Engineering a New World

Something Can Be Done About It

"Save a Penguin, Unplug a Linux Server" May Win Most-Flamable E-Mail Award

Flame suits ready.

Probably the first rule that anyone learns in sales is, “don’t knock the competition.” Probably even more fundamental is to not knock your friends.

I just got an e-mail from Sun which is probably the largest violation of L. Ron Hubbard’s Survey tech that I’ve ever seen. It was an e-mail with the title of, “Save a Penguin – Unplug a Linux Server Today“. The e-mail was fairly good-natured, with a headline paragraph stating,

Linux x86-based servers have enjoyed success in the Web tier by delivering UNIX capabilities in a low-cost, open-source platform. However, power-hungry commodity Linux servers are driving up costs as companies continue to build-out Web tier infrastructures horizontally. Yesterday’s cost-cutting solutions, inexpensive servers, are today’s resource wasters. High-growth Linux Web infrastructures are inefficient, costly, and difficult to manage.

Now, noting the average demographic who is a Linux/Sun SysAdmin, knocking Microsoft may be acceptable, even lauded. Cracking a funny joke about retiring a tired old NT server in favor of a nice, spiffy new Solaris or Linux box running Sun hardware would definitely slide right in there. But knocking Linux in a Sun ad?

I, personally, have several Sun Aquarius-class servers (x2100, x2200), all of which are running Linux. I tried running Solaris, thought it would be cool, but was unable to find a SINGLE worthwhile Solaris book I could use to bone up on the OS. The entire command structure of Solaris differs slightly from my more familiar FC6, so I found myself going nuts just trying to turn on a network interface. So, I said to heck with it, and decided to just run FC6 Xen on all of them until Sun could get me a nice Solaris book that equalled the many O’Reilly books I had which handily clear my misunderstood words on Linux.

So, I’m right now a happy Sun customer who loves Linux. So, I’m not totally the right guy to attempt to alienate from Linux by extolling the benefits of Solaris.

L. Ron Hubbard put it beautifully in a Scientology essay he wrote on the subject of manners, stating:

“‘Good manners’ sum up to (a) granting importance to the other person, and (b) using the two-way communication cycle (as in Dianetics 55!). Whatever motions or rituals are, these two factors are involved. Thus, a PR violating them will find himself and his program rejected.

“Arrogance and force may win domination and control, but will never win acceptance and respect.” – L. Ron Hubbard, Essay entitled Manners.

More effective, I think, would have been to play off the fact that Solaris is, from all I’ve experienced, a buffer, more hardcore and battle tested OS that has strengths that build on what people already like about Linux. As opposed to a “ditch linux!” campaign, smarter might be to validate people who are already running Linux, and then let them know Solaris builds on this with some damn-cool features that Linux enthusiasts already dig.

20 comments on “"Save a Penguin, Unplug a Linux Server" May Win Most-Flamable E-Mail Award

  1. Ashton
    May 3, 2007

    Well Written, and I totally agree.

    Those are some Great Quotes as well.

  2. MyName
    May 3, 2007

    Yep. That all true.

  3. xlinuks
    May 3, 2007

    Sun as usually plays the WeirdLinuxLove game. Such mails from Sun look rather as a desperation, as the reality shows – no company in the world is able for the time to side step Linux on the server side, not even Microsoft’s biased ‘get the facts’ page pays off the desired effect. They all know it’s hard to fight a good piece of software that is trusted, robust, well documented, supported and mostly free. Hence the FUD.

  4. EpsDel
    May 3, 2007

    Linux grew with the web and now to throw it away? It’s the most scalable system ever. Simply stupid.

  5. mikelist
    May 3, 2007

    o noes, yr srs.

    If you install say, bash, gnutils and stuff like that, Solaris can be exactly the same ( within some constraints) as Linux. Nobody gets it, the whole thing is GNU sitting on top of a stable and capable kernel. Linus is cool and deserves props as the originator of a free kernel that works well, but how many people can work out a way to talk to the kernel, GNU made it possible.


  6. Makere
    May 3, 2007

    My reply would go like this:

    “Save MORE than a penguin today, unplug a Windows server.”

  7. Shamar
    May 3, 2007

    “So, I said to heck with it, and decided to just run FC6 Xen on all of them until Sun could get me a nice Solaris book that equalled the many O’Reilly books I had”
    If Solaris has something much better than Linux is documentation. Sun has always excels at this. Just take a look at

    I’m I linuxer from day one (I got used to it while studying my university degree). Still I bought a second hand Sun e250 with 2 64Gby SparcIII processors, 2Gbytes or RAM and 6 HotSwap SCSI disk at (just 900$ bucks!!!) . It runs the last version of Solaris 10 and all I can say is that is the most fascinating thing I have ever played with. Just a BIG but. The power compsumtion was really high so I can use it 24×7 as I would like.

  8. Sum Yung Gai
    May 3, 2007

    Actually, I find the Sun documentation Web site more difficult to navigate than the Linux Documentation Project (

    Also remember that, for not much more than that used UltraSPARC III, you can build your own brand-new dual-Opteron box, complete with 4GB DRAM and a six-disk SATA RAID subsystem. And yes, I mean true hardware RAID, not that “software RAID” crap integrated into some motherboards. I also mean quality components (ECC registered DRAM, Tyan motherboard, etc.). Given that the Opteron CPU is 64-bit, supports W^X, and is fast as hell, I just don’t see the business case in looking at the UltraSPARC III–or even IV–systems anymore. Power consumption is lower, too. On the other hand, to tinker around with, yep, the e250 would be kinda fun.

  9. jetteroheller
    May 4, 2007

    Shamar –

    While the documentation on might be pretty good (they are), what I have a harder time finding is good, thorough, book-style reading like you can do with Linux and other OS’s. I’ve read plenty of man pages, but no number of man pages can add up to what you get from a well-written, well assembled book.

    As an example, I tried for about 8 months to like Sun Java System App Server, but unfortunately the only documentation available for this (which I read cover to cover) was on Couldn’t find a book on this to save my life.

  10. syahid ali
    May 4, 2007

    save a penguin by closing the windows.

  11. Neuromancer
    May 4, 2007


    I think your ment to pony up for the expensive sun training courses 🙂 or hire sun certifed guys/gurls.

    though id trust slowlaris to work longer term than linux as hopefuly the driver suport owuld be better.

  12. Andrew
    May 4, 2007

    What the hell has Solaris, Sun or Linux to do with Scientology??

  13. adam cassel
    May 4, 2007

    re: “what does … Solaris, etc , have to do w/ scientology”.

    Well, the obvious, as Occam tells us, is generally the answer, look over here:

    Sister's Wedding: Scientology ceremony in CW

    On Linux and Scientology: Love, Patience, and Tolerance

    I think they have alot to do with each other as strange as that sounds, and here’s why.

    One does not have to read Mr Hubbard to hear the exact same thing quoted herein as from one’s mother, but if the message is a right and good one, does it matter where it came from? So much the better I say when we find a source that for us personally is a consistent and reliable wellspring of wisdom, engagement, self relflection, and encourages us on to higher achievement and the helps provide us with the fortitude to grow in our ability to weave a practical life that agrees with our principles, be they in our relations to others or our principles in relation to our tools of choice: computers and the OS’s that run them.

    But, my feeling on both linux and scientology is that true believers of any stripe are difficult to appreciate and be patient with. but again, more love, patience and tolerance for all, in the IT world and our world, should be a higher priority for all of us, myself included. I’ve been at this game and industry making a living from it since 94, pre netscape, mozzila anyone? I actually called Netscape in the early days just after I received my PAID FOR Netscape Navigator 1.0 floppy disk in the mail, and asked if they had a rep in Portland ME, where I lived then. My VM was actually returned, and they actually sent me a reseller agreement, so I have seen alot of history at this point. I even tried to install one of the first Linux Slackware releases using 14+/- floppy disks, all of which I downloaded using my 33.3Kb modem onto my pretty new IBM DX2 66 rather than buy Minix at the student union bookstore, ahh, it didnt go well. So, to this day, 13 years of days later, I find this anti windows crap rediculous for otherwise intelligent people to continue to engage in – wasted words and breath – childish and an anti-engineering narrow mind-set. Using, working on, developing with, paying attention to, learning, preferring a given OS IS NOT A POLITICAL or RELIGOUS statement, nor is it a tacit or implicit approval of how the business that is responsible for that OS runs it’s business. AND EVEN IF IT WAS, it strikes me as amazing, way beyond ironic, that linux enthusiasts and thought leaders alike APE THEIR SUPPOSED “enemy” in their INTOLERANCE and NARROW GUAGE bandwidth towards anything non-linux or windows related – A VERY SHORT SIGHTED and MISTAKEN posture, look where intolerance, disdain and arrogance got MSFT. Now the linux community, since for purposes of reasonable conversation we must generalize to some degree, and remember, some generalizations are truer than others, is as intolerant and as silly as any community of Kool-Aid drinkers I’ve ever seen – as IF what OS you prefer accords one some kind of “more special” status and a-priori moral and ethical superiority – what a joke! Grow up Linux Community, principles in practice require changes in behaviour, not lofty words of togetherness and inclusion while bad mouthing anyone else who has decided to get their meal from a different table. There are valuable, non-political, non-business related ENGINEERING lessons tp be learned from windows, and by that, i dont mean a “negative power of example”, but quite the opposite. To consider the constraints, the larger picture, the market forces, the nature of the ceo’s under which any product, software or otherwise, must be born under and unto, is to then start to see the heroism of the people behind a good product, and conversely, the purposelessness of rejecting anything out of hand. Be students linux community, patient, loving, tolerant students of human computer interaction and of engineering, for the bounty is so beyond transient feelings of superiority as to be impossible to put into words, truly.

  14. damaged justice
    May 4, 2007

    Jet – most of your problems with ‘Linux documentation’ stem from the fact that Linux is an ecosystem, not a specific distribution, whereas the BSD’s are consistent and self-contained systems. (FreeBSD’s documentation is some of the clearest, most concise and complete I’ve ever come across.) Though I’m sure I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know 🙂

    At this point, a person’s best bet to really ‘learn Linux’ is to ignore the various attempts at certification, put together a few Linux From Scratch systems, and familiarize themselves with the various components that are being standardized (Filesystem Hierarchy Standard, etc).

    Good seeing you again.

  15. Grahame
    May 6, 2007

    When you attack a “rival” in an ad, you are not only galvanizing the supporters of the rival product, you are advertising the rival as something of equal status to yourself. I think the validation method you mention in the last paragraph of the post is the way to go. It positions Solaris as the next step up from Linux, a position I think Sun should cultivate rather than the anti-Linux position of the email.

  16. jetteroheller
    May 7, 2007

    Adam –

    I don’t think I’ve ever had a reply on a blog post like that. Thanks much for your opinions on this – totally agreed on what you’re saying in terms of the lesson to be learned on tolerance of one’s fellow operating systems, as much as people want to bash this or that.

    And DJ – thank for your comment as well. I still am on the lookout for a good Solaris book, as my trouble has not at all been with learning linux – it’s been with being able to sit down at Starbucks with a good Solaris book and really dig in and learn it.

  17. EAS_Mn
    May 8, 2007

    Although it precedes Solaris 10, a fine book on Solaris in general is “Solaris Operating Environment Boot Camp,” by David Rhodes and Dominic Butler (Sun Microsystems Press/Prentice Hall Title, 2003). Another useful one is “Solaris Solutions for System Administrators” by Sandra Henry-Stocker and Evan R. Marks (Wiley Publishing, 2003).

    Using those will help one become conversant enough with Solaris to proceed to the latest variations in Solaris 10 (e.g., the service management facility boot sequencing, zones, ZFS, possibly DTrace).

    Admittedly Solaris has not had the most user-friendly installation interface, although Solaris 10’s for x86 is better than earlier SPARC versions. (Then again, have you ever waded through package selection for Debian or any number of other Linux distributions in an effort to customize what’s put on the box?)

    But one thing Sun has done fairly well as versions of Solaris are rolled out: it has maintained a good deal of backwards compatibility for applications, scripts, and the like. No Linux distribution I know of does nearly as well on that score.

  18. tovorinok
    July 5, 2007


    Great book. I just want to say what a fantastic thing you are doing! Good luck!


  19. Pingback: Sun Microsystems’ Anti-Linux Flaming

  20. CCNY
    January 7, 2010

    A lot fo interesting points in this!

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