[rescue] your next Solaris machine ??? (Sol/x86 booting on iMac)

Jonathan C. Patschke jp at celestrion.net
Sat Apr 15 00:18:12 CDT 2006

On Fri, 14 Apr 2006, Patrick Giagnocavo wrote:

> IBM's focus is not on technology, they are about delivering a solution
> to the customer. They have chosen POWER as the means to that end.

What is "technology", then?  I always thought it was a tool to get a job
done; ie: "a solution".

> The customer doesn't care what they run, it is about the solution that
> is being provided.  That is why no one complained when they changed
> later AS/400's to PPC; it wasn't a tech issue, just a business one,

It couldn't possibly be that PPC was faster, better-designed (memory
protection is a Good Thing), well-understood, and more scalable?  Just
sometimes, when you run a tech company, a business decision -is- a tech

> I said "embedded" because IBM wraps proprietary stuff around POWER and
> then provides a solution.

Just what in the world do you mean by "proprietary"?  The network card I
took back to Fry's because the manufacturer would not provide me with
the necessary documentation to write a driver?  The sound card I bought
and am contemplating returning because the specifications of its
configuration EEPROM aren't documented, so probing the attached hardware
is a shot in the dark?

Commodity PC crap is no more or less proprietary than the black magic
inside and IBM or HP or Sun chassis.

> See how tight they are with OS/400 and AIX media, especially for
> larger systems, if you are not the original purchaser as an example.

The media for any given version of AIX is the same for all systems,
regardless of size, and anyone can get their hands on AIX directly from
IBM if they only know whom and how to ask.  At least, I think the 5.3
media kit in my desk is testament to that.  AIX is not a collection of
magical incantations talking to horrifically obscure hardware.  Linux
runs on it ("it" being pretty-much anything CHRP), too, and CHRP is

I don't know about OS/400 or iOS, but I -think- that the PPC-based
AS/400 and iSeries systems have the OS license keyed to a set of
numbers-in-cans that fit on a card plugged into the system planar which
act as entitlement certificates.  So, you can get the software for the
"price of media" ($50 - $100) but it'll only run if the entitlement
circuit says it may, and, even then, will only run in the capacities
(CPW, number of simultaneous sessions, etc) that the entitlement
circuits specify.

> Maybe it wasn't the best choice of words if you consider that
> sometimes embedded means low-power or cost-reduced (which I did not
> intend to imply).


> I meant "embedded" as "part of the solution, stuck deep inside and
> essentially invisible to the user" - just like you don't care about
> the PPC403 that is in your Ford.

An inaccessible microcontroller inside a consumer-oriented appliance is
quite a different beast from the processor inside a general-purpose
computer.  Nearly zero of the users of an automobile will write and load
code onto the PCM's CPU.  A much larger percentage of users of PPC-based
workstations and server will customize or create software as part of

> No one (of any size) sells POWER based systems aside from IBM,

I know that at least one (and I'm not at liberty to say which) of the
large computer manufacturers is keeping POWER as a backup plan in case
Itanium completely falls on its face, complete with their OS already
ported to the platform.  If they didn't have such an investment in IA64,
they'd probably already be running it.

If IBM cuts the the heat dissipation on POWER6 like it sounds like they
will, POWER will make a -very- compelling MIPS/watt argument for itself.
Companies like Cray and NEC would be silly to not try them in large-
scale systems.  Given how much IA64 in particular sucks with regards to
that particular metric, it might even be enough to make that unnamed
manufacturer the #2 supplier of POWER-based workstations and servers.

Jonathan Patschke   )  "Humans that lose the capacity to think become
Elgin, TX          (    creatures whose existence has no value."
USA                 )                      --Schwarzwald, _The_Big_O_

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