Friday Jul 13, 2007

USB over IP

Here's a demo of what's possible when you combine USB over IP technology and thin clients such as the Sun Ray.  If your desktop is Solaris or Linux, the USB ports on a Sun Ray really are USB over IP, but what about when we want to pass devices up to Windows sessions?  Unfortunately at that point we are at the limitations of RDP or ICA.  Unless we use something else like a USB over IP hub. 

The device I'm using is an AnywhereUSB device from Digi.  Even cooler stuff can happen when you use a VM technology like Win4Solaris or Win4Lin such as consumer level biometric devices.


Wednesday Jun 27, 2007

Sun & Mitel

A vlog featuring Mitel VP Stephen Beamish where he demonstrates the upcoming Mitel offerings that are a result of the Sun/Mitel partnership.

Tasty Convergence


A teaser as I get a proper post ready.  Get ready for the Green Call Center (In a Box!)


Tuesday Jun 26, 2007

Qualified Customers

It's what we all want, right?  This Mitel show is amazing.  Not only for the venue, but for the caliber of customer that attends.  They really get it.  So much excitement around Sun Ray from the Mitel folks, partners, and VARs.  And here I was thinking Apple folks were religious.  Videos and good pics (i.e I'm bringing the D50) soon to come.

Here's a crappy Razr pic from the keynote this morning (probably near 95% of attendees!).  Besides being highly entertaining, the audience who in all honesty doesn't know Sun from Shinola, applauded (Twice!) our joint effort.  Did you know that replacing 100 PC's in a call center with Sun Ray equates to saving 4 acres of Rain forest when it comes to CO2?  The Mitel phone averages 3.8 Watts.  Sun Ray 4 Watts.  Can you say PoE?  Plenty of HP and Wyse customers who never saw a Sun Ray in action (yet had many false assumptions based on the FUD the other guys spew) were able to see they light.  Sunlight really is the best informant, isn't it?

One Wire To Rule Them All!!!


Monday Jun 25, 2007

Mitel Show

At the Mitel Forum in Las Vegas.  The Sun/Mitel Partnership is pretty awesome (jaws are a droppin'!) and the Sun Ray booth is the coolest one on floor.  It's dead center, has sexy lines, and most importantly ME!  I'm going to try to grab my digicam and interview a few folks.

Wednesday Jun 13, 2007

Apple Ray

Just messing around...


No, it's not a photoshop.  Just a little fun with Vine Server.  But what if OSX had the Sun Ray Protocol?  Now that would be something.



Monday Jun 11, 2007


Via /.  In the state where everything is bigger, Texas legislators have passed a green computing bill that in which computer vendors are required to provide a "reasonably convenient" recycling plan that requires no additional payments from consumers.  To me, this is like trying to curb drug addiction by supplying free needles.  Free needles hope to stop the prevention of disease, not the prevention of addiction. 

So really who does this bill benefit?  Well, I'd say it benefits those who make all the things that fill the landfills who just happened to help craft the legislation (Read HP and Dell).  There's nothing really in this bill that saves natural resources.  There's no guarantee that there will be compliance.  Most folks I know re-purpose old PC's until they die.

Let's forget the what "reasonably convenient" (driving 10 miles vs walking with the PC) and "no additional payments from consumers" (buried in the price) could mean.  Let's instead focus on what Texas could do.

How about teaming with power companies to provide incentives to those who choose green computing.

Recommend using a thin client that has saved Sun millions on it's own power bills.

Promote not having to recycle thousands of desktops every few years, instead perhaps a few hundred servers that arguably have a much longer shelf life then your typical desktop.

Let's hope the Governor of Texas has more smarts than those who pushed this bill through.  I'd say going after Huggies and Pampers for recycling fees would reduce landfill usage line someones pockets more than the computer industry.  But what do I know about diapers.


Thursday Jun 07, 2007

A bit tougher one

Where Am I here? (Note the Sun ski hat!)


Where in the World

New category; Where In The World?

Here's one of my stops on the upcoming Roadshow  (Haven't been there in two years!).  First to answer wins a....hug.



Thursday May 31, 2007

Sun Ray Road Show 2K7

We're comin' to your city
We're gonna play our guitars and sing you a country song
We'll all be flyin' higher than a jet air liner
And if you wanna little ying in your ying yang
If you wanna little zing in your zang zang
If you wanna little ting in your tang tang
Come along, come along, come along, come along

Yeah, we're comin to your city

-Big and Rich 

Blowing the dust off the suitcase (cough, cough) and getting ready to come visit you.  Yes YOU!  The reason?  For starters, to see your smiling face and to give a TOI on Sun Ray Software 4 U 2.  Some big changes to the product that I want YOU to be ready for.  I'm going global on this one, so check back for dates and locations.  This will be a lot of fun and in Web 2.0 style will be blogged, twittered, and flickr'd.   And in the spirit of being open, events will be for everyone.

Wednesday May 16, 2007


Congrats to the whole Sun Ray product team on the Sun Ray 2 being a finalist in the eWeek Excellence Awards

Crossing my fingers (or pressing my thumbs in Germany) for a win!

Saturday Feb 10, 2007

A few problems with B56 under SPARC w/ Sun Ray

dtlogin gets hung  (will result in 26 OSD icon).  Trussing out the parent dtlogin process just hangs after one sleep so there is something seriously wrong here.  Doesn't seem to affect CAM session at all though (no matter what, they will launch).  Once it gets to this point you have to kill (or pkill) -9 the dtlogin process then issue a /usr/dt/bin/dtlogin start.  Then all new session will come up.  Weird. 

/var/adm/messsages has these cde-login errors:

svc.startd[7]: [ID 122153 daemon.warning] svc:/application/graphical-login/cde-login:default: Method or service exit timed out.  Killing contract 75.
svc.startd[7]: [ID 748625 daemon.error] application/graphical-login/cde-login:default failed: transitioned to maintenance (see 'svcs -xv' for details)

The service log pretty much says the same thing.  Can't figure this one out. 

Xlib errors when the screen saver password screen pops up...complaining about missing the XFree86-Misc extension.  But works fine (i.e. locks and unlocks) otherwise.  I wonder if this version of gnome-screensaver is not Xsun aware?  Dunno.

Middle mouse click in Firefox will result in a "home" command.  Thought it would invoke the scroll function.  Might be just user error.  But it does do the scroll function under an RDP session from the same Sun Ray.

Encryption does not work (known problem since the build 40-ish).  Fixed in the next Sun Ray Server patch.

Setting up Sun Ray Windows Connector you need to point libutcrypto to /usr/sfw/lib/ when running uttscadm -c (it asks for 0.9.7).  Works fine once you do that.  I need to file a RFE so it asks for the location of since that's a symlink to what ever version you have installed.

On a positive note, the fonts look awesome on Sun Ray.  Printing is exceptionally quick to a printer  locally attached to a Sun Ray.

LOVING that flash, acrobat, and Helix plugins are there by default.

I love the wallpaper, even though it takes forever to load.  Most likely cause for the slow down is whatever routine makes the thumbnails.  Need to take a page from MS Windows there and don't display the graphic until a user clicks on it to see what it looks like.

Need to write an entry on how I want a Niagara based "deskside"server model.  While I love the 1U and 2U form factors, the noise is too much to bear for most home based offices.  The deskside models (like my V250) really quiet things down when you're working next to the box. I guess I don't need to do an entry anymore now.

 Getting late, going to bed

Updated @ 12:22 AM PST Feb 11 2007

Jumping to Nevada

I loved Nevada so much on my U40, I've moved my main Sun Ray Server (V250) over to it.  Can still boot off the other disk if I need to try things out on a "supported" OS.

# uname -a
SunOS tequila 5.11 snv_56 sun4u sparc SUNW,Sun-Fire-V250

Thursday Dec 21, 2006

What the TSA guy told me

When he watched me place my Sun Ray 2 into a bin (like you do for your laptop)

"Sir, You can leave your hard drive in your bag"


Thursday Nov 16, 2006

Immersion Week 2006

One more day and one more Immersion Week will be in the bag.  I always have a good time teaching at these, and the attendees seem to enjoy the courses as well.  At least if I were to trust the feedback forms.  And if a 7 is good on a scale to 1-7.  If you attended the classes I promise to by putting a lot of the CAM tuning tricks up on the Think Thin blog.

I'll be glad to get back home.  I missed all of my girls fall soccer tourney games.  Right now both teams are still alive with our U12 team sitting @ 1-0 and our U8 team with a tie.  The younger girls may be out of it unless they score a lot of goals tonight.

I need to get used to traveling a lot again, I'll be mainly partner focused in 2007.  My main job will be getting as many partners as possible trained up on the latest greatest Sun Ray stuff, so stay tuned.  Thin Guy will be coming to a city near you.



Monday Nov 06, 2006

Are PCs Killing Health Care?

There is no debating the benefits of technology to the field of health care.  From medical imaging to cancer research, information technology plays a huge role in the betterment and saving of lives.

Sometimes however, things that are meant to help turn out to hurt.  It wasn't that long ago in the scheme of things that doctors used to recommend smoking.  IT people (frequently) get it wrong too, and the Windows based PC is a prime example of this in health care, at least where they are directly involved in patient care.

Larger hospitals have hundreds if not thousands of Windows based PCs on site, many in patient care roles.  These PCs require a lot of care and feeding and this care and feeding leads to higher infrastructure costs and can affect patient care.

Viruses and Malware:  It's a constant battle to keep these PCs updated.  The larger the install base, the more sophisticated your management solution must become.  A simple push mechanism does not work in patient care scenarios.  You can't interrupt a doctor updating a chart, or nurse requesting medication.  What's even more important is ongoing test and QA that must occur to ensure that patient care is not interrupted by a product patch.

Parts availability:  The PCs that are bought in hospitals are not your typical $300 clone.  They buy the more expensive business line of these PCs since the manufacturers guarantee the availability of replacement parts.  Unfortunately due to PCs being commodities, the parts in these models often change from month to month which gets back to the need for the testing and QA of updates to these machines. You can’t afford to have PCs down because you pushed out the wrong graphics card update.  Compare this with the Sun Ray model that the only part to replace is the unit itself.  The first Sun Ray sold in 1999 is still 100% functional with the latest Sun Ray Server Software.  Keep a few in the storage closet next to the boxes of rubber gloves.  The rubber gloves will get replaced before the Sun Rays do.

Power/Cooling:  Most PCs used in the hospital setting never get a chance to go into hibernate or sleep mode.  What's more is that these features are more often than not intentionally disabled in patient care scenarios.  Seconds can make the difference in patient care and while waiting for your PC to "wake" is surely faster than waiting for it to boot, it still takes precious seconds, which turn into minutes and hours over the course of a month.  This takes the Doctors and Nurses away from direct interaction with their patients, which is never a good thing.  Take the Dell GX620, a popular model often seen in hospitals.  Dell's own tests show this PC will use between 70 and 125 watts to run excluding monitor.  In patient care scenarios the power use is probably on the higher end due to 24/7 nature of hospitals.  Even if we take the lower end, compare this to a Sun Ray 2 which averages 4 watts with a max of 30 watts and we throw in a conservative 20 watts per user for the back end server costs you are still using far less than a PC.  Let's triple the noted average of the Sun Ray and call it 12 watts (let's say everyone is using a couple USB storage devices each), add in the server for a total 32 watts per desktop.  The Sun Ray will save you at least 50% of your power costs over the unrealistic "low" end of the spectrum of the PCs power use.

PCs are "on" in patient care scenarios 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.  That equals over 8,765 hours.  In New York ($0.13 KWH), this PC will cost you roughly $80 per year.  In Hawaii ($0.18 KWH), it will cost you over $110 per year.  The Sun Ray (including server and tripling the average consumption) would cost you $36 in New York and $50 in Hawaii.  Even for a smaller hospital with 200 PCs, these are real savings.

Uptime:  While Sun Rays rarely break, bad things do happen to good devices.  Administrative costs to diagnose/repair/replace a PC can run into the hundreds of dollars per visit.  Anyone who can put staples in a stapler can replace a Sun Ray, and more importantly since the device is stateless as soon as the device is plugged in, it is available right where the failed unit left off.

Refresh Cycles:  Most health care organizations state that they are on four year refresh cycle on your PCs, except the reality is that it's never really a four year cycle.  A PC rarely lasts four years in this environment due the constant use and increasing demands of the software stack.  Three years is more like it, however it's not a batch replacement every three years.  Health care industry folks I talk to tell me PC replacements happen monthly, if not weekly.  In some of the larger hospitals I've visited, it's a daily occurrence.  Sun Ray customers refresh servers, not desktops. 

Privacy and Security Regulations:  The HIPAA act of 1996 forever changed the face of technology in health care environments.  Most organizations are still struggling with implementing all of the requirements today.  Simple things like not leaving patient data on the screen is procedural nightmare for not only the health care providers (You didn't log off?  Be prepared to visit the human resources department) but also those who manage the computer systems.  The hot desking feature of Sun Ray makes thing like HIPAA easier to implement.  More over, a stolen Sun Ray does not endanger patient information.  Even in Terminal Server environment, care must be taken to ensure that patient information cannot be stored on the device whether it is something as innocent in jotting down notes on the local computers notepad, or something more malicious like screen captures of sensitive data being saved off as bitmaps.  You can't save any data off to a Sun Ray.

Mobility:  Hospitals are large, fast moving places.  IT staff do their best to keep the amount of time it takes to log on to a minimum.  However as noted above, changes happen and logon times vary from PC to PC.  Hospital staff members find themselves logging in and out of multiple different PC's many times a day.  Again the benefit of Sun Ray hot desking is that the user logs in once and her session follows her everywhere.  Nothing else comes close to this, not even smooth roaming from Citrix.  As one hospital exec said regarding Citrix smooth roaming "it's close, but it's just not hot desking."  There's a lot of FUD coming from our competition when it comes to comparing their thin client mobility to Sun Ray hot desking.  As Jimmy Buffett sang, "Don't try to describe the ocean if you never seen it".

Location of Devices: For many reasons it’s impractical to put PCs every where that you might want one. Noise, heat, security are the top reasons you don’t see PCs in most hospital rooms. Rather they are stuck in the nooks and crannies, behinds desks, and in lounges. This means that doctors must take notes, recall advice, etc when entering patient data. If you had a device that was totally silent, used power like a night light, and didn’t jeopardize patient data wouldn’t it make more sense to have these devices in the room? Think of the time saved and mistakes prevented if a doctor or nurse could update the patient records in real time.

Now you may hear others telling you that these benefits apply to all thin clients.  Not quite.  You can read some of my other thoughts on this, but here are a few more.

Firmware/OS Image management:  Sure others have it too, and it may also include a license for a management tool.  Be sure to watch for limitation on number of desktops you can manage with the "free" version.  Yes, you just read a limitation of five desktops if you followed that link and read the fine print.

Compare the size of the updates as well.  Is sending a 114 MB (or larger) image out to a desktop the same as sending a 300 KB update?  Bigger is not better in the thin client world.  Oh, and make sure you grab the right image too...

Viruses and Malware:  Is that embedded OS really safe from viruses?  Or did you just trade your current headache for one in a smaller package.

Device Replacement: What exactly must happen with other thin clients when they are replaced.  Do I have to configure it locally to talk to a server farm?  Out of the box, do I have to wait for a push of a different image?  Or is opening the cardboard box the hardest part of the replacement process as it is with Sun Ray.

Bottom line is that Sun Rays can help health care organizations by putting their focus back on the patient instead managing PCs and worrying about HIPAA compliance.

Friday Nov 03, 2006

Such a geek

I'm such a geek.  It's Friday night, my wife is coaching my daughters U12 soccer game.  What am I doing?

I'm trying to debug a smart card problem for a customer.  On the plus side I've opened a bottle of wine, had pizza, and am also watching SpongeBob.  OK, opened might equal drank.  But I'm not telling.

Smartcards, at least for PIN based Windows logins really are a PITA.  Expiring certs, folks forgetting PIN's, 3rd party CA's, different CSP's for different vendors, increased login time...need I go on?

Sun Ray has it right by just doing hotdesking.  Leave the heavy lifting to others.




My name is Craig Bender aka ThinGuy. I'm a Principal Software Developer for Oracle's Virtual Desktop Engineering group.

I architect and evangelize the use of Oracle's Desktop technology including Sun Ray, Secure Global Desktop, and Oracle VDI.


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