Memories of Sun

By , January 30, 2010 18:48

In 1996 and 1997 I was part of the customer alpha and beta program for Solaris 2.6 (both, on Sparc as well as x86!), which led to my review of that version of the world’s best OS in Germany’s monthly publication iX. That review in turn made my person interesting for Sun, so they asked me, if I wanted to join, and I agreed. So, on February 1st, 1998 was my first day at Sun, which means, I can not succeed in celebrating my twelve year employment anniversary as part of an independant company. Still, in Germany, the legal entity “Sun Microsystems GmbH” will continue to live a bit longer, as the buying and integration process could only be started after the US entities became one. But another of my dreams will never be able to fulfill itself: Being part of Sun for more than half its existence. I will miss the fulfillment of that dream by approx 3 years… Still, I hope to see that 15 year anniversary as part of Oracle!

In the beginning, I was a bit afraid, if I might be “good enough” to join the forces of a company, that I started to love as a customer over the years. Rest assured, it has NOT been love on first sight! Before I joined Sun, I was working at a publicly sponsored R&D company for more than a decade, and had the advantage of being able to play with most of the interesting computers at that time: Apollo, Auspex, Convex, DEC (both, VMS and Ultrix; as well as OSF/1), Parsytec, Sony, SGI, to only name the most known brands… My thinking at my first contact with Sun’s systems was: Build in a to cheap way. OK, DEC’s vt100 keyboard was even worse, than Sun’s first keyboards, but only with SunOS 3.5 and the type 4 and then the type 5 keyboards, Sun became better than Apollo’s OS and keyboards. The migration from SunOS 4.1.4 to Solaris 2.X was a tedious one, but we all succeeded, as Sun put an enormous effort into making sure, that binary compatibility was working. Over the years I kept a copy of /usr/games (which was no longer available in Solaris 2), and put it on all my Solaris boxes (sadly, Sparc only, as there was no SunOS 4.X for x86!), and it still works up to today. Try to find another OS on this planet that can claim binary compatibilty for more than close to 20 years! Even Linux had not been born, when SunOS 4.1 came out… And try to run a Linux kernel 1.0 program on today’s Linuxes…

So, this finishing week, the acquisition of Sun by Oracle has finished, and we all will be members of a way larger company, and a company, that knows, how to monitize R&D. I’m looking forward to tons of new opportunities, and will let SMI (Sun Microsystems Incorporated) rest with a little tear in my eyes.

So, goodbye Sun Microsystems Inc., hello Oracle!


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