Sun loses a sale


You almost had me sold since I’m shopping for a new server anyway, but

  1. I went to the site and there was no price obvious for actually buying a Niagara. Hidden prices always set off my alarm bells.
  2. I might blog about it, but not if I have to. Smart companies who want me to write about their products (Cenqua, SyncRO Soft Ltd, Addison-Wesley) send me full, uncrippled versions of their products without me even asking. OK. I realize the economics are a little different for hardware than software and books. You do have a much higher incremental cost, so you might not want to spam the world with free boxes; and perhaps I’m not quite your target audience; but it’s still true that if I have to send it back after 60 days, I’m not even going to ask for a unit. I want to evaluate something at my own pace.
  3. There was five pages of complicated legalese in a PDF, none of which I have to bother with if I go down the street to buy a whitebox PC and install Linux instead.

Consequently you lost the sale. More accurately, you lost the opportunity to try to sell me a box. Better luck next time.

40 Responses to “Sun loses a sale”

  1. Martin J Steer Says:

    From what I understand Jonathan Schwartz wrote that _if_ you blogged about the machine they might give it to you for free. He even wrote that he didn’t care if you wrote something positive or negative. I don’t see how this is forcing you to blog about it.

    I agree on your first point though, but the rest just makes you seem petty.

    You _only _ get 60 days? Call Dell and see if you can get them to send you a server for free and see how long you can keep that. My guess is 0 days. Do I really understand you correctly? That you would find it resonable for Sun to let you have it for testing for as long as you’d like? Isn’t that the same as just giving it away without any strings attached what so ever?

    It’s nice that other companies are sending you stuff for free, but I don’t see them sending me anything. Addison-Wesley is sending you stuff because you are a high-profile author/blogger, not because they are nice. Sun is letting anyone lend a machine from them.

    Honestly, it just feels like you’re upset over something else and taking it out on Sun.


  2. Elliotte Rusty Harold Says:

    Truth is I hadn’t even considered buying a Sun server until I read Jonathan’s post. In fact, I haven’t bought Sun hardware in ten years. The whole point of this deal was to get me and people like me to consider Sun instead of Dell or a whitebox, and it almost worked.

    Dell doesn’t need to send me a free box to convince me to use their equipment. I already know their boxes work. This very server is a Dell box; but I am going to replace it in the very near future. What I replace it with is still up for grabs.

  3. TomJ Says:

    I found the pricing here for the T2000:

    Is there something missing from that price list that I didn’t see?

  4. Elliotte Rusty Harold Says:

    There’s usually a price hidden somewhere on the web site if you dig deeply enough. I looked around but I didn’t find any. It’s been my experience in the past that if the vendor offers Free demo” or “try before you buy”, and doesn’t tell you what the price is, then they’re trying to hide the fact that the product is way too expensive. They know that if they actually told you what the price is, you’d reject it, and go down the street to the next vendor. They hope that by giving you a freebie for 60 days that you’ll get enough real work locked into the system (or software) that value of the work you’ve done and will lose if you don’t buy will be sufficient to compensate for the excessive price. I usually reject out of hand anyone who offers me a free demo, and then doesn’t clearly identify their price, because nine times out of ten they are hiding something.

    Sometimes a vendor even further hides the price behind a request to “call us for a quote.” That tactic usually means they want to ramp up the price to the most they think you can afford. This doesn’t seem to be the case here, since you did eventually find the price; but the broader principle holds true. If the price you found is accurate, then these boxes are vastly overpriced ($8295 for the lowend box?), and Sun is deliberately withholding information to try to get users to commit to the product without actually considering the price. This is deceptive and dishonest marketing, and frankly I expected better of them.

  5. Elliotte Rusty Harold Says:

    One more thing: the reason I considered this product in the first place was that in a previous blog entry Jonathan had quoted Marc Andreesen in a way that gave the very misleading impression that the server only cost $3000. I don’t know. Maybe for Ning it does. But if the price for typical purchasers is $8295, then that needs to be stated right up front. He shouldn’t quote Marc’s misprice, and then fail to correct it.

  6. Elliotte Rusty Harold Says:

    And one more thing he didn’t tell us:

    Section 5.3d of the agreement for the U.S. says:

    Upon the termination of this Exhibit or an attached Appendix for any reason, except purchase of the Loaned Products under Section 6, herein, Company shall immediately terminate use of the Loaned Products, and within five (5) business days, return the Loaned Products at Company’s expense to Sun. If Company fails to return the Loaned Products in the allotted time period, Company must pay the purchase price for the Loaned Products, and Sun will invoice Company for such payment.

    Two problems here:

    1. Jonathan’s blog clearly says, “we cover postage both ways”.
    2. Suppose there’s a slipup somewhere in shipping, or you’re busy installing a new server, or squelching some unrelated emergency task somewhere else, or the person who ordered it goes on vacation or takes a job at another company, or anything else hapens such that so the company forgets to box it up and send it back within 65 days? Bam. You’re out $8300. Honestly that may be what Sun is hoping for with a deal like this. I predict there’ll be a glut of such accidentally purchased systems showing up on eBay in three-to-six months.

    The more I look at this offer the worse it gets. I’m increasingly glad I didn’t fall for it. I reiterate: I expect these sorts of shenanigans from telemarketers advertising spray-on hair on late-night infomercials. I expect better from Sun.

  7. Martin J Steer Says:

    I still don’t see why you are so upset over this. You now know the price, you can choose to not buy a Sun server (which you already have). I’m sure Sun doesn’t care that much what you do and you can go back to receiving the freebies from other companies that, as you yourself write, you’ve come to expect. If Jonathan happens to read your entry perhaps he decides to send you a server for free, you can then send it back to him with a note about Sun’s deceptiveness and dishonest marketing.

    Everybody’s happy, no?

    Perhaps it is just me, but I can’t for the life of me understand why you’re getting so worked up about this. Write an email to Jonathan and ask about the price-difference between Ning’s prices and the prices stated on the Sun webpage if you feel they are trying to cheat you.

    take care,

  8. Elliotte Rusty Harold Says:

    You wrote that “You now know the price, you can choose to not buy a Sun server (which you already have).” I do know the price now, but only because TomJ found it elsewhere on Sun’s web site. Sun hid the price and tried to get me to commit to accepting shipment and agreeing to purchase a server before even knowing the price.

    I repeat: these sorts of scams, though common, are deceptive and dishonest. Honest vendors clearly state prices up front, and don’t try to hide it or get a contract executed without a clearly stated price.

    The reason I’m upset about this is because I expected more of Sun the company and Jonathan Schwartz in particular. The problem is not that they didn’t send me a free server. It’s that they lied about it. Now Schwartz gets classified as just another dishonest corporate shill; and if I even bother to read what he writes in the future, I’ll add the same two pounds of salt I use for other PR junk. Previously I was taking him at his word. Obviously that was a mistake.

  9. Martin J Steer Says:

    Ok, you’re obviously angry about this. I do hope you send an email directly to Jonathan stating your concerns instead of just venting about it here. I’d be interested in reading his reply, he would of course not agree with you, but it could be interesting anyway.


  10. Elliotte Rusty Harold Says:

    I posted my initial response as a comment on his blog. I only started an article here because comments over there are moderated, and it was not obvious if my post would make it through in a reasonable amount of time or be approved at all. (So far it hasn’t.) Plus his system should see the pingback from here if it’s paying attention.

  11. Brian Smith Says:

    I don’t think you are in Sun’s target market for this machine. What use would you, a book-writer/public speaker/blogger, have for an $8,000 server that is designed for high-load multiprocessing anyway?

    And, how is it shocking that Sun would require you to pay for the server if you don’t send it back by the end of the evaluation period? I mean, they _have_ to put in some stipulation for prompt return–otherwise, you could return it five years later and not pay a cent. Seriously, if somebody “forgets” to box it up and send it back then they should easily be able to “forget” where they put $8,000. And, an “error in shipping” is best avoided by not waiting until the very last day of the evaluation period to return it.

    This offer is for people that are about to spend $5,000-$10,000 to get a Dell because they are comfortable with Dell and/or afraid of Sun for some reason. It is not for people that are interested in getting as much free stuff as they can.

  12. Elliotte Rusty Harold Says:

    I’m not the target market, and that’s OK, though you might be surprised what I have a need for these days. However, the more I look at it the more obviously deceptive it becomes. For instance, the title of the post is “FREE SERVER (v2.0) – Honest!”. But it’s not free. It’s $8,295. An honest title would be “$8,295 SERVER Net-60”.

    A little later in the entry we find this:

    our focus group feedback suggested no one believed we’d actually send them a free Niagara. So let me reiterate: go to, fill out the form, we’ll send you the fastest server on earth, absolutely free. If you don’t like it, we’ll send someone to pick it up.

    Well guess what? The focus group was right not to believe them. Sun’s not going to send them a free server. They’re going to send them an $8,295 server and wait 60 days before billing them.

    Let me emphasize this because some people seem to be missing the point. There’s nothing wrong with Sun selling a nice server for $8,295 if that’s what the market will bear. What’s wrong is shouting “Free server” from the rooftops and then charging them $8,295 in the fine print.

    It’s a sad commentary on American business that we’ve learned to expect this. When someone says “free”, we immediately begin looking for the gotcha. You’re absolutely right that if something seems too good to be true it probably is. I’m not stupid. I know to read the fine print. But is it really so much to ask that companies not lie to us and tell us things in the headlines that the fine print takes away?

    A few companies actually understand how bad this makes them look. They promise customers good service for a fair price without hyperbole, and then make every effort to deliver. They don’t use deceptive advertising or dishonest marketing or deceive customers. I really thought Sun was one of those companies. I’m sad to see I was wrong.

  13. Brian Ruff Says:

    I’m not intimately familiar with the server products; I see the free trial seems to be targeted at the T2000 which looks to be around the $8K price point. There also is the T1000 which is a smaller (1U) server that starts around $3K. There also are the AMD x64 processor servers which are priced from ~$800, $2K to $8K. I believe that Marc Andreesen’s analysis was against the AMD models since they wanted apples to apples x86 instruction machines. I do agree that from the trial server offer it isn’t easy to get back to the pricing. Aside from your website serving needs I’m interested to see how XOM might perform with the Niagra processor.

  14. Brian Smith Says:


    I re-read Jonathon’s posting and it does seem to read very strongly that the server is free. Common sense says that Sun isn’t going to send a free server to every blogger that spends 10 minutes to fill out the application. So, there is definitely a contradiction there.

    If you go through the whole application (not just the first page) you will see that you have to answer some questions about what company you represent and what you plan to use it for. So, on one hand they are saying “its free if you publish a benchmark” and on the other, they seem to be screening out people that are not potential paying customers. It so happens, that I happen to be both a potential paying customer (if it really rocks) _AND_ somebody that is basically guarenteed to write a review of its performance and administration. However, we will wait and see if they send me the machine at all. If/when I hear back from them, I will post a trackback to this article.

  15. Jonathan Schwartz Says:

    Elliotte – Marc Andreesen was talking about our x64 platforms (which start at $795), not Niagara (which starts at $2,995) for which pricing is freely available here:


    And it’s free to evaluate – it’s up to our marketing team to decide whether what’s written warrants a free system (mainly for quality control, so we don’t end up with lots of 1 sentence blogs that say “it’s fast!”, and thousands of Niagara’s up on eBay).

  16. Ryan Says:

    Elliotte – So then why did you say “you almost had me SOLD” if you actually thought it was free? Your tapdancing is getting pretty silly. I would cut your losses and stop before you make even more of a fool out of yourself.

    “I couldn’t find the price” – it’s easy to find.
    “It costs $8k” – wrong, it starts at $3k.
    “They should let me have it for as long as I want, like a book” – preposterous.
    “I actually thought it was really free” – well then you’re a fool.

  17. Jon Savell Says:

    Mr. Harold,

    I cannot debate you point for point; I just don’t have much left in me after reading your entry. My gut feeling is that what you wrote was cruel.

    You doubtless don’t care that I am NOT going to get a whitebox. You likely don’t care that I prefer performance innovations to economic innovations (which allow lower price points and have historically given us echhh for less). When I see performance innovations coupled with economic innovations, I go absolutely crazy! I know what you’re thinking if you made it this far: you don’t care what I think although you might prefer it if I were less dramatic. Fair enough.

    Sun Microsystems has lost a sale to you. But, they have gained one from me.

    Jon Savell

  18. Kevin Hutchinson Says:

    I admit that the online server configure and order system isn’t as nice as Dell’s, but it’s pretty good these days. And when I visit I see “from $8k” on every page? Similarly the site says the T1000 starts at $3k. I mean, if they were trying to hide the price, I don’t think they would post it on every page, right?

    Also, Jon was saying it’s a “try before you buy” scheme, not a free server give-away scheme? I think it’s time to eat some humble pie and start reading the not-so-small print before losing faith in a company that is really turning itself around and offering some breakthrough price/performance deals (imho).

  19. Bill Bradford Says:

    I’ve filled out the form (but have yet to hear anything back).
    I’d love to benchmark the heck out of a Niagara system and compare it against my current fully-loaded UltraSPARC-II system that’s running Even better would be the possibility of getting the system for free – but then, wouldn’t the recipient be liable for any taxes on the retail purchase price of said system? If so, it definitely wouldn’t be free..

  20. Jaime Cardoso Says:

    Flames aside, I think you’re lacking some context in this. I think you did make some errors in your statements but, that only shows that the “regular user” will not spend to much time searching for the facts and Sun has to do a better job in reaching more people.

    The fact is that the T1 machine features a new CPU and an all new way of sizing and building a system so, the main objective Sun is trying to follow today is to spread the word and have people testing the new machine.
    For web server loads, the T1 (High end config, prices at 15K) can humiliate any machine under 50K USD but, a clear example (stated by Sun) is that this CPU isn’t so good while doing SAP Financial. No wonder that HP is publishing Benchmarks comparing the T1’s SAP Financial performance.

    What’s the catch? Simple, Sun expects people to try the new machine and to be knocked out with its performance. Plain and simple. Hopefully, they will buy a lot more servers and, with a larger installed base, Sun will be able to present other advantages of the T1 like its amazing MTBF

    As a Disclaimer, I work for a Sun reseller so, feel free to take my opinion with as much salt as you’d like. Anyway, if you’d like more information about the T1, feel free to mail me at (since I operate in Portugal, I can’t actually sell you / lend you a server but, conversation is free).

  21. Anjan Bacchu Says:

    hi eliotte,

    I’m seeing a different eliotte today. You’re usually rational. You did not have the patience to dig the price from their web site. You could have sent an email OR posted a blog item to which I’m sure someone would have responded.

    The 8K price tag for a small system(small for sun is different from small for dell). did you notice this small system has 4 cores and 8 GB RAM ? In what way is this a typical small system. It comes with pre-installed software to get you going pretty fast — it also comes with additional discounted software.

    For the kind of power this system consumes and the amount of RAM it can use, a pretty good workload (oracle/sap/siebel) can be deployed.

    You made mistakes and for some reason you’re being a lil too aggressive. I think it’s time for you to admit your mistakes.

    Not affiliated with sun in any way.


  22. Martin J Steer Says:

    Jonathan has also posted a follow-up in his blog at:

    I think he addresses the points Elliotte got right. I’m happy that I’m not the only one who thought that Elliotte’s original entry was overly aggresive on some other things.

    Elliotte, you might feel like you’re getting unfairly treated in our comments, but if you read them carefully, a lot of people express that this is just not the way they normally percieve you. We like what you write and just feel that you got it wrong this time.


  23. D Lewis Says:

    There are lots of people in the world who doesn’t like SUN , for unknow reasons . Much of this anger comes out mainly people like me feel SUN has a potential and waits longer than necessary to react to something . This Prof. could be a long time SUN fan like tht..

    I do agree, recent past SUN is in the press more ofen, atlest for a change telling the world what they are up to , keeping a competition at their toes.

    I did also fill in the form , and I never even expected SUN would consider sending me a 8K server .I was just trying my luck , so are many in the internet .

    Just because they didn’t send me, i cant start writing bad about SUN and Jonathan.

    Professor, I think what you need a is a small Galaxy X2100 or 4100 , and I can sell it to you cheaper than the Dell box.. I work for a partner . And SUN will ship it to for .. Not for free !!!

    All u guys, be happy he didnt expect SUN to send him a 25K for life long trials..


    D L

  24. Elliotte Rusty Harold Says:


    They do not say it’s $8K on every page. Very specifically on the pages in question they say “FREE SERVER (v2.0) – Honest!” and (a little better) “Try it Free for 60 Days.” That another page somewhere else on their web site that is not obviously linked from these pages contains the actual price, does not absolve them of responsibility for deceit. In fact, the first price I was able to find mentioned anywhere linked from those pages was $3000. As Jonathan points out, that price is for a different model that is not part of the free trial.

    How would you feel if you went to an electronics superstore, saw a great big sign in the Window saying “Free Big Screen TVs – Honest”, went inside the store, found a TV, where the tag on the TV said “Try this TV Free for 60 Days” but didn’t actually contain a price, and then got to the checkout counter and were told the price is $8295? Would that be acceptable? Would you trust the store that printed such false advertising? In fact, a store that tried that would likely be in hot water with the state attorney general’s office. Why do you think Sun should be treated differently?

  25. Bryan Althaus Says:

    Did Donald Trump write this column for Elliotte? Let’s see, there’s the child like vindicitve writing. The name calling – comparing Schwartz to a ‘dishonest corporate shill’! And a grown man getting ‘upset’ over nothing. I read the column and it’s obvious to anyone that Sun would pick who received the FREE servers. I’m confused about how he wants to buy a server, but he wants the FREE server and since he can’t have a FREE server Sun’s lost a customer. No, Sun lost a person who wanted FREE hardware.

    What’s sad is Sun comes out with a CPU that has no equal (who’d of thought that?) and people _STILL_ complain. Might this be the /. effect? That all techies have to complain and be annoyed at everything (except Linux)?

    “The reason I’m upset about this is because I expected more of Sun the company and Jonathan Schwartz in particular. The problem is not that they didn’t send me a free server. It’s that they lied about it. Now Schwartz gets classified as just another dishonest corporate shill; and if I even bother to read what he writes in the future, I’ll add the same two pounds of salt I use for other PR junk. Previously I was taking him at his word. Obviously that was a mistake.

  26. Dan Says:

    Good Grief! How do you get by?

    It sounds like you have been dealing with some horrible companies and have gotten burned at every turn. Stop the ‘now you’ve done it attitude’…..

    If I walked in to a store and the TV was absolutely “free”, please take it home and “TRY” it out…that (in elementary reading comprehension) means return it soon or pay for it.

    I find your attitude very similar to most of the overworked Microsoft admins. I do not find that attitude at all with Solaris admins…

    Have a cup of coffee, a palm mall and sit down.. Geez.

  27. ux-admin Says:

    “You wrote that “You now know the price, you can choose to not buy a Sun server (which you already have).” I do know the price now, but only because TomJ found it elsewhere on Sun’s web site. Sun hid the price and tried to get me to commit to accepting shipment and agreeing to purchase a server before even knowing the price.

    I repeat: these sorts of scams, though common, are deceptive and dishonest. Honest vendors clearly state prices up front, and don’t try to hide it or get a contract executed without a clearly stated price.”

    Prices are always clearly stated at (Sun’s online store), and you can pick and choose what you want and see how much it’ll cost with about three-four clicks;

    And if you didn’t know that, than obviously you’re quite clueless about Sun-anything.

    Further, I see that you have a fondness of Dell; and I say, good for you! Based on your writing, I’m quite convinced that a T2000 would be a waste of a good server on you.

    In other words: you should stick with that Dell junk. Fine stuff like a T2000 isn’t for you. You’re bent on Dell anyways, so that’s where you belong.

    But people would take you more seriously and with more credibility if you didn’t write stuff that was totally detached from reality, like that it’s hard to find the price. Because it’s not, and anyone who buys from Sun knows about

  28. Elliotte Rusty Harold Says:

    The purpose of the offer is precisely to convince people like me who might otherwise buy Dell to consider Sun instead. It’s not aimed at current Sun customers. It’s aimed at potential switchers. By that standard it failed.

    Leaving the price off the offer was not an oversight. It was not done with the assumption that people considering the offer would find the price elsewhere before filling out the form; in fact, exaclty the opposite. It was a deliberate decision to attempt to get people to order the server without first considering the price. This is a very standard sales tactic, but it’s not an honest one.

  29. Elliotte Rusty Harold Says:

    As the New York Times noted today a different context, “Well-informed buyers are able to drive a harder bargain in most cases, but opaque pricing favors sellers.” The Times was writing about airline tickets, but the principle is exactly the same. The less information the seller reveals about its prices, the stronger a position it’s in.

    It’s the same reason grocery stores fight item pricing regulations. They want consumers to show up at the counter having already selected and carried around the items in their cart before learning their prices. They know this allows them to sell items customers would have otherwise have left on the shelf in favor of a cheaper product.

    It’s the same reason billers are pushing hard to charge credit cards automatically and take money right out of consumers bank accounts. They want the consumers not to even notice that they’ve paid for something or how much it is. Every time a consumer fills out a check to pay a bill, they see exactly how much they’re paying and get a chance to cancel the service. The more a company can hide this from a purchaser, the more money they’ll make. Coincidentally, the New York Times wrote about this today too, though they didn’t really analyze why this is happening.

    In this case, Sun might even be competing with itself. I knew Sun had some cheap servers that were adequate for my needs, but I didn’t know the exact model numbers or brands. If anywhere the free trial page had said, this server costs $8,295″, I would have immediately thought, “Woah, that’s not for me.” and immediately started looking for a different server, either Sun’s or someone else’s. Sun is hoping that I’ll fill out the form, take delivery of the server without reading the fine print, and then either forget to send it back, or just decide it’s too much trouble to do that and pay for a larger, more expensive server than I wanted or needed.

    In this case I’m price sensitive enough, savvy enough about the games companies play, and wary enough of legalese that I didn’t get caught; but Sun doesn’t need to catch every fish to make this scheme profitable. They just need to catch more fish than they would with open pricing.

  30. Martin J Steer Says:


    Let me just point out that I don’t think you’ve gotten a single totally supportive comment in this thread. The comments (at least until Jonathan linked to you) are from people that normally like what you write. You’re preaching to your own congregation here, but you are obviously not reaching us.

    Isn’t that a hint that perhaps you are over-reacting?



  31. Jaime Cardoso Says:

    The practice of putting the price in a different place of where you put the product description is an “industry Standard”. I don’t think it’s right but, it is what everybody does.
    A possible defence would be that price changes (a lot) depending on where you are. For an American, may be usefull but, for someone in Europe, having the 8K US dolares price in the agreement would be useless and very confusing in legal terms.
    Elliotte, I’m a full supporter of making things easier for customers but, try to see it from the other side. It is assumed that, when you go to fill that form you already made your homework and know what you’re talking about with a T1, features, for what it’s good and bad, … and the price of the configuration you want.
    Like I said, for every person that writes a “negative” post, there are thousands that feel the same but don’t say anything so, while I still don’t think you’re right, I think we (Sun and partners) should do something to address the issues you point (and thank you for pointing them). I think it was really cool to have Jonathan Schwartz link to you and actually change the documents you refer on several issues you point out. Let’s see how this evolves, …

  32. Fred Kohout Says:

    Elliotte – I want to clear up any misunderstanding on the point of publishing list prices. Based on some feedback we had gotten prior to your’s we’re going to publish list prices on the Try and Buy sign up form. We have list prices published on other pages on, but we didn’t get the data on this site – oversight on our part. We’re starting w/US list but we’ll get to global pricing selection on the site. The same goes for the return shipping – we had already identified that clause on our existing contracts to be changed but it hadn’t been done. It is now. On the issue of legalese…would love not to have it (just like the export control section) but we need to do this because as you say the economics, and legal requirements by the U.S. Gov’t, are different for hardware than for software. .

    I’m responsible for the Try and Buy program at Sun so fire away at me if you have any other feedback. In fact, if any other folks on this reply list are having some difficulty working through the program or haven’t recieved a “thank you” email after submit, etc. – let me know. We’re making changes and improvements almost daily because we want the program to work. We’ll be expanding the products available on the Try and Buy program shortly to include the T1000 and our X64 servers.

    Thanks for the feedback Elliott!

    Fred Kohout
    Vice President Marketing
    Sun Microsystems

  33. Tom Hudson Says:

    Is this guy insane or just thick as a brick? He’s already been told the price of the server yet he keeps writing the price of $8,295. `If anywhere the free trial page had said, this server costs $8,295″,`.

    And his use of words like ‘dishonest’ is downright silly. Who is going to order something w/o knowing the price?

    Try configuring anything on and the price will randomly changed based on what you checked off and what site your on (home, small/med biz, large biz). I’ve gone back to purchase the exact same machine on and it’s taken an hour just to configure the same box for the same price!!!!!

    Why not blog about that?

  34. Anonymous Coward Says:

    I am with Eliot on this one… I went to the site too… If a president of a reputable company is offerring a product for free, I expect it to be free… There were no obvious pre-conditions or costs for bringing the product in for evaluation…

    It seems very fishy that both the President & the VP of marketing leave comments on this blog… Also not one other comment is in favor of the original post? Looks like a organized cover up operation to me… 😉

  35. Dell Online Says:

    What a loser!…nothing is free in this world. Especially not a $8K computer. You need to get off your freebie ass and find some real work. Abuse to you aside – Sun is a great company.

  36. ux-admin Says:

    “The purpose of the offer is precisely to convince people like me who might otherwise buy Dell to consider Sun instead. It’s not aimed at current Sun customers. It’s aimed at potential switchers. By that standard it failed.”

    The real question Mr. Harold is:

    If your mind is already made up about going to Dell, why did you even look at the T2000? Or is this one of those scenarios where you perfer DELL because they sell CHEAP JUNK PCs packed in 1U cases, and you’d actually like to have a T2000, which you can’t afford and were hoping to somehow get for free?

    Sure it’d be nice to get a free T2000 — no one disputes that, but the ad says “TRY IT FOR FREE”, not “get it for free”. Technically speaking, since you get to try it for free and then can return it, they don’t even have to put the price up, because you don’t have to buy it. Which you won’t anyway because your mind is made up to get a DELL. So I don’t even understand why you went looking at a T2000, which you clearly say is out of your price range anyway.

    And BTW, good luck with that DELL. I feel for you.

  37. Guy Mac Says:

    I think Elliot has a valid point. What it comes down to is that the server is not free; somewhere down in the fine print it says it’s free only if Sun decides it’s free. Standard deceptive marketing.

  38. Russ Danner Says:

    This blog and the fallout that has followed it are troublesome. The blogger is correct. If a company is going to do something out of the ordinary then it needs to be easy to find out the details and everything should be conducted with as much transparency as possible.

    The blogger diverges from sanity where he expects something for nothing and a company that is willing to bend over backwards to get it. We all know there is no such thing as a free lunch.

    Lets be honest here, this is the same garbage you see in the commercial open source sphere. People want a free lunch and a silver bullet. Neither exists. You need to take the oppertunity that exists, determine if it is the right one for you and leverage it.

    Sun should be applauded. Firstly on the fact that they are proving that innovation can be managing complexity and wastefulness. Secondly, they have put the design in the public domain. This is a big business move that will most likely create business and fabrication opportunities that did not and could not exist to them otherwise. Thirdly they are letting people try the server for free for a short while. As long as they do this in the open it’s wonderful. It seems to me Sun and Mr. Schwartz is eager to do better where they have come up short.

    Feedback is paramount (both positive and negative) but I would not go after the throat of this company for trying something and being imperfect out of the gate. We have you to thank for your careful observation of what is lacking. Somewhere you walked off the cliff. Instead of helping direct this innovator correct its course (since you seem to have a voice), you have used your voice for curmudgeonry. Thank you for the parts of this blog which are rational and objective.

  39. Brian Smith Says:

    I encourage everybody to read the “Try & Buy Official Rules” at This is a separate document from the “Try & Buy Agreement”–I believe that Sun created the rules document afterwards specifically to clarify everything.

    I know for a fact that the executives (at least) at Sun want the program to run smoothly, because I was contacted directly email by Fred Kahout and he personally pushed my application (most of the way) through the process.

    In fact, there are numerous blog postings by people that have received their evaluation systems with apparently no issues (besides the need for a DB9-to-RJ-45 converter). But, so far I haven’t really seen any benchmarks/reviews that are better than the ones that the Sun employees provide on But, I haven’t looked too hard either.

    Finally, I recommend that you apply through your company instead of as an individual. It is tempting to apply as an individual because, if Sun let’s you keep it for free, then it is your property and not your company’s property. But, if you apply as an individual then you will have to get the $8,000-$17,000 server pre-authorized on a credit card (even if you wouldn’t use a credit card to purchase it)–see the rules.

  40. Brian Smith Says:

    (Fred Kohout, not Fred Kahout–sorry)