Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Ultra Cheap Ultras From Sun

CmdrTaco posted more than 14 years ago | from the crazy-scott-slashing-prices dept.

Sun Microsystems 169

madHomer writes "I just read that Sun is going to be selling some Ultra 5's for less then $2,000. They did not include specs in the press release. I am very curious what the "base" model is. They say they are not going after the home market, but the developer market. "

cancel ×


Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

What I"m interested in about this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1637535)

I've really liked sun hardware in the past except that it's been really expensive.

Now the thing that I like about the Ultra 5 is that it can take IDE drives, and PCI boards, which doesn't lock you in into Ultra-Expensive Sun hardware. What I don't like about it is that it's too much like a PC, no SCSI, no faster SBUS.

Some one mentioned that the Ultra 5 doesn't compare well with the Ultra 1 and Ultra 2 servers. Would it make more sense to buy one of those instead (one of the is going on eBay for $735? Would it still be cheaper if you're forced to buy Sun peripherals for the thing?

And last, but not least, anybody now which of these workstations are capable of running Linux

--fred [mailto]

Yuck... (4)

Ledge Kindred (82988) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637536)

I have one of the older SPARC-based Ultra5's already. When Sun first released this line of "new, commodity-based hardware" we all though, "Great! Now we won't get gouged having to buy components from Sun! We can buy off-the-shelf memory and CDROM drives and hard drives and it's got a standard PCI bus so we can buy PCI cards as long as Solaris will use them! No more expensive vendor-only hardware to upgrade it!"

Well guess what? If I want to upgrade anything, I still have to buy components from Sun. The memory is somehow ... "weird" so that standard SIMM don't work in it. Hard drives and CDROM drives need to have a Sun firmware/BIOS on them or the machine won't recognize them. Even though it's a "standard" PCI bus, you still have to buy expansion cards from Sun -- they sell pretty much off-the-shelf brand-name SCSI and Network cards if you want to add them, but again they have Sun firmware/BIOS that is required before the machine will recognize them. Of course the components from Sun are all between 4x and 10x the normal going street price for identical components.

If I hadn't been able to get the machine very cheap (we had them on lease to another company who nearly paid off the purchase price before the lease went off) I wouldn't have bought it at all.

With the press release saying these new machines will run "Windows NT, Windows 95, DOS" I wonder if they've even given up putting a SPARC chip in these things and gone Intel-based clone. If they have, I'll bet you'll still need to get components from Sun. I suspect it's just a braino from the people who did up the press release, though.

Also, the statement that this is "the first Unix workstation to be listed under $2,000" will probably upset the VA Research and Penguin Computing guys. :)


Re:Hardware for a typical Ultra? (2)

mangino (1588) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637537)

The base model I believe is a 333mhz without a cache and a 5400 RPM IDE disk with 64 megs of RAM. These machines include a PCI bus with 3 slots and Two IDE controllers. I don't believe you can add IDE devices to these machines. The next step up machine comes with a 9gig 7200 RPM disk, a 2megabyte l2 cache and 128 megs of ram.

To clarify, these machines will only run Windows using a Sun PC card or using software emulation like RealPC. To run RealPC, you have to put the framebuffer in 8 bit mode (24 bit mode is not supported)

I own one of these machines and I like it a lot. It has been running constantly for 8 months. It has only been off once in that time, when I moved. I don't know specifcs about the power supply, but I don't believe they are too expensive.

This is NOT a server machine, and you probably don't want to use it as one. It is a desktop and is not very expandable unless you use external SCSI devices. You can get a symbios 5c375 SCSI adapter (not the Tekram one) to work with it using the glm driver. The scsi costs abou $60. The framebuffer is an ATI framebuffer that is not teribly fast, but more than sufficient for coding.

These machines have been available to certain educational institutions at this price for a while now. I use mine as my main desktop machine and it has been running great. It even runs Oracle 8 and does the printserving and NFS serving for my house.

Re:Not even at $2,000... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1637548)

There's something wrong with your computer. I work on a Ultra 5/270 all day and don't have any of your problems. In fact, performance is excellent.

Re:Win95? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1637549)

Sun offers an expansion card that includes a socket 7 CPU an plugs into PCI based Suns. Last Time I lokked it was a K6 II Based on a rather cheap SIS Chipset (66Mhz) with UMA controller. Note that the use of this controller is optional. The specs may have changed, I didn't look at it for some Time. This Card supposedly can run at last Win95 and DOS, maybe WinNT

Re:OS? (1)

heh2k (84254) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637550)

Actually, the Sun's do. You would have to add on the SUNPC option Card (PCI). Its an Intel Processor on a Card

no, they use an AMD K6-2

Sun's market position (1)

aleksey (1519) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637551)

So they say they are going after developers, and not after the mainstream desktop market, and yet I cannot help but think that they are in a very good position: Between these cheap machines, the stability of Unix (compared to, say, 98 or NT), the ability to easily network them (and importantly, to administer them remotely), plus compatibility with MS Apps (StarOffice), they've got a fairly attractive option for business users, I thnk.

Sun need the developers (2)

TheGrimReaper (23835) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637552)

Sun want more developers using the community source license.

Remember, there has always been something of a traditition of sharing code and enhancements in the UNIX community -- even before GNU and Linux.

One of the reasons that Linux took off was that it ran on the cheap PC hardware ( read 386 ), similar which many people had around at home. Unix needed something a little more at the time.

Sun want to get into that home hobby market where Linux started ( and still remains to a reasonable extent ) and to do that, they need to have boxes in bedrooms.

And they'd better be cheap enough to afford.

I've found their hardware to be very reliable, and I would quite happily run Linux on it, though I'm sure they would like the home hobby people to be writing for Solaris on it.

I suspect that there will be problems though. High quality hardware costs more than lower quality stuff. Given the choice between a very reliable $2000 Ultra, or a $600 PC, to run linux, in your bedroom, for hacking on, what do you choose. One is 99% reliable hardware, the other 99.9%. Is that little bit worth paying $1400 for?

Sun could reduce the spec more, and maybe reduce the price, but can they afford to lose the reputation for hardware reliablilty that they have to do this? Even if the E4000s remain rock solid?

They are also hampered more by the SCSL, which has gotten panned as a not quite open source license -- a "You get the source, but we get anything you code" type of thing. Changing the SCSL to make it conform to the Open Source definition, so that the community will like it may well be a bigger step that they need to make.

They damage may already be done here though? Has anyone been developing for Darwin?

Bletch! (1)

ajlitt (19055) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637553)

I've seen the guts of an Ultra 10 (Ultra 5s big brother). I am quite familiar with the guts of Ultra 1s and 2s. The only reasons I'd buy Sun at my shop are for the reliable hardware and the good multiuser performance. The Ultra5 may have an Ultrasparc CPU. That's where the similarity ends. It has no Big Honkin' Power Supply. No SBUS/MBUS mezzanine cards (regardless of performance, these keep much cooler than PCI). They have the PC-style mess of cables running every which way. No SCA-hot swap SCSI. Hell, no SCSI by default!

If you need many cycles on your desk, or must run Solaris/SPARC apps, this isn't such a bad deal, but I'd bet you could find a PC for less that will perform as well or better.

Bill Of Lading? (3)

Christopher B. Brown (1267) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637554)

I have a feeling that actually getting a $2000 Sun Ultra 5 system may be as challenging as getting a $400 "PC."

I started pricing an Ultra 5 system on their "online buying" system, and as soon as I added the base-model CPU to the base system, this brought the price from $2550 to about $3700.

And this didn't actually include a monitor...

I would be vastly more interested to hear that someone was offering inexpensive ( e.g. - priced under $500) motherboards.

Net Express [] offers SPARC mobos for as "little" as $1510.

Cycle CC [] and Opus SPARCard [] represent possible alternatives, but when they don't publicize pricing, that usually suggests that you don't want to know...

P.S. (2)

Ledge Kindred (82988) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637555)

Let me qualify my above note with the statement that if all you need is a machine that you can do development for Solaris on the SPARC architecture (as opposed to running Solaris/x86 on a cheap-o Intel clone box) or if you need to run proprietary software for which you only have Solaris/SPARC binaries, these are nice little machines. Just don't expect to get a lot of horsepower out of them and don't expect to ever be able to upgrade it for any reasonable price.


Ultra 5 = slow maim dog (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1637556)

We have a lab full of ultra 5s here at Penn State. They run about as well linux on a pent/133.

I did some graphics programming on them, and those raptor video cards are horrible. No color indexing mode, no 3d acceleration, no nuthin.

Not such a great deal (1)

El Puerco Loco (31491) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637557)

unless you're a poor Solaris developer/admin, or just need to have a Sun box at home. Really, most stock intel PCs are faster and have more features than this. at about half the price. Alpha and G4 blow it out of the water for about the same price.
^. .^

Hardware for a typical Ultra? (1)

slashdot-terminal (83882) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637561)

I don't know what the base model is but what is the hardare in these and how does it relate to traditional pc hardware? Can they run linux effectively? Can you get replacement parts like a power supply. That is usually the first thing to go on any machine especially one that is on 24/7/365.

Pricing Suns... (1)

LordOmar (68037) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637563)

I remeber sometime last year I was pricing Ulta 5's and 10's as was a friend of mine from england. I think we were both in "wishful thinking" mode. ALthough it looks as though now that wish may come true. I work with so much sun hardware at work that I'd love to have a bit of it in my home (I could place it right next to that Amiga 500 I picked up this weekend at a garage sale). They state that they are targeting the developer market. I think that us Sys Admins need to stand up and be recognized as a market segment, we like our toys too, and can probably get more out of them than some (note to potential flamers I said SOME) developers (sorry on a little "sys-admin unsung hero" rant). To the point, however I was building an little linux server for my home (AMD K62-400Mhz)... hurm, may go with a Sun box for the primary server now...

Apologies for the rambling


OS? (1)

Rob_u (21258) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637565)

The Ultra 5 runs six software operating systems in one workstation: Sun's own Solaris, Java, which it pioneered, Microsoft Corp.'s (Nasdaq:MSFT - news) Windows NT, Windows 95, DOS and open-source Linux.
NT, 95 and DOS run on a Sparc? News to me.... Presumably there's some sort of emulation going on here. And since when is Java an operating system?

Ultra 5's (1)

raptor_p (56754) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637567)

We have a lab of these at my uni, which are used for Java and C++ development. They are a good little machine, and are well suited for development stuff.
I think it's a good move from SUN and it should attract a lot of developers who want SUN programming (and administration) experience, without forking out for a server.

Win95? (1)

Cid Highwind (9258) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637569)

The article claims that the Ultra 5 will run Solaris, Java, WinNT, Win95, DOS, and Linux.

Win 95 for ultras? Has Yahoo news been taking accuracy lessons from ZDnet again?

Not an interesting machine (1)

RickyRay (73033) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637571)

The Ultra 5 is cheap because it's a 2D machine. It's probably not much different from a $800 PC with Solaris installed, but can't be used for video games ;-)

Ultra 5 workstation (1)

Nonesuch (90847) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637572)

Personally I'm planning to wait for the release version of Solaris 8 before upgrading to an Ultra for my personal workstation.

OTOH, an Ultra 5 under $2K would go very nicely wiht a small network of the $10/month 'Sun Ray' smart terminals...

Hell no! (1)

scumdamn (82357) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637575)

Just because Sun say they're not attacking Linux doesn't mean they're not attacking Linux. They are tryng very hard to steal the developers from the Linux community. I'd rather they target the home user though I don't know anyone who'd be swayed by low(er) cost systems and (promises of) a partially open sourced operating system.

Target confusion? (2)

Saraphale (65475) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637576)

A lot of the comments posted here so far seem to approach this announcement as though Sun were attempting to break into the home computer market. I don't think that's what they're attempting to do. The article says they're aiming it at software developers - few "at-home" developers are going to want one; as people have pointed out, they're too expensive, they're not powerful enough... the list goes on.

Look at it from another point of view: That of a group of developers in a company. I think Sun are aiming this at a company who'll be bulk-buying workstations for a department or project. If a company is going to equip its developers with Unix workstations, it's not going to care about quality sound, or high performance graphics, or the fact it's got IDE disks instead of SCSI - the company will care about cost per unit, and the answer to the question "Will it run ${development editor of company choice} ?".

I'm a developer at a place that uses Sun stuff for the vast majority of its servers, and a fair proportion of the infrastructure software is written in-house. We also have Ultra 5 workstations for the developers. Yes, they're slow. What does it matter when you have a server to develop against? If you're writing large applications, you're going to have a development server, if you're not, then you don't need that spectacular a machine. Personally, I end up using the Ultra 5 for running a few dozen xterms, a mail client, a newsreader, and netscape, and as long as I'm careful with the number of netscape windows open, it's fine. Would I be justified in expecting more from a corporate desktop machine?

If I needed high quality graphics, then why get an Ultra 5 in the first place? Get an Ultra 60, or an SGI. If I wanted a truly powerful development server, then you pay the money for it. Most large companies can afford to do this - and IME most smaller companies wouldn't want to.

That's not what the Ultra 5 is for, and that's not what I believe this move is aimed at.


Re:OS? (1)

Cramer (69040) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637577)

Solaris and Linux are the only OPERATING SYSTEMS that run ON THE ULTRA. Java is not an OS -- it's a joke. Windows and DOS do not run on the Ultra but run on a card (a whole other computer inside a computer) setting on the PCI bus in the Ultra.

This is exactly the same as saying your mac can run Windows and/or DOS.

This is nothing new... Ross (now defunct) used to make a "SparcPlug" that put a hyperSparc inside your PC. There's another company that did the same thing long before Ross but I don't remember the name (and the docs are at home :-)) Of course, the sparcplug was a complete 5.25" FH Sparc computer complete with memory, hard drive, and sbus slot(s). The other one was a PCI card.

(The SparcPlug was a truely innovative marvel. Ross had rack mounting frames for them to load 6 of them per row in a 19" rack. Anyone need a cluster?)

Re:Yuck... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1637578)

You CAN actually buy a $50 Symbios/ncr SCSI card
and use it with the ultra5.
(It's the same damn chipset as the sun 'glm'
drivers look for :-)

I think you MIGHT even be able to boot off
it, but i'm not 100% sure on that.

Quality of parts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1637579)

Sure a cheap peecee costs less and is faster, but how long do you expect it to last? Theres thousands of old sparc LX's and 2's still humming away without a failure. My sparc2 with OpenBSD has to be the most reliable system I have ever seen. In one year there has not been a single error or crash. Whats your 386 from 1992 doing? Maybe running in console mode. My 40mhz sparc runs X and Netscape just fine. The point I am making here is that Sun hardware doesn't depreciate as fast as PC hardware.

Re:Pricing Suns... (2)

The Man (684) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637580)

If you're going to spend $1500-3000 for a Sun, go buy a sparcstation 20. They have a nice all-ultrawide scsi (SCA) disk subsystem, sbus and mbus expansion slots, and are well-built quality machines. They aren't that fast cpu-wise (unless you get the faster ROSS dual hypersparc modules in which case they'll give today's fastest intel chips a run for their money), but they'll last forever and perform well. They run Linux especially well if that's what you're after, and you can get sx or zx graphics (24-bit color, 3d acceleration) if you want it. I'd gladly pay twice the cost of an ultra 5 for one of these "obsolete" machines. These and the Ultra 1/2 are the last good desktop machines Sun made with the possible exception of the Ultra 60 ($30-50k), but the 1's and 2's are still quite expensive. The Ultra 5 is garbage; not worth $1000 IMHO.

Re:Pricing Suns... (1)

Cramer (69040) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637581)

It's not "sub" 2k$, it _is_ 2k$. If you want to sell U5's to developers, take that 1k$ PC card out of there and sell them a truely cheap Ultra. The last time I priced an Ultra 5 (a few months ago), a fully loaded SCSI based Ultra5 with 17" monitor was $2500. I don't think this is much of an improvement.

I can get a SCSI based Alpha with Liunx AND Tru64 for 2500$, so what's the point to an IDE based (PoS) Ultra5?

Ultra Cheap Computers (1)

ceeam (39911) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637582)


Judging from ads you can buy a "Pentium-II class PC" for under $300 or even $200, but would you?
I feel it's just the same thing.

PS: Hey you, bastards, publishing those ads ;-)
Now go to my boss and try to explain why I buy "expensive" HW, when we "can buy" those PCs.
(No, it's not that bad really ;)

Re:yea! (0)

infojack (25600) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637583)

Think of the beowulf cluster you could make! WOOODOGY!

Sun Clones are the way to go (1)

lart (33731) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637584)

Sun manufactures AXi boards for the Ultra5 and 10 models that have built in SCSI. Third party companies can be certified by Sun to sell these things, and usually the come dirt cheap. The company I work for buys Ultra 10 clones with 4.2 GB Cheetah drives and 1 GB of RAM for around $5k each. Much better deal than buying Suns made by Sun. You get hardware support from Sun or take it from the 3rd party if they offer it. Check out World Data Products [] , the vendor we buy from, for more info.

Re:Not even at $2,000... (1)

gatzke (2977) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637585)

We bought some Ultra 5s, realized that they were really slow, then traded them in on "improved" ultra 10s. The ultra 10s we got have better video and slightly faster chips.

From our benchmarking on Matlab, the Ultra 10s (and 5s) are not worth the money. You can run much faster on cheaper x86 hardware. More expansion is availalable.

The SunPCI card does kick some butt. You can boot up powerpoint while still running solaris. I just wish sun would sell this with x86 drivers so that Linux users could boot into windows inside their machine. It is like vmware, but there is no emulation in software and it is snappy in response. Sun apparently doesn't want to do this, but someone should. A PCI card with a cheap AMD shouldn't be more than 300 bucks, and people would like it.

Anyway, don't get these things unless you are stuck with Sparc binaries and really really like sun stuff.


Re:Yuck... (2)

Ledge Kindred (82988) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637596)

We actually had some of those cards around. We tried one in one of the Ultra 5's. The system never "saw" it. We bought the Sun-authorized SCSI card from Sun with Sun-authorized firmware, it worked fine.

As with everything in the computer world, Your Mileage May Vary.


Re:Hardware for a typical Ultra? (1)

The Man (684) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637597)

Can they run linux effectively?

Yes, they will run UltraLinux such as Red Hat 6.0/sparc or the older UltraPenguin series. The Ultra 5 and 10 I know for sure will work great with Linux but I haven't tried anything higher. In fact, these machines are almost usable with Linux - they really just aren't with Slowaris. But the cheesy hardware and foolish design of these machines are not negated by using Linux. They still suck.

Sun's yearly price update (2)

ChrisRijk (1818) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637598)

They don't change prices very often.

Btw, for running Windows and other 'PC' stuff, you get Sun's PCi-card, which has an AMD K6-2 on it.

The article were simply pointing out that Sun is offering this low-end unix workstation at, wait for it, the market for low-end workstations. Sun never target any of their computers at the home market!

Also, why assume Sun are targeting Linux with this? Is that the only possible reason Sun could have for reducing the price!? Come on! PC prices, for the same specs, drop all the time, and Sun just move a bit less frequently.

SunPCi = 1 PCI slot free (1)

jmcmurry (3759) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637599)

I've heard that the performance of the SunPCi card is questionable. Even if it was great, bear in mind that it takes up two PCI slots. In a three-slot Ultra 5, you have one PCI slot to put the SCSI back in or get a decent video card. Your choice, since you can't get both.

I think it's a nice idea to sell these for cheap, but $2000 isn't cheap anymore, and you certainly must make sure you Don't Believe The Hype [] .

Re:Sun's market position (1)

weloytty (53582) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637600)

But how is this any better than linux? You get cheap machines ($2K will get you a monster linux box, as opposed to a stripped down, full of proprietary components Sun box), plus all of that other stuff that you mentioned. Plus, you dont have to play Sun for Solaris.

*Ahem* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1637601)

You left out NetBSD and OpenBSD. FreeBSD has a sparc kernel but its in extreme alpha stages.

64 bit?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1637602)

I have a couple of Suns here, including an Ultra-5. (I wouldn't buy another, there are better values, especially the Ultra-AXi machines available from many OEM vendors.)

I've yet to figure out how/why Sun says Solaris is 64-bit:

$ uname -a
SunOS phoenix 5.7 Generic sun4u sparc SUNW,UltraSPARC-IIi-Engine
$ file /bin/ksh
/bin/ksh: ELF 32-bit MSB executable SPARC Version 1, dynamically linked, stripped
$ file /kernel/genunix
/kernel/genunix: ELF 32-bit MSB relocatable SPARC Version 1

Nothing 64-bit about it as far as I can tell. That's unlike my 64-bit AlphaPC164, in which nothing is 32-bit (except NT).

Re:Bang for Buck (2)

Tet (2721) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637603)

Alphas are just better/faster processors than Sparcs, and the Linux support is much better

Interesting. Why do you say Linux support is better on the Alpha? The UltraSPARC is very well supported by Linux, and probably has the best SMP support of any Linux platform. Linux installs out of the box on both systems (Red Hat is available for both, and Debian support is either there or coming very soon).

As for the Alpha being a better processor than the UltraSPARC, that's debatable, particularly when talking about the UltraSPARC III. That said, the Alpha is almost certainly better than the CPU in an Ultra 5 (which is one of the older UltraSPARCs).

Re:Not even at $2,000... (3)

Shaman (1148) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637604)

Uhm... the only valid complaint from reading your message is that the Ultra 5 doesn't have SCSI.

I used an older Ultra 5 for two years - it was fast, the sound was very respectable and the video was great (though 8 bit because of its age).

The only problem I had was the IDE subsystem is slow as balls, just like all IDE systems. But I just put in a PIII-550 on my desk with similar setup, albeith SCSI-Ultra drives and it isn't much faster under Linux OR Solaris 7 than the old Ultra 5 I had was. At compiling because of the RISC nature of the system, but not much else. The compiling speed is a big boon to me - the rest isn't much different than the U5.

Either you're exaggerating or you've got a bone to pick with Sun, maybe... dunno.

Ultra 5 not worth the Pain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1637605)

Had to admin an Ultra 5. Echoing other posters: it's a PC with an ultrasparc chip plonked inside.

As a workstation, it's slow, expensive and has only average 2D video. As a server, it's appalling: IDE disk transfers will use 100% CPU under Solaris.

They state they are targetting developers. But why would a developer get one of these misdesigned creations, when they could spend $500 and get a _better_ PC acting as an Xterminal? Given that someone somewhere is going to have to shell out for a decent sparc server anyway.

They are a pain to administer (try net-installing Solaris on them! ha!); run very slowly; use cheap quality hardware, but are extremely expensive to maintain or upgrade. Just say no.

Ultra 2s on the other hand are/were sweet :-)

Re:Yuck... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1637609)

you still have to buy expansion cards from Sun -- they sell pretty much off-the-shelf brand-name SCSI and Network cards if you want to add them, but again they have Sun firmware/BIOS that is required before the machine will recognize them. Of course the components from Sun are all between 4x and 10x the normal going street price for identical components.

that's forth code on those "bios" chips.
one thing sun's gotten right is boot firmware. sun uses an open firmware implimention call openboot. ppc systems use OF, as well. sparc and mac 2940's have the same forth "bios" on them. ie, you can boot a sparc from a "mac" scsi card and a mac from a sparc scsi card. contrast this with alpha, which uses native bios code, and x86 which uses native (and incredibly ugly and out dated 16-bit) bios code.

Still overpriced @ $2000 (1)

DrNO (61310) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637610)

I kinda forgot about SUN after an experience about five years ago.

I was asked to implement a significant GA system for a firm that bought a $25,000 SUN box to run it on. I did the development work (rather inefficiently as I was way new to UNIX at the time) and had some significant performance related issues at beta. On a lark we set up Linux on a 120 Mhz Pentium with 64 Meg RAM (call it 1/10 the cost of the SUN box) and recompiled the source. No special optimization (1st time ever with Linux). The Linux / Pentium combo came out to be about 4 X faster.

OK. Not apples-to-apples comparison by any means. The point is that a new SUN at $25K got beat out by a PC at one tenth the cost for a long iterative type problem - and not just by a little. Some experienced Solaris guys tried to optimize the code on sUN, but never beat the performance on the PC.

I'm sure sUN's got some fast boxes (see them around all the time at work) but any price / performance evaluation shows that PC based systems whip up on sUN almost every time. Need the high performance? Go Beowulf.

Re:OS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1637611)

I assume you mean "Java, as a replacement for an OS or as a fully-fledged computing platform, is a joke.". Java is not a joke as a programming language and especially a server-side applications platform-it is a wildly popular and robust tool for these purposes. TurkishGeek in karma protection mode.

I must agree... (1)

bbk (33798) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637612)

We got some new Ultra10 360's at where I work (basically the same machine as the Ultra5 with more PCI slots and a tower case), and they are dogs. X performance is horrid, and the they are perceptibly slower than a PII-300 for most tasks... I'm not sure if this is Slowlaris or if it really is the hardware...

Now bump the processor speed up to 5-600 Mhz and put in a 7200RPM IDE drive and a better video card at the same price point, and I might start gettting interested, but as is, I wouldn't wish an Ultra5 on anyone.

As far as maintainence goes, I admin both Linux and Solaris machines, and I find that I spend twice as much time to do the same thing on Solaris as on Linux, mostly because the tools take longer to work, or are GUI only (unless you want to memorize some cryptic command line crap). Try adding a printer to 5 linux machines, and do the same with Solaris... Which takes longer?

Re:Not even at $2,000... (1)

Cramer (69040) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637613)

While I agree with you that it's a serious waste, but they aren't all that bad -- linux runs like a champ.

IDE is bad idea in all cases. But, IDE is "free" with the PCI bridge, so there you have it. In one particular instance, I've seen IDE based Ultra's (5, 10, etc) severely corrupt it's file systems over a few days (mrtg box rapidly creating and deleting files) -- I couldn't reproduce this on a SCSI based system or under linux (which is what that machine continues to run to this day.)

I ESPECIALLY HATE the IDE CD-ROM. Have you tried moving it? Don't. The CD-ROM has to be the master on the secondary bus or the machine locks up. (May just be solaris, but I got tired of the shit and removed all the IDE hardware from the machine -- it happened to have a Swift SCSI controller in it.)

The built-in video is a crappy as all h*** ATI gfx chip (or was a few years ago. _all_ the ultra's around here have Creator gfx cards in them.)

Oh and the thing doesn't use SDRAM. It uses EDO DRAM DIMMs???

All in all, I'd like to have an Ultra. I have no need for that worthless PCi card -- I have more than enough conciderally more power PCs at hand. It would almost certainly run Linux 90% of the time.

Re:SGI Indy's? (1)

hanwen (8589) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637614)

Interesting thing is, my roomy-at-work has a
Ultra 5.

It is like a crappy PC with a sparc chip inside and no connectivity (you must use their Type 5 keyboard bus, and it has a floppy drives with an EJECT button) (ack)

FWIW my 6 year old 100 Mhz SGI Indy pretty much blows the Ultra out of the water when it comes to graphics.

Re:Whatever happened to Sun's .edu discount? (1)

Mad Browser (11442) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637615)

I sent an email to Scott McNealy recently asking this same question... It turns out that Sun is re-vamping their edu offerings and something new should be on their site soon.

Re:Not even at $2,000... Sun doesn't keep up PC (1)

tallpaul (1010) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637616)

I have to say that my experiences with my Ultra 5 hasn't been as bad as yours, although I don't think the graphics have any 3d acceleration as a Permedia chip would. I understood that it was an Ati Rage pro chip.

The big problem here is that Sun doesn't keep up with PC pricing. When Ultra 5's came out, you could basically take a bottom of the line Ultra 5, and it would keep up with a PC of equivelant price for CPU speed, at least.

Then 3D graphics started to get much cheaper, and more common on PC's, chip prices fell at their usual rates... what did Sun do on pricing? Nothing.

This price reduction should have happened a long time ago, and I think the Ultra 5 should be around $700 now to even be close to the PC market, which is where it was targetted.

If Sun is going to use commodity components (commodity memory, IDE, made-in-taiwan motherboard and cheap case, PCI cards), then they *have* to keep up with the "commodity" market's pricing structure.

Or rather.. they can choose not to price things that way, and then the only people who will buy them are people who have a vested interest in Suns, develop for the platform, etc. -- right back where you started, only now these unfortunate people are getting crappy hardware for their extra dollars.

If Sun wants to compete with the commodity market, they had better get serious about it, and they'd better get a *LOT* more serious than this.

Re:Hardware for a typical Ultra? (1)

jtn (6204) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637617)

Grow up. The whole "Slowaris" thing was funny the first several thousand times I saw it, but honestly, give it up. Solaris operates just fine on the U5/10/60 boxes; I run Solaris 7 on my U10 at my desk with 128MB of RAM and it works quite well, thank you very much. I would recommend a Symbios controller though (glm driver) for SCSI peripherals.

Re:AIX Laptops (1)

SoupIsGood Food (1179) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637618)

Nah. IBM had a 603e-based Thinkpad that would run NT, AIX and (get this) OS/400. They've since discontinued it (no more wasn't as popular or long-lived as the 604, and RS/6000 didn't do G3) but we might see a return if they embrace the G4 for their low-end RS/6000 line.

SoupIsGood Food

Re:64 bit?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1637619)

In Solaris 7, all of the apps you see in /usr/bin and such are compiled 32bit. There are 64bit apps, and they reside in the "sparcv9" subdirectories, ie /usr/bin/sparcv9 If you're running Solaris 7 on a Ultra, chances are that it's running a 64bit kernel by default. To see whether it is or not, run 'isainfo -b' and it will tell you what kernel you are running. Note, that on a Ultra 1, a 32bit Solaris 7 kernel runs by default.

Re:Hell no! (1)

jtn (6204) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637620)

Your logic is faulty. Programming is not a zero-sum game; you don't "steal" developers from one project. I know very few developers that are truely 100% caught up in one platform. Those that are are cutting themselves off at the knee by being so centralized.

Not for Java development, I'm afraid (1)

Lodro (77033) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637621)

I'd love to justify one of these puppies for my work, and could probably even convince Someone Else tm to pay for it, but no go, as I can't even justify it to myself.

I do almost all Java development and got all hot and bothered because there was a fairly recent vintage Ultra 5 available for my use at a research center I was visiting. Yum, right? Wrong. After installing all the requisite software (yuck!) I started up my app and found the performance on the Sun box was significantly slower than I was used to. I ended up aborting the whole thing and going back to an older NT box that was lying around.

Ironically, at least for more desktop oriented stuff, Java actually seems to be slower on Sun boxes. I'd love to find a reasonably priced ultra fast Java development box, but right now thats a Windows x86 box running NT. Hopefully with IBM's release of their blazing JDK on Linux, things will change, but I'm not holding my breath. I'd love to hear from anyone who can contradict me or add anything. It'd be nice to work on something else; I even find myself coding on my Mac from time to time!

"And isn't it ironic..."

Current Sun Educational Discounts (1)

Pinky3 (22411) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637622)

are listed at otions/pay.html

Whatever happened to Sun's .edu discount? (2)

Wakko Warner (324) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637629)

About a year ago, the top-of-the-line Ultra 5 could be had for about $2000 if you were a college student. The equivalent of the model described in the news article was about $1500. Now that I've actually got the money, it seems the offer's been discontinued. Anyone know if or when Sun will start announcing student discounts again?

- A.P.

"One World, one Web, one Program" - Microsoft promotional ad

Uh, Chip Identifier anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1637630)

Remeber all the privacy concerns about Intel's PIII, having that identifier?
Don't SUN CPUs have something like that?
Who was that that said "You have no privacy, get over it?" .... I don't really want to buy hardware from a company like that at any price.

Neato (1)

William Wallace (18863) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637631)

I just want to point out that you used the word
"shit" directly, and then bleeped out the word

You must be Catholic (like my mom)!


They'd have to pay me to take one ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1637632)

I really can't relate to the people posting here saying these prices represent good value.

PCs have about a 3:1 price performance advantage over Ultra 5s and 10s. They come with a terrible operating system (Solaris) which, to a Linux user, is a really horrible experience. No command line editing. X runs like a dog with two legs at 1024x768x8 bits. No Gnu tools. Standard tools like `ping' which core dump all the time. Please. Thanks, but no thanks.

Rich [] .

limited market (2)

jetson123 (13128) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637633)

I think that's a good deal for someone who has a specific need for Solaris or SPARC. I don't think it will have much effect on Linux, however.

The biggest thing SPARC-based systems have going for them in my mind is that they run a good version of Java on a UNIX platform. The other really good implementation of Java is for NT.

Java on other UNIX platforms (Linux, FreeBSD, etc.) is either not the latest version (only up to 1.1) or still not entirely reliable (1.2 on Linux, etc.).

Re:Sun's market position (1)

aleksey (1519) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637634)

welloytty asks:
>But how is this any better than linux?

Well, it isn't really, but they've got Sun's name attached to it, and i'm sure most managers have seen the "dot com people" commercials, which, at the moment is more mindshare than redhat can claim.

Re:Not an interesting machine (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1637635)

That and its 64-bit. Try to find that in an $800 PC!

Some people need the processing power just for raw data and not a nice big graphic.

This strategy really gets Suns into colleges/universities. Use a half dozen for number crunching and then use 1 high-end machine to make the data look all pretty.

Anyway, how many pretty graphics do you need when the numbers are all that's really important in those situations?

AIX Laptops (1)

seva (5510) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637638)

Where can I find them? I searched IBM's site and didn't find anything, do they still make them?


Re:Hell no! (2)

scumdamn (82357) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637639)

It's not logic. It's corporate thinking. Even if it's not a zero sum game for us, it is for them. All proprietary companies have the us vs. them mentality. Sun is not a friend of Linux and want to imitate our developement community. When you live in a world of market share, Linux developers are a commodity and they want them. Don't think that Sun's not interested in Linux developers switching sides. They'd love for some people to defect completely and cut themselves off at the knee.

Re:Shrug... (2)

Cramer (69040) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637641)

[my sparc machine hopping story...]

I work for a company who makes network modeling software (the specifics are not important.) As such, I spend alot of time compiling and testing out what the developers are writing.

When I started here, I inherited a 170MHz Sparc5 with 192M of RAM. It made a fair X-Terminal, but was way way to slow to compile the product and was painfully slow to run the product -- I'd classify the speed as "usable" (barely.) The memory eventually was upped to almost 500M which helped some, but 170MHz turboSparc processor just ain't got the juice to do much.

It was replaced with a 167MHz Ultra 1 with 128M (and a bitchin' high speed Creator 3D gfx card.) I saw very little improvement. I was actually slower at compiling due to the lack of memory. When the memory was upped to 256M, things were better. It's still not the speediest creature in the office (or my apartment for that matter.) BUT, it was a vast improvement over the sparc5.

As I'm one to always ask for (well, alright, demand) faster and faster toys, the ultra 1 was replaced with a 300MHz Ultra10 (192M). While the processor was twice as fast, the lack of memory and the complete thumb-twidling halt every time the IDE disks where accessed just killed that machine. I suppose, given 384M or more of memory would help. However, the slowness of the IDE system prompted a "give me more memory or return the ultra 1."

The Ultra 1 returned with "mem = 458752K (0x1c000000)" :-) While the processor is noticablly slower, it's constantly active while building and not hindered by the disk I/O susbsystem(s) (fast-wide SCSI) PLUS, it's got enough memory to avoid agressive swapping.

We ALSO have a fully loaded Ultra60... two 450MHz UltraIIi processors, 2GB of RAM, and two high speed SCSI drives. That machine "just fsckin' screams." (I don't want to see it's price-tag.)

Conclusion... unless you start a compile and leave (or otherwise stop working when you compile), IDE based Ultra's are not the tools one should use for software development. If all you're doing is writing code (or Java) and not building on IDE drive(s), then these things are ok. If you're serious about developing Sparc applications, then spend the money for SCSI based hardware. Oh and tell Sun to burn that worthless PCi card -- it gives you nothing you cannot get in a 300$ PC that doesn't leach resources from the rest of the system.

Not worth even that much. (1)

bbk (33798) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637649)

Runs DOS/Windows? Where did they get that from? I know Sun has PC emulation, and they also have x86 coprocessor cards, but these are always extras...

Anyway, the Ultra 5 and 10 are dogs of machines compared to a PC of equivalent price. Athlon and 21164 based machine both blow them out of the water at the same price point.

The IO subsystems are basically the same as any PC, so you don't get the benefits of the UPA bus like in the Ultra 1 or 2, and they have IDE drives and ATI Rage 64 graphics.

Unless you have some closed source application that absolutely must run on Sparc, don't buy these - you can get a faster, cheaper solution elseware.

No new hardware, just a 20% price reduction... (2)

John Fulmer (5840) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637650)

Although the Ultra 5's are fairly nice for Unix workstations. Not as nice as, say, the Ultra 1 or Ultra 2, since they use a cheaper processor and are IDE (vs SCSI which is fine for a workstation), but still very decent.

More specs are here [] and here [] .


x86 Solaris? (0)

Aleatoric (10021) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637651)

Since the box runs Windows and Dos, Solaris would have to be the x86 version.

I also wonder what the base system would be, especially memory and cpu, since I'm running x86 Solaris on a 433 Mhz Celeron w 128M ram, and it's still pretty much a dog. A virtually indestructable dog, but a dog nonetheless.

I do like Solaris, but the x86 version could use some optimizations for the platform. A roughly equivalent sparc system runs Solaris considerably faster.

I have to wonder what's in the base system. What kind of video, memory, drives, etc. Are these any better than a standard x86 PC? If not, I can almost certainly build an equivalent system for quite a bit less.

To sell that inexpensively... (1)

stienman (51024) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637652)

To sell that inexpensively they are either expecting to sell a load of these things, or they are using off-the-shelf parts (power supplies, cases, maybe even ps/2 mice and keyboards).


The paperless office will come soon after the paperless toilet

A Good Thing (2)

ragnar (3268) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637653)

This is definitely very good for Sun and those who like their hardware/software. Many will undoubtedly respond that you can build a Linux box for n dollars cheaper, but keep in mind that Sun doesn't try to win on price foremost.

I can see this as an excellent test box for software and generally a cool workstation. My SparcStation 20 is treating me well, but I would consider an Ultra 5 to be worth the money to upgrade.

Right now there is no word about a discout for educational use, but you can expect an announcement to come soon about that. The last educational price was around $1,800, so this should drop considerably.

Solaris Central [] will posting new information as it comes up about the price drop.


What we need now... (1)

jd (1658) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637654)

Is for Sun to do a 2 for 1 sale on these. A $1000 Sparc would be worth it, whatever the specs!

Mind you, sub-$2000 Ultras sound neat, whatever. It's almost at the point where I can afford one. (Now, that'd be nice to have in my room - a Linux cluster, with a Sun Ultra as the workhorse.)

iSun (1)

eries (71365) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637655)

How soon for a cute Sun Ultra in a VW bug case with flourescent lights?

Another aticle (2)

Per Abrahamsen (1397) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637656)

More details are available in this other article [] .

Apparently, the Win95, NT and DOS reference is to a Ultra5 with a SunPCi card.

Ultra 5 config (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1637657)

Config seems to be (dollar value in Canadian $):
Ultra 5 Model 360, A21UGE1A9P-C128CR $3,455
360 MHz, 256-KB Ecache,
on-board 24-bit PGX24
Graphics, 128-MB DRAM,
8.4-GB/5400-rpm hard-disk
drive, 32X CD-ROM,
1.44-MB floppy;
Solaris 7 Operating
Environment 3/99 preinstalled;
North American UNIX

Ultra 5's not that great... (1)

smoondog (85133) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637658)

Just wanted to drop a line that we used to use the Ultra 5 at work (the micro sparc's -- I think) and they really weren't anything special. They remind me a lot of the little Alpha's that used to be sold very inexpensively.

The must be targeting the developer market to attract new customers, but I really can't see that happening because many of their other machines are so much more expensive.

-- Moondog

Re:Hell no! (1)

um... Lucas (13147) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637659)

Isn't it relatively easy to port Linux apps to Solaris and vice versa? The main problem would be that relatively few Linux developers have access to a Solaris box to test their creations on. So, Sun's trying to lower the price that one needs to spend on their boxes to accomplish this.

Right now, I'd say that a win for Solaris is a win for Linux and a win for Linux is also a win for Solaris. Sun stands to gain more than almost any other company by Linux's success, because the more people that know Linux is the more that are comfortable using Unix ei Solaris.

At they high end, Linux on x86 and (probably) Linux on SPARC don't stand a chance against Sun's offerings. At the low end and midrange, Linux provides the best bang for the buck, so if users start there, and then climb upwards, it's a win pretty much for everyone involved.

Re:Not even at $2,000... (1)

EvlG (24576) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637660)

You know, I am inclined to agree. At my job we just replaced a whole bunch of Sparc5-110s and 170s with Ultra 5-300s (I think they were 300mhz anyways). Now, the Ultra5s were faster, definitely, but the difference just wasn't that great. Netscape STILL sucked on the Ultra 5s. What a disappointment!
I requested to be allowed to work on a P2-400 w/Linux, and my boss had no problem with that, as long as I could get my work done. Talk about a speed improvement. Just set up some NFS mounts, and in a couple of hours I was getting some real work done.
As someone else said, Ultra5s aren't bad if you have to do Sparc development. But don't expect performance anything like a modern PIII will give you.

Ultra5 is crap (1)

guacamole (24270) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637661)

Don't get fooled by SUN, Ultra5 is crap because:

1) Graphics system sucks ass. No 3D support, but it does not do 2D well either (I sit in front of an Ultra5 which was bought for $3k a year ago, it can only do 8bpp at a decent resolution

2) Disk system sucks. IDE controller, no SCSI. Slow ass IDE hard drives(aka, probably slower than on your sub $1000 PC). Can only hold one hard drive.

I'd buy Ultra5 if it was $1000 _maybe_, but
for $2000 you can buy a better PC, with SCSI disks
Kick ass 3D graphics, SONY monitor, 3D sound etc. Heck, I seven aw an Athlonn based IBM Aptiva for about ~$2000 bucks. SO just get a high end PC and run Linux or FreeBSD on it, you'll be happy

Ultra5 and Ultra10 are crapware workstations. Other workstations like SUN Ultra2 or SGI O2 are much more decent but they cost big $$ too..

Re:x86 Solaris? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1637662)

Ummm... It's Solaris SPARC version... to run Windows/DOS, it requires the Sun PCi card which in turns includes the emulation software/hardware an a copy of the OS.

Re:Hardware for a typical Ultra? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1637663)

I'll give it up when the damn thing is as good as Linux. Not until. Do a side-by-side sometime and you'll see why the proper name is slowaris. We have identical U10s here, some with slowaris and some with linux. The linux ones are just plain faster. What else can I say?

My take on open source outside of linux (1)

slashdot-terminal (83882) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637664)

Before I came into the linux camp I was a dos/windows person. Essentially the concept of opensource is quite poorly implimented on anything but unix and even then it requires a whole lot of configuration. This is not a flame but a simple analysis of the situation. If you have to buy a compiler for several thousand dollars to do any decent compilation of an open source package then is it really worth it? If they destroyed the linux community they would also destroy the use of open source by at least 96%. Most people do not have access to tools that work well enough to take advantage of the power or code, or handle the incompatabilities of implimentations of the core language being used. Just try taking code from a highly optimized program using visual C++ and try to use it on a borland compiler? Then try to take it to gcc? any luck there? Did anyone ever use Emacs or any other tools that were developed in the free software movement before they used linux? I believe that about 90+% of people did not.

Did I miss something? (NT on ultra 5s) (1)

sinnergy (4787) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637666)

Last time I checked, Ultra 5s didn't run Windows NT, 95 or DOS. That is, unless you add in the daughter board with the AMD built on. None-the-less, I wouldn't expect this to be a feature on a machines this inexpensive.

Thoughts... (1)

rbf (2305) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637668)

I looked at this and thought "ohh cool," then I thought about it some more.. If this had SCSI and not IDE it would be a nice deal, but I can get a Alpha WITH SCSI for that price! I think the various SPARC processors are interesting, but my Alphas are better values. The newest Alphas are faster then the newest SPARCs anyway... They are also better bang for buck ratio. As for one persons comment on SPARCs running Linux as well as Alphas, I would have to disagree... At least where the 64-bit processors come in; Linux has been running on Alpha FAR longer then on the 64-bit SPARCs! A visit to shows me that the port to 64-bit SPARCs is not 100% finished, where Linux on all Alphas are.


rbf, who is typing this on a Alpha running Linux 2.2.12. Using Netscape 4.7 (Tru64 UNIX version).


Re:Bang for Buck (1)

guacamole (24270) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637671)

May be there is a good support in kernel.
But the Quality of distributions that would run on Ultra boxes I would say is BETA. BTW, Both, RedHat 6.0 and Debian 2.1 for sparc will run on Sun Ultra machines. They will use 64bit kernel, compiler and libraries but there rest of programs are still compiled as 32bit ...

Re:x86 Solaris? (1)

Aleatoric (10021) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637678)

Whoops, answered my own question, should have looked at the Sun web page before posting :).

According to the news blurb, the Windows, would only run with the SunPCI card.

Re:OS? (1)

jd (1658) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637679)

JavaOS? :) (Mind you, I thought JavaOS couldn't run on anything useful.)

Not even at $2,000... (4)

RISCy Business (27981) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637680) an Ultra5 worth it. I'm writing this on an Ultra5. Probably one of the $2,000 ones. It's got a 4.3G IDE disk and a 12x IDE CD-ROM. It has a 10/100 'Happy Meal' ethernet card. Onboard sound that is horrendous. No SCSI capabilities without a very specific SCSI card. One serial port that requires a special splitter cable.

With 256M of memory, this Ultra5 is actually *slower* than my IBM ThinkPad 860 running AIX with a 603/166MHz and 64M in it. That's right; it's actually slower. It's running a cheapo Raptor 4M 'framebuffer' which is actually a Permedia2a, specifically, a FireGL 1000 Pro OEM'd twice; once by Diamond, once by this other company.

I can honestly say I have a framerate using Netscape. I have a framerate when I'm typing because the keyboard controller is having difficulties keeping up with my typing (I type at ~110WPM w/78% accuracy) and the movements of my mouse. And this is with 256M, which probably puts it up to the $5,000 mark if you want your memory from Sun.

Honestly, I can't say I've been on a much worse machine. Even my PCs are better than this; at least they have the ability to use a variety of SCSI cards and sound cards; here, you're stuck with one choice and no options. The CD-ROM is problematic, as is the OS. Half the time it refuses to take an audio CD, much less play it.

Don't waste your money. I can honestly say that the DEC Multia is on par with the Ultra5 as far as a development machine; and I own 3 DEC Multias. They have the same problems - no room for disk, proprietary floppy, etc. The difference is that the Multia comes with video onboard, and has IDE and SCSI in it, as well as a decent sound card, NIC, PCMCIA, and you can add expansion capabilities. The Ultra5.. well.. I think I need another Motorola MTX+ '011 before I so much as want an Ultra5. If you must have SPARC, go get a SPARCengine UltraAXi from one of the many VAR/OEMs that Sun rips off royally. Same machine, only you can actually try and work with it.

-RISCy Business | Rabid unix guy, networking guru

Re:Hardware for a typical Ultra? (1)

Dr_LHA (30754) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637681)

The cheaper Ultras (think it was a an Ultra 5 - can't remember) that I've used are PCI based and have IDE hard drives. In this way they're more like a PC, and therefore should be cheaper to fix.

ultra's aren't that ultra (1)

jaypuck (98842) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637682)

Sparc Ultra 5's are ide drives, atx power supplies, and hd15 monitor (i.e. normal pc with a hopped up processor). The one I have up here at work I would just as soon toss it out the window as use it for anything important. j

Shrug... (1)

AMK (3114) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637683)

I sit in front of an 300 MHz Ultra 10 all day. It was purchased around the same time I bought a 266MHz machine from VA Research. Both machines feel about the same speed, with maybe a slight advantage to the Linux box. The major differences are that the Sun cost twice as much, comes with far less interesting software, and occasionally the CD-ROM will lock up, requiring a reboot to fix it. I can't see any reason to purchase a Sun workstation for your desktop, unless there's some Solaris-only application you must run. I'm not negative about Sun for high-end servers, but at the low-end I see no reason to bother with a Sun box.

"then" does not = "than" (1)

moatbuilder (54538) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637684)

Sorry, it might be a typo, but that error is like fingernails on a chalkboard to me.

Specfications for the Ultra 5... (1)

sammy baby (14909) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637685)

I just tried using their system configurator to put together a sub-$2K machine, but I wasn't able to drop the price below $2.5.

To /. their serv... um, check the prices for yourself, go here [] .

Requires a SunPCi card. (3)

Per Abrahamsen (1397) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637686)

See here [] .

Re:Another aticle (1)

igjeff (15314) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637697)

Yup, which promptly raises the price of the system back up above the $2000 mark that they're touting.

Doncha just love marketing?


Sun Linux bashing again? (1)

technos (73414) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637698)

I can see how some of the more zealous of us are going to perceive this as a threat to Linux. Simply, Linux is succeeding on Intel machines, and by pricing their entry level workstation competitivly with high end Intel boxen, they are striving to banish Linux to the true low-end of the spectrum.
It isn't a threat. Linux runs there (on the Ultra boxen) too, and the owners of high end Intel haven't historically chosen Solaris-x86. Why then would they run Solaris on the cheap Ultras? Sun is just trying to make a buck on the hardware!
If anything, all it means to us is that we can give UltraPenguin a try ON OUR OWN MACHINES!!

Re:OS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1637699)

Actually, the Sun's do. You would have to add
on the SUNPC option Card (PCI). Its an Intel Processor on a Card

Re:Hell no! (2)

Daniel (1678) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637700)

Huh? Does something prevent you from buying one of these and installing your favorite Linux distribution on it? Is there fine print requiring the use of Solaris?


Tell me about these machines (1)

Mawbid (3993) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637701)

I found Sun's page [] describing the Ultra5, but it still doesn't tell me much. What's it like compared to my PII/400? How good is Linux on it? Are there case and/or cpu fans? What else do I want to know? :-)

SGI Indy's? (1)

yoshi (38533) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637702)

Anyone remember 3-4 years ago when SGI tried the same thing? They put out really cheap Indy's - around $3500, if I remember correctly. A lot of people I knew were thinking about buying one, but no one did. Of course, this was when a new PC would run much closer to $2000, and even a DecStation was ~$10000 (again, going from memory). Did SGI sell a lot of Indy's? Was it a profitable venture?

My POV is that Sun is aiming squarely at the Linux market. Most Linux users I know tend to spend a bit more on hardware than Joe User, so $2000 is reasonable, and Solaris, while arguably bloated, is a very mature OS. Add that to the fact that Linux runs (fast) on UltraSparcs, and Sun may actually succeed in getting a significant number of individual buyers picking these things up. I don't think we'll see them in Best Buy, but I could see myself buying one. I had an Ultra 1 at my last job, and I miss it. It was the first time I really felt like I had enough computer in front of me. An Ultra 5 isn't quite the same beast, but pretty close.

Anyway, for $2000, I think it's a good value, and a hell of a desktop machine.


Bang for Buck (1)

Dr_LHA (30754) | more than 14 years ago | (#1637703)

Although this is cheap for a Sparc - you'd get much more bang for buck and better hardware if you bought a $2000 Alpha system. Alphas are just better/faster processors than Sparcs, and the Linux support is much better (you DON'T want to run a proprietery OS do you???). For $2000 you're basically getting a low end PC with a UltraSparc processor - no SCSI/Creator3D or anything good - a real base model.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>