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Solaris Bulletin 2002

ZDNet Will the real chip standard please stand up - ZDNet Tech Update

...Not only does Intel have vendors like Dell describing its proprietary processors and chipsets as industry standards (as in, "our systems are built on industry standard parts"), but now the media is beginning to validate that undeserved characterization.

A recent Forbes article says, "Intel aimed not just to beat its chip rivals but to bury them. Its ambition was to craft a high-end processor architecture that the entire industry would be forced to use. Grove would devote his company's manufacturing strength to building vast volumes of the chip at a price other chipmakers couldn't meet. That same formula had made Intel's chips the standard in the PC industry." Later, the same article says "Michael Dell made his fortune by relying on industry standards, and the Intel standard has been very good to him."

In its coverage of Sun's latest barrage of announcements, the Boston Globe declares, "Sun Microsystems plans today to introduce a wide range of hardware and software, in an effort to fend off criticism that its computer systems are too expensive and proprietary to compete with the industry-standard systems made by IBM, Hewlett-Packard, and Dell Computer."

For technology buyers, the confusion of standards with proprietary technology has two unfortunate consequences. First, it creates the misperception that compliance, interoperability and compatibility with the so-called standard are guaranteed by an independent standards organization. Second, it creates an opportunity for the intellectual property holder of the proprietary technology to foreclose the competition. Any addiction to proprietary technology puts the vendor of that technology in control of the things that you should have control over -- such as cost, security, and performance. Thanks to clones of Intel's 32-bit architecture (IA-32), that situation may not yet exist. But if Intel is ultimately anointed as the industry standard bearer, we may have a problem with IA-64.

Sun CEO Scott McNealy might as well pack up now and go home. After all, the SPARC architecture in Sun's systems is more entitled to be called an industry standard than is anything that comes from Intel's fabs.

Intel's microprocessors are more of an industry commodity than a standard. The term standard should be reserved for specifications that have received the imprimatur of an officially recognized standards body such as ANSI, the IEEE, the ISO, the IETF, or the W3C. When a technical specification for a protocol, programming language or other technology receives the endorsement of one of these organizations, that specification is considered to be ratified as a standard.

Implementing a technology that sticks to the letter of the technical specification should assure users that it will interoperate with other things that are supposedly compliant with the standard. For example, if you buy a hair dryer in the United States, you can be relatively certain that the plug at the end of the device's electrical cord will fit in the receptacles found in most U.S. bathrooms. Standards-folk refer to this concept as "complying with standards and competing on implementation."

Perhaps one reason Intel's microprocessor architecture is misconstrued as a standard is that, historically, devotees of Intel microprocessors (from the 8086 up to the latest Pentiums) have benefited from an ecosystem that behaves in a very standard-like fashion.

Over the years, a variety of software and operating systems have been developed to run on Intel microprocessors. Forgetting Microsoft's antitrust shenanigans for a moment, there have been numerous Intel-compatible alternatives to the desktop and server versions of Microsoft's operating systems and applications. Novell's NetWare, IBM's OS/2, anybody's Linux, and Digital Research's DR-DOS come to mind as substitutes that users have often considered and used with Intel microprocessors because there was an assurance of x86-compatibility from the software vendor.

However, being able to replace the "plug" does not a standard make. If the true test of a standard is being able to make substitutions on both sides (the plug and the receptacle, or the processor and the software) then Intel's x86 architectures have satisfied that test as well -- but not because Intel wanted it that way. Competitors such as AMD, Cyrix, IDT, MemoryLogix and Transmeta have come forward with microprocessors that could be substituted for their Intel counterparts in such a way that the software side didn't detect the change. Intel didn't exactly go along with all of this cloning without attempting to enforce its intellectual property rights. Most clones that succeeded, endured, or escaped successful prosecution did so as a result of creative interpretations or renegotiations of long-standing cross-licensing agreements that various parties had with Intel.

This sort of enforcement of intellectual property rights is not the mark of an industry standard, but rather one of popularity. Ironically, competition from the clone makers ended up benefiting Intel in two ways. First, competition kept the trustbusters off Intel's back. It was harder to argue that Intel had a monopoly if substitutes for its chips were available from other manufacturers. Second, the competition made Intel-compatible platforms even more popular.

All this popularity has somehow morphed Intel's microprocessors into being billed as industry standards, which they are not -- if you apply the strict definition.

If you're looking for a processor specification that's open for implementation and that has the imprimatur of a standards-setting body, look no further than the specification that Sun has used for the processors it puts in some of its systems. Not only does an IEEE standard exist for a 32-bit version of the SPARC specification (IEEE 1754-1994, but it's a specification that's free to implement provided those who implement it don't use the SPARC trademark.

In the event that you want to put the SPARC trademark on your IEEE 1754-1994-compliant processor, you'll have to pony-up some membership dues and compliance testing fees to SPARC International. Dues and fees help to assure buyers of systems with the SPARC trademark that the microprocessors are certified by an independent party to be compliant (as a result of the testing) with two versions of SPARC: V8 (32-bit) and V9 (64-bit).

According to SPARC International CEO Karen Anaya, the fee for the SPARC Version 8 (32-bit) test suite is $25,000 and the fee for SPARC V9 (64-bit) is $35,000 and none of those fees accrue to Sun's coffers. The money goes strictly to SPARC International, a non-profit organization.

Anybody looking to develop a chip based on the IEEE 1754-1994 standard or the SPARC V8 or V9 specifications without paying any fees can do so simply by avoiding the SPARC trademarks. Whereas the IEEE 1754-1994 specification is available for download from the IEEE at no charge, the SPARC V8 and V9 specifications are freely downloadable from SPARC International's Web site. Theoretically, you could download any of the specs, build a chip, put it in a box, and sell it as a system without paying anyone a dime.

Picture a system box with a clever swoosh around the text "IEEE 1754-1994 Inside" or "Cool 64-bit RISC chip inside." Not very catchy, but the restrictions on use of the SPARC brand also offer a measure of assurance to Sun, which turned its 32-bit and 64-bit SPARC intellectual property over to the non-profit SPARC International. Since Sun so closely associates the SPARC brand with its standards (that is, its own standards) for quality and performance, the restrictions on use of the brand prevent a third party from selling a non-SPARC International-compliant system under the SPARC brand, which in turn would tarnish the SPARC name and could affect the perception of Sun's systems.

From an organizational point of view, the Java Community Process (JCP) is very similar to SPARC International in that it upholds the quality of the Java brand through a testing process. But, unlike with SPARC, Sun did not turn over the intellectual property rights for Java to the JCP, and none of the Java specifications have received the imprimatur of a widely recognized standards setting body.

In other words, Java is no more a standard than Intel's processors or the Windows operating system or any other proprietary technology. The one element that makes Java very standard-like, and the reason it is often mistaken for an industry standard, is the way in which many other companies participate in its evolution through the JCP. Most standards bodies operate in much the same way. But, in the JCP's case and much to IBM's chagrin, Sun's intellectual property rights to Java give it veto power. (It's a power that Sun claims it has never used and, to date, no third parties have gone on record to counter that claim.)

The point is that whereas IEEE 1754-1994 is a standard, SPARC is a closely guarded brand. (Java is too, for that matter.) Still, whether I want to develop an IEEE 1754-1994-compliant processor, or the same with the SPARC-brand attached to it, the ground rules for doing so are published and don't discriminate when it comes to who can implement them or how much they must pay. The same cannot be said for any of Intel's architectures. Intel owns the IP to both the 32- and 64-bit version of its processors: IA-32 and IA-64, respectively. For those few with a license (usually a cross-license), Intel has pretty much called the shots. For those without a license, cloning the IA-32 architecture has required a costly clean room implementation.

There's no question that the IA-32 ecosystem appears strikingly similar to the ecosystem that surrounds many real industry standards. Perhaps the most important similarity is how developers flock to it because of the economics it has traditionally offered. Given those economics, it's safe to describe IA-32 as an "industry commodity." But referring to Intel's architecture as an industry standard in the same breath that Sun's offerings are referred to as proprietary sets an ugly precedent that will forever undermine the true spirit of the term "standard" unless we all take more care to protect its meaning.

[ZDNET] Sun's problems with Linux

COMMENTARY--When Sun Microsystems got started in 1982, companies such as Wang and Data General dominated the hardware business. In less than a decade, this upstart Unix outfit was a billion-dollar-plus phenom while the once-mighty minicomputer makers had been consigned to irrelevance.

Such is the impact of what Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen calls a disruptive technology. Sun, which won IT converts by offering minicomputer customers less expensive and less proprietary systems, had come up with a technology-price recipe that the incumbents could not match.

How times have changed nearly two decades later, with Sun now the one scrambling to remain relevant. As the Unix server market continues to shrink, sales of Intel-based servers running the Linux operating system nearly doubled in the fourth quarter of 2002 from a year earlier.

For the record, Sun's brass is quick to dismiss this as a minor concern.

Sun is not standing still. The company has ambitious plans to build more speed and functionality into Solaris while committing to using 32-bit Intel processors. In the meantime, the company also is filling out its product portfolio for managing data centers with a single, unified system under its recently announced NI initiative.

"Am I worried about Linux?" says Jonathan Schwartz, the savvy executive who runs Sun's software group. "No. Am I worried about Intel? A little."

Maybe he should take another look
Rivals are selling gobs of Intel-based hardware running the Linux operating system. The pitch is that Linux on Intel is a less expensive and more open alternative to anything in the Sun technology arsenal. Even though Linux does not yet feature any special technological advantage over Sun's Solaris operating system, it is the fruit of open-source collaboration and thus does not belong to any single company.

Sun argues all this is misleading advertising because of the hidden costs of ownership associated with building sophisticated data centers. When pricing Linux systems, customers can't ignore the cost of additional software they must buy to run on top of Linux. Sun also points out that it throws much of that into the package that comes with its Solaris operating system.

Another Sun argument: What's written to Red Hat's Linux won't run on Linux distributions from SuSe, Monte Vista, and the rest of the pack.

Fair enough. Though I contend that it's still easier to port from one Intel Linux to another than it is to port from one Solaris to another. Given the sharp year-to-year growth of Linux sales in the December quarter, more than a few data center administrators apparently agree. Consider the following, for the December quarter:

• IBM raked in $159.9 million in Linux-related sales, up from $75.6 million a year ago.

• Hewlett-Packard's share rose to $80.2 million, up 81 percent, from $44.3 million a year ago.

• Dell Computer's Linux server revenue soared nearly 66 percent, compared with a year ago, to $77.1 million.

• Sun, which started selling Linux servers in 2002, finished with just $1.3 million in Linux revenue.

When measured against total IT expenditures on corporate data centers, those numbers are still relative drops in the bucket. But the Linux-on-Intel combination also allows Sun's rivals to beat it over the head on price.

For IBM, a commodity operating system like Linux is a godsend because it can afford to subsidize its commodity strategy with revenue from its software and services businesses. Similarly, HP can count on its profitable printer business to offset the loss of margin elsewhere. (It also has a hardware line in the works that will run Linux top to bottom, unlike Sun. Linux is on Sparc if you want to do it yourself, but it's not popular.) And there's no company around that has been able to figure how to beat Dell at selling lower-end systems.

Struggling to revive its moribund stock price (still just above $3 a share), the last thing Sun needs or wants right now is an even worse price war.

With prices on Linux-Intel systems falling, the pressure is on a "higher value" company like Sun to justify the higher prices it charges for systems comprising proprietary Unix operating systems on RISC processors. Corporate data managers are especially anxious about reducing hardware costs. What's more, they know the migration to Linux from an existing proprietary Unix platform reuses a lot of the existing code and skills.

I, Cringely The Pulpit -- some controversial, but still interesting view on the Sun's future...

Sun did not invent the engineering workstation, but they certainly perfected it.  But where are workstations today?  Gone, for the most part.  Sun's workstation business is about the same size as SGI's, which is to say small.  Sun is now a server company, but that won't last long either under the onslaught of Linux.  Cheap Intel and AMD hardware running Linux is going to kill Sun unless the company does something so stop it, which they aren't.

Sun made a big show this week of rolling out its new product strategy, called N1, which pits the company directly against both Microsoft and IBM.  Both Napoleon and Hitler learned the hard way that it is not a good idea to fight a war on two fronts, and Sun, which can barely afford to compete against one of those companies, much less both, is about to get the same rueful lesson.

Sun's announcements were too little, too late, and they were made by absolutely the wrong people -- a succession of marketing executives.  Sun is an engineering company, so where were the engineers?  The engineers were kept in the back rooms lest they reveal the despair being felt right now in their company.  The problem is that Sun has no real technical leadership.  CEO Scott McNealy doesn't know what to do with the company.  Ed Zander is gone, which is good, but that means it has been years since the company had anything like charismatic or visionary leadership.  It doesn't look good.

Even Java is becoming superfluous.  Java is the Dan Marino of software. Just as the former Dolphins quarterback, Java affected the world so much that history cannot be written without its mention.  But nonetheless, neither Java nor Dan ever won the big one.

So here is the prognosis.  Sun lost $2 billion last year and will probably lose another $2 billion this year.  At that rate, the company has at most five years to live.  They have just renewed a commitment to the Solaris operating system, which is no longer really viable from an economic standpoint.  I know, I know, Solaris users love Solaris, but they don't love Solaris prices.  And with a falling market share, Sun can't afford to make Solaris any cheaper.  Sun is having the same problem in hardware where their SPARC architecture is falling behind, and -- worse still -- has lost nearly all of its manufacturing support in Japan.  Both Solaris and SPARC will absorb vast sums in the coming years and yield absolutely no increase in Sun's market share as a result.

Here is something very important to understand: winning its current anti-trust suit against Microsoft will not change the final outcome for Sun. An award of $1 billion or even $3 billion (possible treble damages) won't do anything except buy a little time.

It would be great if something happened to arrest Sun's fall.  One rumor going around is that Sun will merge with Apple, which is ironic since Gil Amelio tried unsuccessfully to GIVE Apple to Sun back in early 1997 before Gil was fired as Apple CEO.  The logic behind this rumor is that Apple is now effectively a Unix company, that Apple and Sun could target the desktop and server markets, respectively, and that Sun would drop SPARC in favor of PowerPC processors.

This is a nice rumor, but I don't believe it.  Steve Jobs has done an excellent job of turning Apple into a boutique computer company.  He can move Apple quickly to stay ahead of the market as he is doing right now shifting the company more and more into notebooks, about the only PC area that is still growing.  But Jobs couldn't do the same thing with a post-merger Apple/Sun.  The company would be too big and the cash reserves would be too low.  The competition -- again Microsoft and IBM -- would be too big and too rich. Steve is ambitious, but he is not an idiot.  There is nothing at Sun right now that Apple needs.

So what is to be done?  The answer is clearly two versions of the same thing.  Sun can either find a merger partner to take the company out of its predicament or it can find its own strategy to achieve the same result.  Either way, this is a time for Scott McNealy to literally bet the company.

To hear them talk, Sun's marketing folks think they are already betting the company, but they aren't.  They are throwing the company away, which is very different.  It is the difference between taking a calculated risk that might turn the company around and the current strategy of simply spending more money NOT trying to turn the company around in hopes that some happy accident will take place before Sun is completely broke.

I don't know exactly what Sun should do to save itself, but I know it has to involve a bold and brash move that changes the entire company, and with that, the entire game.  Sun has to reinvent itself. 

Solaris 8 Administrator's Guide Chapter 4 Network Configuration By Paul Watters January 2002 ISBN 0-596-00073-1,400 pages

After undertaking the complex tasks required to configure a single host, planning and setting up an entire network can be daunting. In this chapter, you'll learn how to configure a Solaris-based network, including the configuration of single or multiple network interfaces, static and dynamic routing, and network troubleshooting. In addition, examples for enabling devices and testing interfaces will be provided.

Infinetcorp Ifcheck Product version 1.0 (beware !) of configuration management tool for Solaris  with some elements of a monitoring tool (why they advertize its ability to check swap space ? it's not a configuration item):

Ifcheck is a system management tool that enables IT administrators to monitor and collect UNIX system change and configuration data from any Web browser-equipped PC or workstation connected to the system. ...

As system hardware and software configurations frequently change, Ifcheck records the history of changes that have occurred since data collection was initiated.  By reporting the time and detail of each configuration change, Ifcheck provides IT administrators with a useful means of identifying problem causes.  The Change History feature can also be used to monitor system behavior.  Dramatic changes, such as a sudden decrease in swap space, may indicate that a memory leak is present or a process is running abnormally. Such information, readily accessible via Ifcheck's Web interface, is key to effectively managing a dynamic UNIX system.

When configured to run by a system cron job, Ifcheck automatically gathers system hardware and software configuration data... 

Ifcheck may also be administered via a command line interface, enabling IT administrators to collect specific configuration data for one category without collecting a comprehensive set of information, compare new data against data already in the data history database, or delete old data from the data history database...

By allowing IT administrators to monitor configuration data without logging into the server, Ifcheck ensures that system integrity is maintained during administrative procedures.  System security is additionally enforced through Ifcheck password protection, restricting its usage to registered users.

By using HTTP protocol and WEB interface, Ifcheck has minimal impact on system resources, allowing critical data collection for resource-hungry, performance-sensitive systems.

See also Infinetcorp FAQ

USATODAY/ McNealy Sun won't go down on his company By Jon Swartz

While critics and rivals snipe that his company, Sun Microsystems, is sinking, Scott McNealy maintains his Captain Courageous demeanor.

... But while McNealy looks to a grand future, industry analysts say Sun is in danger of becoming an also-ran. "Sun is far from dead, but it looks pretty sick," says analyst Rob Enderle of tech consulting firm Giga Information Group. Perhaps no high-tech company benefited — and suffered — more from the tech boom and bust than Sun, underscoring how rapidly a company's fortunes can change in volatile industries. Among big tech companies, only Lucent Technologies' stock has fallen harder than Sun's since their all-time highs. With the possible exception of Cisco Systems, Sun was the "network" company that best illustrated the ambitions of the New Economy. In 1999, one business magazine breathlessly hailed, "The triumvirate of AOL/Netscape/Sun could become the crossroads of online business in the next century."

...Sun is now spiraling [down] in the wake of the telecom, tech and Internet bust. The company best known for supplying beefy computer servers that power many a company backroom is losing market share to Dell Computer on the low end and slugging it out with IBM on the high end. Profit margins are down 20% from two years ago.

... ... ...

...McNealy's plan for Sun's future will put it ever more in direct competition with giants IBM and Hewlett-Packard, both of which have larger financial resources and customer bases.

...The combined result: Sun's fiscal 2002 revenue of $12.5 billion was off 32% from 2001. It lost $587 million in fiscal 2002 vs. a $925 million profit in 2001 and a $1.9 billion profit in 2000.

What's more, its revenue picture is darker than those of its peers. Sun's revenue for the quarter ended Sept. 29 dipped 4% from a year earlier, after plunging 14% and 24% year-over-year in the previous two quarters, respectively. Meanwhile, revenue for the top 20 tech suppliers climbed 1.9% to $62.5 billion in the third quarter, Aberdeen Group says.

Adding to Sun and McNealy's concerns: Microsoft earlier this year emerged virtually unscathed from its four-year antitrust battle, in which Sun played a key role as an advocate for change.

The challenges facing Sun are most evident at customers like CBS SportsLine.com. In the past year, it junked 40 Sun servers that cost $50,000 each and replaced them with 70 Intel-powered Dell servers running the Linux operating system that cost just $5,000 each. In addition to being cheaper than buying new Sun servers — which use Sun chips and Sun software — CBS SportsLine.com's strategy also lets the Web site avoid $400,000 in annual maintenance contracts with Sun, it says. Total savings: $2 million. "Given budget constraints, we needed to cut tech costs without hindering performance. It was a no-brainer," says Peter Pezaris, president of operations at CBS SportsLine.com.

..."Sun is literally being squeezed in the middle," says Tom Bradicich, chief technology officer of servers at Sun rival IBM. ...Sun would benefit from bigger server and software sales as companies relied more and more on computer networks. IBM and H-P are hard at work on similar ideas called "on-demand computing" and Utility Data Center, respectively.

"My theory is the more controversial the strategy, the better the opportunity for profit," says McNealy, 48, who looks youthful in trademark jeans and golf shirt. "I always feel the company is on the verge of great things despite the negativity."  It also doesn't hurt that Sun has a hefty $5.2 billion in cash and respected technology. The company says revenue for its December quarter will meet analysts' forecasts of $2.9 billion. It expects a profitable quarter ending in March 2003. And it is spending $70 million on a worldwide ad blitz. Additionally, Sun scored a big legal win last week in its $1 billion antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft when a judge ordered Microsoft to include Sun's Java software with Windows.

Longtime Silicon Valley observers note that Sun has faced steep odds before. Many were writing its obituary in the early 1990s when pundits predicted that cheap Intel-Windows machines would skewer Sun. But the Internet and telecom industries took off, and Sun rode the wave to new heights. It could happen again with another emerging technology such as biotech, nanotech or something else, computer analyst Harry Fenik says. "In these brutal times, you need a no-holds-barred, decisive type like Scott — not some thumb sucker who hunkers down," says Jack Welch, the former General Electric CEO, whom McNealy considers his mentor. "Scott has the passion, focus and vision to pull it off."

Still, it won't be easy. Current and former Sun executives acknowledge Sun reacted too slowly to the tech downturn. IBM and H-P are strong competitors. But they insist Sun can bounce back because of its technology and McNealy's bulldog-like tenacity.  With some tweaks, he seems intent on pursuing Sun's same old course: produce sparkling technology at a premium price. On average, Sun devotes 14% of revenue to research and development vs. 6% for H-P and IBM. "There is very little risk with Sun machines, and they have excellent support," says Kurt Gastrock, vice president of hosting solutions at Sprint. Its national computer network runs a mix of Sun's Solaris, Microsoft's Windows 2000 and Linux operating systems. Then, too, there are benefits to being a niche player. Just ask Apple Computer, one of few profitable PC makers. It has rung up a string of moneymaking quarters by closely watching expenses and selling products to a fiercely loyal customer base.

McNealy also claims a takeover is out of the question, even though, at $3.25 a share, Sun's current market value of $10.1 billion is about $200 billion less than in late 2000, and rumors have percolated for 18 months that Fujitsu is eyeing Sun. "It's pretty absurd," McNealy says. "I don't think there's anyone out there that could afford to buy us." Perhaps more important, McNealy still appears to have the support of Sun's board, which has watched him wiggle out of crises before. "He will go down with the ship or turn it around," says Marc Andreessen, co-founder of Netscape Communications. "Like Bill Gates or Larry Ellison, he is a Messianic cult leader who defines his company's culture. He's a fighter who will punch your teeth in."

[Dec 18, 2002] Boston Globe Online - Sunday Focus - The Lem chronicles The author of 'Solaris' says he's been misunderstood - again By Jeet Heer, 12/15/2002

...Many sci-fi writers have tried to resolve this dilemma by imagining aliens simply as human beings with funny costumes or pointy ears. But Lem has tackled the problem with stories about creatures so strange that they baffle the understanding. In Lem's most famous novel, for example, scientists struggle for decades to communicate with an intelligent ocean that engulfs the planet Solaris. Repeated failure makes some of the scientists bitter and sullen, as if they'd been rejected by a haughty lover. Strangely, Lem's own relationship with his Western audience has long been marked by the same botched communication and wounded love.

Not that the 81-year-old writer, who lives in Krakow, would seem to have much to complain about. Lem's 40-odd books have been translated into 40 languages, and global sales figures top 25 million. The 1972 film adaptation of ''Solaris,'' directed by Andrei Tarkovsky, was hailed at the time as the Soviet Union's answer to ''2001: A Space Odyssey.'' Late last month, Hollywood finally responded with its own version, directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring George Clooney.

...''Solaris'' mixed standard sci-fi themes with philosophical questions and became Lem's breakthrough book. As Lem's hero, the psychologist Kris Kelvin, studies the ocean of Solaris, he encounters a woman who resembles Rheya, his wife - or lover, in many translations of the novel - who'd committed suicide a decade earlier. Kelvin isn't sure if the reborn Rheya is merely a hallucination, or if she's product of an attempt (friendly or sinister) on the part of Solaris to make contact with him.

Among other things, ''Solaris'' is a veiled attack on Marxism and its claim to have replaced religious mystery with a science of human history. Solaristics, the systematic study of the planet's ocean, is said to be a rational pursuit - but it's really, Kelvin notes, just ''the space era's equivalent of religion: faith disguised as science.'' He adds: ''Contact, the stated aim of Solaristics, is no less vague and obscure than the communion of the saints, or the second coming of the Messiah.''

''Solaris'' became a literary sensation in Eastern Europe, although in the Soviet Union it was made available only in a bowdlerized version that omitted a chapter deemed too ''mystical.'' Lem followed this novel with more conventional sci-fi books about space exploration, as well as with satirical attacks on the folly of the arms race, and many nonfiction books. In his massive ''Summa Technologiae'' (1964), Lem presented himself as an ironic Aquinas of the space age, offering detailed speculations on how future technologies might mimic and augment biological processes, yet still leave humanity unable to fully understand itself.

Meanwhile, Lem's work was making its troubled journey to the West. ''Solaris'' first became available to English-language readers in 1970, in a shoddy version derived from a French translation. (Despite every effort by Lem himself, it's still the only English translation in print.) Lem also began contributing essays on English-language sci-fi to scholarly journals and fan magazines alike. These essays were often acerbic: While he admired the work of Philip K. Dick, Lem saw himself as the heir to Kafka and H.G. Wells, so he had little regard for those mere hacks who wrote commercial fiction for the pulps.

Tensions with his American colleagues came to a head in a bizarre international literary incident. In 1973, in an effort to promote ''international goodwill,'' the Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA) conferred an honorary membership upon Lem, a distinction that had previously been given to only one other foreign writer, J.R.R. Tolkien.

But in 1975, the writer Philip Jose Farmer, whose sexually frank thrillers Lem had criticized, raised objections to Lem's honorary membership. Farmer's concerns were echoed by an addled Philip K. Dick, who was experiencing fits of paranoia at the time. Dick maintained that Lem had embezzled royalties from a Polish translation of Dick's 1969 novel ''Ubik.'' ''The honorary voting of Stanislaw Lem to membership is the sheep voting the wolf a place at the communal hearth,'' Dick warned SFWA members in '75. ''They certainly must be licking their chops back in Krakow right now.''

These attacks might not have gone any farther if Lem hadn't published yet another critical article on contemporary sci-fi, ''SF, or Phantasy Come to Grief.'' The article itself was acidic, but its impact was amplified by yet another translation problem. In 1975, the Atlas World Press Review put out a dubious English-language version of the essay under the inflammatory title ''Looking down on Science Fiction: A Novelist's Choice for the World's Worst Writing.'' In this version, Lem is made to describe American sci-fi as ''bad writing tacked together with wooden dialogue.'' Although he did call American sci-fi ''kitsch,'' the other accusation appears to have been invented by the translators.

The perpetrators of the World's Worst Writing turned on Lem. One SFWA member accused him of attacking American sci-fi writers at the prompting of his Communist masters. Other SFWA members questioned his ability to read English or suggested, falsely, that he was profiting from pirated editions of American books. In a straw vote taken in 1976, 70 percent of SFWA's voting members supported a resolution to revoke Lem's honorary membership.

Lem did have some American defenders. In an open letter to the journal Science Fiction Studies in 1977, Ursula K. Le Guin declared: ''The SFWA is not a powerful organization, nothing compared to the Soviet Writers Union, say; but when it uses the tactics of the Soviet Writers Union, I think there is cause for concern, and reasons for shame.''

Today, former SFWA president Jerry Pournelle insists that Lem's membership was revoked because of technicalities in the group's bylaws, not politics. But in his 1977 exchange with Le Guin, Pournelle described Lem as someone ''who finds a communist regime congenial'' and ''embraces communist egalitarianism.'' In 1983, a letter to the editor in Omni Magazine denounced Lem as ''the most boring writer in the world - and an avowed Communist'' - even as Lem and his family were preparing to go into exile in Vienna. (They returned to Poland in 1988.)

Despite the hostility of the American sci-fi community, mainstream writers such as John Updike and Anthony Burgess started praising Lem's books in prominent places. But Lem himself had already begun to turn away from the genre toward a more inward-looking experimentalism reminiscent of Borges. ''A Perfect Vacuum'' (1971) offered fictional reviews of non-existent books, for example; and a follow-up volume, ''Imaginary Magnitude'' (1974), gathered together introductions to another set of imaginary books.

Unlike more orthodox and optimistic sci-fi writers, Lem emphasizes the paradoxes and problems that new knowledge will bring with it. For Lem, artificial intelligence entails artificial stupidity. As the narrator of ''The Futurological Congress'' (1971) puts it, ''A smart machine will first consider which is more worth its while: to perform the given task or, instead, to figure some way out of it... And therefore we have the malingerants, fudgerators, and drudge-dodgers, not to mention the special phenomenon of simulimbecility or mimicretinism.''

...But is Lem fated to be misunderstood? In his tangled statement on Steven Soderbergh's movie, Lem writes: ''I have not seen the film... hence I cannot say anything about the movie itself except for what the reviews reflect, albeit unclearly - like a distorted picture of one's face in ripply water. However, to my best knowledge, the book was not dedicated to erotic problems of people in outer space.... I shall allow myself to repeat that I only wanted to create a vision of human encounter with something that certainly exists... but cannot be reduced to human concepts, images, or ideas.''

Whenever Lem speaks about science fiction, there is a tangible sense of sadness in his words, like a man discussing a long-dead passion. For all his achievements and honors, Lem knows from experience that even the most well-intentioned attempts at communication can end in farcical misunderstanding.

This story ran on page C1 of the Boston Globe on 12/15/2002.
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.

[Nov 25, 2002] Solaris Cental: It's back: Sun posts download of Solaris 9 x86

Submitted by <Paul Chew> on Tuesday at 00:09:31 (EST))

Solaris 9 x86 Early Access software now available!

[PDF]Implementation Aspects of a SPARC V9 Complete Machine Simulator ...
File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat - View as HTML
... Alpha Embra, Mipsy and MXS `cores' for trading off accuracy ... interpreter `core' simulator-specific state BasicModule logging, scripting interface install() reset ...
 

Freeware List for SPARC and Solaris 8

MC for Solaris 8

Changing the Way the Sun Shines With Solaris 9

Sun Microsystems' Solaris is the best-known and most widely used commercial (i.e., non-Linux) Unix around. Solaris 9 is more than an incremental update to the operating system; it's a major change in approach for Sun.

In addition to offering enhanced functionality and manageability, the new version features a very wide variety of tools and add-ons, including the iPlanet Directory Server and Web Server, Samba support for integration with Windows networks, a choice of both the KDE and GNOME 1.4 interfaces, a Patch Manager for automating updates, and BASH (Bourn Again Shell), which can run most Linux shell scripts without requiring changes.

In fact, so much software is included with Solaris 9 that we were unable to install all of it on an aging Sparc Ultra 10 with a tiny 4 GB hard drive. The system was upgraded from Solaris 7, and we found that the basic install went smoothly, although since the original root partition wasn't large enough for Solaris 9, the drive had to be re-partitioned, resulting in all of the installed applications and user information being lost.

Bearing in mind that we skipped the Solaris 8 upgrade, the improvements in installation, setup and administration of the system are really substantial. The installation tool is a big improvement, with disk partitioning tools, a package management area that allows for a minimal install, and useful defaults. Further, the Web Start Flash utility allows administrators to create a default installation and automatically deploy it to other systems. It's no longer necessary to be an experienced administrator to be able to upgrade a system (although that still helps).

The Resource Manager is an improvement that will be welcome to server administrators, since it allows fine-grained, dynamic control of application resource allocation, including memory and processor utilization among multiple applications.

LDAP support, a directory server, and role-based rights management will make enterprise managers happy, although the directory server is limited to 200,000 entries total for the enterprise without an additional license. Unfortunately, replication of the LDAP directory to directories on other operating systems is not allowed without an additional license. Tools to transition from the old Sun standard NIS+ to LDAP are available as well.

A live updates feature allows patches and updates to the system to be installed without taking the server down, which is extremely useful in the 24x7 corporate environment. The Patch Manager allows administrators to keep track of patch levels and easily update systems.

The new Management Console is much easier to use than the old AdminTool and more fully integrated; we found no gaps that required direct editing of files. The operating system was somewhat slow to launch and run on our system, but setting up accounts and controlling and monitoring system resources was much simpler.

The basic system tools and utilities have been updated as well, including sendmail 8.12, BIND 8.2.4, GNU wget 1.6, Samba 2.2.2, Apache 1.3.20, and Netscape 6.2.1. The Volume Manager allows the creation of RAID 0, 1, or 5 volumes and is integrated into the management console. WBEM (Web-based enterprise management) Services 2.5 is included, for integration with enterprise management systems. SunScreen 3.2, a full-featured firewall, is included and easy to install and configure.

There is also a nice selection of freeware and open source utilities and libraries, including the GNU grep, gzip and gtar utilities, the Glib 1.2.10 library, the GTK+ 1.2.10 GIMP toolkit, several graphics libraries, and the Libxml2 2.3.6 XML library.

A variety of productivity software is bundled with the upgrade, including the KDE interface and KDE Office, StarOffice and Star Suite and the GNOME 1.4 release. The GNOME GUI interface is a welcome update to the CDE GUI interface, although it is not supported by Sun. GNOME 2.0 is expected with the first Solaris 9 service pack.

These new utilities and extras, however, are not going to win converts from Linux or Windows. Although they are a step in the right direction, the limited versions of the directory server and Sun ONE J2EE and messaging servers cannot compete with available directory and application servers on Linux or Windows servers, and the KDE or GNOME 1.4 interfaces are not yet up to the standards of the other platforms as workstations.

However, for single-CPU Solaris users, the upgrades are a substantial improvement, and well worth it. Enterprise users will need to balance the improvements of the live update tool, the patch manager, and improved application performance against the relatively high cost of the upgrade for servers (up to $400,000 for the DataCenter128 with up to 128 CPUs).

Pros: Lots of bundled software makes this version more competitive with other server operating systems; easy to manage due to a single consistent interface; simplified and easier to complete installation process

Cons: Pricing for the upgrade on multiprocessor systems may be cost prohibitive; while v9 is an improvement over previous versions, Solaris is still more difficult to install and administer than most server operating systems (and most Solaris administrators seem to be happy with this, seeing it as employment security)

Sun UltraSparc II Transition & End-of-Life

Model      LOD     LSD

Ultra 5     11/13/01    2/15/02    5/17/02

Ultra 10    5/7/02       8/9/02     11/8/02

Ultra 60     4/9/02     7/12/02     10/11/02

Ultra 80     4/9/02     7/12/02     10/11/02

E220R     5/7/02     8/9/02     11/8/02

E450     5/21/02     8/23/03     11/22/02

E250         Not yet announced

E420R     Not yet announced

End of Service Life (EoSL) Policy

PatchPro Select here to download Patch Manager Base 1.0. This application allows you to analyze your system, download required patches and install them. It also resolves patch dependencies when you install individual patches. Patch Manager Base 1.0 uses PatchPro to analyze, download and install patches. It has the same security features as PatchPro for Solaris 9.

Solaris packaging tools

PkgTools is a set of utilities, released under the BSD license, which can be used to aid in the development of native Solaris packages - i.e. in the pkg format.

Solaris 9 Operating Environment - Features and Benefits Availability

Patch Manager
New in 9
Provides automatic patch inventory and configuration-based analysis of systems, as well as automatic verification of digital patch signatures, and automatic resolution of patch dependencies and install order. Reduces complexity and amount of time required to keep systems optimally configured with the latest patches for maximum system security and availability.
Modular Debugger (mdb) Enhancements
New in 9
This was introduced in the Solaris[tm] 8 platform and now mdb becomes the default system utility for low level debugging and editing of the live operating system in the Solaris 9 OE. It also facilitates analyzing operating system crash dumps, user processes, user process core dumps and object files. New features for the Solaris 9 OE include: new symbolic debugging support for the Solaris kernel, new kernel debugger commands, new features for examination and control of live running user processes and the ability to examine raw disk files and devices. Applies modern techniques to debug applications programs. Provides tools to analyze core dumps for problem resolution.
Mitigation of Buffer Overflow Areas
New in 9
Ability to disable execution of code in the stack on a per executable basis. Decreases the risk of exploits due to buffer overflow.
Solaris Live Upgrade 2.0 Solaris Live Upgrade technology enables the current running boot environment to be duplicated. While the original boot environment continues to run, the duplicate environment can be upgraded. The duplicate boot environment is then activated to become the active boot environment when the system is rebooted. Since the system can be upgraded while the system is still running, downtime is reduced significantly. In the case of an upgrade failure, you can quickly fall-back to the original environment with a simple reboot, thereby eliminating the downtime for the production environment associated with normal test and evaluation processes.
Solaris Flash This installation feature enables the creation of a reference installation of the Solaris Operating Environment and application software stack which can then be replicated on several machines. Customers can now rapidly provision thousands of complete systems over the LAN or WAN. Significantly reduces installation time, configuration complexity, and administrative resources, while improving deployment scalability. Servers can be easily reprovisioned or retasked to a different service based on demand. In case of disaster, systems can be restored in minutes by reinstalling Flash archives, thereby providing a backup mechanism.
Solaris IP Multipathing (IPMP) IPMP provides the system with recovery from single-point failures with network adapters while increasing traffic throughput. Provides a robust, integrated solution for network interface failover and network traffic load spreading.
Reconfiguration Coordination Manager (RCM) RCM allows third-party applications to be notified of a DR event so that they can reconfigure or notify the operator that DR cannot be performed. Applications can automatically adapt to new hardware configurations without interruption of service.
Driver Fault Injection (Driver Hardening Test Harness) This is a Solaris device driver development tool which injects a wide range of simulated hardware faults when the driver under development accesses its hardware. This fault injection test harness tests the resilience of a SPARC Delivers higher availability for newly installed systems. .
Sun StorEdge[tm] Traffic Manager Allows multiple paths for servers to connect with Sun storage disks. Enables failover in the event of network I/O path failure. Enhances storage availability and allows the application to route traffic to the storage tier more efficiently.
Dynamic Kernel Updates Allows Sun to add diagnostics and, in some cases, binary relief to the system kernel without interrupting the operating system and associated applications. Increases availability. Sun can monitor and fix problems at customer sites without taking down production systems.
Dynamic Reconfiguration (DR) With DR, processors, memory and I/O interfaces can be hot-plugged into Sun Fire[tm] V880, 3800-6800, and 15K servers, and dynamically configured into or out of the operating environment's domain. Enables critical components such as CPUs, memory and I/O interfaces to be replaced with no downtime.
UFS Logging UFS logging was introduced in the Solaris 7 OE as the process of storing transactions in a log before the transactions are applied to the UFS file system. Once a transaction is stored, the transaction can be applied to the file system later. Prevents file systems from becoming inconsistent, therefore eliminating the need to run fsck(1M). Since fsck can be bypassed, UFS logging reduces the time required to reboot a system if it crashes or after an unclean halt.
Faster Reboot When this was introduced in the Solaris 7 OE, it reduced the boot time up to 40% on reference configurations. It was further enhanced in the Solaris 8 platform by improving process so that hardware configuration is done in parallel and not sequentially. Reduced system downtime delivers higher availability.

Solaris 9 to Ease Patch Uploads By  Peter Galli  Solaris Patch Manager from Sun, will help you avoid those risks by making patch management less complex and time consuming. [COMING IN JUNE] -- not very interesting as it is Java and duplicates existing scripts functionality. Can be easily rewritten in Perl.

Sun Microsystems Inc. is hoping to lift up its operating system where competitors have slipped, through automated software and security patch uploading.

Among the new features planned for Solaris 9, due at the end of the month, is Patch Manager, an analysis engine that automates the process of locating required security and software patches for a target system, said officials of the Palo Alto, Calif., company. Also on tap is Solaris Product Registry, a mechanism that maintains a record of the software installed, modified or removed through the life cycle of a system.

"The goal is to provide a consistent repository of information unique to that system, held locally so it can be interrogated from multiple sources," said Derek Maxwell, Sun's product line manager for Solaris. "This is important for administrators, as it gives them a total software history for a machine."

Patch Manager, a Java application downloaded to the system, checks the configuration, determines what patches are already loaded and compares this against the Patch Database resident at Sun. A patch assessment and recommendation is issued based on what patches should be on such a configured system, said Dave Uhlir, group manager for Solaris Systems, a division of Sun.

"These are all signed patches and delivered via a secure transport protocol, which is a change from the current system of general delivery of unsigned patches," Uhlir said. "We want to ensure customers only get those patches appropriate for their systems."

Uhlir said administrators will have control and can either take no action or schedule installs whenever it's convenient. "Users can be very granular about which of these discrete patches they select," he said.

Patches destabilize systems

Earlier this year, some Windows XP users said automatic patches delivered from Microsoft Corp.'s Windows Update caused systems to become unstable and some device drivers to stop working.

That is unlikely to happen with Solaris' Patch Manager, Uhlir said, because Sun's patches are limited to narrow issues and designed to fix only known problems without touching other parts of the system. Windows Update often pushes out a conglomeration of patches and enhancements all at once that can cause unintended changes under the covers, he said.

Jim Cullinan, lead product manager for Windows XP at Microsoft, in Redmond, Wash., said Microsoft has a unique set of challenges with patches, given the huge number of Windows users and the variety of system and hardware configurations they have.

"Our patch delivery system is not perfect yet, but we are doing the best we can," Cullinan said. "We are listening to customers and providing the tools they want. Sun's Solaris is nowhere near as popular as Windows, so they do not face the same challenges we do."

John Weekley, an information security analyst at a large financial company in St. Louis, welcomed the Sun moves, saying users will now be able to easily gather the total history of a system. But Weekley said that, as a security analyst, he was still concerned about the prospect of Patch Manager sending what amounted to vulnerability data to a third party.

"I'd much prefer to see this functionality provided as an entirely stand-alone system that could be used from inside corporate defenses, without exposing what could be sensitive information to others," Weekley said.

Alan DuBoff, CEO of Software Orchestration Inc., in San Jose, Calif., disagreed, saying it makes sense to be able to get security patches easily over the network to update a machine.

Sun will also offer a command-line version of Patch Manager for all previous versions from Solaris 2.6 onward sometime after the Solaris 9 launch, Sun's Uhlir said.

Also shipping for the first time with Solaris 9 is Live Update, a technology that allows users to set up multiple boot environments that can be assembled offline. If one such environment is problematic, users can reboot into the previous environment.

Dell gains in servers at HP's expense - Tech News - CNET.com

Sun Microsystems, which sells only Unix servers, is in fifth place, dropping from 6.4 percent to 6.3 percent, Gartner said.

Re:Solaris 8 bugs (Score:2)
by Doctor_D on Saturday April 20, @10:33AM (#3379038)
(User #6980 Info | http://www.math.utoledo.edu/~dbehrens/ | Last Journal: Tuesday November 20, @01:22AM)
Did you install the qfe patches? How about the snoop patches? I know the initial release of Solaris 8 had some problems, but they have been ironed out. I highly suggest Solaris 8 2/02 release for SPARC. It runs great on every machine I have installed it on.

BTW, there is now a patch that gives Solaris a real /dev/random device. It was backported from Solaris 9. 9 is going to be really nice.

*Disclaimer, yes I work for Sun*

GNOME Technology Overview

See Additional Reading for more information.

Microsoft to Release More Source Code

Microsoft spokesman Jim Desler told eWeek on Tuesday that the Redmond, Wash.-based software firm would release the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol later this summer to comply with the provisions of the proposed final settlement between it and the Department of Justice in that antitrust case.

"We will also be licensing additional protocols in the coming months, on reasonable and non-discriminatory terms, for the purposes of interoperating with the Windows 2000 and Windows XP client operating systems," Desler said, declining to give specific details.

The news follows Microsoft's announcement on Tuesday that it would also license the core Common Internet File System (CIFS) protocol "in a way that will allow other companies to create their own implementation of core CIFS for use on non-Windows client and server operating systems, on a royalty-free basis."

The move is designed to address some of the issues under investigation by the European Commission.

Microsoft implemented the CIFS protocol in Windows NT 4.0, where it is used for network file access in Microsoft Windows NT. Client systems use CIFS to request file and print services from server systems over a network. This is based on the SMB protocol, which is widely used in personal computers and workstations, Desler said.

The latest moves to share code and protocols follow Microsoft's announcement last month that it was making available the technical information necessary to interoperate with its implementation of the Kerberos security protocol.

Microsoft also recently announced that it was giving systems integrators access to Windows source code under the Systems Integrator Source Licensing Program (SISLP).

Desler said that none of the three latest moves were necessary under the proposed settlement—also known as the consent decree—in the antitrust case between Microsoft and the Department of Justice, which requires Microsoft to disclose to third parties any communications protocol implemented in a Windows desktop operating system that is used to interoperate with a Microsoft server operating system.

"The CIFS, Kerberos and SISLP announcements are above and beyond the conditions of the consent decree. As such, this is yet another step we are taking to enhance the interoperability of Windows clients with non-Microsoft operating systems," he said.

But they do specifically target issues raised in the European Commission's investigation of Microsoft for allegedly designing its Windows operating system to work better with its own server software than that of rivals. The commission is also concerned that Microsoft has allegedly tied its Windows Media Player software to its operating system.

Desler confirmed that CIFS, like Kerberos, was a "key issue" in the competition case currently under investigation in the European Union.

"By dealing with the commission's stated concerns on both issues, Microsoft is demonstrating its commitment to resolving competition issues proactively. Today's move was not required by the European Commission, but it seeks to address concerns expressed by the EC," he said.

Microsoft was also waiting to hear if the middleware provisions of the proposed settlement with the Justice Department adequately addressed the commission's concerns about the alleged tying of the Windows Media Player to its operating system, Desler said.

REALITY CHECK: DOES MEGAHERTZ MATTER?

Yes, processor frequency matters. But to ensure optimal performance, you need a balanced system architecture, with enough memory, cache, and I/O to keep your workstation humming. Real-world workloads, such as EDA simulation, show that a Sun Blade[tm] 2000 workstation with a 900-MHz UltraSPARC III Cu procesor can outperform a 1.7-GHz 32-bit system by up to 23 percent.

SUN UNLEASHES WORLD'S FASTEST WORKSTATION; NEW SUN BLADE[tm] 2000 FEATURES INDUSTRY-LEADING 64-BIT, 1.05 GHZ ULTRASPARC III PROCESSOR

Slashdot Sun Files Suit Against Microsoft for Anti-Trust Violations -- Java is a pretty conservative language that became a new Cobol because of Sun marketing and anti-Microsoft sentiments. In this sense Microsoft already helped Sun enough to promote Java, because there is nothing is a language by itself that deserves the status it acquired. It was classic Silicon Valley-style accidental success of crappy technology. I think Microsoft might have a case for malicious prosecution in this instance. See also Java Lawsuit Information Center - Microsoft Technologies for Java

Re:Sounds like whining from Sun (Score:2)
by Sabalon on Saturday March 09, @12:19AM (#3134128)
(User #1684 Info)
I used to use Netscape religiously. Up til about IE 4.0. The reason I switched is because NS sucked.

No MS standing over my shoulder or anything. A decision based on better support of the HTML standards, namely CSS - too much stuff just didn't work right in Netscape.

Netscape killed itself by stagnating for far too long why trying to be all things to all people - e-mail, LDAP, Portal, etc... everything but a browser.
two-faced (Score:1)
by drteknikal on Friday March 08, @01:32PM (#3131260)
(User #67280 Info)
So, Sun sues Microsoft over making Windows-specific extensions to Java, and Microsoft eventually responds by removing Java from IE. Now Sun is suing MS for removing Java from IE.

I licensed your product. You didn't like the way I implemented it on my platform. So I removed it. Now you're not happy that I've removed it. Since when does a license that allows you to distribute something REQUIRE you to distribute something? If it's "all or nothing", and Microsoft chooses "nothing", where does Sun have a case?

This should be laughed out of court.

Cringley's column this week. [pbs.org]

Microsoft such a financial success combined with paranoia about the future. It is this discipline of always thinking about the next step that fairly defines Microsoft. It is also a discipline that comes solely from Gates. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, while a very smart guy, can only emulate Gates in this area. He doesn't have Bill's internal drive. Nobody does. In that sense, Gates is probably more responsible as an individual for the success and neurotic failings of Microsoft than is any other top business leader of the last century. Jack Welch, Warren Buffett, even Rupert Murdoch are simply not in the same league with Gates. Nobody is.

...This means new markets, which eliminates at least for awhile any anti-trust concerns. It also means new enemies, which appeals to Gates. It probably gets boring beating up the same kid every day after school.

The New Microsoft will operate in five areas -- financial services, video games, television, GPS, and wireless. .NET is the beginning of Microsoft's thrust into financial services, using the old technique of "embrace and extend" to hopefully grab a piece of every transaction everywhere. This is Microsoft number one priority and Gates is determined to see it through before the Windows and Office franchises evaporate, as they ultimately will. With close to $40 billion in available cash, Microsoft will spend whatever it takes to make this happen.

...Current leaders in all these segments should be wary. That or sell out now, because -their future -- no matter what happens with the DoJ, any private lawsuits, and those nine errant states -- their future is going to be ugly.

IBM claims win in bruising server battle -- At a conference call, Sun admitted that its sales are falling below expected "linearity". In other words, Sun is having trouble in exceeding last quarter's revenue. Sun is losing market share.  As Sun's finances continue to sink, Sun will increasingly pursue lawsuits to boost its finances.  As another sign of desperation, Sun recently announced that it, too, will sell Intel-based servers running Linux. To understand the level of desperation, we note that Sun has been touting itself as the SPARC-only shop for the last 15 years. Sun claimed that it would never resort to selling Intel-based servers.  Well one good reason for Sun losing market share and money is there arrogant attitude! Especially for small Sun shops, when the biggest Sun box is E4500 (4proc)  or so. Such shops usually had a great response and cooperation from HP and EMC. (Unfortunately HP makes a lousy UNIX). As far as I'm concerned (despite really liking Solaris) I believe Sun is somewhat of the M$FT of the UNIX world. I love Solaris and I like Sun hardware. I dislike Sun's attitude. IBM hardware is going to run Sun over soon if Sun doesn't change it's ways. The risk to J2EE is very real. Microsoft's CLI technology can run Java faster than any JVM. No amount of JVM tweakage can make up the difference, CLI is simply the intermediate stage of the standard C++ compiler and contains all the optimization info needed to make the highest performance code. Expect a rash of server adverts benchmarking a .NET server against J2EE.

Sun Microsystems-Reality Check Linux on the Mainframe--Not a Good Idea. Wrong title, great paper. But actually the author is wrong about VM/CMS: this is a classic, brilliant OS. MVS is an outdated junk in comparison with VM approach. That should be corrected. It's rather silly to attack VM/Linux the way the author did. Here Linux is a weaker link than VM as Linux was never designed for VM environment and duplicates some (complex) things that VM takes care of (for example SMP). Here Sun needs to stress a real problem: the fact that VM has a static allocation and cannot dynamically add resources to match demand. Moreover VM drivers are proprietary to IBM and cannot work with customer chosen version of the kernel. To a certain extent this is a "semi-open" source ;-).

Good luck in fighting IBM.

Technical guide for porting applications from Solaris to Linux

Solaris Directories Functions Linux Directories Functions
/bin User commands. /bin Contains binaries needed during and after boot-up by normal users.
    /boot Contains the files needed by the LILO loader to start the boot-up process. The kernel files reside in the /boot.
/dev Contains symbolic links entries in /devices where most of the actual device entries are made. /dev Contains the actual block, character, and other devices files that point to devices, such as fd0 (the first floppy drive) and hda1 (the first partition on the first hard drive).
/devices For each actual device in the system, there should be an entry created in this directory.    
/etc Miscellaneous commands, network configuration files and scripts, and so on. /etc Reserved for configuration files that are local to your machine. No binaries are put in /etc. The X-Windows configuration file, XF86Config, is stored in /etc/X11.
/home Usually for user home directories. /home Usually for user home directories.
/kernel Contains kernel modules.   The corresponding kernel files are found in /boot and /lib modules.
/opt Applications packages.    
/platform Platform specific Unix and device drivers for booting.    
/proc Contains information about active processes, and threads, and also provides an interface to control these processes and threads. Each process directory has file entries that contain kernel structures for that process. /proc Contains a filesystem view into the kernel. There are directories for each process and, in addition, there are directories and files that correspond to system counters and limits.
    /lib Contains only those libraries that are needed to execute the binaries in /bin and /sbin. The /lib/modules contains the loadable kernel modules.
    /lost&found  
    /mnt The mount point for temporary mounts by the system administrator.
    /root This is the root user's home directory and typically does not have any important files in it beyond profile information for the root user.
/sbin System control commands, for example mount and umount. /sbin Executables used only by the root user, and only those executables needed to mount /usr and perform system recovery operations.
/tmp Also a special filesystem mapped to system memory. /temp Temporary file storage.
/usr Compiler, administrative. /usr Location where most application software gets installed.
/var Includes lpd and mail spools. Also used by various applications that need to record log files, such as system messages. /var Includes lpd and mail spools. Also used by various applications

[Mar 05, 2002] SolarisCentral: According to a Dataquest survey, summarized in a Sun press release, Sun increased its market share to 58% of the high end server market. Details about specific growth areas are listed in the press release.

[Feb 15, 2002] Solaris 8 2/02 What's New Solaris 8 2/02 -- the last Solaris 8 update release

Announcing the Solaris(TM) 8 2/02 Operating Environment. This update release supersedes all previous Solaris 8 updates. Please note: this is the last planned update of the Solaris 8 Operating Environment.

NEW FEATURES

Solaris 8 2/02 Operating Environment adds key new product features and customer requested enhancements to previous releases -- while continuing to maintain compatibility:

-KEY FEATURES:

- Now Available on DVD
- Web Start Enhancements
- Netra X1 and LTO Drivers Added
- Chinese GB18030 Character Support Added
- Extensions to Xsun Server
- WBEM Services Enhanced
- iPlanet Integration Server, EAI Edition, Added to Software for Evaluation
- Sun Blade Standby/Resume Mode Enabled
- Locator LED Support Added

SQUID Frequently Asked Questions System-Dependent Weirdnesses

select() select(3c) won't handle more than 1024 file descriptors. The configure script should enable poll() by default for Solaris. poll() allows you to use many more filedescriptors, probably 8192 or more.

For older Squid versions you can enable poll() manually by changing HAVE_POLL in include/autoconf.h, or by adding -DUSE_POLL=1 to the DEFINES in src/Makefile.

malloc libmalloc.a is leaky. Squid's configure does not use -lmalloc on Solaris.

DNS lookups and nscd by David J N BegleyDNS lookups can be slow because of some mysterious thing called ncsd. You should edit /etc/nscd.conf and make it say:

        enable-cache            hosts           no

Apparently nscd serializes DNS queries thus slowing everything down when an application (such as Squid) hits the resolver hard. You may notice something similar if you run a log processor executing many DNS resolver queries - the resolver starts to slow.. right.. down..

According to Andres Kroonmaa, users of Solaris starting from version 2.6 and up should NOT completely disable nscd daemon. nscd should be running and caching passwd and group files, although it is suggested to disable hosts caching as it may interfere with DNS lookups.

Several library calls rely on available free FILE descriptors FD < 256. Systems running without nscd may fail on such calls if first 256 files are all in use.

Since solaris 2.6 Sun has changed the way some system calls work and is using nscd daemon as a implementor of them. To communicate to nscd Solaris is using undocumented door calls. Basically nscd is used to reduce memory usage of user-space system libraries that use passwd and group files. Before 2.6 Solaris cached full passwd file in library memory on the first use but as this was considered to use up too much ram on large multiuser systems Sun has decided to move implementation of these calls out of libraries and to a single dedicated daemon.

DNS lookups and /etc/nsswitch.conf by Jason ArmisteadThe /etc/nsswitch.conf file determines the order of searches for lookups (amongst other things). You might only have it set up to allow NIS and HOSTS files to work. You definitely want the "hosts:" line to include the word dns, e.g.:

        hosts:      nis dns [NOTFOUND=return] files

DNS lookups and NIS by Chris TilburyOur site cache is running on a Solaris 2.6 machine. We use NIS to distribute authentication and local hosts information around and in common with our multiuser systems, we run a slave NIS server on it to help the response of NIS queries.

We were seeing very high name-ip lookup times (avg ~2sec) and ip->name lookup times (avg ~8 sec), although there didn't seem to be that much of a problem with response times for valid sites until the cache was being placed under high load. Then, performance went down the toilet.

After some time, and a bit of detective work, we found the problem. On Solaris 2.6, if you have a local NIS server running (ypserv) and you have NIS in your /etc/nsswitch.conf hosts entry, then check the flags it is being started with. The 2.6 ypstart script checks to see if there is a resolv.conf file present when it starts ypserv. If there is, then it starts it with the -d option.

This has the same effect as putting the YP_INTERDOMAIN key in the hosts table -- namely, that failed NIS host lookups are tried against the DNS by the NIS server.

This is a bad thing(tm)! If NIS itself tries to resolve names using the DNS, then the requests are serialised through the NIS server, creating a bottleneck (This is the same basic problem that is seen with nscd). Thus, one failing or slow lookup can, if you have NIS before DNS in the service switch file (which is the most common setup), hold up every other lookup taking place.

If you're running in this kind of setup, then you will want to make sure that

  1. ypserv doesn't start with the -d flag.
  2. you don't have the YP_INTERDOMAIN key in the hosts table (find the B=-b line in the yp Makefile and change it to B=)

We changed these here, and saw our average lookup times drop by up to an order of magnitude (~150msec for name-ip queries and ~1.5sec for ip-name queries, the latter still so high, I suspect, because more of these fail and timeout since they are not made so often and the entries are frequently non-existent anyway).

Tuning Solaris 2.x - tuning your TCP/IP stack and more by Jens-S. Vckler

disk write error: (28) No space left on device

You might get this error even if your disk is not full, and is not out of inodes. Check your syslog logs (/var/adm/messages, normally) for messages like either of these:

        NOTICE: realloccg /proxy/cache: file system full
        NOTICE: alloc: /proxy/cache: file system full

In a nutshell, the UFS filesystem used by Solaris can't cope with the workload squid presents to it very well. The filesystem will end up becoming highly fragmented, until it reaches a point where there are insufficient free blocks left to create files with, and only fragments available. At this point, you'll get this error and squid will revise its idea of how much space is actually available to it. You can do a "fsck -n raw_device" (no need to unmount, this checks in read only mode) to look at the fragmentation level of the filesystem. It will probably be quite high (>15%).

Sun suggest two solutions to this problem. One costs money, the other is free but may result in a loss of performance (although Sun do claim it shouldn't, given the already highly random nature of squid disk access).

The first is to buy a copy of VxFS, the Veritas Filesystem. This is an extent-based filesystem and it's capable of having online defragmentation performed on mounted filesystems. This costs money, however (VxFS is not very cheap!)

The second is to change certain parameters of the UFS filesystem. Unmount your cache filesystems and use tunefs to change optimization to "space" and to reduce the "minfree" value to 3-5% (under Solaris 2.6 and higher, very large filesystems will almost certainly have a minfree of 2% already and you shouldn't increase this). You should be able to get fragmentation down to around 3% by doing this, with an accompanied increase in the amount of space available.

Thanks to Chris Tilbury.

Changing the directory lookup cache size by Mike Batchelor

On Solaris, the kernel variable for the directory name lookup cache size is ncsize. In /etc/system, you might want to try

        set ncsize = 8192

or even higher. The kernel variable ufs_inode - which is the size of the inode cache itself - scales with ncsize in Solaris 2.5.1 and later. Previous versions of Solaris required both to be adjusted independently, but now, it is not recommended to adjust ufs_inode directly on 2.5.1 and later. You can set ncsize quite high, but at some point - dependent on the application - a too-large ncsize will increase the latency of lookups.

Defaults are:

        Solaris 2.5.1 : (max_nprocs + 16 + maxusers) + 64
        Solaris 2.6/Solaris 7 : 4 * (max_nprocs + maxusers) + 320

The priority_paging algorithm by Mike Batchelor

Another new tuneable (actually a toggle) in Solaris 2.5.1, 2.6 or Solaris 7 is the priority_paging algorithm. This is actually a complete rewrite of the virtual memory system on Solaris. It will page out application data last, and filesystem pages first, if you turn it on (set priority_paging = 1 in /etc/system). As you may know, the Solaris buffer cache grows to fill available pages, and under the old VM system, applications could get paged out to make way for the buffer cache, which can lead to swap thrashing and degraded application performance. The new priority_paging helps keep application and shared library pages in memory, preventing the buffer cache from paging them out, until memory gets REALLY short. Solaris 2.5.1 requires patch 103640-25 or higher and Solaris 2.6 requires 105181-10 or higher to get priority_paging. Solaris 7 needs no patch, but all versions have it turned off by default.

Disk I-O Trobleshooting -- nice explanation of Solaris Disk I/O tuning including often misunderstood  Directory Name Lookup Cache

The DNLC stores directory lookup information for files whose names are shorter than 30 characters. (The restriction on file name length was lifted in Solaris 7 and 8.)

sar -a reports on the activity of this cache. In this output, namei/s reports the name lookup rate and iget/s reports the number of directory lookups per second. Note that an iget is issued for each component of a file's path, so the hit rate cannot be calculated directly from the sar -a output. The sar -a output is useful, however, when looking at cache efficiency in a more holistic sense.

For our purposes, the most important number is the total name lookups line in the vmstat -s output. This line reports a cache hit percentage. If this percentage is not above 90%, the DNLC should be resized.

DNLC size is determined by the ncsize kernel parameter. By default, this is set to (17xmaxusers)+90 (Solaris 2.5.1) or 4x(maxusers + max_nprocs)+320 (Solaris 2.6-8). It is not recommended that it be set any higher than a value which corresponds to a maxusers value of 2048.

(Note that the AnswerBooks and Cockroft report the incorrect algorithm for ncsize and ufs_ninode. The above formula comes from Sun's kernel support group.)

To set ncsize, add a line to the /etc/system as follows:
set ncsize=10000

The DNLC can be disabled by setting ncsize to a negative number (Solaris 2.5.1-7) or a non-positive number (Solaris 8).

UltraSparc Roadmap [PDF]

Sun Microsystems-Reality Check -- a critical evaluation of  IBM's VM/Linux strategy ;-). Some good points, but still the idea to run Linux under VM is a great strategy :-)

Linux on the mainframe just doesn't compute. Here's why:

Linux on the mainframe is actually hosted by another proprietary operating system, z/VM. The optimized operating system for IBM mainframes is z/OS, formerly called MVS(2). Compared to z/OS, z/VM is a niche operating system with virtual machine (VM) support for new hardware features added late or often not at all(3). And Linux isn't designed to run in a virtual machine; implementation decisions that make sense on PC hardware don't fit well in a virtual machine(4). This is Linux. It's designed for Intel. It's not tuned for the mainframe hardware in which it's running.

Linux on the mainframe is complicated; this isn't Linux running on a two-way Intel server. Despite IBM's claims of easy management(5), customers still need a special machine room and specially trained staff for both z/VM and Linux. Finding mainframe staffing is an obstacle in many organizations(6); combining mainframe and Linux staffing further complicates the matter. Running multiple Linux images still requires administration that needs to grow with the number of images being run.

Linux on the mainframe can't respond to the workload demands of Web serving with high utilization--something IBM touted at the time of its z800 announcement. Horizontally scaled Linux farms are designed to handle unpredictable demand with above average peak loads. As demand rises, a load balancer distributes the traffic evenly across servers, which increases utilization. Because design capacity needs to handle peak demand, server farms often have a low utilization.

Given the relatively low cost of hardware, some organizations find this trade-off acceptable to ensure appropriate service levels. Contrary to what many believe, consolidating a Linux farm into multiple images on a mainframe would not change the demand pattern. Although z/VM can start and stop Linux images, it cannot dynamically add resources to match demand. As a result, a mainframe would need to size for peak demand just as the Linux farm would; high utilization is a myth.

It's neither fish nor fowl. Linux on the "mainframe" is not an open system, and there is little incremental RAS benefit. Although IBM claims "zSeries servers inherit the legendary IBM S/390 strengths in the areas of fault avoidance and tolerance, recovery from failures, and concurrent maintenance and repair for "always-on" availability"(7). We don't believe this to be true for zSeries servers running Linux. The "legendary" IBM S/390 strengths IBM references are the result of decades of development work on IBM's flagship mainframe operating system, known today as z/OS. The fault recovery features of z/OS are not found in Linux. z/VM does have some fault recovery features, but it is not nearly as resilient as z/OS. For example, z/VM cannot take advantage of Parallel Sysplex clustering, and VM hypervisor is an added single point of failure(8).

Applications that run on Linux for Intel need to be recompiled and recertified for each new platform; thus the application portfolio to run Linux on a mainframe is small(9). Consolidation without application availability just can't happen--and if the applications don't run on your platform, or if there are costly ports and changes to be made, cost savings can't be realized. Often the difference in Intel versus mainframe applications makes porting difficult(10). Additionally, different applications are ported to different distributions of Linux (for example, Red Hat, SuSE, and Turbolinux). Getting applications to run on the mainframe might require supporting multiple distributions of the 'same' Linux operating system.

The economics just don't work. IBM claims it is financially justifiable to consolidate as few as 20 Linux servers on a z800(11). With an estimated starting price of $400,000 for a z800(12) with a single CPU engine enabled, that claim seems exaggerated compared to Linux servers that hover in the $1,000 to $2,000 range. Sun's rack-optimized 1U form factor servers start at list prices under $1,000. When customers realize Linux on mainframe utilization will be low, and administration costs have still not been factored in, you can begin to see how the costs will add up. And let's not forget the support costs that will need to be purchased, either from the distributor or IBM Global Services. One example of a distributor's cost on an IBM Multiprise ran in the tens of thousands for the initial services and thousands a month for ongoing service(13).

Thus, when considering consolidation projects, why consider putting workloads onto a completely different and more expensive architecture? Why put an open operating system such as Linux on a closed proprietary mainframe? Why consolidate on a system with limited application support and one that demands a rare combination of skills?

Customers such as Nielsen Media Research, A.B. Watley, Cognigen Corp, and Littlewoods have chosen Sun and realized up to $1.5 million in annual savings associated with lower total cost of ownership (TCO)(14). Sun provides:

***+ Sun broaden support for Linux [Feb 07, 2002]

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

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

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

Everything Solaris: Upgrading to ProFTPD

ProFTPD is an FTP server, much like the stock Solaris FTP server, which is based on the relatively ubiquitous wu-ftpd software found on many Unix-based operating systems these days. The similarities stop right about there, though. ProFTPD is a replacement for wu-ftpd, and in my opinion, it's also an "upgrade." You gain features, security and flexibility.

ProFTPD is Open Source and released under the GPL license and as such, the source code is freely available to you.

Why would you want to use it, when Solaris already has a working FTP server?

Well, the answers are many but perhaps primarily is the feature set of ProFTPD which outclasses wu-ftpd and is very easily configurable - if you've used Apache, then you're already familiar with the syntax.

Another big reason and one that should be of the utmost importance to you is security. Wu-ftpd has had a long history to be sure, but dotted with various exploits that could seriously compromise your system. ProFTPD takes a much more secure approach over wu-ftpd by allowing you, for example, to run the daemon as a non-root user which has little rights as opposed to root - limiting what a potential cracker can do with the system. Other features with security in mind include changing access characteristics based on user or group information, hiding or changing publically visible server messages (including software used and version number). Security through obscurity is never a good policy in it's own right - but not giving potential crackers more information than they need isn't a bad idea, either.

Just be careful, because NOT giving out information may be just as bad as telling the world what you ARE using - because not all software lets you hide this information. Through deduction, crackers can narrow down the potential candidates. Yes, crackers think this way - and so should you!

Flexibility is also a strong point for ProFTPD. Based on user or group for example, you could have one way of dealing with regular users, while having another way of dealing with staff - or anonymous users. For example, anonymous and even regular users should have rather restrictive rights and are best "sandboxed" into their home directory or an anonymous FTP area. They should only be given the absolute least necessary access to the system, yet not impede access to their own files. Staff on the other hand, especially system administrators - often need access to entirely different and broad-ranging areas of the system. Of course, you could and probably should use secure shell's (ssh) "scp" command for stuff of this nature, but that's something for another time.

From the ProFTPD Website, the folks behind it like to describe ProFTPD thusly:

"ProFTPD grew out of the desire to have a secure and configurable FTP server, and out of a significant admiration of the Apache web server. There are currently a very limited number of FTP servers running on Unix (or Unix-like) hosts. The most commonly used server is wu-ftpd. While wu-ftpd provides excellent performance and is generally a good product, it lacks numerous features found in newer Win32 FTP servers and has a poor security history. Many people, including the developers who work on ProFTPD, have spent a great deal of time fixing bugs and hacking features into wu-ftpd. Unfortunately, it quickly became clear that a complete redesign was necessary in order to implement the configurability and features desired. ProFTPD is not a hack based on any other server, it's an independent source tree from the ground up. A number of well known and high traffic sites use ProFTPD.

In addition to wu-ftpd, there are a few of other FTP servers available which are designed to be light-weight and secure at the expense of configurability. For example, Troll FTP is an excellent FTP daemon which is considerably more secure and less resource-intensive than wu-ftpd. Unfortunately, while it is quite suitable for basic FTP services, it does not offer the feature set required for more sophisticated FTP sites."

ProFTPD runs on a good variety of platforms, and as such you can easily have the same FTP server on all your boxen so that you don't need to support multiple, different implementations and software. Some of the platforms currently supported include the following, but aren't necessarily limited to same:

 

**** Example of ksh profile  that contains interesting but probably non-optimal way to distinguish between interactive and non-intractive shells [Feb 2, 2002]

ENV='$\{FILE[(\_\$-=0)+(\_=1)-\_\$\{-\%\%*i*\}]\}'
export ENV

 

???? Updated Ximian Gnome for Solaris. This is an update to Sun's preview. Less buggy. [Feb 2, 2002]

    http://www.ximian.com/download/instructions.html?distribution=solaris"

 

**** eWeek: Solaris 9 Major Advance [Jan 25, 2002]

Beta 2 of Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Solaris 9 operating system adds significant security and management capabilities and is shaping up to be a solid improvement over Solaris 8.

Solaris 9, due for release in the second half, boosts security with the addition of Solaris Secure Shell, which supports the SSH1 and SSH2 protocols. This will allow IT managers to securely access remote servers without having to install and use OpenSSH.

To increase authentication security, Solaris 9 comes with the Kerberos 5 Server, which provides local and remote administration of security policies. Solaris 9 also gives IT managers the option of performing a minimal installation. In tests, for example, we could choose not to install packages such as DNS (Domain Name System), NFS (Network File System) and Telnet that could compromise security.

... ... ...

Also welcome is the integration of Solaris Resource Manager (previously sold separately), which let us easily dedicate CPU and memory resources to specific software. Solaris 8 could bind processors to applications, but Resource Manager provides more granularity.

Providing native LDAP services is the newly integrated iPlanet Directory Server, complete with a license supporting as many as 200,000 directory entries.

... ... ...

Solaris 9 also has Linux libraries and commands, which should make it easier to recompile open-source Linux applications and run them on Solaris 9.

... ... ...

Developers can download the latest Solaris 9 code from www.sun.com/solaris/programs/solaris9ea.

*** Everything Solaris/DNS for dummies    Michael Holve [Jan 25, 2002]

DNS can be intimidating at first. What files do I modify? What do I put in them? How does it apply to Solaris, specifically? If you're used to another operating system, Solaris, like any new platform - might not be immediately obvious, as there are a few pecularities you should be aware of. This article will discuss DNS related issues under Solaris, using version 7 as the reference platform and the stock Sun version of BIND.

Further down, BIND v9.1.0 will be discussed as an upgrade to the stock version. You should definitely consider upgrading this way, as there are several security holes that can compromise root on your box with the stock BIND v8.1.2 that ships with Solaris 7.

A few key terms to understand are needed before we dive in. BIND refers to the software that you will be interacting with. What it does is provide a domain name server (DNS) that translates hostnames into valid (hopefully) IP addresses. When it is running on your system, you will often see a process called named or in.named.

It's really quite simple to get going and keep DNS maintained. We won't be getting too involved in complex DNS setups, but will illustrate all the basics needed to get most jobs done and get you up and running in the least amount of time.

There are several ways to provide a name resolution to your local machine and it's users or to your entire office - or even the Internet in general. Among the possibilities are:

Depending on these needs determines how you will be setting up DNS and which files are to be modified and maintained. You should decide ahead of time what your needs are, but keep in mind that you can always modify this behavior at a later time quite readily.

***+ Inside Solaris - Better, faster, cheaper with the Sun Blade 100 Sunblade100 vs. Ultra 5. The entry-level Sun Blade workstation is a 64-bit, 3D graphics workstation priced under $1,000 without a monitor [Jan 2, 2002]

For example, the memory is now standard PC-133 168-PIN JEDEC DRAM. With four slots available, you can easily get to 2 GB of memory by using 512 MB DIMMs. Compare this to a maximum of either 512 MB (according to Sun) or 1 GB (according to Crucial Memory Corporation) of memory for an Ultra 5, at a much higher cost. A recent look at Crucial's Web site (www.crucial.com) for memory prices shows that Ultra 5 memory costs around six times as much as the equivalent Blade 100 memory. Table A summarizes the disparity. Note the memory kits for the Ultra 5 come in two pieces to get to the stated memory size. Considering how volatile memory prices are, this could change significantly over time. Currently, however, this is an advantage for the Blade 100, especially if you have to buy a large quantity of workstations.

Table A: Memory cost survey for a Blade 100 and the Ultra 5 from www.crucial.com
 

Memory Size Blade 100 Ultra 5
64 MB $25 $177
256 MB $43 $260
512 MB $117 $753

The hard drive that ships with Blade has a 15 GB capacity, and spins at 7200 RPM (currently the fastest spin-time for IDE drives). This is smaller than the 20 GB in the Ultra 5. While not spectacular in these days of 60 GB drives, it's large enough to handle many typical workstation needs, since most assets are probably on the network anyway. And unlike the Ultra 5, you can add a second drive without having to buy the special mounting bracket. While this isn't very expensive, it sure could be annoying and is an unnecessary feature of the Ultra 5's design. As with the Ultra 5, you can add cheap third-party hard drives to the Blade 100, although Sun appears to officially support only the 15 GB drives. We have successfully used 30 GB drives in our Ultra 5s, so you shouldn't have a problem using the largest drive that you can find.

Graphics is another area of improvement. The standard on-board PGX64 graphics are faster than the PGX24 from the Ultra 5. You now can also drive 24-bit color at 1280 x 1024, courtesy of the inclusion of 8 MB of SGRAM for video. While serious graphics users will have to upgrade, this board should provide sufficient graphics abilities for most uses, such as software development. You can add the Expert3D-Lite graphics accelerator for another $995, if you need the extra graphics horsepower. This card is also PCI-based, but has 32 MB of frame buffer memory and significantly better performance. Sun provides monitor options from a base of 17 inches up to a massive 24-inch color model. They also have an 18-inch flat panel option, which we're sure looks gorgeous, but will set you back $2,500. Of course, due to the use of PC-compatible parts, you can use almost any modern VGA monitor that you may have. And if you want to press the Blade 100 into server duties, simply leave the monitor off and use the serial port and a terminal as a console. This feature has been on Sun workstations forever, and is great for simple headless servers.

Sun has also expanded the connection options with the Blade 100. In addition to the standard 10/100 auto-sensing Ethernet port, Sun has provided four USB ports and two FireWire (IEEE 1394) ports. Two of the USB ports are used for the keyboard and mouse, leaving two free for supported devices such as USB printers and Zip/Jaz drives. The list of devices that are supported is fairly short, since these bus architectures are fairly new for Sun workstations. At the moment, FireWire device support is limited to basic support for FireWire-based digital cameras.

On the multimedia front, you now have the option to add a DVD drive, as well as the standard 48x CD-ROM on the base Blade. This probably isn't a big deal, since most people probably don't use their workstations to watch movies! However, the on-board audio support is welcome when you need sound capabilities.

...

Be forewarned—no media is included with the Blade 100, so if you need Solaris and the supporting software, make sure to order this option. An alternative is to download Solaris and burn your own CDs. Another interesting option available is the SunPCi Iipro coprocessor card. This card is essentially a Pentium III 733-MHz PC that lives in a PCI slot within your Blade 100. You can configure this card with up to 1 GB of memory, allowing you to run Windows applications at full speed on your Solaris desktop. Another option is a PCI SCSI adapter for a reasonable $199. This will allow you to add external SCSI devices (a couple of 15,000-RPM SCSI drives certainly would be nice).

Keep in mind that a lot of these options are PC parts, and you can save money if you do some careful substitutions. But beware—even if they're standard parts, they still have specific requirements. For example, not just any memory will work; it has to be PC-133 ECC CL=3. Any other type of memory will probably give you stability problems, making you wish you hadn't saved those few extra bucks.


Etc

Society

Groupthink : Two Party System as Polyarchy : Corruption of Regulators : Bureaucracies : Understanding Micromanagers and Control Freaks : Toxic Managers :   Harvard Mafia : Diplomatic Communication : Surviving a Bad Performance Review : Insufficient Retirement Funds as Immanent Problem of Neoliberal Regime : PseudoScience : Who Rules America : Neoliberalism  : The Iron Law of Oligarchy : Libertarian Philosophy

Quotes

War and Peace : Skeptical Finance : John Kenneth Galbraith :Talleyrand : Oscar Wilde : Otto Von Bismarck : Keynes : George Carlin : Skeptics : Propaganda  : SE quotes : Language Design and Programming Quotes : Random IT-related quotesSomerset Maugham : Marcus Aurelius : Kurt Vonnegut : Eric Hoffer : Winston Churchill : Napoleon Bonaparte : Ambrose BierceBernard Shaw : Mark Twain Quotes

Bulletin:

Vol 25, No.12 (December, 2013) Rational Fools vs. Efficient Crooks The efficient markets hypothesis : Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2013 : Unemployment Bulletin, 2010 :  Vol 23, No.10 (October, 2011) An observation about corporate security departments : Slightly Skeptical Euromaydan Chronicles, June 2014 : Greenspan legacy bulletin, 2008 : Vol 25, No.10 (October, 2013) Cryptolocker Trojan (Win32/Crilock.A) : Vol 25, No.08 (August, 2013) Cloud providers as intelligence collection hubs : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2010 : Inequality Bulletin, 2009 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2008 : Copyleft Problems Bulletin, 2004 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2011 : Energy Bulletin, 2010 : Malware Protection Bulletin, 2010 : Vol 26, No.1 (January, 2013) Object-Oriented Cult : Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2011 : Vol 23, No.11 (November, 2011) Softpanorama classification of sysadmin horror stories : Vol 25, No.05 (May, 2013) Corporate bullshit as a communication method  : Vol 25, No.06 (June, 2013) A Note on the Relationship of Brooks Law and Conway Law

History:

Fifty glorious years (1950-2000): the triumph of the US computer engineering : Donald Knuth : TAoCP and its Influence of Computer Science : Richard Stallman : Linus Torvalds  : Larry Wall  : John K. Ousterhout : CTSS : Multix OS Unix History : Unix shell history : VI editor : History of pipes concept : Solaris : MS DOSProgramming Languages History : PL/1 : Simula 67 : C : History of GCC developmentScripting Languages : Perl history   : OS History : Mail : DNS : SSH : CPU Instruction Sets : SPARC systems 1987-2006 : Norton Commander : Norton Utilities : Norton Ghost : Frontpage history : Malware Defense History : GNU Screen : OSS early history

Classic books:

The Peter Principle : Parkinson Law : 1984 : The Mythical Man-MonthHow to Solve It by George Polya : The Art of Computer Programming : The Elements of Programming Style : The Unix Hater’s Handbook : The Jargon file : The True Believer : Programming Pearls : The Good Soldier Svejk : The Power Elite

Most popular humor pages:

Manifest of the Softpanorama IT Slacker Society : Ten Commandments of the IT Slackers Society : Computer Humor Collection : BSD Logo Story : The Cuckoo's Egg : IT Slang : C++ Humor : ARE YOU A BBS ADDICT? : The Perl Purity Test : Object oriented programmers of all nations : Financial Humor : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2008 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2010 : The Most Comprehensive Collection of Editor-related Humor : Programming Language Humor : Goldman Sachs related humor : Greenspan humor : C Humor : Scripting Humor : Real Programmers Humor : Web Humor : GPL-related Humor : OFM Humor : Politically Incorrect Humor : IDS Humor : "Linux Sucks" Humor : Russian Musical Humor : Best Russian Programmer Humor : Microsoft plans to buy Catholic Church : Richard Stallman Related Humor : Admin Humor : Perl-related Humor : Linus Torvalds Related humor : PseudoScience Related Humor : Networking Humor : Shell Humor : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2011 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2012 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2013 : Java Humor : Software Engineering Humor : Sun Solaris Related Humor : Education Humor : IBM Humor : Assembler-related Humor : VIM Humor : Computer Viruses Humor : Bright tomorrow is rescheduled to a day after tomorrow : Classic Computer Humor

The Last but not Least Technology is dominated by two types of people: those who understand what they do not manage and those who manage what they do not understand ~Archibald Putt. Ph.D


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