Friday Feb 15, 2008

20 years.....

Twenty reasons, in no particular order, why working at Sun has been and still is a blast.1

  1. NFS. No really it is better then rcp. Which is saying something as rcp is much better than uucp and uucp seemed much better than sneakernet.

  2. YP NIS. Actually I hate NIS but the simplicity of it for solving a problem was in it's time fantastic. That it is still in use is amazing or depressing depending on the time of day2.

  3. Mailtool. A graphical tool for reading your email. It made giving up on getting a vt220 worthwhile.

  4. The Network is the Computer”. Now that is a slogan I could then and still do really get.

  5. The Systems3:

    1. 3/160. I blagged one of these as my workstation as it had 12 meg of memory. It was being returned as upgrade residue I only got rid of it when I was offered a:

    2. 4/110. A workstation capable of running NeWS, well if you had the floating point unit. My one was a lemon, if ever any one heavy walked past my desk it would reset. However when it was running it was fast!

    3. SparcStation 1. Audio as standard on a workstation. How cool was that.

    4. The 386i. Look what happens when you take a slightly different approach to system management. Yes all your hosts are called “oak”.

    5. The SPARCstation 10. Four CPUs on the desktop, fab, ISDN on the back, not so fab.

    6. The SPARCcentre 2000. Have some more CPUs. You know you want them. (Then for laughs naming the upgrade the 2000E, dooming our lab system to be known as Cortina.)

    7. The E10000, have some more CPUs and DR.

    8. The T2000. Go on put all those CPUs on one chip.

  6. The SPARC Storage array. Put all those disks in one box. Attach two fibres.

  7. NeWS. A window system that made a virtue of being able to program in PostScript, allowing those of us who were intimate with the printers to be the experts!

  8. TFS. The translucent file system. It had more subtleties than just being translucent but you could build some brilliant technologies4 on top of it. I wanted to smoke some of the stuff whoever thought it up was smoking.

  9. The automounter. Even when it used symbolic links and /tmp_mnt to mount things it was cool. Since it has had autofs it is positively sub zero, don't start me on the things you can do with executable maps.

  10. Threads in user land. Not those light weight processes we had in 4.x real fully fledged threading in a single process. Now my mail search program could consume the whole SC2000, briefly, very briefly.

  11. OpenLook. You gotta love those push pins.

  12. Solaris5

    1. Solaris 2.3. An OS capable of getting the most out of the SC2000.

    2. Solaris 7. How much address space would you like sir?

  13. Email attachments. Obviously we were completely happy using uuencode and uudecode the arguments just slipped from your fingers but attachments seem to have caught on anyway.

  14. Sun Ray. I wonder how people manage home computers without Sun Ray they are quite useful in the office too.

  15. Oak Java. The only reason anyone I know outside of IT has heard of Sun before I tell them.

  16. Blogs.sun.com. You allow, no, encourage your employees to write about “anything”. It's called trusting your staff. All companies should do it.

  17. OpenSolaris. Put the source out in the open and see what happens.

  18. Dtrace. Only because I can and do use it in an executable automount map.

  19. ZFS. At last we can hold our heads up and say that the file system is going to have the contract with the user that the users always thought that they had. Ie you will get back the same data as you wrote or an error.

  20. Putting up with me for 20 years!

I've not included the people which are the real stars of which there have been and are many singling them out somehow seems wrong.


1I don't claim all of these were invented by Sun although many were.

2A bit like working at the same company for 20 years.

3Yes I cheated putting all the systems in one item.

4NSE does not count as a “brilliant technology”. It could have been but was not. I know I used to support it.

5Yes another cheat.

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This is the old blog of Chris Gerhard. It has mostly moved to http://chrisgerhard.wordpress.com

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