Feeds

Sun set to bring Linux to UltraSparc

Or, how to subvert your enemy into protecting your own butt

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

High performance access to file storage

Sun is set this week to embrace Linux as an operating system for low-end servers, if reports in the US edition of Computer Reseller News are to be believed.

According to a report in this week's edition of the paper, Sun has spent most of the year porting Linux over to its UltraSparc CPU, and will this week announce widespread support for the free OS on its hardware. An odd move, you might think, given Sun already has a Unix knock-off of its own, Solaris. But therein lies the rub.

As Linux continues to make headlines in the more mainstream IT press, and it garners more interest from the wider IT community -- we won't say supporters until there are some hard userbase stats to back the assertion up -- it is proving more of a threat to Unix operators like Sun. True, Linux is traditionally perceived as a threat to Windows NT, and that will continue to be the case, but it doesn't rule out the danger to the commercial Unix market, particularly at the low end, that the free OS also poses. And no one more clearly controls the low, volume end of the commercial Unix market than Sun, which has done very nicely, thank you out of flogging cheapish servers to smallish business, such as small ISPs, Web-hosting/design outfits and repro bureaux, who need a tough server environment to which they can connect a handful of clients of various platforms. Companies like these, however, are looking at Linux with keen interest. It may not be up to handling high-bandwidth server applications like multi-site hosting and centralised databases, but its more than capable of running DNS servers, firewalls and low-traffic Web site hosts on cheap Intel and Mac hardware. That worries Sun, for all its talk in the CRN article of considering Linux users "in the open standards camp" and therefore "making good things happen", and bullish talk from Robert Novak, Sun's power workstations group manager, of the free OS offering "a real strong alternative to NT and Windows". Hang on a mo' -- wasn't Solaris supposed to do that? Actually, it is, and we suspect Sun doesn't believe a word of it either. The Linux-on-Sun project's codename says it all: UltraPenguin. Sure, it combines the name of Sun's processor with Linux's Antarctic mascot, but it's hardly inspiring is it? Sun is, after all, the company of Java, of Jini -- in short, the company of the groovy codename that makes the bigtime. No, it's a banal codename for a project that's more about business than open systems evangelism. Linux on UltraSparc is there to shore up Sun's low-end against Linux on Intel. And, for that matter, NT on Intel, since the Microsoft OS too lies largely below the massive multi-processor applications that Unix is better suited to. And then there's the Netscape connection. Sun will, of course, soon be taking over the browser Satan's back-end software business in exchange for its support for the AOL takeover. Netscape dipped its toe in open source waters earlier this year, and its recent backing of Linux distributor Red Hat suggests it didn't find that water too cold. Maybe it now has a large selection of its server-based software running on Linux. Sun is obviously going to have to do something with it. Had the UltraPenguin project never been initiated, Sun would probably have killed Netscape's Linux apps. It may still do so, but it makes sense, if you're going to promote Linux on UltraSparc, to have some solid application software other than Apache to back it up. One quick port later and you have a software suite you can bundle with your own Linux distribution but force Intel Linux users to pay for (don't forget we're talking here about mainstream users who are used to paying for application software, provided it works out of the box). ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Audio fans, prepare yourself for the Second Coming ... of Blu-ray
High Fidelity Pure Audio – is this what your ears have been waiting for?
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Nokia offers 'voluntary retirement' to 6,000+ Indian employees
India's 'predictability and stability' cited as mobe-maker's tax payment deadline nears
Apple DOMINATES the Valley, rakes in more profit than Google, HP, Intel, Cisco COMBINED
Cook & Co. also pay more taxes than those four worthies PLUS eBay and Oracle
It may be ILLEGAL to run Heartbleed health checks – IT lawyer
Do the right thing, earn up to 10 years in clink
France bans managers from contacting workers outside business hours
«Email? Mais non ... il est plus tard que six heures du soir!»
Adrian Mole author Sue Townsend dies at 68
RIP Blighty's best-selling author of the 1980s
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.