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Sun Microsystems The Almighty Buck

Sun Posts Increasing Loss 350

Chromodromic writes "Sun Microsystems posted an increasing loss at a time when many tech firms are beginning to report stable or increasing earnings and stocks are looking up. According to the Wall Street Journal, it looks like Sun, the formidable peddlers of Solaris, Java, and UltraSPARC Fire servers are facing competition from measly ol' Dell and Intel. Even Scott McNealy has been reported to concede in a May 2002 meeting with top execs that Sun has to change, including building up trust with customers that have been put off by McNealy's sometimes controversial personality and Sun's reputed internal disarray which according to Merrill Lynch is indicating that Sun requires a makeover. The Merrill Lynch report was, in fact, particularly scathing and has raised a few Wall Street eyebrows."
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Sun Posts Increasing Loss

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  • Not surprising (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pagz ( 699545 ) on Friday October 17, 2003 @04:29AM (#7237900) Homepage
    My university's Laboratory for Computer Science did a test between a Sun machine and a IBM compatable running linux in order to see if they could justify the cost of buying new Sun machines like they always have. IIRC the Sun machine cost five times more and performed three times worse than the IBM.

    This was on running code from the profs (so research code), which is mainly what the machines would be used for.
    • SUN's required fix (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Corpus_Callosum ( 617295 ) on Friday October 17, 2003 @05:08AM (#7238005) Homepage
      Sun Micrososystem is a company that built it's success through UNIX eliteism. Much like Apple, Sun was a company that you were proud to do business with. They had some of the greatest minds in the industry working for them (Bill Joy, James Gosling, ...), they sold the coolest hardware which often was even the fastest hardware (but not neccessarily - it was mostly fast enough). They had great support, etc... It was a COOL company to work for, with, or be a customer of.

      Today, they are the same company they were 6 years ago. With the same operating system, the same hardware, but without the cool people and in fact without much at all that is still cool. The fact that they haven't changed with the times is exactly the problem.

      In order for Sun to fix itself, it needs:
      • A super cool, fast and cheap workstation. We are talking a cheap 4-way (or 8-way) Opteron with a 3D display or something similar. It has to be the best bang-for-the-buck on the market with features and "cool factor" that no-one else has. McNeally should walk across the street from the Cupertino campus and ask Jobs how to make this happen.
      • To re-build their reputation as the price/performance leader. This is what kept their financial engines running strong through the 90s and they need to do it again. Even if they have to sell at cost in order to build the economy of scale, they MUST do this and do it NOW. They should shift to AMD processors in a huge way until their multi-core ultrasparcs hit, they should do whatever is neccessary. Period.
      • They need to kiss and make-up with IBM. IBM can make a good partner for Sun. But Sun has alienated IBM and now IBM sees them as a pesky competitor instead of a competitive partner as Sun needs them to.
      • They need a new center of gravity. Java was a perfect center-of-gravity for a long time. But Java is boring now. Nobody cares anymore... Sun has hundreds, if not thousands, of beautiful research projects that are sexy and cool... These generally stay research, which is unfortunate. They need to go harvest a couple of these and revv up their PR engines..
      The greatest mistake that Sun can make right now is to assume that they will "pull out" of their death-spiral by making Java Desktops and waiting for the next generation of ultra-sparcs to hit. That is exactly how they can guarantee their own death. To live, they must kill their own business and allow the new, innovate stuff that they have in their labs to rise like a pheonix from the ashes of what was killed.
      • They should also replace their puny vi implementation with a more modern and useable vim : it is not normal, in 2003 to have vi INSERTING funky characters when the user tries to use the VT keyboard arrows while editing text.
        (Adding Emacs should also prevent most users to do so)
        Well, the above is symptomatic : the Sun platform is a Rolls : very solid but ergonomically showing its age.
      • by 4of12 ( 97621 ) on Friday October 17, 2003 @09:40AM (#7239022) Homepage Journal

        A super cool, fast and cheap workstation.

        In some ways this would be getting back to Sun's roots.

        Recall that prior to the late 1980's when they started to develop SPARC that they relied upon Motorola and its 68000 series processors.

        UNIX companies originally thrived because the kernel (BSD, SysV) were easily available, easily portable to whatever was the fastest hardware.

        Sun still has great hardware for the big SMP machines that need high data throughput, but its desktop and small server business has gotten eaten by Linux, which is ironic considering how much of UNIX progress has been due to the contributions of Sun.

        But the Sun's predicament in finding a new business model is a difficult one. The forces of commoditisation from Linux/x86 are a sea change happening to them (SGI has already suffered a lot from the same forces.)

        For the most common purposes that a desktop computer is used these days, a factor of 10 or 100 in CPU speed or many other performance measures doesn't matter. What I see most of the time are web browsers, email clients, word processors and presentation software running on machines that are rarely taxed by those tasks.

        The standard workload of the computer needs to be expanded into an area that people find attractive and which requires the kind of special hardware performance and system integration that Sun could deliver for them to reclaim the desktop. That's harder to do now than 10 years ago, with the latest x86 chips so much closer to the best performaning chips than they were. Windows on x86 is Good Enough for most people on today's desktop.

        I disagree about "Java is boring". A lot of highly useful and highly profitable lines of business are "boring". Java has already been through the fire of proving itself to be useful and not just some hyped-up vaporous bloatware. Sun should build on Java, in the embedded device market, Wi-Fi. And they should continue to champion useful standards, just like they did with NFS. Customers are likely to view Sun as a nicer player if it is a standards bearer that is generous about opening up. Then, customers will feel more secure that Sun isn't just out to wrap them up in some technology over which dictatorial control and executive fiat could wreak financial havoc. They should follow through completely with Java as a open international standard.

        • For the most common purposes that a desktop computer is used these days, a factor of 10 or 100 in CPU speed or many other performance measures doesn't matter. What I see most of the time are web browsers, email clients, word processors and presentation software running on machines that are rarely taxed by those tasks.

          To a lot of people speed still does matter. These are the same people that were buying Sun workstations instead of PCs 10 years ago.

          Sun's real problem is simple, their machines still cost

      • Sun has already declared that Linux has no place in the server room. That means that jihad has been declared, and that cannot be changed.

      • Faster Than Light Newsfeed 07/OCT/2004: Shares of beleaguered Sun Microsystems rose slightly from a 52-week low on rumors of a buyout offer from UNIX-powerhouse Apple Computer.
    • That is more or less true. While I would not quite support your account of the performance difference it is definately the case that Sun stuck its thumb up its *** some years ago while IBM put some serious effort into AIX and Linux and that is now paying off for IBM. I operate both Sun runnign the obligatory Solaris and IBM hardware runnign both AIX and Suse Linux and I have to say the IBM machines are better designed. I can fit about twice as many IBM machines into the same space as I would Sun machines. A
      • ... and that is now paying off for IBM ...

        IANAB (B for Bookkeeper), but currently Sun has roughly US$ 1B more in the bank than IBM. Don't know about IBM, but Sun's cash position is still rising quarter after quarter. So it all depends on how you measure. Like with CPU speeds :-)....
    • There was an excellent article [] on K5 a while back about how they got into this unenviable position.
    • In a company I worked for, 80% Sun SPARC computers (about 50 machines, from Ultra-10 stations to E4500 server) had at least one hardware failure within two ears. 40% had at least one major (system board, CPU, memory) fatal hardware failure within 1 year.

      Now, can any IBM user here on /. give any close numbers? Exactly - it's overprices, underperformed and under-reliable hardware designed specially for the dot-com bubble when no one CTO/CIO/COO cared a shit about a future of his/her startup company and spen

    • Re:Not surprising (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Isao ( 153092 )
      Check the I/O performance.

      Not to excuse Sun's business behavior, but I've done side-by-side comparisons of database jobs on Sun and WinTel gear (with the Window box clocked twice as fast), and the Sun server beat it by a factor of two.

      When it came to raw CPU performance, Intel-based systems rocked (though the margin is closing with the higher speed UltraSparc III's). Sun's also done a lot on the pricing side (take a look at the SunFire V240).

      Bottom line: I still deploy plenty of Sun servers. And WinTel

  • It's McNealy (Score:2, Interesting)

    by pyrrho ( 167252 )
    but not his outspokenness.

    One, they started with Unix because it was open. Among the unix licensees the scene has the bazaar atmosphere. They should have jumped on Linux.

    Also they are a hardware company and not all their hardware is great anymore. The Ultra 10's seem to crash like flies (this mixed metaphor is anecdotal and maybe you think different).

    Does Java make them money?

    • I'm not sure how much credit McNealy deserves for Sun's earlier successes, anyway. I think he was mostly a marketing mouth that was in the right place at the right time.

      Sun was once a company that housed a lot of heavy talent. But now the Bill Joy and Ed Zander types have all moved on to other things, and while McNealy remains the public face of Sun, he no longer has the powerhouse of talented inovators to back him up.

      Sun still has a lot of valuble IP, and they'd probably be an attractive acquisition tar
  • by arvindn ( 542080 ) on Friday October 17, 2003 @04:32AM (#7237911) Homepage Journal
    As many have noted, Sun have never formed a coherent strategy about linux. Their statements re. linux seem to be a mix of hostility, skepticism and euphoria. Also, they have a finger in every pie without a clear vision of where they want to be in a market of ups and downs. And lately they have shown that they are not above cheap marketing gimmicks either -- witness the branding of Mad Hatter as the "Java desktop system" (its actually just another linux distro.)
    • As many have noted, Sun have never formed a coherent strategy about linux.

      Not just Linux. Java too, and that's their own fricking invention. The where handed an ungodly amount of positive publicity/hype when Java came out, and then they just seemed to p*ss it away.

      And StarOffice? Now, I love OpenOffice and all that, but let's not let that blind ourselves to the fact that Sun's strategy with regards to making a profit off it with StarOffice isn't actually very good.

      • Indeed. What's particularly pathetic is that currently Sun are in an ideal position to make money with StarOffice -- MSOffice remains ridiculously expensive, and SOffice has finally reached a high level of usability. Its fast to start up, imports MS formats perfectly, etc. But they have to do it *now*. If they wait 6 months, OOo's speed problems will go away (the devs have already announced that start up time is going to be a top priority) and then star office will become irrelevant. Linux PCs with OOo wil
        • At least they're trying to shake things up on the software front, with their Java Enterprise System [], which costs companies only $100 per user. Whether they can actually make a profit off this obviously depends on how widely it gets adopted, but at least it's a radical departure from the current model. Desperate times call for desperate measures...
      • The where handed an ungodly amount of positive publicity/hype when Java came out, and then they just seemed to p*ss it away.

        i don't think they're so much pissing it away. i think that it just took a little time for businesses to realize that java wasn't living up to the hype.

        but let's not let that blind ourselves to the fact that Sun's strategy with regards to making a profit off it with StarOffice isn't actually very good.

        what part of their strategy is failing? they are certainly doing more develop
    • Sun have never formed a coherent strategy about linux. Their statements re. linux seem to be a mix of hostility, skepticism and euphoria.

      Seems like something they are really, *really* afraid of. Their sponsoring of SCO really removed all the doubt of where Sun stands at the moment.

      However, companies can change strategies and once some of the Schwarzes and Scotts are kicked out, we could evidence a friendier, less evil SUNW.
    • As many have noted, Sun have never formed a coherent strategy about linux. Their statements re. linux seem to be a mix of hostility, skepticism and euphoria.

      Clear signs of multiple personality disorder at Sun's side. While they fear Linux instead of embracing it, they are with the Mozilla and projects, which are vitally important for the Open Source movement (and for Sun).

      This position makes no sense, and it does not help Sun's case at all. Sun must learn to live with Linux and embrace it
  • ...this joke is dying.

  • Well to me it seems that if Sun isn't careful it could end up going a similar path to Sun. They both use to be good in the general workstation market and slowely got pushed into niche markets. Then in the niche markets commedity x86 solutions started taking hold. Both then started to look towards Linux as a solution to break back out. It will be intresting to see how it all play out

    • SGI's problem was that it tried to take on Sun and IBM in the "Big Iron" server market. They got crushed. They then attempted to latch onto NT in a failed attempt to gain in the workstation market (this after failing to catch on with their entry-level Indy boxes [although, I actually liked my Indy...]).
    • Well to me it seems that if Sun isn't careful it could end up going a similar path to Sun.

      If it's not careful, it will do exactly what it will end up doing? Gee, let's hope they avoid that by doing something different than what they will do.
  • beleaguered (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Frymaster ( 171343 ) on Friday October 17, 2003 @04:36AM (#7237927) Homepage Journal
    this feels like apple circa july 1998. mcnealy should take a page from job's book on how to pull yr company back from the brink:
    • if ms offers you money, take it!
    • advertise! not to try and convert new customers, but to your existing core market. "think different" was all about consolidation.
    • fire some high-level people. just enough to get into time magazine.
    • come up with something new and interesting - even if it's just packaging. hint: thin clients aren't interesting.
    • foster a sense of elitism and cool amongst yr customer base. good lord, high school kid's have computers with the dell log on the front. this should be easy.
    • Always a good idea as it helps boost morale of the troops as it always seems that companies are top heavy

    • > this feels like apple circa july 1998. mcnealy should take a page from job's book on how
      > to pull yr company back from the brink:

      iSPARCS, now in 5 fruit flavours.
    • if ms offers you money, take it!

      Err, can't quite see that happening.

      advertise! not to try and convert new customers, but to your existing core market. "think different" was all about consolidation.

      Different target markets. You will find Sun marketing material in professional IT journals, at trade shows etc. They don't, in general advertise to the general public, because only a tiny proportion of the general public are in the position to sign PO's. Brand awareness is being built through corporate spons
  • by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) <> on Friday October 17, 2003 @04:43AM (#7237945) Homepage Journal
    One of Sun's mistakes seems to have been making an enemy of both Microsoft and Linux. You can do one or the other, but both just doesn't make sense.

    But I'm afraid they'll make up with Microsoft and not us.

    Much as they have exhibited a multiple-personality disorder where we are concerned, I'll not forget the good they've done us.


    • Mirosoft is the enemy. Microsoft has always been the enemy. Hell, Sun was founded with Microsoft as the the enemy. The concept goes right to their core.

      Linux isn't the enemy. Linux is disease and death for Sun.

      Look at it this way. Think of Sun as being besieged in a fort by Microsoft. Sun has a good fort. A supply chain that MS hasn't been able to cut. Fresh water wells inside the walls. Allies that occaisionally make harrassing raids against the besiegers.

      But cholera breaks out.

      You can't ignore it. You
      • True, Linux is a disease. But I seem to recall that during the Middle-Ages, with plague outbreaks and what-not, Siegers would hurl the bodies of their dead who died from the plague into the cities of their foes. The first biological weapons.

        But on the same note, while Linux is a disease to Sun, they could certainly spread the pain to Microsoft as well.

        It certainly seems to be IBM's approach. They embraced Linux, even though it was eating their AIX sales for lunch. Now IBM is seen as one of the largest
      • by Zeinfeld ( 263942 ) on Friday October 17, 2003 @10:29AM (#7239512) Homepage
        Mirosoft is the enemy. Microsoft has always been the enemy. Hell, Sun was founded with Microsoft as the the enemy. The concept goes right to their core.

        Pretty wierd attitude if true, when Sun was founded Microsoft was a little itty bitty software house that made most of its money from selling applications software for the Mac. The MSDOS business was about as important as the BIOS industry is today - cash cow with little growth.

        The hardware industry has always been subject to the iron law that there is no high end. To find out why read 'the innovator's dilema'. It is much easier to move upmarket than downmarket. Dell know how to build large numbers of machines with tiny margins. It is not a huge step to move from there to building large machines with lots of processors.

        The talk about high bandwidth, R&D etc is pretty specious. If Dell wanted to get into the real high end they could buy the same knowledge and expertise for a pitance from SGI which trod the same path Sun is now on five to ten years earlier.

        Before very long Sun won't be in the workstation and low cost server market at all. They will continue to make big iron for a while but they will always be under attack from PC makers moving upmarket.

        The basic problem that Sun faces is that Intel's annual R&D budget is larger than Sun's market cap. Intel will always have access to a better fab process, better design technology, more people.

        Sun's original breakthrough came because it moved to RISC at exactly the right time. At the time CPU designs were usually created by small teams of four or five lead designers and a small number of assistants. The big advantage of RISC was that you optimized the CPU design to the compiler rather than the assembly coder. RISC designs started without any legacy to support, that meant that you could complete your design faster and get to market with a cuting edge fab process a year before CISC rivals.

        That advantage is long gone. At this point there is no real difference between designing the next generation SPARC and designing the next generation Pentium. Both are now decades old architectures with mountains of legacy code to support.

        Even Intel finds it difficult to keep up with the development of the Pentium. Their problems with Merced are largely due to the fact that the Pentium team have a big enough resouce advantage to overcome their legacy architectural constraints.

        Sun is simply playing a poker game that is too rich for its purse.

    • McNealy, Ellison, Jobs - every one of them would behave exactly like Gates does if they had the same market position. They are all profit-first, stop-at-nothing, fuck-the-customer-if-you-have-to, market-domination-is-the-goal corporate bastards; don't ever forget that. The only place free software makes it into their 'vision' is as a steppingstone to monopoly on their terms.

    • Would you mind pointing out specific instances where Sun has done something that made an enemy out of the Linux community?

      I guess I have difficulty understanding the hatred the general Linux community displays towards Sun when they have contributed so much in the way of open standards (NFS anyone) and open source software (OpenOffice anyone) to the Linux community.

      It seems that they have also been fairly generous with source code, even with Solaris via the Community Source license.

      I'd be interested to kn
      • There are two things that stick out in my mind, 1) the SCO affair and 2) the lack of a clear position on Linux. Sun seems to flip flop between love and hate with Linux.

        Personally, I like Sun for their hardware and service. Solaris is not the selling point for me. Mind you I only have a dozen 4-way Suns under my wing, things might differ if I had 64-way E10000s to take care of. I think Sun *must* play the Linux game at this point, critical mass has been reached and the game is now Linux for low and mid ra
  • Between PPC/OSX and AMD64/Linux - what the heck does anyone need Sun for exactly?

    I mean besides comic relief of course.
    • Because large companies require big iron machines. Not all tasks are suitable for clustering and in these situations (requiring 64+ processors and four nine reliability) you have two choices:
      1. IBM
      2. Sun

      Maybe one day a company will build an AMD64/Linux machine that can compete (I won't even bother comparing the OSNeXT desktop machines), but until that day Sun and IBM are kings of the big iron boxes.

  • by jsse ( 254124 ) on Friday October 17, 2003 @04:57AM (#7237986) Homepage Journal
    but I do agree SUN is doomed.

    I've been talking to a senior financial trader early this year, he said SUN's stock price is sky-rocketed to a point that they have to produce at $0 cost and sells for ten years to make up for the hyped value. Which is, of course, almost impossible.

    Until recently I do believe SUN has already stuck one foot into its doom. As I speak we've already ruled out Solaris in several enterprise projects in favour of Linux. The cost of ownership is one factor, and the full-range maintenance supports from IBM, HP and Oracle is indeed a killer.

    It's true that(don't flame) Linux has much to catch up with Solaris in enterprise deployment, but the market demand for Linux will only cause Linux to catch up fast and thus SUN's products will soon lose their market competitiveness very soon.
    • While you have to pay for the media kit, you can load Solaris on as many machines as you want (as long as they are not SMP). Don't confuse the OS with the maintenance costs for an e10k.

      While I have criticised Solaris before [], one would be hard-pressed to find another UNIX98 compliant system for x86. Technically, Solaris wins on x86 in several areas.

  • The word from people who have worked there is that Merrill Lynch likes Linux because it leverages cheap hardware. They seem to be going very much in the direction of Linux servers and Windows on the desktop. Sun was seen to be too expensive.

    At the bank where I currently work, lets just say somewhat larger than Merrills, they see a future of Microsoft and Linux. They do not see other Unixes like Solaris, AIX or whatever.

    Banking used be very big for Sun and they still do those E10Ks, but I dons't see many

  • Like it or not, SUN has been a driving force behind commercial success for UNIX for a long time. Without SUN, UNIX (and thus also Linux) would have been swept away by others (mainly windows and other closed proprietary midrange operating systems) long ago.

    Now, we can only hope and pray that Linux has gained enough commercial credibility to stand on its own feet (together with AIX and HPUX as 2 other remaining serious representatives in the UNIX world). As for the "big iron", that is almost mainframe class
  • by LarsWestergren ( 9033 ) on Friday October 17, 2003 @05:15AM (#7238021) Homepage Journal
    Some people [] think that Sun does have a future as a hardware manufacturer, but I think I will have to agree with the article, they can't win the fight against being squeezed out of the market by cheap Intel/AMD servers running Linux (or Windows..).

    They really have to decide where they are going, and find a new way to earn money. I think Java is their best bet. I HOPE they will do something like IBM, and jump on the Linux bandwagon as the main platform for Java. Still, finding a steady and large revenue stream from that could be difficult. I suspect they get some from Websphere and the other one (forget what its called), and maybe some from selling courses in Java, but that can't be enough. If they started charging money for using Java I think they would discover that their customer loyalty would evaporate pretty quickly.

    I suspect some people here on Slashdot will crow about the problems Sun is going through, but consider that Sun has actually been good for the Open Source world. If it wasn't for the fact that it is a cheap Java platform, Linux would not be as widespread as it is in the business world. Also, they gave us Open Office, and participates and even sponsors a number of Open Source projects []. Ant, GNOME, Tomcat, GNUlpr, Open Office... Sure, most projects are Java related, but that is understandable and it is still more than most of the big companies have given us.

    Well, if they die, it will be interesting to see what happens with Java. Perhaps they will Open Source it completely, if not out of the goodness of their hearts, then at least as a poison pill against Microsoft...
  • I never know (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mcrbids ( 148650 ) on Friday October 17, 2003 @05:25AM (#7238043) Journal
    From one minute, to the next, what is up with Sun. Some questions for Scott:

    1) Does Sun support x86 for Solaris?

    2) Does Sun support Linux on Sparc?

    3) Is Linux good, or bad?

    4) Why can't you run multple Linux VMs on a single Solaris O/S?

    Simple stuff. Basic stuff. But it changes with the hour of the day and the latest "Marketing Announcement" at Sun. Why would I work with Sun as a reseller of anything if I don't know from minute to minute what they want me to pitch?

    Sun provides many things that are *good* - such as Java, and Open Office. It just really, truly blows to see this power blown in such an incredible display of marketing ineptitude...
    • 1) Does Sun support x86 for Solaris?

      Yes, but why would you want to, when you can have the real thing on SPARC.

      2) Does Sun support Linux on Sparc?

      No, why would you want to. Where are the applications? (I mean Enterprise applications, not desktop stuff).

      3) Is Linux good, or bad?

      Good for the low-end, good for annoying Microsoft.

      4) Why can't you run multple Linux VMs on a single Solaris O/S?

      Why would you want to. What benefit does that give you over say, linux on blades.

      Top tip. Ignore the market
      • 1) Does Sun support x86 for Solaris?

        Yes, but why would you want to, when you can have the real thing on SPARC.

        Because x86 outperforms sparc, unless I buy a really expensive piece of hardware with a lot of processors, but if I'm in that market why should I buy from you when I can buy from IBM and get the better thing?

        2) Does Sun support Linux on Sparc?

        No, why would you want to. Where are the applications? (I mean Enterprise applications, not desktop stuff).

        Because I'm the customer and that's what

        • #4 makes sense to me, too. CPUs are so insanely fast now that you usually have more than you need even in a bitty 1U server, and sharing them makes good sense.

          Solaris has better resource management than anything this side of MVS (SRM is pretty nice); User-Mode-Linux on top of Solaris would be pretty darn cool.
  • Java couldn't be considered fledgling anymore but were Sun to go under I can't help thinking that Java would suffer. With MS no longer supporting it that would leave only IBM as a large company behind Java. I don't think Java as a stand alone 'product' would be very appealing to another company.
  • by Decaff ( 42676 ) on Friday October 17, 2003 @07:01AM (#7238216)
    See: 'Suns Changing Horizon' =s t_rn

    "But even in the face of this barrage, industry veterans say the company is hardly on the verge of collapse."

    "Industry veterans say although Sun has warned of a hefty loss and analysts are calling for drastic changes, the company has viable plans for the future."

  • Dear Linux user,

    You may be aware that the version of Linux you are using has some sections of UNIX code developed by Sun. We are not at liberty to disclose the code just yet, but rest assured you can believe us that this is the case. To continue using Linux you need to pay SUN a runtime license of $699 per user. Please send the aforementioned amount in used notes in a plain brown envolope to:

    Darl McBride (no connection with SCO),
    New CEO of Sun Microsystems
  • This is what happens when one man shapes the vision of a large corporation. When his vision is no longer fashionable in society, the company starts to fail. McNealy needs to find some people who have great vision and retain them rather than scaring them out of the company to become superstars elsewhere.

    Sun's hardware strategy is increasingly problematic: the cost of incredible computing power is lower than ever. Linux has also taken away a lot of the reliability advantage over Wintel and offers Sun-like
  • yah (Score:3, Funny)

    by elmegil ( 12001 ) on Friday October 17, 2003 @08:39AM (#7238485) Homepage Journal
    And of course since Sun is posting losses that means the moron at Merrill Lynch who never ran a company of his own is right?

    What are these people smoking?

  • by ChrisRijk ( 1818 ) on Friday October 17, 2003 @08:43AM (#7238507)
    Like IBM and HP, Sun's high-end systems are still getting poor sales - all big projects are having trouble getting funding in the current climate. Sun haven't helped themselves by being late with new products - UltraSPARC IIIi was quite late and UltraSPARC IV still isn't out yet (though coming soon).

    Interestingly, a high-light of the quarter was Sun's sales of low-end servers - their 1-2 way UltraSPARC systems as well as their low-end x86 systems.
    • As usual, the /. crowd is busy ignoring HP whenever they talk about Sun, but that's par for the course.

      However, in this case don't have a clue what you are talking about. HP's SuperDome sales have been growing like gangbusters for the past two years.

      HP's partitioning and management technology blows away anything Sun has on the market. Above all, HP gives customers what they want - the Integrity SuperDomes can run HP-UX, Windows, Linux and soon OpenVMS - all on the same machine at the same time. That's
  • I think Sun has become much like Digital Equipment. For decades, played second fiddle to IBM. Finally in the late 1990's, they got squeezed from both above and below. The same is happening to Sun. Just like Compaq bought out DEC for its customer base and intellectual property, I foresee Sun being ripe for a takeover by let's see...perhaps Dell? I mean it's no secret that Dell views the consumer white-box market as a sunset industry, so it's been aggressively expanding upward into the enterprise/server
  • I once sysadmined at (now defunct) USA Floral Enterprises. They had a bunch of Sun machines -- E6500s, 450s, Ultra Sparcs. I was running a Linux machine because it made sense to administer Unix boxes from something that could run an X server. When the Sun guys came to sell more hardware they always disparaged the Linux machines, telling our CTO things like, "It's free. What do you expect for free?" Our CTO at one point made the statement, "We're not running *free* software on our network!" The way she said
  • by Jim Hall ( 2985 ) on Friday October 17, 2003 @10:11AM (#7239365) Homepage

    I'm sure Sun can turn themselves around (they make _really_ nice hardware, for example) but it will take a return to core competency.

    I agree with Merrill Lynch's assessment [] of Sun:

    Struggling tech giant Sun Microsystems took a hit from Merrill Lynch in the form of an analysts' note that said the company could become "irrelevant" if it continues its current course. [...] "On its current course, we believe Sun is likely to suffer further shares and financial losses, become irrelevant to most users, and eventually be acquired for its installed base." [...]

    I think the ML analyst has it. In an article I read a while back, McNealy said that Dell wasn't a competitor because they didn't sell a complete solution and only sold systems. He said Dell had a terrific parts-distribution business. Unfortunately, he's missed that Dell's distribution is a major driver of their business, and a key reason Dell is successful today (I'd rate Dell hardware at medium-to-high, for example.)

  • "IBM Sparc Series"
  • It's too bad that Java is tied into such a flailing company. I hope they don't get "new management" that tries to "monitize" it.

    That said, our school just got a lab full of Sun boxes in the CS building. They replaced a bunch of Linux machines. Everyone was shocked, and no one uses them.

    I wanted to use them for some remote desktoppin' using VNC's built in webserver+java applet, and the browser on the sun machines (Netscape 4) didn't even hava java support!

  • Dear Scott: (Score:3, Funny)

    by Vagary ( 21383 ) <<jawarren> <at> <>> on Friday October 17, 2003 @11:44AM (#7240175) Journal

    Many people have complained about the experience of using Solaris from the desktop environment [] to the compiler (originally none) to the editor []. In each case you've chosen to fix the problem by bundling the best-of-breed open source option thereby increasing compatibility while decreasing cost. It's time to go all the way.

    The Debian project has been working [] on abstracting the GNU/ from the Linux by porting the distribution to other kernels. It's time for the Solaris kernel to toss off its ugly Unix wrappings and become the apex of the open source world: GNU/Solaris. With one exception: it shouldn't be free.

    PC hardware is largely commodity junk and the Linux kernel still has trouble scaling to massive architectures. Consider this scenario: a small company uses PCs running Linux; as the company grows, so does its server requirements, but all its applications are running on GNU/Linux. This is where Sun steps in: all their applications can be easily, even seamlessly, ported to massive SPARC servers running GNU/Solaris. Both Sun and the open source community concentrate on their strengths, and the customers have an upgrade path: everybody wins!

    Or you could stick with your administrator-hostile Unix distribution and your overpriced workstations until Bill and Linus fight over who gets to eat your sweetbread. It's all up to you.

An elephant is a mouse with an operating system.