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Oracle Restricts Access To Sun Firmware Downloads 202

boer lee writes with the news that you can expect trouble in downloading firmware updates for your Sun server if you purchased it before March 16, 2010. "In a somewhat surprising move (and without any notification to customers), Oracle shut down public access to firmware downloads. I learned this the hard way when I contacted Oracle customer service almost two weeks ago. Yes, it took 13 days for me to get access to the firmware download for systems under the standard warranty (i.e. less than a year old)."
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Oracle Restricts Access To Sun Firmware Downloads

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  • by WrongSizeGlass ( 838941 ) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @05:12PM (#32091008)
    Purchased Before March 16, 2010? Doesn't that exclude, like, almost all purchases of Sun hardware?
  • This seems rather odd as the firmware is just a binary blob anyway, right? I'm not sure what they achieve by doing this other than alienating their customers. However, does the firmware just happen to fall under an umbrella of things that non-customers should not have access to? That would better explain their position. Or they could just be trying to squeeze an extra dime out of people...
    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @05:31PM (#32091238) Journal
      More than that. Plenty of binary blobs are considered to be serious business(see just about any proprietary software).

      Firmware, though, has more or less the ultimate in dongle-based copy protection... It's of essentially no use at all without the hardware, which is what you paid for anyway(the only exception would be those situations where the difference between the high end model and the midrange/low-end model is a couple of firmware locks. In such cases, the "high end" firmware is probably of considerable interest to owners of the "low-end" model who know which way to point a hex editor...).
      • by vlm ( 69642 )

        It's of essentially no use at all without the hardware

        Or a clone of the hardware. As if there's a vibrant sun-compatible gray market.

        • To be fair, um... you could make a Sun XVR-100 out of an ATI Radeon 7000 Mac Edition PCI. But that's stretching, and they never offered THAT firmware for download anyway (although General Dynamics did.) (Same for an XVR-300 out of (presumably) a FireMV 2200 PCIe or Radeon X300 SE, except no download anywhere..)

          • As someone who did the Radeon 7000 to XVR-100 conversion myself, I'd suggest that someone wanting to pursue the latter could start by picking up an honest-to-goodness XVR-300 and dumping the firmware out of that. The big win on that GD firmware was that it enabled a feature that you couldn't get otherwise (console on the DVI output).
            • I actually want to go even further, and use a (Dremel-modded) PCIe x1 to PCI adapter, on top of that mod, to get an XVR-300 into a Blade 2500.

  • by homer_ca ( 144738 ) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @05:18PM (#32091094)

    You need a maintenance contract to download software patches now, including security patches. Not that they were good with security patches before, they were months behind the Linux distros on releasing them.

  • Find the users... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by OMA1981 ( 706426 )
    What's the easiest way to find out who/what is using an a network port? Disable/unplug the port and wait for someone to call in and complain. This might be the same mentality at work, just a little larger scale.
    • What's the easiest way to find out who/what is using an a network port? Disable/unplug the port and wait for someone to call in and complain. This might be the same mentality at work, just a little larger scale.

      Couldn't Oracle just stare into its crystal ball and get the answer to this more quickly?

  • by cruff ( 171569 ) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @05:20PM (#32091116) Homepage

    Sun's service has been sliding for some time now. Oracle appears to be accelerating that decline. We had some RAIDs, originally purchased from StorageTek before the Sun acquisition, come off of the three year warranty they were purchased with. We've been unable to get Sun (now Oracle) to recognize the RAID's serial numbers to get them on the maintenance contract for quite some time now. You'd think Oracle would want our money?

    • Oracle want your money, when it's profitable.

    • I met an employee of a storage company whose name I could swear started with "storage" when I was in vacation in Panama. She told me that Sun had fired almost everyone who knew anything after the acquisition because they were the best-paid, and that Oracle had canned everyone who was left; she wasn't even a tech lead, but she had been there longer than almost any other technical employee, so she had become the go-to girl. Assuming we're talking about the same company (are there any other candidates?) there is no one in support at StorageTek who truly understands the product any more and only one person who really knows how to fix problems with old kit like yours. Naturally they are not interested in supporting it.

      Next time, buy from someone less likely to be bought out...

  • by David Gerard ( 12369 ) <slashdot&davidgerard,co,uk> on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @05:22PM (#32091142) Homepage

    Speaking as a Solaris admin of nine years, this is the best news Dell and Red Hat could ever get.

    • I wonder if the FreeBSD guys saw a jump in downloads? Need an OS to lay on that non-Snoracle hardware.

      • by fm6 ( 162816 )

        Huh? Don't get the relevance of BSD to this discussion. We're talking firmware, not OSs.

        • Re:Oh, good Lord. (Score:4, Informative)

          by Mr. Foogle ( 253554 ) <brian DOT dunbar AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @02:14AM (#32094702) Homepage

          Like Mr. AC said, it's yet another sign that Solaris is a doomed operating system. I don't work at a Swiss Bank, just a middlin' sized company. I owe it to my employer to consider alternatives.

          One of the big reasons - not mentioned by AC - is that I already deal with Oracle for app, db and more apps. We spend a lot of money _on_ Oracle but from Oracle's POV we're nobody special and their level of customer support shows it. I never got that feeling from Sun.

          So. Time to consider alternatives. On my short list is FreeBSD. The big reason for FreeBSD is a) I've used it before and b) ZFS.

    • Dell is a leader in the race to the bottom in terms of support and hardware. If you are migrating from Sun hardware, I would think there are other competitors (HP, IBM) better suited to your needs.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mlts ( 1038732 ) *

        Even though my preference is IBM or HP for servers (mainly out of old time's sake), Dell's offerings are just as good, and they support RedHat as a server OS. Dell knows where their bread is buttered, and if their products do not do well in the data center, companies will change to HP, IBM, or Cisco brands in the next hardware upgrade cycle. With modern virtualization technology, it is not difficult to change out the hardware without much production impact [1][2].

        There is a BIG quality and service level d

        • We use Dell servers (small company, 4x lower prices servers like the T300 series) and while I like the hardware "ok", the service is pretty thin when it comes to Linux. We run CentOS, which half of the techs that I have talked to have never heard of. They have flatly told me that they are a "Microsoft shop" and they can't help with Linux. In my experience, they are useless for anything relative to software unless it is Microsoft.

          On the other hand, I have a couple of spare servers (testing only, dual PIII

          • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

            Dell Enterprise linux support is very competent. Tell them you are running redhat next time.

            • by Anpheus ( 908711 )

              Enterprise support is only available for Enterprise support customers, but yes, it's very excellent. They usually get me right to someone who knows exactly what they're doing, and they don't BS me with tiers of support calls.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          VMWare Fusion to replace aging PC servers. They do this for services that can't be moved to OS X like Active Directory and Exchange. This is a completely supported way to run production systems

          Cite please. Really? Microsoft complete supports running EXCHANGE, and DOMAIN CONTROLLERS, on a virtual machine (I know they 'allow' some virtualization, through their VPC solution only, and with the caveat that 'in some cases we may not be able to support you if the problem cannot be tested on bare hardware'), on OS

        • by afidel ( 530433 )
          Ha, downtime to swap out hardware?!? That's the biggest reason to go VMWare, swap out servers or storage with zero downtime (vmotion and svmotion for the win). Heck with Windows Enterprise I can hot add ram without downtime (CPU's too but most stuff won't take advantage without a reboot).
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by David Gerard ( 12369 )

        In my experience, both Dell and Sun are about equal as x86 server suppliers, on quality of hardware, price and quality of service. They were quite good to play off against each other too.

        (Dell's desktop build and service is shit, their server build and service is excellent. In my experience. YMMV. Etc.)

        HP are about the same as either. IBM are better on quality and service but pricier.

        • by afidel ( 530433 )
          IBM better on service that HP? Either your from a different world or you work for a Fortune10.
      • I have a rack full of Asus quad-core/4-bay 1U machines that are about half the price of equivalent Dell, HP, etc. I get them from NewEgg. I don't know why "service and support" is such a big deal to everyone. I've never had a single hardware failure of any kind in 3 years of using these commodity boxes, but if I did, I'd just swap the drives into another chassis and get on with my life. (I have hot spares in the rack) If both RAID1 drives failed or were irretrievably corrupted, I'd restore to a spare machi

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      In my first hand experience, here is what is happening:

      Dell, HP, and to a lesser extent IBM are gaining with servers. HP is viewed by a lot of people as being more of a server-grade company, but both Dell and HP have mature products for the server rack.

      Oddly enough, Cisco is getting a boost too. Since Cisco sells rackable x64 servers, businesses who buy a lot of hardware from Cisco find it easy to just buy the PCs from them too for a better deal.

      OS-wise, RedHat is the platform of choice that is being move

      • Re:Oh, good Lord. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by TooMuchToDo ( 882796 ) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @05:57PM (#32091526)
        Don't discount CentOS. My organization just did some consulting work with a Fortune 500 company that has several thousand CentOS boxes. They just couldn't justify the cost to run RHEL when they had enough in-house talent to fix problems when they came up (it being open source and all).
        • I've dealt with Red Hat support. They're really fucking awful and eminently not worth paying a penny. (YMMV.)

          The actual reason to buy a copy of Red Hat is (1) you're running Oracle and want a supported OS (1a) you're running similarly pricey proprietary software and want a supported OS (2) you have a paranoid whose fears you have to assuage (3) you think giving Red Hat at least a bit of cash is a good thing and you can convince someone who signs the cheques to do so.

          • by rodgerd ( 402 )

            I've dealt with RedHat, and their support has been superb for the most part, working through weekends for crticial problems and shipping us kernel patches for feature enhancements when we've needed them.

      • plenty of production sites use CentOS, several of my clients do that as well as my employer. Search engines plus forums beat a RedHat help desk 99 times out of 100; I've never needed RedHat support.

      • My experience concurs with most of that, except that CentOS is just fine for production machinery.

        We run a lot of Java on Solaris. Mostly that can be moved to Solaris x86, which is a supported platform on Dell. Until Oracle think they can screw Dell out of pennies too. Then we have to move it to (ew, icky) Linux.

        (Moving Java from Solaris to Red Hat is actually something I have done. The Java is easy, the Unix glue is all different.)

        HP or Dell blades are damn fine too, if you're willing to pay VMware the big

    • by forkazoo ( 138186 ) <> on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @06:04PM (#32091612) Homepage

      Speaking as a Solaris admin of nine years, this is the best news Dell and Red Hat could ever get.

      Yeah, Oracle has been so unkind to customers since the Sun acquisition that at this point, it's less like Oracle is a doctor trying to bring Sun back to life, and more like Oracle is a drug addled psychotic who filled the rotted corpse of Sun with a bunch of knives and used needles and has decided to rape it continuously until sunrise. At this point, so many would-be Sun customers have been hearing this steady drumbeat of "Oracle are acting like jackass" stories that even if they became the perfect vendor tomorrow, almost nobody would touch them with a ten foot pole.

    • Re:Oh, good Lord. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by fm6 ( 162816 ) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @06:17PM (#32091736) Homepage Journal

      If you've been running Sun systems for that long, you know what a pain it is to navigate Sun's absolute mess of customer web sites. I used to have a hell of a time finding the download I needed — and I was a Sun employee. That's one reason other server vendors (like Dell) have cleaning Sun's clock for a long time.

      I wrote technical docs for Sun, some of which appeared on the web. One of the least favorite parts of my job was dealing with the company's web bureaucrats. They were in denial about the many problems with their tech, knew jack about clean web design, and had way too many processes that should have been automated but weren't. Worst of all, Sun's politics and organizational dysfunction meant that web content was generated by a half dozen different groups with overlapping and conflicting responsibilities.

      Naturally, Oracle is trying to clean up this mess. And it's predictable that whoever is reworking Sun's web presence is going to screw up now and then — something that complicated is Murphy's Law waiting to happen. It's still a step in the right direction.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        No, Oracle is just trying to put it behind a paywall so you don't know what you're getting into until it's too late and you already own the hardware.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by David Gerard ( 12369 )

        There's a reason I always search from Google ;-) It's also until now been good for finding firmware upgrades. (e.g. every X2200/X4500/X4600 shipped with firmware so immature it would be Not Fit For Purpose if UK consumer law applied; Sun won't send a field engineer until you've upgraded the firmware, or tried and failed to do so. Fantastic boxes once that's done, of course.)

      • If you've been running Sun systems for that long, you know what a pain it is to navigate Sun's absolute mess of customer web sites

        It's not great, but it's not bad, in my opinion. I've been doing 'Sun' for a decade and change and I can't say I can recall any problems.

    • You mean Silicon Mechanics and Canonical.


  • by Anonymous Coward

    "support contracts". making people pay for critical security patches. It's like a virus writer holding your machine for ransom until you pay up, and then your machine is "secure" again. This is nothing more than legalized extortion.

    Fuck Oracle, and Fuck Sun.

  • by Fallen Kell ( 165468 ) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @05:42PM (#32091354)
    I mean, come on. This is firmware which ONLY WORKS on your Sun/Oracle hardware. If you own the hardware, you should be able to get the latest system firmware. This might be the final straw in terms of me recommending Sun/Oracle hardware anymore. Personally, I loved them. My work loved them as well. But this is getting ridiculous. Ok, I can understand closing off downloads of different patches to the OS. You want updates, get a service contract because the OS was free. But to cut off firmware updates to their hardware? No one does this. You can freely download the firmware from the manufacturer of everything out there for free, because, to use that firmware, you needed to OWN the hardware which means, the company received their money for it... We have thousands of Sun desktops and servers (no exaggeration, literally, thousands) at work. I have been a very happy Sun Unix Administrator for the last 12 years, but I have to say anymore, I can't recommend we keep buying these things (especially as the majority of the codebase has been slowly ported from SPARC to x86 over the last 5 years). I have still been recommending Sun x86 hardware for their ALOM/ILOM interface and very well engineered gear which tends to last for many years longer than a Dell or HP... But the nickle/dimming to death is starting to make it so that it is not worth it to purchase a Sun box with the extra premium when I similar spec'ed Dell for 30% less, and take that extra 30% savings knowing that about 20% of it will be used in needing to replace the box a few years sooner due to hardware failure.
    • I hear that! Sun and Solaris have provided me a very good living for some 20+ years now, briefly as an employee several times and just about every contract and position thereafter, but Oracle is just poisoning the well. They fumbled the MySQL relationship, lost the inventor of Java itself, and countless other valued employees. All in the name of making a quick buck off of Sun's corpse. Long live Open Solaris, but I'm supporting Linux and VMWare data centers from now on. So long Solaris, and thanks for

    • Oracle is about predictable constant revenue generation. When you realize that it makes all sense. You want to own some Oracle gear, you must have a support contract. They don't see why you shouldn't have a support contract thus removing public downloads of firmware makes total sense to them. It's not about the end user, it's about $$$.
      • by Skapare ( 16644 ) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @07:25PM (#32092306) Homepage

        Most, almost all, other computer manufacturers do not do this. Sun itself did not do this until it was borged by Larry. In the sense of Oracle's approach and business model of shaking everyone down for every penny in their pocket, it makes sense. Except for the very top end giant servers that would be running Oracle software even if Oracle had not bought Sun, this is going to decimate the Sun market that is, for the most part, not accustomed to this much aggressive gouging. IBM now has an opportunity to push PPC based machines as the alternative to x86 architectures. I can only hope they do that.

        • It's a sad day when most know so little about architectures that PPC and Sparc are re-flagged as mere 'alternatives' rather than being recognized for the areas they excel in. The Wintel ideal is a ratio of worse that 2:1 of hardware to services. Each box burning tens if not hundreds of watts. Sparc is an open architecture [] and handles many threads per core [], so for most things you should be able to replace a rack of Wintel boxes with a single Sparc. We'll see how long Oracle allows you to access that Sun

        • IBM is pushing PPC/AIX quite aggressively over here; and I'm porting our in-house code to AIX as fast as I can.

          Thank $DEITY I've beed coding rather defensively for a while, so most of my C compiles just fine on AIX. Perl/Python is a cinch, but I will admit some of the Shell scripts (most of them written years before I started here) are giving me some headaches. Too many Sun-isms in those...

          If it carries on like this we'll be on AIX as our majority platform before year-end (Power7/LPARS/AIX makes a convincin
      • To the extent that Solaris certs are still mildly valuable and EOL hardware is available for a pittance on eBay, wouldn't it make sense
        for Oracle to at least offer some form of "hobbyist" license? IIRC, Digital did that for Tru-64, selling a license for the OS and compiler for $99.

        I know I'd pay $99 for an extremely limited support contract that entitled me to drivers/firmware/software for EOL hardware and nothing else.

    • by mxs ( 42717 )

      firmware from the manufacturer of everything out there for free, because,

      So you have never used Cisco gear then ?

      • [tongue in cheek]Cisco firmware is free. You're free to download any Cisco firmware you like, even for devices you don't have... you just have to have a support login...[/tongue in cheek]
        • by jimicus ( 737525 )

          That's only because Cisco don't bother to tie your support login up with the products you have a support contract for. Instead, they use the EULA to do that. It says that unless you have an up to date service contract for the appropriate hardware, you're not allowed to download firmware.

    • For what it's worth, I'm also a UNIX/Linux sysadmin, and the HP iLO has been steadily improving to the point that it's much better than Sun's iLOM now. Also, the HP servers are now supporting cool features like RAID 6 on internal disks, cheap SAS expansion shelves that give me lots of inexpensive but fast locally attached disk.

      We still have some of the X4600s. They were great boxes 2 years ago, but HP is making better servers now.

  • jonbenson (Score:4, Informative)

    by jonbenson ( 748756 ) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @05:45PM (#32091374) Journal
    I am downloading the firmware for my Sparc T5520 server right now. This sounds like a personal problem.
  • Erm, i'd say its totally *unsurprising* given what we've seen of how oracle is handling sun nowadays - you tried to get a patch cluster (or even patch info!) lately?

    i'm not even going to mention killing off opensolaris or charging for odf plugins.

  • Confirmed (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @05:52PM (#32091462)

    I've just confirmed this with my Sun account (that doesn't have our contract attached.) At my day job we've purchased over mid-six figures worth of Sun hardware (retail over $1M) in the last two years; this and other Oracle-ization has nearly guaranteed that it's the last that we'll ever buy.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @06:06PM (#32091624)

    At Delphi, the Oracle Larry Ellison speaks:

    Larry: "Hmmm... everybody thinks we bought Sun in a clever ploy to offer integrated solutions. That would allow us to out maneuver IBM and their crappy DB2. I know how to show them how wrong they were... I'll shoot Sun hardware in the foot! Along with strangling MySQL and putting a fatal bullet in OpenSolaris, I'll make sure anything valuable from Sun is gone forever. Then let them try to figure out why I bought it."

    Tech Analysts: "Curses, he is too clever for us!"

  • Good job Oracle! You will only hurt the ones that buy your hardware :) I know, I know, I know maintaining that 20-30% annual support contract is part of the business model, but FIRMWARE updates? Please.....

    In other news, Gigabyte and ASUS will start charging for BIOS updates. You just thought your were going to purchase that new 6-core AMD PhenomII and use it with your motherboard. Not so fast... get a premium support contract first! Of course I am just kidding, I hope. Better go download the new BIO
  • by Jerry ( 6400 ) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @06:39PM (#32091948)

    airplanes, yachts or mansions.

  • This weekend I was trying to download Solaris 10. The old license survey that you got in between selecting a platform
    and the actual download was busted and redirected to

    I filled out their online trouble ticket and got an email pointing me to the instruction page. I then sent them
    a screen shot showing that I was logged in and a zip file of the HTTP traffic between me and Oracle. I didn't get
    a follow up email but the Solaris download is mysteriously working again.

    I spent the weekend trying t

  • Oracle are a bunch of morons with bad customer service.

    we had a problem where local and remote connections to a fully patched 10G Database were timing out. it took down a major operation and the backup DB was having the same problem. Oracle blamed AIX, AIX blamed Oracle. we got them on a call together and instantly, the AIX support guy sounded way more knowledgeable about what was happening. we asked Oracle if there was a person that knew AIX better on their staff... he said there was but he was off that da

    • by butlerm ( 3112 )

      DNS? Reliable? You have got to be kidding. A better answer is never take your DNS servers down. And if that is a problem, migrate the IP address to another server that is actually up.

    • by 1s44c ( 552956 )

      ...had a Domain controller...

      You don't mean an activity directory domain controller do you?

      There are obvious ways to get a faster and more stable system, none of which require spending money.

  • Need i say more?

  • Perhaps this will be enough to push Linux to the desktop... err... server... uhm, workstation?

God helps them that themselves. -- Benjamin Franklin, "Poor Richard's Almanac"