Cogito, Ergo Sun: On the Net

The sun also rises. Traffic centered around the Sun/NeXT alliance. One bird crowed (much too coyly) prior to the announcement; others in the know (and craving less attention, perhaps?) honored both spirit and letter of their nondisclosure agreements.

Post-announcement speculation ran rampant: Was this "another desperate move" on NeXT's part, or a brilliant coup and resounding vindication of Steve's vision? Regardless, much consolation from the mere image of Scott McNealy wearing The Steve Outfit and holding a cube sporting the NeXT logo (with nary a sharp spike anywhere near his eyes).

What's it all about, Alfie? Major questions remained unanswered. Will OpenStep include all of the development tools of NEXTSTEP? Will OpenStep run as a layer on top of X? If so, how will it handle Display PostScript? Or will X simply be supported under OpenStep, as it is now under NEXTSTEP? Will OpenStep include drag-and-drop objects?

Ultimate question: From a user's perspective, what difference will there be between running native NEXTSTEP on a SPARC and running the OpenStep version of Solaris? Most agreed that OpenStep will benefit from Solaris's "industry-strength kernel," and that the publication of an open spec will lead to much greater acceptance of NEXTSTEP technology, taking it out of a "niche market" classification. To ensure success, NeXT's most critical task is to exhaustively document the OpenStep spec within the announced time frame (by June).

Speculation and suggestions for other ports ran toward, "Do this one! No, no, do this one!" Cooler heads suggested that NeXT has plenty of work for its (newly lean) staff to handle, and that getting a solid HP PA-RISC port out the door is critical, if only to establish credibility: "We don't need a list of *promised* platforms for NEXTSTEP, we need a list of *shipping* platforms for NS."

Now is the winter of our discontent . . . The profound changes that the Sun alliance portends brought out a metaphysical streak in many posters. In various threads, the relative merits of NEXTSTEP, Motif, Mach, and Windows (and TECO) were debated.

Some posters power shifted from bashing Intel hardware to bashing Sun hardware; the thread then evolved into debate re: merits of straight CPU benchmarking. Much discussion of what platform was (or would be) most preferred by posters' mothers for writing doctoral theses.

We happy few, we band of brothers. "Will Mark Crispin ever be cheerful?" gets the Subject Line Sez It All prize for the month. All you doom-and-gloomers out there, take heart. Remember, on St. Crispin's Day in 1415, Henry V defeated the French at Agincourt, successfully using superior technology (the English longbow) against a vastly larger enemy force.

Balanced against the doomsayers were the courageous souls who sought information re: how to buy NeXT stock. (It can be had from employees current or former, but NeXT has right of first refusal.)

We miss you, Conrad. NeXT community members, some accustomed to receiving an average of three messages per week from Conrad, bemoaned the deafening silence emanating from Redwood City.

by Steve Fricke