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Sun Microsystems

Sun Considers Switching Cobalt to Solaris 215

cyber-vandal writes "According to this story on ZD in the UK, Sun is considering switching from Linux to Solaris, even though Solaris doesn't actually run on the MIPS architecture." "Ok guys, we bought this company that seems to be doing ok and we want to drive it into the ground as fast as possible. Suggestions?"
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Sun Considers Switching Cobalt to Solaris

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  • 2 things: 1. If Solaris has to be ported, I would think that it would be awhile before they can use it for the Cobalt stuff. By the time they could ship Cubes with Solaris, everyone would already have & be used to the old kind with Linux on it. 2. Given this, I suspect that Sun will eventually rethink their strategy. Probably what we'll see is users being given a choice of which OS they want installed.
  • by svet ( 18135 ) on Friday September 29, 2000 @11:21PM (#744119)
    Solaris on the Cobalt RaQ and Qubes might not be a bad idea in many ways, from both Sun's and Cobalts point of view. Also, it could benefit the end user as well. Consider the following, just for a moment.

    1) Sun needs a foothold the low-end market. A conspiracy theorist could see that Sun is just trying to expand their empire, and with some just cause. Though Sun's competition has been makers of other higher-end systems (DEC, IBM, etc), all these companies have been feeling a loss to x86-based servers running Windows or Linux. In some ways, this has put a very strong line between who rules the high-end and who rules the low-end. However, when it comes to the bottom line, Sun could be making mroe because it is easier to sell more cheaper boxes with a cheaper OS. So, Sun does a couple of things: Make Solaris 8 free (sans media cost) for under eight processors and increased support for the x86 platform as well as addming many popular GNU tools found in Linux, FreeBSD, etc (an ironic fact if you looks at the history of Solaris or SunOS). Now, you say Solaris has x86 support. Yes, but it leaves something to be desired. However, something Sun knows how to do well is write to a very specific set of hardware. Sun writes Solaris for UltraSPARC based servers. There is only very variance in hardware, unlike the x86 world, where it is a hardware goulash. So, Sun takes Cobalt, which is very inexpensive (if you have ever looked inside a RaQ, you'll hate yourself for not coming up with so simple five years ago) *and* only uses a certain hardware. It would be easier for Sun to optimize for the RaQ than to try to make every x86 user happy. They end up with a more stable x86 offering and don't have to change a thing to the already cheap hardware. They are again competitive with the real leaders in the Server market. Face it, Sun can only sell so many mammoth Sun boxes nowdays. Talk to any Sun sales rep. They feel the pinch badly. So in the end, Sun gets with the times in a buisness sense. Produce a inexpensive, stable server with the Sun name, and not have to re-invent the wheel. Though it is too early to see, Sun could be making a step in the right direction an it could also solve a problem the Cobalt is having, stability. As for OS supremacy, Sun makes no real profit in that Microsoft since on their OS. Sun makes hardware. That is their bread and butter, not this stagnantly evolving mish-mash of BSD and System V. Sun changes Solaris to work better on their hardware. They are not big "feature" mongers.

    2) Cobalt needs Sun. Now, before you begin to flame me for possibly hinting that Linux uis unstable, that is not what I will be talking about here. Cobalt made a mistake early on, and it wasn't choosing Linux, it was not making a strong push into a hardware platform. Cobalt started on MIPS and went through great pains to make their special version of RedHat 5.2 and assorted packages run on the MIPS processor as well as their highly-flaunted web-based administration software. By RaQ2, they got it somewhat stable and really started selling. However, their were issues with their administration interface and theiur lack of 3rd party support. One was do to a software development platform, the other, hardware.
    Yes, the Cobalt "special sauce" is very perl based, however, their is a nice helpinf of servlets about. Though IBM has made great strides with Java on Linux, they weren't around at the time. The Perl/CGI and Java combo on Linux, from by point of view as a developer, is a match made in hell. I wouldn't do it on any other OS. Also, the JVM support wasn't that great on MIPS either. Overall, scalibility suffered on these boxes. Also, if you ever dared to go beyond their static administration environment, you broke that special sauce. It is not a picnic to fix. Combine this with the fact that many applications (RealServer, Oracle 8i, iPlanet/Netscape servers, Sybase, etc) that run fine on x86 Linux, could not run at all on the RaQs due to MIPS. Cobalt made the change to x86. The migration was an absolut nightmare. They drop all MIPS support on the RaQ3 so they can get better Java support and support more 3rd party apps. Well, they never coudl get a migration package to work between the older RaQs and the newer ones. Cobalt didn't write Linux, of course, they knew how to make cheaop hardware and a very *large* and convoluted web app. Cobalt planned an easier migration to x86, however, never considered all they needed to do to revert the "altered RedHat" back to x86 and make the according changeds to their app. This seems like it would be easy, however, it seems that Cobalt made things harder. I don't believe that they stuck with 5.2 as their base for trhe RaQ3, and it the structure changes broke all their platform-indepedant code they chose not to rewrite very well. Cobalt sales go down since they don't support this mess very well, as they made very little changes to fix this. Cobalt made bad desicions in changing to much of their original formula. Their product suffered. Along come Sun, with an OS that rarely changes general format. Cobalt can do what they do best: make cheap hardware and write a very user-friendly interface to a OS that supports all those lovely 3rd party apps the customers want. Cobalt's formula doesn't take well to massive hardware or software changes. They made that boat. Sun could possible save it from sinking. Was it the best boat? Maybe not, however, Cobalt really wanted the whole thing to be cheap and have the customer touch little of the OS as possible. Cobalt *could* have made their product work just fine on x86 and Linux and made it very stable. They chose not to make that effort. Now, the Java support will be top of the line. Sheesh.

    3) Lastly, the customers. These are they people that actually matter in this whole thing. The people who by this to do what they want without having to be geeks. People who want their little mom and pop internet shops or web hosters. They pay for these Cobalt boxes and don't want to worry about their nice user interface not working with the OS or worrying that more hardware changes means they can't upgrade as needed due to bad implementation. They change could benefit the customers. The majority of Cobalt customers don't mess with the OS, since it breaks their pretty interface. This important, since these people don't want to be geeks, they just want get a server online cheaply with the smallest learning curve and have it work right. This could solve that. This is not meant to be a geek's server. This is your mom or dad's server. When Cobalt can't make these servers upgrade smootly, mom and dad cease buying more servers. This *could* be remedied now.

    Closing: Sun keeps the RaQ on the x86 path with a static OS. Sun gets their foot in the low-end door. The customers hopefully get what was advertised in the beginning: a low-maintainence, cheap, stable web server that is easy to run and that doesn't require hundreds of hours of pouring over FAQs and arcane tomes to administrate. The catch: Sun. Sun will be new to this market. They could take Cobalt's implementation and make it worse by doing the same thing that Cobalt did: change without forethought. This would include price increase. That would be the worse thing Sun could do, as it would show that they just don't get it. Sun has the ability to make Cobalt's implementation work, as long as the customers get what they pay for in the end. Unfortunatly for Linux fans, it will be without Tux. Could of this been avoided? Yes, easily. Sun may of never came into the picture if that were the case.

  • I'm a huge Linux fan and all, but let's face it, Solaris is still a fundementally better operating system. I mean, there is no way that Linux will ever run as efficiently on an UltraSparc chip as Solaris. Much like Solaris x86 on Intel isn't that great.

    My recommendations are still to run mission-critical apps on Solaris, even Linux is getting better and better all the time. It's not all the fault of Linux, many of the apps just aren't as stable as their Sun counterparts (Java and Oracle come to mind).

  • PMDF and the associated LDAP services aren't expected to be available for Linux anytime soon.

    Sun, trying to keep it's budding cash cow healthy has to create new markets for it to penetrate: Net Application Boxes.

    Mail Transfer Agent in a box!

  • They should give it European management.

    Then they could give ISP 24 hour a day 7 days a week support, except they wouldn't have a manned hotline after 4 pm Friday until 9 am Monday, they don't want to pay ruinous overtime.

    When I was on the hotline (in the US), I got a call Friday afternoon from Germany, their hotline was closed for the weekend. I guess $250,000 in computer equipment doesn't get you much in Germany.
  • No they'll get one of their staff to fix the problem, just like Sun do, or are all the Sun developers on 24/7/365 callout just in case something they did went wrong. Jeez, who invited the ZDNet journalist. That is clueless FUD of the worst kind, and you, sir, are the one that is mistaken.
  • No, actually, I don't see an inconsistency here. Microsoft claims that it's server OS can play with the Big Boys; turns out it's harder than Microsoft likes to admit. Sun, on the other hand, backs up most of the claims they make about Solaris.
  • Cobalt was already planning to go with Solaris for some of thier devices, according to a ZD Net article [zdnet.co.uk]. I quote:

    Last week, senior Sun executives said that although the firm's strategy with Cobalt has not been decided, they were leaning toward replacing Linux with a version of Solaris that is optimised for appliances.

    Although it is tempting to believe that Sun wants to go around and purchase every Linux company and force them to use Solaris, this simply isn't what is happening here.

  • Linux isn't faster than Solaris; it's just better optimized for low end hardware. Here's an example. I had an E250 for a tinkertoy server. Two ultrasparc II processors at 300 mhz, 512 megs RAM. When it's doing nothing, log into CDE, and plunk around. It's slow as shit, but responsive. Next, spool up the webserver, Oracle, your appserver of choice, and put some load on it. Next, start grepping through two meg log files. In general, load the crap out of it. Then, log into CDE. It's slow as shit: but no slower than it was running nothing! Solaris soaks load like a sponge. Linux can't scale SMP the way Solaris (and, for that matter, AIX and HP-UX) can. It's improving, and it'll get there eventually, but not at the moment. Also, Solaris has better 'enterprise' class functionality. Want my favourite example? Go onto your production linux box, and fsck the drive. Oops, you have to unmount it or watch it die, right? Now go onto your production Solaris box, and do the same thing. Wow, you can fsck it while it's running! Stuff like that.
  • I think Sun is going "make or break"

    They want to put ALL of their energy in one direction and it just isn't worth much to push Solaris when they run linux.

    two things i think Sun looked at:
    1 - Drop Solaris in favor of Linux standards
    2 - Drop Linux and put all effort into Solaris
    3 - Keep both Linux and Solaris divisions and spend out the yang to support both.

    Solaris is a GOOD OS, just as stable as linux and very supported. Sun has people who know Solaris inside and out, Solaris is like a standard inside Sun.

    There is the possibility to make more revenue if they don't have to spend money to keep people working on the "spare" OS.

    I would have liked to see them keep linux around but good luck to them.

    I like Windows, it has the best minesweeper clone
  • I agree with this. I'm stuck behind a Cobalt Qube. Touch anything without using the web interface, you void the warranty. It took me a week to get /etc/aliases the way I want it. I had to hand tune a bunch of things to get it half way secure. It also runs old versions of software, and updates are far and few between. I'ts still running an old version of the 2.1 kernel (to get IPChains) backported to look like 2.0.x.

    We have net problens, wanted to run ntop on it (we're heavily swicthed, so that's the only place it can go). ntop is not on there, nor can it be built. Linux wasn't designed to be an appliance OS. Not that it's a bad OS (I like it) just the Qube seems very cobbled together if you look just below the HTML UI.

  • In my experience with solaris, I have seen that it is actually a pretty damned good operating system. It might not be Linux, but there are a LOT of things that it does well... SOME THINGS IT EVEN DOES BETTER! While I have not written code for distrubuted systems on the solaris platform, I understand that this is a bit easier than under linux (and I have PLENTY of experience with this under linux, thank you). Soooo... I see NOTHING wrong with setting up these boxen with solaris. I love linux, but HELLO... as long as they strive for compatibility, who really cares what platform it is... We're not talking about winchips and win2k here.

  • It is amazing the amount of bad vibes towards Sun I see in these postings. Sun is a good company that makes great products. I know that Linux is faster than Solaris and runs on more hardware, but that is not the point. Solaris is still a great OS and for some applications I prefer it over Linux (I would not even try to run Linux on an E10K, even if it was ported). And also lest we forget, we are not dealing with another micro$oft hegemony here. These are the guys who gave us NFS, Sun RPCs and Java. I think that everyone would have to admit that without being a full open source company, they conduct themselves admirably.

    And I would not want to have to support 2 OS'es either.
  • Which OS is more scalable than Solaris, please?

    Irix? SGI's Origin 3800 can have up to 512 processors. Not sure how many Irix supports, but I think SGI had sun beat on scalability.
  • Have you any evidence that Solaris/x86 is unstable?

    I log into a Solaris/x86 box regularly and it seems solid. Sometimes there are performance issues, but they have more to do with the system's lack of administrators than with the OS.

  • Cobalt, as many people have already stated, now use the x86 platform for their servers. From Cobalts history and reputation of not really being big on supporting older products (or any product really, after they have bee released) I doubt they would retrofit say the Qube 2700s, Qube 2's, Raqs, Raq2s, NasRaq and CacheRaq (all Mips products) with Solaris. I mean why would they make that investment?

    The Raq3, and now the Raq4 are the most popular models that Cobalt has. They are both running fairly lame AMD chips. All evidence suggest they will continue to use x86 chips in the future. So I imagine the Raq5, or whatever they end up calling the next ones (Netra Raq perhaps?) would be capable of using Solaris for Intel.

    And honestly this would fit in with Cobalt's business model fairly well. Currently they have a really good profit margin--leading the industry apparently. Paying for a license for the OS would be no big deal. And Cobalt hasn't really contributed much to the Open Source community--for example ChiliSoft was recently purchased by Cobalt and their ChiliSoft ASP product is still closed source. While the engineers tend to embrace Open Source stuff, I have a feeling that the upper management may not--the CEO tends, IMHO, to actually go out of his way to have the company adopt propreitary software. So I guess I wouldn't be surprised.

    In any case,
  • True, but if the little Cobalt boxes are running Solaris, than it's easy as hell for people who outgrow their Cobolts to simply copy/paste over to a bit Solaris server and off to the races. Not that it's difficult to port Linux to Solaris, but it's still a powerful lure.
  • Me: Why does Sun not have the energy to drive more than one operating system when its competition does

    sql*kitten: If they can unify on a single OS, then they potentially have a strategic edge that their competitors can't match.

    This might be true. Being Solaris end to end might very well give Sun a strategic advantage, but that is an entirely different line or reasoning than Sun doesn't have the energy to support two operating systems.

    have a day,


  • This kind of stuff happens when large companies buy smaller fast rising ones. Some Sun manager is staking out territory by announcing a change to the product that would include his department thus increasing the number of people who work for him making him a "more imporntant manager".

    The Cube although kinda cool, is no killer app. There is no need to create a new Solaris for it. A much easier plan would be to port over any Sun tools that were needed. And Sun porting Solaris to MIPS sounds pretty unlikely. The indended end users of the Cube would never see the OS anyway all the admin is done from web pages.

    I think the reason the Cube uses MIPS is because there are fewer linux projects/software for Cobalt to have to deal with the service issues that would be created when people hack it. btw. the Cube does not even include a restore CD this must be purchased for $100.

  • I could (but don't) run Linux binaries on my *BSD systems. I can (and do) run SunOS/Solaris binaries on my Sparc OpenBSD systems.

    Sun is actively working on supporting Linux binaries and porting Linux drivers to Solaris, so the Cobalt x86 boxes could run the Solaris kernel and yet still natively execute your Linux x86 binaries.

    Just because it isn't Linux, doesn't mean it isn't any good.

  • by Cy Guy ( 56083 ) on Friday September 29, 2000 @09:06AM (#744139) Homepage Journal
    It was the middle of last week (four years ago in 'Internet Time'. Where have you been?

    Here are some background articles on the purchase:

    Upside Today [upside.com]
    Red Herring [redherring.com]
    Morningstar [yahoo.com]
    Reuters. [yahoo.com]

  • Remember that when they by the company, they get all the source to anything that is binary. That makes porting easy. Most of the Admin stuff is Perl anyway. It would run just fine with a few tweaks. Besides there are more advanced web based admin tools out there than the Cobalt ones (webmin).
  • But only if it is an option. and to think I was just looking at these...
  • It has _always_ been Sun's strategy to concentrate their effort on as few platforms (hardware and OS) as feasible. Sun is quicker than the competition to drop support for old platforms. Sun has been pretty succesful in their strategy, why change it now?
  • by Nonesuch ( 90847 ) on Friday September 29, 2000 @09:06AM (#744143) Homepage Journal
    UltraSparc chips, even the new low-power versions for laptops and small servers, are considerably more expensive than Intel.

    Cobalt was dropping MIPS support long before this, going to pure Intel. Solaris already has Intel support, and is actively supporting the Intel versions.

    Solaris on Intel is 99.9% the same source code as Solaris on Sparc. Only the kernel and 64-bit support differs.

  • The why? of this is what's bugging me. The only thing I can figure out is that Sun is basically splitting it's hardware market into two tiers: expensive (Sun hardware) vs. cheaper (Cobalt). May that's what they're doing. Aiming Solaris at shops that can't afford top-quality Sun equipment.

    To sum up: I think they're aiming at getting Solaris into the lower-end hardware market to compete against Linux.

    EMUSE.NET [emuse.net]
  • I'm not sure why you only got a "1" for your post, because you raise an excellent point. The value-add of the Cobalt is that is *IS* an appliance. You should NOT add software to it - period! All administration *should* be done through the web interface; anything else not only voids the warranty, but defeats the purpose of spending the extra money you did to buy a slow 1U machine (my RaQ3 is only 300MHz K6/2). If you want something to run other software on, you should just go buy a standard 1U server and install Linux. You'll save money and get a better performing box. Sun had this problem with their NetraNFS servers that they tried to sell as "appliances" a few years ago and flopped. They were based on Ultra2 workstations with some packages added to Solaris. The whole thing could be administered through a web interface. The problem was that everyone wanted it to do this and that just a little differently... and this would break the Netra NFS, or the package you add wouldn't work, or... The result was that Sun dropped the NetraNFS line. Now, they are buying what amounts to a new product line (though positioned downmarket) which does the same thing, though is admittedly much more flexible and has more add-on packages that support integration with it's web interface. But I digress.. the moral of the story is leave appliances alone!
  • And what are you referring to ??
  • They probably want to control the licensing of OS in the Server, so customers buying Cobolt Servers will be forced to pay SUN for upgrades. So I guess this is good news if you own SUN stock, but bad news if you plan on buying a Cobolt server.
  • all x86's running linux. Fairly straight forward compatability. Don't think that solaris is such a hot idea

    Solaris doesn't run much better on x86 than it does on MIPS. :)

  • Yep. We got one for the website I helped create at www.mcfleet.com. Here are some big problems:

    No man pages!
    Non standard processor!(this means that if you want to install something on it you have to compile it yourself or hope that Cobalt has an rpm for it)

    These things are really meant as appliances that run Linux in the background, but have a pretty browser config interface. Malda's probably never seen one of these things, just saw Linux somewhere on the Cobalt page. Solaris on these boxes could only help things.

  • by sprag ( 38460 )
    Solaris on SPARC is ok when administered right, but on the x86 it is a dog. Of course, since they control both the hardware and software on the Cobalt plaform, they could tweak it to perform reasonably.

    As far as seeing it coming, I can't believe anyone didn't see it coming...with the possible exception of all the "first post" trolls and the idiot who keeps posting the goatsex links.

  • Man, if you think kadb (sun's kernel debugger) is good thing, you are seriously shot between the head. I mean, give me printf() any day!

    For those of you not in the know, it's based on the 7th Edition debugger and is basically little more than an interactive hex editor that knows about symbol tables...
  • iRaq uhhh iMac and Raq meshed together.... iRaq? Its a country, America's been bombing it whenever we get bored? See, Apple started this whole i thing. Yeah, the letter i is everwhere because of Apple. They like ithings..... Oh the hell with it, I can just SEE the glazed over look on your face.
  • last I heard, it was free for personal use, which means if you want to use it at work, you have to pay for it. So, it's not 'free' as Linux or FreeBSD, or other real free OS's are.
  • It won't help. A shop that already has a Solaris base won't be interested in one of these. The smaller systems are so dumb they're designed as drop-in server for a 1-5 person office. Not something you'd even find useful in an office that already has Solaris systems.
  • 'm a huge Linux fan and all, but let's face it, Solaris is still a fundementally better operating system. I mean, there is no way that Linux will ever run as efficiently on an UltraSparc chip as Solaris. Much like Solaris x86 on Intel isn't that great.

    Just out of curiousity, why couldn't Linux be as efficient as Solaris on UltraSparc? Frankly, having used both systems extensively, I find that Solaris is not especially efficient. You don't notice that so much nowadays because you're buying a ton of horsepower when you buy one of today's SPARC systems, but it's true. Just compare BSD to Solaris on one of their workstation systems -- BSD screams in comparison.

    You mention Solaris' as being relatively poor on the x86. How different do you think Solaris/Intel really is from Solaris/SPARC? They're almost entirely the same code, and Sun actually did a pretty good job with their Intel port. But it's nowhere near as efficient as BSD or Linux so it feels like a dog.

    I have no doubt that Sun can pare down Solaris to be a good match for the Cobalt hardware, but I question whether this is a good use of resources and whether it's going to be good for customers. The Cobalt systems are beautiful -- incredibly easy to set up, efficient, and extensible using readily available, and easily installed, Linux software. Switch that to Solaris and you have an instant porting job for additional software, and that assumes that Sun does an about-face and starts bundling compilers back in with the OS (fat chance). As both a Cobalt and Sun customer I'm dead set against this kind of change.

    Anyway, having said all of that, the Cobalt purchase makes a hell of a lot of sense. It is, in fact, the first major move I've seen them make in years that looks to be ahead of the market rather than behind. They've been making good money selling bigger and bigger servers, but they've been losing an increasing chunk of the lower end of the market. The problem with that is that Moore's Law guarantees that the jobs that you need a monster machine for today will be doable on commodity stuff tomorrow. The big machine user base will eventually peter out (just as it did for Cray and the other supercomputer manufacturers).

    Turnkey server systems are going to be a big thing, I think, in a market that Sun has otherwise lost.

    jim frost

  • Answer: Sun is a hardware company.

    They make the vast majority of their money off hardware (> 90%). Their software divisions (Solaris, Java) are essentially loss-leaders to sell more hardware. Adding an extra loss-leader (Linux) doesn't make sense from a dollars and cents perspective.


  • it's the dog food principle. if you can't eat your own dog food, you'll get beaten up in the press. and rightly so. if your OS is one of your core businesses, they you should use it. if your processors are your core business, you should be using them. if they don't replace them, they'll be tacitly supporting linux and x86, which probably isn't in their best interests. it shouldn't matter to the end user -- it's an appliance, for god's sake. it shouldn't be a money issue, because they make the OS & the processesors - if their production costs can't beat the wholesale costs from other suppliers, they shouldn't be in the business. it's not like they have to buy them from themselves -- oh wait, this is sun we're talking about - they do have to buy them from themselves. i haven't seen that much beaurocracy since talking to the IT people down at the our local county government offices...
  • Monolithic Cumbersome technology prevailing over Smart Concise solutions...
  • Solaris (for machines with fewer than 10 CPUs) is free, only cost for a Solaris 8 license on Intel or Sparc is the $75 'media fee', which gets you a LOT of media, it's not a bad deal.

    Since before I can remember, any purchase of a computer from Sun comes with a 'Right to use' license for Solaris, and installation media. This would extend to new purchases of Cobalt hardware- in which case their 'paid' OS is a 'free' OS.

    Perhaps your complaint is actually that Linux is an 'open' OS, while Sun has yet to make good on their promise to 'open' the source to Solaris.

  • Less is only included with Linux. You'll have to use More as a pager with NetBSD. Besides, I can't see what effect a pager would have on security anyway.
  • As has been observed by others, a lot of the machines particularly in the raQ line are using the IA-32 architecture, on which one might consider running, oh, say, Solaris-x86.

    It is also important to look forward, not just back, from whence comes thoughts of both IA-64 and SPARC.

    One of the significant things Cobalt had was designs for compact-and-hopefully-usable cases and support software; that sort of thing ought to work perfectly well if Sun contributed SPARC motherboards and CPUs to the mix, with compatible form factors. At which point running Solaris-for-SPARC makes perfect sense.

    And in looking ahead, the present MIPS chips aren't likely to be viable to the business purpose five years from now, at which point IA-64 might be more likely to be of importance.

    The importance of MIPS in all of this is incredibly low, and steadily falling...

  • This move is obviously part of the Sun overall strategy. For 3 main reasons:

    4. They make a packet from Solaris licensing fees.

    With an x86-based system, there is no sensible reason to switch to Solaris x86, unless you really need something that Solaris has that Linux doesn't (yet) e.g. DiskSuite/Veritas Volume Manager.

    Sparc-based systems are another matter; there is an annoying lack of applications for Sparc Linux. Netscape is many versions behind (4.51 vs. 4.76 last time I checked), no Acrobat Reader, no Applix, etc. I'd love to ditch Solaris in favour of Sparc Linux (as a stepping stone to ditching Sun hardware as well), but the applications are a real sticking point.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    When did Sun buy Cobalt? I thought Gateway bought all the Qubes, and they were using it to bring the linux platform into Gateway. Wow... I really missed something.
  • Running solaris on one of these would be the death of it. I've played with a 4i with 256MB of RAM and Cobalt's Perl stuff can eat up 70-80% of the processor!

    Solaris would make these machines puke and die.

  • I enjoy reading slashdot but posters like you make me go, "Ugh! I'm reading the same site as this idiot?"

    Sun's not a leader in the OS dept? What the hell are you talking about? Solaris and the SPARC architecture are the two biggest assets Sun has and serving Sun really well. Just take a look at Sun's stock.

    Sun's not afraid of Linux. Why should it? Linux is good for Solaris! It creates more Unix-savy users and developers. And the open source projects are creating tons of apps that also runs on Solaris. Suddenly, Solaris is not only good for servers, there're also good on the desk.

    Linux can't touch Sun when it comes to high-end servers. What Linux takes away is the low-end stuff. So it's more of a competitor for MS than Sun. And when a Linux shop grows, it's easy to move to Solaris.

  • it's bad!?!?!?!

    Hail Linux!
    Hail CmdrTaco's trolling!
    Down with Solaris!
    Down with Sun!
  • It might be easier to get every to agree that you are a goat fucker

    Bowie J. Poag
  • If anything this move will give the Cobalt more credibility in the marketplace as Solaris is highly regarded. Another benefit is that it's rocksolid and geared very much so towards the server market.

    All due respect for Linux but I feel it has been evolving more towards a desktop market and left the server end hanging a bit.
    The main impetus that has been driving Linux development has seemed to shift the focus to add layer upon layer of complexity to the kernel,which I do admit has resulted in a better kernel, but also had the side effect that due to the massive array of hardware supported the source has been quite convoluted.

    An OS such as Solaris, which has inherently less hardware support than Linux, might be the answer here, provided Sun can keep the hardware spec fairly standardised.

    And BTW Cobalt is/was moving away from MIPS towards the IA platform.

    Full Time Idiot and Miserable Sod

  • by Kiwi ( 5214 ) on Friday September 29, 2000 @09:10AM (#744170) Homepage Journal
    There are enough subtle differences between Solaris and Linux that people comfortable with Solaris need to "shift gears" to use Linux. However, I do not think this is why Sun wants to move over to Solaris.

    There is a strong mindshare among Solaris admins that Solaris is a real UNIX, and that Linux is not a "real" UNIX. Sun makes a good deal of money with this perception. Sun is not foolish--they know that if management types realize that low-cost Linux servers can do as good as a job as Solaris for a large number of intranet and internet tasks[1], they will go for a low-cost Linux investment instead of a high-cost Solaris investment.

    As it stands right now, Linux is a far greater threat to Sun than it is to Microsoft, since Linux works well as a UNIX server, but yet is not as functional as Windows on the desktop[2].

    - Sam

    [1] There are things, such as NFS and support, where Sun/Solaris is better, of course.

    [2] We're getting there. I think Kde and Gnome 2.0 coupld very well put us there.

  • Seems to me that switching to Solaris will save Sun money in support costs, since it means they won't have to train their support staff in Linux administration, but can stick with their Solaris knowledge. Sure, it's new hardware, but they would have that expense if they'd developed the box themselves anyway.
  • It can send redirection responses instead of forwarding the request, and this is exactly what I see on all IP addresses that www.hotmail.com corredponds to -- it sends redirects to other Local Directors, with "IIS 5" in the header, but without touching any IIS box. That kind of response is hard to miss -- it violates HTTP standard by not waiting for the empty line at the end of the header. Initial redirects cause users to be scattered over a number of hosts where their sessions continue, and those hosts are actually other Local Directors, distributing requests among boxes that appear to be W2K.
  • Sun has experience with hardware, and they have done a damn fine job getting solaris to run even on pathetic X86.

    With them owning the hardware and design its easy to port solaris over.

    Why re-invent linux in a Solaris shop. Its like microsoft buying them up, you think they would learn linux?

    Aint nothing wrong with that.

  • Sun is the only "Big Iron" UNIX company that is really threatened by Linux. Solaris is one of the big reasons that people keep buying Sun systems. If Linux takes over the "larger iron" world, Sun will have to compete mainly on hardware grounds. If I had the choice of an RS/6000, or a Sun Server, I would choose the Sun, because Solaris (in my opinion) is better than AIX, even though I think the RS/6000 has better hardware and support. If both IBM and Sun "officially" supportd Linux on their boxen, Sun would be forced to compete on hardware, and price grounds. This goes for Sun vs SGI as well, although I know very little about SGI hardware/support.

    Sun has a lot to lose by the legitimizing of Linux. IBM, SGI, HP etc. all have a more even playing field again the guys who "put the dot in dot com", if the OS is not longer an issue. I suspect this has a lot more to do with it than the "not having energy to support more than one OS."

    Sun has a lot to lose by having products that officially support Linux.

  • Bull. Sun views themselves primarily as a hardware company, not a software company. Yes, they do sell software, but it is secondary to their hardware business.

    "The axiom 'An honest man has nothing to fear from the police'

  • by bolthole ( 122186 ) on Friday September 29, 2000 @09:11AM (#744195) Journal
    I don't see how a new Solaris port to MIPS could possibly be:

    - more stable
    - as fast or faster than
    - as supported as


    This is a case of corporate pride leading to poor decisions.

    Sounds more like a case of "The previous article is a case of fanaticism clouding judgement".

    As others have pointed out, cobalt was moving to x86 anyway. Doing a comparison on that basis,

    1. Solaris is certainly not going to be LESS stable than linux.

    2. There's probably not going to be more than a 10% performance difference either way.

    3. How could solaris be "[less] supported [than]" linux? By SUN? That's just silly.

  • by Undocumented ( 225683 ) on Friday September 29, 2000 @09:15AM (#744197) Homepage
    "Cobalt's [devices] are true appliances," Ingram said. "You do not care about the operating system. If we were to convert these over to Solaris, the end-user wouldn't care. We don't have the energy to drive two operating systems."

    -Andy Ingram, Senior VP - Solaris

    Just a few months ago, I worked for an ISP that transitioned over 1000 commercial web hosting customers from a DEC box and a sun E450 to 3 Cobalt RAQ's.

    Within DAYS of making the transition (painful to be sure), we were already hacking apart the way the RAQ's handles some of the CGI, and apache aspects of site hosting. We were also making custom scripts for system admin tasks that we needed to change some from the way the RAQ's web admin interface did things.

    While this could be done in solaris as well, it would have taken a little more work, and of course someone more knowledgable with solaris. We had that manpower, but not all people do. Plus, if you are forced to switch your hardware to Solaris for continued support, you then have to fix any and all custom work you did, with most likely LIVE customers, and in a hurry.

    As they are, the Cobalt boxes I have worked on are a BREEZE to configure and maintain, I would like to ask this VP, WTF is the point in changing it?

  • This is all blown way out of proportion. Sun is merely entertaining the idea of converting Cobalts to Solaris. There has not been a decision made on this.

    It should be common sense to consider using your own OS when you make such an acquisition. Perhaps Sun will replace Linux with Solaris. Or they could leave Linux. They could scrap all Linux and Solaris and run FreeBSD. The point is, the decision has not been made yet.

  • ....something that you are missing out on. Sun bought Cobalt to make its stake in the server appliance industry. Server Appliances are low cost, light hardware boxen that any PBH can come in and set up. I seriously doubt that Sun would take that product and add expensive hardware to it. This would take them right back out of the Server Appliance industry.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I am a Cobalt employee (thus the AC posting).

    Everything we are being told by the people at Sun is that they bought us because we know what we're doing in the server appliance marketplace. They didn't want to have to try and get in on the ground floor like all of our competitors. There are no, repeat NO plans to discontinue Linux as the OS on our servers. (Which are now AMD-based, BTW -- MIPS CPUs were only in the RaQ1/RaQ2 and Qube1/Qube2).

    IMHO, I would think that you would see an addition to our product line at some point down the road which had a Sparc chip, or possible Solaris. But not at the expense of the x86-compatible market.

    Don't believe any^H^H^Heverything you read on ZD news stories. And remember, this deal was just announced a week ago. There are an awful lot of unknowns to be worked out, but everyone at Sun seems to be genuinely excited about the acquisition, and plan to use it to extend their marketshare in the datacenters, not to try and squash Linux in favor of Solaris.

  • by fridgepimp ( 136338 ) on Friday September 29, 2000 @09:20AM (#744216) Homepage
    Ok, ok...so the title might be a bit trollish/flamebait...

    &ltdisclaimer&gtI used to work for a Cobalt Authorized Reseller, and I didn't like their gear &lt/disclaimer&gt

    If you've ever tried to use a cobalt machine to anything besides what it is designed for, you're in for a treat. PERL is usually broken (have to manually fix files that are standard in most other PERL implementations). There are a number of bugs in their web interface, and their implementations of most services are non-standard or just funky enough to make it pretty annoying.

    The cobalt mentality is also pretty closed in general and support is lacking in response time.

    These boxes aren't built for hackers, their built to be canned solutions for Linux neophytes and web-farm admins that don't want to get into the nitty-gritty. Switching to solaris would be a net change of 0 in my book, as most people using cobalt equipment don't care anyway. If you don't want a toaster-like solution, don't buy Cobalt Networks gear...it's underpowered and overpriced.

    This comment is wild and rambling. I hope someone else says something similar, but more coherantly. I apologize.

  • I understand what you're saying, and I agree, but...

    one would think that if they're going to replace Linux with Solaris, then they basically have to replace all the firewall, NAT, and system administration tools that go with it. So they're left with a box, processor, memory, and hard-drive. So why did they buy this company in the first place? Wouldn't it have been cheaper to just come-out with their own mini-firewall, server, cube-like thing?

  • Ok guys, we bought this company that seems to be doing ok and we want to drive it into the ground as fast as possible.

    What do you think most corporations do? You buy a competitor to implement their products into your own... or to elimate them. There is no middle ground.

    Obviously Sun wants to support their [paid] OS more than a [free] OS. One drives profits to the company, the other doesn't.

  • by DrStrange ( 72008 ) on Friday September 29, 2000 @09:40AM (#744227)
    Ok I guess we've all decided to give up the 'right tool for the right job' idea and ram linux down the throat of every system and every problem:

    Ok guys, we bought this company that seems to be doing ok and we want to drive it into the ground as fast as possible. Suggestions?

    So if they don't use Linux, its bound to fail is that what you're trying to say? Solaris is a great operating system and for some things its better, yes I said better, than Linux. Is Linux better than Solaris at other things, yes it is. But I've yet to read a post in the comments that has any insightful revelations as to why Linux is better than Solaris on the Cobalt machines. Just a lot of Linux hype. I'll back up the fact that maybe they should go to Solaris with some facts:

    1. Sun will stand behind and support their OS with one of the worlds largest software engineering force. If a customer had a problem with the Linux OS what would their options have been? Post to a newsgroup? 'Ask Slashdot'?

    2. Solaris has tools that make developing operating system level software for a new platform that Linux can only dream of right now...ie the Solaris Kernel level debugger.

    3. Solaris is proven. While this is some fact and some opinion the truth remains Solaris/SunOS were running stable and secure servers when 99.995% of the world had yet to hear of Linus Torvalds.

    It just really disheartens me when I hear everyone screaming how monopolistic Microsoft is and how blindly people follow them and then I read comments as I did here. For those of you who made comments like the one I quoted above without fact to back it up, you're no better than the M$ fools you make fun of on these very pages. Blind advocacy does nothing to support the OS you're so fond of. For those of you who did use reason and facts to back up your comment/opinion on the subject, I apologize for the rant.

    And for the record, I do use Linux at home and encourage Solaris usage for the servers at work.
  • Two meg log files? I meant to say two gig. :-) It just gzips down to two meg....
  • Actually they run two layers of Cisco Local Directors. www.hotmail.com box _is_ Local Director (configured with "Server:" line in its header saying "IIS"), doing redirections to all other Local Directors, who in their turn do load-balancing over unknown (however probably ridiculously large if they needed two layers of Local Directors) number of Windows 2000 boxes. That configuration probably would work at existing load even if they had PC/XT running DOS 2.20 as servers.
  • Check the new license [sun.com] for 'free' Solaris 8.

    Specifically, it states:

    New Pricing: $0 License

    To provide greater access to the Solaris Operating Enviroment encourage innovation on this .com platform, Sun announced it is dramatically expanding access to the Solaris 8 Operating Environment.

    Individuals and organization can use the Solaris 8 software throughout their environment for commercial and non-commercial use, for the cost of media plus shipping.

    In a one-two punch, Sun is also slashing the cost of the Solaris 8 source code license to $0.

    " We're moving to a service-driven model to maintain innovation and scale, " says Ingram. "We're giving our communities a free license to use the source, while also providing them with a portfolio of world-class support services to help them .com their businesses. It's a combination that can't be beat."

  • All things considered, I think Taco's reasoning was more to the effect of why change something that's already working very successfully?

    I don't think it was meant to be sun bashing.

    But IANT - I am not Taco.

  • Exactly how is NetBSD any more secure than Linux, except for the fact that it includes less?

    If they were concerned about security, they'd run OpenBSD [openbsd.org], which runs just as well on the MIPS architecture.
  • For Sun, it makes a lot of sense to stick with Solaris as their standard UNIX platform. Some reasons why:

    • It's supportable. Solaris is theirs, they know it in and out. They do the development, the distribution, the end user support. They do not have to rely on outside developer enthusiasm and expertise.
    • The license is controlled by Sun, not by the (often moody) Richard Stallman. Nuff said.
    • Solaris is still better for some tasks. Especially in networked NFS environments.
    • Solaris integrates better with existing Sun servers (which they obviously want to continue selling). Think of a simple thing like User/Group ID's on a NIS/NFS cluster.
    • Solaris mindshare promotes Sun hardware.

    Certainly, Linux excels at a whole host of areas where Solaris may fall a little short. Mostly in user space; as far as the kernel goes VFS (providing IPX/SPX, SMB, DevFS...) is probably one of the few things that stands out. In user space, especially in nice/solid/automated distributions like Debian, there is a tremendous ease of keeping your system the slickest it can be, and at the same time, most secure - something you have to work a bit harder to achieve under Solaris.

    That said, the market that caters to those demands is mostly saturated, and for Sun to do what they do best - rock solid backends and network-oriented systems - they are better off sticking with Solaris.

  • You'd be suprised but I've benchmarked Solaris X86 versus Linux X86 (both SMP), Solaris kicked linux's ass for serving Perl/Mod_perl.
    The Linux box could serve 25 requests per second, the *exact* same box running Solaris served over 500 requests per second... And you can't say we didn't have good perl tuning, we hired the guy who wrote Mod_Perl to do a lot of stuff with us. Sun has good reasoning to move their stuff to Solaris X86, it will probably mean the longevity of Solaris X86 which is a kickass product. Solaris/Itanium will be sweet!
  • by DaveWood ( 101146 ) on Friday September 29, 2000 @03:50PM (#744238) Homepage
    "1. Solaris is certainly not going to be LESS stable than linux."

    Clearly you have never used SolarisX86.

    "2. There's probably not going to be more than a 10% performance difference either way."

    See answer above.

    "3. How could solaris be "[less] supported [than]" linux? By SUN? That's just silly"

    Spoken like someone who has never had to wait on hold for Sun technical support (who they were paying through the nose), or eat dirt over a bug Sun has labeled "SORRYWEDONTFEELLIKEIT" in their bugbase...

    Dont just naysay Linux. Especially if you've never even tried the competition or made a serious comparison. On MIPS, Solaris doesn't exist, and believe me, is very unlikely TO ever exist. That's probably a good thing. On X86, Solaris is a JOKE - with terrible app support and a really flakey, bloated kernel. Let's not even talk about security out of the box, let alone the awful way they've configured it or how INCREDIBLY expensive eveything is... let alone your precious "corporate support"... and, last but not least, Linux smokes Solaris on sparc hardware.

    Solaris is the Windows of the Unix world. I have nothing against Sun, I love their hardware and I am a huge Java fan. But their Unix... blows.

    Put that in your crack pipe and smoke it.

  • First off, all the rejected stories:
    • 2000-09-04 16:35:32 Here come the UltraSPARC III's! (articles,news) (rejected)
    • 2000-09-06 20:48:03 No UltraSPARC III Coming this Month (articles,news) (rejected)
    • 2000-09-08 16:14:28 Embedded UltraSPARC (articles,news) (rejected)
    • 2000-09-08 16:25:53 Answer to Sun's Recent Cache Woes? (articles,news) (rejected)
    • 2000-09-12 16:11:00 Sun Tidbits of Major Import (articles,news) (rejected)
    • 2000-09-26 16:57:03 Sun rises with new generation of servers (articles,news) (rejected)

    ...and now we have to hear Taco's stupid-assed comment, "Ok guys, we bought this company that seems to be doing ok and we want to drive it into the ground as fast as possible. Suggestions?"

    Hey Taco/Slashdot - get with it, huh? There's more to life than Linux, gadgets and Star Wars.

  • That is only true for the machines you mentioned. Other current cobalt products running on MIPS include:

    All Qube Models
    All Nasraq Models
    All CacheRaq Models

    I imagine, however, they'll be moving future versions of these products to IA32 architecture soon enough.

  • by mjprobst ( 95305 ) on Friday September 29, 2000 @09:52AM (#744255) Homepage Journal
    My employer went with Cobalt because it _was_ running Intel Linux. We certainly like the functions it provides through the point-and-drool interface, but we're also loading specific applications onto it that the customer never sees.

    We went with Cobalt because they offered incredible integration and preloading services crafted to our specifications. If the OS switches to Solaris, lots of our existing software won't run without convincing our suppliers to compile it for SolPliance OS or whatever they want to call it. If they even _let_ anyone do that.

    Good thing we're investigating other suppliers of point-and-drool rackmount servers.

  • I worked for a company that produced a network appliance of sorts that could run on either Linux or Solaris, but in either case, ran on x86 boxes for economy.

    Our tests showed that on almost any parameter you could name (memory consumption, context switch time, IO performance, reboot performance), Solaris was generally a factor of TWO slower.

    About the only thing solaris was quick at was shutting down :)

  • by sql*kitten ( 1359 ) on Friday September 29, 2000 @09:53AM (#744258)
    Microsoft manages to drive W2K, WinCe, W9.x

    Yeah, but they're trying to unify them. That's what Windows Milennium is about, migrating users to a single OS that will come in editions that range from Professional (desktop workstation) to Data Center (high-end OLTP and DS). That's the plan, anyway.

    IBM manages to drive OS/390, Linux, Windows, AIX, OS/400

    The reality is that AIX and OS/400 divisions of IBM actually compete with each other, and that IBM are huge enough to have the resources (and the locked-in legacy customers/revenue) to hedge all their bets. Besides, if you need an S/390, then you really need it, and nothing else will do.

    SGI manages to drive Irix, Windows, Linux

    Must be some definition of "manages" that I'm not familiar with :0)

    HP manages to drive HP/UX, Windows, Linux

    OK, that's a fair point, but see IBM. HP are huge and have their fingers in many pies.

    Compaq manages to drive Tru64, Linux, Windows, VMS (or is VMS dead yet?)

    VMS is far from dead, and Compaq is still a roll-up of Compaq and DEC.

    Why does Sun not have the energy to drive more than one operating system when its competition does

    If they can unify on a single OS, then they potentially have a strategic edge that their competitors can't match. For example, SGI are busily trying to port Irix features to Linux, Compaq want to move VMS features into Tru64. If Sun can add features to all it's platforms simultaneously, that's reduced time to market, and higher quality right there.

  • by pivo ( 11957 ) on Friday September 29, 2000 @09:00AM (#744259)
    Might help the boxes gain acceptance in shops that are mostly Solaris.
  • Come on, it's not like they're looking to run NT.. Sheesh! :)

    The REAL jabber has the /. user id: 13196

  • This will stop their eroding market share in the name brand server market. That is importaint to their stock holders.

    They may simply kill the RAQ now that they have it. They could have the same goals that IBM had when they introduced the PC, it wasn't to have a product to make lots of money but as a tool to move a larger customer base to the big iron.

    Now would be a very good time for someone to start selling a product that competes in the RAQ area.

  • by scrytch ( 9198 ) <chuck@myrealbox.com> on Friday September 29, 2000 @04:05PM (#744264)
    Here's how it is on a Raq. Each virtual site directory is owned by httpd, and owned by a group created for that site. httpd, admin (the webmaster basically, you don't use root to maintain web content), and any site users belong to that group. Works well in theory, but once you have more than 30 virtual sites on one raq (there's one here that has 56) then the admin account stops working, and you need an admin2 to belong to the higher numbered groups, then an admin3, and so on. This is because you can only belong to 32 groups in Linux -- and only 16 in BSD, and the same problem probably exists in Solaris. Any more groups after that are ignored. This is the pie in the face of those who believe groups are adequate to replace ACL's.

    Solaris has ACL's which just don't have that problem. You can put an ACL on a dir, and create the same effect as the setgid bit with it as well, having all files and directories created under that dir also inherit it.

    Yes, yes, ext3, xfs, jfs ... none of those are here now, and til then I am kludging around the situation in various ways, none of them particularly elegant. I'm not even fond of POSIX ACL's, since you can't centrally edit their definition like you could on even PRIMOS. Imagine a user-defined group and you're close.

    Normally I'd jump at the possibility of solaris on a raq, but I really don't care much for the interface. Webmin is already far more functional, faster, and less cumbersome. And though cobalt is a little closer at having its interface integrate the tasks of managing virtual hosts and their DNS records, its interface is simply too slow to bother with. Raqs are nice for office workgroups, but they may as well just be another form factor for a qube, and just as bad a fit for a ISP.
  • by v4mpyr ( 185039 ) on Friday September 29, 2000 @09:01AM (#744265)
    C'mon . . . no one saw this coming? A big company buys out a smaller company and then trys to incorporate it's products into the new domain. It's the way of the business world. Maybe it'll suck (read: Hotmail) or maybe it will actually work out. Solaris isn't really that bad if it's administered right.

  • by the-banker ( 169258 ) on Friday September 29, 2000 @09:01AM (#744269)
    Sun doesn't care about Linux. They never did. Nor open source software. They GPL'd Star Office because it wasn't worth paying developers to work on a product that can't compete in the Windows space. Or maybe to be a thorn in Gates' side..

    Sun probably has a marketing dept. that insists on being able to say their server appliances are powered by the same 'high-powered' OS that the big iron is.

    I have nothing against Solaris, there are a few features I actually like, but I don't see how a new Solaris port to MIPS could possibly be:
    - more stable
    - as fast or faster than
    - as supported as


    This is a case of corporate pride leading to poor decisions.

  • by smoondog ( 85133 ) on Friday September 29, 2000 @09:01AM (#744272)
    Although everything before the raq3 is MIPS and had many problems with software compatability, my raq3, and the raq3i and raq4's are all x86's running linux. Fairly straight forward compatability. Don't think that solaris is such a hot idea, though....
  • by BacOs ( 33082 )
    Cobalt RaQ 3 & 4 servers have AMD K6-2 processors

    (According to [hostpro.com]many of the ISP's I've considered for dedicated hosting.)
  • I actually think its a good business decision. First of all, Cobalt was planning to dump MIPS in favor of x86, Sun is more than likely going to follow through with that plan. Once that change has been made it will be much more economical for Sun to use Solaris for Intel than Linux for a number of reasons.

    1. Sun already has an army of people highly skilled in Solaris administration and application development.

    2. Sun can provide low-cost appliances to smaller companies and as the customer's business needs grow, easily sell them on an upgrade to "beefier" hardware.

    3. Sun can make all the modifications they want to the OS without having to disclose those modifications.

    4. Sun will gain an even larger share in the web server market.

    It sounds like a pretty good move to me.
  • by Benjamin Shniper ( 24107 ) on Friday September 29, 2000 @09:32AM (#744282) Homepage
    My sentiments exactly. When did Linux become so much better than it's brother unix, Solaris, that we simply assume everything has to be Linux?

    Oh, and a good suggestion to drive Cobalt into the ground? Forsake actual developement of new technology in order to support GPL'd versions of all often done old technologies. Like Unix.

  • Its just FUD coming from linux zealots who can't stand to hear that commercial unix might actually be better for a certain job. *cough*andover.netrunssolarischecknetcraft*cough*
  • by brokeninside ( 34168 ) on Friday September 29, 2000 @09:35AM (#744287)

    One of Sun's senior VPs (Andy Ingram) said:

    We don't have the energy to drive two operating systems.
    • Microsoft manages to drive W2K, WinCe, W9.x
    • IBM manages to drive OS/390, Linux, Windows, AIX, OS/400
    • SGI manages to drive Irix, Windows, Linux
    • HP manages to drive HP/UX, Windows, Linux
    • Compaq manages to drive Tru64, Linux, Windows, VMS (or is VMS dead yet?)

    Why does Sun not have the energy to drive more than one operating system when its competition does?

    I'm a big Sun fan. From what I've seen only IBM (with AIX) can compete with Sun in the enterprise class open systems niche (though HP might have something with Superdome). And I don't know that the move to put Solaris on the Cobalt line is necessarily a bad thing. However, I don't understand the suggested reasoning put forth by Sun at all.

    have a day,


  • That seems to take lots of Sun's energy and its just about its own operating system.

    But you're right, Sun is one of the "big boys" and the other big boys are comfortable across several operating systems, why not Sun?

  • by Omnifarious ( 11933 ) <eric-slash@@@omnifarious...org> on Friday September 29, 2000 @09:58AM (#744293) Homepage Journal

    The point is that Cobalt didn't have to do much of the Linux development, and their customers considered the use of Linux to be a big plus since they could alter to taste.

    There really isn't much point to Sun moving to Solaris on those boxes. Solaris doesn't offer anything extra, and is likely to drive their price up and close their architecture, which will make them much less attractive. Sun is being horribly stupid because they think Solaris is somehow much better than Linux in all ways.

  • If consumers really don't care what OS it runs then why the switch to Solaris? He says it is because they don't have the resources to support two operating systems... Okay I'll buy that... oh but he also says they have been working on a specialized version of solaris for devices such as these.

    Oh! So what really happened was Sun has this new stripped down embedded form of Solaris and purchased cobalt to use as the hardware for this new product.

    Thats weird... since Sun usually rolls their own hardware as well as software. Changing times, these be.
    Solaris/FreeBSD/Openstep/NeXTSTEP/Linux/ultrix/OSF /...
  • by Signal 11 ( 7608 ) on Friday September 29, 2000 @09:03AM (#744302)
    "Ok guys, we bought this company that seems to be doing ok and we want to drive it into the ground as fast as possible. Suggestions?"

    Find the manager for eToys and hire him.


  • by Stormgren ( 17223 ) on Friday September 29, 2000 @09:03AM (#744305)

    From the article:

    "Cobalt's [devices] are true appliances," Ingram said. "You do not care about the operating system. If we were to convert these over to Solaris, the end-user wouldn't care. We don't have the energy to drive two operating systems."

    Right. One of the reasons that I bought into Cobalt's products is was that I COULD buy them and set them up without a fuss, but the option was there to modify the OS and software even though it wasn't supported.

    I fear that if they port Solaris to the product, I won't have that kind of access anymore.

    As for porting it to MIPS, that's only for the Qube series. The RAQ line of servers runs AMD processors. Solaris x/86 will fit, I think (though I've never run it on anything other than Intel chips).

    "All those tubes and wires and careful notes!"

  • If you want to change kernels and drivers and core libraries, why do you have a Cobalt in the first place? A Cobalt has below-average hardware in a turnkey package for hosting or core workgroup services. Sure, you might add a database, some Apache modules, ssh and so forth. But why buy a Cobalt if you're going to forego their support and OS updates?

    Crikeys, you'd still be able to install a compiler and so on. 95% of Cobalts are run vanilla. Now that they've been adding PHP, MySQL and ChiliASP to some models, that number will go to 99%.

    I can think of a few dozen vendors you'd get a better hardware from at this price if you're looking to customize your software mix. The point of a Cobalt is that it's ready-to-run and can be patched and upgraded automatically to be identical with all other Cobalts.
  • by ledbetter ( 179623 ) on Friday September 29, 2000 @09:05AM (#744328) Homepage
    This move is obviously part of the Sun overall strategy. For 3 main reasons:

    1. They make Solaris. It makes sense for them to try and run everything of theirs from this platform. Their programmers know the OS inside out. This move is about as surprising as hearing that Microsoft is trying to move Hotmail over to Windows 2000 from BSD. So we'll see if Sun has any better luck than Microsoft.

    2. Announcing this OS move is also obviously a publicity stunt designed to try and put forth their own Solaris as a superior OS to Linux. Remember, like Oracle and Microsoft, Sun has a major superiority complex.

    3. In porting Solaris to another platform they are improving the overall portability of the OS, making it a more attractive OS.
  • by jbarnett ( 127033 )

    "I would like to welcome everyone to the board meet and let everyone look at this hat, nice hat, a? What if I told all board memebers this hat could make millions. don't beilive me. Ok watch.

    Here is 2 piles of small papers, if you look closly at the papers they have ideas written on them at random by the monkey is the type writter lab. roughly there is about 1000 peice in each pile.

    We take these papers, put them in the hat, you watching this, did you see this Bob, I put the papers in the hat Sir. Ok, now if I could get some help from say uhh here Lisa, put your hand in here and randomly draw a peice of paper.

    Ah good, let me see the paper, the paper says "Solaris", fine product we produce here at Sun. Ok on to step 2, here uhh mm Tim, please draw a paper from the hat. Ok, it says Coblat, another fine product that we just bought.

    Now comes the making money part, what happens we you put these 2 peice of paper to gehter, 'Solaris on Coblat' that is right. Everyone ready to make some cash"

    "Excuse me Sir, do you REALLY work here"

    ..blink.... .blink...

    "Yea, sorta, yea I work here, umm my name is Jim, I live in my car"

    ..blink..... .blink....

    "So as head chairmen, I recommened everyone cast there vote, I think Jim knows what he is talking about, good face you can trust it."

  • They could switch it to NetBSD since its more secure and faster than Linux on the same platform... Sun has good feelings about BSD so I don't see why not. Chances are Sun will discontinue the crummy lil MIPS based boxes and use all X86 based stuff, make it cheap, run whatever the hell they want on it, and make a buttload of money off it. The big thing cobalt was selling was their WebGUI, and it will not be hard to convert that to any other OS...

Always leave room to add an explanation if it doesn't work out.