (which are native Java toolkits) then you may have a point, but I don't think you meant that.

What I meant was to push C/C++ over Java. Java doesn't do much except being cross-platform. Sun should encourage Sun-only ISVs to use GTK+ with C (ie being native) instead of using Java. (Besides, can GTK+ replace Swing? And since when did Sun support SWT?).

Matthew Gardiner: What is productive about excessive eye candy and unnecessary bloat in the form of media players and "movie makers" that come pre-installed and bolted to the OS?

While the (optional) eye candy is not that needed in a business enviroment, the media player isn't? Maybe not in your business, but many businesses do use them. My aunt's back uses Quicktime extensively (well, not WMP, but they have been using it before WMP was even viable).

mario: Solaris development has progressed about as fast as Linux had, so the margin that Solaris holds is still huge.

That I doubt. Sure Solaris 9 was a big improvement over 8, but the difference isn't all that big. Solaris isn't moving that fast. I'm not talking about the main kernel repository. There are plenty of things that are being done outside kernel.org that gives Linux a bigger competitive egde.

My point isn't that Solaris isn't good, my point is that Linux is catching up fast.

Matthew Gardiner: As for Microsoft operating sytems are "easy to install and works", first of all, the operating system comes pre-installed on computers

A lot of businesses rather install Windows themselves. It is pretty much easier to install Windows than Linux in this case. It is easier to do a ghost image and install them on every machine in the office. Sure, there are altenatives on Linux, but none of them as easy.

dL: MS dominates becauses it sucked people into useing their proprietery file formats.

Wrong. MS dominated because their competitors didn't took Microsoft seriously at first. Remember, at first, Office didn't have good filters for Lotus 1-2-3, WordPerfect and Harvard Graphics formats, yet they still dominated at the end. Notice NO Office suite could claim honestly that they have all of the features Office has, and have even more than Office doesn't have.

Bill Moffitt: but when I have to go over to use Office on Windows it seems (believe it or not) clunky, buggy, hard to use, counter-intuitive etc. I'm just used to StarOffice now, so it's my most productive environment.

And I really got to ask what version of Office and Windows are you using? I have been using StarOffice 5.2 and OpenOffice.org for well over a year (completely ignoring Office 2000), and when I first tried Office XP, it made StarOffice 6.0 and OOo 1.0 look buggy, clunky, hard-to-use and counter-productive. Sure, it took me a long time to get used to Office, but I find myself more productive on Office than with OOo. Especially on the buggy part (SO 6.0 is somewhat better than this, but still far less polished than Office XP).

Bill Moffitt: One more note: I haven't gotten a Microsoft Office document that didn't open just fine in StarOffice in months.

A person that emails a Sun employee a document using Office's formats is a dumb person :-). Besides, Presentation filters for PowerPoint is terrible.

Maybe Sun did well in getting StarOffice into their organization, but I doubt it would work very well in many other organizations, whom its business (and products, in some cases) DEPEND on Office.

re: No Pill
by Red Pill on Wed 20th Nov 2002 13:45 UTC

To "No Pill" --

Read the latest Insight64 report and you will see why I am saying LINUX is the #1 threat to Sun's health.

It is 100% ingenuous to think that Sun has the best interests of the Linux community at heart. Sun lives and breathes on HIGH PROFIT MARGINS. Which are difficult to achieve in the Linux world. That is why Sun has created a devious strategy to kill Linux. Just like they tried to kill off Solaris X86 before getting shamed in front of the whole world by their customers.

Some facts:

- 95% of all server systems sell at below $25K
- x86 dominates low-end server revenues
- systems priced above $25K generate 65% of all server revenue
- Linux shipments are growing at 35% a year
- Linux system revenues growing at 26% a year
- by 2Q03, all server segments will exceed 4GB RAM capacity
- in 2003, industry standard processors will capture MPU performance lead
- SPARC unit share is rapidly declining
- low-end 64 bit systems will be commoditized

So what are the conclusions?

1. There is no long term future for SPARC.
2. Linux is expanding far more rapidly than Solaris. In simple terms, Solaris on SPARC has no long term future except on Sun's high-end big-iron systems.
3. Intel/AMD are going to enable many companies to even more ship Sun-killer servers, most of them powered by Linux.
4. Sun has no sustainable competitive advantage in servers.

In short, Sun is being whipped by the vast economies of scale that are part of the Intel/AMD x86 world.

No one is interested in developing for Solaris X86. Sun royally pissed off their customers by canceling this product. Sun lied to their customers about continuing to support and develop this product. The same way they lie about problems with their hardware. Yes they did bring Solaris X86 back -- in some crippleware form and with no real commitment to reasonable hardware compatibility. Sun needed IMMENSE pressure from their customers to do even this.

What can Sun do to save itself?

They cannot make hardware as cheap as the other vendors. Sun's profit margins are way too high. They would have to cut their company size by 50%.

That leaves only one option. They must find a way to subvert Linux. So they are going to "hijack" it in some way. If Sun doesn't figure out how to derail Linux, they are dead.

Don't ever let Sun near the Linux kernel. Having Java on Linux is bad enough as it is without Sun sneaking in some performance killer into the kernel all under the guise of "helping Java run better".

You think these fat cats making big dollars at Sun are fans of low-cost Linux systems? You've got to be a fool to believe that.

So I say, stay away from Sun. They are no friend of Linux. They are a big corporate old-time high-fat-content UNIX vendor fighting for their survival. They are ruled by their desire to keep incredibly high profit margins and to find a way to make their stock options worth something. The more problems they can cause Linux, the longer Solaris and SPARC can last in the market.

- Red Pill

rajan r: there is a problem with your chain of thoughts:
by mario on Wed 20th Nov 2002 14:29 UTC

That I doubt. Sure Solaris 9 was a big improvement over 8, but the difference isn't all that big. Solaris isn't moving that fast. I'm not talking about the main kernel repository. There are plenty of things that are being done outside kernel.org that gives Linux a bigger competitive egde.

The problem is, we all know that Linux is just the kernel. And I was really talking about the kernel. Userland, that can work on most any Unix platform. In other words, all Unices are on the same level, more or less. In fact, as you know, StarOffice, Mozilla, GIMP, XMMS and Freeciv (assorted list of applications) run on Solaris just as they do on Linux.

If you want to discuss the management tools, yes, Linux has progressed and it finally has, for example, logical volume management, although rather primitive. Contrast that to the fact that Solaris has available two excellent systems (Solaris Volume Manager, was Solstice, and Veritas VM). But if I may, for once, make a prediction, I guess Veritas will be proted to Linux sooner or later. Did I make your day? But there are other system management tools that are missing from Linux.

If we talk about Linux the kernel, it still has a lot to catch up with the goodies from Solaris.

Hey Red Pill, please explain how exactly is Sun proprietary?
by mario on Wed 20th Nov 2002 14:43 UTC

And how is Solaris proprietary?

The reply.
by Bernard Sumner on Wed 20th Nov 2002 17:23 UTC

Ok I think I am forced to reply now. Most of the facts related to GNOME can be read here on this Thread.

http://tinyurl.com/2v4i

Many of you may say 'wow what a Troll' but I don't see any trolling there. Please take your time reading the contents of that message (even if it's stored on a questionable site) and then follow the Links inside it. Please before replying give it a try and read the problems that many people stated. It only sums up what was heard by quite some people.

My personal worries about GNOME is that it's losing the focus. Once GNOME was meant to be the desktop where many people could contribute to but over the time I saw myself that more and more commercial companies such as Sun Microsystems, Redhat and Ximian show their personal business interests into it which leads into a complete change of the direction of GNOME.

To summarize it it's more or less commercial outsourcing of GNOME what happens nowadays. But look closer. I know much about GNOME since I am using it private for over 3 years now. Started with GNOME 1.2 then head over to 1.4, 2.0, 2.1 and now the current CVS version so I call myself not a newcommer into this area. Why I think GNOME is not ready for production is the way it works. It's not really integrated, inconsistent (not one of the apps looks similar to others). Many applications for Professional business are missing, starting from science apps, powerfull business apps and so on. Even Gnumeric and Abiword are not ready yet. Last named lack a lot of stuff like pango support and so on. Nautilus for example still feels clumsy and unusable (TO ME) in no way compareable to e.g. microsoft explorer or to konqueror. Some concepts like the changes of buttons within dialogs and programs are questionable and even the implementation of gconf on a linux system is highly questionable too. Therefore I agree to many of these points. Even a lot of the GNOME developers said that this text has many good points but somehow no one is taking action to change THESE GOOD POINTS. Continuing to talk about the removal of preferences which imo is not bad. Some default preferences and done. Simple and easy but nowadays you can't customize anything in GNOME anymore. This prooves that the whole target went out of control or went into hands of others.

Sure, KDE is not the best desktop for linux, as many readers pointed out, it's huge, it eats a lot of resource and even compiling kde 3.1 takes 6 hours longer than GNOME. But KDE for me as company has many positive things, it's an alround complete system. It comes with many applications that I seriously need for production. E.g. Mailer, Browser, Integration, Multimedia, Consistence, Configurability, NO WINDOWS REGISTRY, complete OFFICE suite.

Yes you can come up and say now. Well all the apps from KDE suck but do you seriously belive this ? I mean GNOME is a nice desktop. But it lacks so many things that starting to count them would blast a whole book. Making it consisten by hacking around in certain applications is not the solution. KDE for example has many objects e.g. Toolbar object that you take and put into your app and it has the same toolbar as other apps etc. GNOME deals right now with GTK-Application-Window, GNOME-Application-Window, Bonobo-Window, EGG-components etc. and all this stuff is used in GNOME and all of them look and act differently. I know that GNOME is the more interesting plattform to develop on and makes you feel cool. But I plan to do business, I want to earn money, to feed my kids and to pay my employees.

And a final word to SUN.

Sun used to stand for cool hardware, for a cool OS and for Motif/CDE the years back. the reason why CDE and Motif sucked is the fault of SUN and only SUN because they never cared to improve it. Now that Motif got released as opensource it's too late. But know that Motif and CDE came with cool programming guides, styling guides, etc. well thought and professionally written. You can even go into the store and buy a shitload of cool Motif programming books that describe in detail what criterias your apps should fullfill. Same can't be said for GNOME.

Gnome 2.2 is in feature freeze already. But what features ? even on d.g.o you cant find a roadmap telling the users what gets into GNOME 2.2 what the target for it is, how it looks like, what apps goes in and so on. No plans for 2.4 etc. This tells me as person who runs a little company that there are no detail plans what GNOME should mature to because no one has a clue. They all sit down and hack onto it without and proper visions.

Go to KDE's page they have already the detailed roadmap for kde 3.1 and 3.2

stop feeding the trolls
by follerec on Wed 20th Nov 2002 17:48 UTC

although i must admit, it is entertaining to read. i find it amazing that there are so many people so pationate about technology posting online, yet seem to have so much time to post online. it's just funny. makes me feel like i have a life. wife kids billiards. yey.
go sun. sell more linux. go microsoft. sell more windows.

For Mario, How Sun = Proprietary
by Red Pill on Thu 21st Nov 2002 00:33 UTC

Hi Mario --

Sun is proprietary in the following ways:

1. They have not released Java to any recognized international standards group. They have maintained control over this "open" standard. Why?

Just this one act shows how Sun is totally "lip service" when it comes to open standards. It has been years and Sun has FOUGHT tooth and nail against even making the "Java Community Process" more open. Is this the mark of a company that truly believes in 'open standards' ? I don't think so.

Microsoft has released C# and .NET through ECMA. Netscape submitted Javascript to the same OPEN standards group. These languages prosper due to open standards. Why wouldn't Java? Why is Sun so adamantly against open standards for Java?

2. Solaris the operating system is proprietary. If I wanted to make a clone of it, I'd be in copyright violation. If I wanted to "fork" Solaris X86 because Sun canceled it, I'd be in up to my eyes in Sun lawyers. That is, even if the source was available to me.

Linux, on the other hand, is much more open. It is technology that is people-friendly and customer-friendly. I could fork any of the Linux distros if I needed to. The GPL allows me to do this.

For Linux, there are many vendors. For Solaris, there is only one big hungry corporate giant as a vendor. One big company that is very anti-customer.

3. Sun supports only the standards where they wield strong corporate influence (GNOME for instance).

Does Sun support KDE? Nope.
Does Sun support anything other than GNOME? Nope.

Sun donates code to the open source movement only to promote their closed standard 'Java'. Does Sun contribute anything else? Nope.

Sun is all about how to control whatever 'open' standards they are interested in. Sure, for things that they don't care about -- like Ethernet -- they will blather on and on about how they support open standards. This is to distract attention away from the places where they are obviously not interested in anything remotely close to 'open'.

Compare Sun to IBM. Sun goes on and on about how they are the "open standards" company. IBM doesn't spend days and weeks TALKING about how they are an open standards company... IBM just IS an open standards company.

For example, IBM has contributed to Linux for years, Sun is only just getting there. IBM helped create the web services open standards. Sun wasn't interested.

IBM has implemented Linux across much of their high-end hardware, including their mainframes. For Sun, Linux is only on some low-end servers. And Sun's Linux support even on these low-end machines is tepid. And Sun's low-end hardware is expensive.

All in all, Sun has no track record of supporting Linux. And they have a miserable "open standards" track record, at least recently.

Sun has to change their CORPORATE MENTALITY if they are going to survive. They will have to cut down on all the fat salaries they are paying to people who come up with stupid ideas liked closed-standard Java.

Most of what Sun has come up with in the past couple years is "make work" or "make work for brother". There is no real benefit to the customer, just giant complex systems that will fund armies of Sun consultants. HIGH MARGINS. Sun is not the company of the future as they are not adapting to the present. Expensive high-margin systems are not what the world wants.

Which CUSTOMERS asked for "N1" ?
Which CUSTOMERS asked for non-standard Sun-Linux ?
Which CUSTOMERS asked for "GNOME only" ?

Sun is not a customer-centric company. This will be the death of them.

- Red Pill

Last comment...
by Bill Moffitt on Thu 21st Nov 2002 01:23 UTC

Red Pill, your rants on this board clearly indicate your biases. You distort your view of the world by bending fact to meet your opinion. In the harsh light of day your arguments just don't hold up.

As you cite no source, I shall consider the points you state as "fact" to be opinions until substantiated. That said, I mostly agree with some of them, particularly:

- Linux shipments are growing at 35% a year
- Linux system revenues growing at 26% a year
- by 2Q03, all server segments will exceed 4GB RAM capacity
- in 2003, industry standard processors will capture MPU performance lead
- low-end 64 bit systems will be commoditized

I don't know if the numbers are right for Linux shipments and revenue, but they sound about right. Linux is growing fast because it's good, it's cheap, and Linux+x86 really works for desktops and low-end servers. Additionally, the current economic client strongly favors low-end machines, which favors Linux. I don't know if 2Q03 will be when all server segments will exceed 4 GB of RAM, but I know that whenever the software *you* are running on *your* server requires more than 2 GB you have to move to a 64-bit platform, which doesn't currently favor Linux. On the last two points, however, I quibble only with tense: industry standard processors (meaning x86, MIPS, Alpha, PowerPC, PA-RISC, and, of course, SPARC) captured the performance lead a long, long time ago, putting "special purpose" processors out of business. (maybe you had something else in mind when you said "industry standard processors," so you might state your assumptions). Also, low-end 64-bit systems were, to a great degree, commoditized a long time ago, as well. You can buy a brand-new, fully-functional 64-bit 1P1U system today for $995 (Source: SunStore, SunFire V100). Yep, that's about $200 more than a low-end 32-bit x86 system (Dell PowerEdge 350, on sale starting at $799 with a whopping 128 MB of RAM, according to their web site), but, fully-configured, the prices are so close there isn't really a "64-bit" or a "Sun" premium. I only know of one vendor selling 64-bit systems in that price range, though - Sun. Apples-to-apples, the argument that Sun's stuff is way more expensive just doesn't hold water.

Other unsubstantiated "facts" you state are:

- 95% of all server systems sell at below $25K
- x86 dominates low-end server revenues
- systems priced above $25K generate 65% of all server revenue

Since you don't state a source, I don't know whether these numbers are valid or not. In any event, they're OK with us, because we're the only folks out there selling a whole line of 64-bit servers for under $25k, as well as the LX50 x86 server that can run either Solaris or Linux, as well as a line of (yes, higher-margin) servers for over $25k. It's kinda hard to see how this data, even if it is fact, hurts Sun's viability.

Finally, however, you sneak in one "fact" that's just plain not true:

- SPARC unit share is rapidly declining

IDC and Gartner/Dataquest numbers, as recently as their 2QCY02 reports, indicate exactly the opposite: SPARC continues to gain market share, especially in the entry-level market. Please feel free to refute them and cite your sources.

Given the shaky nature of your assumptions, it's pretty easy to refute the conclusions. In order:

"1. There is no long term future for SPARC."

SPARC is today the volume-leading 64-bit chip architecture in the market and the low-price competitor in that market, and we're investing aggressively to ensure that remains the case. Alpha's dead, PA-RISC is dying, MIPS is an embedded processor. Power4 is currently the high-price, low-volume alternative. Itanium is a market failure (and there's no evidence Itanium2 will fare any better), and we have yet to see what Opteron will be. Today, however, the 64-bit market is SPARC's to lose.

"2. Linux is expanding far more rapidly than Solaris. In simple terms, Solaris on SPARC has no long term future except on Sun's high-end big-iron systems."

I'll concede the first point, but it doesn't naturally lead to the second. Once again, Linux and Solaris are very different critters, and Linux's gains in the 32-bit space are much more likely to hurt Microsoft than Sun. Solaris on SPARC has a brilliant future as the need for a 64-bit architecture (per your own observation about the need for larger memory space) moves down into the low end of the market.

"3. Intel/AMD are going to enable many companies to even more ship Sun-killer servers, most of them powered by Linux."

Well, since we (Sun) are building a line of x86-based servers running either Solaris or Linux, it's kind of hard to see them as "Sun-killers." Linux on x86 is a great solution (I'm writing this message on my Sony Vaio running Red Hat 8 - you don't have to sell me on Linux!), but it's not the extremely stable, highly scalable, 64-bit desktop-to-mainframe solution that Solaris on SPARC is. The "competition" between Linux and Solaris is FUD, planted by companies who don't have a market-leading 64-bit product line. Clear analysis of the real condition of the market and what people really buy servers for leads inexorably to this conclusion. Don't believe the analysts (you don't know who pays them), don't believe me (you know who pays me) - strip away the crap and look at what's real.

By the way, who pays you? I'd sure be interested in knowing.

"4. Sun has no sustainable competitive advantage in servers."

Both true and not true. True - we don't have a magic widget that allows our servers to run faster, quieter, cooler, or perform feats of prestidigitation. Our servers are well-engineered machines built on a set of open standards (like SPARC) with "proprietary" features built on top to add value (like Dynamic Reconfiguration). Solaris is a well-engineered OS built on public standards with extensions to take advantage of the hardware upon which it runs (again, like Dynamic Reconfiguration on Sun hardware or PXE on Intel hardware) and specific features to make it less expensive overall (like Solaris Containers). However, at the same time, our real sustainable competitive advantage is our ability to put those pieces together into high-quality products that work at least as well as others at a very competitive price.

Embracing Linux and x86 is just an extension of this - our box is no different from Dell's, and our Linux is no different from Red Hat's. We're integrating the whole Sun ONE stack on top of that to bring the J2EE architecture to the low end server space, and backing it up with Sun service. Pricing is competitive with everyone else out there, so you're right, it's not a high-margin business, but we're happy to make money on volume, on add-on products, and on service.

Last comment (continued)...
by Bill Moffitt on Thu 21st Nov 2002 01:25 UTC

Look, if we were out to kill Linux, we wouldn't be building a line of servers based on it. If we were the ruthless, rapacious profit-at-all-cost company you portray us as, we'd make a heck of a lot more money selling Windows servers. While I can't tell you what our plans are, I can tell you that we're planning to embrace Linux more, not less. We're going to work with the community to help make Linux (and the applications that run on Linux) better, but we're not going to pump millions of lines of code into the source base next week (unless that's really, really what the community wants, and I don't think it is.)

The real question is whether Sun is a friend or an enemy to Linux, and you'll have to judge by our actions. I'd welcome any evidence you can cite of Sun hurting Linux (that's evidence, not opinion, mind you) - I don't think it exists. We have certainly done a lot to benefit Linux and open source, from the OpenOffice project and NetBeans to the CITI NFSv4 project.

You might remember that our first foray into Linux was selling Linux on SPARC hardware, which was a non-starter, because nobody actually wanted it (at least then, about two years ago - we're open to that changing). You might remember that we sold x86 machines once before, as well, with the ill-fated Sun i386. Given the popularity of those two experiments, you might understand why we were a bit slow to dive into selling Linux on x86 hardware. But, if your definition of someone who's a friend of the Linux community is one who not only contributes to the technology but someone who is trying to make money with it, I think you'll have to concede that we now meet even that criterion.

Bottom line: It sounds like *you* are the one who doesn't want openness - it sounds like advocate Linux only, to the detriment of everything else. We think we can thrive in an environment where real choice is available - Solaris and Linux, SPARC and x86. We think the market is best served by having open standards that allow developers to move applications from one environment to another as easily as possible, hence our adherence to Java, Posix, UNIX, LDAP, etc. Finally, we think that high volume and low cost will always win, so we'll deliver the best high volume, low cost platforms in both the 32-bit and 64-bit segments.

I would advise you to not worry about the viability of Sun. Worry about the viability of anyone who would remove choice and openness from the market - they are our natural enemies, and we will continue to go after them, even those who wrap themselves in the cloak of openness and then sell proprietary solutions.

Absolutely last comment...
by Bill Moffitt on Thu 21st Nov 2002 01:59 UTC

I just saw Red Pill's last comment and had to add a few notes here.

1. Yep, Java's not part of a standards organization. Most of the Java community is happy with it this way. When it's a good idea to do so, we'll drive it as an official standard. If you're really interested in the whys and wherefors around this and have a particular point of view you want to get across, I suggest you take part in the JCP.

2. Sun and Solaris are proprietary, but IBM is open. That's why all the APIs to z/OS (a.k.a. MVS) and OS/400 are freely available and anyone can write tools and applications for them, right? And IBM is open because they ported Linux to the mainframe, which is the best possible thing for the Linux community, right? Hmmmmmmm... I'd love to hear what other Linux-philes think about that...

3. Sun only supports open standards it can control, like GNOME. Yeah. It's our total control over the GNOME community that has enabled us to get GNOME 2.0 out on Solaris so early (currently scheduled for mid-next year). Yep, obviously and undeniably true, you have caught us again. ;-)

"Which CUSTOMERS asked for "N1" ?"

The ones that are deploying hundreds and even thousands of systems.

"Which CUSTOMERS asked for non-standard Sun-Linux ?"

What's non-standard about Sun Linux? If it's not standard, that's a bug.

"Which CUSTOMERS asked for "GNOME only" ?"

When we said, "We have the resources to do two, and we do have to keep up CDE, so what else should we do?" most people (no, not everybody) said, "bring us GNOME." If a lot of people start asking for KDE on Solaris will we do it? Probably.

Finally, the comment about Sun having to stop paying "fat salaries" is pretty amusing. Is that what this is all about? Sun didn't offer you a big salary and you're ticked off?

Sorry about that. Sun pays my salary; it's not that big, but it's regular.

By the way, reiterating a previous question, who pays your salary? I'll bet everyone's interested to know now.

Reality #1: Sun hardware vs. Dell hardware
by Red Pill on Thu 21st Nov 2002 03:06 UTC

It is very optimistic of Bill to try and compare Sun hardware (legendary for being a rip-off) with Dell hardware (the acknowledged industry value leader).

Maybe Bill thinks I will not pull up the Sun website and check his data. Bill is in for a surprise.

From today's Sun products website:

Sun Fire V100 Server
1 650Mhz UltraSPARC IIi processor
512k on-chip L2 cache
2GB memory (not expandable)
2 40GB 7200rpm IDE disk drive
24X CDROM
2 10/100BASE-T ethernet ports
...
Solaris 8
1 Year repair warranty / Business hours/8 hours availability
Business Hours/15 Day Parts Exchange
Return to Sun

Sun Fire V100 Server: $3,995

For a machine with an ancient SPARC processor, four thousand dollars? And what really amounts to a "lip service" warranty?

What does $4,000 buy you from Dell?

Well, for less money, $3,759 here's what I found today:

Dell PowerEdge 1650
2 Pentium III 1.13Ghz processors
512K on-chip cache (for each processor)
2 GB memory (expandable to 4GB)
2 73GB 10,000rpm Ultra SCSI 160 drives
24X CDROM
2 10/100BASE-T Ethernet ports
...
Red Hat 7.3 Professional
3Yr Same Day 4Hr Response Parts + Onsite Labor (M-F 8am-6pm)

COMPARISON:

For less money, Dell gives you:

Two processors vs. one processor
2260 Mhz vs. 650Mhz
1024K cache vs. 512K cache
Room to expand to 4GB RAM vs. maxing out at 2GB RAM
146GB of 10,000rpm U160 SCSI vs. 80GB of 7200rpm IDE
2 years less warranty
Send your machine back to Sun vs. Onsite service with Dell.
Wait 15 days for Sun service vs. 4hr Dell response

All in all, the Dell is a much better hardware value than the Sun server.

And you actually get real service vs. lip service! You cannot even buy a three year warranty on the Sun V100! To get the best 1 year warranty adds $552 to the price of the Sun.

There is basically no comparison. If you want to get ripped off, buy from Sun.

We could go up the server range, down the range, whatever. Dell is always less money for more computer compared to Sun.

- Red Pill

Reality #2: What is really going on with the server market
by Red Pill on Thu 21st Nov 2002 03:19 UTC

I cited my source right above where I made comments -- an Insight64 report. Here is the URL:

http://www.amd.com/us-en/assets/content_type/DownloadableAssets/Ins...

Why don't you read it and then come back and rewrite your response?

- Sun Solaris is losing market share to Linux.
- Sun SPARC is losing market share to Intel/AMD.
- Sun SPARC is losing unit share
- By 2003, Intel/AMD will capture MPU peformance lead

Sun is in big trouble with their servers. They have nothing to compare with the economies of scale that Intel/AMD bring to market.

Almost all the $/MIP and $/transaction performance benchmarks are won using Intel hardware. Sun has no reputation for providing good performance for the dollar.

What happens with AMD hits the market with cheap 64 bit servers powered by Linux? Are you saying Sun is not going to take a hit? I find that hard to believe.

What about Itanium2 moves down market? Sun being insolent about Intel's ability to ship servers... doesn't sound very smart to me. Intel owns the server market -- in unit share.

Sun does have a reputation for building giant big-iron systems. However, the world is moving away from these systems. Not completely, but there is a trend.

What is the future of Sun? It has to be better than shipping ancient low-grade SPARC processors on machines that don't even have enough RAM to go beyond 32 bit addressing.

- Red Pill

Dear Bill,

I never have attacked you personally. Trying to say things about my personal employment, my applying to Sun for a job, etc. is disgraceful. I am only talking about Sun the company, not about Bill the person.

It just goes to show what I was saying about Sun is true. The culture is rotten and the people just cannot be trusted. If you cannot make your point, you attack me? That's lame.

Scott McNealy has spoken at many investment banking conferences about Sun's high personnel costs. That is why Sun will be going through many rounds of layoffs. You can read industry journals if you doubt what I am saying here.

You are obviously sensitive to your salary. You say "it's not that big". Are you getting paid enough? You seem like an honest decent guy, even if you are lost in a lot of Sun mythology.

Just for the record, I have never been interested in working for Sun, nor have I ever applied for a job at Sun.

I pay my own salary and am beholden to no large corporation for my opinions. I do not have a hidden corporate agenda in what I am saying. I don't work for your competition or whatever you were insinuating.

Sun lied to their customers about X86 Solaris. Sun kept lying to the point where their customers had to take out ads in major newspapers. What if they hadn't had that money to do that? Sun would have just screwed them.

Maybe you should spend some more time apologizing before you get holier-than-thou on people regarding your company's history of lies?

One of your most important technologies, certainly your most visible technology, Java, is not an open standard by your admission. You don't state any good solid reasons for this. Unfortunately, with all the spouting off Sun does about "open standards", it does make the company look like a giant hypocrite.

Sun is in deep trouble. Their stock price shows this. Wall Street has little confidence in Sun. Your corporate strategy is all over the map. You guys have a big challenge to fix the company.

I wish you luck.

- Red Pill

Typo in Reality #1
by Red Pill on Thu 21st Nov 2002 08:58 UTC

Dell has two years MORE warranty than Sun.

- RP

@Bill Moffitt
by Bernard Sumner on Thu 21st Nov 2002 09:29 UTC

> Sun only supports open standards it can control,
> like GNOME. Yeah. It's our total control over the
> GNOME community that has enabled us to get
> GNOME 2.0 out [cut].

Well Bill Moffitt, this is such a TRUE statement. Ironically but TRUE. Your company is responsible for the big GNOME 2 mistake. Why did your company stick the nose into a project that wasn't done by your company ? The only things you contributed to GNOME is DICTATORSHIP, TOTAL CONTROL, A11Y, some ICON themes and 2 questionable usability persons that totally f*cked up the GNOME UI and usability. My company and I don't plan to support your business with free open source projects.

Again this is my opinion.

...
by follerec on Thu 21st Nov 2002 12:45 UTC

well, if you look at it. anyway there is, practically all big companies lie to their customers. so what else is new? hahaha. i love these forums. very entertaining.

red pill: java not a standard is good !
by mporta on Thu 21st Nov 2002 15:03 UTC

red pill: "They have not released Java to any recognized international standards group. They have maintained control over this "open" standard. Why?"

sun was right in not making java an official standard (iso, ecma). why? because of microsoft. imagine that: java is a standard, so ms can implement it. it can also add extension to the language, just like other did with c++ (gcc has added extensions to the c/c++ standards, and so did borland and microsoft). so now we have two slightly incompatible versions of java. but microsoft has about 95% of the desktop, and more developers. and more money to advertise it. which version you think will be the most used, after two or three years? the microsoft one. and so the major advantage of java is lost: multiplatform.
instead by mantaining control of java sun can sue ms, and stop them adding proprietary extensions.
you can also note that sun has never tried to stop open source implementations of java: there is gcj (gcc for java), kaffe, classpath, japhar, jikes, kimera, kissme, sablevm, wonka.
so even if java it's not officially a standard, anyone can implement it, just like a true standard.
so where is the problem here? i don't understand, really.
please explain. thanks.

re: Red Pill
by No Pill on Thu 21st Nov 2002 15:54 UTC

Red Pill you know why Java has not been submitted to a standards body, it involves a court case with a certain company from Redmond and its stacking of the supposedly open standards body. To say otherwise is just trolling.

You go on and on about Dell. Fine buy and use Dell if you don't like SUN's deal, chose someone else. What is wrong with having choices? Can't you live with the fact that some people chose to buy and use things different from you? Or would you rather there was only one hardware supplier that being Dell. Oh and I do mean supplier and not manufacturer, Dell is famous for its cpu and hardware design. Oh wait, Dell doesn't design anything. I guess you just want everyone to use intel from Dell with linux and KDE. No doubt you can post your themes and colour scheme choices and we can all copy and use them too.

Red Pill, SUN are a company that are out to make a profit like Dell. They have provided code to linux and Dell has NOT. SUN don't support all the choices you would make so buy Dell. Learn to live with diversity and accept that other people will make different choices.

PS I'm happy with GNOME and so are many other's I know. I hope you lose some sleep knowing that my computer is configured differently from you.

Absolutely last comment and apology.
by Bill Moffitt on Fri 22nd Nov 2002 01:02 UTC

Red Pill-

First off, please accept my apology. I went back and looked at my own posting and you are right; in trying to be funny I stepped over the line and it came off as an attack. I certainly didn't mean to imply that you wouldn't be able to work at Sun if you chose to. I was out of line, and I'm sorry about that.

Also, thank you for clarifying your employment status. I think it's useful for everyone to know why we exhibit the biases we do. Openness is good.

Finally, thank you for the URL to the Insight64 article on the AMD site. I think it pretty well explains its biases - by the site it's on, for instance. The one thing I wish it had is a chart showing shipment volumes for the various chips - IA-32, AMD, SPARC, PA-RISC, Power, Alpha, etc. I think it would be interesting.

Please don't interpret that as meaning I or Sun wish ill for AMD - far from it. A good 64-bit chip that can effectively run x86 software is a good thing for the market. It would be even better if they followed the example of SPARC and made it an open standard so there could be multiple sources of Opteron chips, but I'm not going to quibble. If successful, Opteron will increase competition, and I believe that will be good for Sun. We are looking at what it will mean to build and sell Opteron-based systems, running Linux or Solaris.

For the record, we most obviously and plainly never lied about x86. We said we were delaying it (see http://news.com.com/2100-1001-803719.html?legacy=cnet). A lot of people decided that say that it was cancelled; they lied, we didn't. We went for 9 months doing very little work on Solaris x86, getting our own house in order. We announced that we were going to sell Linux systems (see http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/53/24302.html) We announced when we were going to deliver Solaris 9 on x86 (see http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,3959,462091,00.asp). Now, we haven't delivered Solaris 9 for x86 yet, but it's due in January. So far we haven't lied yet, even though we have been lied to and lied about.

Making a hard decision (like postponing Solaris 9 on x86) isn't lying. Doing exactly what we say we're going to do isn't lying. If you can point to a lie Sun has told, I'll apologize. Don't put words in our mouths ("Sun lied to their customers about X86 Solaris.") and then call it a lie. That's dishonest.

We make mistakes. We occasionally do stupid things. Maybe postponing Solaris 9 on x86 was a stupid mistake - time will tell. You have every right to be angry when we make a mistake or do a stupid thing that affects you or your business, and you have a right to vent your ire with me or Scott or whomever you choose. But don't mistake an error with an act of deception.

Sun is a good company to work for and a good company to work with because we try really, really hard to be honest and ethical. Working for a dishonest company is really painful; trust me on that. We also try to be pretty smart, but those who know us best know that, when things turn weird at Sun, it's almost always because of a mistake, not because of duplicity. And when it is because of duplicity on the part of a Sun employee (we hire humans, it does happen), the end result is that someone at Sun gets fired - Scott has instilled very strong intolerance for dishonesty in the management chain - and we correct what has gone wrong. We're not perfect, but I think you'll be hard-pressed to back up a charge that we're dishonest.

In the same vein, I see Bernhard Sumner's charge about GNOME above. Bernhard, you're entitled to your opinion, but we're allowed to play on the same terms as everyone else. Why did we stick our nose in? Because that's the way the community works - we don't own it, and neither do you. Yes, we pushed to improve the accessability of GNOME because we think it's important that people with disabilities can use our machines. If you don't like that, I respect your opinion, but the laws of the Unites States are clear - if we want to sell to the US government, the desktop has to be accessible. We could have forked the GNOME effort and done the work in our own custom version of GNOME, but that didn't seem like the "community" thing to do. We didn't force the community to accept what we wanted to do, and a lot of folks supported the idea of making GNOME accessible. That work means that we can sell Solaris machines to the government and a lot of other folks can sell Linux machines with the same accessability features against us. It also means, in the larger sense, that a lot of folks with disabilities can use GNOME, whatever the OS is underneath it.. I think that's a very good outcome.

But maybe it's stupid. I don't know, only the future will tell. Again, even if it's stupid, it's not dishonest.

History shows that, overall, we've neither been stupid nor dishonest. I believe the future will hold that out. We'll see.

Bill Moffit, The Gentleman Returns
by Red Pill on Fri 22nd Nov 2002 09:27 UTC

Dear Bill,

Thank you for your last response. I believe it is well balanced and fair. It acknowledges that sometimes things don't go as planned.

I believe Java would prosper if it were opened up to more players. Much of Java got thrown together very fast during the dot com days and a thorough housecleaning would help the language last into the future. Sometimes it is the new players that are most enthused to do the cleanup.

Also if Java were an open standard, there might be cheaper ways for companies to get Java logo validation. Right now I believe the tests are all closed-source and unavailable without paying a large fee. There was some discussion on this recently, so I might be mistaken. The goal is to make Java better, not to hurt Sun.

For the future, I hope that Sun finds a way to make their machines more affordable. There will be hordes of cheap AMD 64 bit machines as well as Intel's low-end Itanium processors. If Solaris does not run on these boxes, is not the best choice for these boxes, Sun will continue to lose unit share.

As you well know, the industry is changing rapidly right now. One of the things that drives Linux is its availability on many platforms. It might be wise for Solaris to be available on more platforms if Sun is going to try and make Solaris into a revenue product.

Anyhow, just a few ideas. I really do wish you and Sun the best. Not at the expense of Linux who I view as the most capable competitor to Microsoft/Windows. The more that can be done to give Microsoft some real competition, the better. I hope Sun figures out how to win the war with Microsoft, not just win a battle or two.

- Red Pill