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Sun Microsystems

Is Sun Truly A Friend of Linux? 220

terrified gave us the hook-up to a recent ZD-Net column about Sun's recent moves in relation to Linux. The author's contention is that Sun is using Linux as a pawn in their holy war against Microsoft. A ell-argued piece.
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Is Sun Truly A Friend of Linux?

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    The home market is actually very small. Compare the number of system sold to home users compared with the number of systems sold to corporations (for their employees to use) and the direction that Sun is proposing is obvious.

    That said, the danger is in the article is also obvious...Sun could have no real desire to continue with StarOffice/StarPortal.

    Personally, I think this also makes Sun stupid. If they don't plan on using StarOffice, they could always release GPL'ed (or whatever) and gain tons of name recognition among home users. (But then I've never really seen Sun be that intelligent with regard to home users).

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Why was that marked as flamebait? It's perfectly true!!!

    the Linux crowd will moan and whinge and slag off any company who does not support Linux, BUT they also slag off any company which DOES support Linux because they support other platforms or they don't give away their entire source code for free.

  • Wow. This sounds like all the reasons I bought an N64 yesterday :-)

    Sun wants everyone to use cheap disposable machines, just so long as they connect to solaris servers. For anyone who's not interested in thin, and still wants a computer, Sun would be thrilled to have them all using Linux, it's a great first step to Solaris.

  • Actually, Citrix has made a lot of money selling ICA, where a central NT server runs all of the apps and remote displays them on PC desktops. M$ introduced the Windows Terminal Server to try to get some of that revenue back from Citrix.
    Sun isn't alone in pushing this stuff.
  • The enemy of my enemy is my friend . You've heard it before but it is only true if you are sure that you can beat the snot out of your new found friend after your common foe is smited ... er , smote , that is . Sun can't hope to beat Linux but Microsoft has the leverage and money to make the Linux movement a bone crunching experience for all of us . I can't count the number of people I know who believe that Microsoft is the future , absolutely the future ... Their marketing is too dangerous to discount .
  • (Since you've posted this twice, I'm going to just reply to the second one.)

    Well, I know all that. I was just pointing out the absurdity of the argument that your files are safer in your own box (which, frankly, seems to stem more from personal reasons than from logical argument).
  • New Zealand has free local calls (and unlimited net access for NZ$29.95 per month), and Aus has a per call fixed charge (not time based)
  • The problem with buying a computer as a general purpose tool is that sooner or later this stuff is all going to morph into a few appliances to make it easy for the masses to do things.

    I am not sure about this. I've heard predictions about this coming for a looong time, but I still see no signs of this happening. One exception, though -- there are and will be "appliances" for browsing the Web and email (WebTV, etc.)

    Computers are complicated. People like you and me can use them just fine, but there's a lot of dough to be made in taking spreadhseets and wordprocessors and applying them to lo-tech solutions with simple consistent UIs.

    First, it has been tried. Remember the electronic typewriters (take an electric typewriter, add a small LCD screen and some memory...)? This is exactly your lo-tech wordprocessor appliance with simple, known and consistent UI. They failed utterly.

    Second, computers are complicated for a reason. When you have a sophisticated task to do, it is the complexity of the task that determines how easy it is to use to appropriate tools. Programs like, say, PhotoShop or PageMaker are complicated because they have to do complicated things and a simple UI isn't going to help much. Tasks that you can do with a couple of clicks (again, rowsing, email) can be turned into an appliance with a couple of buttons. I doubt that this is true for a general-purpose word processing program or financial software (major applications for home users).

    And yes, I agree that PCs will be used for serious gaming, while consoles will be for the unwashed masses. But then again, that is very similar to the situation we have currently, no?

  • FWIW, my sarcasm was directed less at your article than at the dot-heads around here whining about how it wouldn't play quake-2 very well and completely missing the point that most people don't play quake :)

    I have to suspect that Sun's aims for the home market are primarily for that low-end segment currently valiantly resisting the forces of WebTV.
  • There's no valid analogy between the bandwidth from the CD-ROM drive to the computer and the bandwidth of the network. The CD-ROM drive is used to read actual data for the game functions, like textures, bitmaps and sound samples. The network does not transfer this kind of data in most cases, it is highly optimized data traffic to inform other game clients of the player's current position, etc.

    This network traffic is highly optimized to minimize the latency which affects the gameplay negatively, whereas some latency and delay is tolerable, and inevitable during the initialization phase where the game is loading its data from the CD-ROM drive or whatever local storage it is using.

    If the game was being played from a shared network directory mounted over the network connection, then your analogy would have been relevant. In this case, it is not.
  • I agree that hardware thin clients are not being marketed at the home PC and I don't think sun has even considered this market. But there is much more to thin clients than just cost.

    Thin clients have some great benefits for large organisations of many kinds( some of these comments may be specific to sunrays in particular or just generally of thin clients.) The folowing is a collection of points of interest on both the theory and practical application of thin clients.

    1. Reduced Admin and maintanence. Remember if all of the processing is being done on the server then admin doesn't need to install anything on each desktop or fix any changes on a desktop that a user may make. Keep in mind this can be a much more signifigant problem when an organisation has users spread of multiple locations.
    Upgrades can be done more efficiently and clashes of versions between users can be avoided.
    The environment can be controlled much more tightly. In situations where factors such as the version of browers and plugins installed can effect performance of apps this controll of the users environment becomes very inportant.

    2. Network traffic can be reduced by processing any data on the server where or near the data store. This can make a large performance difference for apps such as database style apps where the data need not be sent thru the network only the display data. (yes I have done some benchmarking on this did help a lot in some situations )

    3.Shared workstations. If all the desktops are identical thin clients then they can simply can be used by several users and keep all the customisation of the current user. This becomes relevant in situations such as call centers with shifts operation or organisations like universities or libraries with public terminals.
    This is where the sunray smart cards can be used to their best to swap users instantly by keeping the session live but not tieing up the physical terminal. Thus the number of terminal need only be the number of simultaneous users not the maximum number of users.

    4. Another use particullarly relevant to me at the moment. The use of smart cards for hot desktoping enables users to literally pull out thier smart card and walk into a meeting with they session set up for a presentation, demo or even an error to show admin rather than calling admin to walk up and look at their screen.(the mountain to mohammad). The portability removes the need for everybody to have a laptop to do their presentations they mearly need to take their smartcard. Now compare the cost of a sunray to that of a laptop rather than a desktop and see if the saving is worthwhile now.

    5. On a software level thin clients are much easier much quicker to develop. Numerous diferent thin clients can be developed to work with the same server and thus allow for a wider range of client interfaces to be designed giving the user a product more specific to their needs and thus easier to use and making the user more efficient, which is one of the goals of all this technology anyway. This model of thin client is increasingly usefully with the 'opening' of commercial software. This means where the vendor supports one of the communication standards like CORBA COM/DCOM and the like the client may be developed inhouse to connect to a commercial backend product even if the backend is a commercial closed source product.
    A good example of this is a particular commercial database style product I know of. It is in part a database available on most platforms(not linux yet) and has made availabe thru CORBA/COM/DCOM an interface directly into some of the internal object used in the server. Available with the system are 2 different thin clients with no processing capabilities and will not do much at all without a connect to a server. This does mean that any third party could write a simillar thin client to work in exactly the same way.
    The clients can be written in numerous different languages including java and thus can be run in a browser downloading the thin client java app from a web server as needed.

    At this stage I feel I am begining to go off the point and getting into too much detail so I'll just wrap it up by saying that thin clients aren't necessarilt dumb and can be used in many more situations than first thought if not the home PC as yet.

  • I think you just described a win-win situation for OEMs.... or, at least, OEMs not dedicated to white box PC clones.

    1.Thin-client costs less

    I'm sure the component costs area also less. Since your heavy lifting is being done by your server, which the OEM also makes, it also means less of a moving target to produce workable thin clients. You sell more of these boxes at a cheap price (and still pull down a profit per unit). Then you sell the back-end server to support them - along with support contracts, etc.

    2.Business PC purchases would no longer be driving Home PC development. That means that Home PC prices (or volume) would have to rise to pick up the slack

    Currently, cheap PCs are a commodity item - bussinesses discovered they don't need "latest, greatest" to run Word. So they go for cheap. Consequently, cheap also drives the consumer market. Direct business to thin clients. Direct Average Joe User to embeded devices and game consoles. What's left? Hobbyest and power users. Folks willing to blow a higher profit on power machines. Voila - stand alone PCs stop being a commodity item. Prices rise and a profit can once again be made in the PC arena.

    Of course, this is more of a Devil's Advocate argument. I don't completely buy into the thin client and ebeded device concepts. It'll take a good implementation before it becomes popular. But then, the same thing was said about PDAs. Pilot did it and changed the market.

    And finally, we'd have to assume software houses and white box OEMs just sit back and let it happen. I wouldn't bet on that either. Clone shops could either clone the thin clients or price white box PCs at an amazingly competative rate. Meanwhile, software houses produce products that enable existing fleets of white boxes to handle the task of a thin client (therefore saving existing fleets as well as opening up future sales of both software and hardware).

  • It's like complaining that Ford made a bad decision to produce a 4 passenger car, because you and your 6 buddies can't fit into it. There's a huge market that's filled by all sorts of different vehicles. When's the last time you've heard someone complain about a company that made semi-trucks, because semi-trucks aren't a family vehicle?
    Well, complain no longer. There is a new concept in SUV's [4x4.org]. I can hardly wait.
  • But that's exactly the point! If Sun's model were to spread everywhere (homes, as well as corporations) then we wouldn't have useless equipment like hard drives on our PCs. Our software would be stored across a network, so things that we now load from CD would actually be coming over the net. Granted, we may still have CD drives for some apps, but the whole point is to move software and its maintenance out of the hands of the average user, which means storing EVERYTHING on servers.


  • Well done piece, but has anyone been thinking otherwise? Their failure to support Java or server-side apps on Linux has been apparent for a long time. If platforms really did become irrelevant due to the wide availability of great JVMs and Java software, wouldn't that push most low-to-mid-range users towards free, stable platforms on commodity hardware? Not exactly what Sun wants.
    Of course, IBM will put out their Java2 JVM for Linux soon enough, and then we can really kick things up.
  • by AJWM ( 19027 )
    Sun didn't kill "Wabi for Linux", they killed Wabi, period. And why not -- it was a proprietary Win 3.x platform in a world where the open Win32 WINE existed.

    I'm amazed at people worried about Sun. If Linux and friends can defeat Microsoft, do you really think Sun is going to be a problem?

    (Free clue: No commercial company wants to "further Linux for Linux' sake". Even Red Hat acknowledges that they want to make the pie bigger so that their piece gets bigger too. Commercial companies further Linux (or not) for perceived benefit to them, not for the benefit of the Linux community (although the two may well be parallel -- it's called 'enlightened self-interest').
  • Every move that Sun makes that seems to be, on the surface, pro-Linux that is carried on Slashdot has been questioned here by Slashdot contributors as being not so much Pro-Linux as it is Anti-Microsoft.

    It's not a bad article, don't get me wrong, but for Slashdot readers it's should be marked down as Redundant.

    I hate giving ZD-Net credit for being insightful with opinions that we've seen on Slashdot for a long time.

  • by Amphigory ( 2375 ) on Tuesday September 21, 1999 @04:45AM (#1669522) Homepage
    I find it absolutely amazing that so few otherwise intelligent people completely fail to get the point of thin-client computing.


    I am consulting at a company right now that has over 1000 UNIX boxes on people's desk. They also have about that many NT boxes. And they have a dozen people to keep them running probably making an average of $50K/yr.

    What do I (and most of the other people with this equipment) use it for?

    Netscape. Rlogin to a server where we do our development. Maybe Applix or StarOffice. And we don't have root access or access to anything but our NFS mounted home directories. Why not? We don't need it.

    I don't need a full, independent workstation to do what I do here. I certainly don't need a $3000 Ultra 5. Thin clients are wonderful in this kind of environment.

    The last place I worked (a large health-care organization) had literally hundreds, possibly thousands of users who used their PC's for two things: netscape to access the intranet (no Internet access for the masses) and Rumba to emulate an IBM 3270 terminal. We started to use Winterms because of the maintenance situation and they worked pretty well -- it looks to me like the Sun ray is an order of magnitude better than a winterm as well as being cheaper.

    I see people whining about games on thin clients... HELLO!??!! How on earth is that relevant in the environment that these things are actually aimed at? It's not.

    Finally, let me come back to the home PC. My wife uses a PC for three things: email, netscape, and quicken. That's it! No games, no office, no nothing. Why does she need a full PC running Linux or anything else?

    The biggest problem with thin clients to date has been that they have not been cheaper, just easier to maintain. The Sun Ray looks to be changing that, and I wish them luck.

    As for Star-Portal: Star Portal seems like a wonderful idea to me for occasional users of office applications (like me) -- Emacs is all the WP I need most of the time. When it's not, pull up one of the corporate licenses for star-portal. Don't forget that you don't have to install the software on every desktop as you do with conventional office apps like Star Office or MS-Office.

    I guess the bottom line to this post is this: if you can only think of the home market and are reading slashdot, you don't need thin clients. But realize that most of the computers in the world are not aimed at the home market!!!
  • Actually, that's actually encouraged.

    Check this out. [gnu.org]

    "So if you are redistributing copies of free software, you might as well charge a substantial fee and make some money."
    "I was a fool to think I could dream as a normal man."
    B. B. Buick

  • Sun doesn't care about workstations anymore anyhow. They want java. they want servers. If you need to run a workstation they'll be happy to sell you one, but you might as well go with something like Linux which integrates naturally into their idea of the future, unlike NT.

  • Well, while I sort of agree with this comment, on the face of it, I also don't see a "thin client" future. When you can produce "smart" clients (PC's running linux + XFree86) almost as cheaply as you can build thin clients/java clients, why use a thin client? I mean, I see some real good potetial markets for thin clients, don't get me wrong; a couple that come to mind is any type of situation where a PC is used primarily for one app that gets all of its data off a server anyway, like company accounting departments or hospital patient information systems.

    However, when it comes to home usage, I'd like my apps and my data on MY PC thank you very much. I don't want to get on my computer one night to find that I can't type up a paper, letter, report, whatever because whoever I'm getting my apps from has had a server crash. Now granted, my computer could crash just as easily -- but then only I'm affected, not thousands of users.

    OH, and I agree with the ZDNET author -- from what I can tell Scott McNealy is just as much a control freak as BillG. Does anyone know if Sun can arbitrarily terminate the "free" licences, even if you got the software from pre-sun Star-Division under a different licence? Eventually I plan to switch to one of the truly free Office Suites, once they're developed sufficiently, but until then I'd like to know that Sun can't just decide one day that I can't use StarOffice anymore.

  • Typed like a person who has never ported anything between "just another Unix" and another.

    Grab the source to any multi-Unix program. GCC is a very good example in this instance, since the JVM acts very much like a compiler. Check all the #ifdefs and the configure script and all the special cases in the code.

    Between Solaris boxes you might be able to assume things are the same, but when you go from Solaris to AIX or Solaris to HP/UX, include files change, IP headers change, byte orders changes, etc etc etc. And, as much as people don't like to hear this, porting to/from Linux can be one of the worst cases, since Linux Does Its Own Thing so often.

    Your thesis is bogus and only servers to demonstration how absurd your position really is.
    Brandon Hume
    hume -> BOFH.Halifax.NS.Ca, http://WWW.BOFH.Halifax.NS.Ca/
  • I agree, McNealy seems to be a no more than a thinly disguised Bill Gates Wannabe. He stands on his soapbox and gives hellfire and brimstone speeches about the evils of MS and Gates. All the while he's plotting and aligning himself to try to take over as top dog after his attack dogs, the DOJ, have taken a bite out of MS. It's kinda like the pot calling the kettle black. He's like the General, who stands miles behind the battlefield and then takes complete credit for the victory. If Sun can't compete directly with MS, without being propped up by government intervention, then they should get the hell out of the high tech industry and maybe make wicker baskets or something. I wonder how loud McNealy will scream foul, if Sun ever is lucky/unlucky enough to be in the same position as MS.

    Personally, I think he has somewhat of an obsession, not with beating MS, but with destroying Gates on a personal level. That is not an admirable trait on any level.

    Just my rant.

  • I appreciate the new info, but there are still a few issues about Wabi I find disturbing:
    • Sun released 2.2E for Solaris, but refused to bring those important bugfixes to any other port (including Linux), where it stopped at 2.2D;
    • When it became clear that selling and maintaining Wabi was more trouble than it was worth, Sun could have and should have open sourced the parts that it owned, to at least provide a safety net for the newly-orphaned users. Instead, it prevented licensees from even doing their own bugfixes.
    I understand what you're saying, and grant that the dropping of Wabi wasn't done specifically to hurt Linux users -- but that's indeed what the consequences were. Subsequent actions could have lessened the blow (such as allowing users and/or sub-licensees to maintain the orphaned product), but Sun chose the path of greatest shafting instead.

    Part of my original point was that StarOffice is a strategic product for Sun, much like Wabi was. As Linux users got shafted then by the way Sun treated Wabi (deliberately or not), we must watch that the scenario doesn't repeat itself with StarOffice.

  • If the Sunray is a crap games machine, people JUST WON'T BUY IT!!!

    Why do people try to tar Sun with the same brush as MS, just because they're big.

    Remember, Sun have been a big contributer into the UNIX community since before Linux was out of nappies. Sun are one of the most open computer companies there are!

    If Sun break the MS monopoly (even if it needs Linux's (or any other free OS, like *BSD,) then the field is open to EVERYONE. Sun got their (arguably) dominant UNIX position because they're good, not bullies.

  • As a linux user since 1994, the "linux community" strikes me as having developped a slightly paranoid behaviour. This group of people turns more and more into a sect-like organization which views evil just everywhere. Maybe they are getting infatuated of their own importance ? Currently linux has zero influence on any big business computer architecture deployment decision. As long as linux guru will act like paranoid biggots, this OS will remain a coding toy for brain damaged, socially challenged geeks. Do not mistake me, I support linux solution over microsoft. But get real, nobody cares about linux in the real world yet. Do not oversize your importance by thinking you are Sun's mischevious plan's target : linux and sun aren't playing in the same league. Cordially, Emmanuel T. -- IT consultant.
  • If Linux and friends can defeat Microsoft, do you really think Sun is going to be a problem?

    Linux defeating MS hasn't happened yet, and it's not likely to either. IMHO, this attitude of "war" and "Microsoft as the enemy" is part of what makes Scott McNealy so annoying, and what turns so many away from Linux because they see rightly or wrongly that the user base is full of rabid Microsoft haters.

    Both McNealy and Larry Ellison would gladly take over from Bill Gates as monopolist in a nanosecond if they got the chance. And IBM were no better in their heyday - in many ways, they were worse.

    Ultimately, I can't see Sun's strategies succeeding because they are focusing on dethroning Microsoft rather than the market and what users want (and that ain't Java!). A lesson there for the more one-eyed of you Linux treehuggers.
  • I've read a lot of stories about the good old days, about how they were typing away at their terminals when suddenly the server went down, and with it everything they had on storage. For this reason, they claim, their files are safer in their own workstation's HD.

    Well, I don't know about you, but I feel a whole lot more secure knowing that my data is stored in a high-quality, mirrored, constantly backed-up hard drive in a computer run by a well-paid person whose job is to make sure that data is kept safe, in a locked office in a building with top-of-the-line alarm system, and transmitted to me using ridiculously hard-to-break cryptography.

    Currently, it resides locally - on my iWhack's cheap-ass HD with practically no protection or damage control except for Disk First Aid, in an empty room within a building where there's usually no doorman at the door; I tell you, I'm not too happy about it.
  • Upgradeable consoles?? NOOOOO!! All of the people I have spoken to who prefer consoles to PCs enjoy the fact that once you have bought a console, say a Playstation, you can buy any game that says "Playstation" on it without having to do a check of all the "Minimum System Requirements" on the side of the box. Once you've spent the $100 or whatever, that's it for a few years. Your playstation is as good as the neighbours. That's my 2cents worth. And Warwicks too.
  • by osmanb ( 23242 ) on Tuesday September 21, 1999 @04:15AM (#1669537)

    If this is true (and it makes quite a bit of sense) one has to wonder what rock the geniuses at Sun have been living under. Have they not noticed that NO ONE seems interested in network computing as a general purpose solution? While it may make inroads in certain markets, one of the single largest (if not the largest) markets for home PCs completely precludes this model of computing: games. Thin clients (in their current incarnations at least) can't run (nor store) the latest games. I'm not a hardcore gamer, but this is still a motivating factor in the hardware race, and anybody that's willing to pay in excess of $200 for a 3D accelerator is not going to want to deal with lag just to load their games.

    If nothing else, we can take solace in the fact that Sun seems to be the only ones interested in their vision of the future, and that the market has already demonstrated it's not viable. Maybe once they wake up, they'll start supporting Linux in spirit, not just as a horse and pony show.


  • That's why I qualified my statement with the "home user arena." As I said, "thin" clients are a GREAT idea in many cases. For example, my university has deals with major computer manufacturers, so when I go into the library I see ROWS and ROWS of PIII 400mhz Dells and Gateways and all they do is run TELNET to the library's electronic catalogue for chrissakes!! This could be solved wonderfully buy DUMB, really DUMB, terminals with NO state, all hooked up to a FREE *nix OS. It's awfull really. So for business environments, environments like this with many clients, thin clients make sense. However, I don't think the home user arena is ready for this. Perhaps when high bandwidth becomes ubiquitous (cable modems?) then this may start to become a practicality, at least for software (a renting model now). I still think the hardware is cheap enough so that it would be trivial to make a thin/dumb client into a rather spiffy one rather easily.
  • It's only natural for Sun to try and stab at Microsoft... Microsoft has always worked hard at keeping others down, especially Sun, I mean come on! First the try to kill Java, then when that didn't work, they just made their own polluted version of it to try to confuse (ala Tower of Babel) the industry. Retaliation on Sun's behalf is only to be expected... As long as they don't make StarOffice a "Java-only" application, I don't mind!
  • The thing is PageMaker and Photoshop are WELL beyond what your average joe wants to do with his pc. There's no doubt that those programs could never be appliances. But sit down and watch people use computers in a computer lab someday. When they are word processing they pretty much type, save, print. Anything beyond changing the fonts/tabs/margins and spacing is for advanced users. Add support for tables, diagrams and templates you'll cover most of the business users too. Moore's law tells me that appliances are getting more powerful just as fast as PC's are. sure they are significantly behind the curve, but when you talk about handheld devices that are as powerful as the last generation of computers it makes a great argument for simplfying all this crap down to something people will understand. I think that the needlessly complicated software out there actually makes people LESS productive as they spend time screwing around with things experts can do better and more efficiently.

    Of course this is all my opinion :-)

  • Im thinking maybe you underestimate the impact of running netscape on a system. I admit that I use it in a non-resource friendly manner, but even so, it sucks up everything you give it. On my system, for instance, it's using ~15MB at the moment, and Ive seen it go as high as 30. At times, it manages to suck up 98% of a k6-2 at 350mhz. Running hundreds, or even dozens of copies of netscape on a server doesn't sound pretty. And hardware doesnt seem to get cheaper at the high end. a $50k server != 50 $1k PCs. I admit that on the administration side, thin clients make things simpler. But you had better have a good admin on hand ALL the time. If netscape needs to be reinstalled on a PC, thats one use out of commision for a bit. If the same needs to be done on your thin client server? how would the average company feel about giving their entire staff a break while some software package gets reinstalled? Sure you can have a backup server, but then it becomes like 50 people all having netscape crash at the same time. well, you get the point.
  • by Suydam ( 881 ) on Tuesday September 21, 1999 @04:19AM (#1669542) Homepage
    I'm going to have to agree with the author of the article. I am very wary of Sun's motivations. Killing Wabi for Linux was perhaps the first indication that they don't want to further Linux for Linux' sake....just to help their own position. What will they do when Microsoft is gone, and it's a Sun vs. Linux world???

  • I do have to agree that most current televisions do suck pretty badly as computer monitors. That's pretty obvious. But with things like high definiton tv's, which could actually display an image at a reasonable resolution, that may change. The only other thing that would need changing to make consoles catch up to PC's are upgradeable systems...I know I sure would like a faster cdrom and a more capable video card in my playstation. Yeah, they'll come w/ playstation2, but I have wanted better console performance (and an hdtv ;) for a lot longer than playstation2 has been forthcoming.
  • The fact of the matter is that no companies are going to support linux unless they stand to profit from it in some way. If they don't profit, they're not going to do it. I'm willing to bet that if linux becomes the OS on the majority of computers in the world, even Microsoft will port to it. It just makes sense in the business world.

    But, due to the nature of open source software, linux can also profit from the deal regardless of what companies do. Commercial interest will not harm linux, it will only make it better. If you don't like what a company is doing, don't support them!
  • Reasons to numerous to count. One, which you mention, is standards compliance. Perhaps it is because I'm somewhat anal, but there are some annoying deviations. What makes them most anying is that they don't get fixed. As an example, this won't compile under VC++ 6.0:

    for(int i=0;i10;i++);
    for(int i=0;i10;i++);

    This, despite the fact that this has been part of the standard since 1996. What makes this most galling is that if you make it work like this:

    for(int i=0;i10;i++);

    it will stop compiling under compilers that do comply with the standard. Now, this is a minor thing, but it galls me that Microsoft couldn't find the time to fix the above (which should have been trivial) in between the latest iteration of the COM/OLE/ActiveX/COM+ object from hell release.)
  • They make a good point: The enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend We all know that the driving force behind Scott McNealy is his hatred of Microsoft/billg. What happens when they are not the dominant player anymore? Of course... anyone would be quite silly to think that thin clients would run Solaris when Linux is much cheaper (can't beat free!)
  • by dkh2 ( 29130 ) <dkh2@WhyDoMyPLAN ... minus physicist> on Tuesday September 21, 1999 @04:20AM (#1669548) Homepage
    The article raises a lot of very good questions. Personally, I can see Sun going too far with badmouthing Linux because, in the long run, it will hurt Sun to be seen as the bad guy. Support for Linux serves Sun for the present and that's good for Linux now. Let's see what the future holds.

    As for their plans to move applications to the net... That could never again be the main mode of operations in the computing world. That's exactly what we had before the Altair, Apple, IBM-PC... came along and confirmed the market for desktop computing. There are certain situations for which hosted software is a very good idea. Computers in public librarys and such come to mind. I don't want to go to the library to use a public terminal that some cyberpunk has rendered unuseable by filling the HD with their favorite games. I want to go to the library to use the research tools that were intended to be there.

    Ultimately, Sun can go ahead with their plans to serve apps across the net. There is a relatively untapped market for that service. However, as I paraphrase an old NRA bumper sticker, I'll give up my locally installed apps when they pry my cold dead fingers from my keyboard.

    D. Keith Higgs
    CWRU. Kelvin Smith Library

  • Java 1.0.2 was a truly beautiful thing (except for the AWT, but we can't all be perfect). Java 1.1 and Swing (though not wonderful) really rounded everything out, but when those bastards released Java 2 they bloated Java to the size of that guy in "The Meaning of Life."

    It seems that most a fair amount of their specifications are reverse-engineered directly from the stuff that their product engineers have developed as opposed to the other way around.

    That's just my opinion, but I know a lot of Java developers who are very turned off by Sun's behavior in relation to Java and the progression of the language and core APIs. They're a wanna-be Microsoft and they're just as bad at producing software.

    After more than 3 years of being a devout Java developer, I've recently switched back to C++. Why? Because Sun's not going to get an screw that up anymore than it already is. Thank God!
  • Besdies all the people who do real computing and the people the idi^H^H^H average users ask advice of will never go for it. Who wants their typewriter to stop working when the phone does? "Johnny where is your homework?" "Oh, a network card blew at the CO, I think a dog peed on it."

    Oh, come on. You're saying that your phone line is less reliable than your computer? Or that the average idi^H^H^Huser does better backups than a centralized provider would?

    Rag on thin-clients if you want, but if they ever do take off in a home or SOHO environment, I imagine that their reliability will be one of their main advantages.

  • by vyesue ( 76216 ) on Tuesday September 21, 1999 @04:23AM (#1669551)
    I'm not sure why anyone even considers any of this a big deal. if Sun wants to try and bring us into a server-centric future, if they think that they can deliver more utility and ease-of-use by selling users thinclients and server-based software on a dependable network, let them.

    people keep yelling nonsensically that the mainframe paradigm has already been proven wrong and useless; I would suggest that maybe they might want to compare the performance of a mainframe in 1975 on the other end of a hacked together network connected to a vt100 to that of a Sun e450 connected to your full color thin client (with smartcard slot for authentication) via adsl or cable modem or soemthing of that nature.

    I say ignore Sun until they produce something; then judge it on its merits, not the MAINFRAMES R DED hype youve been hearing for years.
  • by ggoebel ( 1760 ) on Tuesday September 21, 1999 @04:48AM (#1669553)

    Maybe the bandwagon has a few too many pick-pockets and thieves on board. I'm tired of hearing companies say "Open Source". I'm not listening. I wait a couple weeks and see how many people complain about the latest public embrace of "Open Source" by yet another big name company.

    Honestly, once you expand beyond the bounds of GPL, BSD, and Artistic licenses... I don't really know whether it is open source or not. The Open Source Initiative has a pretty resonable definition [opensource.org] of "Open Source". But what does it matter if everyone under the sun can chime in with the magic words "Open Source"... If there isn't a way to tell if they really are || aren't.

    It'd be nice if "OSI Certified" takes off. Then someone could make a blacklist for everyone who claims to be Open Source, but isn't. Until someone does that... I'll remain dazed and confused by the plethora of licenses being used.

    In the end, I don't really care what the hell you call the license. I just want to know whether it is open source or not. -And any license that is OSI compliant is going to be fairly decent at capturing the spirit of what exactly open source means (to me).

  • The free release of Star Office was a good move [though it should have been more free, not just $0], no matter what their real motives are. StarPortal, being a network solution, CAN'T be used everywhere (think of all the poor Europeans who have to pay $.03 per minute of Internet connections to their monopolist phone companies), and therefore they won't be stupid enough to drop the "normal" solution. They will probably use it to advertise StarPortal, but that's ok with me, as long as we get SO for Linux. In the long run, if Sun is really trying to force Solaris on everyone, will that hurt us? I don't think so:
    • Linux will continue as long as there are users.
      There will always be users.
    • Interface-wise, Solaris and Linux are not too different - if they really manage to make Solaris the #1 OS, that's much better for us, as we'll just have to recompile and make minor changes to get a Linux port, instead of having to do complete rewrites (as in porting Windoze stuff)
    I don't know if Sun wants to be a friend of Linux - but intentionally or not, right now they are.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 21, 1999 @04:49AM (#1669555)
    ... as much as it does for Solaris and Windows!

    I mean, c'mon! The people who tend to run Linux as their desktop OS (CS students, hackers, etc ) are probably the best people Sun could possibly want to adopt the Java language.

    Sun needs to make Linux the third officially supported OS along with Solaris and Windows. Blackdown.org can't just do it all by themselves.
  • Not at all!

    The linux community is simply wary of others motivations!
  • Correction: Sun makes decent Hardware. Their software sucks.

    SunOS, Solaris user since '87
  • I basically agree with this, but I think it is fair to say that commercial market is more profitable rather than necessarily "larger." It would not surprise me (I have no numbers) if there were more PCs in homes than in businesses, but it would surpise me if per seat spending in commercial markets were not at least twice that for the home market. Probably a lot more; I don't know about you, but at work I tend to get a new PC every couple of years while at home, well, okay, I tend to get a new one every couple of years too, but I don't think I'm typical...
  • While I actually /_LIKE_/ the idea of pervasive, "thin"/dumb clients, if you look at the figures it doesn't make /all/ that much sense in the home user arena.

    PLEASE! PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE!!! I think I'm gonna cry...

    Everytime an article comes up about thin clients, a ton of people pipe up and say, "that's a stupid idea. Who's going to play Quake on a thin client?" Believe me, no one is going to ever play Quake on a thin client. At least they'd be dumb to try. But when I consider upgrading the PC's in the office, believe me, I do *not* have the ability to play Quake as one of the criteria for the choice that I make.

    It's like complaining that Ford made a bad decision to produce a 4 passenger car, because you and your 6 buddies can't fit into it. There's a huge market that's filled by all sorts of different vehicles. When's the last time you've heard someone complain about a company that made semi-trucks, because semi-trucks aren't a family vehicle?

    It's the same way with the computer market. It's a huge market with the ability for all sorts of hardware to fit in. The computer market isn't a cookie cutter market where every computer has to be the same, regardless of need. Sun has chosen one segment of the market to focus on, a segment where the thin client *does* make sense.

    Who's the one saying that the "mainframe" is dead? Is it not Microsoft? Why would they say that? They have a client server product, which was great in the 80's and early 90's. If the market abandons the client/server market then Microsoft is doomed. They have virtually no thin-client technology. So of course they are going to try to force us into the client/server mentality for as long as they can. But I'll be the first to say it. Microsoft, the client/server model is dead. DEAD!

    Not in every segment though. This is what people need to realize. You play Quake on your PC, and I'll run my call center on thin client technology. And no, the lack of ability to play Quake won't hurt me at all.

  • We must remember one very important thing about being a pawn, it's quite possible for a pawn to become a queen! And certainly, few companies would voluntarily lose a queen in the great chess game that is capitalism!

    Seriously, the way things are shaping up, NT is going to knock Solaris down based on price and that will leave Sun holding Linux as the queen. This is a position that most Linux users will have little trouble with, I know I'll like it.

    ** Martin
  • What will they do when Microsoft is gone, and it's a Sun vs. Linux world???

    I think it is a bit naive of you to assume that Microsoft will just "go away." While Open Source software, and Linux in particular may present a threat to the monopolistic stronghold that Microsoft enjoys now, they are not just going to "go away." Believe me. As much as it hurts to say it, I think we'll be seeing Microsoft as a dominant player in the computing world for a long time. They have so much money and resources, they can adapt to (embrace and extend) just about anything that is thrown at them.

    --Jamin Philip Gray

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Um, let's not ascribe to a sinister hidden agenda that which can be sufficiently explained by common sense. Wabi (for Solaris as well, not just for Linux) was killed because, essentially, it was obsolescent. It never supported anything more recent than Windows 3.1, and it was losing out to more up-to-date products like SoftWindows. Furthermore, Sun really wanted to start selling things like the Sun PCi. And besides, Wabi wasn't making Sun any real money - it was bundled with almost every copy of Solaris for a while - so they didn't have a good financial justification for further development. So it didn't fit in their plans. So they dropped it. That's all there is to it, really. Sun never was particularly interested in Wabi on Linux to begin with - hence the decision to license it to Caldera - so the argument that they dropped it to spite Linux, or even that Linux had anything to do with the decision, doesn't hold a lot of weight with me. I will grant you this: The only interest Sun has in Linux is selling hardware on which to run it, and even then, they'd prefer you used Solaris instead. Sun really has no interest in furthering the adoption or development of Linux; after all, it directly competes with Solaris (which isn't going away any time soon.) Their position is pretty clear: they make great hardware that happens to run Linux very well, and the more support they lend to Linux on SPARC, the more machines they'll sell. Simple economics. Is that an "anti-Linux" position? Not at all. In the end, it's really no different than the position taken by Intel system vendors like Dell, Gateway, etc. Linux is hot, so offer support for Linux and watch sales rise. Bandwagoneering? Sure. Genuine interest in Linux development? Probably not. Secret plan for destroying Linux? Hardly.
  • Don't you people ever check your spelling or look at what you are typing? Ell-argued? C'mon.

    At least pretend to be educated to some extent.
  • Listen to Sun's announcement [sun.com] and hear for yourself. Putting thin clients into the home market is exactly one of Sun's goals with its StarOffice/StarPortal strategy.

    Sun's future would have people depending on mega-ISPs (using Solaris servers, of course) that would store your files and serve your apps for you. Think WebTV with decent video.

    Sun's intent is quite clear in this regard. The main point of my argument, which will be concluded in a second column appearing next week, is that neither Sun's nor Microsoft's world-view is right for everyone. Thin clients are great in some situations, horrible in others. Linux is flexible enough to serve as an excellent thin-client, fat-client, or server. Neither of the commercial approaches is best in all cases, yet neither does much to acommodate models outside of its own.

    Linux is a threat to both Microsoft and Sun because it offers the flexibility to serve either model -- or some hybrid of the two -- very well. Linux isn't trying to push the user into one world-view or another of the way computing should be done.

  • Whether Sun is making good business sense, or whether they're going to get everybody hooked and yank the rug out from under their feet, ought to be irrelevant. And it's the Open Source community's job to keep it that way.

    It's dangerous to depend on the goodwill of *any* for-profit corporation, since ultimately they will make the decisions that keep their bottom line where they want it. For now, it's profitable for Sun to promote Linux as a weapon against the Borg, and we can ride that wave, but we have to remember that waves go down as well as up.
  • No I'm saying that the reliability of my computer and my phone line are less than my computer by itself. The reliability of the server and everything in between comes into play. Not to mention the extra vulnerability that comes from having this type of setup.
    Backups would actually be an advantage of thin clients, but I don't think people in general want to give up their machines. It seems to me a lot like the difference between public transportation and having your own car. Americans are great wasters and computing power is no exception.
  • Hmm.. In Mexico and in Russia local calls are free (no pay-per-minute charges).
  • Even most Linux users wouldn't claim that Linux is set to overrun the desktop. In its desktop role Linux is in a niche market of computer hobbyists. Most would argue that the cost of administrating any UNIX system will be too high for mom and dad to get interested in using the system.

    What Sun is arguing IMHO is that new users coming on line in the future will be less and less interested in managing their systems (upgrading software, operating systems, managing access, etc.) and only interested in running the latest app which the system should ideally automatically offer them.

    As such Sun doesn't need to kill off Linux, they need Linux and Windows compatibility to show that they are offering a reasonable alternative that is just less work.

    Over time it is possible that some people who are fed up with maintaining their own systems will move over to NCs, but I think that killing the standalone StarOffice would only be shooting themselves in the foot by killing the credibility of the NC as other OS's are forced to move to new formats.


  • I never said that Wabi was cancelled because of Linux. I did say that Sun's move to mothball it, rather than open source a product that was no longer selling, indicates it's more interested in strategically pushing its own plans than it is in helping the open source community.

    Contrast Sun's actions wrt Wabi with the decision to LGPL the Willows TWIN software [willows.com] when the company decided it wasn't going to sell. Now TWIN is a part of helping Wine be ready for prime time.

    Wabi could have also helped Wine, but Sun chose to kill the software and orphan its users because it wanted to strategically push Java instead of emulation.

  • Face it, *CONSUMERS* want SIMPLE, CHEAP, DISPOSABLE APPLIANCES. Slashdot users aren't representative of the general populace that will decide the success

    No, they are representative of the early adopters that help a company decide if the product is viable for a larger market.

    I switched. I'll never waste time futzing around on my computer for games again.

    They you'll never play truly challenging, unique games again. The computer game market is so much more sophisticated than the console market. Ave age PC gamer:30, ave. age console game:17.

    Go play Alpha Centauri on a console and tell me what you think.
    Better yet, go download the demo of Unreal Tournament to your console and tell me how it plays. Hardcore gamers want hardcore machines, consoles are for kiddies.

  • I believe there's a very good reason Richard Stallman wanted to continue using the term "free software".. because other available terms were even more ambiguous or had some other disadvantage tied in with their usage. "Open source" doesn't really imply much of /anything/ that people associate with it these days.. except that it's, well, open source.

    All open source means is that you get the source code, not just the binary. That's it. Software that is "open source" could be like BSD or X stuff. Sure, you could make changes to the code, but later someone could modify it themselves and instead of sharing with everyone else as you might have done, they could make it proprietary. Just like you can do with BSD itself (I personally think its funny the three BSD projects do all this work and some of the people on them think its cool that there are commercial derivatives..). Life is not a popularity contest and there is nothing unique, special, or even original about the licensing for BSD or X. Nothing at all.

    Then you have stuff like the NPL or the even weirder license from Sun. Netscape Public License.. not only is it GPL-incompatible, but you can even make all these great changes so Netscape can bundle it up into a proprietary package no one can have the source to.. Yeah!

    Most software companies in particular have very little to gain by supporting Linux. Take for example, Adobe Photoshop. Who needs to buy that if they can get the GIMP for free? Or Paint Shop Pro? Or any other image manipulation program? GIF Construction Set? Get whirlGIF. You sure as hell won't need WinZip, or anything else of the sort. Face it, most software companies who make Windows stuff make overpriced software to do a ridiculously simple job. Most UNIX types take zipping and unzipping files for grant, although Windows users are expected to pay for that priviledge. If World Domination(tm) does indeed occur, most software companies with products that perform similar purposes as GPL'ed ones will have to adapt or die.. and fast.

    Hardware companies, especially those like Dell, only see it as a way to increase their profits by diving into new and untapped markets. You have to do this constantly if you're a hardware company as big as Dell, or else you risk tapping the market you're already in to such a degree that it's almost impossible to grow.

    Therefore, anyone who thinks a company would be interested in free software for its own sake is either completely mad or has found a unique case. Businesses are here to make money. That's what a business does. That's what a business will always do, until they fail. Otherwise they would be non-profit organizations.

    Companies with a moral? Oh please. There are a few who might actually have a clue, but even then, how much of their "moral identity" is inseparable from their vision of a profitable venture? Some companies have found that supporting free software is in their best interests.. financially. What these companies do is a new market.

    Sun has never cared about anything other than hype and money. You don't have to go any farther than Java to realize this. They insisted it would take over the world then and there. But did Java live up to the hype? Well, yeah, it would run on just about anything, but the performance was so bad.. who the hell cared? Now it just kills the load time of several Web pages authored by people who think to be a kick ass designer you have to plop 5 megs of "high tech" junk onto each page. Sun is just here to make money, as clearly evidenced by their crazed overcapitalization of Java. Is it a mature technology yet? No. Do tons of people write Java applications anyway? Yes. Does Java have tons of Java applications of their own, all with the word "Java" in it? Yes. As I said.. Just here to make money. Anything else.. has nothing to do with them. Don't consider them in terms of friend or enemy, because their only friend is themselves and their only enemies are those that threaten their current or potential market share.

    That's the corporate mindset as I've percieved it, anyway. Perhaps you think differently than I do..?

  • Hey, Linux is competing with the 800 pound gorilla when nobody said we had a chance. If Sun can't compete with Micro$oft, why would be be even the slightest bit frightened of them? So they kill Star-Office....Who gives a flying fsck? It's just one office suite among many and I don't see Koffice, Corel or the folks at Gnome going anywhere soon. Bottom line: Linux has momentum and as long as there are coders who aren't accepting the status quo, we're going to keep on rolling and there's nothing McNealy or Gates or anyone else can do about it. We have an army of millions.

  • Even if the article is right, I don't think that's bad news for Linux. Remember the World War II Allies USA, Soviet Union, UK and France. Once the evil empire (Nazi Germany) was defeated and partitioned, the Allies became enemies. The Berlin Crisis right after World War II almost started World War III, and the former Ally, the Soviet Union, became the West's enemy for the following 45 years.

    It's normal for allies (unless they are VERY idealistic) to become enemies once their common #1 enemy has been defeated (usually the most evil and strongest one).

    Sun and Linux are allies now, and their Alliance makes them stronger against M$. Once M$ will be defeated (if it will ever be), Sun will turn against Linux. Ok, but Linux will be strong enough to defend its part of the cake.

  • Linux has been sort of a political tool for a lot of other companies. I really doubt that many big companies do many things because they are community minded, or because they really give a crap about promoting technology. Major companies do things because it will enhance the value of the shares of the almighty stock. So when the suits are sitting in the boardroom and they look at all of the positive PR that the Linux bandwagon is getting...uh..well..why not.

    In reality I think that Sun would do just about anything to take away business from Microsoft.
  • I bet a dreamcast would do a fine job with networked Quake. It's only $199 and it's built for controlling compelx characters in a 3d environment, unlike a PC. Some games lend themselves to computers, strategy games, role playing games, games that require exorbinant amounts of data for maps and enemies, but the gap is thinning. The 3D environment of my Legend Of Zelda cartrige is far beyond something like Quake II (IMHO). N64 is $99, my PC was about $2000.

  • I agree with you totally. If Sun really wanted to support Linux, they would have release a Java for Linux by now instead of forcing The Community to develop it for Linux (not that this is a Bad Thing).
  • That's why ibm's kicking into action. IBM JDk for Linux is going to rule when it is finished.
  • by Nelson Minar ( 7732 ) on Tuesday September 21, 1999 @05:04AM (#1669580) Homepage
    I'm not one to be terribly religious about this kind of corporate positioning. If you look at Sun's recent actions, it's clear that as a corporation they are not terribly friendly to Linux or open source.

    First, look at the sad state of Java ports. Sun *still* does not support Java on Linux. They have helped out the Blackdown team some, thank you for that, but it's a half-hearted effort on Sun's side. My reading is that Sun is internally conflicted about whether Linux is an ally or threat and can't decide whether to work with Linux or not.

    Second, look at the SCSL, a bizarre amalgation of open-source-like licensing and proprietary restrictions. My impression is that Sun was trying to ride some of the open source wave and satisfy their "partners" who were getting increasingly agitated by Sun's lock on Java, while still retaining traditional controls over the technology. I don't think they're motivated by any attempt at actually improving the world through source releases.

    Sun's a big company. They're caught in a major change in their market, where expensive workstations have been supplanted by $1200 Linux boxes running on Intel hardware. It should be no surprise that they aren't a friend to Linux, they're trying to stay on top of the heap.

    The place where Sun differs from Microsoft is that, in general, Sun technology is pretty good. Solaris is a good Unix. Java is a fantastic development platform. Sun does create quality in their technology, and that should be applauded.
  • Why would anybody give credibility to some guy's random, uninformed speculation about a company's motives? His sole source is this "one person" who had bad things to say about Sun. Everybody's a conspiracy theorist these days.

    Look, for its entire existence, Sun has built systems based on open standards. A large amount of the free software (like most GNU stuff) we're now running on Linux was first developed on Suns and later ported to Linux, proving the openness of both systems. Microsoft, on the other hand, has avoided openness all it can. Please stop comparing the two companies. Sun could never dominate the way Microsoft does now.

    And even if Sun becomes an "enemy" of Linux, what possible impact could that have on Linux itself? Will it hurt Linus' feelings such that he shuts down kernel development? Why all the fear and loathing?

    Anyone who believes there's not a market for thin clients has never:

    1) Worked for a large corporation, where desktop costs are enormous; or,

    2) Tried to teach their parents or grand parents how to get around Windows simply to use E-mail.

    Finally, the Sun Ray 1 is a **WAN** product. It has nothing to do with home use. Nothing. Sun isn't trying to take your toys away. It's trying to reduce corporate desktop expenses.
  • Network computing is the answer but not "thin clients". I have network several computers, both at home and at the office. At home I mainly have linux (Slackware and Redhat) and at work I have an array of Linux, AIX, Sun, and even NT. I use each for a different task, or mutliple tasks. I have found that the most efficient way of doing things is to have the clients run the applications but use a central server to store the data. This way, the servers don't get bogged down when we have a hundred users.

    Even doing simple tasks as word processors and spreadsheets, it's more efficent to have the client run the applications and retrieve data from a central location. You only need to back up the data. Yes it is more of a pain to do upgrades, but it saves on network traffic for either loading a network app, and running completely off another machine.

    Please, don't ask for bench marks. The only bench marks I used was the drop of complaints from users that the system is too slow.
  • Everybody at Sun obviously knows that Linux is as much or more of a threat to Solaris than it is a threat to Windows. Linux is only a few steps away from completely replacing the need for Solaris. As soon as Linux has enterprise calibre performance, there will be little incentive for anyone to use Solaris. IBM knows this too, why do you think they like Linux? They know very well that it's their best weapon to out-muscle both Sun and MS.

    I'm surprised Sun is even partially supporting Linux. I guess they think that if they stay in stride with the Linux movement long enough for it to entirely eclipse the Microsoft era there will still be enough of a server market left to do business.

    "The voices in my head say crazy things"
  • Hey, fewer and fewer people are going to be willing to spend $2000 for a computer, $150 for a joystick, $200 for a new graphics card, $150 for decent speakers *JUST* to *PLAY*GAMES*.

    First, I am spending money for the computer so that I can do word processing, spreadsheeting, email, etc, etc. and play games. You argue that I should buy another machine for that -- why? I'd rather have one machine that does it all.

    Besides, your prices look funny. To buy a new system today I would probably spend ~$1000 for a computer, $40 for a joystick, $80 for a graphics card. And it's not like all games demand the latest hardware. If your life is Quake and you crave that teeny edge that the extra 5 fps give you, maybe. I don't play Quake and I find that my very very old [cringes in shame] 200Mhz Pentium system plays all I want (including System Shock 2) perfectly well.

    One other thing that is pretty obvious -- TVs as computer displays suck. Really, really suck. I am not interested in fuzzy low-res graphics that make my eyes tired after an hour or so.

    Plus, the selection of PC games (specifically, good sophisticated games for adults) is much better than for consoles. Consoles cater to the teenager crowd and it shows.

  • When Java was first announced, I bought into a lot of Sun's hype surrounding it. It seemed that they were a company truly intent on destroying Microsoft. And that pleased me, because I saw Microsoft as the Evil Empire, intent on controlling and monopolizing everything, beginning with the computer industry. And yes, they were intent on demolishing Microsoft, but for the wrong reasons. They wanted to harm M$ because Microsoft was a thorn in their side...they were jealous of the success in Redmond. They were envious and coveted what Microsoft had. I've seen Sun time and time again over-hype technology and mislead the community into thinking that they are a company devoted to being open for the sake of the community. The truth is, it's all a bunch of bull. Sun just wants to benefit themselves.

    Like many of you I used to be a devout Java follower. I saw it as the next Big Thing. But with time, I got sick of Sun's tactics, and their stronghold on the source and API, and gave up on it pretty much altogether. I have absolutely nothing against commercial software. I am, however, against companies who hoard and maintain a stronghold on API's, document formats, algorithms, and the like that are in widespread use, simply for the purpose of making a buck. That is precisely why there is a need for truly Open Source software. Not just so that we can have a free OS and free apps to go with it. Yes, there is a need for that...I don't think people should *have* to pay for those things unless they want to..but it goes beyond that. It's a social imperative that we have open standards and open source libraries to hack with, and open document formats. Without them, innovation is truly stifled. Without them, we don't have widespread scientific advancement. We humans thrive in an environment in which we can share ideas. We build on each other's discoveries. That is why Microsoft's recent barking about how they ability to innovate has been stifled is ludicrously hypocritcal. That is why Sun saying they are victimized by companies like Microsoft who stifle innovation is absurd in light of their history of maintaining strongholds on technologies like Java. Almost any company will claim to be the victim if it will benefit themselves, but the truth is, folks, they're just out to make the extra buck and gain more control over you. What's at the root of all this is greed. Most of us, in their position, though we might refuse to admit it now, would behave no differently. Whether you believe the Bible or not, you may at least appreciate the truth of this verse:

    For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.--I Timothy 6:10

    We need open source software, open standards, and an environment in which we can share our ideas and innovate, in order to keep ourselves in check.

    --Jamin Philip Gray

  • by stange ( 23848 ) on Tuesday September 21, 1999 @05:33AM (#1669601)
    This needs to be cleared up a bit.

    Sun didn't kill WABI for Linux. WABI as a product from Sun was killed quite some time ago. It isn't Sun's fault that some other companies licensed it and continued to sell it...until March. IIRC, Sun dropped WABI about two+ years ago.

    Quite simply, WABI no longer made any sense. It only support Win16 apps, and even then the apps need to be certified to run under WABI.

    There are much better solutions available that WABI. SoftWindows is rather nice. Even better are the Citrix type products in which a group shares a single NT box. Any app can then run and run quite well. At a previous employer, we purchased WinCenter on the spot while it was still a beta. That was many years ago.

    To think that WABI was cancelled because of or for Linux shows how lame the analysis in this article really is.

    Finally, Sun bought StarOffice to help sell SunRays. Again, this has nothng to do with Linux. People need to understand that some companies, banks for example, having 10,000 PC's...doing nothing but running a few small apps that used to run on 3270 terminals. The Sun Ray is a perfect solution for this. Think of a bank teller...or a cashier at a point of sale. This is a HUGE market. Only a fool would want to install a PC (Windows, Linux or Solaris) to do something so simple....which is why people are feeling as though Bill Gates and Microsoft has been playing people for a fool.

  • Just because thin client costs less does not mean that Sun makes less money on it. Thin client tends to sell bigger servers, and the main savings are in on-site administrative costs, which means your big saving is getting rid of six or eight junior sysadmins (at, when all costs are factored in, probably around $100K/year on Wall Street).


  • Does this really affect us at all in a negative way?

    So in three years sun may drop linux development support. So? That's three years of full time employees working on the Linux system. So what if SGI does the same thing? The release of their journaling filesystem was a major enhancement to the kernel.

    The best thing about the Linux/Open source development model is that it *evolves*. Star Office apparently is top notch right now. In three years KOffice and Gnome office could easilly compare to it.

    So sun starts pushing thin clients. Big deal. As Amphigory stated in his post they have their place.

    If it bothers you that much, go develop a Thin Client Linux distro. I believe that most of the system is already complete, you just have to figure out what options to use. Evolve your own aspect of Linux.

  • by jflynn ( 61543 ) on Tuesday September 21, 1999 @05:38AM (#1669608)
    I've also been watching Sun with a doubtful eye, and it seems many share my fears. I've been thinking on why Sun bothers me, and it's because they are pretending to not understand the fundamental tradeoff involved with open source.

    You can either control a product, in which case you hire all the labor you need for it, or else you can turn it loose and let open source developers take it from there. Sun wants it *both* ways, and that isn't going to work.

    It's not that anyone thinks all their patches should be accepted without question, reasonable people know that peer review and subsequent rejection is often for the good of the software. But the rejection is only acceptable when it's a pure meritocracy. Developers are afraid of the SCSL because Sun's political and corporate aims are likely to provide reasons to reject patches and entire directions for development.

    There is always a narrowing of an open source project at the top, some kernel of trusted people who make the tough decisions and control the future of the program. This doesn't result in authoritarian control only because the option to fork is always present. If nearly half of a project's developers disagree with the folks at top, the pressure to accept some control from below becomes intense due to the threat of forking. Sun's SCSL provides no such mechanism of checks over Sun's leadership. They could be terribly wrong, and there's not one thing you could do about it. No one wants to work on a project *for free* when they feel they have little to no control over it.

    I think Sun understands this perfectly well, but simply is not willing to lose control over any software they feel has importance to them. They *should* give up trying to sound like they are sorta climbing on the Linux bandwagon, they're not. This doesn't make them an enemy, just another proprietary vendor that happens to sell Unix-like boxen. For now, they are very useful to Linux. We've got the cyberdemon(MS) and spiderdemon(Sun) fighting, so we should quietly go about our business and reassess matters after the fight is over. It's likely the competition will look more fair than now afterwards.
  • As many articles on this topic this one tries to simplify stuff by explaining things terms of friends, enemies, dictators and the like.

    It really is very simple. SUN produces hardware. Their main motivation for also producing software is to sell more hardware.

    Linux runs well on sun hardware. So sun supports it.

    Sun is not going to get rich of selling Star Office. The only reason they bought star is because they see it as a tool to boost server sales. So giving it away is a smart thing to do. There's no evil intention.

    Star portal is an even better tool to boost server sales. They won't make much money on selling the portal though since the potential number of customers is rather limited. That's why they intend on giving it away (if i understood the press releases correctly).

    A lot of nice things are happening with SUNs software lately. You should realize that none of it is charity though.

    The relation between SUN and OSS is a symbiotic relation. As long as it is good for both it will continue to last. The OSS community profits from SUN's gifts. SUN profits from the OSS comunity's contributions. Both parties don't seem to have much conflicting interests so I don't see any reason for this relation ending anytime soon.

    Sun doesn't want to rule the world like MS does they just want to make shitloads of money (which is a healthy thing to want for a company). Sure they will use dirty tricks like MS does. Which company wouldn't. Companies are not driven by ideology but by making money. This also applies to typical linux companies like read hat and VA. the only thing that's different from conventional companies is their business model.
  • This is nothing new. It has been evident for years that Sun (and Oracle) want to dethrone Microsoft only so they can ascend to the vacated heights themselves.

    If you need a metric as to how predatory and controlling a company is, you need look no further than how they handle their API's. If they use API's controlled by independant standards organizations without adding proprietary extensions then the company is open. If they produce in-house API's and turn them over to independant standards organizations then the company is open.

    However, if the company extends open API's, keeps their own API's proprietary and constantly changes the API's themselves so that anyone using the API's must use the companies toolsets and must compete against the company at a disadvantage, then the company is not open.

    Does this sound like anyone you know?


  • I gotta disagree with a bit of this.

    1) Sun may have been the platform for a large amount of free software to have been developed on, but they can't be credited for this. Oh, I'm sure that there were a few piddly donations to the FSF over the years, but the main reason that their hardware served as a common development platform was its ubiquity.
    2) SunOS used to be BSD-based. Then, after Sun entered into an unholy alliance with AT&T, they shifted over to the SysVish Solaris -- a considerably less-open, less-accessible platform. I'm sure this had nothing to do with the Sun clones that started coming out at the time.
    3) Sun's licensing for Java is at least as much "embrace-and-extend" of Open Source concepts as Microsoft's attempt to subvert that language.
  • If Sun doesn't have their eye on the home market, then they will NEVER pass Microsoft in the marketplace. There are two factors in the US workplace that are becoming more and more prevelant: 1) More people are doing work after hours, at home, and 2) these people are going to want the same tools there that they have at work, because no one wants to learn multiple programs, and have to worry about format conversions, and etc.

    I've seen this happen on two separate occasions in a VERY large company. The first time was with WordPerfect and MS Word. More people had experience with MS Word, and they felt that WordPerfect was 'inferior', and too hard to use. The company then went from a WP/Lotus suite to MS Office. The second time was with Windows95. Windows95 came out to long after the start of the home PC surge. More people had Windows95 at home (because it came with the new PC), and they wanted the same thing at work.

    From a business standpoint, this makes sense, esp. when you look at the reduction in Training costs. If they already know Win95, why should I pay them to learn Win3.1? The same goes for Word, Excel, and everything else. Then, add to that the extra hour, or more, of work you can get from your employee after he/she has gone home, had dinner w/ the family, bathed the kids, and put them to bed. Then, instead of TV, they then hit the computer to finish that spreadsheet. If they're salaried, it just sweetens the pot.

    Sun's 'lite' computing will never become anything but a novelty unless the home market follows suit. And that won't happen until Sun addresses ALL the things that people want at home as well. Things like educational games, and personal finances as well as Office tools.

  • ..stop official development, hoping that suckers (aka "volunteers") within the open source community will do any necessary bug fixes and extensions ...

    I think this is most illuminative of the attitude of software vendors toward open source projects. They see it as a cheap way to get development done. Why pay for developers when they'll do it for free? The vendor gets product which, while they can't sell at Microsoftian price levels, they can sell "official" versions, ostensibly charging for putting the distribution process together and for such support as you get... and then they can direct the effort toward their own ends. "Suckers"? From the strategic viewpoint of a Sun - or a Netscape - for sure.

  • Of course Sun isn't a "true" friend to Linux. Sun is a friend to Sun, period. They are a big corporation, and, just like any of the other big corporations out there, if you put them in Microsoft's place, they'd behave in a very similar way (although perhaps not as effectively; say what you like about BG's programming credentials, but he sure knows a lot about business). Sun will use Linux to bash MS, yes; and as long as Linux is useful to them for this or some other purpose, they'll be "friends". But friends like that can quickly turn into enemies. It's a moot point, though; I think Linux has reached the stage where it is self-supporting in the commercial sense; Sun needs Linux more than Linux needs Sun.
  • While I actually /_LIKE_/ the idea of pervasive, "thin"/dumb clients, if you look at the figures it doesn't make /all/ that much sense in the home user arena. Computer prices are dropping so fast that a "dumb" client is only marginally cheaper than an acceptibly "smart" client. I know *I* don't want a whole bunch of dumb terminals (although they are the perfect solution in many cases). What, am I going to rely on the server's graphics card to accelerate my Quake3 match??? Pshaw.
  • I like Sun - for one thing they have the best online support I've ever seen. If you can afford their products, they're great.

    However, I am disturbed by the idea that StarOffice might be dropped. In Micro$oft fashion, it would be a pretty smart way to force people to convert to StarPortal.

    The Linux community is so vocal, however, that I doubt Sun will make such a move. If they have any concern for how the professional IT community regards their business practices, which Micro$oft obviously doesn't, Sun will anticipate how much bad publicity that would cause.

  • by fishlet ( 93611 ) on Tuesday September 21, 1999 @04:28AM (#1669649)
    I think Sun's fundamental vision of network computing is the right way of doing things. People seem to get all up in arms when mentioning network computing.. they think it's like communism or something. I like to remind such folks that a NT workstation with an administrative password is just as restrictive. So... I wish these people would just stop whining. Also, contrary to popular belief... a network computer can be just as customizable as a workstation if the software is well designed. Provided I could afford a fast enough connection to the internet... I'd just assume never have to install another program locally again. As far as Sun's taking shots at Microsoft... good for them. M$ is a enemy of Unix, in any way , shape and form. I think that for anyone that stands up for Unix (whatever form)... it's a GoodThing TM.
  • It may be surprising to some, but Sun is actually a business and they have to make a profit. As a business, they have been pushing for some pretty good technologies, they have documented their interfaces well, stuck to standards, and released a lot of code into the market. They have done so because it serves their business interests, not because they are philanthropic.

    Compare that with Microsoft. Microsoft resists any careful documentation or standardization of their APIs, Microsoft constantly strives to replace non-proprietary APIs with proprietary APIs, and Microsoft's software (in particular, their APIs) is a mess.

    As for StarOffice, if an X11 and UNIX-based office suite catches on widely in corporations, that's good for Linux, all things being equal. The server-based nature of their system is a boon to businesses, something Microsoft can't match right now. If the whole thing runs on Linux, that's nice, but if it doesn't, no harm done.

    Sun is no "friend" of Linux beyond what serves their business needs. And that is as it should be. As long as they keep doing what they are doing, Linux and Sun have similar goals and they deserve our support.

  • Is Sun really a friend of Linux? Is SGI? Of course not. The closest you have to support in business is a vauge alliance towards a common goal.

    I'm sure one or two of you out there have jobs, and for those jobs you receive paychecks. Those paychecks are dependant on your company making money. In fact, your company *exists* to make money - a concept abhorant to all of you, I know, I know.

    Now, here's my point. You see Linux and the open source movement in general to be basically an altruistic effort, for the good of the community. You draw more from Stallman than you'd probably like to admit. If you think that companies are altruistic, and are going to support Linux because it's a good right thing to do, you are simply uneducated in the ways of business, and for that matter, the real world.

    Businesses exist to make money. Let me say it again.

    Businesses exist to make money.

    And to make money, they will do whatever they think will get them the next slice of pie. So enjoy your hobby, and get off your hobby-horse - Sun, SGI, and Microsoft aren't going to bow to your bedroom experimenter's whims. They will simply use it as they see fit. None of this should come as any surprise, and frankly, I can't figure out why it even counts as news.
  • Game consoles may be nice, but they're not my idea of the future. It's great for some people, but what if you already have a computer? Rather than shell out $300 for a brand new game console, or even $99 for an N64 or Playstation 1, you could spend $150 on a good 3D accelerator, and you still have the option of playing older games as well. (Is there anyone else who would like a Nintendo that plays 3d games, SNES games, as well as the original Legend of Zelda, SMB, or Excite Bike?)

    PC's can always be upgraded, and they are usually compatable (for the most part) with their predecessors. If you upgrade from a 512k Paradise SVGA card to a 16Meg AGP Voodoo3 card, you can still play games made for an XT with a CGA card. (Of course, you have to slow your PC waaaaay down, since that damn XT had no clock, but still, it's possible.) You can't do that with a game console.

    The big clincher, IMO, is the fact that a good percentage of the US population has a computer, and needs one for many different non-game related tasks. So, if they see a good game, which a lot of times has both a PC and a game console version, they would rather spend the $50 or less for the PC game, as opposed to the $60-$70 for the console game, and just play it on a machine they already have.

    That's why I think the PC game market will never be destroyed by the console market. (Plus, there are many more game genre's than first person shoot-em ups, sports, and racing games.) It's real hard to do a strategy, complex role-playing, or other such game, especially without a keyboard. :)
  • If there was ever a company that had the potential to be as pompous and megalomaniacal as Microsoft, it's Sun. Remember a few years ago when they were threatening lawsuits against anything and everything that had the letters JAVA anywhere? If they win over MS, it will be a scene like the end of Orwell's Animal Farm.

    The good news is, it won't happen. People are in love with speed and convenience. Even the most powerful Intel machines don't run software as fast as people want, so a network connection certainly isn't going to fulfill the need. Maybe someday when we all have full-time gigabit connections directly to our desktops and never want for speed during even the most intensive operations, Sun's vision may become reality. Considering that I live in a major metropolitan area and don't even have ADSL or a cable modem available yet, I think we're still years away from that scenario.

    Linux lovers, relax.

  • by poopie ( 35416 ) on Tuesday September 21, 1999 @04:35AM (#1669684) Journal
    Hey, fewer and fewer people are going to be willing to spend $2000 for a computer, $150 for a joystick, $200 for a new graphics card, $150 for decent speakers *JUST* to *PLAY*GAMES*.

    People will be more likely to tolerate a lag to load a game when they have access to newer games on cheaper hardware. (witness how willingly linux users download ISO images over PPP!)

    As to computers for gaming machines, I got tired of having to upgrade my OS/drivers/hardware every few months just to play a game.

    ... and I only had *one* joystick, so 2 player games were difficult.

    You can get a playstation or N64 for $99, and there are tons of games that just work, don't need to be installed, configured, uninstalled, reinstalled, upgraded, etc.

    I switched. I'll never waste time futzing around on my computer for games again.

    Face it, *CONSUMERS* want SIMPLE, CHEAP, DISPOSABLE APPLIANCES. Slashdot users aren't representative of the general populace that will decide the success
  • by ndfa ( 71139 ) on Tuesday September 21, 1999 @04:36AM (#1669687)
    The article is like many others. I remember reading something about how Oracle was also porting their stuff over just to make sure that NT would not be the only OS that would have a Database on the PC servers!
    Granted, StarOffice is really not something that you would associate SUN MicroSystems with, its more of a M$ style package! But then you need to remember that even Silicon Graphics became SGI.
    It may just be that Sun now realizes that specializing in hardware and OS may not be the stratergy for the future (I kow Sun does a lot more). Besides I dont think that even Sun would be bold enough to "drop StarOffice" too fast. Granted its not a cash cow but hell they are giving themselves some breathing room.
    Last i checked Microsoft still could not compete with Solaris on *REAL* machines like the EU10K. So if they do have to compete with M$, they better get to that correct playing field!!! Home and Business users, and thats where StarOffice will come in, even if they get their Java clients figured out, more is always merrier!

    Some of the media hype about M$ is a bit overdone, hell if you were as big as M$ is you would almost need to have that much competition. Its just that emotions run a lot higher when BillGates is the person on the other side.
    What LINUX needs now is apps. to get it accepted! If this does happen, there is NO WAY THAT Sun will pull out... Java Client or NOT!.
  • by AJWM ( 19027 ) on Tuesday September 21, 1999 @04:36AM (#1669688) Homepage
    Uh, Sun isn't interested in home PCs, so what makes sense on those is irrelevant to Sun. Sun sells to businesses, and there the model does make sense. (Not always, but enough of a market that Microsoft is nervous about it.)
    And that market is much bigger than the home PC market.

    (In the future, perhaps, as broadband access to the net (cable, DSL, etc) increases, we may see more of an interest by Sun in the home market -- likely a lot of current non-PC owners would be interested in something like this that'll give them their email, their network-served office apps, and yes their networked games. WebTV just doesn't cut it. Remember that most potential home users have neither the inclination nor skill to manage a PC, they'd rather pay somebody else to do it - and if they can do that via a network, so much the better (no need to bring the PC down to CompUSA or wherever to have the latest software loaded up on it)).

    Don't make the mistake of judging the mass market by your personal preferences. After all, look at the success of Microsoft and AOL.
  • by ChrisRijk ( 1818 ) on Tuesday September 21, 1999 @06:27AM (#1669697)
    *) Just because you found someone several years ago, who thinks that Sun would be worse than MS, doesn't mean it's true. Even if Sun gained the same position MS is in, I doubt they'd act the same - MS has been acting like they are now for pretty much their entire history. For example, I've never heard of Sun trying to co-opt other people's standards, but MS does it all the time. Sun does good backwards compatability on all it's products - compile something for Solaris 2.5, and it'll almost certainly work fine on Solaris 2.7, or 2.8 when it comes out. MS mostly uses the cheapest programmers it can get, unlike Sun - and Solaris is far far more stable than any MS product. Sun's standard policy for anything that comes with Solaris is that they will continue to support for 5 years after they stop selling it - they're still supporting Solaris 2.3, unlike MS which tends to drop support for older versions the minute something newer is available. If you've followed the details of the DoJ vs MS trial in detail, like I have, you'll get a pretty clear idea of what lengths MS will go to force people to do what they want. The biggest reason my MS execs are so agressive is because of the share options - by working themselves to the bone to get raises and by improving MS's outlook, they can make loads of money. While Sun do offer share options, they mostly offer a good salary and a good working environment. btw, some Sun managers pay is tied to the reliability of Sun hardware/software solutions.

    *) Sun aren't stopping development for StarOffice - they are keeping all 200 developers. If they wanted to kill off StarOffice at a later date, then why the heck would they release the source code and keep the developers?

    *) Unless MS just dies very quickly, Sun would have very little to gain by suddenly dropping StarOffice - that would be a gift to MS. The 'StarPortal' thing with the Java client needs a server - so it'll be very hard to make a home user to switch. Corportations would be a bit different, but they're hardly likely to drop their general purpose PCs for a pure Sun solution just because Sun drop StarOffice. The StarPortal thing is more new markets, not current ones.

    *) The SunRay 1 is a very focus solution, aimed at things like call centers, or where you would currently have terminals. It is absolutely not in any way at all a general solution or intended to be a replacement for all PCs. (just the ones that are doing simple basic things) Sun currently only supply Java for Solaris and Windows - if they drop StarOffice for the Java-only version (which might well require Java 1.3 which has just gone into beta), that helps MS, unless Sun massively increase the support they directly provide for Java on other OSs.

    *) Wabi itself was dropped by Sun 2 years ago. It seems Caldera were doing 'Wabi for Linux' and it was them that dropped it in March this year. (I'm not sure of some of the details)

    *) Sun is a hardware company - 85% of their revenue comes from hardware, and they have very good, and high end server solutions. It's hardly surprising that they'll play to their strengths. It would also be unreasonable to expect Sun to give away all their technology and software to Linux, as they only make a profit on their software stuff because it sells more hardware.

    *) I've seen lots of people say that Sun is hurting because of Linux. Actually it's the other way around - Linux is growing and helping the general unix market, which helps Sun. Finantially, Sun is doing just as well as they've always been doing (20-25% growth per year, 2nd only to Dell for a large computer manufacturer) and I haven't seen any indications to suggest that they are being hurt by Linux. Scott McNealy actually said recently that he doesn't want Sun to grow more than 25% per year - can't hire good people fast enough to grow faster reliable. Besides, though Sun is somewhat vulerable in terms of hardware sales for boxes for software development, or web servers and the like, there is little

    *) As for the liscense - I'm pretty damn sure it prevents you from say giving a copy of the binary to a friend, or using one download to install it on a load of machines in an office. Also, (though it's not officially confirmed yet I think), AOL will be distrubuting StarOffice on their standard CD-ROM, and Compaq and other PC manufacturers will be pre-installing it on some of their computers.

    Well, that's enough for now...

  • Sun acquired Wabi when it purchased a small company on the east coast (don't remember the name) in 1993. It got quite a bit of attention for a while, as Sun started a little crusade to document and standardize the Windows APIs (under the rubric of PWI, the Public Windows Initiative).

    All of the developers who worked with Wabi were the employees of the little company Sun bought. Generally when a company is purchased the employees are issued options which vest over 4 years. You will note that they would have been fully vested in 1997. Flush with Sun options, the people who had worked on Wabi gradually left the company. On a product as complex as Wabi you can replace engineers if they leave one at a time, spaced far apart. If a group of them leave together (the day after their options for that year vest) it is nearly impossible the keep the product going.

    Evan, I'm sorry you got burned when Wabi finally died. But there is an old saying:

    Never ascribe to malice what can be adequately explained by incompetence.

    Wabi became moribund a few years ago when Sun had so few people left who understood how it worked. Wabi was discontinued as an afterthought. I doubt anyone at Sun even knows where the workspaces with the final source code are, nor whether Sun owns the rights to every bit of code in it to be able to release its source. Over 6 years as a product lots of licenses for Wabi got negotiated, and all of them would have to be investigated to make sure Sun had the rights to all of the code.
    No one at Sun sat down and planned it out that Wabi had to be killed in favor of Java. No one at Sun has given a second thought to Wabi for several years. It was a mercy killing.

    Wabi's big contribution to Wine was giving impetus to the Wine project. Somewhere around here I have my Prime Time Freeware CD-ROM set, where I first saw mention of Wine. It was in a directory named "wabi". I remember thinking it was pretty rude to try to get mileage out of Sun's product name like that. Rather ironic now.
  • by Brandon Hume ( 73471 ) on Tuesday September 21, 1999 @06:31AM (#1669702) Homepage
    Its very interesting reading the comments posted here. Most of them, overall, seem to be caught up in the same flow as the original article. Some seem intelligently placed. Some are just plain stupid.

    1) "Sun just wants Linux to hurt Microsoft."

    Well, there's only one thing that can be said to this... DUH! Does anyone really think that the Oracle, IBM, SGI, and anybody else are operating on any other motivation? Sun wants to sell Solaris. IBM wants to sell AIX.

    Why is one more evil than another?

    Was the UltraPenguin program faked? Sun got up, and declared Linux worthy. Was that a BAD thing to do? A lot of people were pleased when Sun did that, saying they were simply wise to do so... its interesting how fast people turn their coats.

    Honestly... how many people run Linux without any concept of just what kind of OS is beneath their fingers and what it can do, but run it just because its not Microsoft? A fair number I think, because I run into these people every day.

    2) "Sun will drop Linux as soon as it starts to threaten Slowlaris".

    First off... Find something newer than "Slowlaris", its getting worn out.

    Sun has been marketing Solaris x86 for a while now. They haven't turned against Linux over that yet. Secondly, Sun ships a copy of Solaris free with every Sun workstation. So, if a person gets their sparc and blows off Solaris, why should Sun care? They've done their duty.

    Thirdly, I know this may shock some people, but some people LIKE Solaris, and they're not necessarily idiots for doing so. I like its filesystem layout. I like its driver model. I like how I don't need kernel headers to compile applications. I like its threading model, and its great SMP. I compared these to Linux (and other Unixes) equivalents, and I made a CHOICE. And generally I find that the people who like and use Solaris tend to KEEP liking and using Solaris.
    I don't think Linux is going to erase Solaris from existence any time soon. Would you WANT it to? Isn't that what competition is about, even for free Unixes?

    3) "Sun is trying to keep Linux down by not porting Java".

    This is amazingly stupid. Sun IS helping port Java. The people complaining about it not being out yet seem to have no concept of just how complex and involved such a project IS. Java 1.2 exists from Blackdown, and they appear to be working on getting it passing the Java Compatibility Tests which Sun insists on. (And before someone starting griping about THAT, let me say that that's called being "fair". Sun stomped on MS for violating those tests, they can't very well turn around and let Linux get away without them, otherwise the conspiracy theorists will REALLY crawl out of the woodwork.)

    So, if Java for Linux isn't moving fast enough for you, why not volunteer to help out with the project?

    The rest of the comments, along with the article itself, appear to be just more FUD. Sun killed Wabi, the author is annoyed, and tries to spin off an anti-Linux conspiracy to make the zealots hurt Sun back. I don't think so. Linux is here to stay, Solaris isn't going to die anytime soon, Sun's actions have NOT been inconsistent, and the world continues to spin.
    Brandon Hume
    hume -> BOFH.Halifax.NS.Ca, http://WWW.BOFH.Halifax.NS.Ca/
  • What else would you expect. Every software ( and hardware too but to less extent ) manufacturer whants to hurt MS as much as they can. And it seems natural to use Linux for this purpose. Does it hurt Linux? No, because it get the commercial software and hardware support it desperately needs. Does it help Linux? Yes it does. For everybody start to say "Linux" where they used to say "Microsoft". Should OSS community be wary of this trend? Yes it should for corporations like Sun do not *really* care about OSS, but only about their own agendas. Let them help Linux beat MS, and we will see what comes next. If Sun tries to become second MS, IMHO it will only be another good challenge for Linux. Actually a much stronger challenge then the current one, for at least Sun makes decent software :)
  • This is a nice article, but I thought this stuff was pretty self-evident. I personally wish them the best of luck. They'll never be the next Microsoft, but maybe they can carve out a nice chunk of the market. I'd happily live in a world where I could choose between an MS desktop, a Linux desktop, or a Sun thin client and not give up basic functionality (like a decent speadsheet) no matter what I choose.

    I do believe that Sun is seriously reducing their chances by not backing Linux, however. Home users will never buy the Sun solution (or at least it will be a LONG time). If they could get a significant percentage of home users hooked on StarOffice they would stand a much better chance of getting StarPortal into the workplace. Linux is their best hope of getting StarOffice into the home.

    Instead, low-end home users will end up using Gnome Office apps or KOffice. Higher-end home users will buy WordPerfect Suite. The StarOffice user base will dry up and they'll have an uphill battle convincing companies to adopt StarPortal.

  • by Hobbex ( 41473 ) on Tuesday September 21, 1999 @04:38AM (#1669712)
    Firstly, the PC isn't much of games station itself any more. The PCs CPUs are so unfitting for modern 3D games that more and more of the load is being moved off the processor and onto the accelerator cards every day. Witness the new Nvidia card with the funny name, which does every part of the graphics processing from geometry setup and on. Gamers also invest in dedicated games soundcards, also equiped with their own chips for sound processing. Gamers regularly keep their games on a seperate harddrive, and besides OS I can't remember a single reason to have a CD-rom drive in my machine.

    The most important aspect the games usage of my pc shares with the pc usage is the interface, and lets face it, besides the mouse and quake, the pc interface is far from ideal for gaming.

    On the flip side however, combining one of Sun's dumb clients like the Ray with a next generation games console like the Playstation 2 seems like a very realistic idea. The only thing they are really missing is a good Internet connection (I can't imagine remote running applications over a modem like the dreamcast), and support for a monitor besides the TV.

    I would say that this is a MORE natural marriage then that of the PC and the games station, which is quickly converging into two machines in one box.

    (I have always hated consoles and their stupid single player games, btw. This is not console vs pc gaming post.)

    /. is like a steer's horns, a point here, a point there and a lot of bull in between.

"my terminal is a lethal teaspoon." -- Patricia O Tuama