RE: [Lust/Greed/Envy] Sun and iPlanet Unleash Ultimate SoftwareDevelopment Platform

Date: Sat Mar 03 2001 - 11:22:14 PST

"Adam Rifkin" <Adam@KnowNow.Com> writes:
> > > Sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet...
> > What? You obviously don't mean the price of the hardware. Tell me
> > why this thing is such a hot deal.
> Would you instead prefer the $1000 version?

Thanks for the details. It looks like the hardware might be
competitive with a $1000 PC (but see below for more on why it's not

> But for $2500 more, I can get the ultimate development platform with
> over $10,000 in dev software bundled with it:
> Tell me where you can get 64-bit workstations with decent dev tools for
> cheaper...

Yeah, yeah. If I call CheapBytes, I can get a Debian CD set for $10,
which has about $400,000 of software on it, if you measure your
software in dollars. A lot of that software is as good as or better
than its Sun equivalent; much of it (Perl, Python, PostgreSQL, PHP,
Emacs) simply has no counterpart in the Sun package.

What's the deal with the 64-bitness? My friend Joe got his 64-bit
Alpha workstation for $500 or so, IIRC. It's dog-slow, though.
64-bitness buys you large file support (which is in most 32-bit
platforms these days) and large process support (useful if you have
more than two gigs of RAM. Note that the Sun Blade 100 comes with 128
megabytes, one sixteenth of that amount, and there isn't even room for
more than two gigs of RAM on the motherboard.

In short, for the Sun Blade, 64-bitness is an implementation detail,
not a feature. It's like CISCness. If Intel's chips were the ones
that cost outrageous amounts of money and Sun was selling its chips
cheap, you'd be asking where you could get a CISC workstation with
decent dev tools for cheaper, and I'd be telling you you should go get
a cheap UltraSPARC instead.

And, more importantly, you have to struggle with Solaris instead of
just using Linux. The Sun box would be competitive in price if your
time were worthless. Or if you were using Fortran, especially Fortran
90. (Maybe. A 500-MHz Ultrasparc might be performance-competitive
with a 1GHz Pentium III, but a 1.2GHz Athlon? You can buy good
Fortran compilers for Linux if you have to.)

Oh, except that if you run Linux on a PC, you can use VMWare on it to
run Windows without buying a PC daughtercard. And software just
magically appears and works when you say "apt-get install gnucash",
instead of you having to struggle for minutes or hours locating,
downloading, configuring, compiling, and installing it.

How much did the Dell on my desk cost? I think it was around $2500.
It took me a total of perhaps a day and a half (at a cost of perhaps
$1000) to install Debian on it, and that was only because 3Com was
shipping what appeared to be junk cards. (Really, they were just a
new model of card with the same model number, and they didn't work
with the off-the-shelf drivers.) They have four times as much RAM, a
much larger monitor, a slightly better video card (which I can't take
advantage of), four times as much disk, a CPU that runs at twice the
clock rate (and is probably faster at some things and slower at
others), and DVD-ROM and CD-R drives. And it includes better Web
development tools, and it can run VMWare. If we had bought the
machine configured for Linux instead, it would have taken me an hour
to install Debian.

This is much closer to the ultimate dev platform than the Sun box is.

I can understand why someone might conceivably get a Windows box
instead of a Linux box. I can understand why someone might get a Sun
E10000 instead of anything else. I can understand why a Fortran
programmer, or someone who was already developing for iPlanet servers
or JavaBeans, might want this Sun Blade thing. I can't understand why
anyone else would.

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Fri Apr 27 2001 - 23:13:21 PDT