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UltraSPARC and CDE popularity contest

Why are UltraSPARC and CDE hits with readers? They're not so sure either

By Carolyn W.C. Wong

October  1996
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While SunWorld Online readers are using UltraSPARC desktop computers and the Common Desktop Environment, they're not exactly raving about them. 70 percent of the 152 respondents to our unscientific survey last month said they use UltraSPARC desktop systems. These computers are mostly serving as general-purpose desktops (72 percent) and compute servers (39 percent). An equal number (25 percent each) are using them as file servers or for the Web.

But surprisingly, 41 percent of the responding readers ranked UltraSPARC computers "about the same" relative to the competition. 38 percent said they are superior, and 17 percent just don't know. The most significant characteristic in choosing an UltraSPARC desktop computer was floating-point compute performance (20 percent) and the operating system (15 percent). This doesn't mean they think these features are superior to the competition, however. 19 percent said they didn't know what characteristic was superior. 17 percent did give the operating system a thumbs up, and 15 percent favored I/O performance.

An overwhelming majority (95 percent) of respondents use the CDE user environment. 82 percent of them use it at work, as opposed to 12 percent who are sticking with Open Windows. (Again, this is an unscientific survey, as the editors believe it unlikely that CDE is quite so popular even at Sun's headquarters.) Still, they're not using CDE for all tasks. 70 percent don't use the file manager, and 56 percent nix the CDE e-mail tool. The text editor and help widget aren't on the hot list either. 69 percent don't use the text editor on a regular basis, and 71 percent skip the help widget.

Readers do seek CDE's virtual desktop (81 percent) and the "dashboard" (69 percent). They're also itching for Windows compatibility. 43 percent think there should be a CDE port to Windows NT, and 67 percent want the ability to run Windows apps on Unix in CDE.

This is just a brief overview...if you want to know what our readers really think about UltraSPARC and CDE, go to "Readers comment on UltraSPARC and CDE". --Carolyn W.C. Wong


SunWorld Online September 1996 Reader Survey Results

Tell us what you think about UltraSPARC computers, CDE

Number of respondents: 152
as of 3:30 on September 30, 1996

  1. Does your department use an UltraSPARC desktop computer?
        Yes:                                              70.4%
        No (Please skip to question 8):                   29.6% 
  2. How does your department use UltraSPARC computers now?
        General-purpose desktop:                          71.7% 
        Compute server:                                   39.4% 
        File server:                                      25.3% 
        Server of shrink-wrapped applications:            10.1% 
        Server of custom applications:                    23.2% 
        General-purpose file & application server:        16.2% 
        General-purpose file & print server:               5.1%
        Mail:                                             22.2% 
        News:                                             15.2% 
        Web:                                              25.3% 
        Other:                                            13.1% 
  3. Different computers offer different strengths and trade-offs. Which weighed as the MOST significant characteristic in your UltraSPARC desktop computer purchase?
        Outward dimensions (size):                         0.0% 
        I/O performance:                                  13.3% 
        Integer compute performance:                      14.3% 
        Floating-point compute performance:               20.4% 
        Graphics rendering performance:                    4.1% 
        Compute performance expandability:                 5.1% 
        I/O performance expandability:                     1.0% 
        Internal disk drive expandability:                 1.0% 
        Reliability:                                       1.0% 
        System administration ease:                        1.0% 
        Operating system:                                 15.3% 
        Hardware & software support:                       5.1% 
        None of the above:                                11.2% 
        I don't know:                                      7.1%           
  4. Which weighed as the LEAST significant characteristic in your UltraSPARC computer purchase?
        Outward dimensions (size):                        65.6% 
        I/O performance:                                   0.0% 
        Integer compute performance:                       0.0%
        Floating-point compute performance:                1.0% 
        Graphics rendering performance:                    8.3% 
        Compute performance expandability:                 0.0% 
        I/O performance expandability:                     0.0%
        Internal disk drive expandability:                 4.2% 
        Reliability:                                       1.0% 
        System administration ease:                        3.1% 
        Operating system:                                  0.0% 
        Hardware & software support:                       4.2% 
        None of the above:                                 6.2% 
        I don't know:                                      6.2% 
  5. Relative to Sun's competition, the UltraSPARC desktop computers are in general:
        Superior:                                         37.9% 
        About the same:                                   41.1% 
        Inferior:                                          4.2% 
        I don't know:                                     16.8% 
  6. Which one key feature of the UltraSPARC desktop computers do you think is SUPERIOR to its competitors:
        Outward dimensions (size):                         2.1% 
        I/O performance:                                  14.7% 
        Integer compute performance:                       1.1% 
        Floating-point compute performance:                5.3% 
        Graphics rendering performance:                    2.1% 
        Compute performance expandability:                 8.4% 
        I/O performance expandability:                     2.1% 
        Internal disk drive expandability:                 0.0% 
        Reliability:                                       6.3%
        System administration ease:                        3.2% 
        Operating system:                                 16.8% 
        Hardware & software support:                       7.4% 
        None of the above:                                11.6% 
        I don't know:                                     18.9% 
  7. Which one key feature of the UltraSPARC desktop computers do you think is INFERIOR to its competitors:
        Outward dimensions (size):                         1.0% 
        I/O performance:                                   3.1% 
        Integer compute performance:                       5.2% 
        Floating-point compute performance:                8.3% 
        Graphics rendering performance:                    10.4% 
        Compute performance expandability:                 2.1% 
        I/O performance expandability:                     1.0% 
        Internal disk drive expandability:                 3.1% 
        Reliability:                                       3.1% 
        System administration ease:                        5.2% 
        Operating system:                                  2.1% 
        Hardware & software support:                       5.2% 
        None of the above:                                22.9% 
        I don't know:                                     27.1% 
  8. Do you use the CDE user environment?
        Yes:                                              95.1% 
        No (Please skip to question 15):                   4.9% 
  9. Which user environment/windowing system do you use most often at your place of business?
        CDE:                                              81.9% 
        Command-line (skip to next section):               1.4% 
        Motif (skip to next section):                      4.3% 
        Open Windows (skip to next section):              11.6% 
        TWM:                                               0.7% 
  10. Offer your opinions on the following statements
        CDE is used more often than other user environments in my department.
          Agree:                                          43.9%  
          Neither agree nor disagree:                     10.6% 
          Disagree:                                       44.7% 
          Don't know:                                      0.8% 
        I use the CDE file manager regularly.
          Agree:                                          23.4% 
          Neither agree nor disagree:                      6.5% 
          Disagree:                                       70.2% 
          Don't know:                                      0.0% 
        I use the CDE e-mail tool regularly.
          Agree:                                          40.3% 
          Neither agree nor disagree:                      3.2% 
          Disagree:                                       55.6% 
          Don't know:                                      0.8% 
        I use the CDE text editor regularly.
          Agree:                                          23.4% 
          Neither agree nor disagree:                      7.3% 
          Disagree:                                       69.4% 
          Don't know:                                      0.0% 
        I use the CDE help widget regularly.
          Agree:                                          14.9%
          Neither agree nor disagree:                     14.0% 
          Disagree:                                       71.1% 
          Don't know:                                      0.0% 
        I use the CDE virtual desktop regularly.
          Agree:                                          80.6%
          Neither agree nor disagree:                      3.2% 
          Disagree:                                       14.5% 
          Don't know:                                      1.6% 
        I use the CDE "dashboard" regularly.
          Agree:                                          68.5% 
          Neither agree nor disagree:                     14.5% 
          Disagree:                                       16.1% 
          Don't know:                                      0.8% 
        Someone should port CDE to Windows NT.
          Agree:                                          42.7% 
          Neither agree nor disagree:                     23.4% 
          Disagree:                                       20.2% 
          Don't know:                                     13.7% 
        Someone should add the ability to run Windows applications on Unix in CDE.
          Agree:                                          66.7% 
          Neither agree nor disagree:                     16.3%
          Disagree:                                       11.4% 
          Don't know:                                      5.7% 
        Someone should get CDE to work with DCE.
          Agree:                                          33.1% 
          Neither agree nor disagree:                     28.2% 
          Disagree:                                        4.8% 
          Don't know:                                     33.9% 
  11. Which operating system are you using...
        on most of your database servers?
          Solaris 1/SunOS 4.1.x:                          14.6% 
          Solaris 2:                                      71.5%
          HP-UX:                                           2.2% 
          AIX:                                             0.7% 
          IRIX:                                            0.0%
          Digital Unix:                                    0.7% 
          Windows NT:                                      2.2% 
          Novell NetWare:                                  4.4% 
          Other:                                           2.2% 
        on most of your desktops?
          Solaris 1/SunOS 4.1.x:                           8.8% 
          Solaris 2:                                      59.9% 
          HP-UX:                                           0.0% 
          AIX:                                             0.7% 
          IRIX:                                            1.5% 
          Digital Unix:                                    0.0% 
          Windows & Win 95:                               21.9%
          DOS:                                             0.0% 
          Windows NT:                                      4.4% 
          OS/2:                                            0.0% 
          Macintosh:                                       1.5%
          Other:                                           1.5% 
  12. How many people are employed by your department?
        1 - 9:                                            13.9% 
        10 - 29:                                          30.7% 
        30 - 99:                                          26.3% 
        100 - 499:                                        21.9% 
        Not applicable:                                    7.3% 
  13. How many people are employed by your entire organization?
        1 - 9:                                             5.8% 
        10 - 29:                                           5.8% 
        30 - 99:                                           3.6% 
        100 - 499:                                        13.8% 
        500 - 1999:                                       18.8% 
        2000 - 9999:                                      26.8% 
        more than 10,000:                                 18.1% 
        Not applicable:                                    3.6% 
        I don't know:                                      3.6% 
  14. Which best describes your primary job duties?
        Systems administrator:                            41.0% 
        Programmer or developer:                          22.3% 
        Network administrator:                             5.0% 
        Database administrator:                            1.4% 
        Systems analyst:                                   4.3% 
        Webmaster:                                         2.9% 
        Consultant:                                        4.3% 
        Systems integrator:                                2.9% 
        Other technical profressional:                    10.1% 
        Other manager:                                     1.4% 
        Student:                                           2.2% 
        Other:                                             2.2% 

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