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16 January 2007

EMail conversation with Sun

I received this email....

Hi Malachi,

Thank you for visiting the web chat forum on the Sun website yesterday, when you expressed interest in the Try and Buy promotion being currently run by Sun.

You mentioned that you are deciding which machine you will trial on the promotion - excellent! You will see the full list of products on the promotion at

You can email me with any questions that you may have, or you can visit our team at the web chat forum. Here's some additional information on the Try and Buy promotion, which you may find useful:

When you receive the Server on the Try and Buy promotion you will also receive a Welcome Pack.
Inside the Welcome Pack you will find-
1. A Quick Guide to Installation.
2. Access to Tuning and Optimization documentation.
3. Access to an online portal and forum for system and application tuning hints and tips.
4. Access to Sun's performance engineers.
5. All of the latest patches and configuration files for the system on the portal.

Additional options for purchase are available for system ready and business ready services.
The Solaris 10 Operating System and other software provided with the system is covered under the Warranty support during the Try and Buy period.

Best Regards

Mark Cradock
Sun Microsystems

Tel: + 353 (0)599136768

My response:
Hi Mark,

I am debating the Sun Fire X4200 or the Sun Ultra 40 Workstation. Perhaps it would be better for me to explain the intended usage and get your feedback.

First, a little background. We had a FreeBSD box running for about 4 years without reboot. As is probably obvious from that statement, we were behind on the security updates. While we were hosting multiple domains, they were not in Xen or Jail or anything. On Christmas eve a year ago, a hacker from a Polish cable isp hacked in through one of the user accounts and wiped out the entire system. Because of this, I decided this time that I wanted to ensure that the various domains stay secure even if one is compromised.

We bought the latest top-of-the-line Asus, AMD, etc. Unfortunately, AMD lied about the capabilities of the board. They said it was capable of RAID-5 on SATAII, but in actuality it is capable of RAID-5 OR SATAII. Then we installed FreeBSD-CURRENT, and found out it doesn't support RAID-5 yet. Needless to say, it has been a hassle.

So we are debating buying a Sun server and running Solaris on it. My expectation is that there should not be any driver compatibility problems at that point.

So long story not so short -- we are looking at trying to run a bootable RAID-Z (yes, I know that requires some tweaking, but I want to ensure that the boot is also recoverable) with a Xen Dom0. On top of that, we want to allow each domain to run its own OS (whichever they choose, thus prefer AMD-V) as a DomU. Based on this, I think that each DomU would get the advantage of Raid-Z on the underlying filesystem, even if they didn't know about it directly, and regardless of which OS they are running.

Do you have any thoughts, concerns, or questions?


A followup:

Hi Malachi,

First of all, sorry to hear about the experiences you've had with the FreeBSD and Asus! Not good.

Secondly, one of the reasons for the Try and Buy promotion is that you can test the capabilities of each machine prior to actually buying it. I'm sure that you will have a positive experience and benefit from this.

I would recommend that we assign a server specialist to you, that can be available prior to your choice of machine, and also be available for you right through the trial process to assist you in your testing, additional components, adjustments in configurations, etc. Would you have a
contact number that we can call you on?

Best Regards
Mark Cradock
Sun Microsystems
Tel: +

So the rest will most likely be via phone.

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