Monday Oct 13, 2008

2 PCs/day stolen in Racine schools, why not try Sun Ray?

Sad, school has only been in session a month and already 68 computers (enough for two or three classrooms) are gone... Educational PCs tend to be underutilized for a couple of years and just when teachers begin to understand how to integrate them into their curriculum, some local politician will push an agenda "IF only we used PC instead of Mac, Windows 98 instead of Windows 95, Apple IIe, Apple instead of Atari... then Johnny would be able to read!" I've heard of brand new computers sit in boxes for two years, becoming completely obsolete before they are ever used. It's possible that the excellent Apple audio/video capabilities which made these computers so attractive to thieves hadn't been used in the classroom yet. Some of these computers were purchased under a grant for the purposes of exam administration. I happen to know that the deployment/upgrade system was really well designed (by my brother ;-) and similar to a system I helped put together for an Irish bank. But Sun Rays might have been better for some of these purpose and would free up the Apples for the multimedia functions they excel at. Sun Rays have a much longer "shelf-life" than a typical P.C. or Mac. The first ones made in the late 1990s would be able to administer exams and display XP, Vista, Linux, Solaris applications just as well as the brand new ones. Upgrades would be system-wide and nearly instantaneous. Bad or stolen hardware could be swapped out by the teacher and ready to use in less than 5 minutes. The fact that Sun Rays are useless without a server should make them less likely to be stolen... [Read More]

Tuesday Sep 09, 2008

Is Sun behind more than 1/2 of all corporate OpenSource contributions?

Corporate FOSS Contributions
The EC's Study on the Economic impact of open source software on innovation and the competitiveness of the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) sector in the EU is an interesting document. I was fortunate to attend a presentation by one of the authors at an OpenIreland event a couple of years ago. The above StarCalc graph uses corporate FOSS contribution numbers from this document. A picture is worth 1000 words, isn't it? This study was published in November 2006, the same month Java was GPL'd so I doubt the Java codebase was included in these calculations. The open sourcing of Solaris was also in early stages. Add these and the MySQL code and it wouldn't surprise me if more than 1/2 of the corporate contributed OpenSource code is from a division of Sun Microsystems. I know we can do better. But quite a few big FOSS consumers (e.g. those selling beautifully branded FreeBSD or web services) are notably absent from the top 10 corporate contributor list. What percentage of corporate FOSS contribution would quench some of the hottest alternate kernel fanboy flames? 60%, 75%? Is it sufficient to contribute to the whole software ecosystem Joe sixpack thinks of as "Linux" or do you have to commit directly to Linus's kernel? What does it take to be cool? Are we there yet?

Thursday Apr 03, 2008

Serving Sun Rays from inside a VirtualBox

Imagine you have some Sun Ray[tm] clients and you'd like to use them with some hardware which doesn't support Solaris. Or maybe you're running OSX, Windows or Ubuntu on some hardware which has some spare cycles but isn't running an OS which is supported by SRSS.

  1. Download a copy of VirtualBox for your operating system.
  2. Download a copy of Solaris 10 which is supported by SRSS3 and SRSS4.
  3. Download a copy of Sun Ray Server Software. I used SRSS 4.0 09/07. Note:Some GNU/Linux distributions are also supported, and SRSS can be forced to work with some unsupported Linux distributions and versions of OpenSolaris. But I'll stick with Solaris 10u5, it's reasonably lightweight and solid. [Read More]

Thursday Mar 20, 2008

7 years in Ireland, 7 years at Sun.

Today marks my 7 year anniversary of arriving in Ireland and working for Sun. I should thank my wife for talking me into it, my kids for making it a fun, wonderful adventure. I should thank my Sun friends for helping make it work. And finally I should thank the Irish immigration department and my other Irish friends for tolerating my reverse emigration even thought they may think it's a totally daft idea altogether.

Tuesday May 29, 2007

Fraunhofer Institute study shows economic and ecological advantages of thin clients

A recent study by the Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety and Energy Technology UMSICHT in Oberhausen, Germany showed that thin clients can significantly reduce costs, energy consumption and CO2 output. The study considered production, transportation, use and disposal phase of traditional "wintel" PCs vs typical thin clients and the servers necessary for their use. While its important that a respected institute for environmental science did this study, in my opinion, the study underestimated the potential savings in energy usage and CO2 output. The study did not specifically consider Sun Ray ulta-thin clients (4 Watts), but even the 14-19 Watt IGEL thin clients considered in the study required much less energy than a typical desktop PC (68-96 Watts) in the use phase. The study concluded that, "Even when including the cooling power for the server, which has been estimated conservatively as twice the required power, thin clients use significantly less energy than PCs (factor 2)".1 Obviously when you add production, transport and disposal costs, thin clients win hands down. Thin and ultra-thin clients don't yet meet the average hacker or gamer's desktop needs, but for most enterprise uses, the advantages are becoming clearer every day. You can find a pdf report on the full study here.

1The study appeared to overlook the fact that typical enterprise use of desktop PCs also requires a server.

Article resubmitted to correct spelling in title, article and permalink. Thanks Rudi!

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