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James Gosling Grades Oracle's Handling of Sun's Tech 223

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the a+-for-killing-solaris dept.
snydeq writes "With the four-year anniversary of Oracle's Sun Microsystems acquisition looming, InfoWorld reached out to Java founder James Gosling to rate how Oracle has done in shepherding Sun technology. Gosling gives Oracle eyebrow-raising grades, lauding Oracle's handling of Java, despite his past acrimony toward Oracle over Java (remember those T-shirts?), and giving Oracle a flat-out failing grade on what has become of Solaris OS."
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James Gosling Grades Oracle's Handling of Sun's Tech

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  • by jordanjay29 (1298951) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @01:14AM (#45947931)
    Even though it's since transitioned to Apache, Oracle still deserves to be graded on their handling of OO.o.
    • by bhcompy (1877290)
      Which is what exactly? I never had any problems with their handling of OO.o. It was free, it wrote files in formats that were easily accessible, it didn't have ugly ribbons, it was intuitive to reformed Office users, it loaded faster than Office, and it handled everything school, home, and most of what work threw at me without issue. For a freeware product, what more could you ask for? Sounds like a good grade to me.
    • by R.Mo_Robert (737913) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @01:29AM (#45947999)

      Even though it's since transitioned to Apache, Oracle still deserves to be graded on their handling of OO.o.

      Gosling didn't "forget" to grade OpenOffice.org; he was the (co)creator of Java. That's why this article is treating his assessment of Java as special. You wouldn't get that with OO.o.

      • by fatphil (181876)
        But he is also commenting on now-Oracle-controlled things he didn't create, such as Solaris. Quite why that was included and others weren't doesn't seem obvious.
    • AFAIK authors had to fork and rename it to "Jenkins" after Oracle filed for trademark for original name "Hudson".

      I hate Oracle with passion, although they seem to be doing OK job with Java.

      --Coder
  • by bogaboga (793279) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @01:16AM (#45947941)

    While I applaud James for his contribution to Java, I am afraid he's of no consequence to its direction now.

    It would have been better if he proposed some kind of direction Oracle should have taken with Java.

    • by cffrost (885375) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @02:14AM (#45948187) Homepage

      I think it's too early to tell, as James Gosling just lacks the experience most people are used to from those like him — there's still a lot left for him to learn from his father, industry veteran Jim Goose. Once his father retires, though, I think James will get to chance to really spread his wings, and we'll probably see some very good ideas of his take flight. For now, though, I think he's just a bit green around the beak.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    To know Oracle is to hate Oracle.

    An Oracle Field Engineer shared the secret meaning for the name, "oracle".
    One
    Rich
    Arse
    Called
    Larry
    Ellison

  • by kry73n (2742191) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @02:42AM (#45948279)

    SPARC has seen more advances in the 4 years under ORACLE then in the previous 15 years under Sun. I actually enjoy reading about their tech every now and then. But unless they open up Solaris again to attract the open source community the only thing that keeps it alive is backwards compatibility of legacy software.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      All of the work that you're seeing now on SPARC was started well before ORACLE picked up. What happens in the next 5 will be most telling of ORACLE's influence.

      Hardware, unlike software, has a very long lead time (years).

      From Larry's perspective, source code is the most valuable asset. Thus they want to keep as much of it behind closed doors as possible. That's the lesson he learned from developing the database business that is ORACLE's foundation. And there is only one opinion that counts in the company: L

    • by thogard (43403)

      What advances would that be? The ones out of Fujitsu? The T chips are just now catching up with workloads that they can run reasonably. I have work loads that a 15 year old Sparc IIi will out perform a few year old T2. The V100 was a $1000 appliance box yet the base T2 was selling for more than $6,000. If the UltraSparc IIIi was made at 22 nm (unlike its original 130 nm) and it would scream for most web appliance roles. It would even be a nice cpu for the Lights Out Management system and it could even

      • by kthreadd (1558445)

        What advances would that be? The ones out of Fujitsu? The T chips are just now catching up with workloads that they can run reasonably. I have work loads that a 15 year old Sparc IIi will out perform a few year old T2. The V100 was a $1000 appliance box yet the base T2 was selling for more than $6,000. If the UltraSparc IIIi was made at 22 nm (unlike its original 130 nm) and it would scream for most web appliance roles. It would even be a nice cpu for the Lights Out Management system and it could even run Solaris unlike their current LOM which is running Linux.

        Your T2 can do up to 64 parallel execution threads. Your IIi, not so much. That's the difference. More cores, not faster ones.

        • by thogard (43403)

          No, the t2 can preserve the context of 64 threads but it can and will only run no more than 8 execution threads at a time. In most cases, the pipeline is so starved, it won't even manage 8. When it is running 8 at a time, it is doing each at a much slower rate that the older CPUs would be doing if they were made using the same process.

          The II/IIi/IIIii can preserve something like 4 processes executions context at a time. Sometimes that is better. It is better on nearly all of my workloads.

          • by kthreadd (1558445)

            True, my mistake. At the end of the day it comes down to that it depends.

            • by thogard (43403)

              Early Java was nothing other than a mess of pointers to pointers to pointers to pointers to more pointers all in a multi threaded system. The T1 addressed that problem but the concept of "All problems in computer science can be solved by another level of indirection*" is false and at some point compiler writers fix part of it. When they win, concepts like the T1 fail.

              Sun tried great things with the T1 and it was like a great chess move that failed. The problem is they did a pawn sacrifice of their core b

    • by unixisc (2429386) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @04:11AM (#45948575)

      He did grade SPARC. He said that it was tough to tell, since SPARC was floundering well before Oracle took over.

      SPARC is interesting, but for the OpenSPARC/sparc.org consortium. I don't see how Oracle gains squat by promoting SPARC: the only reason SPARC is alive is Fujitsu SPARC64. Otherwise, SPARC would have been EOLed, just like the SPARCstations.

      I think SPARC has a limited market, since routers are now MIPS and maybe ARM, consoles were MIPS & Power and moving to AMD, servers are x64 and later maybe ARM64.

  • is totally merited. Solaris was and still is brilliant, one of the best operating systems ever made. The scalability and reliability are legendary. I do not know of any OS that can run on a tiny PC AND on a big-mama cluster with exactly the same code. Solaris is another example of how mergers and corporate acquisitions boil down, most of the time, to sheer destruction of capital. Observed that with tiny companies and start-ups as well as with mega-mergers & acquisitions. Solaris is dead, and I concur with Gosling: I weep.
    • by Marsell (16980) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @03:19AM (#45948417) Homepage

      While Solaris itself is no longer relevant outside of some enterprise niches, it has an actively-developed OSS fork named "illumos", developed by former-Sun hackers working at several different private companies. There are several distributions -- I use SmartOS in particular, and OmniTI's OmniOS is also excellent.

    • by unixisc (2429386)

      is totally merited. Solaris was and still is brilliant, one of the best operating systems ever made. The scalability and reliability are legendary. I do not know of any OS that can run on a tiny PC AND on a big-mama cluster with exactly the same code.

      How about the BSDs? NetBSD? FreeBSD? OpenBSD?

    • by upuv (1201447) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @04:44AM (#45948727) Journal

      I completely agree. Solaris "was" a great OS. With some very notable monster issues. Oracle has effectively killed Solaris. I simple can't use it anymore. The licensing costs of it and the software that runs on it are more than my total IT budget. Despite it's fantastic attributes I can no longer afford to put this in my Datacenter. With on demand virtualisation I can not afford to have to worry about things like. "Am I going to violate my license conditions if I spin up X more?"

      I had an Oracle sale rep try to sell my that ridiculous Oracle stack in a box Exadata/logic. I was almost crying in laughter by the end of the sales presentation. 2/3 of the way through I stood up and wrote on the white board "Tell me how this isn't vendor lock in?". I called time at the 1 hour mark. I ended the meeting with the simple statement. Everything you have shown me is all about "vendor lock in" every word out of your mouths just re-enforced this concept. I had one question for you the entire meeting and you simple could not in any way respond to it.

      So I priced everything I might need on Amazon. Using free and commercial AMI's with the odd vendor SW package tossed in. My first year spend was 1/25th of the Exadata discounted opening price. Nothing on the EC2 list had anything to do with Solaris. This is how you kill something. Make it financially ridiculous.

      Issues with Solaris. That should have been addressed in the Oracle years.
      - Package manager was brain dead. apt, yum are far better. ( Sorry Solaris 11 was too late. Too much legacy out there. )
      - Patching made no sense. You have no idea what packages are patched with a patch. Patches were just binary disk vomit that spewed crud all over the system. Impossible in the real world to build any sort of verification around them. ( Sorry Solaris 11 was too late. Too much legacy out there. )
      - Zones: Are a nightmare of security and privilege. I don't care what any says a zone is just a change root jail. Which means you will only every be as up-to-date as the host system. And it means you must be compatible and tested against the host system. Which is really no different than not having zones. Zones are a horrible horrible mess.
      - No dependable only repository of packages that is robust or up to date. Far to much package hunting still required to locate software for solaris. Most packages are months to years behind there linux counterparts.
      - Java performs better on x64 than Solaris/SPARC. This has boggled me for years. Only recent sparc architectures let java and other highly threaded applications stacks really perform well. Why do I even have to know about processor binding for processes?

      • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @08:45AM (#45949727) Homepage Journal

        No dependable only repository of packages that is robust or up to date. Far to much package hunting still required to locate software for solaris. Most packages are months to years behind there linux counterparts.

        This is something that has boggled my mind for nigh-on twenty years. Eighteen of them, I guess. Linux came with all the latest tools, but in order to get them for Solaris you'd have to download some old tools and use them to build some new tools. Ultimately I think it's really all about selling you the sunspro compilers, or whatever they're called now, two decades on. If it's too easy to just use gcc, nobody will ever buy sunspro, for which they want a massive stack of cash. It's the only compiler that generates very good SPARC code, and it costs a million billion dollars so many people didn't bother to buy it, and went GCC instead. And then they were throwing away performance. If you're going to run those tools, you might as well run them on x86-Linux. And in fact, that's been eroding Solaris steadily for all this time.

  • VirtualBox? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by utkonos (2104836) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @02:59AM (#45948351)
    Where is the grade for VirtualBox. As opposed to the others on the list, I would give them an A+ for their stewardship of VirtualBox so far. They have released regular updates and bugfixes. I have run into zero problems running Linux, FreeBSD, and Windows in VMs. The UI has gradually improved. The project is still open source, and they actually provide binaries for every major OS.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I'd agree. I'm a huge fan of Virtual Box and it's kept improving, all the time, no matter which company "owned" it, Innotek, Sun, Oracle. A really great job by everyone involved. I've hardly used VMWare Workstation ever, and as far as I can see, whatever lead that had over Virtual Box years ago, has vanished, in terms of features and compatibility. Virtual Box is certainly smaller than VMWare Workstation.

    • Re:VirtualBox? (Score:4, Informative)

      by gweihir (88907) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @03:56AM (#45948529)

      Indeed. As VmWare networking is now completely unusable, unless you are fine with not being able to ssh-in etc. in the free version, I have moved to Virtual Box, and there are simply no such stupid issues.

    • by Virtucon (127420)

      Definitely. It's great software and hopefully it'll stay that way.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Where is the grade for VirtualBox. As opposed to the others on the list, I would give them an A+ for their stewardship of VirtualBox so far. They have released regular updates and bugfixes. I have run into zero problems running Linux, FreeBSD, and Windows in VMs.

      Too bad it still doesn't work. Problems like not using VT even when it's clearly present and activated, or the D3D driver pretty much always crashing the VM completely. Stuff that works fine in vmware, which also has superior performance. I'd really like to like Virtualbox, but it doesn't work.

  • Solaris is dead. Long live Solaris!

    (Illumos/illumian/Nexenta/SmartOS, that is...)

  • No. He didn't "reach out to Oracle", he "contacted Oracle" or "asked Oracle". He didn't "reach out" like some emo teenager to their ex girlfriend. It's not as if the phrase "reach out to" is shorter, it's three words where one word will do.

  • The problem with products bought by Oracle is that if you're small and they suddenly decide to ask for a lot of money for what was previously free, you're screwed.
    Better to take preemptive action and switch away from them as soon as possible.

  • by Bigbutt (65939) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @10:16AM (#45950359) Homepage Journal

    Personal opinion of course.

    We have SPARC gear along with Solaris 10. When we wanted to upgrade the hardware from the T2000's, the cost for Oracle licenses went through the roof. So we stuck with T2000's (still have them). It kept us from purchasing new Sun hardware. No new hardware, no new business for Sun.

    After much investigation, we went with Dell hardware and Redhat and have been spinning up Redhat VM's right and left. For the mission critical stuff we're using HP gear and HP-UX. We've been spinning up Informix, MySQL, and PostGreSQL in place of Oracle as well.

    [John]

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