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|Q: "What's the difference between Lem's Solaris and Sun's Solaris?"
A: "One's an alien presence that drives all who encounter it mad, and the other one's been made into a movie by Andrei Tarkovsky."
What is really interesting, the word Solaris is more common in major Slavic languages, for example Polish, Russian, Ukrainian than in English. That is due to the famous Russian movie Solaris produced long before Solaris 1.0 became available. It's actually a deep philosophical film, but simplifying you can consider it to be a Hitchcock-style sciFi film about a mysterious alien civilization (thinking ocean). Film convey a rather paranoid atmosphere of mystery superficially similar to the experience of a Windows user first time forced without any preparation into Unix command line environment and after desperate attempts to exit vi switching the computer off ;-). Actually the film is definitely worth a watch if you can get hold of it (Amazon has it), and if you are good in debugging and thus have enough patience to survive the first 30 min (it has a rather slow start).
The film was based on the book with the same title written by Stanislaw Lem which is considered to be a masterpiece of science fiction. See Study Guide for Solaris from Washington State University. Another sciFi masterpiece by Lem is Return from the Stars where an astronaut returns from a long mission to find the world changed radically including bred out citizens. I loved that book. Other good books by Lem include Invincible (more traditional sciFi) and Eden (almost as dark and alien as "Solaris").
If Sun's marketing are to be more inventive they probably should include DVD copies of the film (or at least of the book) in the Solaris Set of DVDs and use the book to promote the OS to VIPs on each major customer presentation (you can make nice PowerPoint slides about the film which might be more suitable to VIP audience, which en masse might have difficulties distinguishing Solaris with Gnome from Windows and Xen from VMware ;-). I would definitely include the copy of the book with Star Office and use it in examples. That might bring a better return on investment than any number of T-shirts with Sun logo...
In any case this association of an influential books with an OS represent for Sun un-trivial advantage especially pronounced in Eastern European markets. Linux does not have similar association. It also gives the book some additional relevance due to the important of this OS. Like in any symbiotic relationships both are the winners, although I would like Sun marketing to be more active in exploring this theme.
It also evoke interesting parallels between development of OSes and development of other technical artifacts. Like science in general programming and especially system programming is a drama of ideas. Like researches in Solaris film and novel system programmers need to deal with phenomena of extreme complexity and operating systems definitly belong to the list of the most complex artifacts created by mankind. Like in film the complexity of say operating system debugging can definitly can drive person crazy. Like in Solaris working isolated on some remote station is pretty detrimental to psychical health.
Also like in science in general and astronomy in particular there is some objective line of development that generally does not depends on persons. If one talented person prematurely dies the phenomena will be reinvented by somebody else, although it might happen many years later. Like in science the question of priority for particular inventions is pretty important. There is a very interesting historical fact that Cavendish discovered the properties of electrical current including Ohm law long before Om but simply forgot to submit his manuscript for printing[Kapitsa1974]. That is a strong argument against "cult of personality" perversions that have found their way to open source.
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Created Jan 2, 2005. Last modified: March 12, 2019