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NetBSD Announces Sun Hardware Donation

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the heart-cockles-warmed dept.

Unix 33

Jeremy C. Reed writes "NetBSD announced that Sun donated two machines running Solaris '[i]n order to support and further the development efforts of the NetBSD Packages team, to promote the build of binary packages for Solaris 8, Solaris 9 and Solaris 10 and to enhance the support of the Sun Forte Compiler chain.' The NetBSD Package Collection can be used on many platforms beyond NetBSD to provide an easy way to consistently install third-party software and manage packages."

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Sun Blade 1000 (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12482408)

Contrary to their name these aren't blade server, but more or less "usual" desktop system towers, just with the Sun-style. Nice nevertheless.

Just wait another year. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12482852)

If they'd just wait another year for Sun to go belly-up, they could buy all the sun hardware they'd ever dream of for the lowest prices imaginable when they auction off all the company's assets.

Sun is doing OK if you compare to SGI (1, Interesting)

draziw (7737) | more than 9 years ago | (#12482903)

Sun has a lot more than a year left in them. Now SGI on the other hand, needs to do a reverse stock split, or they will be delisted.... (Cray is doing quite poorly too)

It's quite nice of SUN to help the BSD folk, though I don't doubt they get more on a tax write-off than they could sell the gear for.

Re:Sun is doing OK if you compare to SGI (1)

superpulpsicle (533373) | more than 9 years ago | (#12539976)

I don't know why people think Sun is flying so much higher than SGI.

There is the SGI graphics section, which I agree has been toast for ages. Then there is the rest of SGI, doing distributed filesystems and doing alright.

Sun is far knee deeper on expense problems, layoffs and every other fight with linux. Remember when people wanted to buy ftp servers for example, they used to buy sun. Now, they buy linux/BSD. This is not an area SGI ever really competed in.

Re:Just wait another year. (1)

eviltypeguy (521224) | more than 9 years ago | (#12483005)

Somehow I doubt that a company with over 30,000 employees and billions of dollars in cash is going to go belly up in a year.

Re:Just wait another year. (1)

Zemplar (764598) | more than 9 years ago | (#12483909)

" Somehow I doubt that a company with over 30,000 employees and billions of dollars in cash is going to go belly up in a year."

Exactly.

Sun is really starting to look much more attractive to me at least. In fact, I've recently purchased a very nice Sun Java Workstation W2100z this past week at an AMAZING price from Sun and am looking forward to migrating from Linux to Solaris 10. Probably not a popular thing to say here, but do your own tests...this new setup should be fantastic and I'm seeing some other smart changes to/within Sun Microsystems.

Re:Just wait another year. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12485281)


Ironic that if Sun is AMD's #1 Opteron customer, they can probably undersell HP, IBM, and Dell on similar equipment.

It's a hard pill for the trolls to swallow, but Sun is no longer expensive.

Re:Just wait another year. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12509410)

Sun and IBM are about the same as far as server pricing with AMD processors. Sun however seems to be big time into AMD, while IBM has a "ho hum" sort of approach. Even though my companie's current vendor is IBM, I'm keeping a close watch on Sun. I would have no problem recommending Sun machines with AMD inside to anyone needing a good server.

Re:Just wait another year. (1)

Homology (639438) | more than 9 years ago | (#12490704)

Somehow I doubt that a company with over 30,000 employees and billions of dollars in cash is going to go belly up in a year.

Enron was quite a bit bigger, and yes they had cash as well.

This is how it should be done (5, Informative)

Alwin Henseler (640539) | more than 9 years ago | (#12483056)

I've seen some comments by people involved with NetBSD, complaining about lack of hardware or developer support for some lesser-used platforms/machines (and as you will know, NetBSD runs on some exotic hardware).

This example shows how things should work when supporting any specific hardware/software combination. If you want something done, donate some time by making contributions, fixes, testing, helping out developers with information about the hardware, etc. Or donate money or hardware. Or help developers by giving access to the hardware (remote shell, test their fixes etc., whatever helps).

If nobody cares about support for a particular software/hardware combination, then what is lost? Software support for hardware that nobody uses anymore. Anything remotely popular will do just fine.

Apparantly Sun cares enough to throw some hardware at the NetBSD project. Good for them, and why not? Anyway, it's nice to see the NetBSD project helped out like this.

Re:This is how it should be done (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12484560)

Yes, but it sounds like this helps Sun a hellva lot more than it helps NetBSD.

Re:This is how it should be done (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12485336)

In the business world, the proper term is "win-win".

Re:This is how it should be done (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12485110)

"Apparantly Sun cares enough to throw some hardware at the NetBSD project. Good for them, and why not? Anyway, it's nice to see the NetBSD project helped out like this."

No, they care about Sun. pkgsrc, the NetBSD package management system, also runs on Solaris. This has nothing at all to do with NetBSD, and more to do with Sun getting pkgsrc to be even better supported for their OS.

More than just hardware (3, Informative)

SunFan (845761) | more than 9 years ago | (#12483376)


From the announcement: "Sun also provided licenses for SunOne Studio 9"

That's plural, and each Studio 9 license retails for $2,995.00.

If there were several licenses, for example, this means the donation could be "worth" up to $10K or more. Sun Studio also comes with good documentation, a good debugger, run-time profiling and memory usage checking, etc. NetBSD could even use this for improving NetBSD itself, depending on their dev tool policies (Studio is not open source).

Re:More than just hardware (2, Interesting)

Homology (639438) | more than 9 years ago | (#12490676)

From the announcement: "Sun also provided licenses for SunOne Studio 9"

That's plural, and each Studio 9 license retails for $2,995.00.

If there were several licenses, for example, this means the donation could be "worth" up to $10K or more.

Really? It's of course nice of Sun to do so, but it's not like it's costing Sun $2,995.00 for each copy of software they make and sell themselves. But fear not, the bean counters know how to account for it so the total donation cost Sun just about nothing.

Re:More than just hardware (1)

SunFan (845761) | more than 9 years ago | (#12494848)


It isn't the value from Sun's POV that matters as much as the value from NetBSD's POV. NetBSD would have never have gone out and bought Sun Studio for themselves.

Re:More than just hardware (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 9 years ago | (#12497174)

And this entire donation can be offset against tax. Since the cost to Sun of these license is zero, this means that they can offset a minimum of $5,990 against tax beyond the cost to themselves. In short, the odds are that Sun actually made a profit on this whole deal.

This is not to take anything away from Sun. If they are going to dodge tax, I am more than happy for them to do so by donating hardware (and software) to NetBSD, and I wish more companies that benefit - even indirectly - from Free Software would do the same.

Sun on the right track (4, Interesting)

bsdbigot (186157) | more than 9 years ago | (#12485042)

This is a smart move, on Sun's behalf. Considering the impending release of OpenSolaris, it's important for them to foster more community involvement. What really makes me curious is the choice of NetBSD. Theo DeRaadt (OpenBSD) is (correct me if I'm wrong) a big Sun hardware nut. Nobody that knows better (and holds no other prejudice towards Theo) would accuse him of being a poor coder. I guess maybe Sun thinks that already going to be an OpenSolaris contributor? Or maybe there's been some past heated discussions between he and Sun?

I think FreeBSD may not have been the choice for two reasons: 1) they have relatively new support for Sparcs; 2) they have a more Commercial Appearance than Open or Net.

For you few that think that Sun is going out of business, you should read Yahoo finance once in a while; Sun is apparently quietly positioning themselves to go private (despite McNealy's flimsy denial); this means that, essentially, they have the cash reserves to buy back a significant portion of the outstanding stock. Of course, this all may fall to the ground, but they had a 6% jump on the rumor, which indicates a number of people thought this plausable. The firm that is supposedly helping them do this made major news when they helped Seagate? do the same thing a while back.

Sun has quietly been rebuilding themselves for a while - the acquisition of Cobalt to put them back into the PC architecture; the purchase and subsequent open-sourcing of their grid platform; the purchase and subsequent open-sourcing of OpenOffice; the purchase of NetBeans IDE and the integration of same with the previously-named Forte compiler suite. The forth-coming OpenSolaris. OK, I disagree with the Java-branded Gnome desktop (KDE would have been my preference), but it still beats the hell out of CDE or OpenLook.

I definitely feel something brewing at Sun, something really good. I've even bet money on it by purchasing a block of SUNW. I believe they are going to try to go where Apple hasn't and where MS doesn't want them - straight to the homes of millions.

Re:Sun on the right track (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12485302)


Didn't Sun also donate hardware to FreeBSD a while ago. My memory is fuzzy, but it seems there was some deal to get FreeBSD better supported on sun4u.

Re:Sun on the right track (2, Interesting)

SunFan (845761) | more than 9 years ago | (#12485634)

There's certainly a lot brewing at Sun, and a lot of it is subtle. However, piecing things together, along with hints dropped by McNealy and Schwartz here and there, indicates a whale about to emerge from what seems to be a quiet sea over at Sun.

From what I gather, this is the minimum I am expecting in the next several years (I am _not_ an insider--this is just speculation based on public information):

- a complete open source platform, from the OpenSolaris kernel (buildable with GCC) up through Java continuing up through all of JES, including an SQL database. All this backed by Sun, as a big axe to the head of .NET, primarily, but also as a value added alternative to Linux (although JES runs on Linux, too).

- Subscription-based SunRay desktops delivered to peoples' homes. These would be hosted in a secure Solaris 10 Container, managed within their Grid environment, and delivered over their new SunRay software that can go over broadband. The environment would be GNOME, StarOffice, Mozilla, Evolution, GIMP 2, etc. (all the stuff bundled in JDS). Peripheral support would be through USB, so local printers, etc. should be possible. They would have zero-administration with a 1-800 number to call for support. Buying a computer would finally be like buying a telephone.

- I would expect their Galaxy servers are aiming to crush the benchmarks (anything less would be disappointing, IMO). The leaked specs from a month or so ago put the 8-socket system with 8 or so PCI Express slots. If they are all independent busses, that would make for a 16-core Opteron system in 4U that can push something like 40GB/sec to NICs, direct attached storage, etc. If that wouldn't make for a scary database server, I don't know what would.

- Once all the announced features are shipped for Solaris 10 (ZFS, Janus, e.g.), Sun will probably be the only vendor in the world that can allow sysadmins to really use today's rediculous CPUs in a reliable manner (containers, self healing, ZFS checksums, etc.). If Sun's numbers are right, a single Solaris 10 server could replace several Linux or Windows servers, dividing server rooms by non-trivial factors. It'll be a while before the lightbulb appears above sysadmins' heads everywhere, but the potential savings are too good to ignore. Given that Solaris 10 is free right-to-use, no one else comes close.

- Renting time on the Sun Compute Grid could be huge, once people realize that the cost could easily be put into simple expense reports. In government contracting, it would be a matter of submitting the costs through the appropriate project charge number. This would bypass the rediculous hardware procurement process, which is awful. Of course, for classified work, something else is needed, but imagine a geographically distributed standards development team developing a reference implementation without needing to buy a new server or new storage for the project or having to bother sysadmins with it.

Re:Sun on the right track (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12490071)

Nice view I must say.

Re:Sun on the right track (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12494197)

- I would expect their Galaxy servers are aiming to crush the benchmarks (anything less would be disappointing, IMO). The leaked specs from a month or so ago put the 8-socket system with 8 or so PCI Express slots. If they are all independent busses, that would make for a 16-core Opteron system in 4U that can push something like 40GB/sec to NICs, direct attached storage, etc. If that wouldn't make for a scary database server, I don't know what would.

Err, you know Sun used to be undisputed king of the database server. Even their big old dinosaurs from the .com era would probably beat this thing. And Opterons really don't cut the mustard yet when it comes to RAS features.

But really, it doesn't sound like you know crap about big iron. Take a look at IBM's pSeries, for example. That's a "scary" database server.

Re:Sun on the right track (1)

SunFan (845761) | more than 9 years ago | (#12494473)


Huh? A 16 core opteron server would probably perform better than a 64-way E10K. That's seven years difference in hardware improvement and Solaris kernel tuning.

If someone determines they need better RAS, then get a UltraSPARC IV uniboard server.

What does a IBM pSeries matter? Sun is less expensive and most people would rather use Solaris than AIX, anyway.

Re:Sun on the right track (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12496934)

Huh? A 16 core opteron server would probably perform better than a 64-way E10K. That's seven years difference in hardware improvement and Solaris kernel tuning.

Really? Individual CPU speed multiplied by 16, perhaps it would beat it - maybe by a factor of 1.5 - 2, I don't really know. IO bandwidth? Maybe not. Depends how many PCI hosts you want to put on the opteron.

But even if the Opteron system slightly edged out Sun's ancient piece of crap, that doesn't make it a "scary database server". Don't make me laugh.

If someone determines they need better RAS, then get a UltraSPARC IV uniboard server.

Not these days you wouldn't. You'd get a POWER5 or an Itanium2. *Maybe* a SPARC64 from Fujitsu, but it would be hard to rationalise moving _to_ a Solaris SPARC platform these days, that would be just if your old infrastructure is Solaris.

What does a IBM pSeries matter?

You wanted a "scary database server", and pSeries will absolutely obliterate anything Sun can hope of coming up with. Their 16 core POWER5 will beat Sun's 100+ core junk in many benchmarks. Then multiply that by 4.

Oh wait! I know. By scary, you must have meant "a server you would be scared to trust your critical database to". Oh in that case, you're perfectly right.

Sun is less expensive and most people would rather use Solaris than AIX, anyway.

Ooh yeah really good argument, I think you got me there. Oh wait, more people would rather use Linux than Solaris too. More people would rather use Windows than Solaris. What's your point?

Re:Sun on the right track (1)

ignorant_coward (883188) | more than 9 years ago | (#12500442)

Itanium is DOA outside of scientific/engineering tasks. POWER5 is better, but the only options are AIX (going out of fashion) or Linux (immature on this platform). For mission critical databases Solaris/SPARC is about the only mature UNIX platform going forward. AIX, HPUX, Tru64, etc. and mainframes are either becoming very niche platforms or are very expensive. BTW, I wouldn't be suprised if a modern dual-core Opteron is at least ten times faster than an UltraSPARC II. Two 2+GHz cores vs. one 400MHz core is a pretty wide spread plus HT is several times faster than UPA, even if the UltraSPARC gets a little more done per clock. The GP's statement about a 8 socket opteron system beating a 64 socket Starfire might be an exageration, but it probably isn't too far off, especially considering comparing a 7 foot tall behemoth to a 4U rack system w/ a RAID next to it.

Re:Sun on the right track (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12505857)

Itanium is DOA outside of scientific/engineering tasks.

Possibly. HP's big enterprise servers are Itanium based, Fujitsu, NEC, Bull are all doing enterprise Itanium systems. That's more than can be said for Operon OR SPARC.

POWER5 is better, but the only options are AIX (going out of fashion) or Linux (immature on this platform). For mission critical databases Solaris/SPARC is about the only mature UNIX platform going forward. AIX, HPUX, Tru64, etc. and mainframes are either becoming very niche platforms or are very expensive.

Err, no. IBM's mainframes are actually a growth area. AIX is easily as advanced as Solaris, and what's more, the pSeries line is undisputedly without equal when you're talking about databases. While they may be niche compared to bog x86 systems, I'm sure they're generating more revenue than Sun's old "enterprise" crap.

BTW, I wouldn't be suprised if a modern dual-core Opteron is at least ten times faster than an UltraSPARC II.

What's that got to do with anything? We were talking about Sun's .com relics. So they peaked in early 2000 and crashed by mid 2000. That puts us somewhere around 900MHz USIII.

900MHz USIII specint base: 438, specfp base: 427
Single core Opteron 252 specint base: 1569, specfp base: 1852

So being generous, and doubling the single core opteron to estimate dual cores:
16x opteron specint: 25104, specfp: 29632
64x sparc specint: 28032, specfp: 27328

So yeah, in terms of CPU power, the Opteron may *just* edge out the sparc, or it may get beaten. Either way that's nothing to brag about, the sparc will be 5 or 6 years old anything worse would be pitiful.

Two 2+GHz cores vs. one 400MHz core is a pretty wide spread plus HT is several times faster than UPA, even if the UltraSPARC gets a little more done per clock. The GP's statement about a 8 socket opteron system beating a 64 socket Starfire might be an exageration, but it probably isn't too far off, especially considering comparing a 7 foot tall behemoth to a 4U rack system w/ a RAID next to it.

Why would taking that into consideration change anything? Consider that the sparc is X years old, versus a currently paper product.

Re:Sun on the right track (2, Informative)

hubertf (124995) | more than 9 years ago | (#12490064)

FYI, the machines donated by Sun to NetBSD are for _pkgsrc_ development, not NetBSD development. And as such, the machines will run Solaris, not NetBSD. pkgsrc (formerly known as the NetBSD Packages System) is a system for easy installation of 3rd party software from source, and it runs on may systems, including NetBSD and Solaris. See www.NetBSD.org/Documentation/pkgsrc/ or www.pkgsrc.org for more data.

- Hubert

Re:Sun on the right track (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12490172)

Two things here. NetBSD's pkgsrc is intended to support multiple platforms including flavours of commercial UNIX. OpenBSD's ports is (as far as I know) only intended for use with OpenBSD (on the various hardware platforms they support, of course).

Also, there was some friction between OpenBSD and Sun over release of documentation relating to the UltraSparc III, which was even lampooned in a cartoon in the OpenBSD 3.4 CD-ROM notes. See here for instance: http://kerneltrap.org/node/568 [kerneltrap.org]

Not as generous as it sounds (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 9 years ago | (#12485677)

Both the systems donated, a Sunblade 1000 and a Dell Precision 2650, are discontinued models, probably recycled after being used internally. And the software license costs them nothing to donate -- it's not as if they're losing a sale! It's nice that Sun supports this project, but lets not overstate their generosity.

Re:Not as generous as it sounds (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12486039)

what you have to consider is not how much it cost SUN, but how much it saved NetBSD. the two machines and the licensing is probably worth approximately 10k-15k. not only does it help NetBSD, but it also gives them motivation to work on something in SUN's interest. im sure if SUN gave NetBSD 10k cash, they wouldnt go out and buy some SUN boxes and licensing with all the money. both sides get the sweet end of the deal no matter how u look at it.

as for how many generosity points we give to SUN... well i dunno. the effort to find the machines and get the OK to donate them shows *someone* really cared. its not like the CEO and the CFO were hanging out and decided to do it after discussing NetBSD over a cup of coffee. i think some middle management or developer is behind it.

Re:Not as generous as it sounds (1)

Wudbaer (48473) | more than 9 years ago | (#12489958)

Well, they could just keep their stuff and throw in the trash. Even if it doesn't cost them anything besides shipping, it's still nice to donate that stuff if it's useful to the NetBSD team.

*nix (1)

delirium of disorder (701392) | more than 9 years ago | (#12489893)

Everyone benefits from portability. As someone who has run several Linux and BSD distributions, Solaris, IRIX, OSX, and HP-UX, and seen more packages become available for all platforms, I definitely think that the more software that works across multiple *nixes, the more people will use *nix instead of Windows. Getting the latest OSS packages the originally ran on GNU/Linux or BSD ported to proprietary Unix also helps keep these older platforms afloat in a rapidly changing IT world.

Sun should get NetBSD a native Java VM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12534428)

I think Sun should support NetBSD so that there is a Java VM for _every_ port. Java VM for base system now!
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