Saturday Jul 11, 2009

Sun Ray Soft Client

I downloaded the Sun Ray soft client last night, and I have to say it looks pretty darned neat. The setup I have is sort of unusual, but the program adapts well. I’m running Windows 7 – a supported platform for the soft client – on my laptop, and have it’s VGA output connected up to my Sun Ray 270, which is connected to the Sun Ray servers at TJHSST. I have the soft client running on my laptop’s secondary monitor, and I can just use the “Source” button on the 270 to switch between the two inputs.

From what I can tell, there’s only a slightly noticeable difference between speed on the soft client and the native firmware. I haven’t tried any hard-core video playing like William has, but it seems like it would be more than satisfactory for most of computer users. One thing I’ve noticed when using it on the secondary output is that it doesn’t use the bottom 10-20% of the monitor for the login screen. Once you login it rescales to use the full monitor, but that’s only a minor complaint.

Can’t wait for SRS 5 EA2!

Check out this link for more information on Sun Ray, Sun Ray Server 5, and the Soft Client solution

Friday Jul 10, 2009

New Director Nominated for USGS

I was sent an article from the San Jose Mercury News about President Obama appointing a new director for the US Geological Survey (USGS) where I spent some time working last summer and the one before.

Link to the article

If confirmed, this seems like good news for the USGS, which as the article points out, has had a director in controversy about reviewing scientific research by political appointees.

Thursday Jul 09, 2009

News for the Day

The Washington Post is running an article in tomorrow’s paper about the F-22 development for the Air Force through Lockheed Martin and other contractors. While it’s mostly an article that has people pointing fingers at other parties, it has some interesting stats on the costs of the plane, and the types of problems going on behind the scenes. Catch the article here, before tomorrow’s paper:

VirtualBox 3.0

Computerworld published a review about VirtualBox 3.0 earlier today – check it out here


On another note, there’s a piece of interesting news out of Oracle. A datacenter they were planning on building in Utah (and had already started working on) is now on hold. Speculation says this has to do with the purchase of Sun Microsystems, who has a datacenter in Colorado. This article is more speculation and less information, but it does bring up an interesting point.


Here at Sun, my focus has shifted away from cloud computing more to some of the current projects that are going on here in the lab. On top of some of the every-day things that you would get to do in a lab/server room – i.e. cut & crimp cables, rack mount switches, servers, etc. – the lab has a certain focus about getting some of the newest hardware available, which is a great plus :) I’ve been benchmarking one of these products, and some of the numbers are fairly fantastic compared to what I’ve had to experiment with before coming here to Sun.

Not only is there the capability of getting awesome new hardware, there’s some hardware in here to suit practically everybody. Due to support and availability, there’s usually at least one or two of most of Sun’s products in the lab, dating back for a few years.

After two and a half weeks, it’s been a really great, fun, hectic, but informational experience to be able to work with the people and equipment here. I couldn’t imagine a more fun summer (although I could see a more relaxed one)!

Wednesday Jul 08, 2009

Announcing the Sun Ray Software 5 Early Access 1 Program!

Just got this great email from one of the people in charge of the Sun Ray Software EA program – the email is also available here

he Sun Ray Software product team is pleased to announce the Sun Ray Software 5 Early Access 1 (EA1) program. It begins today, 7/8/09, at 12:00 pm PT and it will end on 7/31/09.

The focus of this program is on three core new features:

1) Adobe Flash Enhancements
Sun Ray Software 5 provides Adobe Flash enhancements which enable customers to experience improved frame rates along with synchronized audio, video, and Adobe Flash animation playback for the Sun Ray 2 family of clients and its follow-on product family.

Supported environment:
o Internet Explorer 7 and 8
o Adobe Flash 9 content with all Adobe Flash plugins from versions 9 & 10
o Windows Server 2003 R2 (32-bit) and Windows XP SP3 (32-bit)

Users will need both components of Sun Ray Software - Sun Ray Server Software & the Sun Ray Connector for Windows OS. In additional to the Windows environment mentioned above, users need to install Sun Ray Server Software which runs on the following platforms:
o Solaris 10 5/09 or higher on SPARC and X86
o SuSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) 10 Service Pack 2 (32-bit and 64-bit)
o Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 5 Update 3 (32-bit and 64-bit)

2) Windows Server 2008
Sun Ray Software 5 enables customers to display applications within Windows Server 2008 in 32 bit color. Windows Server 2008 Session Directory support is also included.

Supported platforms:
o Solaris 10 5/09 or higher (SPARC and X86)
o SuSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) 10 Service Pack 2 (32-bit and 64-bit)
o Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 5 Update 3 (32-bit and 64-bit)

3) Sun Ray Soft Client:
The Sun Ray Soft Client is a software application that easily installs on common client operating systems and provides the ability to connect to a Sun Ray server and initiate a Sun Ray desktop session from a Windows laptop or desktop computer. An alternative to using a Sun Ray hardware client (DTU), the Sun Ray Soft Client meets the needs of end-users who do not fit the desktop thin client model or may need to connect from their existing laptop or desktop PC. The Sun Ray Soft Client also provides the flexibility to 'hotdesk' to and from your Sun Ray thin client and any supported Sun Ray Soft Client enabled PC.

Supported platforms:
o Microsoft Windows XP
o Microsoft Windows Vista
o Microsoft Windows 7

You download the software here:

After you have downloaded and tested the software, please fill out the survey here:

Documentation is available here:

Support is available through the Sun Ray Software Forum here:

If you have additional feed-back for the product team, please send it here:

Early Access 2 (EA2) will kickoff in the late summer time frame. The focus of EA2 will be on USB connectivity support for Windows Remote Desktops - allowing users the ability to use USB devices in a full screen kiosk environment on a Windows XP desktop (Solaris SPARC and x86 only).

Thank you for your participation in the Sun Ray Software 5 Early Access 1 Program!

Tuesday Jul 07, 2009

Small (?) But Effective Botnets

Computerworld is running an interesting article about DDoS attacks against “relatively low-profile government Web sites” being attacked by a 30,000-60,000-computer botnet. They corrected themselves from their original article yesterday, which said the FTC website had only been offline since mid-Monday, although the problem originated on Friday or Saturday – I had been alerted by a source that the website was down before Computerworld picked it up, otherwise I wouldn’t have been aware (see the ‘low-profile’ part). I was relatively surprised there was very little on social networking sites that the websites were down, but this was probably for a reason.

The article is available here – Online Attack Hits US Government Web Sites;

Wednesday Jul 01, 2009

Bikes and Lunch


Went out to see one of Pete’s bikes today during lunch-ish time – very nice, I have to say. It’d almost convince me to get one, except for the whole cost issue, as well as having to do upkeep and everything else involved with owning a motor bike. But they sure look darn cool!

Tuesday Jun 30, 2009

Private Clouds

Sun Blogs Tags:

CIO has a rather interesting article out about private clouds and what they require to be successful. The article comes in two parts, of which the second is more related to what I’m specifically working with.

Monday Jun 29, 2009

TJHSST Student Systems Administrators

One of the programs at TJHSST that I was a really big fan of (probably because I was involved with it for ~3.5 years) is the Student Systems Administrators program:

The Student Systems Administrators (also known as Sysadmins) are a group of students who have distinguished themselves to be technologically competent as well as exceptionally responsible and dependable. These students are responsible for all of the Computer Systems Lab's infrastructure. These administrators, however, are students first and administrators second. The goal of the administrator program is not to create a perfect system but to give the student system administrators valuable experience in how a real networked environment works.

The network at TJ is set up such that we really only have four paid FCPS staff running the Windows network, the network infrastructure, and support for teachers (along with plenty of other tasks to keep them busy!). The group of Sysadmins is responsible for pretty much everything else: the school website, email service, student intranet, Sun Ray infrastructure, VM infrastructure, DNS, Linux workstation image, etc. etc. The system there is nice in the fact that the students have a lot of free reign over the lab – enough to be free to experiment, but not quite enough to destroy everything. My expertise was with the Sun Ray network and various Solaris-backed services available for use in the lab, including SGD, CUPS, LDAP, and other small things. Many of our services are documented on what we call Livedoc which is our documentation repository with customizations specific to TJ, so feel free to have a look around. One of the articles that seems to have people interested is the IPSec VPN article, which allows for remote Sun Rays (or computers in general) to connect to your network without a need for any extra fancy/expensive hardware.

On the day-to-day work side, finding that mergers is an appropriate time for people to retire or leave a company. There’ve been a couple people so far I’ve met that are either leaving around this time, or who might leave if given a layoff package. \*shrug\* I guess that’s life.

A Cloud…Hm? What?

Sun Blogs Tags:

The term “cloud” has been getting a lot of attention in the past year or so with regards to the Amazon cloud, Microsoft’s Live services, and the other services that have been released, touting this “new” technology. It’s a great way to be “green” – another meme that seems to have hit Washington – allows you to do less work, and sometimes lowers your cost of hosting.

The great thing about public clouds – hosting by a third party (i.e. Slicehost, Amazon S3, etc.) is that they really aren’t much different than what we had 5 years ago. The only real major difference is the fact that there’s a nice little web interface that you can use to magically expand the resources available to you for your application. One of the cold hard truths about it is that it’s a great marketing tool for companies, big and small. Just like the “Web 2.0” name was for sites that started using Ajax and JavaScript for everything, the “cloud” term is handy for sites that have some sort of feature for easy deployment, and there’s no clear/set definition saying what this is.

Although someone with little web knowledge might think “how is this ‘cloud’ deal different than what’s been available for years?”, there are a few design changes in the underlying infrastructure that have evolved to make internet services what they are today. One of the things that Google has won at in this department is hardware. One of the ideas accompanying the modern era of the Internet is that hardware is cheap and you should be able to lose a lot of it and still be running strong. Technologies like RAID and replication in general let you be able to run hardware until it dies, then just recycle it and not bother repairing it - if you’ve had it for 3-6 months, there’s plenty of new products that have come out into the market that would better serve you.

This mindset of getting new hardware instead of repairing old boxes was nowhere near as prevalent in the early days of computing and the Internet, mainly due to cost. Computers, such as the one referenced in my earlier post, were much more expensive, which didn’t allow for access by everyone. Terminals were everywhere, and a personal computer was more or less unheard of. Fast forward a few years to the early 2000’s, and this was still the case, albeit less so. It’s only been in the past few years that costs have come down enough to the point where buying a computer (or Sun Rays!) has become feasible.

Getting back on track. While there haven’t been many changes to the architecture to allow for cloud computing, the ones that have been made are important, and have heralded in a new era of computing. This new age is far from being defined though. Every other company has a different idea for what should be done, which has allowed for a very interesting progress over the past year or so, and should continue to be as it continues to evolve.

Sunday Jun 28, 2009

JOSTI 2009 Sun Ray Presentation

The Jefferson/Overseas Technology Institute (JOSTI)\* is an annual five-day technology training experience for overseas educators. JOSTI offers training in two strands:
• Instructional Integration for Teachers (K-12)
• Real Techies Only!

For the past two years we’ve had a presentation on the deployment of Sun Ray in Education – specifically, at TJ with ~1800 students and 200 faculty. Here’s the description that we put up for it:

Desktop Virtualization and Thin Clients
Presenters: Trey Repetski and William Yang, TJHSST Alumni
Thin Client solutions are a Systems Administrators delight: minimum desktop maintenance and quick distribution of application installs and upgrades. Sun provides their own solution using Sun Ray software and hardware. This session will demonstrate the use of the TJ Sun lab, offering an opportunity to compare the environment with Windows (and integration of), along with a peek at the Unix background and insight to how this solution can work in the school setting.

Our presentation is available for download here (available in PDF format), and will hopefully be posted on the JOSTI website soon enough.

Friday Jun 26, 2009

Flashback to 1986

Regressing away from the general topic of my summer, an opportunity came up that I just won't be able to say no to. I was introduced to this beast of a machine earlier in the day today. It was apparently brought back from a customer's site a few weeks ago, and should still be working; one of my projects next week should be to make sure it boots and get it up and running again :)

Sun 2/160 Info:

A color 2/160 with 8Mb of memory, two 71 Mb SCSI disks and 60 Mb 1/4" SCSI tape cost $48,800 (1986 US price list).

It's a bit strange looking at hardware that's been standing longer than you've been alive. One of the oldest pre-built (not including built at home, otherwise the list would grow a bit) computers that I've worked with so far (possibly excluding our home computer from when I was in ~2nd grade) is the Cray SV1 supercomputer at TJ. From my knowledge, the Cray is at least from this millennium; the 2/160 is definitely quite a bit older than that :) The image below this is a picture (courtesy Wikipedia) of a 1MB RAM card - thankfully, we've since come very since!

As far as my main project of the summer goes, there are a few links that should be quite helpful with getting information about what's already been done:

- JavaOne 2009 presentations

- JavaOne HOL Lab Development project

One Megabyte of RAM (1986)This particular link for the JavaOne presetations focuses on the "Web 2.0, Next Generation Web, and Cloud Services Platform" subjects that have become increasingly essential in the past couple of years.

A few of the presentations here are really well done, but I haven't yet gotten to the hands-on demos that were shown during the conference. More to look forward to for next week, I guess!

My first week (of nine or ten, not completely sure) has been quite an experience, and something to look forward to every day. I'll keep posting on my progress, and possibly even continue blogging after the summer is over!

Wednesday Jun 24, 2009

Badge & Access Days

Yesterday and today have been more geared towards exploring the resources available inside Sun with regards to the cloud initiatives that have already been done, and are in the process of being tested. There's some really exciting stuff that I've found that has been going on within Sun (sorry, can't say!) which might be adaptable to the product that we're going to go about making work.

 As well as doing research for the cloud applications, I'm helping out with a few things in the lab here. One of the projects today was helping troubleshoot a blade chasis for a customer - one of the blades wasn't playing nicely with the 10 gig ethernet (just one of the fun things here to play with).

 On the subject of the title of this post, I've gotten my badge and room access within the past 24 hours, which has been great. I'm sure everyone'll appreciate not having to follow me around everywhere :-)

Tuesday Jun 23, 2009

Sun, Day 1

Well for those that do know me and don’t know but happened to come upon this site and didn’t notice the URL, and for those that don’t know me but happen to glance at this, I’m working at Sun this summer at the Sun Federal labs in McLean, VA. I was originally introduced to the guys in charge of the lab here when Scott McNealy, Chairman of the Board here at Sun, came to visit TJHSST, my now-former high school. I helped to give them a quick tour of our operations in the Syslab, and then Mr. McNealy gave a short presentation about Sun.

Fast forward a couple months, I now get the privilege to work at Sun Federal, and at what a more interesting time than in the middle of a merger of two large companies, Oracle and Sun, with market caps of 99.02B and 6.84B, respectively; it’ll be interesting to see how this plays out, especially since I have a sort of mixed view being an outsider coming to Sun in the midst of the merger. Regardless of this information, my project for the summer is to build a flexible and extensible “cloud” system for enterprises and government groups to be able to run applications on with as little effort as possible.

My first day at Sun was pretty chaotic, fast-paced, but also very interesting, rewarding, and I hope this level of energy stays for the whole summer! We started to plan out the line of action for the summer, and talked about how to go about designing and implementing the system. The term “cloud” has been thrown around a lot in the recent months, but for this project I think we’ll be focusing on a type of system that can be implemented at a user’s site instead of being run by a third-party company (in this case, being Sun). More to come soon.


Welcome to my blog. My name is Stephen (Trey) Repetski, and I'm working at Sun for the summer. I graduated from TJHSST, and am headed to Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in the fall, studying Network Security and Systems Administration (NSSA)


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