Archive for June, 2009

Podcast: What is new in VirtualBox 3.0?

June 30, 2009

Today we announced VirtualBox 3.0 — a major revision to our high performance, cross-platform virtualization software. VirtualBox 3.0 introduces the capability to create and run multi-processor virtual machines that can handle heavyweight server-class workloads. It also delivers enhanced graphics support for desktop-class workloads.

VirtualBox software has been rapidly growing in popularity, surpassing 14.5 million downloads worldwide and 4 million registrations since October 2007, with in excess of 25,000 downloads a day. A mere 50 megabyte download, VirtualBox software is incredibly compact and efficient and installs in less than five minutes.

Andy Hall, Senior Product Manager of VirtualBox, joined me to discuss the updates in this release. Listen to the short segment below for an insider’s insight about the product.

Sun VirtualBox


Sun solutions help German systems vendor deliver affordable cloud computing

June 26, 2009
Merkl IT was founded in 2007 as a traditional systems vendor offering IT services, hardware, software and support. The Munich-based systems vendor decided to pursue an idea for a cloud computing solution, which lead to the development of Virtual BackOffice, the company’s core product.

Sun Customer Merkl IT
(Image courtesy: Merkl IT)
Virtual BackOffice provides businesses with access to a virtual IT infrastructure that is highly scalable, flexible, affordable, and available and gives them access to their data and applications from almost any location with very little required on-site hardware. To provide the scalability and fast response time needed to deploy Virtual BackOffice, Merkl IT needed new hardware and chose several Sun products for its solution.

For storage, Merkl IT uses Sun Storage Tek 2510 arrays with redundant iSCSI RAID controllers and 1 Gb/sec throughput. The SMI-S-compliant Sun StorageTek Common Array Manager software simplifies 2510 array storage management and allows Merkl IT to accelerate deployment and improve utilization. Citing Sun’s “green IT” focus, Merkl IT chose Sun Blade 6000 servers with energy-saving features to virtualize and host Windows servers and desktops running Virtual BackOffice.

Merkl IT offers more than just hosting services, it also provides its customers with Sun Ray Thin Clients and software including Sun Virtual Desktop Infrastructure and Sun Secure Global Desktop software. Merkl IT stays one step ahead of the major cloud computing providers by integrating its customers’ local servers and network infrastructure into Virtual BackOffice.

Julian Merkl, co-founder and managing director of Merkl IT notes “the Sun infrastructure allows us to operate the cloud-computing solution in an energy-efficient and stable manner, saving our customers money and helping the environment.”

Check out the complete details here.

eWEEK: Network Virtualization Stands Out in OpenSolaris 2009.06

June 25, 2009

eWEEK’s Jason Brooks tested OpenSolaris 2009.06, as a means to grab a "sneak peek at what’s coming down the pike in Solaris." He found Crossbow network virtualization as the "most compelling feature" of OpenSolaris 2009.06. Overall, he was impressed with its flexibility and functionality, and used Crossbow to create "a virtual network with a pair of host systems and a router system" during his testing. OpenSolaris
Jason also noted that he found OpenSolaris to be very accessible for new users, "such as those accustomed to using Linux." He also highlighted improvements in performance and functionality of OpenSolaris’ software packaging system, which "now consumes less memory and boasts a faster start-up time" for the graphical package manager.

Jason was a bit critical about VirtualBox support of OpenSolaris as a host OS. However, he pointed out that should VirtualBox take fuller advantage of OpenSolaris-specific features, "the combination of VirtualBox and Crossbow could make OpenSolaris the go-to host environment for Sun’s desktop virtualization product."

Last Week’s OpenSolaris Reviews

June 24, 2009

1. OpenSolaris automated installs –, 6/21
Bill Hathaway reviewed the OpenSolaris automated installer utility, and shared his source code and instructions. He concluded, "I was happy that it was relatively straightforward to get working, but I think it will be a while before the system has as much flexibility for customizing installs as Jumpstart."
2. OpenSolaris on the ThinkPad — Solaris Jedi, 6/21
Blogger Christopher Hubbell posted about his early interactions with OpenSolaris on his laptop, saying he was excited about using OpenSolaris after being dissatisfied with Windows and Ubuntu. Chris concluded, "At the moment everything I do, including web browsing works well and is responsive under only 1GB ram and a 1.1 GHz processor. Sweet."

3. Configuring jumpstart to install Solaris on a ZFS root — Blog O’Matty, 6/21
Blogger Matty created a ZFS root pool and associated file systems, and shared the code for how he did it. He also noted that "it’s nice having the various ZFS features (checksums, snapshots, compression, etc.) available in the root pool!"

4. Solaris Zones Parallel Patching —, 6/19
The blogger reviewed the Solaris 10 Zones Parallel Patching feature, saying that the getting functionality from the feature is simple and leads to "significant performance gains in patching operations."

5. OpenSolaris Receives New X Server, Mesa — Phoronix, 6/18
Phoronix’s Michael Larabel said that the newly released OpenSolaris SXCE Build 116 has an updated X stack, and brings in X Server 1.6 and Mesa 7.4.

6. OpenSolaris 2009.06 — Technology Geeks’ Heaven, 6/23
Blogger Ananth Gouri posted instructions for installing OpenSolaris 2009.06, noting that he "could get the Desktop and I could check my Gmail too using Firefox and most of the other applications seem to work flawlessly."

7. Solaris 2009.06 (and 2008.10) on an HP nc4010 Laptop — UNIX Administratosphere, 6/17
Blogger David said he updated to Solaris 2009.06, and while he found it to be a smooth install, he found installing from text mode undocumented. He shared a few steps that helped his install.

Consumer Reviews of OpenOffice

June 23, 2009

1. Set of free Microsoft Office powerful offline alternatives — Piyada’s World, 6/17
The blogger writes OpenOffice is "probably the best alternative of MS Office and each time I use it I am just confused how this is free!" He says after using OpenOffice "There is no real reason to buy an office suite," and says the great thing about OpenOffice is its cross-platform ability that can be used in any major OS without worry.
2. OpenOffice instead of Microsoft Office — 2 Tech Divas, 6/15
Tech Diva Donna writes she "can’t seem to shell out hundreds and hundreds of dollars for software," and when her free trial of Microsoft Office expired she "downloaded the next best thing." She says OpenOffice "will get you out of a jam and you can work with Word, PowerPoint and Excel documents easily," and recommends it for anyone "in need of a Microsoft Office substitute."

3. A Cost-Effective Alternative to Microsoft Office — GoFaxer Blog, 6/15
The blogger writes is great in today’s economy where "many people are looking to save money but not affect the quality of their work." The blogger notes that the programs included in the OpenOffice suite "are very similar to how Microsoft Office runs," and says 3.1 is "a reliable substitute to the expensive and ever changing Microsoft Office."

4. OpenOffice — Philonica et Neotestamentica, 6/11
The blogger writes that he had been skeptical of free open-source software programs but admits "I was very surprised when I finally installed the OpenOffice suite and gave it a try." He notes that he has primarily used the word processor and that "my first impressions of OpenOffice programs are very good."

How-To and Reviews from VirtualBox User Community

June 22, 2009

The blogger writes that VirtualBox is characterized by its “easy installation, operation, and convenient graphical interface.” He says the free utility can make you “totally independent” and notes that there are a number of different operating systems supported by the program.

2. Installing and configuring VirtualBox for virtual OSes —, 6/14
Installing a Windows XP as a virtual machine on VirtualBox —, 6/15
Install Guest Additions for a Better VirtualBox Experience —, 6/17
Jack Wallen wrote several “inside look” and tutorials on VirtualBox, including setup and installation of the software and guess OSes. He also looked at how to optimize the virtual machine saying “the implications of this software are only as limited as the imagination of the user.” He demonstrates how to change the default settings concluding that “with the help of VirtualBox you can, effectively, have your cake and eat it too.”

3. VirtualBox – Free virtualization software for Mac OSX — Free Software Downloads, 6/13
The blogger has posted a video that covers the highlights of VirtualBox which he calls “a rattling solidified competitor to Parallels or VMware Fusion at no outlay for bag users.”

4. virtualbox with vista: driver for system controller required — Willing wheels, 6/14
The blogger reported having problems getting into his native host resolution but then discovered “going to your native resolution is in fact a lot easier than you think.” He then lays out the steps to change the resolution noting “you do NOT need to change the resolution from within the guest.”

5. WYMWTTLinux – #5 Sun VirtualBox — The Giornale, 6/13
The blogger notes that VirtualBox lets a user run “for example, Windows XP, alongside other OSes you might want to install, inside a Linux OS.” The blogger then goes through the procedure to download and install VirtualBox as well as a virtual machine OS, and provides screen shots for every step in the process.

6. VirtualBox in 3 minutes! —, 6/13
The blogger has uploaded a short video to YouTube that shows how to set up VirtualBox. The blogger notes you just “need a different OS to play with or test,” and that you can just “use the iso with VirtualBox for quicker boot.”

7. How to Install Fedora 11 KDE on VirtualBox 2.2 — Kombitz, 6/12
Fedora 11 and VirtualBox 2.2 Guest Additions — Kombitz, 6/12
The blogger says VirtualBox is a good choice for those who “want to try Fedora 11 without buying a new machine or partitioning your hard drive,” and gives an in-depth tutorial with screen shots at every step on how to install Fedora 11KDE on VirtualBox 2.2. In the second article, the blogger goes through the steps to install VirtualBox 2.2 Guest Additions on a Fedora 11 virtual machine and again provides screen shots for every step in the installation process.

UNC Chapel Hill Enhances Biomedical Research with Sun HPC System

June 19, 2009

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is the nation’s first state university, and a recognized leader in biomedical research. Many of the university’s health sciences groups use high-speed applications for modeling and simulation, but wanted dedicated high-performance computing system resources to speed research and make faster progress.

In 2007, funding for a high-performance biomedical image analysis system was approved for seven UNC-CH research groups. Having used Sun products for more than 20 years, UNC-CH knew Sun could provide a highly-customized solution and better support for image-intensive applications and was interested in the company’s recent HPC innovations.

Sun customer UNC Chapel Hill
(Image courtesy: UNC Chapel Hill)
Sun and UNC-CH worked together to design the grid-based HPC architecture throughout 2007, and began testing configurations in 2008. With the Sun Customer Ready Program, UNC-CH was able to cut hardware start-up time from six months to four weeks because the entire system had been built, configured, and tested in a Sun facility before shipment.

The UNC-CH grid was introduced to the research community in February 2009 and consists of 17 Sun Fire X4600 M2 Servers, each with sixteen 2.8GHz AMD Opteron processors. An additional X4600 M2 was installed as a backup, while another was installed as a file server attached to a Sun StorageTek 6140 array and a Sun StorageTek SL500 modular library system. The grid also includes 45 Sun Ultra 40 M2 Workstations.

“Users tell us how excited they are to be able to do things a hundred times faster than before,” said Russell M. Taylor II, research professor at University of North Carolina. “Implementing a high-performance computing solution from Sun Microsystems gave us the ability to move biomedical research forward at a faster pace.”

Check out the complete details here.

Recent JavaFX reviews from developers

June 18, 2009

1. Inkscape and JavaFX – Almost There — Lucas Jordan’s Blog, 6/16
Lucas Jordan has looked into whether JavaFX content can be exported from Inkscape or GIMP based on a question presented to his panel at JavaOne. After some research, he discovered Inkscape does, but with a great deal of limitations. He explains his test results in-depth and notes that while it is far from perfect, "this is a really good start, and it is excellent to see JavaFX included in Inkscape at all."
2. A Game Programming Perspective — The JavaFX Journey, 6/16
The blogger explains why he believes JavaFX is a good gaming framework/engine, and why the 1.2 release helps enable that in this in-depth post. He says "The future of good interfaces is in widgets, fluidity, and maximizing the users productivity. JavaFX gives you the tools to create a truly unique experience, and will let you re-use your existing Java code."

3. Learning JavaFX —, 6/14
John O’Conner confesses that he stopped tinkering with, reading about, and writing about JavaFX several years ago believing "JavaFX wasn’t ready for prime time." However, he now says "JavaFX certainly seems to be the future of desktop applications," and that for developers who want to continue developing Java desktop user interfaces, "the future is JavaFX."

4. JKstat meet JavaFX — The Trouble with Tribbles, 6/14
Blogger Peter Tribble was excited at the new availability of JavaFX for Solaris and OpenSolaris and decided to try using JavaFX to make a graphical front-end to JKstat. Although he was able to integrate JKstat and JavaFX, he notes a number of issues he encountered getting it to work to include JavaFX not supporting either Java Collections or Generics, as well as not being able to put the jni shared library directly into the right JavaFX library directory.

5. Installing JavaFX — Learning JavaFX, 6/13
The blogger writes that there are "3 easy ways to get started with JavaFX Script," noting that although it’s very easy to use JavaFX from NetBeans "you have plenty of other options too." He then lists the options to getting all the "tools" necessary to get started with JavaFX.

6. Why JavaFX fits the bill for RIAs — IT Knowledge Exchange, 6/12
Jan Stafford has posted a video in which she talked with authors Jim Clarke and Eric Bruno about JavaFX. She notes that in the interview they explain how JavaFX "simplifies and improves the RIA development process."

7. JavaFX and Google Maps — StartClass 0830, 6/11
The blogger writes that he has recently "taken a very keen interest in JavaFX" stating that his "exploration with JavaFX has been very fruitful." He notes JavaFX "is really easy to pick up and to be productive with it in a matter of hours," and then demonstrates a project in which he incorporates Google Maps into a JavaFX application.

8. JavaFX Script as a general purpose language? —, 6/11
Osvaldo Pinali Doederlein writes in this in-depth analysis that the Java language has come to a dead-end," and says "JavaFX script really could be a very viable candidate to the role of successor or companion to Java as a language for implementation of full Java applications."

9. JavaFX binding is neat, but … beware —, 6/11
Fabrizio Giudici writes that he likes binding a lot, but has found some adverse effects that can arise out of its use in JavaFX. He gives an example of how an external class has broken even though it was fine by itself noting "we have injected a problem," and continues to say "this is a worse breakage than breaking information hiding in Java by getters/setters."

10. First look at JavaFX 1.2, Part II —, 6/10
Osvaldo Pinali Doederlein has been testing JavaFX 1.2 using a series of benchmarks and has noted the "results are surprising," and that "we can see interesting potential (in JavaFX 1.2)."

At a Glance: Last Week’s Developer Reviews

June 17, 2009

JavaFX 1.2 drove several positive review and tips blogs this week, starting with a blogger who decided to try it after hearing Larry Ellison’s encouraging comments at JavaOne. He noted, “I definitely had a much more pleasant experience with JavaFX than I was expecting,” and said “it is one of the better documented developer technologies out there with no lack of tutorials.” A blogger upgraded to JavaFX 1.2 to continue working on a mobile JavaFX app he was developing, then published a second post with user tips saying “JavaFX is great for the UI…it’s also a good candidate for writing controllers.”

Bloggers eagerly discussed NetBeans upgrades and tips, and Sunny Talks Tech kicked it off by urging readers to go download the “shiny and new NetBeans 6.7 RC2.” The author at MySpace Pros reviewed 22 different IDEs and concluded of NetBeans, “This open-source IDE is a sweet deal: whether you’re developing in PHP, Ruby on Rails, JavaScript, or something else, you’ll find rich editing features, as well as support for FTP and MySQL.” Finally, a NetBeans Zone blogger said, “NetBeans has got improved IDE support for JavaFX, beyond the SDK update — much improved.”

VirtualBox positive reviews were in full swing this week – starting off with who recommended using VirtualBox as a “completely free replacement for the popular virtualization software VMware,” noting that because VirtualBox is dedicatedly supported by Sun it “ensures that it always meets professional quality criteria.” Blogger Rkania was disappointed with VMware as it could not support the Compiz effects in Ubuntu, she then found that VirtualBox could handle the task. Finally, an App your Mac blogger wrote that despite being free, VirtualBox “is still feature rich, and equals its rivals in a variety of ways.”

OpenSolaris 2009.06 received a stellar review in ZDNet, titled, “Getting Better All The Time,” by Jason Perlow. Jason said, “OpenSolaris 2006.09 is indeed a significant release for the project and is an excellent enterprise workstation and server OS, and I’m looking forward to tracking future progress of the developers working on it.” Blogger Ganesh Navingre commented this week on DTrace, calling it a wonderful concept available for programmers to utilize for debugging purpose.”
The functionality of drew positive reviews from Linux Journal and blogs this week, as reporter Bruce Byfield walked through the process of creating a query in any database set up in Base. Bruce concluded that Base queries “are simple enough that anybody can use them.” Potpiegirl blogger also provided OO.o tips by writing a tutorial on how to create a PDF Ebook through, noting when using OO.o “all the links WILL work…they will all ‘take’ and work great.”

From JavaOne 2009 Memory Lane…

June 16, 2009
JavaOne Radio
Yours Truly, Gail Anderson and Paul Anderson at the JavaOne Radio Booth
This year at JavaOne, I hosted couple of segments in our JavaOne Radio. The picture above is from one of the JavaFX book sessions — authors Gail and Paul Anderson were talking about JavaFX and their new book. I had another discussion with authors Eric Bruno and Jim Clarke on JavaFX and the book "JavaFX: Developing Rich Internet Applications." Check these and other good JavaFX books (like this one) if you are planning to learn about JavaFX. The JavaOne Radio segments are below.

I have to admit that the most cool thing I saw at JavaOne 2009 had nothing to do with software though — it was a plug adapter-sized "computer." It was suprising (to me) to see how much compute power and memory these guys had put in such a small form factor. It was fun talking with the "plug computer" guys at the show. (And the BlogTalkRadio stats show that it was one of the highest listened to segments as well.)