Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?
Sun Microsystems

Sun to Build Alternative Desktop ? 326

murthydn writes " At "Sun Tech Days 2003" Developer Conference in India ,Sun Microsystems Inc Chairman, President and CEO Scott McNealy exhorted Indian software programmers to build Sun's "desktop computer" as an alternative system to Microsoft software architecture .The complete article is here" 'Cuz if there is one thing that will save Sun, its a new desktop platform. *cough*
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Sun to Build Alternative Desktop ?

Comments Filter:
  • Not a new platform (Score:5, Informative)

    by matthew.thompson ( 44814 ) <`matt' `at' `'> on Monday March 24, 2003 @10:20AM (#5582900) Journal
    The article talks of a new desktop computer.

    Looks like sun are trying to get into the low cost desktop platform providing Office-a-like features on a cheap and cheerful device.

    It mentions Linux, Evolution, Gnome and Star Office - sounds like it's more of a re-packaging that anything.
    • text of news (Score:2, Informative)

      by harami ( 612248 )
      Sun CEO woos Indian developers to build alternative desktop PTI[ SATURDAY, MARCH 22, 2003 09:46:19 PM ] BANAGALORE: Sun Microsystems Inc Chairman, President and CEO Scott McNealy today exhorted Indian software programmers to build Sun's "desktop computer" as an alternative system to Microsoft software architecture. "We want you to build the next generation software alternative to the Microsoft architecture," McNealy told over 2,000 software programmers and developers on the second day of "Sun Tech Day
    • by rugwuk ( 525954 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @10:35AM (#5583003) Homepage Journal
      The sunray has been around for several years. Its a flat panel, with smart card reader, move your badge to a new terminal your session goes with you. Walk from one conf room to another and your sessions goes with you!
      • by Craig Maloney ( 1104 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @10:43AM (#5583037) Homepage
        I saw one of these in practice at a Sun field office. It's very cool to see people insert their card through and have their desktop appear on their screens without logging in. In todays corporate environment of people being rather mobile throughout the corporation, I'm surprised it hasn't caught on outside of Sun. Of course it preclused having a personalized workspace and a place to call "yours", but perhaps combining the idea of "home base" no matter where you are along with a personalized workspace would be something I'd like to have.
        • by oldmanmtn ( 33675 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @11:36AM (#5583323)
          The Sun Ray idea is very cool even without the whole "hotelling office" setup.

          I can prep a presentation in my office, and then walk over to a conference room with my card and pop it up on the screen there instantly.

          I can have a debug session running in my office. If something goes flakey with the hardware, I can bring the whole session into the lab without stopping and re-establishing everything.

          If I run into a problem with a piece of code, I can grab my card, walk over to the original author's office, and show it to him on his Sun Ray - without him having to do so much as open a new window.

          I can move seamlessly back and forth between my office and the "Internet Cafe" in the next building. I can start writing an email over lunch, and finish it when I'm back at my desk.

          You get the portability of a laptop (within the campus at least), but it fits in your shirt pocket.

          • In reply to:
            You get the portability of a laptop (within the campus at least), but it fits in your shirt pocket.
            Do you have Sun Rays in your bathroom stalls?
            • Do you have Sun Rays in your bathroom stalls?

              I would instantly convert from agnosticism to the religion of any deity who would strike down with wrath the people who are so dorky they use their laptops while taking a shit.
        • I saw one of these in practice at a Sun field office. It's very cool to see people insert their card through and have their desktop appear on their screens without logging in. In todays corporate environment of people being rather mobile throughout the corporation, I'm surprised it hasn't caught on outside of Sun. Of course it preclused having a personalized workspace and a place to call "yours", but perhaps combining the idea of "home base" no matter where you are along with a personalized workspace would
          • by wwwillem ( 253720 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @12:18PM (#5583578) Homepage
            Then there is the risk: In a paperless office you can lose EVERYTHING.

            What about a burned down office building? :-)

            Serious: Besides the "move your desktop around on campus", the main other principle behind SunRay's, MadHatter, etc. is that your paperless stuff is important enough to be put on central (probably mirrored or RAID) storage which gets backed up nightly. So you don't lose ANYTHING.

            Since a year or three, I'm working 99% paperless. Don't have a cabinet with folders anymore. It also saves my lower back when I'm travelling.

        • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @11:55AM (#5583421)
          > I saw one of these in practice at a Sun field office. It's very cool to see people insert their card through and have their desktop appear on their screens without logging in.

          Which is neat. However, if this is the marketing spiel...

          > In todays corporate environment of people being rather mobile throughout the corporation, I'm surprised it hasn't caught on outside of Sun. Of course it precludes having a personalized workspace and a place to call "yours", but

          See yesterday's thread on "How [not to] improve employee morale"

          > perhaps combining the idea of "home base" no matter where you are along with a personalized workspace would be something I'd like to have.

          Not trolling here - sincerely curious - why?

          Humans are tribal animals, creatures of habit. The notion that a chunk of dirt (or carpet, or a computer) is "yours" is a very old ans powerful one.

          On paper, it works - "my" computer is identical to everyone else's, so it doesn't matter which one I sit in front of.

          In reality, it doesn't. The computer is "mine", because it's got my stickynotes on it (I don't use the things myself, but many users do), and it's on "my" desk. The desk is "mine" because it's got my papers, stuffed penguin, CD coaster, and double-sized coffee mug on it. It's in "my" cubicle because it's got my Dilbert page-a-day thingy on it, and "my" calendar on the wall. If I had to move into "someone else's" cubicle (the one with the calendar featuring cute little puppies), I'd freak.

          Hoteling was a buzzword for a while, but how many companies can do it effectively without destroying morale?

          Like any technical solution that requires a "paradigm shift" in a worker's attitude towards himself and his place in the company (and hoteling is definitely such a thing), unless you can get everyone to guzzle the Kool-Aid simultaneously, you're going to have a morale problem. No matter how good it sounds on paper.

        • This is a great idea until you see the requirements for the backend server you need to do this for any reasonably-sized workforce... Then Citrix terminal servers start sounding a whole lot better, even if they don't have the smart-card stuff. (But maybe you could attach that to client PC's?)
      • However Scott seems to have mentioned this and said that the SunRay is not a computer. Looks like they're getting the stuff the network I want a processor message from clients.
      • by lindsayt ( 210755 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @10:58AM (#5583111)
        I have a Sun Netra X1 in my basement feeding four sunrays throughout my house. It's really very nice - I can move from room to room and my session goes with me so long as I have my card. I use the sunrays for word processing, music, video, pretty much everything except video games, for which I have a Winblows box in the basement.

        It's really nice, but the Sunray really isn't aimed for home users - I'm an abherration. They're really business TCO-reducers. They require an experienced UNIX systems admin to install and maintain, and they provide a standard UNIX CDE/gnome desktop. Since I'm a full-time Solaris Systems admin during the day and I maintain sunrays for work, it's really simple for me to use them at home. Not so for the proverbial joe sixpack and his wife.

        Though I love the sunrays, the whole system would have to be prepackaged and simplified drastically before they would make sense for the average home user(maybe with the Cobalt Raq stuff). I imagine that this new vision of McNealy's must be something totally different.
      • There may be integrated monitor versions, but we use them with standard CRTs. FYI, the card reader is not really a smart card per say, the card only acts as an identifying token to maintain sessions, it does nothing in terms of authentication/authorization or any kind of encryption. The performance of these guys in terms of X over a network is pretty good. I belive that there is some kind of hardware compressor or special codec chip in the box to lower network bandwidth needs.
      • by Lumpy ( 12016 )
        I have this here. Sans the silly smartcard, but that could be added.

        It's called a Terminal Server and X terminals.

        Logoff at your location , move to the other cubes and login.. voila you are back to work. espically if you are using gnome and the desktop restores to what you were last doing.

        for office drones, a dual P-III supports 15-20 users easily.
        • espically if you are using gnome and the desktop restores to what you were last doing.


          Gnome will start same programs as they've been running last time you've logged out. But all data will be lost. Consider that I am on the middle of some game, or I have a terminal window with multi-hour compilation process. If I logout my game session is gone and the compilation process is terminated.

        • Hmmh. Pardon my ignorance here, but are you talking about something above and beyond just normal X-windows server and desktop like Gnome/KDE? I do know how extensively SunRays work (completely transparently for apps, it's complete snapshot as far as user is concerned), but I haven't seen anything close to that for Linux yet. Desktops generally remember approximately which apps you had running, and in some cases try to get back to about where you were (assuming apps play nice and help). But that's not really
    • It mentions Linux, Evolution, Gnome and Star Office - sounds like it's more of a re-packaging that anything

      Linux? Why not Solaris? All of those things will run great on Solaris.
      • At least that's my take on it. SUN cannot afford to keep ignoring Linux. They sell hardware - yes they sell software too but they can make more money by repackaging a stable well known OS that is fairly close to the product they offer (at least from the users perspective). So since Solaris is going away, it makes no sense to target it for new projects. Although I expect enough Solaris diehards will pay for a version of this and that will justify some support. This is a mistake IMHO. They should move to Linu
  • by st0rmcold ( 614019 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @10:20AM (#5582901) Homepage


    I for one am not overly excited for a speedy Java desktop environement. *cough*

    Anyone know if Sun gonna code this is anything but Java?
  • Woo Hoo!!! No more CDE at work if they actually decide to upgrade...
  • Advangates? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ponty ( 15710 ) <> on Monday March 24, 2003 @10:21AM (#5582907) Homepage
    I'm honestly trying to think of what advantages Sun could bring to a desktop, and I can't think of any.

    The "incompatible with the standard, but based on Unix and fun to use" dimension is covered by Apple. The "cheap and runs on your hardware, but is almost enterprise-ready" page has Linux written all over it.

    It seems Sun would be better off writing software to kick MS's butt. A high quality office suite, or a set of network tools that make IE look like etch-a-sketch. It's not much, but it's something, and they need anything.
    • Re:Advangates? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by dlm3 ( 626205 )
      Um, ever heard of OpenOffice ???
      • Re:Advangates? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Randolpho ( 628485 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @10:31AM (#5582983) Homepage Journal
        MS Office kicks's ass two ways to Tuesday.

        Don't get me wrong, I love OO.o, especially the price, but MS Office *is* a better product, and there's no denying it. It's more mature, all of the many minor kinks that plague OO.o are ironed out.
        • Re:Advangates? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by lindsayt ( 210755 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @11:06AM (#5583149)
          I agree that MS Office is still (at this point) better than Openorffice/staroffice. However, the main point is that openoffice has a lot of potential *and* it's open-source and uses standards for the file saves. I use staroffice for all my word processing, and when I hit a bug (it's getting far less common now) I send in a bug report. Sure, right now it puts me out a little; but not much, and I'm contributing to something that has potential to far outshine MS office very soon.

          In terms of the word processor, Star writer (the OO/SO wp) is nearly as feature-rich and almost exactly as good as MS Word. The others lag quite a bit, but the word processor is the most important in terms of getting wide acceptance.

          Not two years ago my boss was telling me that all our machines had to be Suns because they were "more mature, all of the many minor kinks that plague [linux] are ironed out." Guess what? Today we use linux for everything that does not specifically require Sun, because those kinks were ironed out. We'll see the same thing with OO/SO I'm sure.
          • Re:Advangates? (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Randolpho ( 628485 )
            Won't get much of an argument from me. I love OO.o, but I readily admit that MS Office XP (or even Office 98, really) is a better product.

            OO.o has a lot of catching up to do. What really sucks is that MS Office basically kicked every other office suite to the curb and had quite a bit of time to mature without competition.

            Like it or not, MS is still king of the hill and it's gonna be hard to knock it off.
        • Re:Advangates? (Score:3, Interesting)

          by j3110 ( 193209 )
          Actually... back in my student days when I had to enter a lot of formulas into a document, OOo > *. :) Play with their formula editor. It's the way formula editors should be. Microsoft Office gets a 1/10 in this aspect.

          Actual editing is about the same as well.

          OOo is missing:
          a very smart way of dealing with paper/printing (no one has a good way of dealing with this ... like, I have Bond in tray 2, Hole punched in tray 3, and an envelope feeder. You have to write wierd macros for MS Office to deal
          • I'm interested in knowing what you can do, or can do easier, in MS Office but not in OOo?

            Well, MS Office is faster, more stable, more responsive, and has better shortcut support (key commands, right-clickety, etc.), but on a more "user-interface" level, you've already mentioned a few of the problems, like printing, and GUI layout/customizability. MS also has much more evolved interactive and static help capabilities -- I personally hate the paper clip, but he's more capable at figuring out what you're try

      • I use OO.o myself on both the Linux and Windows platforms. While I am very happy that there is an OSS alternative to MS Office, I have run into quite a few issues with OO.o that make it a little harder to use.

        When my wife and I were getting married last Summer, we needed to make an insert to send out with our invitations. We used OO.o (it had just gone 1.0 when we were making our insert) and had a lot of difficulty with setting up text boxes for layout. In MS Office, you just insert a text box and stre

    • Re:Advangates? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by clarkc3 ( 574410 )
      The "cheap and runs on your hardware, but is almost enterprise-ready" page has Linux written all over it.

      Depends on how you look at it, Sun Blades are cheap and fast, and lots of businesses would prefer a Sun solution over a generic linux one because they know the company and know they wont be going away anytime soon so support will be there

    • Re:Advangates? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      "...incompatible with the standard" you say? How so? I seem to be able to run any piece of Linux software under OS X that you can imagine... So. Praytell, how is Apple incompatible with the standard? I can visually read the XML files it uses to store application preferences, unlike MS Office's "XML"...I can open inetd.conf and make the same changes I would in Red Hat and have them work...

      So, if you're more enlightened, please, tell me... If this is more FUD, maybe you should make that clear by mentio
  • by Anonymous Coward
    If there is one thing the software industry needs to learn, it's that you don't guarantee a good product by simply buying hoards of cheap labor. The jobs crisis is because the industry is full of semi-qualified people and employees unable to tell the difference.
    • by DeadSeaTrolls ( 591736 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @11:08AM (#5583161)
      Someone mod the parent as insightful.

      Unfortunately a lot of people here in the US pick careers based on how much money they can make, rather than having any aptitude for the given task.

      When hiring for technology positions, managers need to hire people that are smarter than they are. Managing talented people is difficult, as is taking credit for there efforts.

      Indian programmer are often very smart and well educated. Their education system isn't totally bolloxed up by the focus on sport. Instead they focus on science and math, playing cricket later. That's not to say everyone there is educated, but those that are should not be ignored because they need less money to do the job.

      The general blaming H1B visas or offshore labour for the economy or job market is misplaced. It's a failure in the education system (at many levels), and consumers not being willing to pay the frieght on products built at home.

      Throwing money at the US education system is not the solution either, it requires a whole change in mindset.

    • by nonos ( 158469 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @11:28AM (#5583289)
      From the jargon file :

      Mongolian Hordes technique n. [poss. from the Sixties counterculture expression `Mongolian clusterfuck' for a public orgy] Development by gang bang. Implies that large numbers of inexperienced programmers are being put on a job better performed by a few skilled ones (but see bazaar). Also called `Chinese Army technique'; see also Brooks's Law.

      gang bang n. The use of large numbers of loosely coupled programmers in an attempt to wedge a great many features into a product in a short time. Though there have been memorable gang bangs (e.g., that over-the-weekend assembler port mentioned in Steven Levy's "Hackers"), most are perpetrated by large companies trying to meet deadlines; the inevitable result is enormous buggy masses of code entirely lacking in orthogonality. When market-driven managers make a list of all the features the competition has and assign one programmer to implement each, the probability of maintaining a coherent (or even functional) design goes infinitesimal. See also firefighting, Mongolian Hordes technique, Conway's Law.

  • by borgdows ( 599861 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @10:21AM (#5582910)
    Scoot 'ballmer' Mc Nealy said to indians : "developers! developers! developers!"

    ( )

  • by ( 562495 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @10:22AM (#5582912) Homepage
    i thought Sun was pushing madhatter []for the desktop env.
  • he said,
    He said the desktop with a smart card reader capability would have Mad Hatter, Linux, Gnome, Evolution and Java's star office products
    Sun's backed gnome for quite some time and that's not changing.
  • by nyc_paladin ( 534862 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @10:23AM (#5582920)
    Sun trying to build a new desktop platform is like hammering the last nail in the coffin. Why don't they try working with Apple to build out the Apple OS on the workstations and use Sun on the servers. It seems Sun is just wasting time and money on reinventing the wheel when supporting Apple would give them a boost.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 24, 2003 @10:32AM (#5582984)
      It seems Sun is just wasting time and money on reinventing the wheel when supporting Apple would give them a boost.

      They're not reinventing anything, they're just packaging up commodities including Linux and GNOME in an enterprise-friendly way and providing technical support. No other large company is in the position to do that because they are all party to some sort of Faustian bargain with Microsoft that prevents them from providing any alternative.

    • by perljon ( 530156 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @10:37AM (#5583014) Homepage
      That would be an interesting merger. The reason Sun wants a desktop is because they know the MS is gaining server market share for these reasons:
      Executives are familiar with the MS desktop, and they prefer to buy something they know.
      Some really cool features of the Microsoft Server are only made available with a Mircrosoft Client (ie, using Explorer to check your Exchange Mail)
      Because a ton of people use the MS OS as non-professionals, when they become an IT professional, there is significant less learning curve to work on MS products. (They've already spent years learning the OS on a user level, where they may have never run into a UNIX box.)

      Sun doesn't really want to sell desktops. And Apple really doesn't want to sell servers, but thinks they need to in order to compete with MS. That would be a very strategic marriage.

      Besides, SUN has always been horrible at creating user friendly interfaces, but builds rock solid hardware and OS. Apple builds great interfaces that are easy to use.

      A new company that could use the MS startegies of tieing functionality into have a single propietary OS on the client and server, might actually have a chance at really competing.
  • by FyRE666 ( 263011 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @10:23AM (#5582926) Homepage
    That they cannot compete with PC hardware in the desktop market (I assume from the article they're thinking of creating a new desktop machine). They've never been a good choice for anything but high-end hardware in terms of price/performance, so how will a new (almost certainly overpriced) workstation help matters? Who will buy it?!
    • That they cannot compete with PC hardware in the desktop market (I assume from the article they're thinking of creating a new desktop machine).

      I have been quite scathing in my opinion of Sun's appraoch to Java (a semi-closed standard, jerking free software implimentations around, etc.) and their woeful lack of vision with regards to GNU/Linux, which has resulted in their very late arrival to the Linux scene in anything other than a half-hearted propoganda attempt, their costly hardware, their cumbersome o
  • ok (Score:3, Funny)

    by Joe the Lesser ( 533425 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @10:24AM (#5582938) Homepage Journal
    That sounds good, since it will lead to competition. So this should help stimulate our lagging economy right?

    Sun Microsystems Inc Chairman, President and CEO Scott McNealy today exhorted Indian software programmers to build Sun's "desktop computer" as an alternative system to Microsoft software architecture.

    ... oh. Well, thanks for remembering your roots...
  • by epicstruggle ( 311178 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @10:26AM (#5582948)
    Basically, they want to build a linux desktop pc. Now here is where it might get interesting. Lets assume that they do the following:
    -remove all legacy hardware:floppy,ps/2,...,IDE
    -build in available techs: SATA,firewire,usb2,wi-fi,ethernet,sound(5.1+)
    -Ma ybe even future proof it by including PCI Express

    They may have a very nice little desktop here. Make it a small form factor, and you might have a gold mine.

    just my 2cents
    • IDE is legacy hardware?
    • re the sibling-post, parallel-ATA is legacy, S-ATA's more efficient ( non-blocking, without command-redundancy, out-of-order execution in the upcoming Seagates, etc. )

      but what the parent is describing, here, is Mini-ITX [] ( Kermit-style YayYy! )

      Doing it with C3's or Transmetas, I could see, but Sparcs?

      Cheap enough for India?
      ... hmmm let's see, canneries workers, wages...
      here we are, 6-day work-week, 150 rupees/day ( about $2.70 US per day ).

      So with 52 weeks/year, that'd be $842.4/year, with no

  • What about Sun's supposed commitment to GNOME? Have they forgotten about that already?
  • Here we go again (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Timesprout ( 579035 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @10:28AM (#5582959)
    Looks like the "network is the computer" line is getting a revamp here. From the article the focus would appear to be a thin client rather than a full on desktop. Mc Nealy really needs to let go of this idea if Sun is to progress. It failed miserably in the past and I cant see a compelling reason why it will work now.
  • So sweet (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ciryon ( 218518 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @10:31AM (#5582981) Journal
    I've been waiting for one large Software vendor to bring out a Desktop OS that can compete with Windows. The most obvious choice would be to use Linux and Wine for out-of-the-box compatibility with Windows for apps and games. I know this has been done before (Lindows blah blah) but what if someone LARGE with MONEY like Sun or IBM does what Apple allready have; a Unix based Desktop OS for the masses. I know lot's of people would buy this when it runs on cheap hardware, is windows compatible and is backed by a large and respected company.

    • I'm sort of cynical about Sun tranforming into a desktop operating system vendor... do they have any experience doing this? I think the best they could hope to do would be to throw money (and influence) at the existing open source projects with the best chance of acceptance.
    • Re:So sweet (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Phantasmo ( 586700 )
      That would rock! But instead of calling it Windows compatibility, they should call it "Legacy PC Compatibility". As far as most of today's computer users are concerned, this whole Unix/Linux thing is brand new, and Windows has been around forever. Convince the average PC user that Windows is old and unreliable tech and that Linux is the new way of doing things. Attach a stigma to Windows usage.
      Of course, you'd have to make your OS "just work", give it a great (and fast) UI... basically do what OS X did.
  • by panurge ( 573432 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @10:32AM (#5582986)
    The article hasn't been proofread very carefully and may not reflect very accurately what McNealy actually said. But I have just been on a customer site where, really, the users would all be better off with thin clients and a straightforward locked down implementation of Star Office. The management hasn't yet upgraded from workstation NT4/Office 97. In fact, they could save considerable server space and network traffic by saving documents in the SO6 zipped XML format. And as their main MIS system is now browser based, it really does look like they could run the whole thing on Linux.

    OK, they won't do it. There's a learning curve (though they'll have to retrain everybody when they eventually move to XP/Office 11, won't they?)But Indian companies might, they might get some real economic benefits from it, and McNealy is surely right in the general thrust of his argument.

    Incidentally, and taking a less anglocentric view of the universe, how well do K/gnome/CDE support Indian languages compared to XP?

  • Why? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rf0 ( 159958 ) <> on Monday March 24, 2003 @10:35AM (#5583007) Homepage
    I can understand why Sun would want to move into a very competitive market where margins are low and competition is fierce. When I think of office type PCs, which is the market they are going after I think of Dell, HP/Compaq and maybe IBM. I don't think of Sun and I can't see what they can bring.

    How will a Sun compete on a price/performance point (even if running x86) with a Dell. Most offices will want M$ wether we like it or not. I really think this might just be a dying breath...

  • because, let's face it, thin clients are all you need most of the time. I use them all the time.

    I'd be happy to buy a graphical thin client that wasn't Intel or AMD for a change.

    It's an unnoccupied niche - the cheap reference platform computer. Backwards compatibility is great and all but sometimes a clean sheet can work wonders. It's a brave move but one that could reap rewards for many people. The Wintel platform is a mess. It would be wonderful to dump the lot and start with a unified architecture and
  • That wasnt all that Scott had to say.. Check-out this report []
    to hear more of Scott's views.
    The gist: Scott doesn't want you downloading the source, he wants you to write it. And buy the product his company packages for you.
  • by melonman ( 608440 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @10:47AM (#5583053) Journal

    The clue is in the article:

    "It is not a desktop, but works on a big server platform," he said.

    He appears to be talking about some sort of thin client, which is certainly potentially different to what MS is doing. Whether it is actually any thinner than a PC running terminal-type software, and whether Sun can do any better than Oracle in making thin clients take off beyond a few specific niches remains to be seen.

  • Nevair. (Score:3, Funny)

    by termos ( 634980 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @10:57AM (#5583105) Homepage
    I can never trust them again after this [].
  • It makes sense (Score:3, Insightful)

    by stevenp ( 610846 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @10:58AM (#5583114)
    It makes sense. What Sun is trying to produce is a Linux/Java/Gnome/KDE based desktop that is a low-cost alternative to the Microsoft desktop. In other words the same thing that all the Linux entusiasts have been doing for years.
    It may catch in India, as they are well oriented towards low-cost computing even if it is not very feature-rich. Remember the simputer []
    The government also seems to be Linux oriented [] even after some MS attempts [] to win the indian developers.
  • by supabeast! ( 84658 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @11:06AM (#5583148)
    From what I read it seems that Scott McNealy asked a bunch of indian developers to make Linux running Gnome and Mad Hatter the next generation OS. What he did NOT do was state that Sun will be doing anything to help. What he really did was incite a bunch of *NIX geeks with anti-Microsoft sentiment to get their attention, and then turn around and start promoting the Sun Ray, another neat old technology that has never caught on in a big way.

    In other words, Scott McNealy stood up in front of a crowd, shot off at the mouth, and beat a dead horse.

  • SunRay (Score:5, Informative)

    by jm91509 ( 161085 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @11:09AM (#5583166) Homepage
    The article mentions sunrays. These are great little machines that truely are thin client.

    They are small units that have 4 usb ports, a graphics card, sound (in and out), video out and a network card. All they do is relay input back to the server and display the results on the graphics card. They also have a smart card slot where you put in you smart car (obviously...) and it displays your desktop. Then at the end of the day you take out your card and you desktop disappears and reappears when you put the card back in. It doesnt' matter what sunray you put the card in, you desktop will be the same.

    Think of a call center. Get VoIP working and this is the business. You can now move people around the office without any problems, and in the middle of a call. Just take out the card and go somewhere else.

    Now with a nice desktop environment and sun could be on to something here. They can sell the big iron at the backend.


  • I suppose you could put them to any use, good or otherwise. Sun has too much money and the Indians will accept any paycheck. Great, put several dozen on the desktop backburner, because you NEVER know...

  • Venting about Sun (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Trolling4Dollars ( 627073 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @11:19AM (#5583226) Journal
    I KNOW I'll get modded down for this, but here goes.

    I currently work with Sun products pretty intimately at work. I have to say that while the Solaris OS and it's related contract support from Sun is better than Microsoft's Windows OS and it's related support, I will warn EVERYONE away from SunONE products.

    I've been working with iPlanet Messaging Server for about two years and have had some of the most outrageously poor technical support I've ever gotten from a vendor. After the Sun/Netscape alliance ended, Sun got the iPlanet products for themselves. So, the new iPlanet Messaging Server 5.2 suite should now be known as SunONE Messaging Server... any day now.

    The problems that I've had with this system are so incredibly stupid as to be unbelievable:

    -multiple administration interfaces that are half broken. (They actually told me to use one interface to do user deletions and another interface to modify users, and yet another one to add users!)
    -dense and very pooly laid out documentation
    (Read thousands of pages that barely help you get anywhere.)
    -user forums that up until last year almost never worked or archived messages (WHY did they take away the NNTP groups they used to have!!!??)
    -inconsistencies throughout the entire system with regard to how one would make changes to mail users or implement new mail domains when hosting multiple mail domains.
    -No decent admin interface to the LDAP db. (Their "Java Console" is the slowest piece of shit I've ever worked with. Screen updates take about 5-10 minutes just to get a menu to pop up!!)
    -No decent GUI based tools to deal with high volume data in LDAP (I'm sorry, but walking through a text file that describes your users, groups, domains and configuration that is megabytes in size, is NOT realistic! They need a hierarchical representation of data in a GUI based app. And NO... the Java Console is NOT it!)
    -Major naming inconsistencies. (Some parts of SunONE iMS are called "Netscape", other parts are "iPlanet" and others are "Sun". None are currently "SunONE" yet. The only excuse I hear is that they are slowly "getting there". !!!??? It's been TWO FUCKING YEARS!!!! You'd think they would have, at least, gotten the mnaming straight and provided on Admin tool rather than the four or five that they currently have, half of which shouldn't be used for certain operations!!)

    When I bitch about these things to support, I get the same old tired answer "...iMS is a product that is in development, so it should be expected that some things will be a little inconsistent. Just wait a little longer" I've been waiting two years.

    After a recent migration from iMS 5.1 to iMS 5.2, I found that their recommendation was to install the new mail system on a "test box" and run with it for a few months before going live with the real thing. They didn't recommend that I do an "upgrade in place" on our original box if we didn't want to have any downtime. WTF???!! Of course we don't want ANY downtime on a mail system. The techs I talked to said to expect anywhere from a 24-36 hour total working time (read a few work days) of downtime while migrating to the new version of iMS. !!!??? We wound up buying a new box to start clean with iMS 5.2 and then migrated users, groups, domains and mail over. The other box will become our redundant backup system. However, I told my boss that we should NEVER buy anything from Sun again. And you know what? They listened. We are doing a multimillion dollar transistion to a new data base system. The database vendor was pushing Sun, but said that the product would also run on HP-UX. We already have a very close relationship with HP (and history with Compaq and DEC). So... we told them no thanks and went with HP-UX instead of Sun.

    Once we've gotten some years of use out of our Sun boxes, they will be retired and replaced with HP-UX boxes.

    I hope Sun straightens out the SunONE products. The amount of time I've spent trying to learn that crap could probably h
  • by fortinbras47 ( 457756 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @11:20AM (#5583233)
    People using Sun machines are NOT using them because they went a pretty way to check their e-mail. They're using them because they need powerful, scalable, reliable machines.

    And it seems to me that Sun's biggest problem is that their hardware is really expensive and not that much faster or more robust than linux running on Intel machines. From my own very unscientific and emprical tests, it seems that a gigahertz Sun Blade 2000 handles high loads better than my PIV machine running linux, but that the runtimes of most single-threaded programs I write finish as fast if not faster on the PIV. And you can get a well equipped PIV with linux for $2000 and a Sun Blade 2000 will cost you 10 times as much.

    With 64 bit architecture from AMD and Intel etc... the reasons you need Sun are just getting fewer and fewer.

    • And you can get a well equipped PIV with linux for $2000 and a Sun Blade 2000 will cost you 10 times as much.

      This is incorrect. Sun Blade 2000 workstations start out at much less than $10,000. The ones that actually do cost ten times as much as the PC come with 2 CPUs, XVR-1000 graphics, and Gigabytes of RAM. Dropping the XVR-1000 is an instant 3 or 4 thousand dollar savings, for example.
  • by Dr. Spork ( 142693 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @11:20AM (#5583236)
    This is kinda spooky. McNealy is trying to fight the Empire by recruiting some far-away mercenaries to build him clones of something the Empire already has. It sounds like he's been watching too much Star Wars, and not the good stuff, either.
  • by digitalgimpus ( 468277 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @11:21AM (#5583243) Homepage
    If sun were smart, they would look to Apple as a partner... Sun could get exclusive rights to build "clones"... and provide software like Open Office for OS X... not to mention good Java support....

    Sun's hardware would make good xServe alternatives. Not to mention some good desktop workstations.

    Apple would gain the experience Sun has, which would allow for better hardware and software.
    • Apple has superb [] Java support [].org as a selling point to conivnce apple? They will get OO.o without a partnership, I am sure Sun has better software to convince apple to partner with them.

      My answer? Simple; most people are convinced apple is going to have to jump platforms(ibm ppc970), but instead of jumping to one platform, apple should jump to several, at once. I am speaking of the fat binaries Jobs used at NeXTSTEP. He supported 4 platforms at once, and so can apple. :)

  • What a large pig Sun gives to me! :(
    I mean Model-Controller-View "standard".
    Ok, ok. you created an application, based on that
    But what else? What if you want that application to be compatible with others? What if you need it to
    generate XML instead of HTML?
    You are out of luck, you have to parse the html pages, produced by JSPs, nothing else.
    My last hope is Cocoon. Any other ideas?
    How to change and make modular the MCV-made application?
  • Mad hatter (Score:3, Interesting)

    by arvindn ( 542080 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @11:22AM (#5583252) Homepage Journal
    I was probably not the only one to wonder what this mad hatter thing is. Seems to be their own desktop-oriented linux distro that comes bundled with the (PC) hardware. Still in vaporware, promised sometime later this year. I vaguely remember hearing that the pricing model would be a monthly subscription. More [] info [] here []
  • by jpmorgan ( 517966 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @11:36AM (#5583324) Homepage
    And realise Sun's primary goal should be making money, not spiting Bill Gates. If he doesn't, this vendetta of his will kill his company eventually.
  • by JohnnyCannuk ( 19863 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @11:52AM (#5583408)
    It's a short article. SM says

    "We want you to build the next generation software alternative to the Microsoft architecture"

    It then goes on to say

    He said the desktop with a smart card reader capability would have Mad Hatter, Linux, Gnome, Evolution and Java's star office products (emphasis mine)

    It seems to be saying to me that the alternative to Windows is Linux, Gnome etc, not something new. Sounds like all those developers will be contributing to Linux and Gnome etc, adding software and capabilities that will make it compete with Windows.

    Sounds good to me...

    Now maybe I'm wrong. If so, could someone point out where in the 7 paragraphs (6 really sine one "paragraph" is a single line) it says that Sun will be making its "own" desktop environment and not use what they already support (Gnome)?

    Or did some of the whiners not bother to read the article and just spout off because of a headline?

  • I wholeheartedly wish for Sun the best of luck in this endeavor. However, I wonder if the barriers of entry to the desktop are so high that even Sun might not be able to devote enough resources to it.

    As a counter-example to desktop software, consider cars. The barriers to entry in the automotive market are extremely high, but these barriers are generally very well defined. A new car company needs the resources to make their new car: 1) work on roads, 2) meet DOT & EPA regulations, 3) handle and appe
  • by WegianWarrior ( 649800 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @12:06PM (#5583476) Journal
    There was - in the early, mid eighties - a british company decided to make a computer that wasn't built 'to standards'. They went forward to sell heaps of them, and made quite a bit of money too...

    The machine? The Amstrad PCW []. More info here [], here [] and off course here for some circut diagrams [].
  • Endian? (Score:4, Funny)

    by lostchicken ( 226656 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @12:30PM (#5583668)
    Would those be Big Indian or Little Indian programmers?
  • Sun and Linux (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ajs ( 35943 ) <> on Monday March 24, 2003 @12:59PM (#5583857) Homepage Journal
    This box is a planned follow-on to a lot of work Sun has been doing. We all know that they work on Gnome and ship it with newer versions of Solaris. We all know they had a terminal product that used Java.

    What I think is interesting about this is the use of Linux as the OS base.

    Why would Sun choose Linux? Well, for starters, they don't have an OS whose performance profile is best on lower-end hardware. For another, Linux supports not only lots of hardware (which does help Sun, but not as much as if they were deploying on random hardware) but also has dizzying arrays of extra goodies available if they decide they need it.

    Solaris has always been a conservative OS, and they're not a desktop system, so to add in all of the things that they would want for a desktop, Sun could spend years modifying Solaris. On the other hand, modifying Linux to suit their needs is trivial.

    I've heard a few voices saying over the past few years that Sun is going to dump Solaris for Linux. IMHO, this is a far more credible data-point in that direction than the absorbtion of Cobalt. A new product is an ideal place to test the theory....

    On the server side, Solaris could be dumped in favor of Linux with about 1-2 years work. Sun's engineers certainly are capable of making the required changes (mostly hardware support for Sun's high-end hardware and bringing Solaris' high-performance threading, multi-processor support and NFS to the Linux kernel, along with some userland stuff like porting tools and the pkg system, though they might prefer to dump that for apt or rpm or apt+rpm).

    The real question is: how badly does Sun need to cut OS development costs to stay afloat? They're hurting. Everyone buys into the idea that on the high-end, Sun's hardware is sweet. It's just that the costs of maintaining an entire OS just for a high-end hardware niche don't match up. Linux could give Sun the chance to cut costs, improve Linux (and thus score PR points) and ship their hardware without having to employ anyone to maintain "ls".
  • by nomadicGeek ( 453231 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @02:00PM (#5584284)
    I guess this proves the Dilbert adage that intelligence has very little practical application.

    I guess that Sun is going to compete against the entire low margin commodity PC business?

    The reason that people stick with MS on the desktop is that they have VB apps, Excel Spreadsheets, Access databases, etc. that they have built over the years that they depend on everyday. There is also that 10% of applications that are special niche apps that are available for the Windows platform only.

    Sure you can use Open Office or other Office alternative but everybody knows that the files that everyone uses are too complicated to convert easily. It takes a lot of time and usually manual effort to convert each of these files and there always seems to be a function or two that you must have that does not exist in the alternative.

    About 10% of software that users us are special purpose programs that are used in every company by a few people here and a few people there that would have to be converted to run on a new system. This is no small task either.

    Remember all of the trouble that you had to go through for Y2K? You would have to do it all over again. The big difference is that every vendor offered a Y2K upgrade path. Few are going to provide a Linux path in addition to the Windows version that they already support.

    Remember the days of DOS, Windows, OS/2? It sucked developing software because you had to pick a platform or choose to develop on multiple platforms. Either way you made less money and increased your costs. Most software vendors are happy that they only have to support 1 platform, Windows. Yes there are problems but it still reduces their costs dramatically having to support only one platform.

    Even though you can provide a replacement for 90% of the functionality, providing a replacement for the remaining 10% is probably 90% of the work.

    I just don't see Sun being able to sell enough of these units at low margin to make a lot of money off of them. As such, why bother? Can't they think of anything to spend their time on that will actually produce profits? That is after all what a company is supposed to do.

"The following is not for the weak of heart or Fundamentalists." -- Dave Barry