Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?
Sun Microsystems

Sun Unveils More Linux Strategies 236

A number of people have submitted the press release from Sun Microsystems about their latest announcements in conjunction with Linux. Highlights from this one include the promised release of "New single- and multiprocessor systems, to be announced mid-year, will use the x86 architecture and be capable of running thousands of Linux applications natively." As well, they are expanding the Cobalt line of servers, but even more interestingly they are going to "freely offer" parts of Solaris - but no license specified that I saw. They are also releasing "ABICheck", which should check compatibility between Linux/Solaris. C|Net is carrying coverage now as well. And it looks like Lineo and SuSe are going to get competition in the embedded and telecom support area - I wonder if that's tied to the OSDL announcement. It's good to see that they are getting on the right track - now let's hope they stay the course.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Sun Unveils More Linux Strategies

Comments Filter:
  • by AntipodesTroll ( 552543 ) on Thursday February 07, 2002 @12:25PM (#2967936) Homepage
    Can now go and retract all the Sun naysaying.

    I use Solaris for SPARC, its great, but Solaris X86 was half-baked from the start. The writing was on the wall for a LONG time, but when Sun finally canned it, I for one had to endure both the cries of "abandonware!" as well as generic sun bashing from the local Linux people I have to deal with.

    It should be obvious now, Sun is doing the right thing by ceeding the X86 market to Linux, and infact helping the transition, for those that were in the Solaris X86 crowd. Win-win situation, as far as I can see.
    • so long Slowlaris. welcome Linux ! it's about time sun came up with a sensible strategy to the upcoming opensource (r)evolution. now the need arises for sun to do some active developement for the (ultra)sparc ports of gcc, binutils and glibc. or, like intel did, they might need to consider to port the SUN Workshop Pro to linux. my 2 cents roger
      • The idea here isn't to boot Solaris out... it's to introduce compatibility with Linux because when Sun equipment is too expensive, we go to PeeCee and Linux, and Sun still wants to be an option when that's already happened.

        Solaris for Sparc will not be replaced by Linux any time soon (hopefully never) because it's whole purpose is to provide a stable and extensible environment compatible with Sun hardware. Linux has good points, but out-of-box, it's a far cry from a robust server environment. Solaris has things like JumpStart that make administering it MUCH more efficient than Linux. The only advantages of Linux in this arena are being cheap/free to implement, and running on cheap hardware*.

        *Notice that the biggest complaint with Solaris/x86 was compatibility problems with low-end hardware...

    • Why does everyone think that there will be no Solaris 9 x86? Sun has never said that.

      This comment [] states it best.

      Even Sun is saying the release is defered. []
      ---Sig filler so you read the comment.---

  • cobalt (Score:3, Insightful)

    by simpl3x ( 238301 ) on Thursday February 07, 2002 @12:27PM (#2967945)
    i can not believe that sun has let cobalt stagnate to the extent that they have. i very much like the management capabilities of the machines, but i would really like more resources for experimenting. the party line is that if you mess with the system it is unsupported. quite sad that they are pretty much where they were two years ago--k-6 in the raq 4's!
    • Re:cobalt (Score:3, Interesting)

      There's nothing sad about it. The whole point is that the Cobalt boxes are appliances. What processor is your router running? Probably not the latest of its kind, but it does the job it's intended to do. This is the philosophy behind the whole range. It's designed to do a job, it does it. If it runs out of power, they're low cost, so buy another and stick it in your rack.
    • This is an old tactic. Sun took the best threat to its low end off of the market by absorbing it and then slowly killing it. Frankly it was a smart thing for Sun to do - they can't beat linux boxes on cost, so they have to try to outstrategize the linux market. Now that IBM and HP are throwing serious resources behind linux though, Sun has probably run out of room.
    • Cobalt's issues are not suprising. The dominant philosophy at Sun is that you can use Solaris/Sparc-based systems for everything. They're always making half-assed efforts broaden their scope. Non-Sparc Solaris, non-Solaris Sparc systems, better integration of Solaris with Windows, platform-independent development with Java, buying up Linux technology -- the list goes on and on.

      And I don't remember the last time any of these initiatives were really successful. Sun management just doesn't believe in any of it. They may have brief enthusiasms fo this technology or that, but they never really commit to it. They spend a ton of money on this R&D initiative or that acquisition. Then they lose interest and walk away.

      Arguably, Java is an exception. But if Java has a long term future, it's because other players, such as IBM, have more commitment to it than Sun does.

    • Yeah, I really don't like their attitude either.

      I was all ready to purchase a Sun Blade 100, so I rang Sun with some questions. The guy I spoke to was rude and when I asked if I could upgrade it myself some time in the future with more RAM and larger hard drives, I was pretty much told that if I so much as opened the unit, the warrantee would be void.

      Apple does'nt even take a stance like that.

  • []

    Everything will come with the OS !

    --- I'm a 20th century digital boy
    --- I don't know what to do by I got a lot of PROGS
  • by PoiBoy ( 525770 ) <(moc.sgnidlohiop) (ta) (nairb)> on Thursday February 07, 2002 @12:29PM (#2967964) Homepage
    Having read the press release, here's what I get out of it:

    1. The x86 architecture with Linux will only be used in their Cobalt and other small file/print server solutions.

    2. They are not releasing any new workstations based on x86 processors.

    3. They plan on working with others to support Linux on the Sparc architecture.

    4. They offer products which allow Linux programs to run under Solaris.

    Now for the interesting questions:

    1. Is their work in Linux part of a long-range strategy to phase out Solaris? After all, they make money selling hardware. If a free UNIX is available, why waste money developing Solaris.

    2. Are they taking a play out of IBM's Linux-everywhere strategy? How soon before we see E10k's and E15k's shipping with virtual machine software able to support 1000's of Linux images?

    Just my take on the article.

    • User-Mode-Linux ported to Solaris might be feasible. That would be pretty damn cool; a pile of Linux images running on an E15K with Sun's nicely fascist ;) SRM accounting/scheduler forcing everybody to play nice.

      Or is UML x86-specific, and I'm smoking crack here?
    • by forged ( 206127 )
      ...isn't quite ready yet, as we have seen on multiple occasions over the last year or so

      I just cannot see Sun replacing Solaris on their high-end multi-processor machines... Or at least not until Linux scales equally well :-)

      • I just cannot see Sun replacing Solaris on their high-end multi-processor machines... Or at least not until Linux scales equally well :-)

        It's not just scalability. There are features in Solaris-- although I'm not familiar enough with them to get specific-- that allow the customer to partition out failed hardware components for repair or replacement without taking the system down. Linux has no features even remotely like that.

        Of course, the big problem was always getting the system to recognize the new hardware component again. If I remember right, that still requires a reboot....
        • Adding new harware to their new enterprise server systems is mindless and requires no reboot at all. If a processor board fails, just yank the dead one out and put a new one in and once the RAM and CPU check out as OK, its part of the system. And since all of the USIII based systems share the *exact same boards* (processor, I/O, power) one canreplace a blown processor board in a 15K with one from a 6800, all without a reboot. It's pretty neat to watch, although it scares the shit out of the NT guys.
        • Umm, you're wrong...

          You might want to look at Greg KH patches for HotPCI plugins as well as processors plugins...

          Of course - you cannot do it on off-the-shelf motherboard, only on the Telco's customized machines, but there is a Linux support for this kind of stuff..
        • Of course, the big problem was always getting the system to recognize the new hardware component again

          Sun has done a pretty good job at dynamic reconfiguration, just not automatic, dynamic reconfiguration. This is supported in Solaris, just not in all versions of the hardware. I beleive you need the X800 series of Enterprise servers, or a 10/15K. The X500 series is absolutely not hot swappable on the CPU's as it ships from Sun (I know, we lost two CPU's that crashed the box). I'm not aware of any patches necessary other than the standard Solaris patches.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      >1. Is their work in Linux part of a long-range >strategy to phase out Solaris? After all, they >make money selling hardware. If a free UNIX is >available, why waste money developing Solaris.

      Because they make a lot of money selling Solaris, and selling maintenance contracts for Solaris.

    • >2. Are they taking a play out of IBM's Linux-everywhere strategy? How soon before we see E10k's and E15k's shipping with virtual machine software able to support 1000's of Linux images?

      Not likely. When you say "Linux images," I'm assuming that you mean running linux on a Dynamic System Domain. The E10k only supports 16 domains. I think the E15k will support only 18, but I don't remember that off the top of my head...
    • Is their work in Linux part of a long-range strategy to phase out Solaris?

      Unless it is done right, Linux on really big servers won't be quite as good as Solaris. Sun has invested a lot of effort in making Solaris extremely efficient on many processors. Sun can afford to drop Solaris only if Linux is equally good or better on large computers, which isn't the case, right now.

      Instead, Sun sees Linux as an opportunity to position themselves better against small-time servers, such as those that run Windows NT/2000.
    • What's the point of replacing Solaris with Linux? The only reason to do this is to facilitate the portability of Linux/x86 applications. They will all need to be recompiled for the Sparc platform. If Sun implements the important Linux libraries on Solaris then they will get this portability without having to throw away 20 years of OS research.

      I find it highly likely that this is exactly what will happen. And I wouldn't be surprised to see this on the only other Unix workalike with a future as well (OS X). Although I doubt Apple will support it like Sun will.
  • Well, shit, this is surprising!

    Now that the pigs are flying nicely and Hell has reached about -5 degrees Celsius, perhaps Microsoft will overwrite their IIS source code directory with Apache source files, and do the same with their 'Win95_98_ME' and 'Win_NT_2K_XP', only this time replacing it with the Linux source.

    (Sorry, not as funny as it could've been. I'm still waking up :-)
  • Sun is now realizing that they don't have a snowball's chance in hell in growing for much longer. With a lot of their core businesses moving to the Linux platform they need to keep up with the herd. In the EDA/ASIC field everybody is moving to x86 and Linux. Now that Synopsys has ported tools to Linux there's no reason to buy a $4000 Ultra 10 P.O.S. when you can get an Athlon XP 2000+ for $800 and get 2x-4x the performance. I was asked by a friend-of-a-friend (who happened to be a Sun salesdroid) what I thought of Sun boxes. I told him straight that Linux was going to crush them in the EDA market. He didn't like my answer too much. But the fact is that Sun is becoming more and more of niche player and I find it hard to believe that that is going to change any unless they find ways of building cheaper boxes with better performance.
  • why linux (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ubi_NL ( 313657 ) <joris@id[ ] ['eee' in gap]> on Thursday February 07, 2002 @12:32PM (#2967992) Journal
    This post is not ment to troll but...

    I keep wondering why big companies like HP and Sun choose linux, instead of freeBSD. Although I'm not an expert on any of them, as far as I understand the BSD structure resembles SunOS and HP/UX more than Linux. Both BSD and linux are open source, and the BSD license even seems to be preferable to companies if, in the end, they decide to go closed source anyway.
    Can someone explain this to me?
    • Re:why linux (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ChaseTec ( 447725 )
      > I understand the BSD structure resembles SunOS and HP/UX more than Linux
      Not really, SunOS used to be BSD based but changed that alot when they combined their stuff with AT&T's and ended up with System5Release4. Depending on the Linux distro sometimes Linux will end up closer to a SVR4 Unix.

      > I keep wondering why big companies like HP and Sun choose linux, instead of freeBSD
      Guess what OSX is based on :)
    • bandwagon and mindshare... CIOs have heard of Linux, not all of them have heard of *BSD. That's sad, because the BSDs are far more mature at a system level and I think they probably scale better. Then again, Sun and HP have Solaris and HP-UX for selling scalability.

      Something else they're not thinking about is that Linux is not 100% POSIX-compliant. that's going to piss off a lot of senior engineers who have to port legacy apps from HP-UX/Solaris (or, shudder, older Unixes) over to Linux.
      • by hoggy ( 10971 )
        [Bollocks! I had written a long thoughtful reply to this and it got eaten by the submission system. 2nd attempt...]

        bandwagon and mindshare... CIOs have heard of Linux, not all of them have heard of *BSD. That's sad, because the BSDs are far more mature at a system level and I think they probably scale better. Then again, Sun and HP have Solaris and HP-UX for selling scalability.

        An interesting question this point raises is: do IBM/HP/Sun consider Linux good enough to support small applications, but not good enough to be any real competition?

        For instance: IBM sell special cheap zSeries processor nodes for running Linux VMs, but you can't buy a whole machine full of them. You still have to buy a "proper" node. They want you to run Linux beside zOS not instead of it. Clearly they're more worried about people running bind or Apache on non-IBM hardware than with people using Linux to do serious OLTP or something.

        Is all this big guy support of Linux the equivalent of "damning with faint praise"?
    • Possibly hardware support, FreeBSD is (AFAIK) only capable of running on x86 and Alpha based machines, whereas linux runs on a wider range, and supports a wider range of peripherals under x86/alpha.
      Secondly, linux is more well known to the public than any bsd variant, so it wins in marketting.
      Also linux currently is more scalable to higher end systems than freebsd, although this may change in the future. And companies like HP and Sun both offer some very high end servers, on Sparc and PA-RISC respectively, which freebsd also does not support.
      • NetBSD on the other hand runs on everything under the sun, including sparcs and has a linux and FreeBSD compatability modes.

        It is missing SMP in i386 at least, which given their backround, Sun could help greatly with.
    • I prefer FreeBSD to Linux, it is much more stable, (referring to development) and I find it meets my needs more than fine. I'm rather happy that Apple based OSX on FreeBSD, and hope that the BSD's stay strong. No disrespect to Linux, (cause that's what got me turned onto Unix at home) but BSD is more "professional".
    • Linux seems to be getting all the hype lately, which might have something to do with it. Also, Linux seems to have more momentum, more developers, more drivers, bigger user base, etc.
    • Re:why linux (Score:4, Insightful)

      by hoggy ( 10971 ) on Thursday February 07, 2002 @12:49PM (#2968129) Homepage Journal
      Because Linux has mindshare and is a big buzzword at the moment. Make no mistake, the big guys are behind Linux because it's a good marketing move. I applaud the efforts of IBM, HP, and Sun in this regard - but one should be very careful before getting into bed with them.

      Linux is a convenient tool for IBM to rescue their big iron from obscurity, for HP to save themselves from obscurity, and for Sun to sound like they're not falling behind IBM and HP.

      There's an argument that picking a GPLed OS means that competitors can't commercialise their work, but I'm not convinced about this one. If you look closely, few lines of code have come out of these houses. They're much more interested in making sure that their hardware can run Linux, or Linux apps, than in supporting the general Open Source / Free Software movement. It's a careful play to ensure that if the OS ends up being commoditized, people don't pick Intel's hardware.
    • Re:why linux (Score:1, Interesting)

      by NDPTAL85 ( 260093 )
      To keep it short its because of the GPL. The GPL license makes Linux the "One true Unix" that cannot be forked. Unix was already forked long ago and thats how we got AIX, Solaris, HP-UX, Tru64....etc. If they chose any of the BSD OS's it would just happen again specifically because the BSD license ALLOWS this to happen. The taking of source proprietary. With Linux the source CANT be taken propreitary. Each vendor is forced to play fair. Thus each vendor feels safer contributing. Its sort of like a unilateral disarmament confrence. No one is willing to disarm till the other guy does first. Using a BSD license wouldn't do anything to remove the atmosphere of fear and suspicion that one side might take the contributed code and benefit at the cost of the others.
    • If Sun said tomorrow that they were going to release freeBSD on all products, IBM, HP and MS would all be far more wary about touching freeBSD for anything. The BSDs suffer from the fact that a closed schism can occur at any time, and in the hands of a company like Sun it would take a very very very long time before people ever imagined that they were not going to close their version. With the GPL Linux is purely collabaritive and hence when IBM put work into the kernel they are just moving the level playing field. How would Sun feel if they adopted freeBSD and put some of their "prize posessions" into its kernel and then Apple simply took those enhancements and integrated them into OS-X but never let Sun see how they integrated it or learn anything in return?
    • The companies are choosing linux over FreeBSD because the FreeBSD license allows people to kidknapp code. Nobody at any of these companies wants to contribute source code to an OS that could be highjacked and made better unless they company can benefit as well.

      The GPL prevents this by saying if you redistribute the program with changes you have to redistribute the source code as well.
    • Re:why linux (Score:5, Insightful)

      by foobar104 ( 206452 ) on Thursday February 07, 2002 @12:54PM (#2968168) Journal
      I keep wondering why big companies like HP and Sun choose linux, instead of freeBSD.

      I can't speak about Sun or HP, but some time ago SGI started working on tons of stuff for Linux, including but not limited to their XFS filesystem. More info:

      It's pretty clear, when you think about it, why they chose to release their valuable technologies for Linux rather than BSD: the GPL. GPL is, contrary to what Microsoft might say, a pretty business-friendly license. If a business spends billions of dollars over decades developing, say, XFS, then releases it under a BSD-style license, then anybody can incorporate that technology into their commercial products for free.

      On the other hand, releasing XFS for Linux under the GPL means SGI gets to say they have XFS on IRIX and also on Linux, but it does not mean that Sun can put XFS in Solaris or whatever.

      You can't make any money, directly, off of producing GPL'd code, but you can at least prevent your competitors from benefiting from your work.
      • Re:why linux (Score:3, Interesting)

        by donutello ( 88309 )
        There's a big difference between the licensing mechanism of what they include and the licensing mechanism of what they distribute.

        GPl in => GPL out.
        BSD in => Closed Source out, GPL out, BSD out.
        Closed Source in => Closed Source out, GPL out, BSD out (provide they buy the rights to the software, not just license it)

        SGI could include BSD code and are then free to release their own work as closed source, BSD or even GPL - as they wish.
      • No. I've been inside one of those companies, and the GPL is in fact the biggest obstacle, not the biggest advantage. They don't like the viral properties of the GPL. They are much more worried about being forced to release existing trade secrets than they are about competitors adopting their code.

        No, the real reason is simply buzz. Mind share. There is nothing particularly wrong with BSD, but it isn't exciting and it doesn't get the press. It's viewed as old and a little stodgy. (To Sun, especially, it seems old and stodgy---the original SunOS was based on BSD and they spent a great deal to move to SysV, so going back isn't viewed as a sensible solution. )
    • Re:why linux (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SurfsUp ( 11523 ) on Thursday February 07, 2002 @12:55PM (#2968177)
      I keep wondering why big companies like HP and Sun choose linux, instead of freeBSD. Although I'm not an expert on any of them, as far as I understand the BSD structure resembles SunOS and HP/UX more than Linux. Both BSD and linux are open source, and the BSD license even seems to be preferable to companies if, in the end, they decide to go closed source anyway.
      Can someone explain this to me?

      Because developers tend to prefer the GPL, which garauntees that we won't be buying back the fruits of our own labor one day from someone who's taken the whole thing, added some decoration, and used it to are part of some kind of toll booth on the information superhighway.
    • It's like the VHS vs Beta battle when video tape recorders first came out. Beta was the superior technology, but VHS won the marketing battle. So we got stuck with VHS.

      Alan Cox was asked this question recently and his answer was basically the same. Linux has achieved more visibility.

      Looking at the way things are shaking out Apples OS X has finally made a Unix for the desktop. OS X is a Unix machine I could give my grandmother and not be swamped with how-to phone calls. Linux is still light years away for the desktop and probably won't make it, but its doing very well in the server market.

      The Open Source crowd just doesn't understand what it take to build a real desktop OS for the masses. It's far more than putting a bunch of GUI widgets on a screen. Apple, IBM (OS/2) and like it or not MS have spent billions in R&D to make desktops your grandmother can use. Most Open Source desktop software still requires more computer literacy than the masses have or want to have. The masses want appliances. IMO Linux should stick to its strong suit servers.
    • Re:why linux (Score:3, Interesting)

      by buckeyeguy ( 525140 )
      The 'original' SunOS, SunOS 4.x.x, essentially was/is BSD. SunOS 5.x.x, which they later called Solaris, is largely SVR4, but to make their existing user base happy, they kept a ton of BSD-compatibility items, thus the OS seems BSD-ish if all you run is BSD-style commands.

      Older versions of HP/UX weren't based on BSD; they could have been considered their own variant of Unix, as different as they were (possibly due to catering to their HP3000/mpe customer base). With HP/UX 10.x, they started going the POSIX-compatible route.

      As for why they choose Linux now? Bandwagon jumping, plain and simple. Yes, we can make a ton of arguments in favor of Linux, but in the end, it's the higher-ups and the sales people that make those 'direction' calls. That's one reason why HP wants Compaq; their own Netserver line couldn't penetrate the market, yet Compaq's offerings would be great to fill that gap in HP's NT (and Linux) offerings.

    • There are many reasons for that...

      • Mindshare. Linux has momentum. Many applications are already available or being ported.
      • Maturity. Linux is much more mature in many areas than *BSD, like SMP.
      • Performance. Linux gets really good results in many benchmarks, like SPECWEB with Red Hat's TUX web server.
      • Success creates success. With IBM and Dell already there, it creates pressure for other players to join in.

      Also, having companies like Red Hat, Inc. (where I work) to talk to doesn't hurt - FreeBSD is low on corporate backing, FTTB.

  • Lip service. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by m1nat0r ( 522205 )
    Some of the folks involved with jakarta [] are less than convinced about sun's attitude towards OS. []
  • "The right track"? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kma ( 2898 ) on Thursday February 07, 2002 @12:34PM (#2968008) Homepage Journal
    It might be the right track for your rah-rah Linux agenda, but it's probably the wrong track for Sun. What does Sun think it can do Intel servers running Linux that IBM, HP, et al. can't? With neither hardware nor software to differentiate these boxes, what will sell them? Ed Zander's good looks?

    I'll go out on a limb here, and predict that this is the beginning of an SGI-esque downward spiral into total irrelevance. Any bets on when Sun rolls out a new logo?
    • Very true,

      Why does this make Sun on the "right track now"?
      I guess I felt they where on the "right track" when they purchased "Star Office" and released the code. That seems like a bigger deal to me than the new stuff their doing now.

      Do you other /.er's feel that Sun is finally on the right track now? I think its good in a lot of ways that /. really keeps on eye on the big companies, but sometimes I feel like everyone is trying to be hard on them just for the sake of being hard on them.
    • You're half right. They certainly need something to differentiate themselves from IBM at least (HP seems to be drifting aimlessly right now - not much of a threat). The problem for Sun is that Solaris isn't that something. It's a nice Unix, but it's not so much better that that people will base purchasing decisions on it. And what advantages it has now are gradually disappearing.

      The question is, what do they do to differentiate themselves? Better management tools perhaps? Focus on the 'appliances' like Cobalt? Either of those would work IMHO.

      Anyway, hedging their bets with Linux is the first of two steps. They need Linux in order to stay in the game, but clearly they need something else in order to win. They realize this and I'm sure there will be more announcements to come (or maybe the new Cobalt line is part of the new strategy).

  • by kin_korn_karn ( 466864 ) on Thursday February 07, 2002 @12:35PM (#2968013) Homepage
    It's a marketing strategy.
    Solaris is known as "slowaris" because it is optimized for SMP systems. Single CPU boxes are cheap. Sun was getting rejected by potential customers because to get the full benefit of Solaris you have to buy a massive box. If they vend Linux then they can target both the cheapskates/small companies and the huge enterprise vendors.

    Linux runs well on Sparc chips, BTW.
  • which is described here []. If so, it's a good tool to have.

    Disclaimer required: that's my opinion, not my employer's, and I'm biased.

  • 07.Feb.02--Sun Microsystems has embraced the Linux operating system, rolling out a multipart program that will significantly broaden the offerings of Linux on low-end Sun servers and commit new resources to the ongoing development of the Open Source operating system.

    The program, announced Thursday, comprises three ambitious goals to be met in the coming year.

    Sun will ship for the first time a full implementation of Linux on a new line of general-purpose servers aimed at providing "edge" services to environments such as workgroups and remote offices. New single- and multiprocessor systems, to be announced mid-year, will use the x86 architecture and be capable of running thousands of Linux applications natively.
    Sun will dramatically expand its line of Sun Cobalt[tm] Linux appliances, the world's leading Linux-based appliance systems. Look for innovations beyond the current eight-inch-square Qube[tm] and the 1.75-inch-high rack-mountable configurations. Sun's Cobalt server appliances start around $1000 and have an installed base of more than 100,000 units.
    Sun plans to participate more aggressively in the Linux developer community by freely offering key components of its Solaris[tm] operating environment software, and by releasing tools to help developers ensure compatibility between the two Unix[R] derivatives.
    Delivering Value
    Sun's commitment to the Linux operating system brings additional value to customers of its Solaris/SPARC[tm] architecture. Already, Sun systems have built-in compatibility with Linux, so that any Solaris-based system can also run Linux applications. New software such as Linux Compatibility Toolkit (LinCAT), announced today, can help simplify the process of assuring that Linux applications will run on the Sun Fire[tm] family of servers. And in the future, Sun's upcoming Solaris 9 Operating Environment will provide additional built-in Linux commands, utilities, and interfaces.

    For Linux users, the new program will make key Sun[tm] Open Net Environment (Sun ONE) technologies available to the Linux platform, including the iPlanet[tm] Directory and Web servers, Forte[tm] for Java[tm] development tools, the Java/XML platform, Project JXTA, StarOffice[tm] productivity suite, Sun[tm] Chili!Soft ASP, and the Sun Grid Engine.

    "We will now offer our customers an incredible value proposition by delivering our binary-compatible industry-leading SPARC/Solaris system family, which starts at less than one thousand and goes to nearly ten million dollars, along with our new Sun Linux low-end servers and Sun Cobalt appliances for emerging edge services applications," said Ed Zander, Sun's president and chief operating officer. "And with our Sun ONE Java- and XML-based software platform, developers can write to one software platform and run their applications or services across a vast array of systems."

    Open for Business
    Sun is already one of the largest providers of intellectual property to the Open Source development effort.

    Sun today contributes resources and technology to free and open source projects including:,,,,,, WBEMsource Initiative, the University of Michigan NFS version 4 Linux port, the Grid Engine Project, and Project JXTA.

    Now, Sun plans to take an even more active role in contributing software and expertise to the Open Source software movement.

    "We have some of the industry's most advanced Unix, Java, and XML experts now working to advance Linux with the key mission-critical features of the Java platform and Solaris operating environment," Zander said. "By adding the Linux community to the hundreds of thousands of Solaris developers, and the nearly three million Java/XML developers, Sun's customers have unified access to the broadest array of innovation in the industry on which to provide services. Sun remains the best open business opportunity for developers."

    Pushing the Envelope
    Sun is working on a number of fronts to support and further the work being done in the Open Source community, and on the Linux code base in particular.

    Today, Sun released an application development tool, ABIcheck, to the Open Source community; the tool helps ensure compatibility between Linux releases.
    In the future, Sun will offer contributions to the Linux kernel.
    Sun will expand its partnerships with the Linux community to provide native support of Linux on SPARC systems for both the telecommunications and embedded markets. Companies such as SuSE and Lineo support Linux native on Sun's SPARC microprocessors today.
    Lineo will adapt and support Lineo's Embedix embedded Linux operating system on UltraSPARC[tm] processor-based end user-developed custom hardware.
    Sun will support its Linux products with a rich set of support and professional services.
    Sun will support Linux on its key StorEdge[tm] line of storage systems and software.
    GNOME, the most advanced Linux user environment, will become the preferred desktop for Solaris when GNOME 2.0 begins shipping later this year.
  • Also Java 1.4 out (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I (together with many others I'm sure) also submitted that Java 1.4 (Merlin) [] has been released, which I think is pretty big news, but it seems that story was rejected.

  • by thedarb ( 181754 ) on Thursday February 07, 2002 @12:37PM (#2968041) Homepage
    Scott Scott Scott... You are so close to hitting the mark. You forgot the most valuable part of Linux... it's VM ability.

    Now if you were to port Linux to your SunFire platform, you could have a direct competitor with IBM's Mainframe Linux. How is that?

    Imagine taking an E15k system... Setting it up as a single domain running Linux. Now, under that, use the Usermode Linux to create VM servers. No longer would this platform limit a system to particular boards... All these VM's could run in that large single domain, sharing it's CPU's, disks and IO. This would compete directly with IBM's implimentation of Linux on the mainframes.

    Now let's take it a step further... IBM's mainframe is great for Linux VM's needing I/O intensive tasks. It's CPU isn't meant for many large number crunching VM's. The SunFire are. So while IBM gets big offering services on Linux VM such as Samba & NFS file services, Oracle & DB2, Enterprise email... You could be selling for the CPU intensive side. Graphics apps, XML and PDF parsers, engineering, etc.

    Sun, you cannot afford to not do this. Sun's big server market will depend on it. It's only a matter of time before IBM fill's the niche for the CPU intensive VM's... And while I do like IBM and their commitment to Linux, I'd hate to see Sun drop off the radar. Competition is what brings about inovation, it's almost cliche.

    • Linux fan that I am, it's nowhere near ready for the Starcat (E15K). That beast will take 72 processors (106 if you _really_ want them). Solaris has been doing large numbers of processors for a while (E10K, the 24 processor SunFire range, etc). It's pretty good at using them effectively. The linux kernel isn't there yet, in fact I think 8 processors is pretty much its limit right now......
      The main factor limiting getting past this limit is that few people have access to this sort of hardware to do the development work. Think of how Linux got on the mainframe, a few bored IBM engineers had an old mainframe and got hacking. It got into the wild mostly because that implementation runs on top of the normal mainframe OS, and can co-exist with other mainframe apps. It got into production mainframes for precisely that reason. If it had required the mainframe to be dedicated to Linux we'd still be waiting.

      Can the same happen with the E15K's? I don't think it will. Why? Because you'd have to run the Linux kernel on top of Solaris! This simply doesn't make sense when you'd be far better off running the apps natively under Solaris. The only way I see Linux getting onto that sort of hardware is if Sun (or IBM ) give access to one of these multi-processor machines to some developers. That's the short-term view. The linux kernel will continue to scale better and better, and I have no doubt it will get there, but for Sun to have mentioned it in that press release it would have to be there now, and it obviously isn't.

      Besides which, you try convincing a conservative IT manager to spend US$1M+ on an E15K to run Linux on it, when you don't have successful case-studies to show him.

      These views are not endorsed by my employer, and are given solely on the basis of public-domain knowledge, so don't try reading too much into them.
  • Sun-dried Linux (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I thought Sun made money selling their proprietary OS on proprietary hardware ( a bit ago, when the support was good, it was worth the extra ) - I don't think they can win anymore as just another high-end hardware vendor, so maybe they'll aim at selling "Sun-approved" Linux distros + closed-source software extras ?
    That would be good for Linux, I think.


    Props to Hemos for correct spelling, at last.
    • sun sell kit. period.

      we've run into them so many times when they said, "oh you want iplanet for free, we'll give it to you - but we'll only give you the solaris version". "oh you want solaris, cool, we'll give you that for free too, but only if you buy a sun box". hook. line. sinker.

      naturally we went the BEA route ;)
      • But everything works well together w/o having to shell out toons of money for each peice. Yes the hardware cost a lot, but it is well worth it. Good hardware, backed with good support. Oh, and sun software plays well with others. So you don't have to use sun only things.

        They ended up making the OS free, only paying for costs. (shipping/midea) granted its still ~$70. but it comes with several CDs, and other little goodies.
      • Re:Sun-dried Linux (Score:3, Informative)

        by HeUnique ( 187 )
        And now, in short time - you'll have iPlanet - Linux port.. read their press releases...

        (yes, once again - they're saying it's "customer demands")..
  • All very well but I've been trying to reach for hours now (even before this story) and not being able to get through...
    or Slashdotted - or both?

    Not exactly a good advert for sun is it?
  • jakarta (Score:5, Insightful)

    by j3110 ( 193209 ) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {llerretmas}> on Thursday February 07, 2002 @12:43PM (#2968084) Homepage
    Does this mean they are going to be nicer to the Jakarta folks??? under "30 January 2002 - That flaming fireball in the sky..."

    Sun's always been friendly to OSS as long as it gives them good press to be so. I'm not certain they are so good at heart. Maybe they were just scarred by microsoft changing the meaning of Java that they don't trust an ad-hoc group of unpaid developers to not do the same.
  • The whole point of the Cobalt's is that they are appliances and are not the general purpose servers that everyone else ships. That's how Sun compete in this low end part of the market.

    If you need a general purpose server, go for Solaris and Sparc.
  • This sounds to me like Sun is just trying to give the impression that they're staying with the times. Which they are, I'll grant, but after being dusted by Oracle last week over Linux, it seems to me that Sun is still licking their wounds and hoping to make things look better for them and worse for Oracle.
  • Scott McNealy has obsessed himself with battling Microsoft. Its a battle he can't win but it looks like he is going to keep burning up cycles until the bitter end. When will this man learn that he can't win? Take a note from Steve Jobs - route around MS where you can, play nice with them where you must.

    As for linux, Sun can pander to the market in some tacit fashion for now, but ultimately linux can destroy Sun's entire business. IBM knows this. So does HP. So does Intel. Sun's proprietary solution set is on its last legs, and in five years will be gone.

    Short this company.

  • To all the Linux zealots, proclaiming the death of Sun, who have never been inside a large data centre with expensive Sun kit inside it, I'll give you a hint:

    Sun's Core Business has nothing to do with Linux on cheap, commodity X86!

    Sun sells high-end systems, big-iron that competes with other high-end vendors. They make all the profit off hardware, JUST LIKE IBM, when IBM sells a big-iron server with either AIX, or Linux. So remember, these vendors are competeing with Hardware, not Software. Cheap commodity X86 isnt in the race for the very high-end.
    • Wow, if I had known how lucrative extremely high-end, proprietary hardware was, I would have invested in Cray and SGI. I'd be a rich man, right?
      • Re:Just like Cray! (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        IBM and Compaq find it pretty lucrative as well as Sun.

        And I'm sure I could find dozens upon dozens of failed low-end hardware providers too. Infact, if you have this innate sense for being right, why arent you a rich man already, seeing as how you obviously know in advance who is going to succeed in a market, and who isnt, in advance.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      True, but the decline of that segment has been accelerating in recent years. It started before the dot-com boom, but for a few years, they did so much business selling servers to startups that it masked the problem.

      Just for example, I'm pondering replacing a few Sun/Solaris servers with generic clones running Linux. The Suns work fine, but the ongoing cost of support contracts and potential upgrade costs, are pretty stifling. We're anticipating some growth, and it's just cheaper to buy a couple of spare Linux boxes and keep them in the wings as replacements or additions to the cluster. I no longer expect my systems to be reliable, I achieve reliability through redundancy and an inventory of spares. Sun equipment is too expensive to use use that way.

      The high-end stuff will continue to exist for quite some time, but there's no growth left in that segment; that's why Sun has to try SOMETHING at the low end. Not sure if this will work for them, but but it's probably smarter than just sitting there milking cash out of a dying segment of the market.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        If you can easily replace a low-end Sun system with an X86 system, then do it. You werent a lucrative customer of Sun anyway. Sun makes their money off the kinds of systems that you cannot replace with cheap X86 hardware anyway. Same with IBM, its just they have an option for Linux instead of AIX.

        So, asthetics aside, and knowing that its the hardware sales that drive profit, what is the difference between IBM and Sun? To the point that IBM are seen around here to be so wonderful, and Sun to be an evil corporation with declining marketshare, and whatever else people want to prophesize to the detriment of Sun?

        Not much? Thought so. We now return you to the normal Slashdot blinkered advocacy...
  • I wrote a comment on the page and emailed it to some of my contacts in sales and support with a link back to this page:

    "You might want to get into the Linux Beowulf cluster business. Cadence is rolling out some very nice tools to gang cheap Linux boxes together to speed up simulation runs during the design phase of projects . We have probably already bought our last high performance Sparc box to do computational simulations.

    "Its nice seeing you guys realize that the world is moving on. You better get up in front of the herd and start beating a nice trail at a good pace or IBM will be setting both the pace and the direction of midrange and higher computing in 2 years using Linux.

    "With the LSB 1.1 and the market momentum right now, most of the traditional Unix design tool houses like Cadence will be looking at Linux to grow their market. This doesn't mean that Slowlaris won't have some life left in it for some time, but it does mean that without a renewed focus on providing competitive computing costs you will end up like SGI in the movie industry. Linux is eating their lunch right now and is on its way to eating yours as well."
  • Sun might be looking more to Linux as the future of *nix on X86 that they are choosing to stand behind.

    As much as I like Linux, I think Solaris on Intel was extremely good, and it's questionable whether dropping that was a good idea.
  • by 1010011010 ( 53039 ) on Thursday February 07, 2002 @12:59PM (#2968219) Homepage
    Maybe Sun will make a new x86 system that has improved I/O -- like, using UPA rather than (or in addition to) PCI.

    Since Sun will not be worrying about Windows support, they can extend the architecture a bit. Still use x86 processors, but enhance the surrounding systems to make it less PC-like and more big-server-like.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Linux is great, but what would really sell it for me is good serial console support and the lights-out management support they have in their Netra line. I don't want to buy a stripped down Netra X1 when I can get a smoking fast PC for the same price. The only advantage the X1 might have is the LOMlite, built-in watchdog and serial console support. With the PC you need something like a PC-Weasel card to convert the VGA to serial to get true console support on the serial port.. otherwise if your system doesn't boot you're screwed. You can't go into the CMOS at all.
    • Doesn't that defeat the point of x86? (cheap, plentiful commodity hardware).

      I'm not sure how I'd feel about Sun manufacturing intel-based hardware using their own "architecture extensions".

      I thought the point here was to still sell sparc machines, just offer an alternative to slowlaris, anyway?
  • Did we slashdot the dot in dot com? If so, good job boys, you make me proud.
  • Lots of people who run Oracle run it on SPARC Solaris. Since Oracle just announced it was moving to run everything on Linux, lots of PHB's have been plotting how to get rid of the Sun/Oracle machines to replace them with PC's running linux. You see, they have a PC on their desk, so they fundamentally understand them, so they're much better than having mysterious blue boxes in the machine room.

    Sun is preempting the certain loss of hardware sales here. They can explain that linux runs well on the existing SPARC machines (prob. better than x86 for big-memory machines) and that moving to linux doens't mean 'throwing away their existing infrastructure'. The PHB's PHB will like that idea.

    Good for them - companies that can adapt to linux will survive. Solaris has been headed this way anyway, what with the filesystem reorganization and GNOME, etc.. Even though Oracle forced their hand, they've been preparing for this for quite a while.
  • by dcavanaugh ( 248349 ) on Thursday February 07, 2002 @01:17PM (#2968338) Homepage
    Sun's main purpose in life seems to be as the launching platform for Oracle. Some of Sun's competitors have better performance, some have better prices, some claim to have both, but nobody has the level of Oracle support that Sun/Solaris gets. Without Oracle, there would be no Sun. Considering Larry's announcement about migrating all of Oracle's corporate systems to Linux, the handwriting is on the wall for Solaris. From Oracle's perspective, Linux is a great way to enhance their position vs. M$ SQL server on the low end, and go after IBM DB2 on the high end, all at the same time.

    If anyone believes what Larry says, it looks like Oracle will elevate Linux to the top tier of supported OS, probably at the expense of Solaris. This really sucks for me because I committed to the SPARC/Solaris platform about 8 months ago. Oracle support of Linux wasn't quite there yet and I didn't have time on my side. I always thought a transition to Linux was inevitable, but I thought it would take another year or two.

    From Sun's point of view, they are probably looking for a smooth way to transition SPARC Solaris to SPARC Linux, so as to drop Solaris entirely as a cost-cutting measure. Sun needs either a huge boost in SPARC CPU performance or lower pricing, preferrably both. Otherwise they will get killed by high-end X86 systems.

    I think the ultimate fate of Sun/Solaris will be the same as Digital/VMS: It's another attack from the commodity boxes, armed with a standard operating system, this time without the M$ nonsense.
    • From Sun's point of view, they are probably looking for a smooth way to transition SPARC Solaris to SPARC Linux, so as to drop Solaris entirely as a cost-cutting measure. Sun needs either a huge boost in SPARC CPU performance or lower pricing, preferrably both. Otherwise they will get killed by high-end X86 systems.

      That's interesting.. By no means do I have an inside view into Sun or anything, but from what I've seen, they've been arrogantly avoiding that idea. We run Linux on an older Ultra 30 box at work (our Amanda backup server), and I find it to be much easier to manage than the Solaris boxes we have.

      I remember when I started working with Solaris systems.. So many things were missing from the OS (well, from my longtime Linux user perspective). Sun is, perhaps rightly, concerned about having databases and web servers running efficiently on their operating system, but they haven't made it any easier to use. I suppose that changes a bit with Gnome coming with the OS, but we'll see.

      I'd really like to see them support Linux on their lower-end Sparc hardware more (ie, the 8 processor market). Looks like they might make me a bit happier by supporting some management software for their StorEgde RAID arrays (very cool..)

      I guess it's not Sun I should really be worrying about, though. Many organizations that run Solaris/Sparc systems have proprietary software that generally isn't available for Linux/Sparc.

      We were going to try to move one of our bigger servers to Linux, but we just couldn't get software.
      • "...they've been arrogantly avoiding that idea"

        It sure looks that way, but they can't hang on like this forever.

        In any company, you have some staff and management whose very existance depends on maintaining the status quo; in this case that means Solaris. If history serves as a guide, they will continue to maintain the status quo until the liquidators come to dismantle the cubicles.

        I have no more insight into Sun than you do, but Oracle's shift towards Linux will for Sun to follow, no matter how much they try not to.

        Of all the reasons why hardware companies fail, one of the biggest is the tendency to hang on to proprietary systems until the last dollar of revenue has been extracted. By then, low-ball competitors have commoditized the market, and it's too late to salvage anything.
  • There are three reasons we use Solaris on our E450:
    • SUNWSPCi support -- this is a card that behaves like a 64 meg Ix86 machine in a window under X. Like VMware, but has its own hardware.
    • Adept Editor -- an expensive but good SGML/XML editor suite.
    • SunRay support -- Sunrays are thin clients that net boot off of the E450.

    If Sun worked with the Linux people to get full hardware support for things like the Sunrays and the SPCi card, and for (cough) Solaris/Linux binary compatability (Heh, the WINE folk have done a harder ask...) this would make a lot of smaller servers switch to Linux, which is more suited to the hardware.


  • Has Sun said anything about it's .NET/Mono strategy on Linux yet? This would be interesting to see, given Sun's strong support of Ximian.
  • Nice news. We can always use another vendor and another contributor to libre software, which Sun already was, though I welcome what looks to be a broader and deeper effort. Way to go Sun!

    HOWEVER, until Sun frees Java, they will always be viewed askance by the community. I'd understand keeping Java closed if it were a cash cow. It's not. Not freeing Java doesn't seem to make sense from a business or any other perspective. Sun execs and lawyers: wake up and smell the coffee!

  • I happen to work on Sun Enterprise Class servers. And for al you thinking Sun will port Linux to run on E15k are fooling yourselves. There is no demand for that from their customers. Most E15k's are used for 1 thing. ORACLE. As the same with the E10k. And even if Linux was to be ported to it. No customer would ever trust Linux on a 6TG Oracle DB. Linux cant scale to 105 CPU's. Until that is fixed. Dream on.
    • You're absolutely right about Oracle being the killer app for the E15K. Hell, it's the killer app for almost all SPARC boxes. Considering the price/performance of SPARC, it's not worth buying unless you are going to run Oracle.

      There is no demand for an E15K Linux box because Oracle currently supports Solaris as a tier-1 platform, with varying degrees of support for anything else. I am an Oracle customer. To me, it looks like every patch or install kit is written and tested on Solaris, and then ported to the other systems. I once worked at a DEC/VMS shop and saw what it's like to be at the other end of the Oracle support spectrum.

      If Oracle is serious about migrating their corporate systems to Linux, then it follows that the best support will someday be for Linux boxes instead of Solaris. If we ever get to that point, someone will bring Linux to the E15K. New customers will choose Linux for the same reason I chose Solaris: it's a matter of choosing the best-supported platform for Oracle. No matter what the merits of any OS, it's not worth the headache of being the stepchild of Oracle support.
  • The resources committed to libre software by IBM, Sun and other major corporations since the .com crash now far outstrip the cumulative contributions of failed and/or former libre-only companies like VA and Eazel.
  • High-End Hardware. Sun makes some pretty nice High-End Hardware too. While you can get some powerful computing done with Beowulf systems, a single Sun multiproc box is more compact and manageable in the majority of instances.

    I think Sun aught to put a bit more work into increasing the power and reducing the cost of their equipment. Get more of it out there while still making a decent profit.
  • By adding the Linux community to the hundreds of thousands of Solaris developers, and the nearly three million Java/XML developers, Sun's customers have unified access to the broadest array of innovation in the industry on which to provide services.

    Three Million Java/XML developers? Where are they hiding? Or are the vast majority of them still inexperienced rugrats?

    I do know a few people do are Java developers, but the C and C++ crowd still outnumbers. Even with the job market as it is today, finding Java developers (well, at least good ones with some experience) is still hard to do. I think that three million figure quite an exaggeration. More like 1/4 of that.

  • Remember when SGI tried to get into the NT-workstation market? This is exactly the same thing! Sun will be making overpriced x86-boxes with proprietary crap on them, just like SGI. This just won't work.

  • omigawd... it has come to this: McNealy wears Penguin Suit []

    Excerpt: "Lou Gerstner didn't have to do this. If I just say we're going to spend a billion dollars on this, can I take this off?" said a sweltering McNealy, referring to IBM's loud move to spend vast sums of money on Linux in 2001.

    If Sun were a TV show, they would have just had their 'jumping the shark' moment...

"I will make no bargains with terrorist hardware." -- Peter da Silva