Archive for September, 2009

Blogosphere conversations on OpenOffice, VirtualBox, NetBeans and OpenSolaris

September 30, 2009

OpenOffice users wrote glowing reviews of the office suite this week starting with Luc Feyes of Earth Times who described OpenOffice as “the undisputed king of open source software.” Blogger Stephen Lunn from Hyper Gadget stated that “as far as word processors go at least, this [OpenOffice] is one of the best.” Jay Garmon from published an in-depth review of OpenOffice and said it “will prove utterly interchangeable with Microsoft Office 2003,” for the vast majority of users. Stephen Lilley from expressed a similar sentiment when he pointed out that “everything you can do in Microsoft Office you can do with OpenOffice.” Finally, openSUSE forum member Patti, excited about what she noted was increased performance of an OpenOffice 3.1.1 Calc spreadsheet asked, “Am I the only one whose [sic] noticed OpenOffice suddenly got a whole lot better?”

The steady flow of VirtualBox buzz continued this week with a blogger from Am!NeS0ft’s blog describing VirtualBox as an emulator that effectively lets you “have your cake and eat it too.” He demonstrated how to install Guest Additions in VirtualBox which he noted “is a simple process that can be done quickly.” Dave Lopan posted two separate articles on relating to VirtualBox, which he described as “an excellent free virtual machine manager, capable of running nearly any operating system on the market.” He looked at both how to install and configure a Linux Ubuntu virtual machine in VirtualBox as well as how to create a shared folder between a Linux guest and Windows XP host.

NetBeans users were singing the praises of the IDE this week with a blogger from C++ Web Services saying he prefers NetBeans because it has: “very good navigation features,” it is “easy to get started,” it has a “no-nonsense user interface with its intuitive features,” and it has a “feature-rich editor.” Another blogger at softwarepoets also declared his affection for NetBeans, noting that it has several advantages over Eclipse including: an “excellent GUI builder,” a “very good module system,” a “mechanism for decoupling called lookup,” a “very good API to build explorers, editors, property sheets, etc.,” and a learning curve that “is not very steep.” Finally, a blogger from Manikandan’s Weblog pointed out the easy debugging and troubleshooting environment NetBeans provides stating, “with NetBeans debugger, you can step through the code line by line while viewing status of variables, threads and other informations.”

OpenSolaris users shared a bounty of tips this week, with a blogger from SolarisNevada providing a series of commands to help users diagnose problems that can affect OpenSolaris shutdown and reboot times. A blogger on posted a popular tutorial that demonstrated how to create an OpenSolaris paravirtualized Xen guest under Debian Lenny. Blogger Stanley Huang showed how to change the resolution support of OpenSolaris in a EeePC netbook in order to re-size it for VGA output, and finally, a blogger from Triple Boot, Loading.. wrote a tutorial that walks through a triple-boot setup of OpenSolaris, Vista, and Ubuntu.


Recent JavaFX How-To and Review Articles

September 29, 2009


1. Using JavaFX Classes Directly From Java – Carstens blog, 9/23
The blogger noted that from the “Swing side of the fence, the grass on the JavaFX side certainly sometimes seems a lot greener,” but said he didn’t want to be “bothered with the JavaFX language.” Therefore, he demonstrated how to access JavaFX jars from Swing to get an applet up and running in JavaFX 1.2.
2. Multi-threading options in Rich Internet Applications – Silverlighter, 9/24
Blogger Danijel Stulic stated that the use of multi-threading is a must in any complex RIA in order to avoid poor user experience. He looked at the competing technologies and reported he was surprised that JavaFX script is single-threaded. However, he noted that while all threading options are handled in Java code in the JRE, some multi-threading improvements are expected in the next JavaFX release.

3. DSL Calculator – Arno Raps, 9/23
The blogger presented a DSL calculator created with JavaFX 1.2, which he said “has native support for databinding and charts, saving a lot of time.” He also pointed out that creating the chart in the calculator was very simple because “JavaFX supports a number of charts.”

4. So What Kind of Interesting Things – Sunshine2k’s blog, 9/18
The blogger, who has been playing with JavaFX as a hobby said the programming language “has some really cool features like binding, animations, and effects.” He said JavaFX is a “better way to design cooler Java applets” rather than trying to write them in “plain Java.”

5. Wish list for converting Adobe Illustrator Files to JavaFX – Lucas Jordan’s Blog, 9/18
Blogger Lucas Johnson said he loves how easily Adobe Illustrator graphics can be exported to “a format friendly JavaFX,” but reported that he struggles with how the nodes are named. He suggested a modification to the naming format that he said “would turn Illustrator and Photoshop into very powerful tools for creating complex content in a JavaFX application.”

6. The Bluffer’s Guide to JavaFX , part 1 – Inside RIA, 9/18
Simon Morris took a neutral stance in this article to discuss the pro’s and con’s of JavaFX. Among the high points he notes that JavaFX is a single declarative language that unites the development of the user interface with writing the code, as well as JavaFX script allowing bound expressions to be as complex as necessary “including numerous variable references to different objects.”

StubHub boosts transaction capacity 52-fold with Sun solution

September 28, 2009
StubHub is the world’s largest ticket marketplace, where fans can buy and sell secondary-market tickets to tens of thousands of sports, concert, theater, and other live entertainment events. StubHub’s easy-to-use, convenient Web environment for buying tickets has helped the company gain millions of satisfied customers, and requires StubHub to have high-capacity IT systems that are able to connect ticket buyers and sellers 24×7.

As StubHub’s business rapidly grew, its back-end, online transaction processing system had a hard time keeping up with demand. And, because traffic volume can vary greatly, it is hard for StubHub to predict peak volume, making scalability a critical concern. Therefore, in 2008, StubHub chose to upgrade the OLTP database to an Oracle RAC 10g, and looked for a hardware and operating system that would maximize the new database’s performance.

Sun Customer StubHub
(Image courtesy: StubHub)
StubHub ultimately decided that a 64-bit platform based on Sun hardware and the Solaris 10 Operating System wold provide maximum flexibility to support the company’s fast growth strategy. StubHub worked with the Sun Solution Center to design and perform benchmark tests in order to select the most appropriate Sun hardware for the company’s OLTP solution.

Based on the outcome of the tests, StubHub selected the Sun SPARC Enterprise M5000 Server for its combination of performance, scalability, and cost effectiveness. StubHub is employing nine M5000 servers, which all have the same CPU and memory configuration, with eight dual-core SPARC64 VI processors and 128 gigabytes of RAM. Additionally, two Sun SPARC Enterprise M4000 Servers, each with four dual-core SPARC 64 VI processors, support the company’s development and testing environments.

StubHub is pleased with the performance of its upgraded OLTP solution. The new system is now able to handle 47,000 database transactions per second per node, versus the previous system’s 900 transactions per second per node, which represents a 52-fold increase in volume. The increased system capacity has allowed StubHub to sell more tickets, resulting in a return on investment in just three months. Bill Dougherty, director of site operations at StubHub summed it up by saying: “This upgrade project was all about scalability and growth…our site traffic has more than doubled in the past 18 months. Without the new Sun platform, we would not be able to handle our high volume of site traffic.”

Check out the complete details here.

At a Glance: Last week’s VirtualBox, NetBeans, OpenSolaris and OpenOffice Reviews

September 23, 2009

VirtualBox users had nothing but praise for the emulator last week, starting with a blogger who has been using it as a testing forum simply stating, “VirtualBox, wow!” He also noted there have been “major improvements in the way this software handles new hard disk installations, and even better handling with Guest additions and integration features of the mouse and keyboard.” A blogger from has been testing VirtualBox for the past few weeks and said “it’s awesome…set up is a breeze and my installation of Ubuntu into a Windows box went without a hitch.” That sentiment continued with a blogger from declaring “I would definitely recommend VirtualBox to clients, friends, and even enemies as a useful tool in their arsenal.” Finally, a blogger from TTC Shelbyville stated: “VirtualBox is by far the best free virtualization program on the planet,” noting that it is “hands down an excellent application for home and enterprise users.”

NetBeans users posted plenty of tips, tricks, and tutorials this week starting with a blogger from the Tiju Sujono blog who reported using NetBeans “for all my projects, since it does integrate so nicely with Ruby/Webrick/GlassFish/Mongrel for Ruby on Rails application development.” The blogger discussed a configuration he had developed that uses NetBeans with SQLite in this informative blog post. Another blogger from Tech Solution Logs posted a tutorial that demonstrated how to enhance the usability and appearance of structured documents using the jQuery Java Script library in the NetBeans IDE. Blogger Ruben showed how a user can set up an OpenJPA Enhancer Ant task in a NetBeans Java Class library, while blogger Padam Thapa gave a step-by-step account of how to set up the LLWJGL library with NetBeans.

It was hard to miss the OpenSolaris buzz in the blogosphere this week with Tux Review’s widely publicized article for Linux users wanting to try a new operating system. The blog simply stated “we humbly suggest OpenSolaris,” and published an in-depth quick-start guide that went through all the highlights of the operating system including OpenSolaris’ hardware support, the ZFS file system, its virtualization capabilities, and its performance as a desktop distribution. Also this week, blogger Marco reported on his process of selecting OpenSolaris as the primary server for his home saying he ultimately chose the operating system because, “it’s free, open-source, has a good community and probably the best ZFS support of all operating systems.”

Last week, OpenOffice users praised several features of the multi-purpose office suite starting with Jacqueline Emigh from who declared OpenOffice “a winner, by and large,” because it provides both software applications and cross-platform support for a variety of operating systems. A blogger from Ethiopian Review stated that OpenOffice “is incredibly compatible with Microsoft Office,” and noted that “OpenOffice has coped exceedingly well,” with use in his day-to-day work. Finally, a blogger reported that she was thrilled when OpenOffice was able to completely handle a critical PDF file and an Excel file, saying “OpenOffice handled it like a charm…there were no formatting errors and the graphics came down in place.”

Last Week’s JavaFX Reviews and How-To Articles

September 22, 2009
1. JavaFX + WebStart+ Web Services + GlassFish = One cool client app –, 9/16
The blogger discussed why he chose the JavaFX “eye candy” platform for his client application because it “can be written without major problems.”
2. JavaFX Charts and General Discussion –, 9/15
The blogger discussed his recent work with JavaFX charts noting that “JavaFX charts are not really suited to dragging points around and the level of intractability I want.” Therefore, he developed his own simple editable line chart although he stated, “I will still use the JFX Chart everywhere I can as they are pretty easy to use.”

3. Week 3.2 Knowledge Experiment – SpikyOrange, 9/12
Blogger Rob, who admitted to having a “limited knowledge of JavaFX,” developed a small scene graph that “shows you how quickly a newbie can pick up JavaFX and run with it!” He was pleased to find the code required for his experiment was pretty small and said “I think I am going to like JavaFX!”

4. New Graphics – New Challenges – The JavaFX Journey, 9/11
The blogger reported that he recently reworked the graphics engine in his JavaFX game Clash, and said “fortunately for me, JavaFX is able to handle it in spades.” He noted that JavaFX can handle up to 50 characters on the screen, moving at different times and said “I am beyond pleasantly surprised that it can.”

5. JavaFX wordpress calendar widget – Michel LeBlond Blog, 9/17
The blogger completed a redesign and integration of the JavaFX calendar widget to function in WordPress. He said the applet was modified using NetBeans and the Bluefish HTML editor and described how the widget was further customized and optimized to perform on WordPress.

6. Adding feeds to SpeedReaderFX that don’t *quite* comply with the RSS/Atom formats – James Weaver’s JavaFX blog, 9/16
Jim Weaver found that when adding feeds to his SpeedReaderFX application’s criteria dialog, some of them did not comply with the RS/Atom formats, so he described how to create a custom feed parser, which he was able to add to the app.

7. JavaFX and RSS – Macca Blog, 9/14
Blogger Mark revisited the RSS feature in JavaFX, which he noted people “tend to quickly forget about,” and described and demonstrated the RSS support in JavaFX in this tutorial by working with the package and the RssTask class.

8. JavaFX classes constructors – Mils in a Nutshell, 9/14
The blogger reported that he had been struggling with a JavaFX object oriented model because there were no classes constructors in JavaFX. He did find a way to combine several steps to create a type of constructor (similar to Java) and demonstrated how to do so in this tutorial.

9. Sticky Note, A JavaFX Tutorial – Gooder Code, 9/12
Blogger Kerry posted a tutorial that demonstrated how he developed his first JavaFX program called Sticky Note, that mimics the Windows 7 feature Sticky Notes. He said it provides a sticky note that the user can open and fill with reminders, which are saved and restored between application runs.

10. JavaFX Password Field – Martin Matula’s Blog, 9/12
Blogger Martin reported that since there is no password field in JavaFX, he decided to create one since he was not pleased with any of the workarounds he discovered. He presented his Password Field and the code to create it in this post, and described it as “an elegant and simple solution,” noting that “it looks and behaves exactly as you would expect of a password field.”

11. Using Transitions to Simplify JavaFX Animations – InformIT, 9/9
Jeff Friesen discussed how JavaFX simplifies common animations by providing “canned” animation transition classes, which he introduced in this tutorial. He also shows how to create your own additional classes in this in-depth tutorial.

Gebeco migrates to Sun Ray, saves on energy costs

September 21, 2009
Gebeco, a leading travel operator for study and general group tours, specializes in high-end adventure holidays and educational travel around the world including South America, South Africa, China, and the entire Far East. The company, based in Kiel, Germany, is responsible for the travel brands Gebeco Länder erleben, Dr. Tigges, and goXplore, and serves 70,000 travelers each year. Gebeco uses its own internally-developed reservation system for bookings, which is based on the OS/2 operating system.

Sun Customer Gebeco
(Image courtesy: Gebeco)
However, this infrastructure build recently became a problem because the productivity solutions Gebeco used were effectively obsolete with the OS/2 operating system, and new programs, such as OpenOffice, that the company wanted to introduce were no longer supported on OS/2. Rewriting the reservation software for a new operating system would have been too expensive, so Gebeco searched for a solution that would allow the company to continue using its OS/2 software programs while simultaneously introducing new systems and applications.

Gebeco ultimately decided on the VirtualBox emulator from Sun, which not only allowed the company to integrate OS/2 software with new systems, but also gave them the opportunity to migrate from PCs to thin clients. Gebeco is now conducting operations on 200 Sun Ray 2 Virtual Display Clients along with two Sun Ray 2FS Virtual Display Clients for developers. Gebeco also implemented both the Sun Ray Server Software 4.1 and the applications on four Sun Fire X4440 Servers and two Sun Fire X4150 Servers.

The primary benefits to the new solution are the power and cost savings. The new infrastructure has reduced electricity consumption significantly and is saving the business 7,000 a year. Additionally, the horizontally scaled computer farm can be easily expanded with another machine without any difficulty. Noise reduction is another added benefit, as Thomas Schönemann, IT manager at Gebeco observed “it is much quieter now,” also noting “the buildup of heat is much lower.” Schönemann also praised the reduction in maintenance time stating: “It now takes minutes to do what took hours before.”

Check out the complete details here.

Sun News — The Week in Review

September 18, 2009

In the weekly Sun News podcast, Maijaliisa and I talk about the Sun and Oracle Exadata Database Machine Version 2 announcement, Software Freedom Day and Sun’s 2009 Corporate Social Responsibility Report.


Recent Developer Reviews

September 11, 2009

VirtualBox users were buzzing with praise, tips and tricks this week, with a blogger from Technology FLOSS writing about his experience with VirtualBox reporting that he “was gladly surprised by its performance…it was veeeeeeeeeeeeeeery fast.” Blogger Rafi recommended VirtualBox as “a very good solution” to anyone who wanted to work in multiple platforms simultaneously, and shared a tutorial on how to set up VirtualBox on a Fedora host system with a Windows Vista guest. A blogger from Jordan Team Learning described how to link the graphics card device to the driver in VirtualBox, reporting that he was able to get “more than 16 colors and higher than 800×600 resolution” on his VirtualBox guest operating system.

JavaFX developers kept the adoption momentum rolling this week, starting with Carl Dea who wrapped up his proof of concept series and encouraged developers to try JavaFX by saying, “it’s not every day that you can start from the beginning to learn a soon-to-be popular language.” Nik Silver, who recently created a JavaFX applet for The Guardian, described JavaFX as “kind of a cross between Javascript and Java, and, against the odds, manages to combine good elements of both with a bit of extra magic thrown in,” pointing out that JavaFX “allows you to integrate Java easily.” Finally, blogger John O’Conner discussed the advantages of mixins in JavaFX 1.2, over “duck typing” used in other languages saying the mixins feature “is truly a mixture of both abstract class and interface features.”

NetBeans users were quick to praise the IDE this week with blogger Jack Warnes saying “NetBeans is a great development environment,” pointing out that “it can be used for a wide variety of programming languages.” The blogger at said “NetBeans is a good choice” for developing applications because it has strong functions, and noted that NetBeans is “a lot better than the powerful Eclipse.” Blogger Benny from The Computeress recommended NetBeans because of how easily it “can take scripts from one language and put them into a project with another,” and said “I would surely recommend NetBeans.” Finally, Nate Burchell stated that “NetBeans has been invaluable as I have been learning the Java language and syntax,” noting that “it will alert you when you have made a syntax error.”

OpenSolaris bloggers generously shared helpful tips they discovered while working in the OS this week. A blogger from Relevance Found posted two quick installation and setup hints that described how to set up VNC using the built-in OpenSolaris VNC server and how to set up CIFS file sharing with a built-in OpenSolaris CIFS server. Blogger Simon recorded all the steps needed to completely restore the OpenSolaris NAS by setting up a mirrored ZFS root boot pool, while a blogger from Morph3ous’s Weblog described how to use OpenSolaris and ZFS to build an energy-efficient NAS.

Enthusiastic OpenOffice users continued to praise the office suite this week, with a blogger at Open-tube describing OpenOffice’s Writer as “one of the best open source word processors available today,” noting that “it is a fine replacement for Microsoft Word.” Felicia Williams from No Job for Mom! raved about how easy the office suite was to use, saying “anyone currently using Word or Excel should be able to transition from Microsoft to OpenOffice easily.” Finally, a blogger at Unixmen described OpenOffice as “the leading open-source open software suite,” which he made even better with the help of freely available extensions.

TweetMeme Manages 85% Monthly Growth with MySQL Enterprise and Sun Startup Essentials Program

September 9, 2009
TweetMeme is a social media company that is quickly becoming one of the most popular Web 2.0 sites in the world. TweetMeme uses custom-made software to count the number of links posted on Twitter, which it then organizes into categories on its Web site so visitors to the site can easily find stories that interest them. Visitors can also cast their own votes by “retweeting” a story through their own Twitter account, which in turn increases a story’s popularity.

Sun Customer TweetMeme
(Image courtesy: TweetMeme)
TweetMeme has experienced tremendous growth in recent months, experiencing 85% month-on-month growth in unique visitors and serving more than 1.6 billion retweet buttons each month.. TweetMeme uses open-source software, running the Red Hat Enterprise Linux operating system, Apache HTTP server software, and MySQL database. TweetMeme has worked closely with Sun since its launch earlier this year, taking advantage of the Sun Startup Essentials program for support, discounts on hardware, and specialist advice.

TweetMeme has focused on maximizing uptime because, as founder Nick Halstead noted, “Downtime has the potential to break a social media business.” Sun Startup Essentials has helped TweetMeme keep pace with the fast-moving social media industry by migrating TweetMeme to MySQL Enterprise, deployed on a mixture of 10 Sun Fire X4440 and Sun Fire X4150 servers. The MySQL Enterprise subscription includes expert technical support for the database and advanced database monitoring tools, which enable TweetMeme to optimize performance and maximize uptime.

The new hardware is delivering impressive results and helping to reduce IT costs through simpler maintenance and reduced power consumption, while offering outstanding availability and utilization. TweetMeme continues to expand rapidly, with the site analyzing, categorizing, and indexing more than 50,000 links per hour, while handling 600 million retweets per month. With its new solution, TweetMeme can grow without worry, thanks to the MySQL Enterprise database, that will scale to meet any level of exponential growth in the future. Halstead recognizes this significant advantage and noted: “Things move so quickly in this industry that you can’t afford any distractions. But thanks to Sun, we can now focus on strategy rather than on technology.”

Check out the complete details, including a podcast, here.

Public Utility Delivers Innovative Voice, Data, and Cable Services to 3,500 Customers with Sun Technologies

September 2, 2009


In 2004, the cities of Monmouth and Independence, Oregon founded Monmouth Independence Network, or MINET, to deliver high-speed Internet, cable, and VoIP phone services to area businesses and residences, who were not scheduled to receive broadband services until 2015 or later. By the end of 2007, MINET needed to expand its IT architecture to support its growing customer base, and was also looking to offer additional services on its underutilized network bandwidth to increase revenue. Sun Customer MINET
(Image courtesy: MINET)
Already a user of Sun technologies, MINET chose to expand its infrastructure with Sun hardware and software, and implemented the new solution in just 10 weeks. Three Sun Fire X4150 servers now handle the virtual PBX capabilities and run the Mitel Unified IP Client for Sun Ray Software. Virtual desktops, managed by Sun Secure Global Desktop Software, run on virtual servers set up with Solaris Containers or LDoms. All the virtual environments exist on a mix of 24 Sun Blade X6250 Server Modules and Sun Blade T6320 Server Modules, which are housed in a Sun Blade 6048 Chassis.

All of the company’s services rely on a multi-tiered Open Storage solution. A Sun SPARC Enterprise T5240 server uses CMT to simultaneously process storage requests, and one Sun StorageTek 6540 array serves as a redundant controller. Data that is regularly accessed by services is stored on one Sun Fire X4540 server, while data that is not often accessed resides on two Sun Storage J4500 arrays. Solaris ZFS gives IT personnel the ability to manage and change the various storage components in a single pool without affecting availability.

The solution was fully deployed in April 2008 with the new architecture providing 99.99% availability or higher. Additionally, the virtual environments, Sun blade server modules, Solaris ZFS, and Open Storage solution have simplified the provisioning and modification of customer services and helped fuel a 10% growth in customers each month. The solution’s small footprint and energy requirements have also helped MINET save 25% annually on power, cooling, and space requirements. Phil Garrett, General Manager of MINET said: “Our large power and cooling savings translates into more than just money savings, it also gives us more space that we can use to sell more services and generate additional revenue.”

Check out the complete details, including a podcast, here.