The Rise And Fall Of Sun Microsystems

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Baby Peanut

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Jan 28, 2003, 9:53:18 AM1/28/03
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I think that the number one thing that killed DEC was Sun. DEC was
about closed systems and Sun was about open systems. Sun prospered
and DEC withered.

Now it seems that Sun is past its peak, lost its vision of openness
and has turned into just another closed systems shop:

http://makeashorterlink.com/?D1F324043

How long before HP purchases what's left of Sun?

David Magda

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Jan 28, 2003, 6:48:32 PM1/28/03
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baby_...@yahoo.com (Baby Peanut) writes:
[...]

> Now it seems that Sun is past its peak, lost its vision of openness
> and has turned into just another closed systems shop:

While I think it's unfortunate that Sun doesn't give US-III, you do
have to remember that they gave it to Linux for the UltraLinux
port. The Linux porter (David Miller?) had to sign an NDA. Theo de
Raadt is not agreeing to sign an NDA because of philosophical
reasons. Something I don't see anything wrong with.

The question you have to also ask is: how is Sun becoming more
"closed"? By:
* giving away the source to StarOffice
* opening up GridEngine (now on SourceForge?)
* helping to develop GNOME
* helping U. of Michigan with NFSv4 (to Solaris, Linux, OpenBSD)

Anything else?

> http://makeashorterlink.com/?D1F324043

The link is to a Slashdot story regarding OpenBSD trying to
get documentation for the US-III.

I have no idea what Sun is thinking on this one. They're a hardware
company: you want more systems running on that hardware.

> How long before HP purchases what's left of Sun?

Personally I think HP will sink before Sun, just because of
stupidity. There's an interesting thread in comp.arch on HP's
treatment of the Alpha processor.

Time will tell, he always does.

--
David Magda <dmagda at ee.ryerson.ca>
Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under
the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well
under the new. -- Niccolo Machiavelli, _The Prince_, Chapter VI

Baby Peanut

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Jan 29, 2003, 3:16:43 PM1/29/03
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David Magda <dmagda...@ee.ryerson.ca> wrote in message news:<86smvcg...@number6.magda.ca>...

> baby_...@yahoo.com (Baby Peanut) writes:
> [...]
> > Now it seems that Sun is past its peak, lost its vision of openness
> > and has turned into just another closed systems shop:
>
> While I think it's unfortunate that Sun doesn't give US-III, you do
> have to remember that they gave it to Linux for the UltraLinux
> port. The Linux porter (David Miller?) had to sign an NDA. Theo de
> Raadt is not agreeing to sign an NDA because of philosophical
> reasons. Something I don't see anything wrong with.
>
> The question you have to also ask is: how is Sun becoming more
> "closed"? By:
> * giving away the source to StarOffice
> * opening up GridEngine (now on SourceForge?)
> * helping to develop GNOME
> * helping U. of Michigan with NFSv4 (to Solaris, Linux, OpenBSD)
>
> Anything else?

Sun is only open when it's in Sun's interest to be open.

-----

Sun And Documentation... (Score:5, Funny)
by Bowie J. Poag (16898) Alter Relationship on Tuesday January 28,
@07:36AM (#5173447)
(http://www.ibiblio.org/propaganda)


Sun, with ANY kind of documentation, is going to be a royal pain in
the ass. Here, i'll give you a personal example.

One day, I picked up a SparcStation 1 at a surplus auction. Cool, I
thought, I'll learn SPARC architecture, a bit about disaster recovery
with Sun hardware, Solaris, you name it. So, I hacked the hell out of
it, and learned everything I could without documentation. When it came
time to look at a manual. I called Sun.

"Hi... I was wondering if you could send me the owners manual for a
SparcStation 1."

"Sorry. Thats handled by SunStore."

"Whats SunStore?"

"They handle all our documentation."

So, I call SunStore, and ask the same question.

"Hi.. I was wondering if I could order a user's manual for a Sun
SparcStation 1. I know the machine is like 10 years old, but do you
still have the manuals?"

"Yes, we do."

"Great, i'd like to order one, then. Is Visa ok?"

"Uhh.. Well, we can't sell it to you."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, we cant sell you just one."

"Huh?"

"You need to order in lots of 500."

"You mean in order to buy a SparcStation 1 manual, I need to buy
500?!"

"Yes."

"Uhhh.... Ooooh-kaaay.. How much is a lot of 500?"

"$39.95"

"Oh, okay..I guess thats fine.. I dunno what i'm gonna do with 499
Sparc manuals tho. I guess you can keep them, and just send me one.
Thats all I need."

"39.95 is the unit price, sir. You're looking at a total of....
$19,975."

"No way!"

"Yes sir. Will this be on a Visa or Mastercard?"

*click*


Bowie J. Poag
Project Founder, PROPAGANDA Desktop Enhancement Graphics [ibiblio.org]


> > http://makeashorterlink.com/?D1F324043
>
> The link is to a Slashdot story regarding OpenBSD trying to
> get documentation for the US-III.
>
> I have no idea what Sun is thinking on this one. They're a hardware
> company: you want more systems running on that hardware.
>
> > How long before HP purchases what's left of Sun?
>
> Personally I think HP will sink before Sun, just because of
> stupidity. There's an interesting thread in comp.arch on HP's
> treatment of the Alpha processor.
>
> Time will tell, he always does.

HP is in bed with Intel. They both want the Alpha sunk and the Itanic
to be marketed instead. If lousey CPUs sunk companies Intel would be
dead and buried. I don't see HP's aliance with Intel as sinking
either of them.

Tim Bradshaw

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Feb 2, 2003, 7:17:23 PM2/2/03
to
* David Magda wrote:
> The link is to a Slashdot story regarding OpenBSD trying to
> get documentation for the US-III.

Isn't OpenBSD done by the people who were *so* fractious and difficult
that not only could they not get along with the people who (now) do
FreeBSD, but they then fell out yet further with the people who (now)
do NetBSD and formed their own tiny cult OS. Perhaps Sun are finding
it hard to deal with them because they are, in fact, loonies[1]

--tim (hmm, two articles defending Sun in one day, I'll have to think
up something rude to say about them.)

Footnotes:
[1] Not that I think any such thing, of course.

Tim Bradshaw

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Feb 2, 2003, 7:10:06 PM2/2/03
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* Baby Peanut wrote:

> "Yes, we do."

> "Great, i'd like to order one, then. Is Visa ok?"

> "Uhh.. Well, we can't sell it to you."

> "What do you mean?"

> "Well, we cant sell you just one."

> "Huh?"

> "You need to order in lots of 500."

I don't suppose it occurred to you that the way they `still have' the
documentation for 10 year old machines is that they are willing to
print it on demand, and their costs for doing so make creating single
copies hopelessly uneconomic?

--tim


David Magda

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Feb 3, 2003, 8:25:14 AM2/3/03
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Tim Bradshaw <t...@cley.com> writes:

> * David Magda wrote:
> > The link is to a Slashdot story regarding OpenBSD trying to
> > get documentation for the US-III.
>
> Isn't OpenBSD done by the people who were *so* fractious and
> difficult that not only could they not get along with the people

[...]

It depends on who you ask. :>

Tim Bradshaw

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Feb 3, 2003, 9:02:24 AM2/3/03
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* David Magda wrote:

> It depends on who you ask. :>

I tend to go by the amount of foaming at the mouth...

--tim

Baby Peanut

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Feb 7, 2003, 1:13:37 PM2/7/03
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Tim Bradshaw <t...@cley.com> wrote in message news:<ey3el6q...@cley.com>...


I don't suppose you've heard of PDF or PostScript. Seems I can get
docs for old DEC boxes as PDF files online. Seems pretty economical
to make one machine copy and just share it electronically.

Meanwhile more about the setting Sun:

How Sun can pull out of its slump
By Paul Murphy Originally published Jan 29, 2003
Printed from LinuxWorld.com
http://www.linuxworld.com/site-stories/2003/0129.sun.html

Tim Bradshaw

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Feb 7, 2003, 4:52:27 PM2/7/03
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* Baby Peanut wrote:

> I don't suppose you've heard of PDF or PostScript. Seems I can get
> docs for old DEC boxes as PDF files online. Seems pretty economical
> to make one machine copy and just share it electronically.

And DEC are doing *so* much better than Sun, aren't they?

--tim

Baby Peanut

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Feb 9, 2003, 9:33:17 AM2/9/03
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W C

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Feb 10, 2003, 3:13:42 AM2/10/03
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> "Hi... I was wondering if you could send me the owners manual for a
> SparcStation 1."
>
> "Sorry. Thats handled by SunStore."

He could go to sunhelp.org and subscribe to rescue list,
those are bigger loonies [0] than Theo: never ending therapy session.
There is also sunhelp list which is mostly silent [1], and the infamous
geek list where complex compensation agenda is the agenda.
Yet eventually he'd get some pointers [2].

[0] collectively
[1] understandably and understandingly
[2] after a year of bonding by flame wars

Tim Bradshaw

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Feb 11, 2003, 10:16:02 AM2/11/03
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* Baby Peanut wrote:
> http://www.internalmemos.com/memos/memodetails.php?memo_id=1321

Um, yes? So Java has some problems on Solaris. Well, I knew that,
actually, because I've run SMC. Now, if you'd like to explain just
what this has to do with the availability of documentation for old
machines, or how well DEC are doing these days?

--tim

Baby Peanut

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Feb 13, 2003, 8:43:51 AM2/13/03
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Tim Bradshaw <t...@cley.com> wrote in message news:<ey3y94m...@cley.com>...

This thread is about "The Rise And Fall Of Sun Microsystems" just like
the title suggests.

Tim Bradshaw

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Feb 13, 2003, 11:10:05 AM2/13/03
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* Baby Peanut wrote:

> This thread is about "The Rise And Fall Of Sun Microsystems" just like
> the title suggests.

And a version of Sun's Java being slow on a version of Solaris will
kill Sun. The same way the terrible performance of any early Solaris
2 did, the same way all the hideous bugs in NFS did before that.
Right.

--tim

John Miller

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Feb 16, 2003, 2:00:51 PM2/16/03
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"Baby Peanut" <baby_...@yahoo.com> wrote in message
news:c5cf6e8.03012...@posting.google.com...

Linux is the last great hope for SUN, the big question is Does SUN have the
reserves to last out until Linux envelops the entire computer industry ?

YTC#1

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Feb 16, 2003, 4:47:13 PM2/16/03
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When linux has a stable stack, doesn't allow memory violations, has a
clean upgrade path that does not require re-compiles. Can utilse
multiple processors efficently and scalable. Then maybe it can be taken
more seriously on larger systems. Until then it is a disaster waiting to
happen.

--
Bruce Porter
XJR1300SP, XJ900F, GSX750W, GS550, GSX250, CB175
POTM#1(KoTL), WUSS#1 , YTC#1(bar), OSOS#2(KoTL) , DS#3 , IbW#18 ,Apostle#8
"The internet is a huge and diverse community
and not every one is friendly"
http://www.ytc1.co.uk
There *is* an alternative! http://www.openoffice.org/

John Miller

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Feb 16, 2003, 4:50:47 PM2/16/03
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"YTC#1" <y...@ytc1.co.uk> wrote in message
news:3E5006E1...@ytc1.co.uk...

> John Miller wrote:
> > "Baby Peanut" <baby_...@yahoo.com> wrote in message
> > news:c5cf6e8.03012...@posting.google.com...
> >
> >>I think that the number one thing that killed DEC was Sun. DEC was
> >>about closed systems and Sun was about open systems. Sun prospered
> >>and DEC withered.
> >>
> >>Now it seems that Sun is past its peak, lost its vision of openness
> >>and has turned into just another closed systems shop:
> >>
> >>http://makeashorterlink.com/?D1F324043
> >>
> >>How long before HP purchases what's left of Sun?
> >
> >
> > Linux is the last great hope for SUN, the big question is Does SUN have
the
> > reserves to last out until Linux envelops the entire computer industry ?
> >
>
> When linux has a stable stack, doesn't allow memory violations, has a
> clean upgrade path that does not require re-compiles. Can utilse
> multiple processors efficently and scalable. Then maybe it can be taken
> more seriously on larger systems. Until then it is a disaster waiting to
> happen.

...and yet 7 out the 10 Most Powerful computers in the world run Linux.
Have you ever considered offering your services in a consultancy role to IBM
and NEC etc, just think how much better the Earth Simulator could have been
with your brains behind it !

Mike Jones

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Feb 16, 2003, 4:58:22 PM2/16/03
to
In article <XIT3a.6873$f31.66...@news-text.cableinet.net>,
starl...@yahoo.co.uk says...

>
> "YTC#1" <y...@ytc1.co.uk> wrote in message
> news:3E5006E1...@ytc1.co.uk...
> > John Miller wrote:
> > > "Baby Peanut" <baby_...@yahoo.com> wrote in message
> > > news:c5cf6e8.03012...@posting.google.com...
> > >
> > >>I think that the number one thing that killed DEC was Sun. DEC was
> > >>about closed systems and Sun was about open systems. Sun prospered
> > >>and DEC withered.
> > >>
> > >>Now it seems that Sun is past its peak, lost its vision of openness
> > >>and has turned into just another closed systems shop:
> > >>
> > >>http://makeashorterlink.com/?D1F324043
> > >>
> > >>How long before HP purchases what's left of Sun?
> > >
> > >
> > > Linux is the last great hope for SUN, the big question is Does SUN have
> the
> > > reserves to last out until Linux envelops the entire computer industry ?
> > >
> >
> > When linux has a stable stack, doesn't allow memory violations, has a
> > clean upgrade path that does not require re-compiles. Can utilse
> > multiple processors efficently and scalable. Then maybe it can be taken
> > more seriously on larger systems. Until then it is a disaster waiting to
> > happen.
>
> ...and yet 7 out the 10 Most Powerful computers in the world run Linux.
> Have you ever considered offering your services in a consultancy role to IBM
> and NEC etc, just think how much better the Earth Simulator could have been
> with your brains behind it !

The problem is that those computers bear about as much resemblance to
commonly available machines as your average NASCAR ride does to the
Monte Carlo you'll find at the Chevy dealer. They're custom from the
ground up, hardware and software.

--
Mike Jones
Government is not establish'd merely by Power; there must be maintain'd
a general Opinion of its Wisdom and Justice, to make it firm and
durable.
-- Benjamin Franklin

YTC#1

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Feb 16, 2003, 5:23:35 PM2/16/03
to
John Miller wrote:
> "YTC#1" <y...@ytc1.co.uk> wrote in message
> news:3E5006E1...@ytc1.co.uk...
>
>>John Miller wrote:
>>
>>>"Baby Peanut" <baby_...@yahoo.com> wrote in message
>>>news:c5cf6e8.03012...@posting.google.com...
>>>
>>>
>>>>I think that the number one thing that killed DEC was Sun. DEC was
>>>>about closed systems and Sun was about open systems. Sun prospered
>>>>and DEC withered.
>>>>
>>>>Now it seems that Sun is past its peak, lost its vision of openness
>>>>and has turned into just another closed systems shop:
>>>>
>>>>http://makeashorterlink.com/?D1F324043
>>>>
>>>>How long before HP purchases what's left of Sun?
>>>
>>>
>>>Linux is the last great hope for SUN, the big question is Does SUN have
>>
> the
>
>>>reserves to last out until Linux envelops the entire computer industry ?
>>>
>>
>>When linux has a stable stack, doesn't allow memory violations, has a
>>clean upgrade path that does not require re-compiles. Can utilse
>>multiple processors efficently and scalable. Then maybe it can be taken
>>more seriously on larger systems. Until then it is a disaster waiting to
>>happen.
>
>
> ...and yet 7 out the 10 Most Powerful computers in the world run Linux.

Based on what benchmark ? The one that makes them look best.

> Have you ever considered offering your services in a consultancy role to IBM
> and NEC etc, just think how much better the Earth Simulator could have been
> with your brains behind it !

The others are right, you can be tedious.

--
Bruce Porter

Anthony Mandic

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Feb 17, 2003, 12:26:30 AM2/17/03
to
YTC#1 wrote:
>
> John Miller wrote:
...

> >>>"Baby Peanut" <baby_...@yahoo.com> wrote in message
...

> The others are right, you can be tedious.

Just ignore both peanut brains. They don't have a clue between
them.

-am © 2003

Stefaan A Eeckels

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Feb 16, 2003, 6:25:07 PM2/16/03
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On Sun, 16 Feb 2003 19:00:51 GMT
"John Miller" <starl...@yahoo.co.uk> wrote:
>
> Linux is the last great hope for SUN, the big question is Does SUN have
> the reserves to last out until Linux envelops the entire computer
> industry ?

Rev. Don Kool, where are you when we need you most?

--
Stefaan
--
"One man alone can be pretty dumb sometimes, but for real bona fide
stupidity there ain't nothing can beat teamwork." -- Mark Twain

Dave Uhring

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Feb 17, 2003, 10:33:47 AM2/17/03
to
On Mon, 17 Feb 2003 15:22:22 +0000, Sniper wrote:

> Well put, anyone knows that for secure scalable systems, people use
> FreeBSd..

SMP capability, and limited capability at that, of 2 processors is
"scalable"???

Chuck Swiger

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Feb 17, 2003, 12:35:37 PM2/17/03
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Stefaan A Eeckels <hoen...@ecc.lu> wrote:
> Rev. Don Kool, where are you when we need you most?

If I threw a Bible at the Rev, would he go up in a cloud of black smoke?
Yeah, yeah-- we should be so lucky...still, it'd be neat to see. :-)

-Chuck

Chuck Swiger | ch...@codefab.com | All your packets are belong to us.
-------------+-------------------+-----------------------------------
"The human race's favorite method for being in control of the facts
is to ignore them." -Celia Green

Rich Teer

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Feb 17, 2003, 1:10:43 PM2/17/03
to
On Mon, 17 Feb 2003, Dave Uhring wrote:

> SMP capability, and limited capability at that, of 2 processors is
> "scalable"???

In PeeCee land, yes!

--
Rich Teer

President,
Rite Online Inc.

Voice: +1 (250) 979-1638
URL: http://www.rite-online.net

Dave Uhring

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Feb 17, 2003, 1:32:00 PM2/17/03
to
On Mon, 17 Feb 2003 18:10:43 +0000, Rich Teer wrote:

> On Mon, 17 Feb 2003, Dave Uhring wrote:
>
>> SMP capability, and limited capability at that, of 2 processors is
>> "scalable"???
>
> In PeeCee land, yes!

Casper pointed out quite some time ago that Solaris 8 x86 is capable of
scaling to 21 processors. And that OS is a part of PeeCee land :-)

Hell, even Linux can scale to 8 processors in a reasonably linear manner!

scz

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Feb 17, 2003, 2:17:48 PM2/17/03
to
Dave Uhring wrote:
>
> On Mon, 17 Feb 2003 18:10:43 +0000, Rich Teer wrote:
>
> > On Mon, 17 Feb 2003, Dave Uhring wrote:
> >
> >> SMP capability, and limited capability at that, of 2 processors is
> >> "scalable"???
> >
> > In PeeCee land, yes!
>
> Casper pointed out quite some time ago that Solaris 8 x86 is capable of
> scaling to 21 processors. And that OS is a part of PeeCee land :-)

The OS is willing but the hardware is weak, or something. :-)

scz

Baby Peanut

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Feb 18, 2003, 10:51:25 PM2/18/03
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Tim Bradshaw <t...@cley.com> wrote in message news:<ey3vfzo...@cley.com>...

You can only make just so many mistakes before the end.

Meanwhile, here's Robert X. Cringely on the setting sun:

http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/pulpit20030213.html

Baby Peanut

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Feb 18, 2003, 11:05:07 PM2/18/03
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Anthony Mandic <am_i...@start.com.au> wrote in message news:<3E507286...@start.com.au>...

Sunset
How to Avoid the Almost Certain End of Sun Microsystems

By Robert X. Cringely

Every five to 10 years, Silicon Valley goes broke. This began in the
1950s and maybe long before, but the 1950s is as early as I care to
write about. The Valley then was filled with apricot and cherry
orchards only to see agriculture driven out first by the military and
aerospace, and then by semiconductor companies. It is fitting that
Shockley Semiconductor -- the first of many transistor companies --
was started in a shed previously used for drying apricots.
Transistors begat Integrated Circuits, which begat memory chips, which
begat microprocessors, which begat personal computers, which begat
consumer software, which begat networks, which begat the Internet,
which begat the day before yesterday and the day after tomorrow. And
each of those transitions was accompanied by a seismic shudder going
through the Valley as companies went under and home prices slowed, for
just a moment, their inexorable rise before continuing to climb again.
A few familiar names survived from each era, but most of the
companies went out of business because that's the way it is. We burn
our fields in Silicon Valley, then plow the ashes under and start
anew. It is perfectly natural, then, for companies to die here, but
that doesn't mean there is no room for regret and nostalgia. So today
I look with nostalgia on Sun Microsystems and hope -- probably in vain
-- that the company doesn't die.

Sun did not invent the engineering workstation, but they certainly
perfected it. But where are workstations today? Gone, for the most
part. Sun's workstation business is about the same size as SGI's,
which is to say small. Sun is now a server company, but that won't
last long either under the onslaught of Linux. Cheap Intel and AMD
hardware running Linux is going to kill Sun unless the company does
something so stop it, which they aren't.

Sun made a big show this week of rolling out its new product strategy,
called N1, which pits the company directly against both Microsoft and
IBM. Both Napoleon and Hitler learned the hard way that it is not a
good idea to fight a war on two fronts, and Sun, which can barely
afford to compete against one of those companies, much less both, is
about to get the same rueful lesson.

Sun's announcements were too little, too late, and they were made by
absolutely the wrong people -- a succession of marketing executives.
Sun is an engineering company, so where were the engineers? The
engineers were kept in the back rooms lest they reveal the despair
being felt right now in their company. The problem is that Sun has no
real technical leadership. CEO Scott McNealy doesn't know what to do
with the company. Ed Zander is gone, which is good, but that means it
has been years since the company had anything like charismatic or
visionary leadership. It doesn't look good.

Even Java is becoming superfluous. Java is the Dan Marino of
software. Just as the former Dolphins quarterback, Java affected the
world so much that history cannot be written without its mention. But
nonetheless, neither Java nor Dan ever won the big one.

So here is the prognosis. Sun lost $2 billion last year and will
probably lose another $2 billion this year. At that rate, the company
has at most five years to live. They have just renewed a commitment
to the Solaris operating system, which is no longer really viable from
an economic standpoint. I know, I know, Solaris users love Solaris,
but they don't love Solaris prices. And with a falling market share,
Sun can't afford to make Solaris any cheaper. Sun is having the same
problem in hardware where their SPARC architecture is falling behind,
and -- worse still -- has lost nearly all of its manufacturing support
in Japan. Both Solaris and SPARC will absorb vast sums in the coming
years and yield absolutely no increase in Sun's market share as a
result.

Here is something very important to understand: winning its current
anti-trust suit against Microsoft will not change the final outcome
for Sun. An award of $1 billion or even $3 billion (possible treble
damages) won't do anything except buy a little time.

It would be great if something happened to arrest Sun's fall. One
rumor going around is that Sun will merge with Apple, which is ironic
since Gil Amelio tried unsuccessfully to GIVE Apple to Sun back in
early 1997 before Gil was fired as Apple CEO. The logic behind this
rumor is that Apple is now effectively a Unix company, that Apple and
Sun could target the desktop and server markets, respectively, and
that Sun would drop SPARC in favor of PowerPC processors.

This is a nice rumor, but I don't believe it. Steve Jobs has done an
excellent job of turning Apple into a boutique computer company. He
can move Apple quickly to stay ahead of the market as he is doing
right now shifting the company more and more into notebooks, about the
only PC area that is still growing. But Jobs couldn't do the same
thing with a post-merger Apple/Sun. The company would be too big and
the cash reserves would be too low. The competition -- again
Microsoft and IBM -- would be too big and too rich. Steve is
ambitious, but he is not an idiot. There is nothing at Sun right now
that Apple needs.

So what is to be done? The answer is clearly two versions of the same
thing. Sun can either find a merger partner to take the company out
of its predicament or it can find its own strategy to achieve the same
result. Either way, this is a time for Scott McNealy to literally bet
the company.

To hear them talk, Sun's marketing folks think they are already
betting the company, but they aren't. They are throwing the company
away, which is very different. It is the difference between taking a
calculated risk that might turn the company around and the current
strategy of simply spending more money NOT trying to turn the company
around in hopes that some happy accident will take place before Sun is
completely broke.

I don't know exactly what Sun should do to save itself, but I know it
has to involve a bold and brash move that changes the entire company,
and with that, the entire game. Sun has to reinvent itself.

One way to do that is through a merger, but the logical merger partner
isn't Apple, it is Sony. The two companies have been talking about
some kind of strategic alliance. Maybe these are merger talks. Sony
is incredibly strong, having just posted its biggest-ever profit.
Sony leadership is changing, making possible a bold move as the new
management tries to put its own stamp on the company. Sony has both
the resources to support Sun and the need for technology Sun can
provide.

Sony is a leader in consumer electronics and home entertainment, but
not in computers. While the combined companies could field some very
good computer offerings, extending Sony's influence into the server
space, the real value of the combination lies in using Sun technology
and know-how to transform Sony's current bread-and-butter businesses,
which are TVs, video games, and movies.

With Sun's help, Sony could redefine television, bringing it into the
emerging broadband era. A Sony Internet TV could show Sony content
received over a Sony global network, all engineered by Sun. It is a
powerful attraction, and at around $3 per share, Sun is very
affordable for Sony.

I don't know if this will happen, but it might. If it doesn't happen,
then Sun will just have to go it alone, which means Scott McNealy will
have to stumble on a new business just as he stumbled on servers and
Java. This means getting new and energetic technical leadership for
the company, which desperately needs another Bill Joy. Then it means
finding a new product direction. And finally it involves betting the
whole darned company on that direction. Like Hernando Cortez
conquering Mexico, McNealy has to burn his ships to make retreat
impossible. While the risk in this strategy looks great, the
alternative is almost certain doom.

What can make the new strategy succeed is a particular CEO behavior:
McNealy has to not grow up. Be brash, be stupid even. Take enormous
risks and do it with élan. Only then will Sun return to greatness.

Rich Teer

unread,
Feb 19, 2003, 12:04:16 AM2/19/03
to
On 18 Feb 2003, Baby Peanut wrote:

> Sunset
> How to Avoid the Almost Certain End of Sun Microsystems
>
> By Robert X. Cringely

[...]

> which is to say small. Sun is now a server company, but that won't
> last long either under the onslaught of Linux. Cheap Intel and AMD
> hardware running Linux is going to kill Sun unless the company does

"Cheap Intel and AMD hardware running Linux" is not match for Sun's
bigger machines, although I agree that Sun needs to boost its low
end price/performance.

> Even Java is becoming superfluous. Java is the Dan Marino of
> software. Just as the former Dolphins quarterback, Java affected the
> world so much that history cannot be written without its mention. But
> nonetheless, neither Java nor Dan ever won the big one.

Based on what, exactly?

CJT

unread,
Feb 19, 2003, 1:42:12 AM2/19/03
to

With all due respect, Cringely isn't much of an authority IMHO.

Emmanuel Florac

unread,
Feb 19, 2003, 3:54:26 AM2/19/03
to
Dans article <Pine.GSO.4.44.0302182102080.24976-100000@electron>,
rich...@rite-group.com disait...

>
> "Cheap Intel and AMD hardware running Linux" is not match for Sun's
> bigger machines, although I agree that Sun needs to boost its low
> end price/performance.
>

No, but expensive IBM hardware do. Even expensive Intel-based hardware
(see SGI altix and more to come) do or will do within a few months. And
frankly, relying upon a market which is shrinking again and again...

> > [quoted text muted]


> > Even Java is becoming superfluous. Java is the Dan Marino of
> > software. Just as the former Dolphins quarterback, Java affected the
> > world so much that history cannot be written without its mention. But
> > nonetheless, neither Java nor Dan ever won the big one.
>
> Based on what, exactly?
>

Java sucks? Java is slow, a memory hog, and isn't half as well-designed
as C#, nor open-source as Python, nor as powerful as perl?

--
Quis, quid, ubi, quibus auxiliis, cur, quomodo, quando?

Phillip Fayers

unread,
Feb 19, 2003, 5:18:29 AM2/19/03
to
In article <Pine.GSO.4.44.0302182102080.24976-100000@electron>, Rich Teer wrote:
>On 18 Feb 2003, Baby Peanut wrote:

>> Sunset
>> How to Avoid the Almost Certain End of Sun Microsystems

>> By Robert X. Cringely

>[...]

>> which is to say small. Sun is now a server company, but that won't
>> last long either under the onslaught of Linux. Cheap Intel and AMD
>> hardware running Linux is going to kill Sun unless the company does

>"Cheap Intel and AMD hardware running Linux" is not match for Sun's
>bigger machines, although I agree that Sun needs to boost its low
>end price/performance.

Sun needs either massively increase the performance of its CPUs or
dump UltraSPARC and use something else.

UltraSPARC simply isn't keeping up with the other chips out there.
It's totally outclassed at the low end and at the high end. A news
story today is reporting that IBM have a Power 5 system running in
their labs. Power 5 is due for release next year. Given that Power
4 already wipes the floor with Sun on performance they haven't got
a hope against the next generation. Heck, even Apple desktops
are faster than Sun desktops these days, actually even low end
portables are faster than low end Suns. You simply can't survive
in computing if you are that far behind the performance curve.

Sun is kidding itself if it thinks it can survive as a server company.
The reason Sun became successful was that they sold fast, comparitively
cheap systems in a market segment which was growing - UNIX workstations.
It was pretty easy to turn those workstations into cheap servers, then
make them bigger. If you read about the current SPARC chips you'll
find that the US-IIi was pretty much an accident, which shows you how
much Sun cares about the low end. Without cheap, competetive systems
to sell at the low end Sun will get squeezed into the job of selling
a few high end systems to a few huge companies.

We used to buy Suns. Not many I'l grant you but 4-5 years ago
there were close on 60 active Sun systems in this department, mostly
workstations. If we wanted a new UNIX box it was a Sun becuase it
was easy to integrate into the network and we had the skills base to
set it up and use it. In the last 2 years we've bought 1 Sun box.
We don't have anyone new learning how to use Suns, everyone wants
PCs running Linux becuase they are cheaper and faster. With Linux
skills growing it will mean that future servers run Linux because
they'll be easier to integrate and we'll have the skills. Within
a few years I'd expect most of the Suns to go. This is being repeated
in other departments in the university, and in other unis in the UK
and all over the world. Suns basic user base is moving away, without
it they'll die - I give them 3 years unless they make some radical
changes.

--
Phillip Fayers, SunAdmin/Support/Programming/Postmaster/Webmaster(TM)
Dept of Physics & Astronomy, University of Wales, College of Cardiff.
P.Fa...@astro.cf.ac.uk Attribute these comments to me, not UWCC.

Chuck Swiger

unread,
Feb 19, 2003, 11:21:53 AM2/19/03
to
Emmanuel Florac <efl...@imaginet.fr> wrote:
> Dans article <Pine.GSO.4.44.0302182102080.24976-100000@electron>,
> rich...@rite-group.com disait...
[ ... ]

>> Based on what, exactly?
>
> Java sucks? Java is slow, a memory hog, and isn't half as well-designed
> as C#, nor open-source as Python, nor as powerful as perl?

Java doesn't suck. Java is a memory hog. Java is more open than GPL'ed
software, since I can use Java to write commercial software if I choose.
The expressive power of any Turing-complete language is equivalent; for sure,
I'd rather use Java than Perl for a program of any significant size.

All of the above being said, nobody answered by my question about the
dependencies Solaris has on older JVMs-- why java1.1, java1.2, and j2se all
being present under /usr under S8.

Emmanuel Florac

unread,
Feb 19, 2003, 1:33:50 PM2/19/03
to
Dans article <b30av1$1fg6$1...@shot.codefab.com>, ch...@codefab.com
disait...
>
> Java doesn't suck.

We disagree on this part...

> Java is a memory hog. Java is more open than GPL'ed
> software, since I can use Java to write commercial software if I choose.

You can write commercial software with GPL software. Obviously you
misunderstood the GPL.

> The expressive power of any Turing-complete language is equivalent; for sure,
> I'd rather use Java than Perl for a program of any significant size.
>

Actually I'm getting sure that Perl and Python are probably better
languages overall, whatever size is the project...

Baby Peanut

unread,
Feb 19, 2003, 1:52:15 PM2/19/03
to
CJT <chel...@prodigy.net> wrote in message news:<3E53275...@prodigy.net>...

Poisoning the well/damning the source is the poorest of rebuttals.

Emmanuel Florac

unread,
Feb 19, 2003, 4:01:34 PM2/19/03
to
Dans article <b30lqe$b3$2...@anubis.demon.co.uk>, hu...@ukmisc.org.uk
disait...
>
> What *does* Bill Gates' cock taste like?
>

Should I care? Do you think that Microsoft and its thousand engineers can
only do crap, just because it's Microsoft? Then surely SUN can only
produce marvels, like U5. Go buy a brain, be quick.

Emmanuel Florac

unread,
Feb 19, 2003, 4:19:49 PM2/19/03
to
Dans article <b30rf6$b3$2...@anubis.demon.co.uk>, hu...@ukmisc.org.uk
disait...
>
> Jeez, how did you get from C# to that? Oh, hang on, you're a moron.
>

Hm? write something meaningful, just prove you have a brain and you're
not some sort of ELIZA robot.

Steve Kappel

unread,
Feb 19, 2003, 4:30:05 PM2/19/03
to
In article <slrnb56mg...@sadalsud.astro.cf.ac.uk>, Phillip Fayers wrote:
> In article <Pine.GSO.4.44.0302182102080.24976-100000@electron>, Rich Teer wrote:
>>On 18 Feb 2003, Baby Peanut wrote:
>
>>> Sunset
>>> How to Avoid the Almost Certain End of Sun Microsystems
>
>>> By Robert X. Cringely
>
>>[...]
>
>>> which is to say small. Sun is now a server company, but that won't
>>> last long either under the onslaught of Linux. Cheap Intel and AMD
>>> hardware running Linux is going to kill Sun unless the company does
>
>>"Cheap Intel and AMD hardware running Linux" is not match for Sun's
>>bigger machines, although I agree that Sun needs to boost its low
>>end price/performance.
>
> Sun needs either massively increase the performance of its CPUs or
> dump UltraSPARC and use something else.
>
> UltraSPARC simply isn't keeping up with the other chips out there.

> I give them 3 years unless they make some radical changes.

How many times have we heard a similar prediction? About every
5 years we go through this. Every time Sun has turned around
and responded favorably - continuing to maintain and grow its
market position.

Anybody who has watched this industry for more than a few years
knows full well that the fastest chip don't mean diddle. Plenty
of competitors have frequently had chips outperforming Sun -
some by a wide margin. Most of these are dead or dying.

The industry is about more than the fastest chip or the cheapest
O/S. Winners need integrated systems - the triad of scalable
hardware with common processor architecture, robust industrial-
strength operating system, and wealth of applications.

> We used to buy Suns. Not many I'l grant you but 4-5 years ago
> there were close on 60 active Sun systems in this department, mostly
> workstations. If we wanted a new UNIX box it was a Sun becuase it
> was easy to integrate into the network and we had the skills base to
> set it up and use it. In the last 2 years we've bought 1 Sun box.
> We don't have anyone new learning how to use Suns, everyone wants
> PCs running Linux becuase they are cheaper and faster. With Linux

Sun isn't out to make the cheapest and fastest desktop. Their
value comes in the triad above. Binary compatibility with
high-end servers, O/S, applications. Before choking on that
last one, it hasn't been that long since Sun was the reference
platform for most "open source" software. There is nothing
"reference" about Linux (like, which one??). Most desktop
apps on Linux are medicore at best.

It isn't a popularity contest. For the last decade we've
heard how Wintel was going to annihilate Unix and non-Intel
platforms. Didn't happen. Although Visual Basic was awful
popular! Linux isn't going to annihilate Unix either.

Desktops are becoming less and less important in a networked
world. That trend is going to hurt Microsoft a whole lot
more than Sun.

The Linux hype will level off once companies figure out
there is little to no money to be made.

Emmanuel Florac

unread,
Feb 19, 2003, 4:59:35 PM2/19/03
to
Dans article <slrnb57tqs....@isis.visi.com>, ska...@visi.com
disait...

>
> How many times have we heard a similar prediction? About every
> 5 years we go through this. Every time Sun has turned around
> and responded favorably - continuing to maintain and grow its
> market position.

That's a perfect evidence that this sort of FUD is useful, if not
necessary! :)

rachel polanskis

unread,
Feb 19, 2003, 7:03:40 AM2/19/03
to
In article <Pine.GSO.4.44.0302182102080.24976-100000@electron>,
Rich Teer <rich...@rite-group.com> wrote:

> On 18 Feb 2003, Baby Peanut wrote:
>
> > Sunset
> > How to Avoid the Almost Certain End of Sun Microsystems
> >
> > By Robert X. Cringely
>
> [...]
>
> > which is to say small. Sun is now a server company, but that won't
> > last long either under the onslaught of Linux. Cheap Intel and AMD
> > hardware running Linux is going to kill Sun unless the company does
>
> "Cheap Intel and AMD hardware running Linux" is not match for Sun's
> bigger machines, although I agree that Sun needs to boost its low
> end price/performance.

If Sun goes under, the technologies that replace it will be
inferior for sure. The price point does need to come down though,
agreed. However I think Sun has been doing that to some degree
in recent times overall.

I shudder to think of what will happen if Sun disappears. I will
have to retreat to Apple/OSX I guess, since I am not happy with Linux
and certainly have a dislike for x86, for my own reasons! I haven't
used an Intel box for over 3 years now, except under duress.

It's a sad state of affairs that Linux, which has been deemed to
be a "Windoze killer" has instead completed the Balkanisation of UNIX
and because of Linux's tendency to be available on commodity hardware
has cheapened the whole game considerably, both in hardware, software
and skill levels. I feel that while Linux has a lot of merit,
there still needs to a space for a commercial, world class UNIX.
And I don't think HP-UX or True64 is it, from my own experience.
(please don't bother flaming me - I know what the usual arguments are)

I have watched Solaris grow from an awkward kludge into a really
slick and smooth running OS, that is a real joy to use. Likewise
Sun hardware seems to be improving all the time. These things do come
at a cost though, but while ever there's people prepared to cut corners
to weasel in the bottom line, the inferior solutions will always make
headway, sadly.


rachel

CJT

unread,
Feb 20, 2003, 1:57:49 AM2/20/03
to
Emmanuel Florac wrote:
<snip>

>
>
> Should I care? Do you think that Microsoft and its thousand engineers can
> only do crap, just because it's Microsoft? Then surely SUN can only
> produce marvels, like U5. Go buy a brain, be quick.
>

Perhaps they could do better if it weren't for the need to maintain
compatibility with an intrinsically flawed design, compounded by a
corporate culture that values the length of a list of "features" over
basic reliability.


Stefaan A Eeckels

unread,
Feb 19, 2003, 4:58:57 PM2/19/03
to
On Wed, 19 Feb 2003 19:33:50 +0100
Emmanuel Florac <efl...@imaginet.fr> wrote:

> Actually I'm getting sure that Perl and Python are probably better
> languages overall, whatever size is the project...

Actually, that depends on whether your target audience
can install Perl or Python. The moment you have to
distribute Perl/Python to distribute your app, you're
up the proverbial creek without a paddle. Perl and Python
are fine programmers languages, but not good for stuff
that's distributed to clueless sites.

Phillip Fayers

unread,
Feb 20, 2003, 5:42:25 AM2/20/03
to
In article <slrnb57tqs....@isis.visi.com>, Steve Kappel wrote:
>In article <slrnb56mg...@sadalsud.astro.cf.ac.uk>, Phillip Fayers wrote:
>> In article <Pine.GSO.4.44.0302182102080.24976-100000@electron>, Rich Teer wrote:
>>>On 18 Feb 2003, Baby Peanut wrote:

>>>> which is to say small. Sun is now a server company, but that won't
>>>> last long either under the onslaught of Linux. Cheap Intel and AMD
>>>> hardware running Linux is going to kill Sun unless the company does

>>>"Cheap Intel and AMD hardware running Linux" is not match for Sun's
>>>bigger machines, although I agree that Sun needs to boost its low
>>>end price/performance.

>> Sun needs either massively increase the performance of its CPUs or
>> dump UltraSPARC and use something else.

>> UltraSPARC simply isn't keeping up with the other chips out there.

>> I give them 3 years unless they make some radical changes.

>How many times have we heard a similar prediction? About every
>5 years we go through this. Every time Sun has turned around
>and responded favorably - continuing to maintain and grow its
>market position.

>Anybody who has watched this industry for more than a few years
>knows full well that the fastest chip don't mean diddle. Plenty
>of competitors have frequently had chips outperforming Sun -
>some by a wide margin. Most of these are dead or dying.

The problem now is that we have a few "living" architectures
(ie. discount Alpha as it's basically dead) and ALL of them
outperform Sun. They are also all committed to increasing
performance at a faster rate than Sun. I think Sun don't
have the right attitude to UltraSPARC (or many of their
products). There's a nice quote from Raju Vegesna in
an article (http://www.theworkcircuit.com/story/OEG20020731S0037)
I read recently. Raju was an architect on the Ross HyperSPARC
CPUs, he now run Serverworks. At the end of the article
he is quoted as saying:
"You have to win the business with every new silicon generation.
Execution is vital." And "if you blink you fail,"

Sun have been blinking for a while now.

>The industry is about more than the fastest chip or the cheapest
>O/S. Winners need integrated systems - the triad of scalable
>hardware with common processor architecture, robust industrial-
>strength operating system, and wealth of applications.

>> We used to buy Suns. Not many I'l grant you but 4-5 years ago
>> there were close on 60 active Sun systems in this department, mostly
>> workstations. If we wanted a new UNIX box it was a Sun becuase it
>> was easy to integrate into the network and we had the skills base to
>> set it up and use it. In the last 2 years we've bought 1 Sun box.
>> We don't have anyone new learning how to use Suns, everyone wants
>> PCs running Linux becuase they are cheaper and faster. With Linux

>Sun isn't out to make the cheapest and fastest desktop. Their
>value comes in the triad above. Binary compatibility with
>high-end servers, O/S, applications. Before choking on that
>last one, it hasn't been that long since Sun was the reference
>platform for most "open source" software.

"It hasn't been that long since" - exactly. Sun haven't produced
a competitive desktop (at a reasonable price) for a long time.
That hole in their product line is now manifesting itself - the
majority of developers have moved to using Linux boxes.

On the application front Sun have never really been serious about
that one either. StarOffice was far too little and far too late
for anyone who might want to keep a Sun on their desk for general
computing. Take a look at their new N1 initiative. One of the
main advantages of the new Sun File Blade servers is supposed to
be the N1 software - but look at the price! (The Sun Fire B1600
Intelligent Shelf lists at $4,795, a licence for N1 Provisioning
Server 3.0 Blades Edition is $3,290 for EACH shelf.)

>There is nothing
>"reference" about Linux (like, which one??). Most desktop
>apps on Linux are medicore at best.

But again they are getting better faster than the desktop
apps on Solaris.

>It isn't a popularity contest. For the last decade we've
>heard how Wintel was going to annihilate Unix and non-Intel
>platforms. Didn't happen. Although Visual Basic was awful
>popular! Linux isn't going to annihilate Unix either.

>Desktops are becoming less and less important in a networked
>world. That trend is going to hurt Microsoft a whole lot
>more than Sun.

>The Linux hype will level off once companies figure out
>there is little to no money to be made.

The Linux hype will continue as long as IBM/HP etc see that
it hurts Sun (which it does).

Emmanuel Florac

unread,
Feb 20, 2003, 5:45:07 AM2/20/03
to
Dans article <20030219225857.3...@ecc.lu>, hoen...@ecc.lu
disait...

> Perl and Python
> are fine programmers languages, but not good for stuff
> that's distributed to clueless sites.
>

Though py2exe (for Python) is getting reaaly good.

Emmanuel Florac

unread,
Feb 20, 2003, 5:47:18 AM2/20/03
to
Dans article <3E547C72...@prodigy.net>, chel...@prodigy.net
disait...

>
> Perhaps they could do better if it weren't for the need to maintain
> compatibility with an intrinsically flawed design, compounded by a
> corporate culture that values the length of a list of "features" over
> basic reliability.
>

Microsoft seldom build good products; however the overall design of C# is
fine, and probably there'll be a good implementation (probably not from
Microsoft...)

Stefaan A Eeckels

unread,
Feb 20, 2003, 7:16:16 AM2/20/03
to
On Thu, 20 Feb 2003 11:45:07 +0100
Emmanuel Florac <efl...@imaginet.fr> wrote:

> Dans article <20030219225857.3...@ecc.lu>, hoen...@ecc.lu
> disait...
> > Perl and Python
> > are fine programmers languages, but not good for stuff
> > that's distributed to clueless sites.
> >
>
> Though py2exe (for Python) is getting reaaly good.

Last time I checked (several months ago) it had its problems.
I'll have to revisit it.

Thanks!

Steve Kappel

unread,
Feb 20, 2003, 10:17:10 AM2/20/03