Bob's Nook

Thursday, May 12, 2005

News... finally a grid application I can understand

Jonathan Schwartz posted in his Sunday May 01, 2005 blog about update services and how Sun Microsystems (my favourite OS supplier) will use it's grid to create a massive software updating service. Well now, at last a grid application I can understand. This is big, real big ! Imagine Suns charging model is to get a fee per update event, that's good isn't it? This charging model is cheap for the customer but as Sun gets its 10c per update x millions of updates it seems viable, yeah Sun will make a few million (ho - hum).

Now lets pull pervasive computing devices into the picture, lets update mobile phone, capabilities, OS and applications. Lets assume there are only a billion of them that host applications and there are 12 application updates once a year. That's a buck 20 per phone or a $1.2 Bn revenue stream. Not to mention what selling updates to phones rather than encouraging consumers to replace the hardware every six months will do for the environment !

Now lets add a few IPODS, Vehicle environmental systems (EG GM Cars), PDAs and security alarms to that.

Schwartz, if this is the market you are after, this time you got it RIGHT, a revenue stream AND massive social responsibility a pretty enticing combination

I just hope that after this it remains viable for Sun to stay in the OS business !

Wine binaries are here

Well nothing to see here for a little while but I have been busy finishing up the latest wine for Solaris 10 FCS. It's a moderate step forward for the Solaris port which can now install and run Internet Explorer, albeit with some text glitches. By all reports it can run Lotus Notes but not the notes installer. Google will show you the way.

I have also completed a "Putback" of patches to the wine CVS unfortunately this doesn't mean wine will build out of the box.There are two critical patches to put back to enable this. So far the wine maintainer has been unwilling to accept these. Hence the patchkit, a kit of patches along with some scripts to maintain and build wine for Solaris, was born.

Wine for Solaris 10 binaries and patchkit can be found at my personal web page at

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Hardware manufacturers and competition laws

A large Video Chip manufacturer has just refused to give me interface information for my port of Utah GLX on their standard commercial terms.

It is an annoying trend (To a Hardware engineer like myself) that chip manufacturers are hiding interface definitions behind supposed intellectual property rights. Most enlightened manufacturers eg Motorola, Texas Instruments and Intel understand that product documentation is necessary to use the hardware and that developers need this information to create products using them. This has been proved in the recent Microsoft Antitrust case where Microsoft has been compelled to make these private interfaces available. Australian IP law gives an exemption to prohibilition of decompiling for the discovery of interfaces necessary to create compatible products so interfaces aren't that protected anyway.

This same manufacturer I know has already given documentation on some terms or other to other developers. In many jurisdictions including the USA Australia and Canada this behaviour is known as "refusing to deal" and is anticompetitive and illegal. So is what the video chip manufacturers do in selecting who gets information and who doesn't actually legal? Well I don't think so, and I will be encouraging the Australian ACCC, the US FTA and Canadian Competition Bureau to investigate.

Yet another reason to start rethinking the extent of IP protection delivered to IP holders ...

Friday, February 04, 2005

Solaris and BSD

I have been giving some thought to the BSD and CDDL licenses and it seems to me they are compatible because neither require code relicensing as does the GPL. This might mean the OpenSolaris can enter the community on very friendly terms with the *BSD communities.

I just have to wonder how the dynamics of that will affect the marketplace.

Interesting times are a comin'

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Linus Warms to CDDL License

Linus says:

"But CDDL is different. Everything is in place for it to work well."


"A lot of people still like Solaris, but I'm in active competition with them, and so I hope they die,"

It's all clear. It's no wonder everyone thinks Sun is in competition with Linux because Linus's Linux is in competition with Sun. It seems that this is a very lop-sided competition since it's pretty clear from Sun (Jonathan Schwartz) that redhat and IBM factor more in Sun's corporate mind than does Linux as a product. After all, and I've said it before, Sun is a linux vendor too.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Where to now?

Well Open Solaris is out the door, the pilot participants have built the source, so where to now ?

Well for me it's the Solaris 10 release. For some time I've been using a Solaris Beta (express) build, so before any development happens I need to get onto a stable build. That's supposed to happen very soon. So here's what's on my mind...

Solaris 10 FCS Installation

A simple Wine configurator for Solaris

Updated Wine for Solaris 10, and possibly 8/9 to SunFreeware

A merge back to Wine of the Solaris diffs

Utah GLX (Xorg 6.8.x - Mesa 3.2 - Matrox) Open GL - Hopefully Matrox will have let me access the doco by then - C'mon Matrox, you can do it...

OpenSolaris build

CDROM Fixes to OpenSolaris sd driver

Wine raw CDROM Driver

KDE 3.4 when it's past beta

Oh, and yes, I'd better not forget the day job!

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

HP Selling for Sun

Seems Carly is selling Solaris now.

Interesting piece was meant to create Fear Uncertainty and Doubt.Odd how Carly mentions Janus and declares it a liability, seems to me she just advertised this capability for Sun. Also HP paints a nice picture of Suns beginning position in the x86 market because well, Sun *IS* beginning in this market. Seems HP paints a nice upside picture for Sun.

Fact 1: Solaris on SPARC and Solaris on x86 are not binary compatible. [4]

Well Duh! They are two different CPUs so its pretty obvious they won't be binary compatible but then QEMU does run under Solaris so it might not be long. They are however largely source compatible, Endian issues and assembly code aside. One would guess that HPs products Linux, Tru64 and HP/UX aren't all that binary compatible either particularly when they run on different CPUs. I'd wager they aren't quite source compatible either. Wasn't there's something about people in glass houses ...

Fact 2: Sun’s proprietary Solaris on x86 (Opteron® and Xeon®) has not been widely accepted by the marketplace. It has just 0.25% share of total x86 units shipped world wide. [6]

Well this is also true and freely admitted by Sun but the last x86 system sold by Sun IIRC was the Sun 386i. Now Sun has a whole lineup of x86 products battling head to head with HP. Watch out Carly. Not only that but with OpenSolaris its all going to be Open. After that Solaris can never die. What's the bet there's a community port to HP Itanium/Alpha/PA-RISC Hardware looming someplace in the future. Might be better than HP/UX Carly - make a good replacement.

Fact 3: Sun’s so-called Linux compatibility on Solaris x86, Project Janus, requires Linux bits to work.

Um yes also true, pity I can't add the same bits to my nice proprietary HP/UX box for the same purpose, Interestingly, Under Solaris I have a nice container to run linux apps in a nice isolated virtual machine, instead of my needing to buy yet another HP box to get Linux + HP/UX in my shop

Fact 4: Sun needs to promote Solaris. With Linux, Sun is a minor player in with no differentiating value and has just 2.3% worldwide revenue share. [13]

Dunno about these numbers but I think it depends on what stats you look at and whether you consider Solaris is in competition with linux. It's not, Sun are not in competition with Linux they're in competition with Redhat. Since when does Redhat=Linux.
When it comes down to it Sun don't really care what you run on the hardware they sell to you. Could be Windows for all they care and Sun actually sell Linux if you want it.
It does seem to indicate though there is just a little upside to Suns market in this segment. I wonder what the Unix server Fortune 500 stats look like for x86 and Sparc combined. Seems to me also that Solaris with Zones, ZFS and D-Trace and trusted Solaris, provides a pretty good differentiating factor to HPs Also-Ran Linux strategy.

Lets now suggest that OpenSolaris Ports to Power, Itanium and MIPS we could see Solaris running on all of SGI's, IBM's and HP's premium hardware. Personally I think HP should give up now, Sell HP/UX and True64 to Sun (well after all they're no longer interested in it) and contract Sun to provide their commercial OSes from here on in. It's real interesting to note, by the way, that with the advent of OpenSolaris HP could theoretically create their own Solaris distro, create their own line of AMD/64 servers complete with an industrial strength OS all thanks to Sun Microsystems... C'mon Carly, the games up.

Fact 5: Switching from SPARC to x86, Sun now struggles to become a relevant player for x86 systems.

I don't see a lot of evidence for this. I wouldn't say that Sun is switching, rather more "Embracing" what is to become the dominant technology AMD/64. Does HP/UX or Tru/64 operate in this market or just HP's "also-ran" linux offering, how exactly do HP differentiate from Redhat in this market. I would say with recent announcements that HP is "Switching" to Itanium and Linux and trying to drag their entire customer base along

Fact 6: Linus Torvalds was quoted as saying, "Solaris/x86 is a joke" [17]

Nice little one-liner there, but, well, yes he did say that, an unfortunate off the cuff remark. If you look at the context of that article Linus said he had not looked recently at Solaris and simply pointed out that Solaris is irrelevant to Linux Kernel development, and so it is, Linus has his own priorities. I wonder if they're the same as HP's.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

OpenSolaris Lives

Ben Rookwood another member of the OpenSolaris Piot team, get's a deserved first as he builds the worlds first non-Sun build of Solaris. Ben Built Solaris targeted at x86 AMD/64 and has it successfully running. and less than 24 hours later announced a successful UltraSparc build. Way to go Ben.

To take a look go to, meanwhile the OpenSolaris web site is now open for buisiness at and does Sun mean business !

Note that the source that Ben used is not yet public and is expected Q2 2005 after the legalities are tied down. It is nice to know that, it's real, it works, and it's coming real soon!