% fortune -ae paul murphy

What I want for Christmas

Just two simple things:

  1. an ultraSPARC T2 workstation; and,

  2. a joint Adobe/Sun announcement open sourcing Postscript and re-introducing NeWS.

These would be good things, really - here's why.

The Ultrasparc T2 is something new and to really make use of it requires software - software that mostly hasn't been invented yet. I want one for a toy, but other people will want one to invent better software - software you can't test on x86 or a dual ultraSPARC IIIi because those machines don't have the threading support, don't offer unbelievably precise timing control, and don't get close to the T2 for raw data throughput from any source: networking, cryptology, or disk.

NeWS, Sun's Network Environment Windowing System, is something old. I believe it died over Postscript licensing issues - but it's still the best technical solution to a bunch of display problems anyone has come up with: to draw a page, send the postscript instructions and data defining that page. The implications are easy: build terminals that understand Postscript, express pages and documents using Postscript, and you've got the whole power of SGML at your fingertips for everything from device (and software) independent document storage to high end engineering and graphics displays.

Postscript is all the things X11 and ODF aren't - except free. Make it genuinely free, protect the standard from commercial change, and all the complexities of both X11 and ODF can go away - while the people who make displays, whether paper or electronic, will suddenly be able to offer products that can do many things today's screens can't - including mathematically correct image scaling and color correction.

All of which means, among many other things, that a document stored on a PC in one place, will look right when displayed under MacOS X or Solaris or Linux somewhere, or somewhen, else - and it won't matter if that document is static or dynamic, whether its authors invented a DTD of their very own, or even whether it embeds someone's ill informed attempt to use XML as a programming language for remote server access.

A new NeWS, with maybe a MAJC desktop PS display? - Yep, that would be insanely great: and fit perfectly with my new Sun Model 54/T2.

And remember: Sun, Adobe, there's no need to wait for Christmas - ok?

Paul Murphy wrote and published The Unix Guide to Defenestration. Murphy is a 25-year veteran of the I.T. consulting industry, specializing in Unix and Unix-related management issues.