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After the Sun (Microsystems) Sets, the Real Stories Come Out

timothy posted about 5 months ago | from the best-logo-too dept.

Sun Microsystems 166

Tekla Perry (3034735) writes "Former Sun executives and employees gathered in Mountain View, Calif., in May, and out came the 'real' stories. Andy Bechtolsheim reports that Steve Jobs wasn't the only one who set out to copy the Xerox Parc Alto; John Gage wonders why so many smart engineers couldn't figure out that it would have been better to buy tables instead of kneepads for the folks doing computer assembly; Vinod Khosla recalls the plan to 'rip-off Sun technology,' and more."

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Fire Timothy (0)

oldhack (1037484) | about 5 months ago | (#47137337)

See subject.

Re:Fire Timothy (1)

monkey999 (3597657) | about 5 months ago | (#47137835)

Don't like Slashdot Beta? Try Pipedot.org, technocrat.net, or SoylentNews.org.

Technocrat is pretty much dead now. I like squte.com, which mirrors everything to Usenet, so it can't 'do a Beta' in future.

Re:Fire Timothy (1)

ArchieBunker (132337) | about 4 months ago | (#47138945)

Pipedot is nearly dead too. SoylentNews seems to be doing alright.

Re: Fire Timothy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47139823)

No, pipedot.org is growing quite nicely. It's a great site, check it out.

Re:Fire Timothy (1)

oldhack (1037484) | about 5 months ago | (#47138537)

My bad - I shouldn't urge to cut off one's livelihood (although slashdot "editorship" can't be a day job, can't it?).

New insight to old events. (2)

Eravnrekaree (467752) | about 5 months ago | (#47137347)

I thought the sun had already set on Sun long ago, when Oracle bought. Doesn't it still exist, though, to a degree, in the divisions and products that continue inside Oracle.

In its last days, the contributions of OpenOffice seem to have been most beneficial for providing real user control and freedom, hence not being locked into proprietary, centralized software development where users of software could not see or control any of the code that controls their computer.

Re:New insight to old events. (2)

davester666 (731373) | about 5 months ago | (#47138335)

Sun exists after the sun sets, in well, the same way the sun still exists after the sun sets. It goes out of your line of sight.

DRTFA (-1)

Richy_T (111409) | about 5 months ago | (#47137363)

Don't Read the Fine Article.

Very pointless and uninteresting.

Re:DRTFA (5, Interesting)

Spazmania (174582) | about 5 months ago | (#47137565)

'' Alan Butler, employee number 530, who at age 18 was once Sunâ(TM)s youngest employee, mused somewhat wistfully: âoeWe should have charged $1 a seat for every Java licenseâ and that would have generated billions in cash annually, perhaps saving the company. âoe ''

Fool. You'd have made about $300. With all of Java's other early problems, a price tag would have ended it before it could gain any momentum.

Re:DRTFA (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47137679)

Agreed.

And don't post with Beta. It mangles all the non-ASCII characters.

Re:DRTFA (3, Interesting)

mooingyak (720677) | about 5 months ago | (#47137695)

Alan Butler, employee number 530, who at age 18 was once Sun’s youngest employee, mused somewhat wistfully: “We should have charged $1 a seat for every Java license” and that would have generated billions in cash annually, perhaps saving the company.

Fool. You'd have made about $300. With all of Java's other early problems, a price tag would have ended it before it could gain any momentum.

Pretty much the same thought I had -- I was wondering what technology would occupy java's current space if they had done that.

Re:DRTFA (1)

Richy_T (111409) | about 5 months ago | (#47137953)

Flash on steroids most likely as it displaced Java in a lot of areas anyway.

Re:DRTFA (1)

Dogtanian (588974) | about 4 months ago | (#47141109)

With all of Java's other early problems, a price tag would have ended it before it could gain any momentum.

Pretty much the same thought I had -- I was wondering what technology would occupy java's current space if they had done that.

Flash on steroids most likely as it displaced Java in a lot of areas anyway.

I always thought that ultimately, Flash all but filled the role that Java Applets were supposed to meet on the browser, but didn't.

FWIW, I'm not sure I'd blame Flash for the failure of Applets, as by the time it started to become more than a simple animation player, the latter had already had plenty of time to take off, but never had.

I suspect that this was because Java Applets were too heavyweight and slow to start at the time, whereas Flash was more in sync with what computers were capable of back then.

Of course, it's possible that in the absence of Flash, Applets might have become more popular as computers grew more powerful, but essentially I'd say they weren't so much displaced as never having succeeded on their own merits. Yes, there was (and still is, to a limited extent) some use of browser-based Java, but it never dominated like it was meant to. Flash may be in decline now, but it's enjoyed a decade- if not 15 years- as a major success.

Not that I'm saying that Java was a failure, just that- ironically- the aspect that gained *by far* the most hype at its mid-90s launch was the one it ultimately failed in.

Re:DRTFA (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47137747)

Well, $1 from every Android phone would have been a lot. But Google probably would have just used something else instead.

I can't say I ever really wanted Java for anything, once I got a feel for what it was - just plain terrible.

Re:DRTFA (1)

fractoid (1076465) | about 4 months ago | (#47140095)

Java itself was alright, the problem was the lack of discipline as they worked on the Java API. Up to version 1.2 it was still pretty good. After that it just got bloated with redundant crap.

Re:DRTFA (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 5 months ago | (#47137933)

With all of Java's other early problems, a price tag would have ended it before it could gain any momentum.

One cluster fuck, added or subtracted from this industry, wouldn't have changed a damn thing. Java the religion was a problem, but those people have been silenced by reality. We'd still be dealing with MySQL, Ruby, ROR, PHP, python etc etc. It's like people don't bother learning what's there before setting out/making up their minds about everything.

Still better then a digital mono-culture. Which would be even worse, we'd still be stuck writing JCL.

Re:DRTFA (4, Funny)

Richy_T (111409) | about 5 months ago | (#47137965)

Java: Why explain everything you need to know about what went wrong in a one line error message when a three page stack trace can leave you totally confused instead?

Re: DRTFA (1)

CockMonster (886033) | about 5 months ago | (#47138183)

I see you've never had a parse a compilation error when using boost (C++)

Re: DRTFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47138247)

Fool! You can fix such errors only by trying to reduce the complexity of the template invocation at fault. That way lies C code, and therefore it must not be done. To achieve enlightenment, you must accept that C++ templates are only those who can write a complete program from scratch, in one sitting, in one translation unit, and for precisely the compilers you are using right now. And then end up using them in your application over a very restricted set of types which means you didn't need them in the first place.

Re: DRTFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47138605)

I see you've never had a parse a compilation error when using boost (C++)

That's why sensible people don't use that $#!+.

Re: DRTFA (1)

Richy_T (111409) | about 4 months ago | (#47138851)

Actually, I have not. But compilation errors are not my problem anyway. Runtime errors are and I am not a Java developer.

Re: DRTFA (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about 4 months ago | (#47139933)

But compilation errors are not my problem anyway. Runtime errors are

The difference being...?

My point is with a suffiiently powerful language, you have a programmable compiler and can run almost arbitrary code at compile time. This means that compile-time errors are effectively run-time errors of a language run at compile time.

To make things a little entertining, the C++ compiler effectively gives you a stack trace with the entire contents of the stack and parameters to called "functions". In an odd syntax.

Re:DRTFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47138631)

If you're confused by a stack trace, then you should go back and repeat your undergrad.

I'd take a "three page stack trace" over a "one line error message" any day. At least then I know where the bug was and what type of exception was thrown.

BTW... you can attach messages to exceptions, so your dichotomy is false.

Re:DRTFA (1)

Richy_T (111409) | about 4 months ago | (#47138875)

Do you think statistical physics, astronomy or quantum thermodynamics would most help?

When the one line error message tells you that your SQL connection has failed because the login or password was incorrect (typically nicely also telling you the username used and the host it attempted to connect to and usually the driver used also) and the stack trace simply tells you the there was an "SQL Exception" followed by irrelevancy after irrelevancy, I'll take the message and check the password used.

But perhaps I'm being unfair. It may just be JBoss or the developer who coded it but many other languages give you useful info by default.

Re:DRTFA (1)

_Shad0w_ (127912) | about 4 months ago | (#47140165)

I don't know how different Java is to .NET in terms of exceptions, but with .NET you get an SQLException thrown, but the Message property would just contain something succinct like "Incorrect username or password". There are also a properties giving you access to the actual error codes from the SQL Server. You can also still look at the StackTrace property to get the full stack trace if you want.

Re:DRTFA (1)

jnana (519059) | about 4 months ago | (#47139451)

Agreed that a stack trace is much more helpful, assuming you have access to the source code.

Re:DRTFA (1)

jkflying (2190798) | about 4 months ago | (#47139913)

Because "Segfault: 0xFCDA83B40" is *soooo* much better.

Re:DRTFA (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47138017)

Java the religion was a problem, but those people have been silenced by reality.

When Java started, it was competing against VisualBasic and a lousy version of Visual C++. And Microsoft looked like they were going to own both the server and the desktop, with UNIX and Linux effectively limited to plain C. Furthermore, most people who advocated Java at the time (including me) were fully aware of its numerous technical shortcomings. But Sun had promised to go through with ANSI/ISO standardization, and we had hoped we could fix many of its problems during that process, just like people had done for ANSI C. Since Sun had generally been decent about open source and community involvement, its withdrawal from the standards processes and subsequent proprietary stance on Java came as a complete surprise.

It's a shame that Java didn't turn out to be better. But Java has its uses, even if it is just keeping people who shouldn't be programming from interfering with people who do real work.

Re:DRTFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47139035)

Given the choice between Java, PHP, and Python; I'll stick with Java.

Re:DRTFA (1)

Richy_T (111409) | about 5 months ago | (#47137949)

That was my thought too. Though 300 might be generous.

Re:DRTFA (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47137957)

Fool. You'd have made about $300. With all of Java's other early problems, a price tag would have ended it before it could gain any momentum.

It's quite likely exactly this thinking that played a big part in killing Sun. They always made massive contributions and then screwed up saying something stupid against open source. Even with some of the most major FOSS packages coming from Sun they often achieved an image as a big corporate ant-freedom group. Microsoft, which is actively working to destroy open source all the time often comes across better. Look at the way they carefully licensed ZFS so it didn't go into Linux. Look at how they completely failed to get OpenSolaris to take off. A real shame.

Sounds like the open source people destroyed Sun (0)

mbkennel (97636) | about 4 months ago | (#47139015)


It's the no good deed goes unpunished file. Sun does a bunch more for open source than any other major public for profit company at the time. Geeks shit all over them for not doing everything up to a Communist-sympathizing FSF thinks is necessary.

Meanwhile, Microsoft and Oracle act like asses and thrive on aggressively proprietary and expensive software.

Re:Sounds like the open source people destroyed Su (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47139573)

Meanwhile, Microsoft and Oracle act like asses and thrive on aggressively proprietary and expensive software.

There are hundreds, even thousands of other companies which are taking the proprietary additude and not getting far. Most of them simply fail. The Microsoft, Oracle and SAP spaces are taken. Sun could never have beaten Microsoft in the "be evil" category.

SUN had a real chance to take RedHat's space from a much stronger base with Oracle's hardware business and Microsoft's government business. They could even have taken part of Google's space. This needed active and open cooperation.

Re:DRTFA (1)

mikael (484) | about 4 months ago | (#47139095)

They were in two minds about open source. On the one hand it kept Microsoft at bay, on the other hand, open source projects had cut into their revenue in the past. In the days of "UNIX prices", companies could charge for printed copies of system manuals, development kits, compilers, user and CPU core licenses

Re:DRTFA (4, Funny)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 5 months ago | (#47138213)

Just $1? They should have asked $100 per license and they would have earned hundreds of billions in cash anually!
Heck, why not ask $1mln per license; they'd have more money than exists in the world.

Reminds me of something that happened while I was waiting in line at a DIY store. Some guy had two coupons for 20%-off, two for 15%-off and he was demanding 70% off in total. Why didn't he just wait until he had two more 15%-off coupons? I swear to this actually happened; I didn't even spice it up.

Re:DRTFA (3, Funny)

arth1 (260657) | about 4 months ago | (#47140511)

Reminds me of something that happened while I was waiting in line at a DIY store. Some guy had two coupons for 20%-off, two for 15%-off and he was demanding 70% off in total. Why didn't he just wait until he had two more 15%-off coupons? I swear to this actually happened; I didn't even spice it up.

The inability of a large part of the population to understand junior high maths and that ratios (like percentages) are multiplied instead of added is one of the reasons why so many coupons state "may not be combined with any other offer or coupon". It's not that they want to limit your savings, but because quite frankly, too many people should never have graduated from the primary school system, and are likely to throw a fit at the register, just like your guy did.

Another reason for the same common restriction is that even among those who do understand that percentages are multiplied there are a lot of people who didn't even learn the commutative laws in school.
I was in line behind a lady who complained that the clerk took the 10% off coupon off before the 40% off coupon, and demanded that they revert it and ring the purchase up again with the 40% first. The idiot behind the counter complied and then when the amount came to the same blamed the register and store policies.
I so wanted to put both of them out of my misery.

Re:DRTFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47140843)

The inability of a large part of the population to understand junior high maths and that ratios (like percentages) are multiplied instead of added is one of the reasons why so many coupons state "may not be combined with any other offer or coupon".

Mathematically you're correct, but most coupons are ambiguous about how cumulative discounts should be applied. Since the first coupon is applied on the base amount, it's not unreasonable to expect the second coupon also to apply on the base amount.

It's not that they want to limit your savings, but because quite frankly, too many people should never have graduated from the primary school system, and are likely to throw a fit at the register, just like your guy did.

Actually, the coupons are there to entice you to spend money on things you might otherwise not have bought. They don't want you to arrive at the register with a whole stack of combinable coupons, and spend no money at all.

Facebook (3, Informative)

Dan East (318230) | about 5 months ago | (#47137417)

Facebook intentionally left a few Sun signs up when it took over the former Sun campus in Menlo Park to remind people of what can happen to a company

Let's hope Facebook's successor doesn't bother doing them the courtesy. After all, at least Sun left a legacy of something tangible behind.

Re:Facebook (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47137467)

Merrill Lynch

Re:Facebook (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47137903)

>After all, at least Sun left a legacy of something tangible behind.

*An object lesson about what happens when you go up against both Intel's massive warchest & processor technology and Linux's zero cost Unix at the same time?
*The COBOL of the 21st century, namely Java?
*A case study on why the CEO should focus on running his own company instead of obsessing over Microsoft?
*A group of executives who don't know the difference between servers and routers? ("The network is the computer"...not.)
*A soon to be forgotten processor architecture?

Pray tell; we are all agog.

Scott McNealy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47137971)

Most of that was Scott McNealy's poor direction and his ego.

Standing on stage and comparing his dog to Gates - adding absolutely nothing to the presentation - doesn't exactly instill confidence or give one a sense of professionalism.

Re:Facebook (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47138407)

>After all, at least Sun left a legacy of something tangible behind.

*An object lesson about what happens when you go up against both Intel's massive warchest & processor technology and Linux's zero cost Unix at the same time?
*The COBOL of the 21st century, namely Java?
*A case study on why the CEO should focus on running his own company instead of obsessing over Microsoft?
*A group of executives who don't know the difference between servers and routers? ("The network is the computer"...not.)
*A soon to be forgotten processor architecture?

Pray tell; we are all agog.

Oh, and let's not forget their ham-handed and occasionally schizophrenic attempts to be friendly to open source. The /. archive is littered with articles about that

Re:Facebook (1)

Rhymoid (3568547) | about 4 months ago | (#47140059)

A group of executives who don't know the difference between servers and routers? ("The network is the computer"...not.)

"The network is the computer" should probably be interpreted like Plan 9 from Bell Labs did (and to a much lesser extent, UNIX), where everything (including processes) is a file and network-transparency is key.

Next time, before attacking people on sentences you don't understand, inform yourself.

Uh? (2)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 5 months ago | (#47137525)

So the Sun workstation being inspired by the Alto is "the real story coming out"? I'd rather call it "slow news".

Sun Type 5c Keyboard (2)

Mister Liberty (769145) | about 5 months ago | (#47137535)

Unsurpassed.
I still use it, hooked up to a self made PS2 adapter, to my Intel box running Linux.
Why?
It has keybeep!
I know it's a security issue.
But what the heck.
I need the audible feedback.

Re:Sun Type 5c Keyboard (2)

TeknoHog (164938) | about 5 months ago | (#47137991)

Unsurpassed.

But will it survive a swordfight against a Model M?

Sun 4 Keyboard (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47138003)

Another great keyboard. When someone pissed me off or says or does something stupid, I just smack them with the Sun 4 keyboard, then hit the caps lock key to fix it. A great keyboard.

Re:Sun 4 Keyboard (5, Funny)

PPH (736903) | about 4 months ago | (#47139147)

A good keyboard should be sturdy enough to beat a man to death with.

And then use to write his obituary.

Re:Sun 4 Keyboard (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47139695)

A good keyboard should be sturdy enough to beat a man to death with.

Sexist! A keyboard should be equally good for beating anyone to death, regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation.

Re:Sun Type 5c Keyboard (2)

Misagon (1135) | about 5 months ago | (#47138361)

The innards are regular Fujitsu rubber dome. Nothing special. Quite mushy and horrible to type on.

But it is sure one of the most beautiful keyboards in the world. I love the colour scheme and font choices. It sure has style.
The attention to detail, the size of it and the layout feels professional - this is a workstation keyboard indeed.
I bought one just to have to look at.

Re:Sun Type 5c Keyboard (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 4 months ago | (#47139005)

That's inspired me to dust a couple off and get them out of storage. I've always used them in noisy places so didn't even know about the keybeep.

Sunset Story: First Sun 1 to XOC (5, Interesting)

theNAM666 (179776) | about 5 months ago | (#47137595)

Roger Gregory tells a good story of making the first private (non-government entity) order from Sun as COO of Project Xanadu (XOC).

In Palo Alto, Roger hears of the Sun 1 via word-of-mouth and trade journals, raises the cash, fills out the form and sends in his order. And invoice comes back, with instructions to pay via bank (wire) transfer and an estimated delivery date.

About a month after the date, Roger and others are eagerly awaiting the machine, which has not arrived.

Roger gets on the phone and calls the number for Sun in Berkeley. Bill Joy answers the phone and, after some back-and-forth, says he will need to transfer Roger to the “accounting department.”

Bill sets down the phone and it becomes clear to Roger, who can hear the background noise, that Sun likely only has *one* phone line at this point. Shortly, Vinod Khosla picks up the phone with a "Hey, Roger!"

After about three minutes of chat, Vinod explains “Oh! We were wondering where that $40,000 in our account came from!” and promises to get the machine to XOC ASAP.

The Sun 1 shows up at XOC’s offices about two weeks later, as I remember. The machine is still in Roger’s basement last I knew.

We attached it to the Internet and ran a simple webserver for a short period in mid-’99 or so. Around that time, Bill stopped by for breakfast and offered a six-figure sum to buy the machine back, which Roger declined.

Here's another real story (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47137639)

We were well on the way to computerizing the planet and miniaturization was already begun before NASA was told to put a man on the Moon.

Deal with it.

License Java (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 5 months ago | (#47137673)

Here is one person's plan:

Alan Butler, employee number 530, who at age 18 was once Sun’s youngest employee, mused somewhat wistfully: “We should have charged $1 a seat for every Java license” and that would have generated billions in cash annually, perhaps saving the company. “There's a fine line between doing good for the community and doing too good.”

I'm not sure how that would have worked.

Re:License Java (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | about 5 months ago | (#47137727)

Well, On one hand $1 isn't much and would have prevented Sun from having such a stupid idea as applets. But I doubt it would have been as widely adpoted. Without the ability to run Java on Linux now, I think Java would be dead.

Re:License Java (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about 5 months ago | (#47138381)

And a $1 fee prevents you from running Java on Linux how? Just because Linux users refuse to pay for anything? Not an actual fact, but most slashdot fanboys won't pay for shit, so I'm guessing thats your life of reasoning?

Re:License Java (3, Insightful)

Paradise Pete (33184) | about 5 months ago | (#47138689)

The difference between free and $1 is enormous. Not just to Linux users, to humans in general. Free is hypnotic. $1 is just a low price.

Re:License Java (1)

petermgreen (876956) | about 4 months ago | (#47138923)

Also once you start having pay for licenses you have to start tracking said pay for licenses, even if they are so cheap that the license cost itself is a rounding error the cost of tracking those licenses, ensuring software can only be downloaded/used by people who have licenses and so-on often is not.

Re:License Java (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | about 4 months ago | (#47139261)

No, you misunderstood $1.00 wouldn't stop me from paying for a license to Java, if it were widely used and a viable programming language.

But at $1.00, it would prevent me from trying a new language that wasn't very interesting or used by many people.

At $1.00, it never would have been the success it was.

Re:License Java (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47138311)

I'm sure how it would have worked. We wouldn't have had Sun (now Oracle) Java. As anyone who works in IT for a company with a managed infrastructure knows, Java as it has been implemented absolutely sucks. All kinds of security updates. Update now or your machine will get owned. Update now and many of your critical applications (such as banking, government tax and royalty programs, etc.) will break. Wonderful. You can't update and you can't not update. It isn't just once in a while either. It is every damn update. The world would be a better place if we could go back in time and convince Alan Butler's then employer to go with the ridiculous licensing plan. Making people pay for a runtime license would have been a wonderful way to prevent adoption of this complete abomination...

Escape from MicroSun (3, Informative)

AtariDatacenter (31657) | about 5 months ago | (#47137703)

Some additional nostalgia from 1997...

Escape from MicroSun [ifiction.org] (aka "Friday Afternoon") is a text adventure (written by a Sun Microsystems employee) where you play the part of a programmer for "MicroSun" and have to escape the office by 6pm for a date.

Re:Escape from MicroSun (1)

LynnwoodRooster (966895) | about 4 months ago | (#47139553)

"escape the office by 6pm for a date" - not just fiction, but comedic fantasy!

Re:Escape from MicroSun (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47139847)

"not just fiction, but comedic fantasy!"

      No, play motivation, as that's the only kind of date(geek fantasy) he could ever hope to have while at Sun.

Cool Technology (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47137893)

Facebook intentionally left a few Sun signs up when it took over the former Sun campus in Menlo Park to remind people of what can happen to a company) the people inside will still be working on cool technology.

Oh god! Comparing those two companies is like comparing McDonald's with a five star French restaurant.

SUN created cutting edge hardware. Invented new technologies. Actually added value to society, the economy and science.

Facebook is a dipshit consumer data pimping and advertising site that not only adds nothing to society but has actually hurting society by making its users even more isolated and keeping them in front of the modern Boob Toob. People are using Facebook as a substitute for real human interaction.

I'd be proud to have worked for SUN and I'd be ashamed to work for Facebook.

I hope every programmer, developer or JavaScript "engineer" that walks past that sign looks at it and asks themselves, "Why the fuck am I wasting my life at this worthless place contributing nothing of value to the World?"

Re:Cool Technology (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47138071)

SUN created cutting edge hardware. Invented new technologies. Actually added value to society, the economy and science.

Sun ripped off open source software and made it proprietary. They lied about making Java an open standard. They threatened open source.

I can't think of a single good technology that originated at Sun. Neither can Scott McNealy apparently when you look at his ridiculous list:

http://www.zdnet.com/blog/btl/... [zdnet.com]

Facebook may be a vapid pusher of advertising, but at least they haven't produced crap like NFS or Java.

Re:Cool Technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47138241)

You mean the two technologies still in use and powering a lot of the world (NFS and Java).

Perhaps you can point us to where we can find your far superior NFS replacement?

Re:Cool Technology (0)

Enry (630) | about 4 months ago | (#47138983)

NFS should have been killed off 10 years ago.

Re:Cool Technology (2)

Osgeld (1900440) | about 4 months ago | (#47139611)

but it hasnt, there is a reason for that

Re:Cool Technology (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about 4 months ago | (#47140601)

What is the alternative for it?

Re:Cool Technology (1)

Enry (630) | about 4 months ago | (#47140619)

That's why it hasn't been killed off yet. There's plenty of alternatives out there but the implementations are either really difficult or aren't open source.

Re:Cool Technology (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 5 months ago | (#47138579)

Unix was already proprietary at the time. The BSD extensions weren't but it took a long time to split apart the BSD portions from the AT&T portions.

Sun added lots to computing, more than Google has by far.

Re:Cool Technology (4, Informative)

bheading (467684) | about 4 months ago | (#47141129)

I can't think of a single good technology that originated at Sun

ZFS, dtrace ?

Re:Cool Technology (2)

BitZtream (692029) | about 5 months ago | (#47138397)

SUN created cutting edge hardware. Invented new technologies. Actually added value to society, the economy and science.

So does McDonalds. It may not be in food quality, but logistics and real estate are McDonalds strong points at this stage of the game.

Just because you don't have the slightest idea what it takes to make an organization like McDonalds work doesn't mean you're qualified to make silly statements about how worthy their contributions to the world and existence are.

Re:Cool Technology (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | about 4 months ago | (#47139623)

cheap shit food on cheap shit land and cheap shit advertising

I would say the comparison is fair

Re:Cool Technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47140203)

I don't think so . MCDonalds actually has a product that some peoeple want. People only have facebook accounts, because other fools have fallen for it, and are too lazy to change.

Re:Cool Technology (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47138771)

Research at Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/publications

Open source at Facebook: https://code.facebook.com/projects/

Your assertion that Facebook does not provide any external value overall is stronger than the evidence suggests. I would be less quick to condemn without knowing.

Re:Cool Technology (1)

shoor (33382) | about 4 months ago | (#47138939)

Despite being on the Internet for a pretty long time (I made my first post to Usenet in 1984) I only have a hazy notion of what Facebook is. I've heard about it, and in googling and stuff actually been on Facebook pages of some sort I think. I say this to establish my credentials as NOT being a Facebook fanboy.

Nevertheless, I've heard that in other countries when there were revolutions and stuff going on, people used Facebook to rally and organize. So give the devil his due. (Or am I getting Facebook mixed up with some other social media thingy?)

Re:Cool Technology (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about 4 months ago | (#47140589)

Seems you don't understand facebook then.
FB is great for (semi) closed communities to organize events and promote them.
I for my part practice Aikido, nearly all my facebook 'friends' are practicing Aikido, too. Or are teachers and organize seminars.
Promoting seminars is easy with facebook and straight forward. That is basically the only thing I do with FB except sending birthday wishes and commenting here and there on a photo.

I did a contract there briefly (5, Interesting)

Greyfox (87712) | about 5 months ago | (#47138143)

There was a guy one cube over who apparently did nothing other than talk on the phone all day about how he was a certified process black belt. It took a 12 page form, including your diffs, to unlock version control for a check in. And the project I was on did all their user authentication (in java) using static classes, because they didn't want to be bothered with instantiating classes. Worked great until two users tried to log in at the same time.

Shortly after the user authentication problem I got stuck behind a group of their engineers walking to the cafeteria, having a loud discussion about the poor quality of the Linux kernel code. Having just seen some of the coding going in in Sun, it was pretty hard not to tell them scornfully that I'd seen Sun code and they didn't have any room to be talking about anyone else's. Admittedly our project was after Sun was hacking up blood. They sold a few months after I left.

It was interesting to see the difference between IBM and Sun. IBM had process, but they didn't let it get in the way of their work. At IBM you always felt like someone actually knew the big picture and every product was made to be sold to customers. Sun had more of a underwear gnome business plan of making cool stuff and somehow money would magically appear.

Re:I did a contract there briefly (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47138823)

In 1997, I also contracted at Sun. And I was already working with Linux. I told the team I was working with at the time that Linux was going to eat Sun's lunch within 10 years given it's continued improvement, growth and community. They laughed. Sun only lasted 3 years longer than my prediction and was hobbled badly by 2003.

Re:I did a contract there briefly (5, Interesting)

Greyfox (87712) | about 4 months ago | (#47139307)

Intel took all the workstation vendors by surprise, but it was their own fault. The prevailing attitude at IBM while they were doing OS/2 was that the PC was a toy and if you wanted to do REAL multitasking, you bought an AIX workstation at a minimum. They were convinced that Windows wasn't going to go far and were positioning OS/2 as a glorified terminal to their larger machines. And it was actually pretty damn good at that, but I digress.

So there we are in 93 or 94, the 386 just taking off, OS/2 and Windows are still pretty much children's toys compared to UNIX and mainframe OSes, the only commercial Intel UNIX is $1200 for the base OS and the fuckers want another $1200 for a C compiler, you can take your chances with a bunch of BSD tapes and I'd just heard about this nifty new Linux thing coming on the scene.

Almost overnight PCs weren't toys anymore and most of the UNIX workstation vendors are going down in flames. In the late '90's I attend a Linux con in Denver. SGI's there, and their marketroid is telling us their company's betting on Windows NT and storage solutions. I didn't have the heart to ask him why I should buy a storage solution from him when I could get one from IBM and know they'd still be there in 5 years. A few months later, SGI declared bankruptcy. Now my phone's more powerful than their old machines.

Of all the old UNIX workstation vendors, I think IBM is the only one left. SGI's still around, of course, they have an office within walking distance of my house. Dunno what they do these days. At least those fuckers who wanted $1200 for a C compiler also went out of business. Damn I hated working with their UNIX. You couldn't wipe your ass without them wanting to charge you for it. That very first slakware distribution that I downloaded onto 26 floppies was better than anything they'd ever done.

Re:I did a contract there briefly (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47139519)

Of all the old UNIX workstation vendors, I think IBM is the only one left. SGI's still around, of course, they have an office within walking distance of my house. Dunno what they do these days. At least those fuckers who wanted $1200 for a C compiler also went out of business. Damn I hated working with their UNIX. You couldn't wipe your ass without them wanting to charge you for it. That very first slakware distribution that I downloaded onto 26 floppies was better than anything they'd ever done.

Technically, HP is still selling HP-UX. I wouldn't honestly recommend it, but it does exist and you could buy it if you really wanted. They even still use the Itanium processor, just for extra futility.

Re:I did a contract there briefly (2)

Phroggy (441) | about 4 months ago | (#47139885)

SGI's still around, of course, they have an office within walking distance of my house. Dunno what they do these days.

The company currently calling itself "SGI" [sgi.com] was originally called "Rackable Systems" before they bought SGI's assets in 2009.

Re:I did a contract there briefly (1)

dkf (304284) | about 4 months ago | (#47140063)

So there we are in 93 or 94, the 386 just taking off, OS/2 and Windows are still pretty much children's toys compared to UNIX and mainframe OSes, the only commercial Intel UNIX is $1200 for the base OS and the fuckers want another $1200 for a C compiler, you can take your chances with a bunch of BSD tapes and I'd just heard about this nifty new Linux thing coming on the scene.

At that time there was 386BSD but they were tearing themselves apart for some reason which I never bothered to get to the bottom of (I think the corpse of that became FreeBSD, but I could be wrong). Linux was not as polished at all, but did a few things reasonably. In particular, it had shared libraries, greatly reducing the memory requirements at a time when memory was expensive, and it had built in floating-point coprocessor emulation. (This was back when programming on DOS/Windows still meant using a segmented memory model or futzing around with a DOSExtender. Linux's flat model — heck, all Unixes' flat model — was much nicer, with far fewer contortions in the code to deal with squeezing things into 64kB blocks.)

That very first slakware distribution that I downloaded onto 26 floppies was better than anything they'd ever done.

Good memories...

Re:I did a contract there briefly (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 4 months ago | (#47140317)

Of all the old UNIX workstation vendors, I think IBM is the only one left. SGI's still around, of course, they have an office within walking distance of my house. Dunno what they do these days. At least those fuckers who wanted $1200 for a C compiler also went out of business.

Didn't sun want up to $1000 for their compiler for SPARC? I don't remember what we paid for it back in the Slowlaris 2.5 days, but I know it was plenty. I presume the x86 guys you are badmouthing were SCO? Their Unix was shockingly bad. There was also BSDi, though, SCO wasn't actually all alone. :)

Re:I did a contract there briefly (1)

Greyfox (87712) | about 4 months ago | (#47140563)

Yeah SCO. IIRC they even broke nroff/troff out to a billable component and wanted something for that. I think I sat down and worked out that it'd cost over $10,000 to build fully functional UNIX system. I was never involved in ordering a Solaris system, so I didn't know how the billing for other UNIX systems worked. Most of their clients seemed to wise up within a couple of years.

I forgot about HP and HP/UX, which someone else mentioned here. I guess they're still around, seemingly despite their best efforts to drive their company into the ground in a flaming wreck. The only place I ever saw HP/UX was while working at IBM building printer drivers. It was almost as annoying as SCO to work with.

Re:I did a contract there briefly (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 4 months ago | (#47140595)

The only place I ever saw HP/UX was while working at IBM building printer drivers. It was almost as annoying as SCO to work with.

The only place I ever saw HPSUX was on that 8-way Itanic that I saw used to replace a 4-way alphaserver because it was required for continued support. I set up IPSEC on it. The examples in the documentation are backwards. Once I switched which end got which commands, the commands worked. On my way there I discovered that every OSS component they had pulled in was disgustingly, dangerously out of date.

Re:I did a contract there briefly (3, Funny)

HockeyPuck (141947) | about 4 months ago | (#47140909)

Damn I hated working with [SGI] UNIX. You couldn't wipe your ass without them wanting to charge you for it.

Guess you never worked with Banyan Vines... you couldn't do anything without a hardware dongle attached to the parallel port on the back. If you wanted to enable multiple features, you daisy chained multiple dongles off each other. I recall seeing servers with 5-6 dongles hanging off the same parallel port like some sort of unicorn horn.

Re:I did a contract there briefly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47140313)

I had a contract at AT&T in '93 and '94. They had all the UNIX experience in the world and used almost no Windows. My manager used nroff to prepare documents. AT&T had just bought NCR and the Windows virus was spreading from the top down, with the idea that NT, I guess, was the future. When a telecommunications company buys a cash register company and lets it direct IT decisions, you know it's on the way down... Anyhow with considerable complaint and loss of money the staff was retrained with Windows, where "retrained" means "got used to not being able to do things that used to be easy". Early in 1994 I installed Linux and ran around showing it to people at AT&T. A few engineers were excited because it meant that they could keep on using UNIX on the Windows 386's that were being rolled out. I wonder if it was the same lack of imagination that had the Baby Bells switching over to Windows, when any one of them had the UNIX resources to easily support Linux and forstall all those security problems and licensing costs. And none of the Baby Bells would have needed to go it alone, since they had Bellcore as a united R&D resource.

Re:I did a contract there briefly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47140859)

And the project I was on did all their user authentication (in java) using static classes, because they didn't want to be bothered with instantiating classes. Worked great until two users tried to log in at the same time.

I see someone here doesn't know how to use the ThreadLocal class and/or synchronized blocks. Yes, their requirement was stupid, but that's no excuse to deliver broken code. Unless you left out critical details regarding additional requirements that would preclude the use of ThreadLocal and/or synchronized blocks, my code review of your implementation would have been quite harsh.

It's always tough when you give examples of your work while mocking someone else's. We have all had "failures of imagination" at times that result in poorly implemented "solutions".

I bought a Sun 4/260 brand spanking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47138251)

New for 800.00 From a TRW screw up.
It was awesome to be me for awhile.

Much like Bell Labs (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about 5 months ago | (#47138285)

Their contributions to modern society can never fully be comprehended.

rot in pieces (3, Insightful)

lophophore (4087) | about 5 months ago | (#47138441)

There were a lot of Sun people who celebrated the demise of Digital Equipment Corporation.

Well, what goes around comes around eventually. Sun got theirs, let them rot in pieces. They never made the impact that Digital did.

(and no, I'm not bitter about Sun. I'm waiting for HP's turn. It's coming...)

Re:rot in pieces (2)

mikael (484) | about 4 months ago | (#47139127)

HP already became a "box integrator" back in the 1990's when Microsoft went on their "UNIX is legacy, Windows NT is the future" rampage. HP caved in, dumped HP-UX, started packaging Windows workstations, and ended up competing against Dell and other companies.

Re:rot in pieces (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 4 months ago | (#47140329)

Well, what goes around comes around eventually. Sun got theirs, let them rot in pieces. They never made the impact that Digital did.

Are you sure about that? I've only worked in two places that had DEC machines and each one only had one of them, and it was only there because of inertia. When I was leaving one of them was being forced onto itanic because it was the upgrade path from their Alphaserver.

Re:rot in pieces (1)

lophophore (4087) | about 4 months ago | (#47141031)

You're not very old, are you?

Re:rot in pieces (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 4 months ago | (#47141157)

You're not very old, are you?

Nope. But while Digital clearly was a massive influence in its day, in Sun's day Digital spent most of its time whimpering in a corner trying to come up with a response to everyone and their mother eating their lunch with this new thing called UNIX that Digital was never very good at.

The name should have been "Standford and Sun" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47138859)

:D -ober

I'm so glad it died ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47139853)

Came into Sun through the MySQL acquisition. Working out of a country Sun was not legally present into. They decided to make me a contractor !! Because they couldn't just assign me to one of the other EU countries offices ! And as a "contractor" I was managing employees ! Not to mention that I had to beg for my salary each month because of my status ! What a royal mess!
And this setup was invented by people flying to all mysql offices in a private jet!
Not to mention how other "classic" Sun people hated us because their beloved management spent a cool $1b on us instead of giving it to them :) I almost got lynched in one of the Sun UK offices because of this.

So glad Oracle stepped in and disposed of our little pony and co !

These guys were capable of getting a perfectly working business and screwing it up in a very short time!

RIP Sun ! You WILL NOT be missed !
And it's a good thing fb keeps few Sun signs as a warning of believing you're something you're not!

How it felt to use a workstation, and Sun (3, Informative)

tarpitcod (822436) | about 4 months ago | (#47140583)

I'm going to have a go at explaining to readers how it 'felt' to use a workstation. I have a friend who experienced the same thing working on Apollo workstations too.

There was this feeling - I can best describe as being like what many people report they had as kids with home micros. You woke up and here was this awesome machine that just begged to be played with, have hardware added to etc. It's an awesome feeling of discovery and exploration and possibilities. It's like the feeling you can have if you grab a nice big piece of blank paper and a pen. You can write whatever you want on it, draw on it, calculate something on it...

For me - and other folks who had access to workstations it was just like that feeling. Suddenly you had this machine that was fast, had a great display, a great operating system - SunOS 4.1.3 . the machine was there and all that compute + display + disk was there for YOU. It wasn't locked up in some server some other place and you weren't competing with everyone else.

Later on Sun came out with some really cool things too. Anyone else remember NeWS? That was pretty cool....NFS for as many problems as it has is still actively used all over the place.

Why did Sun die? They died because they stopped doing what they started doing. The actual model for Sun in the early days was they would take a standard Unix and build a workstation (or server) wrapped around it. They actually used to say that they weren't going to lock people into their system - they would make their system open - and compete based on having the best product. Think about that for a minute. They were saying 'We wil build the best damn workstation, and you will buy it because it's the best damn workstation'. Now you can argue if the SPARCStation 1+ was better than an Apollo or a MIPS but as a business strategy it's hard as a consumer to complain about it. It was a massive departure from what DEC did.

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