Posts tagged sun microsystems

This industry sure moves fast

Owing to an incredibly busy month with family and university, this has been the quietest has been since January 2008 (check it out). For interest sake, I thought I'd check out one of the few things I was talking about back then:

Trolltech bought by Nokia, MySQL bought by Sun Microsystems… what is the world [of free and open source software] coming to?

While surprising at the time, Nokia has since found itself on the rocks and looking to divest itself of Qt, and Sun Microsystems was bought by Oracle. Just goes to show just how fast this industry moves!

Java dying? Did Apple do it? An app store?

Classic Java logo

There's a lot of guff going on about Java right now, so I'm going to try my hand at clearing the air. Obviously my grammar has already taken a beating judging from the tersely efficient but horribly structured heading.

Java is dying

Dying in this case is a relative term, but despite the disappointing failure of the write once, run everywhere model that was supposed to solve OS dependencies on the desktop, Java is very much alive and well. Anyone who's been in any corporate, large enterprise environment knows that Java is thoroughly entrenched and isn't going anywhere any time soon. Like a boss. Google also uses it for tons of stuff, to afford myself the use of some sophisticated computer science terminology.

Oh yeah and Minecraft. Addictive games like that push my buttons and stroke my OCD tendencies WAY too easily, so I'm simply refraining from playing it. Call it an act of self preservation.

Apple killed JavaME on phones

There are two arguments about Apple killing Java. The older one is that Apple killed JavaME by not bundling it with the iPhone. I'd argue JavaME was functionally dead long before Apple came into the picture. I'd also say that to be fair, Android, webOS and Windows Mobile Phone Enterprise Corporate Home Premium Edition Service Pack 7 have done their bit to nip JavaME in the bud too. Granted Android [kinda] runs a Java VM in the form of Dalvik, but its legal standing is dubious at best, and it's unrelated to JavaME.

I remember writing a to-do list for my Motorola RAZR back in the day. It was easy enough to understand if a LittleCumbersomeAndVerbose, but it ran so horribly slowly and took so long to load I gave up on it.

To break up this post, here are the girls from some sort of scientific railgun show, with a phone, a laptop and a cup of coffee. Apt, right?

Apple killed Java on the desktop

The other argument is Apple killed Java on the desktop by removing it from Mac OS X. They didn't kill Java, they merely deprecated their internally developed version and passed responsibility back to Oracle and the open source community to provide it. They're in the process of doing so.

For those who don't remember, Apple developed a custom version of Java starting with Mac OS X 10.0 as a way to more thoroughly integrate Java apps into the OS and to afford more visual consistency. If you recall, for a long time Java apps didn't really look like their host OSs at all (and in certain circumstances they still don't, at least not very well). The first Java I ever wrote was on my iBook in 2001, go figure.

Depending on who you talk to, Apple engineers were also forced to craft their own Java implementation given Sun's lack of interest in the platform. If that sounds familiar, this is just the apathy that Macromedia and Adobe displayed for the Mac with their Flash plugin that was so slow, unreliable and insecure that Apple was forced to write a container around it for Safari. Shipping an older version didn't help either, but hey!

Apple were small fish before and had to accept whatever they could from the high and mighty, now they are in a position to dictate terms… and Steve Jobs certainly holds grudges! As Adobe is realising now that Flash is not included by default in the MacBook Air, if Oracle wants Java on the Mac, it's up to them now to prove to Apple customers that they need it. It also puts native applications at an advantage, which is a convenient fact for Apple ;).

You know what’d be cool?

I'd actually be really interested in seeing a cross platform Java app store to prove to us that write once, run everywhere is not only viable, but preferable to vendor lock-in. They could sell Minecraft, and auto-update software like NetBeans and Makagiga. Oh yeah that reminds me, Makagiga is pretty cool. But that's for another post.

As I started this post by saying, Java is thoroughly entrenched in the enterprise. Whether or not Oracle has any interest in recapturing the consumer space where Java needs the most help is the ultimate question.

Jonathan Schwartz leaves Sun, fanboy response

Jonathan Schwartz's weblog at Sun Microsystems

It's official, Jonathan Schwartz is no longer an employee of Sun Microsystems, now a subsidiary of Oracle Inc. Fortunately for us in his goodbye blog post he's said his blog will be transferred to a new address and maintained, and he's even jumped on Twitter again.

Today’s my last day at Sun. I’ll miss it. Seems only fitting to end on a #haiku. Financial crisis/Stalled too many customers/CEO no more

If you've been a reader of my blog for a while you'd know how much I admire Schwartz, one could say to an unhealthy extent. A quick paroozle of the Jonathan Schwartz tag here proves this, and this unabashed brown-nosing post from early 2009 would serve to remove all further doubt!

Sun might not have shot through all expectations and taken over the world during his tenure as CEO, but his down to earth friendlyness was refreshing, and I loved reading his official blog.

Okay, the real reason!

Steve Jobs may be a genius, but Jonathan would still be my first choice for hanging out at a coffee shop if I had the chance. For a period of time I even tried to grow a Schwartz ponytail but failed miserably. There's something about a CEO of a major corporation that can look classy with a ponytail that's just too awesome for words.

Anyway I wish Jonathan all the best in his future efforts, and I'm excited to see where he goes from here. Who knows, I might still get to have coffee with him one day… coming to Singapore or Canberra any time soon Jon? :)

The Sun Oracle Database Machine

Sun Oracle Exadata V2 server

Ever since I postulated back in April as to what a combined Oracle-Sun company would do, in the back of my mind I've also been thinking what it would look like. Now we get a glimpse in the form of the Oracle Exadata V2 server, the second advertisement after their triumphant "Oracle Buys Sun" faux billboard graphic.

I'm surprised they kept the Sun Microsystems logo and the basic design of the hardware, but I'm even more surprised they positioned the Sun logo above the Oracle one. I get the feeling it's not something that should be read into much, but perhaps it's a symbolic tip of the hat and to appease people scared about what Oracle may do with Sun. Don't worry guys, Sun is still alive, and all that. Or maybe it's because "Sun Oracle" is much easier to say than "Oracle Sun". I have no idea what I'm saying here.

Most likely this is a transitionary product, we'll probably see completely new designs in coming quarters that probably won't include a Sun logo. Then again when Commodore Business Machines bought MOS Technology in the 1980s they ended up rebranding the subsidiary but it largely operated independently and still put their logo on all their integrated circuits, so who knows.

Sun Oracle Exadata V2 server

Personally I think it made far more sense for Oracle to be Sun's suitor instead of IBM given that they already had a lot of money and time invested in parallel products. Solaris is an excellent operating system, and an Oracle database on Sun software and hardware is a compelling mix.

I guess I'm still just a little sad to see such an iconic company slowly get eaten by another; as I've repeatedly said here I really admire Sun Microsystems. Perhaps I'll have a greater chance of owning my own Sun workstation after buying one on eBay after a few years. That is, if having original Sun hardware without an Oracle sticker doesn't increase its value too much.

Logos and Java classes for Java classes

Classic Java logo

Despite studying it again for several weeks, every time I see I have a Java "Class" on my timetable I chuckle a bit. If you haven't ever done Java or other object oriented programming before, Java is made up of classes, therefore the whole glorious thing is a delicious pun. Feel free to laugh.

Tee hee, Java classes.

On a slightly related note, who here thinks the old, impressionist Java logo that I've included here was better than their new stylised one? I can't be the only one. Or perhaps I don't want to know.

MacBook Pro trackpad on OpenSolaris

OpenSolaris desktop background by Maccu on Flickr

My experimentation with OpenSolaris on my MacBook Pro (Dual-booting OpenSolaris on a MacBook Pro, OpenSolaris, MacBook Pro, partition order) has come to an abrupt end, tragically because of only one basic but fundamental problem.

After trying it so I could run Java and Oracle stuff on it for my studies using the same OS they use at my university, it worked beautifully with all the internal hardware, except the trackpad. The workaround proposed on various forums and newsgroups is to just use an external mouse which is simply not an option when I'm in classes and only have a small desk to work on. I also think it's a bit ridiculous to expect to use a notebook computer and not expect to be able to use the internal mouse.

OpenSolaris booted from the CD was far more polished than any Linux distribution I've tried, but I've decided to wipe it off the drive and reinstall FreeBSD in that partition which supports all my hardware out of the box so to speak. Not having the internal mouse working on a laptop is absolutely unworkable and a complete show-stopper.

Here's hoping the next release addresses this problem. I'd love to use it; I even picked out a snappy desktop background to use with it!

OpenSolaris, MacBook Pro, partition order

I often find I can understand things better myself when I explain what I'm attempting to do. Spock would probably say this illogical, I'd retort that not all of us have the benefit of being half Vulcan. Thank you.

Since attempting to boot my MacBook Pro with OpenSolaris and since writing about it here an hour ago I've learned more about the problem I was having with the partitioning stage.

I found this page and on their instruction I installed the Sun Device Detection Tool which checks the hardware of machines and determines whether or not OpenSolaris and Solaris have appropriate driver support. Aside from the gigabit Ethernet card, I was told my original generation MacBook Pro had full hardware support. Cool.

Returning to the aforementioned page I saw the screenshot shown above and recognised the errors instantly from when I tried to install OpenSolaris myself. Turns out OpenSolaris needs to be installed on the first partition to work; I was attempting to install it on the third partition after the EFI and Mac OS X Leopard ones respectively.

I could mess around for another few hours to try and figure out how to overcome this limitation (when I was an early teenager I was quite the dual-booting wizard) but I'm thinking I'll save myself the headache, backup my data and repartition this machine from scratch.

As I said in my previous post about this, this semester I'm working almost exclusively with Java and Oracle software and I'm SSH'ing into Solaris machines at the campus here already, and I'd like to be able to use a similar setup on my own machine too. Also I love trying new things :).

Dual-booting OpenSolaris on a MacBook Pro

OpenSolaris being introduced to the world by Rich Green

Given I'm working almost exclusively with Java and Oracle software this semester at university in three of my four courses I thought it'd be fun and worthwhile dual-booting OpenSolaris with Mac OS X Leopard on my MacBook Pro and use them both in a more "native" environment. You can download the ISOs for free from their servers, via bittorrent or you can even order a CD to be sent to you gratis. Pretty cool.

Problem is, I'm stuck. I'm attempting to install OpenSolaris 2009.06 which is the latest version at the time this post is going live. These were the steps I took:

  1. Ran Leopard Bootcamp
  2. Rebooted with the OpenSolaris disc in the drive
  3. Chose the default LiveCD option from the Grub menu
  4. Arrived at the desktop, connected to Wireless network
  5. Plugged in USB mouse because internal trackpad wasn’t detected
  6. Launched installer
  7. Chose the FAT32 partition Bootcamp generated, selected "Solaris"

Barely a few seconds into file copying stage, the installer #fails (uh oh I've started inadvertently using Twitter hashtags in regular blog entries, this does not bode well for my mental state!). When I clicked the log file button these were the last few errors:

>> Could not crate VTOC target>> TI process failed.

I thought it could have had something to do with ZFS specifically, but doing some research online I came across this discussion thread where Basant suggests the problem is with the EFI partitioning scheme employed by Bootcamp.

Prime cause why it was failing was because of EFI partition. After I reset the partition id of EFI partition (#1) using "setpid 1to AF" and rebooted, my problem went away and opensolaris installed and booted just fine. I had also marked the partition as Active from Linux fdisk command so I didn’t need to do the fdisk.real hack.

The fdisk.real hack being referred to turns out to be this official workaround in response to a recognised bug in OpenSolaris.

Going to take another plunge, here's hoping one of these tricks does the… trick.

My belated review of VirtualBox for Mac

FreeBSD, MS-DOS and Windows 2000 in VirtualBox
FreeBSD 7.1 with Xfce, MS-DOS with XTreeGold and Windows 2000

In my quest to find the most useful virtualisation software for Mac I've so far used Parallels Desktop, VMware Fusion and in various capacities. Today I decided to take a closer look at VirtualBox, the free and open source virtualisation software by Sun Microsystems.

Firstly the good news: VirtualBox is fast. Because it can take advantage of VT-x in the Intel processors of modern Macs the performance is in an entirely different league to QEMU based applications and much closer in performance to expensive (at least in the eyes of a university student!) commercial products from VMware and Parallels.

Because of it's higher performance, VirtualBox can run all current flavours of BSD, Linux and Windows that I've thrown at it just beautifully. Creating machines is a snap, and the shortcut keys for commands such as hard reset (command-R) are the best of any Mac virtualisation product I've used.

The main VirtualBox graphical control window

Unfortunately for me there have been some problems. For starters, considering it's a Sun product I found it disheartening to find OpenSolaris 08.11 can't pass the initial boot stage to install without giving an error which is a shame. FreeBSD has difficulty using the emulated optical drive which in practical usage is fine but it means you need to initally install over a network, no easy install of an ISO is possible. And for my electronic nostalgia, VirtualBox crashes whenever I attempt to load either the EMM386 or UMBCPI upper memory managers in MS-DOS 6.22 or PC DOS 2000 despite exhaustive attempts to map the correct memory addresses.

As I said on my review, my first generation Core Duo MacBook Pro seems to be a very quirky machine for virtualisation: it seems to have troubles than most Apple people don't seem to have! Keeping this in mind I'm ready to chalk these problems up to my eccentric machine, but it's still a bit disheartening.

VirtualBox has the potential to be an amazing product, and certainly for Windows and Linux it does the job beautifully — especially for the price! Unfortunately for my own current needs though I'm going to have to give it a pass; while it does run Windows 2000 amazingly well I'd prefer not to have to use several higher end virtualisation products for different things.

Scatterbrain thoughts on the Sun Oracle deal

Showing my support by running OpenSolaris in VirtualBox on my Mac
Showing my support running OpenSolaris in VirtualBox on my Mac :-)

Well it's official, Sun Microsystems found a suitor not in IBM, Apple or Microsoft, but with Oracle. I must say on the whole I'm cautiously relieved, though there are some things that worry me. What an ambiguous sentence. Well you know what they say, certainty is hobgoblin of the fool… right? Wait, that's not how it goes.

OpenSolarisFirstly, Java and Solaris absolutely make sense for Oracle; I believe I read somewhere that (paraphrasing) Larry Ellison claimed Solaris was the most effective Unix system out there for use with Oracle infrastructure. I haven't played with OpenSolaris (or Linux for that matter) to the extent I've used FreeBSD but I was really impressed by it's completeness and quality. I'm also interested in licencing; as a BSD guy the CDDL that has prevented Linux users from adopting ZFS and Dtrace hasn't bothered me but Oracle's work with Linux may see it change to the GPL… maybe.

What I'm also interested in is Sun's free and open source acquisitions and assets, namely NetBeans, VirtualBox, and MySQL. If they keep them and continue to support them I don't see any problem, and one could argue that said projects would benefit from being part of a larger company in the same vein as Linux at IBM. Some brainstorming on each:

  • NetbeansNetBeans would compliment their Java acquisition, but Oracle is a signed member of the Eclipse foundation. Will Oracle attempt to merge it, ditch it or continue to develop it and instead ditch Eclipse?

  • VirtualBoxVirtualBox at Oracle is a fascinating combination. Could Oracle somehow leverage VirtualBox’s virtualisation technology to more efficently deploy servers with Oracle’s database? They could do it with Solaris too!

  • is a real wildcard. One could potentially see Oracle leverage OOo against Microsoft, or perhaps they could pull a Novell and instead fork it into an independent stream and an Oracle branded product that could use groupware Oracle develops. The possibilities are extremely intriguing.

  • MySQLMySQL for me is a major concern. Oracle’s databases and MySQL are light years apart in features and from what I’ve heard scalability, but the gap is much narrower than it was even a few years ago. Is it conceivable Oracle would intentionally cripple MySQL or keep it with only a subset of features so as to not cannibalise their bread and butter? If they do, might we see MySQL forks or even a general move to PostgreSQL?

I've done work for Oracle in the past but I still don't know the inner workings of the company or the details regarding merged product lines (ala PeopleSoft and Siebel). Whatever the outcome, I'll be watching closely.

As I've said here before I have huge respect for Sun and have always wanted a pimped out Sun Workstation to really get stuck into Solaris. In fact if I were offered a Mac Pro or a similarly high end Sun Workstation I'd take the latter just because I've used them at university but ave never had one of my own before!

Jonathan Schwartz's weblog at Sun Microsystems

The biggest question I still have though is: what will happen to one of my top technology idols Jonathan Schwartz? Will he get a position in Oracle? Will he continue to blog from there? Or perhaps a more pertinent question would be: will he be allowed to blog from there?

I wish Sun the best in this transition period.

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