Archive for February, 2007

Positive NetBeans 6.0 feedback from

February 25, 2007
Mathias Lux at recently started testing the upcoming NetBeans 6.0. Checkout his opinion about NetBeans vs. Eclipse here and a subsequent update here.


Project Blackbox: A “crackpot” idea

February 23, 2007
In this week’s issue of InfoWorld, there is a feature story on 12 “crackpot” ideas that could potentially transform the enterprise. According to InfoWorld, “These technologies straddle the divide between harebrained and brilliant as they promise to shake the pillars of tomorrow’s enterprise.

InfoWorld has found our Project Blackbox as one of these brilliant ideas. Here is what Martin Heller has to say:

Project Blackbox

“A portable datacenter may seem like pie in the sky, but in fact, Sun Microsystems has already constructed it. Whether Project Blackbox, which Sun calls the first virtualized datacenter, catches on remains to be seen, but for some, the concept is compelling.

Take a 20-foot shipping container; provide it with integrated cooling, networking, and power distribution; add external hookups for hot and cold water, 208-volt three-phase AC power, and Ethernet networking; integrate sensors, alarms, and GPS; fill its eight 19-inch shock-tolerant racks with servers — either 120 Sun Fire T2000 servers or 250 Sun Fire T1000 systems — and you’ve got one or two thousand processor cores, 7TB of memory, and more than 2PB of storage. Connect them all as a grid, for simplicity.

According to Sun, this configuration can support 10,000 simultaneous desktops without requiring an administrator, and it can be located almost anywhere: on a rooftop, in a parking garage, in a secure warehouse. It can be delivered rapidly, even to theaters of operation or catastrophe areas. What’s more, Sun claims that a Project Blackbox datacenter is a tenth the price of a standard datacenter and that it can be turned on and configured in a day.

So if you find yourself unable to build or power or cool a datacenter fast enough to keep up with your enterprise’s growth, or you’re in need of a server farm on the go or at a hard-to-reach outpost such as an oil rig, you may find yourself in the market for this deliverable soon.”

Dr. Dobbs article on Java SE 6 management and desktop features

February 22, 2007
In a blog entry, Dr. Dobbs Journal reviewer Eric Bruno discusses our recently published articles on using Java SE 6’s desktop integration and VM management/monitoring features.

Network Computing: StarOffice and as MS Office Alternatives

February 21, 2007
Check out this Network Computing article about how enterprises can successfully use StarOffice and as MS Office alternative.

The following snippets are worth reading for quick highlights from the article, though this post becomes really long. 🙂

“Solveig Haugland, the founder of, one of many organizations that provides training and support for OpenOffice users, relates a relevant story: A client organization’s meeting to discuss potential use of OpenOffice was under way, and Haugland’s client was typing notes, which were then projected on a screen. Almost everyone agreed that Microsoft Office alternatives would be “too hard.” The client asked, “What do you think I’m using to take notes?” The answer came back “Microsoft Word”; in fact, the client was using OpenOffice Writer, which disarmed some of the “too hard” objections immediately. This scenario would likely have played out the same way were the client using Evolution, Thunderbird or impressive up-and-coming Office alternatives such as (which provides both free remote and relatively inexpensive locally hosted office-software options).”

StarOffice 8

“For some organizations, the decision around office suites is all about charting their own destiny and deciding when to spend money rather than having this choice thrust upon them. Perhaps the most famous case in point is well-known music-supply manufacturer Ernie Ball. After an unpleasant raid by the Business Software Alliance (BSA), CEO Sterling Ball did away with Microsoft products rather than continue to deal with BSA audits and continuing upgrade costs. Many organizations have made the switch — changing just isn’t mainstream yet. If your boss is nervous about blazing a trail, see this wiki for information about other StarOffice and OpenOffice deployments.”

“One major consideration is product viability — but this risk is significantly lower with a suite such as StarOffice or OpenOffice than with, say, a proprietary Microsoft Office work-alike package produced by some fly-by-night company and sold at Best Buy for $10. The risk is much lower simply because the source code of StarOffice and OpenOffice is freely available, and security problems (which ultimately are the only “must-patch” issues) can be dealt with by many people, not just by an organization that may go belly-up. And StarOffice, while commercial, does have source code available and could be a good choice for an organization where there’s reticence from management to adopt a product if there’s not a “company behind it.”

“Haugland has more sage advice to facilitate the change: “An important part of any evaluation is to do a companywide ‘lunch and learn,’ to compare Office and OpenOffice side by side.” Once users and IT staff see the high functionality and reasonably low learning curve (true for any of the alternatives we mentioned), they’ll be much more inclined to actively participate in a migration. Make sure users are informed both regarding the functionality they might lose as well as functionality they might gain from the migration. OpenOffice enables the creation of PDFs directly from within the native applications, for example, and also includes a powerful “OpenOffice Draw” application, much like CorelDraw or Visio, that is significantly more powerful than basic object drawing within Microsoft Office. Thus, most users won’t have to license Adobe Acrobat or Visio. Support consultants and trainers can be had at — an important point to make to the business office if they are nervous that support will evaporate if the only reason folks support OpenOffice is that they consider it a fun hobby. Indeed, there is a powerful capitalist reason for open-source solutions to be viable for years to come.”

ServerWatch Tip of the Trade: Stuffing Containers on Solaris 10

February 20, 2007
ServerWatch posted a positive tutorial about using Solaris Containers as a strong alternative to virtualization for software development. The reviewer, Carla Schroder, provides an overview of Solaris Containers, followed by a how-to for installing and running individual web servers on each instance of the containers.

Carla specifically highlights the performance of the containers, “Sun’s GUI control panel for Containers is good. Creating, provisioning and destroying Containers is pretty easy. Performance is exceptional — while there are some high-availability tweaks that you get only with genuine Sun hardware, it’s still a screamer on x86-64.

My favorite ones from last week

February 17, 2007
These conversations caught my attention last week…

1. The Sun Fire T2000 Server – Jean Ghalo Blog, 2/11
Jean praises the T2000 and mentions that it is “the best platform for transaction and web services as measured by the new SWaP benchmark,” and has “record-breaking performance.”

2. Using a SCA6000 – Techblog, 2/9
J. A. Dickinson recently installed the Sun Cryptographic Accelerator 6000 on a Sun T2000 server and discusses his testing.

3. Using a SCA6000 part 2 – Techblog, 2/13
J. A. Dickinson updates the code from the earlier post.

4. 15 Minutes to an Extra Layer of Solaris Security – Unix Admin Corner, 2/9
Jamesd documents how to effectively add a security zone to Solaris to help limit an attack on a system. / StarOffice review in

February 15, 2007
In this round up review of office productivity suites, Zaine Ridling reviews OpenOffice / StarOffice, Microsoft Office 2007 and WordPerfect X3. Zaine states that a move to or StarOffice need not accompany a migration away from Windows as these suites can pave the way to such a move in the future — a measure of flexibility that one cannot expect elsewhere, and still retain a documents’ integrity.

Desktop Engineering review: “A Server On Every Desk”

February 12, 2007
Last week Desktop Engineering published a technical article on the Sun Ultra 40 M2. The review, written by Sun’s Michael Schulman and Michael Burke, detailed the increased functionality between CAD and MCAE applications on workstations. To test the idea, the Sun Ultra 40 M2 workstation running Solaris 10 was used to run a CAD benchmark and a CAE application.

The machine, running all out and fully utilized, produced results with less than a 10 percent slowdown for the CAD application. For the typical user “any slowdown would be barely noticed.” The authors also discuss acceleration technologies such as heterogenous computing, using an add-on board designed to speed up calculations for floating-point intensive applications and the use of FPGAs. The second of these technologies is working on Sun Fire X4600 servers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, where the accelerator increases the performance of certain types of applications.

The authors wrap up the discussion by concluding that “MCAE applications will continue to be run on rackmounted or blade type servers sitting in data centers,” but that the “recent improvements in workstation processing power allow for medium-sized data sets to be used. This enables closer integration between CAD and CAE, and will help bring products to market faster — just the ROI many manufacturers are looking for.

My favorite ones from last week

February 10, 2007
I liked these conversations in blogosphere last week…

1. Checking Out OpenSolaris and Solaris – Julian’s Blog, 2/5
Julian recently downloaded Solaris, in large part because he was impressed that Sun released Java under the GPL. Working with Zones, he highlights that it is “simplified and thought out at the core of the OS.”

2. Thoughts On Dual Licensing OpenSolaris – Unix Admin Corner, 2/3
Jamesd discusses the drawbacks to potentially changing the licensing of OpenSolaris to GPLv3.

3. Frustration With Solaris Packages – Solaris Jedi, 2/1
Christopher Hubbell has found Solaris Packages to be a “tremendous help in standardizing [his] provisioning system,” but highlights a few issues with functionality, documentation gaps in the use of patches and package prototypes.

A great Sun win !!!

February 8, 2007
Some of you might remember about a not-so-great T1000 review by the “CEO and Chief Geek” Don MacAskill of the high profile start-up SmugMug. We followed up with SmugMug immediately after the review was published. After lots of sweat and hard work for more than 6 months, we have finally won their hearts (and money)!  SmugMug did a complete evaluation of vendors including Sun, HP, Dell, IBM and Rackable, and yesterday Don announced Sun as the “winner” of his business.

Another day, another great customer win. 🙂