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25Feb/13Off

WebOS sold to LG

TechOps Guy: Nate

Hey folks - long time no see. Sorry it has been so long since I wrote anything, I don't know why I haven't. I have been a fair bit busier. I do have a ~5,000 word post that I had been writing back in December about a Red Hat conference I was at, hopefully I can finish that soon and post it.

Anyway for now I just came across news that WebOS has been sold to LG to use as an operating system for Smart TVs. Several months ago there were rumours about LG working with HP for WebOS-powered TVs.

This is hot on the heels of HP releasing a low end Android tablet (well, going to release).

So for me this is just another sad story for the slow death of WebOS. Unlike most of the other die hard fans my Palm Pre was the first (and only) Palm branded device I ever owned. I had owned a couple different Handspring Visors way back when, and there was a couple different apps on them that I liked, so I looked to WebOS when a Palm emulator was made available for WebOS (later this emulator was killed, and hasn't been functional in years now). Of course I don't trust Google, never been much of a fan of Microsoft, and RIM at the time (2009) still seemed very business oriented.  The Pre was also my first smart phone. I did have a blackberry at one company though I really only used it for email (not even phone calls). It was awesome for email with a sort of monochrome-color display, the battery lasted forever.

Where to now ? I'm not sure, I certainly have enough WebOS devices to last for some time, I have very meagre requirements, just need to sync to exchange email, and would like a decent web browser, being able to watch video is nice too for travel. I really have spent no time on any other ecosystem so I don't know what all is out there(ignorance is bliss).

If there is one thing HP did get right with this new Android tablet is conceding the high end market, which they really don't have a chance to compete in. Most folks, myself included don't believe HP will be able to compete with this new Android tablet either, but who knows.

It's been roughly a year since my HP Pre3 and Touchpad got any software updates, the Pre3 still works fine, I suppose the only 3rd party app on it that I ever use is a weather app. Touchpad working fine too, there too there really aren't any 3rd party apps that I have used in a long time (3rd party apps I do use are WebOS/Mobilenations news, Accuweather, and Kalemsoft video).

WebOS was never at a point where I was ready to go try to tell my friends and family they just had to go buy it. I saw the vision and believed they could do it -- if only they had enough resources(they never did). Once HP bought them I expected significant investment but that didn't happen either they continued on a rapid release cycle which led to over promising and massive under delivery.

I had hope that things could turn around more after HP somewhat recently announced they need to do something with mobile. But I guess not. Windows mobile continues to disappoint, and most Android manufacturers are in the toilet as well (even Google's own Motorola).  BB10 is still new, so too early to tell if they can turn it around.

I found it interesting how seemingly neglected the Android market is compared to iOS. I bought my sister a TrendNET HD IP-camera to act as a "baby cam" of sorts she just had a kid. This camera had both IOS and Android apps. Her boyfriend has an iPhone she has some sort of Android device.  While both apps could connect, only the IOS app could remotely control the camera, the Android app just saw the streaming video. I thought, how hard is it to add the remote control functionality ? For some reason it wasn't there.  Of course for WebOS there is no app :)

I'll keep using my WebOS devices for now, I don't have any pressing need to make a change.

Oh how I wish HP would of kept that $10B they spent on Autonomy and invested it in mobile instead.

Also in recent news, Mozilla has announced many carriers have picked up their new OS - based on Firefox.

Mozilla is unlocking the Web as a mobile development platform with Firefox Marketplace and unwrapping mobile apps to enable more opportunity and control for developers and consumers

Where have I heard that one before...

HP did give Palm more time though, so I thank them(again) for that, just not enough time.

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2Aug/12Off

Losing $400M in a matter of minutes due to a software bug

TechOps Guy: Nate

This is pretty crazy, yesterday morning a Wall St market maker had some bug(s) in their software platform that caused them to perform a ton of trades, as one reporter put it around 300% of normal volume on the NYSE was being traded by this one company. As the story unfolded the company continue to say everything is normal, then they changed their story to we're investigating, then they changed their story to a technology error occurred.

[..] Among other stocks, Protective Life (PL.N) had already traded more than 10 times its usual volume, and Juniper Networks JPNR.N has already seen six times its usual daily volume.

I bet they hoped the NYSE was going to reverse those trades that were triggered by whatever bug it is - but at the end of the day yesterday the NYSE opted not to reverse the vast majority of them.

The result is the company - Knight Capital lost more than $400 million as a result of the trades and is now seeking alternative means to re-capitalize itself. Knight's stock has lost $600M in market cap (~67%) since the event. They had a billion dollar market cap as recently as 36 hours ago.

Yesterday the traders at Knight were obviously under a lot of stress and they took great comfort in this video CNBC showed on air. It is quite a funny video, the folks at Knight kept asking to see it again and again.

I'm not sure if I've mentioned this here before but this is a good of spot as any, a video from a couple months ago about how serious high frequency trading is - and the difference 11 milliseconds can make.

 

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9Dec/11Off

WebOS to be open sourced

TechOps Guy: Nate

Probably the best thing that could of happened given the scenarios on the table happened to WebOS:

HP Decided to Open source the whole thing, end-to-end

HP intends to fully open source every component of webOS, right down to its Linux core. They aren’t ready to give a public timeframe for exactly when that open sourcing will happen, because there’s some work that has to be done first.

I think it's wonderful news myself, I did not relish the thought that so many people wanted the likes of Amazon to acquire WebOS which made absolutely no sense to me.

Maintaining an operating system is a lot of work, and I can understand other mobile device makers not wanting to take on the mammoth task of doing so themselves.

Open sourcing it I believe will give it a bright future.

I really was not expecting HP to maintain such.. commitment to the platform. I'm sure if the previous CEO was still around they would not be investing to open source the software, so score a big one for Meg in my book with this decision, good job, this is a great x-mas present for WebOS users and fans alike.

It may be a year or two before another company attempts to release a WebOS product based on this code base but I'm more confident now than I was before that it'll happen. The OS really is great, and now that it will be pretty much the most technologically advanced fully open mobile platform on the planet (more so than Android I believe) it'll come back from the depths of the abyss it was in just a few months ago.

I always felt that the likes of the Touchpad, the Veer, and the Pre- were released before they were ready, they were rushed to market. More so on the software front than hardware for the former, more on the hardware for the latter. The Pre3 was going to be released 6 months too late to make any sort of dent in the market.  I think there was too much pressure to deliver products in such a short time frame they didn't have the time they needed to do it right. With open sourcing of the OS, things will likely move at a slower pace at least initially but the chances of getting it right I believe go way up.

wooohoo!

(I use my Pre3 and one of my two Touchpads every day)

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19May/11Off

$76/subscriber for LinkedIn IPO

TechOps Guy: Nate

Has been kind of interesting to watch this hot IPO unfold on CNBC this morning, they are reporting that the current valuation of $8 billion prices their subscribers at about $76 a piece.

LinkedIn IPO

The LinkedIn CEO was so very careful not to wade into answering what he thinks the valuation of the company should be, trying to not be associated with the dot com bubble.

Now trading at around $88 per share..

I can see the rest of the social media bubble blowers huffing and puffing as fast as they can, not that it will do a whole lot of good for companies that aren't the leaders in the space, something the CEO of LinkedIn hinted at during an interview just after the IPO.

The pop in price certainly exceeded my wildest expectations.

I believe this is another sign that our economic cycle is nearing a peak, before it starts to decline again. Combine this with the uptrend in unemployment and "double dip" in housing along with other factors..

17May/11Off

LinkedIn IPO Pending

TechOps Guy: Nate

Not too much to say here, it seems LinkedIn will IPO in a couple of days with a share price north of $40/share, which to me seems kind of high, normally the IPOs I see have initial offerings at a much lower price, and they just offer more shares at the lower price (usually see mid teens or so).

I've never been a fan of social media (you won't find me on Facebook, Twitter or pretty much anything else), but LinkedIn  is one site I have gotten a ton of value out of.

I remember back when I worked for another social media company wannabe Jobster (long defunct) a few years ago they used to try to get the employees to invite their friends to join the social network, I never participated, there was no reason for anyone to join. I remember thinking to myself, I have more people in my LinkedIn network then Jobster has in it's entire community.

Funny screenshot from my LinkedIn profile from several years ago

 
I'm terrible at keeping in touch with people, and LinkedIn basically acts as an address book for me, I don't get overloaded with spam from their constant updates (I do wish I could turn off receiving twitter messages on linkedin though), don't have to be bothered with people's pictures or whatever, just basic contact information, no fuss, no obnoxious crap that you find on most other social media sites, very clean.
 
 
 
So, best wishes LinkedIn for your IPO, hope it goes well, you provide a good service, to some extent a service that Jobster had hoped to capitalize on several years ago but was never able to.

I won't be buying any of their stock, well, because I don't buy stock. period.

21Mar/11Off

Please do not extend Data center tax breaks

TechOps Guy: Nate

This is just disgusting to me. It pissed me off when it passed the first time and it is even more stupid and crazy if it happens to pass again.

Just read on DataCenterKnowledge that Washington state (where I am) has someone(s) proposing a bill that would extend data center tax breaks for another 10+ years.

This, in a time where the state forecast just last week an even larger state budget deficit.

Key lawmakers now turn their full attention to writing budgets for the 2011-2013 cycle. Revenue is expected to be down for that budget by an additional $700 million, Thursday's forecast said. Now, the deficit is estimated to be about $5.1 billion, but that includes voter-approved mandates that lawmakers don't plan to fund.

The big issue I have with this data center tax break is these data centers really don't contribute much. They have a short term gain in construction jobs but operationally they employ hardly anyone and they consume an enormous amount of energy and water requirements for cooling.

Take a look at this $1 billion Apple data center for example -

Tax breaks could total $300 million for 50-employee server farm in North Carolina

If your going to give tax breaks, give them to businesses that actually generate jobs. There should be some sort of rule, # of jobs per square foot, or # of jobs per $ in tax break or something. Data centers are a waste for tax breaks, let them go somewhere else.

The original tax break to data centers was approved right after the state announced a $1 billion tax increase on the rest of the state.

24Feb/11Off

16-core 3.5Ghz Opterons coming?

TechOps Guy: Nate

Was just reading an article from our friends at The Register about some new news on the upcoming Opteron 6200 (among other chips), it seems AMD is cranking up both the cores and clock speeds in the same power evelope, the smaller manufacturing process certainly does help! I think they're going from 45nm to 32nm.

McIntyre said that AMD was targeting clock speeds of 3.5 GHz and higher with the Bulldozer cores within the same power envelop as the current Opteron 4100 and 6100 processors.

Remember that the 6200 is socket compatible with the 6100!

Can you imagine a blade chassis with 512 x 3.5Ghz CPU cores and 4TB of memory in only 10U of space drawing roughly 7,000 watts peak ? Seems unreal ..but sounds like it's already on it's way.

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14Feb/11Off

Vertica snatched by HP

TechOps Guy: Nate

Funny timing! One of my friends who used to work for 3PAR left 3PAR not long after HP completed the acquisition and he went to Vertica, which is a scale out column-based distributed high performance database. Certainly not an area I am well versed in but I got a bit of info a couple weeks ago and the performance numbers are just outstanding, the kind of performance gains that you really probably have to see to believe, fortunately for users their software is free to download, and it sounds like it is easy to get up and running (I have no personal experience with it, but would like to see it in action at some point soon). Performance gains up up to 10,000% are not uncommon vs traditional databases.

It really sounds like an awesome product that can do more real time analysis on large amounts of data (from a few gigs to over a Petabyte). Something that Hadoop users out there should take notice of. If you recall last year I wrote a bit about organizations I have talked to that were trying to do real time with hadoop with (most likely) disastrous results, it's not built for that, never was, which is why Google abandoned it (well not hadoop since they never used the thing but Mapreduce technology in general at least as far as their search index is concerned they may use it for other things). Vertica is unique in that it is the only product of it's kind in the world that has a software connector that can connect hadoop to Vertica. Quite a market opportunity. Of course a lot of the PHB-types are attracted to Hadoop because it is a buzzword and because it's free. They'll find out the hard way that it's not the holy grail they thought it was going to be and go to something like Vertica kicking and screaming.

So back to my friend, he's back at HP again, he just couldn't quite escape the gravitational pull that was HP.

Also somewhat funny as it wasn't very long ago that HP announced a partnership with Microsoft to do data warehousing applications. Sort of reminds me when NetApp tried to go after Data Domain, mere days before they announced their bid they put out a press release saying how good their dedupe was..

Oh and here's the news article from our friends at The Register.

The database runs in parallel across multiple machines, but has a shared-nothing architecture, so the query is routed to the data and runs locally. And the data for each column is stored in main memory, so a query can run anywhere from 50 to 1,000 times faster than a traditional data warehouse and its disk-based I/O – according to Vertica.

The Vertica Analytics Database went from project to commercial status very quickly – in under a year – and has been available for more than five years. In addition to real-time query functions, the Vertica product continuously loads data from production databases, so any queries done on the data sets is up to date. The data chunks are also replicated around the x64-based cluster for high availability and load balancing for queries. Data compression is heavily used to speed up data transfers and reduce the footprint of a relational database, something on the order of a 5X to 10X compression.

Vertica's front page now has a picture of a c Class blade enclosure, jus think of what you can analyze with a enclosure filled with 384 x 2.3Ghz Opteron 6100s (which were released today as well and HP announced support for them on my favorite BL685c G7), and 4TB of memory all squeezed into 10U of space.

If your in the market for a data warehouse / BI platform of sorts, I urge you to at least see what Vertica has to offer, it really does seem revolutionary, and they make it easy enough to use that you don't need an army of PhDs to design and build it yourself (i.e. google).

Speakin' of HP, I did look at what the new Palm stuff will be and I'm pretty excited I just wish it was going to get here sooner. I went out and bought a new phone in the interim until I can get my hands on the Pre 3 and the Touchpad. My Pre 1 was not even on it's last legs it was in a wheelchair and a oxygen bottle. New phone isn't anything fancy just a feature phone, it does have one thing I'm not used to having though, battery life. The damn thing can go easily 3 days and the battery doesn't even go down by 1 bar. And I have heard from folks that it will be available on Sprint, which makes me happy as a Sprint customer. Still didn't take a chance and extend my contract just in case that changes.

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6Feb/11Off

Debian 6.0 Released

TechOps Guy: Nate

I've been using Debian since version 2.0 back in 1998, it is still my favorite distribution for systems that I maintain by hand (instead of using fancier automated tools) mainly because of the vast number of packages and ease of integration. I still prefer Red Hat for "work" stuff, and anything larger than small scale installations.

Anyways I happened to peek in on the progress they were making a few days ago, and they were down to something like 7 release critical bugs, so I was kinda-sorta excited that another new revision was coming out. I remember some of the leader(s) back in 2009 set some pretty aggressive targets for this version of Debian, like most people out there I just laughed and knew it wasn't achievable.  I'm patient, release when it's ready, not before. Debian was pretty quick to say they weren't official targets(I believe) more like best effort estimates. For some reason this particular Debian press release is not on their main site, maybe a hiccup in the site-redesign, as the news from 2009 page shows a bunch of stuff from 2008.

Almost a year after that original goal, Debian 6.0 is here. To be honest I'm not sure what all is really new, I mean of course there's a lot of updated packages and stuff, but, I suppose for me Linux has pretty much gotten to the point where it's good enough for me, I mean the only thing I really look forward to in upgrades is better hardware support (and even then that's just for my own laptops/desktops etc, otherwise everything I run is in a virtual machine and hardware support hasn't been an issue there ever).

Normally I'm not one to upgrade right away, but today was a different day, maybe it was the weather, maybe it was just waiting for the Super Bowl to come on (watching it now, paused on Tivo while I write this). But I decided to upgrade my workstation at home today, more than 1,000 package updates, and for the first time in a decade the installation instructions recommended a reboot mid-upgrade. The upgrade went off without a hitch, my desktop isn't customized much, re-installed my Nivida driver, told VMware Workstation to rebuild it's kernel drivers, fired off X, and then I went back to my laptop(my workstation is connected to my TV so I have to decide which input I want to use, I'd like my next TV to have picture in picture if any TVs out there anymore have that ability it was pretty popular back in the ..80s?).

My workstation, for reference:

  • HP xw9400 Workstation
  • 2 x Opteron 2380 CPUs (8 cores total)
  • 12GB ECC memory
  • Nvidia Geforce GT 240 (what lspci says at least)
  • 3Ware 9650 SE SATA RAID controller with battery backed write back cache
  • 4x2TB Western Digital green(I think) drives in RAID 1+0
  • 1x64GB Corsair SSD (forgot what type) for OS

I got a really good deal on the base system at the time, bought it through HP's refurb dept, for a configuration that retailed brand new on their own site for about $5,000 (note that is not the above config I have added a bunch to it), my cost was about $1,500, and that included a 3 year warranty. I wanted something that should last a good long time, and of course it's connected to an APC Smart UPS, gotta have that sine wave power...

I have had my eye on Debian's kFreeBSD port for some time and I decided what the hell let's try that out too. I have two Soekris boxes (one is backup), so I took the one that was not in use and put a fresh compact flash card in there and poked around for how to install Debian kFreeBSD on it, because you know I hate BSD userland but really like to use pf.

First off, I did get it working..eventually!

kFreeBSD is a technology preview, not a fully supported release, so it is rough around the edges. Documentation for what I wanted to do was sparse at best and there seemed to be only one other person trying this out on a Sokeris box, so the mailing list thread from nearly a year ago was helpful.

Official Documentation was lacking in a few areas:

  • Documentation on how to setup the tftp server was mostly good, except it wasn't exactly easy to find the files to use, I had to poke around quite a bit to find them.
  • No documentation on how to enable serial console for the installer, there was no mention of serial console at all except for here, and no mention on how to set those various variables.
    • For those that want to know you need to edit the grub.cfg (Debian 6.0 uses Grub 2 now, which I guess is good but it's more confusing to me), and add the parameters -D -h to the kernel line, example:
menuentry "Default install" {
 echo "Loading ..."
 kfreebsd /kfreebsd.gz -D -h
 kfreebsd_module /initrd.gz type=mfs_root
 set kFreeBSD.vfs.root.mountfrom=ufs:/dev/md0
 set DEBIAN_FRONTEND=text
}

I tried setting the DEBIAN_FRONTEND variable as you can see, but it didn't seem to do anything, the installer behavior was unchanged from the default.

Took me a significant amount of time to figure out I could not use minicom to install Debian kFreeBSD, instead I had to use cu (something that I've never used before). I've used minicom for everything from switches, to routers, to load balancers, to OpenBSD installs, to Red Hat Linux installs (I have never tried to install Debian over serial until today). But on Debian kFreeBSD the terminal emulation is not compatible between minicom and the installer, the result is I could never get past the assign a host name screen, it just kept sending random escape characters setting me back to previous screens, it was pretty frustrating.

Since there is no VGA port on the Soekris I did a tftp net install over serial console, when it came to installing the various base packages it took forever. I think at least part of it is due to the CF card being put in PIO mode instead of DMA mode, though looking at my OpenBSD Sokeris system it says it is using PIO mode 4 too. I am using the same model and size of CF card in both systems, I specifically used this one (Lexar 1GB, have had it for 5-6 years) because it seemed to run really fast on my systems vs my Kingston CF cards ran like dogs. Anyways it took upwards of two hours to install the base packages(around ~400MB installed). Doing the same in a VMware VM took about 5 minutes tops(much faster system mind you..)

I chose to install the base operating system along with the SSH option (which I swear was "SSH server"). And everything installed.

Then I rebooted and was greeted to a blank screen where GRUB should be. It took a little time to figure it out but I managed to edit the PXE grub configuration so that it would boot my local CF card over serial port.

So there we go , the kFreeBSD kernel is booting on Soekris -

Copyright (c) 1992-2010 The FreeBSD Project.
Copyright (c) 1979, 1980, 1983, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994
 The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.
FreeBSD is a registered trademark of The FreeBSD Foundation.
#0 Tue Jan  4 16:41:50 UTC 2011 i386
Timecounter "i8254" frequency 1193182 Hz quality 0
CPU: Geode(TM) Integrated Processor by AMD PCS (499.91-MHz 586-class CPU)
 Origin = "AuthenticAMD"  Id = 0x5a2  Family = 5  Model = a  Stepping = 2
 Features=0x88a93d<FPU,DE,PSE,TSC,MSR,CX8,SEP,PGE,CMOV,CLFLUSH,MMX>
 AMD Features=0xc0400000<MMX+,3DNow!+,3DNow!>
real memory  = 536870912 (512 MB)
avail memory = 511774720 (488 MB)
module_register_init: MOD_LOAD (vesa, 0xc0952d8e, 0) error 19
kbd1 at kbdmux0
K6-family MTRR support enabled (2 registers)
ACPI Error: A valid RSDP was not found (20100331/tbxfroot-309)
ACPI: Table initialisation failed: AE_NOT_FOUND
ACPI: Try disabling either ACPI or apic support.
pcib0: <Host to PCI bridge> pcibus 0 on motherboard
[..]

And a bunch of services started, including PostgreSQL (?!?!), and then it just sat there. No login prompt.

I could ping it but could not ssh to the system, the only port open was port mapper. I told it to install SSH related things(I forgot exactly what the menu option was but find it hard to believe that there would be an openssh client option and not a server option I can go back and look, maybe later).

So, now I was stuck.. I rebooted back into the installer and had some trouble mounting the CF card in the rescue shell but managed to do it, I chroot'd into the mount point, enabled the serial console per the examples in /etc/inittab, and used apt-get to install openssh -- only that failed, some things weren't properly configured in order for the ssh setup to complete. So I thought..and thought...

Telnet to the rescue! I haven't used telnet on a server in I don't know how many years probably since I worked at a Unix software company in 2002 where we had a bunch of different unixes and most did not have ssh. Anyways I installed telnet on the system via chroot, unmounted the file system, rebooted and the system came up -- but still no login prompt on the serial console. Fortunately I was able to telnet to the thing, and install ssh along with a few other packages, and removed PostgreSQL, I do not want to run a SQL database on this tiny machine.

I did more futzing around trying to get DMA enabled on the CF card to see if that would make it go faster to no avail. top does not report any i/o wait but I think that is a compatibility issue rather than there not being any i/o wait on the system.

After poking around more I determined why the login prompt wasn't appearing on the serial console, it's because the examples in the /etc/inittab were not right, at least not for Soekris, I can't speak to other platforms. But it mentions using /dev/ttyd0 when in fact I have to use /dev/ttyu0. Oh and another thing on serial console and this kFreeBSD, from what I read setting a custom baud rate (other than default 9600) is difficult if not impossible, I have not tried, so instead I changed the Sokeris default baud rate from 19200 to 9600.

I also did some hand editing of grub.cfg to enable serial console in grub and stuff, because I was unable to figure out how to do it in the grub v2 templates.

So all in all, certainly feels like a technology preview, very very very rough around the edges, I'm sure it will get there in time. My own needs are really minimal, I run a tiny set of infrastructure services on my home firewalls like dhcp, dns, OpenVPN, Network UPS Tools and stuff, no desktop, no web servers, nothing fancy, So I can probably use this to replace my OpenBSD system, I will test pf out maybe next weekend, spent enough time on it for now.

root@ksentry:~# cat /etc/debian_version
6.0
root@ksentry:~# uname -a
GNU/kFreeBSD ksentry 8.1-1-486 #0 Tue Jan  4 16:41:50 UTC 2011 i586 i386 Geode(TM) Integrated Processor by AMD PCS GNU/kFreeBSD
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9Dec/10Off

Java fallout from Oracle acquisition intensifies

TechOps Guy: Nate

I was worried about this myself, almost a year ago to the day raised my concerns about Oracle getting control of Java, and the fallout continues. Oracle already had BEA's JRockit, it's too bad they had to get Sun's JVM too.

Apache seems to have withdrawn from most things related to Java today according to our friends at The Register.

On Thursday, the ASF submitted its resignation from JCP's Java Standard and Enterprise Edition (SE/EE) Executive Committee as a direct consequence of the Java Community Process (JCP) vote to approve Oracle's roadmap for Java 7 and 8.

The ASF said it's removing all official representatives from all JSRs and will refuse to renew its JCP membership and EC position.

Java was too important a technology to be put in the hands of Oracle.

Too bad..

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