[SunRay-Users] Customizing firmware for SunRay DTUs?

Torsten Kasch tk at cebitec.uni-bielefeld.de
Wed Mar 24 10:14:21 EET 2010

Hi Kent,

On Tuesday, 23. March 2010, Kent Peacock wrote:
> How do those other departments provide configuration for their Sun Rays?
> Are the Sun Rays shared among departments, or do you all have your own?

Currently, all departments run their own SunRays, IIRC in "isolated islands" 
with a separat network infrastructure. Nevertheless, the goal when planning 
the new setup is to avoid imposing any restrictions that could make it hard 
for other departments that want to have their SunRays on the campus as well.

> Are your Sun Rays confined to a particular subnet, or do you sprinkle
> them throughout the campus?

Although we have some areas of "high SunRay density" like class rooms and 
labs, quite a few offices are indeed sprinkled across the campuse. And I'd 
rather avoid making assumptions on the physical locations of the terminals 
since offices get relocated more often than one would expect; in the last ten 
years I had to move 4 times. ;-(

> In an ideal deployment, what you should be doing here is sharing your
> Sun Rays with all of the departments on campus that use them, and use
> AMGH (Automatic Multi-Group Hotdesking) to route a particular user to
> their server group. That's what we do here at Oracle/Sun. Basically, a
> user can put their card into any Sun Ray in the world, and based on the
> card token, the Sun Ray will be redirected to that user's home server.

I must admit that we haven't thought about AMGH yet but will discuss this 
option with my colleagues and our campus IT staff. But this would require us 
to register each SmartCard our users use, correct? At the moment, we have the 
zero-admin policy in effect, allowing the users to associate their session 
with their SmartCard upon first login.

> There's another thing you could do if you are able to get buy in from
> the other campus Sun Ray users. Set up what we call a "landing zone"
> common server (or set of servers), and have the sunray-config-servers
> DNS name map to those IP addresses. From there, you can either use AMGH,
> or set up individual .parms files to redirect any Sun Ray to the
> appropriate server group.

I'm not sure if this is achievable in our intended time frame, but I will 
discuss this topic...

> Having MAC-specific DHCP configuration would 
> be a nightmare.

Yes, probably. But when I don't have to manage this setup, it might be an 
option. ;-)

> As you can see, we have evolved a number of different mechanisms over
> the years to provide configuration flexibility and scalability. (At
> Oracle/Sun we have about 30,000 Sun Rays, and the only ones that run GUI
> firmware are the remote ones that require VPN credentials.) However, you
> have to start somewhere with something. We haven't yet been able to
> build ESP into the hardware. ;-)

Ok, maybe no ESP yet, an we will never get such a huge setup. But I hoped that 
maybe some large customer has asked for some kind of "branded firmware" 
before and that therefore some tools/procedure/whatever exsits to create such 
a custom firmware. If I remember correctly, in the days of SunOS 4 Sun 
allowed to create custom OS kernels by providing object files that one could 
link with e.g. his own driver code.

If something similar would be possible for hard-wiring a configuration into a 
SunRay firmware, this would help us a lot since almost nothing would have to 
be configured on the network infrastructure side. Given sufficient 
connectivity, such a SunRay would work virtually anywhere in the world, no 
matter where you plug it into the network. The only effort would be to unpack 
the DTU, to connect it directly to a SunRay server, and to wait 2 minutes...

Ok, I see, I'm dreaming. :-) Thanks so far for all the input.


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