· · Sun
· · · · Java (2 fragments)
· Who knows how many more chances I’ll have to talk about Sun tech that I like? In the five years I’ve been here I’ve been pleased by OpenSolaris and Fishworks and HotSpot and GlassFish and others, but NetBeans is #1 in my heart. I just downloaded 6.7 RC3 a couple of days ago to try to fix a problem (it didn’t, but the problem was amusing) and it’s really good stuff. Generally nice, and with one absolutely life-changing new feature ... [6 comments]
· I’ve been in a lot of Cloud-flavored discussions recently about what kind of Platform-as-a-Service offerings might hit sweet spots. On several occasions, People Who Should Know have said things like “A huge proportion of apps, even really big apps, can coast along just fine on a single MySQL instance with help from memcached.” Some numbers crossed my radar today that would tend to support that theory; and they’re sort of astounding ... [4 comments]
Tab Sweep — (Sun) Technology
· Another sweep across the several dozen browser tabs I’ve built up in recent weeks, thinking “worth writing about”. As I was building this up, I noticed that almost everything was Sun-related, so I focused on that stuff. Yep, my interests are conflicted all right, but I think it’s interesting stuff ... [1 comment]
· Today, we at Sun had a server announcement, and so did IBM. Get yer hot links & pix here ... [3 comments]
Formerly a BlackBox
· I’m talking about the Sun Modular Datacenter S20, now shipping (and, judging by what I hear on my field trips, selling surprisingly well). You’re wondering about “S20”? Well, a glance at some container facts might lead you to expect an S40 or S45 in the future. I don’t know, the amount of compute power you can get in an S20 is already pretty mind-boggling. I note that the product page, appropriately postmodern, links to BlackBox blogs, but unsurprisingly not to mine, probably the most-read on the subject due to the mini-scandal over my egregiously bad language (and I have to say the comments on that one are excellent) ... [2 comments]
BlackBox in Vancouver
· Hey, I’m helping out the local Sun marketing people; thus this note for geeks here in Vancouver. We’re doing a world tour with the BlackBox and it’s coming here Nov. 20th (scroll down). If you visit, yes, you will be marketed at, but I’ve been in one of these puppies and it’s a seriously funky piece of gear and hey, it’s free. I’ll try to drop by. [2 comments]
Testing the T5120
· This was going to be a Wide Finder Project progress report, but I ended up writing so much about the server that I’d better dedicate another fragment to the comparisons of all those implementations; especially since there are still lots more implementations to test. So this a hands-on report on a couple of more-or-less production T5120’s, the T2-based server that’s being announced today. Headlines: The chip is impressive but weird; astounding message-passing benchmark numbers; fighting the US DoD ... [1 comment]
· [Missed this one last week in Europe] We made a big splash earlier this summer at the High-Performance Computing show in Dresden; a concerted attempt to grab a bigger piece of the HPC market. I thought the coverage was pretty intelligent: the big deal about Constellation isn’t the blades or the disks, it’s the big switch. Anyone can stuff a bunch of racks with blades with hot chips on ’em; the hard part is getting them to work together, and whatever the approach, it’s easy to get bottlenecked on the messaging. The big new 3,456-way Infiniband switch is a brute-force assault on the problem, combining silicon, bus-ware, connector, and cabling wizardry: Josh Simons has close-ups and unveiling shots, but Jonathan has the best pictures. Why is this interesting? Josh has the numbers: 19% of the worldwide server market.
· We announced a bunch of blade stuff this morning and I honestly couldn’t think of anything useful to write about it, since it’s a decade or two since I was a sysadmin and discussion of I/O density and the like tends to go over my head. Apparently you can have Xeon and Opteron and SPARC and Windows and Solaris and Linux all in the same chassis, which sounds kind of terrifying to me. I did get to hear Andy Bechtolsheim give the spiel on the I/O design once, I understood maybe 20% but it sounded awesome. Anyhow, there is an interesting angle: it turns out we gave Scoble over at PodTech a pre-release exclusive for his video coverage. Which is not exactly high-gloss marketing, mostly just John Fowler in a monochrome meeting room with some journos, pulling dull silver blades and I/O modules out of dull silver chassis boxes and talking about the tech, taking a few questions. I think it’s immensely more effective than most product-launch bumph. As for the products, I don’t really have an informed opinion; but if you understand blades, you probably will if you watch the video.
Big, Big Iron
· Yesterday April 17th we did a great big honking announcement about servers, er make that an announcement about great big honking servers. Frankly, I know pretty well zilch about this class of machine; I can relate to Web pumps like the T1000/T2000, and to an x86 meat-grinder like the X4100 (which an irritated little bird working for one of our customers just told me that you can’t buy at the moment because they’re sold out); but these supertanker-scale things we cooked up with Fujitsu are from another planet. I went poking around blogs.sun.com looking for something hands-on. Bingo (but, er, anonymous bingo, which irritates me; I’ve expressed my opinion on this internally). First, “EXOTERIC” was down in the trenches with Fujitsu and the iron, see New Sun-Fujitsu SPARC Enterprise Systems. Second, “BM Seer” fires a volley of benchmarks: bang bang bang bang. I may not grok the finer points of mainframe technology but you can follow pointers from the announcement to the M9000 and look at the heavy-metal pictures. Ouf. [3 comments]
Rock Secret Contest
· Check out Jonathan’s piece today on the Rock. Sometimes he makes me nervous... but hey, let's have some fun with it. The first three people who can decipher his artful clues and guess (by commenting here) what the Big Cool Nifty Rock Secret is will win a round of blog applause from me and also a neat Sun sweatshirt or hoodie (my own, unopened conference loot sitting at the back of a closet, this is not a Sun contest etc etc) ... [12 comments]
Black Box Again
· I was at a meeting the other day, serving as a panelist at the Wikinomics book launch tour with Don Tapscott (interesting stuff, I’ll write about it when I’ve finished reading the book). During the pre-meeting schmooze I got talking to a University CIO and he was all excited about the Blackbox. “Huh?” I said; he’s in the middle of a city and has tons of nice modern buildings. It turns out his Seventies-era data center filled up a little faster than they’d predicted, and they have budget and location for a new one but that’s going to take a solid two years and by December of this year he’s looking at a big-bucks temporary upgrade of the old facility. An interim Blackbox in a shed probably saves him megabucks. I may have even helped a bit. I know his campus a bit, and I seem to remember what the temperature spec on the water hookup is (I won’t guess in public here though) and if I’m right, he’s got plenty of water that’s more than cool enough right there. So I said that and asked him “Are you sure you’re going to need cooling?” and he brightened right up; if I’m right, he just saved another pile of dough. Anyhow, looks to me like the product has legs; I read somewhere the other day that we’re going to be getting competition, which is unsurprising. [2 comments]
· Hey, they’re finally shipping. I’ve been hearing this Sun SPOT buzz out of the labs for years, and now they’re selling them; and someone wrote the bloggers’ list to say that people are buying them. Small. Embeddable. Wireless. Java on the metal. Cool. [4 comments]
The Open-Source Process
· I have the good fortune to work for the world’s largest creator of Open-Source software. Big companies being what they are, this means that There Is A Process. Recently, I went through it, and I thought the story might be of mild interest to those who are trying to figure out how to make a living at the intersection of the profit motive and OSS culture ... [6 comments]
· Today we announced something, and let’s stick with the code-name “Neptune” because officially it’s called the Sun x8 Express Dual 10 Gigabit Ethernet Fiber XFP Low Profile Adapter, which just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it. I have to say it’s about the butchiest-looking NIC I’ve ever seen. Now, normally I would have bypassed the opportunity to blog, because I’ve never actually even seen a 10G wire or plug, and have no idea what the trade-offs are and what makes a good one. But our Ariel Hendel wrote Russian Dolls, the first paragraph of which discusses love, soccer, and beer, and which includes a remarkable photograph; it is actually about Neptune. Speaking as a geek who likes fast networks and good writing, I think it’s wonderful. [1 comment]
Blackflies and Black Boxes
· On the grass just outside the entrance to our Menlo Park campus, there’s a big brown rectangle where they had the Blackbox sitting; it’d been taken up to San Francisco for the Analyst Summit and Education conference ... [4 comments]
Project Orange Box
· The announcement compares it to our Project BlackBox: “Lower power, smaller form factor, less expensive, more thermally efficient, more environmentally friendly (fully biodegradable), organic, and simple architecture.” There’s a photo gallery; I particularly like the I/O Panel.
In A Box
· I’ve been inside one of these and, well, you wouldn’t want to spend a lot of time there. Any lover of engineering for its own sake would I think find the box breathtaking; the cooling and power-supply designs are elegant and beautiful, and then the whole thing being wrapped up in an anonymous steel rectangle is into postmodern territory. Suffice it to say that some of the applications for this are things you Just Can’t Talk About, and you can bet those aren’t going to have the snappy green-on-black paint job. Others are going to be graffiti tagging opportunities. Me, I have no idea how big the market is. But I’m glad we built it, because it is just totally drop-dead fucking cool. [Update: Nothing’s real unless it’s on YouTube.] [Update: Nico Williams does the numbers.] ... [13 comments]
· I’ve never been 100% comfortable with this notion of a “group blog”, but I guess I should stop worrying. The Aquarium seems to have been a major success for the GlassFish people, and now there’s GullFOSS, OpenOffice.org’s home on the blogospheric range. As I write this, the latest post is their weekly development schedule snapshot, something that more Open-Source projects would do well to post. I may up doing a 180° turn and thinking that every substantial development project should have a group blog.
· An email went around the internal bloggers’ list saying “Hey, you might want to point to the Thumper contest”. So I went to have a look and, yeah, it’s an interesting promotion. But... does anyone else find the notion of using YouTube to deliver a fairly standard corporate marketing piece just a little weird? It’s convenient that venture caps are backing startups that burn kazillions of bucks on bandwidth so that large public companies can deliver video advertising for free. Is it sustainable? Weirder things have happened, I guess.
· Today, we announced some faster servers; I’m not a big-SPARC guy so the one that makes my heart go pitter-pat is the new Ultra; I just spent a week living on a year-old Ultra and while it’s damn fast, I managed to make it breathe hard with both JRuby and the Gimp. What’s more interesting is the PG&E rebate. Check it out, but what’s even more interesting, to me, is that there are three ways you can read about it: Jonathan’s blog, the Sun.com page, and the official press release. The blog is the most interesting, with the Craigslist reference and and the highway-rules context. If you want details, the Sun.com page is OK, with some sample calculations and so on. Which leaves the press release. It seems to have been carefully designed for unreadability, its meandering sentences studded with company chest-pounding and its stilted, committee-compromise quotes (even those from smart, genuine people like Dave Douglas) that no human voice would ever utter. Having said that, the press release contains some useful facts that aren’t in either Jonathan’s write-up or the Sun.com page. We (the world I mean) need to do marketing better.
Thumper & Friends
· We announced a bunch of new boxes this morning (of, course, the damn Register has had the poop for weeks, I find our leakiness irritating). There’s a Real Big Opteron server (personally, I’m more of a scale-out than scale-up kinda guy, but big iron is a big part of our business). There’s a blade box. I know nothing about blades, never been near one. Then there’s the Thumper oops X4500, it’s interesting. I even have a grainy amateurish photo of the inside of a pre-production model ...
· This last week, I spent a bunch of time in a room with Andy Bechtolsheim. He brought along some of the new boxes he’s working on; some almost ready, some raw sheet-metal prototypes. I got some cool pix of a Thumper’s guts but they won’t let me run ’em. Anyhow, when you listen to Andy talk about these boxes, you realize that in their own way they’re beautiful. You have to watch it around him; if you ask a simple question like why one server’s I/O is surprisingly faster than another’s, you’re apt to get a 45-minute dissertation involving ten or fifteen pages’ worth of block diagrams (no, I’m not exaggerating). Anyhow, while they say the X64 boxes are our fastest-growing product line, I think that group’s feeling a little starved for love in among all the T2000 hoop-la. The marketing group sends me notes from time to time pointing to their news (for example a power calculator and a virtualization maniac), wondering if it’s bloggable. I keep telling them to grow their own bloggers, but they haven’t yet. Which is a pity, because what Andy’s doing makes a pretty compelling story.
Network Too Slow?
· I’m embedded at the Mothership here in Silly Valley all week, and among other things, heard about a product I never dreamed existed. Check it out: the IB Switch 9p; it’s a nine-port Infiniband switch, non-blocking even, each port up to 30Gbs and no, that’s not a misprint. Why nine, I wonder? My poor little mind boggles at the thought of what you could do with a rack full of either Opterons or T2000s, maxed out on memory and wired up with one of these things. Today, store.sun.com says one of these puppies will set you back $8,500; I imagine that in a decade, there’ll be one in your wristwatch to handle your personal telemetry.
LAMP and MARS
· At that Rails conference, when I was talking to Obie Fernandez, he asked, more or less “How can Sun love us? We’re not Java” and I said, more or less, “Hey, you’re programmers, you write software and there have to be computers to run it, we sell computers, why wouldn’t we love you?” Anyhow, we touched on parallelism a bit and I talked up the T1; Obie took that ball and ran with it, saying all sorts of positive things about synergy between Rails’ shared-nothing architecture and our multicore systems. Yeah, well, good in theory, but I’m too old to make that kind of prediction without running some tests. Hah, it turns out that Joyent has been doing that, and have 76 PDF slides on the subject. If you care about big-system scaling issues, read the whole thing; a little long, but amusing and with hardly any bullet lists. If you’re a Sun shareholder looking for a pick-me up, check out slides 40-41, 49, and 52-74. Oh, I gather that the T1, Solaris, and ZFS are OK for Java too. [Update: The title was just “SAMR”, as in LAMP with two new letters. Enough people didn’t get it that I was forced to think about it, and MARS works better anyhow.] [Update: Bryan Cantrill shows how to profile Rails with DTrace.]
Computers in the Right Places
· Previously I wrote that we didn’t have a good process for deploying boxes to deserving recipients; but we’re really making progress. Item: Last month I noted the server for Nexenta. Item: They’re getting the kinks out of the T2000 try-&-buy; now we ship a serial cable so you can bootstrap the sucker, and I hear they’ve weeded out the silly “Do you have a Solaris application?” qualifier; I mean, it’s exactly the people who don’t that we want to talk to. Item: We sent Ultra 20s to Thomas Enebo (get a blog, Thomas) and Charles Nutter (good blog, Charles), AKA the JRuby Posse. Item: I wanted to do something nice for another well-known PHP-based open-source project, and found out that PHP5 runs slower than PHP4 on the T2000, which makes no damn sense at all, a key advantage of PHP is that it’s shared-nothing, as in horizontal scaling, as in, that chip should eat it for breakfast. So I had a talk with Andi Gutmans over at Zend (PHP world headquarters), and he couldn’t see a good reason either. So we’re shipping a T2000 to the Zendians and the problem may become instantly obvious, or it may require some work, but we’ll crack that nut one way or another. [Update: Thomas Enebo has a blog.]
Those Cruel Irish
· People inside Sun were gleefully emailing around Colm MacCárthaigh’s big Niagara benchmark post and I was reading and found myself laughing out loud. The synopsis is: it’s a big serious benchmark and the box did great, pretty well slaughtering both a Dell Xeon and a Dell Itanium. But jeepers, those Irish dudes are heartless, I’m surprised there weren’t smoking shards of casing and silicon on the floor. I think most Apache & *n*x geeks would find themselves gasping and snickering a bit at Colm’s write-up, but there’s some real wisdom there too about filesystem and server tuning and so on, although some of the tricks are definitely don’t-try-this-at-home. Anyhow, here are some cute samples:
“Also, in each case, the system was pretty much unusable by the time we were done!”
“... about 83,000 concurrent downloads.”
[They managed to crash Solaris with the experimental event MPM]: “Then again, it was handling about 30,000 requests at the time, with no accept mutex.”
“Of course, no server should ever be allowed to get into that kind of insane territory.”
“Note: these are stupid values for a real-world server... really only useful if you are doing some insane benchmarking and testing.”
“...5718 requests per second.”
Hey Jonathan, let ’em keep the box. [Update: They’re keeping it.]
Servers In the Right Places
· Earlier this month I lamented that we didn’t have much of a process for donating computers to projects that are doing good things. We seem to be making some progress on that, for example the T2000-tryout program seems to be running a lot smoother. But that’s not all; for example, an X2100 showed up Friday on the doorstep of Nexenta, as in GNU/Solaris. I think that this kind of thing is a complete no-brainer and hope that we manage to do more of it.
The ASF Server
· Sun gave the Apache Software Foundation a server last year, and I kept hearing, over coffee and beer, that they were running some scary-huge number of projects on it, all independently via zones; really remarkable numbers. I kept asking them to write about it, and they kept not writing. So here’s an email interview with Mads Toftum, who does a lot of sysadmin-ing around the ASF. I don’t know how typical their workload is, but I’m an old sysadmin myself and I found this pretty interesting. Mads doesn’t blow his own horn much, but this is a remarkable installation ...
Free Computers (ouch!)
· If you follow Jonathan Schwartz, you will have observed a little flurry around our offer of free-trial (and maybe free-for-keeps) T2000 servers. If you read the comments, it’s become apparent that our systems for supporting this kind of marketing promotion, uh, need some work. I’m really glad that Jonathan did this, because I know from bitter experience how bad we are at offering hardware freebies, and this will force us to fix it. Particularly right at the moment, it seems to me a no-brainer that scattering a few of our Opteron and Niagara boxes in the direction of some worthy OSS projects and startup companies would be about the most cost-effective marketing imaginable. On lots of occasions I’ve gone running excitedly to the product groups saying “Hey, it would be really great if we could get XXX a server to try out!” and the reaction is along the lines of “Well yeah, but how would we do that?” It turns out that when you’re a big public company, if you have a defined process in place for doing something, it’s easy and efficient, and if you don’t, you’re in SNAFU territory. Lots of other good stuff in those comments too, check them out. In particular, I happen to know that Wikipedia already has one of the free-trial T2000 boxes, and that’s a very interesting application, so we’re going to work with them see how fast we can make it run on that box. Sun is full of Wikipedia fans.
Dell, LDAP, IP Dandruff
· I was looking at Neil Wilson’s Sun T2000 vs Dell 6850: LDAP AuthRate, a straightforward Dell-vs.-Niagara LDAP benchmark write-up, and two unrelated but interesting things came to mind. First, this piece suffers from major IP dandruff; is it really necessary for the text identifying the CPUs to read “Intel® Xeon® EM64T” and “UltraSPARC® T1 with CoolThreads™ technology”? I know about defending your trademarks and so on, but this is imposing visual pain on readers, and that can’t be a good thing. Second point: here we have yet another example of one of our people beating up Dell. In my time here, I haven’t noticed an organized Dell-dissing campaign, but I have noticed pervasive organic loathing for this one competitor all over the company, end to end. I mean, we compete with IBM and HP and Microsoft and so on, but there’s a whole different emotional level around Dell. My best guess is that it’s a cultural thing; Dell is doing well in this business without seeming to actually like computers very much. And one of the first things you notice if you work here is that people really care about computers for their own sake; almost everyone would be a tinkerer or hobbyist or spare-time hacker if they couldn’t get paid for what they’re doing. I don’t think either Sun or Dell are going away any time soon, so we can expect the fun to continue.
· Kraigus Shmeggus (hey, he made it up, not me), explains why sysadmins should stay away from Niagaras, and offers additional wisdom on the perfidiousness of professors.
· You can’t possibly imagine the amount of work it’s taken to get here. Richard McDougall has put together a Niagara Blogging Carnival which is the right place to start if you’re the kind of person that the MSM (Main Stream Marketing, that stands for) isn’t aimed at; i.e., not a CEO, CIO, or journalist. My own personal favorite Niagara newsbites: Item: Nobody gets 100% yield on their chips. I gather that for the Niagaras that don’t turn out perfect, we’ll sell ’em cheaper as 7-core, 6-core, 4-core, or whatever. Some of these configs might turn out to be the deal of the century depending how we price them. Item: They’re open-sourcing the hardware, too. I’m not sure exactly what that means in the big picture, and the licensing is going to matter, but it’s cool. Item: Those eight cores, when one’s not busy, they stop it. No, they don’t idle-loop it, they stop it. Obvious when you think of it. Item: When not to use the new stuff. Item: How the I/O works. Item: What makes chips wear out and fail? Lots of things, but especially heat; so low-wattage chips are RAS winners. Item: Maximum geek-out! Last item: When you have Java threads that map real closely onto Solaris threads that map real closely on to hardware threads, and you also have a lot of well-implemented hardware threads, this is what happens.
· I’ve got this Ultra 20 which among other things has a huge disk with room for lots of operating systems. I want to fool around a bit with Linux and Solaris Classic and GNU/Solaris, run some Bonnie numbers and also shake down my own stuff on all these different boxes. I expected pain, and I’ve already had some. This post will be my diary of the things that go wrong, and right ...
· In case you hadn’t noticed, yesterday the much-announced ZFS finally shipped. There’s the now-typical flurry of blogging; the best place to start is with Bryan Cantrill’s round-up. I haven’t had time to break out Bonnie and ZFS myself, but I do have some raw data to report, from Dana Myers, who did some Bonnie runs on a great big honkin’ Dell [Surely you jest. -Ed.] server. The data is pretty interesting. [Update: Another run, with compression.] [And another, with bigger data. Very interesting.] ...
Niagaras and Hummers
· As a long-time Green, this Eco-Responsibility announcement makes me pretty happy. Hummer Overfloweth is another news story that made me happy and also, I think, highlights a trend that augurs well for Niagara, not to mention civilization and sanity in general. No I’m not saying all of the competitive chips out there are like Hummers (well, except for some of the high-end Xeons). But the CoolThreads stuff is the Toyota Prius of the CPU world.
How To Use Your Ultra
· So, I’ve got this meat-grinder that runs NetBeans just insanely faster than my PowerBook, and I’d like to use it. The trouble is, I’ve already got 3,397,120 pixels’ worth of screen real-estate and if I add more I won’t be able to see out my window; and one keyboard & mouse are enough. Solution: run the Ultra headless and talk to it via the Mac, using X11. It’s not problem-free but it works. Illustrated with pictures of deliciously smooth, streamlined actual working code. [Update: There is hope.] ...
Go Get a New Computer
· That is to say, if you’re a software developer, or anyone whose computer does some heavy lifting, and yours isn’t that new because you’ve been unexcited by the last couple of years’ new systems. I say this because I’ve started fooling around with an Ultra 20 (disclosure: I didn’t pay for it) and holy crap, have deskside machines ever come along while I wasn’t looking. Great big huge complicated Web pages just snap into place; NetBeans starts up in seconds; compiles are done before your finger leaves the “build” function key. The Ultra, an Opteron at 2.6GHz/2GB, is I think about as über as a single-CPU machine gets. I suppose there are two-headed boxes that would eat its lunch, but that gets into some real money. These puppies start at $900 and stay under $3K and our marketers claim they’re out front on bang for the buck. I wouldn’t know, but the business being what it is, I’d be surprised if the competition were dramatically cheaper or more expensive; except for, I poked around a bit and didn’t find any other mainstream players selling single-Opteron workstations. Would I have paid a kilobuck or three for this productivity boost if I’d known what it felt like? No doubt about it. Read on for some details, pro and con ...
· Sun announced a bunch of new computers today. I’m a computer geek and I love working for a computer company! I haven’t got my hands on any of these puppies yet, but if you plow through the reams of marketing verbiage, it looks to me like the three main claims are: (1) the highest-performance x64 servers, (2) the most space-efficient enterprise products, and (3) the most power-efficient enterprise products, (uh, I assume by “enterprise product” they mean “computer”, just guessing). All marketing cynicism aside, these numbers look pretty #$!%^! hot to me. Under my geek hat I’m personally more interested in the upcoming Niagara line; but still, these Galaxy things look like nifty boxes. [Update: Wes Felter of IBM says I (and Sun) am full of it, that our boxes are just clones. Well, I believe there are big differences in the specs on the number of ports, and of disks, and on the power supplies, but I’m the first to admit that I’m a hardware ignoramus. That’s why I pointed to that page full of benchmarks; benchmarks aren’t perfect, but these seem to suggest, like I said, that the Galaxies are stinking fast boxes. Also, to be fair, Wes linked to this neat InfoWorld piece.] [Update: Another data point from Alex Harden. I couldn’t figure out why you’d want four network jacks, but Alex does. I showed Alex’s piece to one of our x64 heavies and said “good, although we need to make it clear that we crush xeon mp.”]
Iron for Drupal
· What happened was, I read the Slashdot story about Drupal’s server meltdown, and winced sympathetically; I have so been there. I keep hearing good things about Drupal, so I pinged my manager Hal Stern and asked “Think we could dig up a server for some good guys having a bad day?” He talked to John Fowler, Supreme Opteron Overlord, (hey Sun.com, that page is out of date), and on Tuesday Drupal got a V20z. Holy cow, John found a good one, that sucker’s got two high-end Opterons and 4G of memory, hosting Drupal will probably leave it enough cycles to simulate galaxies in the background. Amusing sidenote: Dries Buytaert of Drupal wrote wondering “under what terms we’d get such machinery from Sun” and Hal wrote back saying a mention on the site would be nice, “and no offense, but the legal cost of any more ‘terms’ than above exceeds our cost of the hardware.” As usual, I can’t resist the opportunity to generalize: ladies and gentlemen, what we have here is an ecosystem. Drupal has a problem, the community notices, Slashdot broadcasts, we help them out, a nice piece of infrastructure is strengthened, the tide rises and all our boats float a little higher. Is this a great business to be in or what?
· I spent the whole day at a company summit on some broad-spectrum issues that the next wave of Sun hardware is bringing into focus. This included a detailed briefing on our next three or four generations of SPARC and x86 boxes; which is pretty well pure porn if you like computers in general and servers in particular. I can’t possibly even begin to talk details, except for I am gonna have to come up with some wild-ass project so I can get my hands on one or two of these puppies. I’ll say this though: if you know what CMT and TLP are and think you’re hot stuff in that area, consider getting in touch with Sun, because do we ever have a lot of interesting work.
Sun EC: Wednesday Highlights
· What sticks to my mind: First, a fine story about how the Sun Ray happened, a high-drama combination of skunkworks brilliance, organizational cancer, and executive churn. My bet remains that a lot of people end up using a Sun Ray or something like it, down the road. Then, from an overheard conversation about how people ought to cool their data centres: “If you’re in Kansas City and you rented a former airframe factory, well, the hell with water-cooling.” OK, then. Passing note: you know that Grid thingie? It seems that the instances are internally called “the farms”. Can’t really talk about what’s growing there. Finally, a sober, scary poster presentation on what happens if a serious worm/virus gets loose in the domain of big Solaris and/or Linux boxes; both tough nuts to crack these days, but I’m old enough to remember the Morris Worm.
Sun EC: On XP and Agile
· Today through noon Friday I’m at the internal Sun Engineering Conference. We opened with a couple of speeches on XP and Agile Software Development by Ron Jeffries and John Nolan. I think there were some people in the audience who weren’t quite convinced, but I learned a couple of things ...
· Hey, the OpenSolaris web site is up! You cannot possibly imagine how much work this has taken, and there’s still lots to do. I’m happy to see that this kind of major technology push comes with a list of blogs as a matter of course. Speaking of which, the hardcore geeks in the crowd who want to get an insider’s feel for what this whole Solaris thing is really about can bypass all the business-oriented official marketing stuff and go straight to Bryan Cantrill’s excellent Solaris 10 Revealed, which will give you all the technical details you could possibly want.
· I see via Daniel Price that build 72 of Solaris 10 is posted. The kernel geeks’ hearts will beat faster over the AMD64 support, but what I think is also newsworthy is that Solaris comes with StarOffice (as in Sun’s souped-up version of OpenOffice) on-board. OK, here’s my chance to get a late feature request in: along with a full-function office suite, how about a C compiler? [Update: Request granted!]
Co-operating With Microsoft
· In the flurry of news last week about our big deal with Microsoft, there was quite a bit of talk about the possibilities for technical co-operation. I’ve been poking around a bit to try to figure out what that actually means ...
· I spent the day Thursday at StarOffice in Hamburg and came away with some of my ideas about XML & blogging changed. It was a side-trip; other business took me to Brussels and OpenOffice wasn’t that far away and I had an agenda there, which we’ll get to. But this is important stuff, I think. [Updated with a pointer.] [And again with Geof Glass’ OO.o-to-blog gateway.] ...
· One of the nice side-effects of working here is that I found out James Gosling has a blog. Definitely worth reading, if a bit sporadic.
By Tim Bray
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