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Sun Microsystems

Cobalt Acquisition Good For Open Source Community? 62

kirwin writes: "InfoWorld offers some insight to the possible rewards that the Open Source community could reap, thanks to the Sun's acquisition of Cobalt Networks." I'm still not sure how I feel about this one. I'm gonna adopt ye old wait-and-see before I let it bug me.
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Cobalt Acquisition good for Open Source Community?

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  • It seems a pity that the low heat dissipation MIPS chips are going to disappear unless Sun really want to support a competiting processor to their embedded Sparcs. There has been reports of various firms developing low-cost, low heat chips (<1W better than Transmeta!) and it seems a waste for this low-cost niche to disappear. Too bad SGI can't get their A into G, port Linux across and do a reverse-Starfire purchase (Sun acquired the E10K shared bus tech originally from Cray when it merged with SGI) to shore up their low-end server racks. At the very least, it will encourage people to develop more MIPS binaries.

    Oh well, nobody said computer vendors had to be smart.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    "Sun is Microsoft with smaller teeth"

    I sorta agree. I am a Sun employee so take this with a pinch of salt. Even within Sun, the general perception of Scott McNealy is that of someone itching to be the next Bill Gates, only a much more vicious one.
    Remember, he a 100% marketing droid who can't code to save his life, unlike Bill who is a coder-turned-CEO, an entirely different breed. Much as we may hate MS, Bill actually grasps technology Scott wouldn't in a 100 years.

    When they put Scott on the board of GE, at Comdex he actually pointed at the bulb and said wouldn't it be cool that the bulb will be running a JVM in the next 2 years once Jini takes off ?
    I mean, WTF ?!! Why would anyone want a JVM in a bulb ? So Scott says, the bulb will now be able to "proactively inform the user when its about to go out of action" ! Jesus Christ! A 65 cent bulb will now have a JVM. And that's gonna cost how much ?
    My colleagues & managers were so thoroughly embarassed by that remark. One of the guys said "Scott just doesn't get it"

    He then used a KVM on a Palm Pilot to blow the horn of a car & said that was "cool"! Even Bill would have come up with a less sillier demo.

    I shudder to think of an MS with Scott at its helm.
  • "That's the only thing, other than money, that it's interested in."

    True. "And, yes, since it's a big corporation this is as it should be."

    False. I see this a lot on Slashdot. Why is it that when an organization or individual is trying to make money, all other ethics become irrelevant? Would it be OK for Sun to torture Microsoft employees to get proprietary information out of them? After all, they're "just trying to make money".
  • I know i shouldn't comment on the moderation and all, but off topic? the 1st and 3rd paragraphs (about 70% of the text) are definately on topic, dealing directly with the headline/article.
    the 2nd and 4th are tangential i admit, but not grossly (IMESHADO, lol)
    The artical is definately poorly spelt, may well be redundant (people posted most of its points while i was writing it), ws probably overrated, but it is ontopic

    Note it isnt the karma loss im complaining about, im not even complaining really, i didnt deserve the previous +1 for his anyway, im just suprised that it was worth the mod-point.

    I promise never to post about my moderation again...

    Feel free to mark this one offtopic, IT is &#9786
  • I see this a lot on Slashdot. Why is it that when an organization or individual is trying to make money, all other ethics become irrelevant?

    False logic. You are drawing (incorrect) conclusions that I did not make. I am interested in computers -- that does not mean that it's OK for me to torture people. All it means is that I'm likely to spend time and effort tweaking my system and not reading romance pulp novels.

  • I quote again: "That's the only thing, other than money, that [Sun]'s interested in. And, yes, since it's a big corporation this is as it should be."

    The only thing. The only thing. Meaning they should not (should not) be interested in the environment, the welfare of employees/customers/total strangers, the rest of the economy, etc. That's a very powerful statement and not one I support.

    I am interested in computers -- that does not mean that it's OK for me to torture people."

    Correct. Because you are also a member of society, a human being, maybe a parent or member of a church, etc. Corporations are many of these things as well.
  • AMD or the chipsets?? heehee... You have it mixed up :) Intel is the ones who cant ship 1ghz reliably.. my AMD works fine thank you :)

  • I think Sun made StarOffice free and open source to try to hit Microsoft where it really hurts: Office sales. Sun doesn't care about making money on productivity suites, they only want to screw Microsoft. IIRC Office is the biggest money maker for MS.

    This tactic comes right out of Microsoft's playbook: screw the competition by giving away the product that competes with their cash cow. In this case I would be delighted to see MS hoisted with their own petard.

  • Sun is switching the Cube OS from Linux to Solaris because they have invested tons of money in a clustering solution for Solaris.


    Who the hell is talking about clustering Qubes?

    Lay off the crack, dude.

  • I disagree with you. No, corporations don't generally have ethics. But they should.

    They should? [grin] That's a dangerous idea. Ethics are a personal value system. As such it has no necessary relationship to laws of the society, not to mention the general good. Ethics can be very different, and some varieties are extremely nasty and ugly.

    Consider a white supremacist. He certainly has his personal value system -- it's just that you find it repugnant and evil. Obviously, he doesn't think so. It so happens that there is no good way of setting up an absolute standard of goodness to measure ethics against. It's very hard to say what kinds of ethics are better than other ones and why (without resorting to arguments of the "my God told me so" kind).

    So, if you advocate ethics for corporations, beware! Their ethics may not correspond to yours. In fact, you may not like them at all.

    I rather prefer ethicless corporations which just make money and obey the laws.

    Corporations are treated much like regular individuals in nearly all ways--except that individuals have moral duties while corporations (supposedly) do not

    Duh! Individuals also have bodies, desires, emotions and many other things that corporations do not have. Corporation is basically a mechanism created by legal means. Why would a mechanism have morals?

  • At the moment, Sun costs about 500% more for a Sparc based system functionally equivalent to an Intel box. Cobalt allows them into the low end.

    Thing I heard is that they want to put Solaris and Sparc CPUs into the boxes. This'll push the cost up until they are no longer competative with Intel systems again. Doh.

    Anyway, If you want a cool small cheap non intel desktop or rackmount you can always go for an ARM based NetWinder: http://www.rebel.com/

  • How would a VAR adopting open source software where apropriate on a Sun hurt the VARs bottom line or make Sun look like a box pusher? If some open source project works better than Sun's software VAR's should know about it so that they can continue providing the best solutions. Is'nt that why people trust Sun to begin with? The VAR knows what he's doing and can get support when he does not. That and Sun's great hardware are hard to beat. The price of those solutions will remain the same as long as demand is there.

    On the other hand, Sun might just get burried if it tries to ignore the Open Source movement.

  • it has opened and rendered correctly every Office file I've had reason to throw at it

    Heh. That's what people use it for -- to look at MS Office documents in *nix environment. You start up StarOffice when somebody sends you a Word document -- you do not open it to work in. Why? Because it sucks.

    It means that most office workers will be able to do their days work with free software

    And other than the feeling of ideological purity, what will it contribute? I played a bit with StarOffice. It will take a huge amount of work to make it competitive with MS Office. Yes, we'll have the source, but we also have the source to Netscape/Mozilla and that already looks like a smelly and bloated corpse which is so late it's not even funny anymore. And to continue the analogy, don't forget that Mozilla had to scrap all old Netscape code and basically start from scratch. I fear that the same fate awaits StarOffice...

  • Dude, even if it were true, which it's not, Rob wouldn't do that. Why? Because Rob has ethics. Proof: "Hot Grits". Rob believes in Free Speech, and so he hasn't run the spammers off /.. Despite the fact that they make his life hell, that they make low-scored posts essentially unreadable, and that they don't contribute jack shit to the community. Yeah, Rob has ethics. What, you think he runs /. for the money? The dude puts his *soul* into this site, and you have the nerve to impugn his motives? Think before you post!
  • Well since your replying anonymously ill give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you moderated this.

    AMD now has the dresden fab up and Intel is seriosuly having a hard time meeting demands even for large distributors.. thanks but that was pretty crude.
  • I think it is a bit premature to talk of W2k's demise...

    You mean they released it already? I must have missed it, maybe when I was at Burning Man [burningman.com] or else it just didn't make much splash.

    Is anyone using it? I've only seen MS Office 2000 and it just seems to be real slow for all I can tell.

  • Ahem. And what else could they do with StarOffice? Sell it?

    No moron, not buy it to begin with.

  • "...people have ethics... Corporations don't."

    The problem isn't that I misunderstand you. It's that I disagree with you. No, corporations don't generally have ethics. But they should. Corporations enjoy benefits from society (above and beyond the benefits enjoyed by the individual members). Therefore they have a moral duty to contribute back to society, above and beyond the products they produce.

    Corporations are treated much like regular individuals in nearly all ways--except that individuals have moral duties while corporations (supposedly) do not. Why not?
  • I disagree with you. No, corporations don't generally have ethics. But they should.

    They should? [grin] That's a dangerous idea. Ethics are a personal value system. As such it has no necessary relationship to laws of the society, not to mention the general good. Ethics can be very different, and some varieties are extremely nasty and ugly.

    I rather prefer ethicless corporations which just make money and obey the laws.

    This is going to be something of a rant, so feel free to moderate it appropriately...

    I might be inclined to agree with you but for one thing: a corporation has much more power than an individual has, while simultaneously having fewer responsibilities and less accountability. As an example, the most that happens to a company that causes the death of an individual is that the company gets sued and has to pay damages. None of the principals of the company go to jail, nor is the company dissolved as a result.

    But when an individual causes the death of another individual, the responsible individual is usually thrown in prison, often for a very long time.

    If companies are to operate without ethics and without regard to anyone but their shareholders, then they should be stripped of their power or held to the same (or harsher) legal standards that individuals are held to, meaning that (as an example of one way to implement the idea) harm done to an individual by a company causes the principals of the company to be held responsible as if they had personally done the deed themselves. The greater power of companies should be accompanied by greater risk and greater responsibility, not less of each.

    Unless corporations are held to such standards, they should be stripped of all their power, particularly their power to influence politics.

    But the current situation, where companies have greater power, fewer responsibilities, and less risk than individuals, is completely unacceptable, and is the cause of many of the ills of the world today.

  • It's said that the October 13 release of StarOffice 6 will be broken into components. There will also be missing functionality as some other people's proprietary stuff is being cut out. I have used 5.2, and aside from the fact that it currently crashes once in a while and I don't have the source yet to fix it, it has opened and rendered correctly every Office file I've had reason to throw at it. This doesn't mean it's feature-complete, but it covers the ones used in files people send me :-)

    I think most people underestimate how big this is. It means that most office workers will be able to do their days work with free software. Sure, there are going to be problems with it, but that is why we are going to have the source.


  • You are an idiot. You're an idiot because you are too stupid to go to the page listed as my URL and determine that I am, in fact, male, and thus cannot be anyone's girl friend. No, I'm not CT's boy friend, either - and if you weren't a chickenshit AC, you could determine that, too.

    Fuck it. Not replying to you fuckers seems to be the logical thing to do, but it hasn't worked. Y'all have made -1 necessary, and made 0 unreadable. Well, no more. I'm going on a quest, starting today, to figure out exactly how to make you go away and stay away. Or, to make it so I don't have to see you. Anyone who sees this and wants to help, send me an e-mail.

  • Man, you are one serious pessimist! Mozilla started out wrong but even if you don't like their current browser design, note that the gecko rendering engine is showing up as a gnome widget in simpler browsers.

    StarOffice needs a lot of rewrite, I agree. Their own widget set needs to be replaced with gnome. Their tools need to be made into bonobo components. Missing pieces need to be replaced. But that's stuff that we do well. Reading and writing the files, rendering them correctly, and actually editing the files, that's what we need the StarOffice code for.


  • Mozilla started out wrong but even if you don't like their current browser design, note that the gecko rendering engine is showing up as a gnome widget in simpler browsers.

    Galeon shows promise, I agree. But remember that the goals of the Mozilla project are (or at least were) to make a browser that would achieve dominance on the mostly Windows desktop and win back market share from Internet Explorer. The chances of achieving this goal do not look good.

    StarOffice needs a lot of rewrite, I agree.

    Remember, the original issue was the degree of selfless benevolence that Sun showed by releasing StarOffice to the community. I contended that they could do nothing else with it -- it was (and is) not a contender and nobody in his right mind would pay money for it. Sun took the opportunity to stick it to Microsoft by releasing StarOffice for free hoping that some day, at least, it will eat into the sales of MS Office and so hurt Scott McNealy's favorite person, Bill.

    Before you object, let me agree that releasing StarOffice as Open Source was a Good Thing to do. My point is that it is NOT evidence for Sun's new-found love for Open Source. I still think that Sun is Microsoft with smaller teeth.

  • I think it is a bit premature to talk of W2k's demise...

    Other than that I thought the article made a reasonable point. Sun
    hardware is really a long way ahead of Intel-based for SMP, and SMP is
    still much easier to write software for than clusters. The importance
    of Linux for the traditional UNIX user is that it seems to be setting
    the pace for UNIX interoperability.

  • by Omnifarious ( 11933 ) <`eric-slash' `at' `omnifarious.org'> on Wednesday October 04, 2000 @06:52AM (#731801) Homepage Journal

    The article is based on the premise than Sun will leave the Cobalt hardware running Linux. It's also misses the fact that recent Cobalt hardware is Intel based, though that strengthens the argument.

    I think Sun will replace Linux with Solaris because of the mindset they have that Solaris is better in all ways. This will hurt Linux, and not help Sun as much as it could if they didn't do that.

  • And, do you have a pointer to this 'lawsuit'?

    I remember people talking about a POSSIBILITY of a lawsuit, but none were filed...
  • Before everyone starts crowing about Sun possibly replacing Linux with Solaris on the Cobalt boxen, please try to remember that Sun's motivation behind this is not anti-Open Source, anti-Linux, or out of fear of a Linux-dominated enterprise computing world.

    Sun knows Solaris. They know how it works, what it's strengths are, and what its weaknesses are. They know how to support it, how to upgrade it, and where it is most likely to fail. In short, it is a smart business decision sheerly in how they will support their own products

    Will Sun ever jump onto the Linux bandwagon? Not in the forseeable future. The simple fact is, Sun currently makes its $$ on the big boxes, and Linux has a lot of ground to make up in that arena.


  • by Kaa ( 21510 ) on Wednesday October 04, 2000 @07:12AM (#731804) Homepage
    Look, folks, they would not be Open-Sourcing a $70M+ product (StarOffice) if they didn't want the community buy-in.

    Ahem. And what else could they do with StarOffice? Sell it? I don't think so. It's buggy, bloated, tries to pretend it's the only application you'll ever need (tm), and is generally full of cruft. It cannot compete with MS Office. It's actually not even in the same league.

    Sun is an old-style company trying to find its way into this new world.

    Er... Sun is Microsoft with smaller teeth. If it manages to kick Microsoft's teeth in (with the help of DoJ or otherwise), it'll become the biggest fish in the pond. That's the only thing, other than money, that it's interested in. And, yes, since it's a big corporation this is as it should be.

    Basically, Sun is practicing diplomacy towards OpenSource, where diplomacy is defined as "saying 'nice doggie' until you can find a stick".

  • So why would it matter if they bought a company that makes low-end intel hardware??

    See my point?

  • Solaris x86 has no standing in the Intel arena. The only people who care about it are people who are also running Solaris on Sparc boxes.

  • Personally, I see this as a win for a company like Cobalt to be taken in by Sun. Cobalt has some wonderful products, and Sun has always been a leader in the industry. Besides, a company like Sun has a lot to offer to Cobalt, and this way, with any luck, the Qubes will continue living their cute, little, blue existance.

    Even if it's a loss for the linux community, and sadly it may end up being since Sun is in the business of bolstering Solaris' market share, it's still good for Cobalt because you may just end up seeing a wider adoption of their products simply because of the "Sun stamp".

    And we may even be wrong, they may continue things as they have been and continue to run linux, as a way for Sun to enter that market as well. (I'm using SGI as a potential reference here with their Intel-based hardware, and since my experience with Solaris x86 hasn't been wonderful...) But on either side of the fence, it's a good way for Sun to enter the small appliance market and for Cobalt's engineers to continue development of their hardware.
  • Solaris only shines on Sun hardware. It's pretty ropey on Intel hardware; it's only there to make it possible to run Sun only shops.
  • Rant on.

    "I'm still not sure how I feel about this one. I'm gonna adopt ye old wait-and-see before I let it bug me." Taco

    I know it's his site, sort of, but those inane comments on the front page really bug me.

    It's bad enough that they feel the need to post stories just to make up the numbers, it's bad enough the users have no moderation on which articles go on the front page.

    It would be better if you just gave yourself first post.
    Rant off.
  • Microsoft tries to switch Hotmail from FreeBSD to NT5^H^H^HWindows2000. Can't, so Slashdot is in uproar. Microsoft can't "eat it's own lunch."

    Sun mulls about (haven't done it yet) changing to it's own OS, one it has expertise in, that is much better supported than Linux on MIPS (current OS) or Linux on SPARC (one possible future) and Sun itself has more experience with Solaris/x86 than Sun has with Linux (notice, I said Sun's own experience, not the world's). Again, uproar, this time because they want to change something.

    Why is it bad when MS can't use their own OS for Hotmail, but it's bad when Sun can? Eating it's own lunch.

    The Cobalt Qube runs a hacked version of RedHat with a hacked version of the kernel all held together with Duct tape and baling wire quality Perl CGI scripts. For low end users, they would never see the difference in OS. For high end users, going from a hacked OS to a any real OS is an improvement, though they could go to a decent Linux install and improve it GREATLY.

    My 2 cents.

  • Mr Petreley has a history of anything BUT Microsoft for years. OS/2, and now Linux.

    Also note the spin of the article and ./ headder.

    "It's currently fashionable to bash Sun Microsystems. But open-source advocates have much to be thankful for when it comes to Sun."

    How about "the open source development labs"....it is not about Open Source, but instead Linux.

    The article is about Linux and how Sun is playing with Linux. No where is he talking about the BIGGER view of OpenSource, but of the smaller part of it....Linux.

    If your adjenda is Linux....fine. Open Source is about *MORE* than just linux, and if you are willing to invoke the inclusive nature of Open Source, and then only talk about Linux aren't you helping to set up in the minds of others that OpenSource==Linux, rather than the reality that Open Source is MORE than Linux?

  • It's just bogus arguments. I still can't link how Sun bought out Cobalt will be good for Open Source, after reading the article twice.

    The arguments just don't stand up.

  • Look, folks, they would not be Open-Sourcing a $70M+ product (StarOffice) if they didn't want the community buy-in.

    If I remember correctly, StarOffice requires a pretty hefty server backend to work it out. Sun sells servers.

  • 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.

  • FreeBSD 4.1-RELEASE (SAHARA) #0: Thu Aug 23 13:30:10 SAST 2001

    Welcome to FreeBSD!

    Before seeking technical support, please use the following resources:

    o Security advisories and updated errata information for all releases are at http://www.FreeBSD.org/releases/ - always consult the ERRATA section for your release first as it's updated frequently.

    o The Handbook and FAQ documents are at http://www.freebsd.org/ and, along with the mailing lists, can be searched by going to http://www.FreeBSD.org/search.html. If the doc distribution has been installed, they're also available formatted in /usr/share/doc.

    If you still have a question or problem, please take the output of `uname -a', along with any relevant error messages, and email it as a question to the questions@FreeBSD.org mailing list. If you are unfamiliar with FreeBSD's directory layout, please refer to the hier(7) man page. If you are not familiar with man pages, type "man man". You may also use `/stand/sysinstall' to re-enter the installation and configuration utility. Edit /etc/motd to change this login announcement.

    bash-2.04$ uptime

    7:45PM up 5 days, 10:20, 1 user, load averages: 0.06, 0.01, 0.00

    Well, I guess that's the answer. FreeBSD is the way to go on these new boxes.

  • OK. Let me chop this into smaller pieces for your digestive pleasure.

    Entities (people and corporations) have duties. One of those duties is to follow the laws. Thus, regardless of Sun's interests, it cannot torture MS employees. Note that duties are mandatory.

    Entities also have interests. Interests are NOT mandatory. You are interested in butterflies, I am interested in pr0n. Fine. As long as interests do not conflict with duties, there is no problem here.

    Now we come to the interesting part: people have ethics (==morals, ==personal value systems). Corporations don't. Sometimes people who run corporations make these corporations act in accordance with their personal ethics, but per se corporations have no ethics. In a way, their ethics are laws and nothing more.

    Thus, Sun as a corporation has certain duties (including its legal duty to the shareholders to make money, for example). It also has certain interests (be the biggest fish in the pond, make more money). As long as these interests do not conflict with duties, it's all fine. Sun as a corporation does not have ethics.

    Now, Scott McNealy is a person and has his personal value system. It seems that in his personal value system playing "King of the Hill" against Bill Gates and Larry Ellison takes a very large spot. Sun's corporate policy, to some extent, reflects that.

    Whether Sun "should" be interested in other things -- well, I'd say it could but there is no obligation on it to do so. Sun could be interested in the environmental problems, but it does not have to (ethically, as well as legally). Ditto with the welfare of total strangers. As to employees and customers, use common sense -- both groups are vital to Sun's success so it is very much interested in their welfare.

  • I don't think Sun will be adopting open source alternatives just yet. It would be *nice*, but I think we have to consider its business model.

    Anyone who has ever even inquired about selling Sun stuff knows that Sun detests "Box Pushing". It doesn't want to get grouped in with Intel whitebox sales -- flat and becoming flatter and insanely unprofitable except to the big guys (e.g., Dell). Intel-based megaservers, however, are profitable.

    Sun wants to sell solutions because there is more money involved on both the VAR and Sun's end. Sun gets the sales on software and hardware, the VAR gets the sales in services, plus the markup on the actual equipment. Going open source for some of its pieces or moving to GPL therefore means a substantial drop in sales.

    They also would have far less control in how to implement solutions; quality on the VAR end would probably suffer as open-source development changes rapidly -- that is, printed material can seldom keep up with most open-source projects unless it is an established open-source work (e.g., perl). If you've ever looked at a Sun manual, you know that they do a pretty good job at them.

    The reason most Sun resellers really aren't sticking up for GNU/Linux is that *anyone* who sells Sun stuff has to be able to invest $30K in Sun equipment and software and do $500K a year in sales... It takes 6 months and with lots of training. You must also submit a *business plan* .... Yes, that's right, just to SELL Sun boxes. With this much constraint on their businesses, most VAR would *not* want Sun to be subjugated to the wily, chaotic, and often anti-profit nature of open-source development.

    Companies like Red Hat are trying to do similar stuff with GNU/Linux, but I haven't been able to see through the smoke and hype just yet to determine whether or not GNU/Linux solutions providers can seriously compete with Sun solutions providers.

    The Cobalt acquisition means that Sun wants to get its feet wet in solution-providing for other markets, but not too close and not while risking its own name. It will, however, adopt Cobalt to the "Sun style" of doing things to work within the current business model.


    Spindletop Blackbird, the GNU/Linux Cube.
  • No... StarOffice is a desktop app that doesn't even touch a server unless you save to one... StarPortal, Sun's future plans, will run from servers, hence your conspiracy could still hold true in a couple of years.
  • FreeBSD as well

    [kirwin@xxxx kirwin]$ uptime
    1:52PM up 99 days, 7:59, 1 user, load averages: 0.08, 0.30, 0.60

    what is the point you are trying to make?

    PS: Cobalts are not new.

  • No wonder more people don't use FreeBSD...it's a great operating system. I was so impressed with it that I even mentioned that I thought it could take over the Cobalt market. And yet you, the FreeBSD user, still insult the very people who are trying to use your system.

    I think FreeBSD has a lot of potential, but as long as FreeBSD users like you, AC, are around, people will be scared away from FreeBSD. Luckily I am thick-skinned and will not be put off by your unfriendly attitude.

    To anyone who is thinking of trying FreeBSD, I do recommend it personally. It's a bit different from Linux, for example, you have to go to /usr/src/sys/i386/conf and put all of your kernel options into a text file. Some of the stuff is a bit different, especially the init scripts, but luckily the documentation for all this is quite excellent, so you might be lucky and not have to even deal with some of the rude FreeBSD users like the AC above at all.

    The installation is actually easier than Linux and the configuration is different, yet not a lot harder. Everything I've needed to do so far has been available in the documentation section of the FreeBSD website. Just try to avoid rude FreeBSD users like the AC above and you'll be fine.

  • ... are your comments posted at -1 ???
  • Another example showing that FUD is a two-way street. <p>Sun has consistently demonstrated principles that make it nothing like MS but with smaller teeth. When they publish interfaces, protocols, and file formats, it's possible to write code that makes use of them without an expectation that they'll just be changed and used against you with the next release. NFS was given to the community by Sun, as probably the biggest, most obvious example. I'd rather not see any company in the position MS is in, but I'd be somewhat less troubled by a Sun monopoly than the MS one we do have. Even AT&T was a better monopoly than MS, with policies (and regulation) causing them to look out for consumers' best interests to some extent. Contrast that with the utter cynicism and ruthlessness displayed by MS. <p>As for Sun's diplomacy toward the open source community, as with any corporation, it's certainly wise not to trust 'em farther than you can throw 'em.
  • The original Cubes(AKA the NeXT Computer) were 030s. The NeXTstations and later Cubes(which were actually called NeXTcubes) were 040s.

    We're bought and sold for corporate gold
  • No, the x86 is recognised to be a bad architecture to do SMP with.
  • (That comment shows why you should carefully check default form values when trying out a new browser [browsex.com] so as not to look like an idiot.)
  • ... maybe that stupid lawsuit with Apple's G4 Cube will be dropped, since Sun may actually remember the NeXT cubes...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    super post
  • by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) <bruce@perens.com> on Wednesday October 04, 2000 @06:46AM (#731829) Homepage Journal
    There are a lot of little boxes that run Linux and BSD now. Alhough Cobalt was a pioneer, it's now far from unique. Thus, Solaris on the Cobalt might be a differentiator in that market and work positively for Sun. I don't know for sure.

    Look, folks, they would not be Open-Sourcing a $70M+ product (StarOffice) if they didn't want the community buy-in. Sun is an old-style company trying to find its way into this new world. We want something from them - we want Java to be Open Source. Jumping down their throats is probably the wrong way to get that :-) . Thus, rather than foam at the mouth about Solaris on the Cobalt, let's just wait and see what plays out here.


  • Next cubes? I always thought that the idea behind designing the cube was the black box idea. It was a play on words....made into a computer. I'm not positive, but pretty sure that if the machine was deigned on that basis, you coudln't sue over it, the phrase is in the public domain. Its like somone making and marketing glass hearts with cracks down the middle (broken heart) and then trying to sue anyone who makes any heart-shaped glass object with a flaw afterwards.
  • I doubt it can be all that good for open-source... Especially considering their plans to switch the Qubes to Solaris. This sort of a change will take Linux off a substantial portion of web-server geared boxes, and that means smaller market share. Smaller market share -- less interest in linux development. Less linux development -- less market share yet. A vicious circle.

    Don't much like it.

  • by ragnar ( 3268 ) on Wednesday October 04, 2000 @07:01AM (#731832) Homepage
    Barring the obligitory reaction of paranoia and suspicion that slashdot encourages, why shouldn't this be good? Although Sun probably hasn't been as open as some would like, they have been a long time ally of for Open Source advocates. At the very least Sun has been a propenent of open standards, like NFS, even when some may argued that they could control a technology.

    Some may dispute Sun's record, but from what I see, Sun is already very open with source code and standards. This is likely to continue. Consider Star Office as an example. They took a closed source system and opened it up. The first iteration was with the SCSL and they later revised their license to GPL. There is no guarantee that the Cobalt system will be more open, but if I had to take a guess I would think it to be likely.

  • Oops, forgot to put the point to all that. The blackbox idea in comptuer terms is far older than the next cube is what I was saying. The next cube was just a cool play on words with an 0'40 processor! *thinks* or was it an 0'30?
  • by hirschma ( 187820 ) on Wednesday October 04, 2000 @07:01AM (#731834)
    He usually hits it on the head, but I think that Sun is more likely to co-opt Open Source rather than aid it with the aquisition of Cobalt.

    For example, take the entire Intel thing. The real dynamic is that Intel/Cobalt/MIPS/Linux perception of the unwashed masses is that Cobalt and/or Linux provide a cheaper, better alternative than the expensive stuff from Sun.

    Now, what happens if Sun changes the chip to the new Ultrasparc IIe, and runs Solaris-Lite on it? Sun gets a new product line that is still, for all the reasons why Cobalt was successful, is going to allow them to serve a low-end audience without killing off their current higher-end offerings. They expand the pie. And this is likely to be the scenario that Sun follows.

    The question is, at whose expense is this pie expanded? Linux/xBSD/etc. running on Intel, that's who. The "dumb" users will see the same experience as they're getting now. Savvier users won't see Solaris as being inferior to Linux, most likely, and the upgrade path "benefits" will not be lost on them.

    I believe that this is going to be a bad thing, overall.
  • Huh?
    Apple is suing to be the sole source of information regarding their product (for right or wrong).
  • Sun is switching the Cube OS from Linux to Solaris because they have invested tons of money in a clustering solution for Solaris.

    Frankly, clustering on Linux isn't there. It isn't OpenSource's fault. Clustering takes a long time to get right. Witness DEC.

    What Linux/OpenSource stands to gain by Sun aquiring a viable Linux-originated product is this: Sun has more incentive to make Solaris more OpenSource friendly. Linux aint going away, and Sun stands to profit if Solaris and Linux start interoperating.

    Hopefully, Sun's clustering will make it into Linux...
  • I think thgis is going to have little affect on the open source community really

    Sure Sun are bound to more the OS obver to Solaris, they are however going to do this because Solaris is there area of expertise rather than on the relative technical merits of the systems. These boxes are still going to be running a heap of OSS (Apache et al).
    This isnt necessarily going to have a big affect on linux's market share, as owners of cobaly systems aret going to upgrade overnight, it simply means that sun have a presence in the web-appliance market.

    LInux's percieved market share is going to rocket anyway, given IBM's plans to run 'virtual' linux servers on top of there AIX boxes.

    What perhaps is important about this purchase is that the financial world will see that companies selling linux solutions are being seen by the big-boys as a threat/startegic opportunity. This should result in the increase in credit rating etc of some linux companies, which may (probably not though ;( ) bring some extra developement capitial into the arena.

    ................what i dont get is why Apha bases appliences arent being aggressively produced? THe bang/$ isnt that bad, and you can run linux, BSD, Tru64 unix, even NT on them for christs-sakes, talk about adaptable......
  • he stresses the predominance of Intel hardware and somehow gives the impression tha the is unaware of Solaris/x86.

A triangle which has an angle of 135 degrees is called an obscene triangle.