Saturday, January 20, 2007

A post on Jonathan's Blog

Reposting here because, well, am not sure the moderator will like it, and well, I spent time on this so don't want to watch it disappear in a puff of bits.


Jonathan, interesting interview. Interesting response to Matt.

On the interview: very tight money-wise. Very very tight, remember that. I'm a software developer for a fortune 500, in my late 30's with a wife and a 1.5 year old. It's still not easy to make ends meet. The cost of housing and health insurance alone is killing me, not to mention food and gasoline. I take a lunch box to work to same money. The family cars are 8 and 3 years old respectively.

Now, I am also part of a two-man startup. We have a couple of colocated servers (total cost $3500, on my partner's credit cards mostly) with $60 monthly hosting costs. We do little database driven websites for local businesses. I develop in python, php, asp and javascript, and do consulting for a company I worked at before, as well as take occasional development jobs.

I also often converse with Jim Grisanzio on his blog about OpenSolaris and sometimes with James Governor via email about enterprisey stuff in general.

I too wish Sun the best. But I gotta tell you, I don't have a single machine running Solaris under my control. I tried installing it on a couple old machines (Debian 3.0 Sarge runs just fine on both) and failed both times. Now, I'm not a Solaris admin, and not a UNIX guru, I'm a web application developer (backend stuff mostly, web-services, etc) and I can install and manage RH, Ubuntu, Debian Etch, even a Windows 2003 Server 64 machine (had fun getting ADODB working under IIS on that box but I managed). I've installed and manage mediawiki, bugzilla, svn, Apache with reverse proxy, ftp, ssh, and gasp, can play with routing tables. I admin databases, (many flavors except DB2) and especially love sqlite these days.

To me the fact that I failed to install Open Solaris, or Solaris Express (what's up with your zipped cd isos btw?) means that I cannot in good faith recommend it to anyone except seasoned UNIX people.

Now, I tell people all the time to dump Windows (unless they work in accounting) and OS X (unless they're photo people) and use LAMP with the P either php, python or p-ruby. I also recommend Postgresql, and I use about 30 extensions in Firefox (for development aids) -- which is why IE is dead for me.

Why am I telling you all that? Because I want you to know that I'm not a *NIX zealot, not a script-kiddy, not a academic type. I'm an average developer who's trying to finishhis BS six units per semester. And because I want to use Sun software, but it's "Too Hard" for me. I would love to use Solaris 10 and get ZFS and all that stuff. Except, well, I can't. I can't get my wife to dislodge $2,500 for "yet another server", and I can't bring myself to kill 5 CDs to burn an OS I'll probably not be able to install on hardware with less than 1GB of ram.

Oh, and I do not have a 19-inch rack at home.

What I want Sun to make a $400 machine that I can run as a Solaris server with postgresql, mysql, python, mod_python, php, mod_php, apache, and a few more utilities (LaTeX, DocBook, svn, trac, mediawiki, bugzilla, ftp, (see Debian apt-cache for a full list) and make it support a few users (less than 50 for sure). It has to be a server. There won't be any GUI installed. Let me repeat that: no GUI.

You do that, and make the order page 1 page with a "credit card number and address" and no silly questions like fax number, company name, and ship it the same day, and Jonathan, I will personally buy one, and will tell all my friends about it, in person. Also, you have to ship it the same day! It's very important. I never buy anything online or offline if I have to wait more than a day or two for it (that's why no Ebay for me).

A final piece of advice: Sell the system pre-configured, with all the software above already working, and hardened by your engineers, and send along a little hard-bound manual with exact configurations. If people want to wipe the HDs and start again, that's up to them. Remember that these machines will be toys for tinkering.

Just like people tinkered with Linux 15 years ago.

A couple of other things you can do to gain the going-to-exist-business: release Solaris under the GPLv2 (not 3, 3 does not exist) and encourage mingling of technologies with Linux. I'll repeat that: mingle with Linux. Make ZFS work on Linux and contribute it. This will splash more than the EU report of FLOSS (which I printed and skimmed).

The other thing I would like you to do is take it easy on the java platform: I don't code in java, and I will never code in java. I don't do Java EE with ejb and serverfaces. I don't develop applications for J2ME. After getting to know Python better, I now want to go after Ruby, Scheme maybe, Dylan maybe. So stop mentioning "Java is on a Billion devices" every single time. We all know that know this and I personally don't care. I want Solaris as a platform for my applications, not a "Java Is The Greatest" spiel. It's getting old.

Anecdote: on New Year's day, I was at a gathering, and a 13 year old showed me photos on her cell phone. I asked what kind of stuff she had on her phone, and she proceeded to show me. The Java logo came on, and I asked her what that was. She stared blankly and said "I don't know". She had tuned it out, never wondered about it, just like he FBI warning in front of videos and DVDs that absolutely everyone completely ignores for having seen them endlessly without appropriate context. Now, that kid made her own website and thinks MySpace is for old people. I can get her to buy that $400 machine. You can't, but I can. Heck, I can even get her dad to buy her one instead of an Xbox. Later that afternoon she asked me how one goes about getting a domain name. Let me rehash: I would love to get her on Solaris, Apache, Mysql, Python. I can totally see how she's going to make money off The Network someday soon. Jonathan, help me get Solaris 10 in her hands.


gumi said...

VMware is your friend here. Just put 2 gigs of memory on your main workstation, and you can try all kinds of stuff there.

Christopher said...

Gumi, it's not the same with vmware.