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Sun CEO On Razors And Blades

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the sign-up-for-linux dept.

Sun Microsystems 233

Kadin2048 writes "In an interview with BusinessWeek online, Sun Microsystems CEO Scott McNealy sheds some light on the company's new business model and future direction. In particular, he said that Sun's recent open source moves were part of a new strategy, where 'The software is the razor. The razor blades are the servers.' The move was called a huge risk by BusinessWeek, and it would put Sun at odds with the more traditional Microsoft-esque model with high per-seat or per-server software licensing costs and use commodity PCs and servers, which may not go over well with investors. But after having seen its stock slide and users flee for Linux and Windows, they arguably have little to lose. Perhaps the most interesting development to Slashdot readers is that in an effort to draw new developers to the platform, Sun is offering a deal that seems torn from a cell-phone company playbook: offering a "free" Ultra 20 Opteron workstation if you sign up for a $29.95/mo, 3-year service contract."

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a free WHAT? (-1, Offtopic)

FluffyWithTeeth (890188) | more than 8 years ago | (#14179570)

20 opteron system, for $30 a year? Jeez, even if it's only for three years, and has craploads of other costs, I want me one of them...

Re:a free WHAT? (1, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 8 years ago | (#14179584)

That's per month, not per year.

Still a half-decent deal.

Re:a free WHAT? (3, Informative)

AndrewStephens (815287) | more than 8 years ago | (#14179585)

Actually its $30 a month (== $360 per year). Still a good deal.

Re:a free WHAT? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14179597)

There are 12 months in a year, not 1.001, dumbass.

Re:a free WHAT? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14179619)

The workstation in question starts at ~$900 msrp. The three year service contract is ~$1000. Other than the fact that it's an interest free loan, doesn't seem to be much to be gained there.

Wrong several times over... (3, Informative)

Junta (36770) | more than 8 years ago | (#14179647)

The cost is $1080 dollars, since it is ~30/month minimum of 3 years.

Second, an Ultra 20 Opteron does not mean 20 Opterons, it means a workstation model 20 with one processor.

So, while reasonable, not nearly incredible.

Re:Wrong several times over... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14179747)

yes $1080 for a $895 dollar workstation, what a deal sign me up! I was born yesterday

Re:Wrong several times over... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14179761)

yes $1080 for a $895 dollar workstation, what a deal sign me up! I was born yesterday

That's not a bad deal. What you're forgetting is that the support contract is not just a way of hiding the machine's cost. You actually get support, of the kind companies like Dell and Apple charge a premium for.

Re:Wrong several times over... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14179988)

Second, an Ultra 20 Opteron does not mean 20 Opterons, it means a workstation model 20 with one processor.

Really? Thank you Captian Obvious!

The future? (4, Insightful)

protohiro1 (590732) | more than 8 years ago | (#14179589)

This is definetly what apple does in the consumer space. The cost of selling additional copies of software is zerom but hardware costs a certain minimum amount. If anything makes sense as a loss leader it is software that won't lose you more money the more you sell. Then of course your value proposition becomes hardware quality. Your hardware is better, it costs more (higher margin). So far this is working for apple.

Re:The future? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14180085)

Apple's strategy isn't really the same. You can't (legally) get a free copy of OS X or iLife, and Apple is only giving away source code to selected software. Apple is really selling a package: the hardware, the operating system, and the applications all combine to create their product. Sun is trying to establish a model where they sell hardware and give away the software. Maybe it'll work out for them. I hope so. Sun makes good stuff, overall. It's tends to be high quality but expensive, and many companies just look at the bottom line and want to buy the cheapest stuff at the expense of quality.

Re:The future? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14180532)

The quality of their hardware is shit. Please take a look at benchmarks for processors even intel is beating G5s. Power is a pretty good architecture, but how can you fk it up so badly? Apple has been doing that with powerpc line as well, take a decent processor, make it suck put it into their computers.

MacosX was also hacked together by idiots, it looks pretty to a certain extent, but that's that.
Installing Linux on the same mac box results in almost 4 times increase in performance, try it.

So you are just paying for a pretty package, which is another argument and sometimes I might consider investing into a pretty package.

Last Ditch Attempt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14179598)

The software is the razor. The razor blades are the servers.
And the straw is for all the coke Sun must be snorting if they think people are going to pay high software licensing costs.

Re:Last Ditch Attempt (2, Informative)

hattig (47930) | more than 8 years ago | (#14179634)

Err, you don't seem to get the concept of the razor and razorblades model.

Razor == cheap, Blades == expensive.

Or, in Sun-speak:

Software == cheap, Servers == expensive.

Which pretty much correlates with what Sun have been doing recently.

Amusingly, Sun also sell blades, of the server type :p

Razor/blade model updated : inkjet printer (1)

AwaxSlashdot (600672) | more than 8 years ago | (#14180013)

The razor/blade business model set up by Gilette can be understood better by the recent example of inkjet printer. The manufacturer gives you/sells you at a low price what you think is valuable or was valuable in preceding business model. And it locks you into buying compatibles blades/inkjet cartridge/servers and makes all its margin from what you considerer are accessories.
With inkjetq, you sometime can find deals were a brand new printer with 2 free cartridges is cheaper than twice the standalone cartridge. I have friends who bought a second printer because it was cheaper to do so :) ("Oh, all my Ferraris ashtrays are full. Let's buy a new one").

But the question is? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14179605)

Does it run Linux :p

The answer is... (1)

WidescreenFreak (830043) | more than 8 years ago | (#14179755)

Um ... The Ultra 20 is certified to run Red Hat.

Component Hardware first then gravy (4, Informative)

phorest (877315) | more than 8 years ago | (#14179606)

It would seem you buy the hardware first @ $360.00 then the rest is all gravy (software and such) @ $720.00. Retail, the system is probably about 800.00. Still not a bad deal.

Razor and Blade?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14179613)

Those guys are flakes!

Sun's spiral of doom (-1, Flamebait)

tenchiken (22661) | more than 8 years ago | (#14179616)

Sun's business model has been (IMHO) doomed for years. It's surprising that a company who really recognized the need and use for ethernet has failed to understand that computer decentrilization woudl evenetually include Sun's slightly smaller iron.

Sun is still failing to meet business needs. They pushed thin client because it explained a need that they had: How to sell large iron in a increasingly PC + Internet world.

I don't think that Sun's recent Open Source moves are going to help either. What is the problem that they want to solve? until that statement doesn't involve the words "selling large servers" Sun will continue to spiral into oblivion.

Re:Sun's spiral of doom (4, Insightful)

ChrisGilliard (913445) | more than 8 years ago | (#14179797)

I don't think that Sun's recent Open Source moves are going to help either. What is the problem that they want to solve? until that statement doesn't involve the words "selling large servers" Sun will continue to spiral into oblivion.

Open sourcing their software portfolio generates a large base of developers that contribute to the quality of the products and maybe they will even reccomend Sun hardware to their CIO. It is really no different than OpenOffice.org. Basically you get a huge amount of goodwill assosiated with your brand. Then you can sell hardware and support. The big customers will not consider buying the software without the support contracts. This model has proven to work for companies like Redhat, Mysql, Suse and others as well.

Re:Sun's spiral of doom (1)

zerocool^ (112121) | more than 8 years ago | (#14180472)


Yeah, not to mention... where do you go if you want to buy heavy hardware? If you need 86 processors in one machine? You can build a cluster, but you're probably going to spend what Sun would charge you for a sunfire 15k, by the time you spent the time on a consultant, rewrote and tested your hardware, bought your myrianet or whatever high-speed transport, and got it all running.

Not to mention - there's still a need for machines with 8 or 12 procs, and not to many companies selling them. Certainly none with the reputation for reliability sun has.

Yes, it's expensive and not for everyone... but some people really need it, so they sell it.

~W

Re:Sun's spiral of doom (2, Interesting)

Bondolo (14225) | more than 8 years ago | (#14180477)

They pushed thin client because it explained a need that they had: How to sell large iron in a increasingly PC + Internet world.
This is really narrow minded analysis. There are many industries for which thin clients are the perfect solution, call centers being the easiest example. Sun never said that the future would be only thin clients. There are lots of situations where I use a "computer" where I either don't care if it's a full PC or hope that it isn't. The automated registration kiosks at airports are a great example. I once approached a bank of these kiosks only to find that every single one had an "The application has unexpectedly quit" Windows 98 dialog on the screen. I knew that by the next time I visited the airport those kiosks would be gone. Sure enough, they were. Knowing when to apply thin client and knowing when to use a real PC requires good judgement and the correct solution isn't always going to be chosen. At least Sun is offering real thin client technology so that it can be correctly applied in the situations where it's appropriate.

How DARE they do this!!! (4, Interesting)

Halfbaked Plan (769830) | more than 8 years ago | (#14179618)

It's absolutely indecent, calling something a Sun Ultra 20 that doesn't even have an UltraSparc processor in it. I am tempted to erect a catapult across the road from Sun headquarters and hurl Ultra 5 workstations at them.

Sun truly is 'going the Carly way' it seems. Stripmining their credibility to 'preserve stock value' for a bit longer.

Re:How DARE they do this!!! (1)

Oopsz (127422) | more than 8 years ago | (#14179699)

You bring the Ultra 5s, I'll bring the trebuchet.

Re:How DARE they do this!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14180342)

I'll throw in a couple dozen ultra 10's and 60's.

Re:How DARE they do this!!! (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 8 years ago | (#14180343)

I have a few IPC's you could fire.

I would really like to have an IPX format UltraSparc III system.

Even more if FreeBSD would support UltraSparc III!

Re:How DARE they do this!!! (1)

odourpreventer (898853) | more than 8 years ago | (#14180346)

The razor blades are the servers.

Cutting edge blade servers?

Tomorrow, new Sun Fire Niagara with 8-core T1 CPU (3, Insightful)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 8 years ago | (#14179620)

This goes further into the model proposed by the post: 8-cores in the CPU (one FPU for the eight) and 32 discrete threads, all in a 2U server box. This is based on UltraSparc, but there's Solaris 10, and the port of gcc to it for seductive app transfer. The whole idea is a hardware play.

It makes me wonder why there must always be this gulf between hardware and software vendors. The most successful models meld them together handsomely into devices like iPods, mobile/pda devices, etc. This thick-thin shift is so insane. At the end of the day, we just want to do work, entertainment, and something useful with the devices we buy, and the location of what's going on is increasingly irrelevant. But perhpas this is what (F)OSS software will get for us, an army of coders coupled to an army of blade vendors, with dumb devices at the edge.

Re:Tomorrow, new Sun Fire Niagara with 8-core T1 C (2, Interesting)

John Whitley (6067) | more than 8 years ago | (#14179888)

But perhpas this is what (F)OSS software will get for us, an army of coders coupled to an army of blade vendors, with dumb devices at the edge.

I disagree with the "dumb devices" bit; that's too cynical. We can have devices at the edge that are only as smart as they need to be. This enables tons of networked apps that can relay dynamic information: news, airline flight status, and so forth. Increasingly, these tools are built into clients that aren't even web browsers (e.g. RSS readers, OS X dashboard widgets, cellphones, etc.). These networked apps make devices at the edge smarter (=== more useful), often in ways that a smarter (== more powerful) device couldn't possibly emulate.

Put another way, I could have a Cray in my basement -- but that still wouldn't help me conveniently find out when my friend's flight's arriving. The army of coders and blade vendors are still necessary to enable that application, despite a Really Smart Device providing heat for my house... ^_^

Thick v thin (2, Interesting)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 8 years ago | (#14180002)

Maybe the correct phrase is a hegenomy of devices, as this is what we have.

To extend your checking flights metaphor, I can do this on my mobile, my PDA, my notebook, or a terminal somewhere I don't own (not that I would). Each device is running something different. The mobile runs Symbian; the PDA runs WinCE, the notebook runs MacOS, and only heaven knows what the public terminal has, probably a Windows session.

At the core on the thick side is (statistically, anyway) either Apache/Tomcat, or IIS/something running the back end. Maybe Solaris, HP/UX, or something else is behind the curtain. Sun is trying to sell what's behind the curtain without thinking about the rest of the capability of the delivery system or the end device. Indeed the end device should go away or become something very uniform and manageable by their last perceived closed app, Java.

Yuck. I don't think that behind the curtain model works. Yes, hulking fast servers are good things. But divorcing what's at the edge is really very silly, unless you're a hardware server maker like Sun--- who provides none of those edge devices-- so in their minds they must not exist. These devices aren't embraced, they're ignored. It's egalitarianism through ignorance and hubris.

This is the same thick model they've been bandying about since inception, and failing-- except during the dot-bomb era when people just bought hardware for mindless reasons and irrational exuberance. As Robert Plant might sing, the song remains the same.... just a new stanza.

Sun is otherwise pretty smart, and smarter than Red Hat and SuSE when it comes to Unix. But they're also stuck in their own mud. McNealy and Schwartz should exit, and get a team that can appeal to a new and differently incented group of buyers. But their egos get in the way. They always do.

Looks nice -- but there's a whole Opteron Line (3, Interesting)

putko (753330) | more than 8 years ago | (#14179630)

This deal looks neat.

But Sun has a whole line of Opteron-based computers.

Does anyone have anything good/bad to say about their entry model, the X2100?

Here's the review I saw: http://anandtech.com/systems/showdoc.aspx?i=2530 [anandtech.com]

I like the idea that it is an off-the shelf minimal server.

Note: putko's racism (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14179689)

Moderators, please note putko's posting history [slashdot.org] . Bigotry this exaggerated [slashdot.org] could only be a twisted attempt at irony, right? But in light of some of his other comments, which range from the vaguely hostile towards Jews [slashdot.org] to the circumstantially Buchananesque [slashdot.org] , it would seem his remarks [slashdot.org] are entirely sincere.

This sort of intolerant, ignorant drivel is an embarrassment to us all. With your help, moderators, we can drive him down to posting at -1 where he belongs.

Re:Note: putko's racism (1)

willpall (632050) | more than 8 years ago | (#14179735)

I'm sorry, but when I moderate, I moderate the comment, not the poster. I don't give a fuck if the guy goes around all day posting about his love of raping babies; if his comment here is relevant, it will be moderated accordingly. Go take your thought police bullshit somewhere else.

Re:Note: putko's racism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14179944)

Then visit the linked comments and moderate those instead. It's embarrassing that some are still at +5, oblique as they are in their bigotry.

Re:Looks nice -- but there's a whole Opteron Line (4, Funny)

timeOday (582209) | more than 8 years ago | (#14179911)

Yeah, if this isn't committed [sun.com] to AMD I don't know what is:
High-performance AMD Opteron processor-based system at Pentium 4 workstation prices
Man, the world is upside-down. Now when companies advertise steak at hamburger prices, Intel is the hamburger.

Nice, but too expensive (3, Insightful)

jurt1235 (834677) | more than 8 years ago | (#14179633)

3 years is $1,078.20.
That is for the basic model. For something with real specs, 2GB ram, faster processor, and a Dual layer DVD burner, you have to pay a $1,800 premium.
For that money you can buy a Dual core 2.3 GHz Power G5 and have change left.
Your real profit here: The Apple looks a lot better, and is still cheaper.
For the sad design of this Sun box, they should charge Dell prices, this since they are competing with Dell with the Fire server line anyway.

Re:Nice, but too expensive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14179721)

What makes you think that G5 workstation is faster than equivalent Sun's Opteron workstation?

Re:Nice, but too expensive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14179736)

SUN is DEAD [yahoo.com] Wall Street is pricing it that way, too.

I guess that means we'll start seeing on /.

SUN on BSD is REALLY DEAD! ;-)

Consider: (4, Insightful)

imsabbel (611519) | more than 8 years ago | (#14179737)

Some people pay more for _just_ a service contract.
Without any hardware whatsoever.

Re:Nice, but too expensive (1)

PenGun (794213) | more than 8 years ago | (#14180009)

Nah, just dumb. Buy an nForce4 board and drop in an Opteron 165. Will utterly destroy the Mac for way less. OC it a bit and it'll beat everything for a year or maybe even two.

    PenGun
  Do What Now ??? ... Standards and Practices !

Slashdotted the sun site? (2, Funny)

SauroNlord (707570) | more than 8 years ago | (#14179639)

Lol, I hope that's not an indication of the Ultra 20....

Model that fits... (1)

Lord_Dweomer (648696) | more than 8 years ago | (#14179650)

So the question is...is this model something they're trying to pigeon hole themselves into, or will it actually work. This business model in particular is despised by consumers who are today acutely aware of how vile it is for the consumer and how great it is for the company.

while we're going with the analogy (4, Funny)

intmainvoid (109559) | more than 8 years ago | (#14179656)

The software is the razor. The razor blades are the servers. Together they're slicing up Sun's stock price.

Website and RAID (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14179657)

I have been *really* tempted to buy a number of Sun systems. Their website, however, sucks so bad that I can't bring myself to do it. Okay, so Dell might be "lower end", but they know how to design a website for goodness sake! On the Sun site, you can't tell exactly what you're getting, and it's not clear how to change things. Who wants anything without RAID these days? I want to customize the EXACT machine I want, not work inside their template. If they can't handle that, then they're in for some more bad days ahead.

How do I choose RAID on any of those systems? How do I replace it with a faster hard drive? How do I change the software stack. I might be able to figure it out, but generally it seems like they don't get it. If they simply made their website better they would triple their revenue.

Re:Website and RAID (1, Insightful)

WidescreenFreak (830043) | more than 8 years ago | (#14179730)

So, because you can't customize it on their web site, you're snubbing them all together? Have you not heard of something called a telephone? You can order Sun systems to your customization. Try it. I know, it's one of those archiac, analog devices, but it works! Really!

Wow. How the Internet doth spoil the impatient.

WTF? MOD PARENT BACK UP!! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14180244)

Okay, whoever modded the parent down is clueless. Sun can indeed customize their systems to anything you want. I work for a VAR. I know these things. In fact, it's my job to know these things. Yes, you are only given a certain number of configurations on the main web site, but that's called SIMPLICITY. They offer what they consider to be the most basic configurations that would appease a major market and they make those available. If that's not what you want, you are always free to contact their sales department or a VAR.

And I agree that if you're too lazy to pick up a telephone and actually **gasp** TALK to someone, you obviously don't really have an interest in the system and just want to complain.

Call a spade a spade and you get modded down. Unbelievable. Only on /.

Re:Website and RAID (0, Offtopic)

Penguinoflight (517245) | more than 8 years ago | (#14180280)

Ok, so you have a little trouble understanding things (like slashdot moderation for example). There just isn't any substitute to being able to look at a figure on your screen, then print it out, show it to your boss/family etc. Personally I'm afraid that I'll end up shouting at the brain dead foriegner on the other end of the line.

BTW, over/under rated modeations are used mostly to combat posts that look right out of context. Most of your MM's will not read 3-4 level parent comments to figure out what's going on, when they can just look at the target post in the MM page. I'm sure any seasoned slashdotter has had their comment moderated overrated because some idiot doesn't like their point of view, but for the most part this mod is essential for keeping slashdot together.

Re:Website and RAID (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14180197)

How do I choose RAID on any of those systems? How do I replace it with a faster hard drive? How do I change the software stack. I might be able to figure it out, but generally it seems like they don't get it. If they simply made their website better they would triple their revenue.

If your running Solaris, explore metainit for the RAID.

If you want bigger or faster hard drives, go out and get some faster and/or larger SATA hard drives and swap them out.

If you had problems with the web site, then I guess it hints at the problem. "Defective user, change user and then continue."

Re:Website and RAID (1)

thomasa (17495) | more than 8 years ago | (#14180561)

I'd never purchase a computer from Sun. I might purchase a
Sun computer from a Sun reseller but generally speaking - at
least for their Sparc products - they charge too much. You
can get their computers cheaper elsewhere. Again this might
not be for the X86 products. I have never priced them at
Sun and at someone else.

Yeah, right. (4, Funny)

Council (514577) | more than 8 years ago | (#14179676)

Sun is offering a deal that seems torn from a cell-phone company playbook: offering a "free" Ultra 20 Opteron workstation if you sign up for a $29.95/mo, 3-year service contract.

Oh, come on, we can see right through that. It's just another sleazy attempt by Sun to acquire money in exchange for goods and services.

The nerve.

Re:Yeah, right. (0, Troll)

Chaffar (670874) | more than 8 years ago | (#14179808)

It's just another sleazy attempt by Sun to acquire money in exchange for goods and services.

And how do you expect them to acquire money if it's not in exchange for goods and/or services ? At least they're offering "something" in exchange for your dollars, it's not OUTRIGHT extortion like some other companies *cough*IwillresistthetemptationtobashM...*cough*

Re:Yeah, right. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14180162)

Time to work on that sense of humor.

For How Long Though? (0)

PlayfullyClever (934896) | more than 8 years ago | (#14179683)

I am glad to see sun going in to an open source direction, but how long will it last this time?

When Solaris 8 source was released, it was not exaclty open source, and did not last long at all.

I think that Sun is schizophrenic wrt open source - one minute they love it, the next it is stealing jobs or doomed to fail or whatever. Also, I remember to get ahold of the solaris 8 source you had to sign a contract and couldn't do anything other than look at the code - no local changes, certainly no distribution or discussion with anyone (even within my company) who had not signed the contract. I wound checking their libc source a couple times to verify 2.6/2.8 compatibility of some software and that is about it. That license made it nearly useless.

Re:For How Long Though? (1)

ZorinLynx (31751) | more than 8 years ago | (#14179751)

>no local changes,

How the heck can they enforce that? If the company is running a hacked version of ypbind behind closed doors and a firewall, how is Sun going to know? Are they psychic? }:)

-Z

Re:For How Long Though? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14180470)

http://cvs.opensolaris.org/source/ [opensolaris.org]

Current Solaris source, available under an OSI-approved Open Source license.

Bitch all you want. The Ultra 20 is incredible. (5, Insightful)

WidescreenFreak (830043) | more than 8 years ago | (#14179707)

Let people bitch about how you can build your own for a cheaper price. The Ultra 20 is still the better deal as far as I'm concerned.

* 3 year warranty on both hardware AND software (for which you have to pay extra with just about all other vendors)

* One of the most mature operating systems out there

* One of the most mature 64-bit operating systems out there (TRUE 64 bit)

* The only commercial system that is certified to run the three (arguably) most popular operating systems - Windows, Solaris, and Red Hat

Considering all of those factors, I still consider the Ultra 20 to be a hell of a bargain.

The only catch is that is it NOT $29.95 per month. You pay in three annual installments. I posted an open letter to Sun on a web site that I write for criticizing them for continually advertising $29.95 a month when they actually do not offer such financing. Jonathan Schwartz actually responded to it on his blog stating that financing and legal are the slowest segments of any corporation to respond to new ideas and that the Ultra 20's marketing was rushed. Just an FYI on that.

Still, I'd have that Ultra 20 replace my Sun Blade 100 at home in an instant if I had the finances at the moment.

Re:Bitch all you want. The Ultra 20 is incredible. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14179762)

* One of the most mature 64-bit operating systems out there (TRUE 64 bit)

You do realise its an AMD Opteron, not a Sparc in this model?

Re:Bitch all you want. The Ultra 20 is incredible. (5, Insightful)

WidescreenFreak (830043) | more than 8 years ago | (#14179774)

Considering that I've been working with Sun hardware for over 10 years, yes, I am fully aware of that.

Am I supposed to care? In fact, is anyone supposed to care? If you want the UltraSPARC line, Sun still has high-end workstations to take care of that as well as ALL of their mid-range and high-end servers. They're all UltraSPARC driven. I love this system for numerous reasons, not the least of which is that the Ultra 20 supports my two favorite underdogs - Sun and AMD.

The hypocrisy on Slashdot is amazing. We all scream and cheer with "It's about time" at the announcement that Dell might sell AMD hardware. But with Sun, suddenly the attitude is "{nose in air} Well! It's NOT an UltraSPARC! Hrmph! Peasantry!"

Re:Bitch all you want. The Ultra 20 is incredible. (0, Flamebait)

goober1473 (714415) | more than 8 years ago | (#14179976)

Good news about AMD for Sun, IBM have a bigger research budget than Sun's turnover, by doing this they stand a chance at keeping up in performance terms. Although virtualisation on i386 is junk compaired to PPC, I don't want to hear about Containers, they are nothing more than glorified BSD jails, IBM have the right idea with hypervisor - but then they know this after 30 odd years of mainframe.

Re:Bitch all you want. The Ultra 20 is incredible. (1, Interesting)

TallMatthew (919136) | more than 8 years ago | (#14180315)

The Ultra 20 may be a good box but this is doomed. Who is going to go to a prorpietary Unix vendor for x86 workstations/servers? You go to Dell/HP/IBM for that stuff; it doesn't matter whose box outperforms whose because perception guides these decisions more than anything. You go to Sun if you want an server for Oracle and you don't even do that so much anymore.

Sun nursed their hardware monopoly for too long and Linux came up and bit them in the ass with price performance. It didn't matter that Solaris performed better because the hardware cost so damned much. By the time they realized they couldn't rely on their reputation, they were toast. If they had done anything serious in the x86 market five years ago or so, a project like this might be viable, but at this point they look like SGI who, you may recall, came out with a line of NT workstations about five years ago. I suspect this will end up as successful.

Re:Bitch all you want. The Ultra 20 is incredible. (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 8 years ago | (#14180014)

You do realise its an AMD Opteron, not a Sparc in this model?
Isn't the Opteron processor actually a lot faster?

Wake up when I can get a Niagra-based workstation for a few grand. make -j 32, mmmm. But somehow I have a feeling they'll cost a fortune so I'll never get one. Anyways I need some FLOPS with my IOPS. Perhaps the perfect workstation of 2006 will be a $100K Niagra box with a $300 PS3 math coprocessor :)

Re:Bitch all you want. The Ultra 20 is incredible. (2, Interesting)

Frumious Wombat (845680) | more than 8 years ago | (#14179862)

Considering what I've spent on service contracts over the last several years, that's not a bad deal. The box only has to flake once, and it's probably paid for itself. This presumes, of course, that your downtime is worth something. I bought desktops from IBM and HP for the last job because we got a three-year service contract with them, and paid slightly more (total) for hardware only for PIV/Xeon-based machines.

The best part of a three-year contract is that the company is betting that it won't see that box again during that period, so you have some hope that it's built to a reasonable quality standard. There's nothing worse (computer-wise) than getting a supposedly great price on a piece of equipment, just to watch it act flaky (eating into your productivity) for months before ultimately dying decisively (eating even further).

I wish them the best of luck. They have good tools, and maybe they can make enough off support and hardware to keep going. I personally think they should charge some minimal amount for the bundle, as Apple does, just for psychological reasons, but if they've thought this through, then let's see how it works.

Re:Bitch all you want. The Ultra 20 is incredible. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14180260)

what about the ULTRA 1000 or ULTRA 2000. You couuld pick one with 2G RAM and two CPUs, they are also SPARC IIIs, the price is less than what you pay for the ultra20 (opteron)

froogle.com points to several stores, anysystem.com one of them.

You're not very good at being a troll. (2, Informative)

WidescreenFreak (830043) | more than 8 years ago | (#14180337)

Troll. You're a complete troll, and you're not very good at it, I might add.

You cannot compare new items to grey/aftermarket for many reasons, not the least of which is because of warranty. There is not one liquidator or after-market reseller that will offer anything like a 3 year warranty on parts and software for an item which obviously is not theirs. (I'm quite sure that no aftermarket reseller is owned by Sun.) To put those units under a three-year warranty with Sun, it might have to be recertified, which is not free, depending on your local sales rep's time of the month (that's a joke, folks), and it will definitely cost more to put that system under a maintenance contract for three years. So, yes, you can buy it cheaper, but putting it under maintenance contract is much more expensive than just buying an Ultra 20 outright. You clearly do not work with Sun hardware in a corporate environment on a regular basis or you'd know this.

Since the warranty is the major selling point of the Ultra 20, your attempt to downplay the Ultra 20 has no merit.

Back to troll school with you! Go! Bad troll! BAD!!

because you know you all love this movie.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14179709)

"Razor and Blade? They're FREAKS!"

erm... (-1)

VirexEye (572399) | more than 8 years ago | (#14179726)

Is it me or does Sun sound kind of suicidal?

Re:erm... (-1, Offtopic)

Quirk (36086) | more than 8 years ago | (#14179788)

A Song for Sun

You can still find a job,
go out and talk to a friend.
On the back of every magazine
there are those coupons you can send.
Why don't you join the Rosicrucians,
they can give you back your hope,
you can find your love with diagrams
on a plain brown envelope.
But you've used up all your coupons
except the one that seems
to be written on your wrist
along with several thousand dreams.
Now Santa Claus comes forward,
that's a razor in his mit;
and he puts on his dark glasses
and he shows you where to hit;
and then the cameras pan,
the stand in stunt man,
dress rehearsal rag,
it's just the dress rehearsal rag,
you know this dress rehearsal rag,
it's just a dress rehearsal rag.

Leonard Cohen
Dress Rehersal Rag

Re:erm... (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 8 years ago | (#14180030)

Is it me or does Sun sound kind of suicidal?
What would you do? Their niche is shrinking. That's pretty hard to get around.

The razor blades are the servers? (2, Funny)

DoubleRing (908390) | more than 8 years ago | (#14179744)

Ok, ok, let me get this straight: The server is the computer, and the server is the razor blade that is on the razor, which is the software. So, the computer, which is the server, which is the razor blade, runs the software, which is the razor. I'm confused. Either Sun is trying to shave using the handle as the blade and the blade as a handle, or I missed something...

Re:The razor blades are the servers? (1)

MasterPi (896501) | more than 8 years ago | (#14179780)

I think they got confused by the commercials for these. [ibm.com] Or maybe these. [motorola.com]

Is that whole razor/blade plan a good idea? (1)

Xcott Craver (615642) | more than 8 years ago | (#14179749)

We're always alluding to this business model of giving away razors but making money off replacement blades.

But, does that business model actually work? I mean, for razors?

I mean, when I go to the store to get more blades, I always forget what specific type of handle I have. It's not something I really spend the effort to commit to memory. So I just don't buy new cartridges, putting it off until next time.

Or, I just buy the disposable safety razors instead, which are cheaper anyway. Having to remember the type of handle or track down the specific model is enough of a pain to remind me that it's silly to spend all that money on a 3-bladed replacement cartridge. If you actually bother to use decent shaving cream and hot water, a cheapo safety razor does the job just as well.

Come to think of it, it's not a giant sacrifice for Schick to give away the handle anyway. It's a damn piece of injection-molded plastic. Nor is it unusual for a consumer to have 5 different handles, so it's not like they're locking you in.

Surely the strategy makes more sense in the tech sector, where you really can lock someone in to a platform. But I find it odd that we're always analogizing this to a business strategy outside the tech sector that just doesn't sound particularly effective.

Xcott

Re:Is that whole razor/blade plan a good idea? (1)

greginnj (891863) | more than 8 years ago | (#14179901)

The whole 'give-away-the-razor, profit-on-the-blades' goes way back. When we're talking about razors, in that metaphor, we're not talking about injection-molded plastic handles for a Sensor or Mach-3, we're going back to the days of double-sided, steel-only blades. Note that the euphemism speaks of 'blades', not 'cartridges', tipping you off to this.

In those days, a razor was a solidly made metal consumer product [classicshaving.com] , like a small hand tool. It made good marketing sense to give away -- or sell very cheaply -- something that had high perceived value, especially when it would only function with the manufacturer's specially socketed blades. And when there were only 2 or 3 different models (equivalent to the manufacturer's name), it was a lot easier to keep track of which brand you were committed to -- as opposed to today's menagerie of 40 different product lines.

Razors and egos (2, Interesting)

fm6 (162816) | more than 8 years ago | (#14180050)

The "safety razor" model is easy to misunderstand, because the term doesn't mean what it used to back with Scott McNeely (and I) learned to shave.

Back in the 19th century, all men shaved with straight razors. Then in 1905 King Gilette patented a disposable-blade razor [about.com] . It was called a "safety razor" purely for marketting reasons. Its main selling point was that you never had to sharpen the blade — when it got dull you just threw it out and bought a new one.

And yes, they did sell the handles at a loss, and made it back selling the blades But that was just to ease market resistance. The product stood on its own merits.

It's an interesting strategy, it doesn't apply in 90% of the business models it's claimed for. I certainly don't see how it applies to computers. Everybody know about Total Cost of Ownership, and aren't going to be impressed that they can get a Sun box for free. If Sun is going to make all its money off of software and customer service, then they should stop making computers altogether, and leave the hardware headaches to others.

Re:Razors and egos (2, Insightful)

markov_chain (202465) | more than 8 years ago | (#14180581)

Everybody know about Total Cost of Ownership, and aren't going to be impressed that they can get a Sun box for free. If Sun is going to make all its money off of software and customer service, then they should stop making computers altogether, and leave the hardware headaches to others.

It's the other way around. They are giving away the software (open sourcing it) with the intention of making money on, presumably, well built hardware. It makes sense, since there is room for innovation in big server installations (management, power consumption, reliability, failover, etc. etc.) and they have the hardware experience that could give them an edge.

Tired of overused analogies (2, Insightful)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 8 years ago | (#14179819)

"razor and blade" would qualify as an overused analogy for marketing, though it kind of fits, because the software is free or cheap and the hardware is sadly exorbitantly priced.

Re:Tired of overused analogies (1)

zerocool^ (112121) | more than 8 years ago | (#14180441)


"Razor and Blade?!? They're flakes!"

"They're Elite!"

(see userid... making fun of my name is on topic for once!!)

~Will

Free + Monitor + HDD $0 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14179834)

Sure, you pay $1100 in three chunks, but that doesn't include the monitor, the HDD, and other stuff.

For those of you who see the title, and go "Yay!!", I suggest you go ahead and customize it, and see the final price.

Perhaps the monitor, HDD, etc are workstation-grade, but they are definitely not cheap.

Styptic? (2, Funny)

kybred (795293) | more than 8 years ago | (#14179904)

The software is the razor. The razor blades are the servers.

What is the styptic pencil, then?

Re:Styptic? (1)

HardCase (14757) | more than 8 years ago | (#14180192)

A patch.

It's bold. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14179935)

Not sure how successful it's going to be but it's definitely bold.


I think the opterons are kind of a stop gap, I can't sun staying there, it's just that it's their only option. They can't honestly expect to go head to head with Dell.


Really is all comes down to their flow machines, or whatever they're calling niagra, if it's the real deal then they might pull this off. If not, then from what I've gathered, they're getting amped about storage and that's plan b. I guess I've just never been that impressed by Sun's hardware building capability, the whole package has turned out pretty nice between the software and the hardware but the hardware by itself has seemed kind of mediocre compared what others are doing.

Software Bundle? (1)

adolfojp (730818) | more than 8 years ago | (#14179952)

Their free software bundle advertising of
Sun Studio
Sun Java Studio Creator
Sun Java Studio Enterprise
is quite ridiculous, considering that if you visit their website you will notice that it is already free ;-)
http://developers.sun.com/prodtech/devtools/free/ [sun.com]

Cheers,
Adolfo

PS. I wonder if they have fixed the swing clear type issues.

Re:Software Bundle? (1)

Heembo (916647) | more than 8 years ago | (#14180106)

Dude, it includes 3 years of SOFTWARE support, which you do NOT get when you download for free. This is H-U-G-E.

coke is? (1)

coolraul (936086) | more than 8 years ago | (#14179957)

"The software is the razor. The razor blades are the servers." ...and what would be the uncut Columbian cocaine?

Sun CEO on razors and blades (1, Funny)

XNormal (8617) | more than 8 years ago | (#14179970)

Ouch! I know you don't like him too much, but this is just cruel.

Fuck Everything, We're Doing Open Source (5, Funny)

NZheretic (23872) | more than 8 years ago | (#14179983)

Taking a leaf from Gillette's playbook [theonion.com] :
By Scott McNealy
CEO and President,
The Sun Corperation.
December 2 2005

Would someone tell me how this happened? We were the fucking vanguard of Unix servers in this country. SUN was the server to own. Then the other guy came out with a open source Linux based servers. Were we scared? Hell, no. Because we hit back with a little thing called Solaris. That's three layered enterprise system and J2EE application server. For portability. But you know what happened next? Shut up, I'm telling you what happened--the bastards went to GCJ and JONAS. Now we're standing around with our cocks in our hands, selling three layered enterprise system and J2EE strip. portability or no, suddenly we're the chumps. Well, fuck it. We're going "open source".

Sure, we could go open source next, like the competition. That seems like the logical thing to do. After all, three worked out pretty well, and four is the next number after three. So let's play it safe. Let's make a thicker Java layer and call it the Solaris enterprise environment. Why innovate when we can follow? Oh, I know why: Because we're a business, that's why!

You think it's crazy? It is crazy. But I don't give a shit. From now on, we're the ones who have the edge in the open source game. Are they the best a man can get? Fuck, no. Solaris is the best OS a man can get.

What part of this don't you understand? If the BSD license is good, and the GPL license is better, obviously Sun's even more restrictive open source lisence would make us the best fucking system that ever existed. Comprende? We didn't claw our way to the top of the Unix game by clinging to the posix industry standard. We got here by taking chances. Well, open sourcing theo whole Solaris entrprise system is the biggest chance of all.

Here's the report from Engineering. Someone put it in the bathroom: I want to wipe my ass with it. They don't tell me what to invent--I tell them. And I'm telling them to stick two more abstraction layers in there. I don't care how. Make the JVM so thin it's invisible. Put some on the management interface. I don't care if they have to cram the new enterprise layer in perpendicular to the other four, just do it!

You're taking the "Operating" part of "Operating System" too literally, grandma. Cut the strings and soar. Let's hit it. Let's roll. This is our chance to make platform history. Let's dream big. All you have to do is say that five blades can happen, and it will happen. If you aren't on board, then fuck you. And if you're on the board, then fuck you and your father. Hey, if I'm the only one who'll take risks, I'm sure as hell happy to hog all the glory when Solaris becomes the development tool for the U.S. of "this is how we program now" A.

People said we couldn't go to three. It'll cost a fortune to develop, they said. Well, we did it. Now some egghead in a lab is screaming "Five's crazy?" Well, perhaps he'd be more comfortable in the labs at Microsoft, working on fucking VISTA. Secure platform, my white ass!

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe we should just ride in Microsoft's wake and make game consoles. Ha! Not on your fucking life! The day I shadow a penny-ante outfit like Microsoft is the day I leave the operating system game for good, and that won't happen until the day I die!

The market? Listen, we make the market. All we have to do is put her out there with a little jingle. It's as easy as, "Hey, developing with anything less than J2EE is like hacking lines of VB off with a dull hatchet." Or "You'll be so smooth, I could snort lines off your firewall." Try "Your source is going to be so friggin' soft, someone's gonna walk up and tie a goddamn Cub Scout kerchief around it."

I know what you're thinking now: What'll people say? Mew mew mew. Oh, no, what will people say?! Grow the fuck up. When you're on top, people talk. That's the price you pay for being on top. Which SUN is, always has been, and forever shall be, Amen, open source, sweet Jesus in heaven.

Stop. I just had a stroke of genius. Are you ready? Open your mouth, baby birds, cause Mama's about to drop you one sweet, fat nightcrawler. Here she comes: Make the entire Solaris system free and charge for service on on that fucker, too. That's right. Open source, freely available, and make the dvelopment kit free to. You heard me--the development system is free to. It's a whole new way to think about the openating systems and hardware market. Don't question it. Don't say a word. Just key the music, and call the chorus girls, because we're on the edge--the enterprise edge--and I feel like dancing.

Servers are the razors also? (3, Interesting)

xant (99438) | more than 8 years ago | (#14180024)

They're giving away the servers *and* the software. I guess it's the service contract that's the razor.

Given Sun's business acumen the last decade, I expect them to start giving that away too. Not that I'd be happy about that. Competition is good, so competitors shooting themselves in the foot is bad.

Better Check the Fine Print (2, Funny)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 8 years ago | (#14180060)

Sun is offering a deal that seems torn from a cell-phone company playbook: offering a "free" Ultra 20 Opteron workstation if you sign up for a $29.95/mo, 3-year service contract."

Here are some of the cellphone-like terms from that contract:

- Service plan includes up to 1 Trillion CPU instructions per month, absolutely free.

- Extra CPU instructions are billed at $0.08/Billion peak, $0.03/Billion nights and weekends.

- Free instructions do not include floating-point operations. All floating point instructions are billed at $0.11/Billion.

- Monthly bill will also include a regulatory cost recovery service fee. You agree to pay this fee each month. This fee is not a tax, and it is not a required government payment. It is not possible for you to know the cost of this fee until you receive your bill. The amount of this fee is determined totally at the provider's discretion, it may change from month to month, and you agree that there is no limit how high the fee may be set. You agree that the provider is not required to justify the fee or base its amount on any reason whatsoever.

- If you cancel the contract before the 3-year term is up, you will be responsible for an early termination fee of $75,000 per system per month of contract remaining, up to a maximum of $3,200,000.

- The system remains the property of the provider. At the end of the contract term, you must return it in like-new condition, and you will be responsible for a $2895 restocking fee, plus, at our sole discretion, refurbishing fees for any wear, tear or damage to the system.

- This system is not compatible with household A/C electrical power. This system requires 3-phase, 153 Hz, 67 Volt RMS power. You are responsible for using a compatible power source. Failure to connect appropriate power will destroy the system, and will result in damage fees of at least $17,000. You may purchase optional compatible power from us. Our current rates are $34.50/kWH plus $179/month power connection fee.

- We may change any term of this contract at any time without notice. You agree that any and all changes are binding on you and you heirs.

This has been obvious for years, Scott (1)

hobuddy (253368) | more than 8 years ago | (#14180064)

Anyone who's tried to write a Java program that uses minimal hardware resources already knows that Sun views "the software as the razor; the servers as the blades."

Sun webstore offer on Ultra 20 (1)

dnaumov (453672) | more than 8 years ago | (#14180066)

"Sun is offering a deal that seems torn from a cell-phone company playbook: offering a "free" Ultra 20 Opteron workstation if you sign up for a $29.95/mo, 3-year service contract."

Goddamn. This nearly had me fall off my chair. Then I went to SUN's site and realised that this offer is for the US customers only and not applicable to EU customers :(

Business Plan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14180088)

  1. Give away FREE computers (with 3-year "we pwn ur soul" contract)
  2. Bill customers for unexpected "Federal Universal Anti-Terrorism Regulatory Yak Herder Roaming Fees"
  3. Profit!

Give them credit here for this (2, Insightful)

onyxruby (118189) | more than 8 years ago | (#14180098)

Give them credit for this, it's a pretty decent deal actually. The only thing I don't like though is the fact their educational skills package is $3000. I'd like to learn Sun Solaris, and the one school I found near where I live that teaches it closed the very day I was to start class. I live one of the most tech heavy / college heavy areas in the US to boot!

Message to Sun, if you want more IT people on your hardware and software, you need to make it easier for people to gain those skills (you have just made it easier to gain the hardware). Books only go so far, you have to play with it, learn it and use it to know it. I'm interested in learning Sun, but no *nix shop is going to let me in the door no matter how many years of IT experience I have with just a book education. People want education, so make it easier for the lay person to afford it, ok?

The best advocate for your product is the IT person. The best way to get the advocate is to make sure that the IT person can learn you product. I've been looking for a reasonably affordable option to get trained on Sun for years, most IT people can't talk their contract house into paying for your clases. Novell, Microsoft and Novell all have readily available classes in community colleges and the like, Sun, where are you?

Sneaky way to get all of the payment up front (3, Informative)

thpdg (519053) | more than 8 years ago | (#14180103)

"Payment method for this promotion is credit card only. The credit card used at time of your Sun Store purchase must be valid for 3 years to allow for proper 2 and 3 year payment installments. If credit card used is valid for less then 3 years, card will be billed in full for all 3 years at the time of delivery."

Make sure you check the expiration date on your card before you order!

Doesn't work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14180129)

The razor and blades model doesn't work when there are lower-cost blades to use your razor with. Viva portability.

In a related story. . . (1)

kimvette (919543) | more than 8 years ago | (#14180245)

Gilette files suit against Sun Microsystems citing trademark infringement (confusion on part of the customer) and also for infringing upon their business model. When token minority Faux News corrrespondent Virginia Washington questioned Gilette CEO regarding the validity of the suit, he responded "It is well known that we established the business model by selling inexpensive razors with expensive proprietary razor blade refills. It is clear that Sun Microsystems is attempting to capitalize our trademarks and trade names with their newly-announced product line. We believe the public is comprised of idiots and may begin to associate in their minds affiliation between Sun Microsystems and Gilette. Besides, we're bigger than Sun Microsystems. The law means nothing when you have enough money to buy off judges."

Various bloggers who are open source proponents web sites sharply criticised both Gilette and Sun Microsystems, claiming that the design for both both kinds of razors should be open, to avoid vendor lock-in issues. Richard Stallman issued a statement demanding that not only should the design be open, but freely given away because when he ran out of razor refills he was forced to buy a different brand along with its expensive refills because the store he went to was out of Gilette razors. When Faux news inquired what the hell that has to do with anything, Stallman replied "I already have plenty of money in the bank myself, so I don't think that there is any need for anyone to make money off of razors. After all, I'm all set, who gives a rat's ass about anyone else?" FAUX Correspondant Virginia Washington pointed out that many razor choices exist and no one forced Stallman to choose Gilette, to which he responded "Didn't I mention I already made my money? I no longer see any need for razor manufacturers to charge for their products or block others from producing identical products for free."

(this has been a weak attempt at humor poking fun at both FOX and current patent and trademark cases and how the law often goes ignored in such cases. Roll your eyes and move on, or chuckle a bit)

another entry in the OT parade (1)

thegnu (557446) | more than 8 years ago | (#14180397)

'The software is the razor. The razor blades are the servers.'

This reminds me of a line from Heart Cooks Brain by Modest Mouse:

On my way to God don't know or care
My brain's the weak heart, and my heart's the long stairs.


Next up from Sun: Server cooks software.

Why risky? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14180432)

I don't understand why this is regarded as a risky move. It's a proven business plan. Hell, it's the one Apple uses right now. The razors are songs sold via the iTunes music store for minimal, if any, profit and at significant up-front cost. The blades are the iPods.

Sunny side? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14180487)

Fujitsu Siemens offers extremely good pricing on very nice options (Opteron processors, maximum RAM, ..) (Europe). Monarch Computer offers an even wider range of hardware at similarly competitive prices (USA). So much for the top performance/price relationship. Then, Dell and IBM / Lenovo offer corporate hardware and some nice laptops. Then, Acer has some extremely affordable stock models that don't allow much individual tweaking but prices are really good. After that, you may consider Apple hardware which may cost a bit more in terms of hardware, but offers most in terms of desktop productivity as Mac OS X beats them all. (Yes I want that Acer running OS X ...)

Now... where was it that HP, SGI or Sun actually came in? Did I miss something here? As far as I know, you know even before you look up any HP, SGI or Sun offers that there's a rip-off. Either the hardware is affordable (but has some restrictions) (why restrict a 64-bit processor to 4GB RAM?), or it's simply far, far, far too expensive. Either way: 'no deal'.

If you see something (anything!) at Sun's webstore, think again - someone else *will* sell you a better device for cheaper.

case design (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14180540)

That's one of the nicer looking cases. Anyone have insights into it's design? Is it as easy to open as a Dell, or Mac? Are there extra bays for additional drives? (I'll need two CD bays).
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