[SunRay-Users] Why SunRay?

Kevin Burtch kburtch at gmail.com
Wed Jun 21 01:16:29 EET DST 2006

On 6/20/06, Blaster <blaster at 556nato.com> wrote:
> The average PC lasts about 3-5 years in the business world.  Larger/richer
> companies at 3, smaller poorer companies at 5.  To say the Sun Ray
> terminals, or any Thin/Dumb client in their current generation is going to
> still be suitably useful in 3-5 times that period is, lets just say, a very
> courageous thing to say.

Of course it will be obsolete, after all - everyone knows the user
interface is going to change more in the next 3 years than it has in
the last 7 by an order of magnatude. ;)

Seriously though... does anyone _really_ believe we'll have hovering
interactive holograms in 3 or even 5 years? How about _usable_ voice
Guess what? The former may not be possible on the Sun Ray, but the latter is.
And by the way... those predictions for new user interfaces "in the
next 3 years" have been around since the early '90s. They aren't here
yet and I'm not holding my breath.

> I wouldn't even hazard a guess as to whether or not 100Mb Ethernet will
> still even be useful 15 years from now.  Yes, I know 10MB has been around
> longer than that, and is still here today, but amazing technological
> advances can happen over night making today's "long lived" technology
> useless long before it's maker intended.

Yeah, and they cost the farm when they're new.
How many people do you know who have 10-GB networks at home?
Just because it exists doesn't automatically make everything before
obsolete and unusable.

Besides, the argument _isn't_ that Sun Rays _never_ need replacing,
only that they have a drastically longer refresh cycle than a PC. So
far it's been 7 years and no refresh need in sight.

Oh, and they CAN do video for training, etc. Just not full-screen video.
I know as I've set up classroom labs that used training videos... this
was a few years back running a dual-proc V210 for 30 DTUs displaying
from a Windows system via rdesktop.
The customer was thrilled. I was actually pretty surprized it was
usable (I don't work for Sun, I used to work for a VAR)

> Thin/Dumb clients have been around almost since the day computers where
> first powered on...But we certainly still are not using the same methods
> that we used 15 years ago.

Hmmm... 15 years ago I was using MS-Windows (1 year before I started
using X on SunOS or Linux).
How _exactly_ has the user interface changed since then? (besides
fancier artwork for the buttons & icons)
There's nothing revolutionary or drastically different between the
user interface back then and now as far as a device like the Sun Ray
is concerned. My 486DX-50 system did 1152x900 with 24-bit color in 2
dimensions and stereo 44khz audio... used a mouse and a keyboard... so
does the Sun Ray (actually, my video card could go higher, but my
monitor couldn't).

Again, the Sun Ray isn't future-proof, but it certainly has the design
for a drastically longer lifespan than the PC running MS-Windows -
which IS the point. Well, one of 'em anyway... there's also the
serious lack of all of the normal PC maintenance.

> Where are NCD Xterminals today?  Basically the same thing as a Sun Ray, yet
> I haven't seen one in use since I graduated University in the early 90s, 15
> years ago.....

They didn't fall out of popularity due to no longer being capable of
displaying the newest user interface (your argument against the Sun
Ray longevity).
They fell out of popularity because PCs became comodity items (read:
cheap) and quickly became a popular item to distribute power to each
person's desktop. Businesses switched to PCs from Unix as they were
cheaper than the previous combination.
I spent a long time trying to find some for my home... but even used
they were far too expensive. They weren't a comodity item, so the
price wasn't driven down... even used I couldn't afford them at the
The Sun Ray 1, on the other hand... I have 5 that I got via eBay for
less than the cost of one used NCD.


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