The Way to Open Source of Cobalt
January of 2001, I closed the essay of Startup Story of Cobalt with following words; "I long for the future of Cobalt with great expectation that is the same feerings in 1998 when we were starting of our users group."
It is the time to back to 1998 because it will be happen that makes me excited again. Cobalt makes their whole source code to be open.
Cheers for my exciting days with Cobalt from now on.

June, 2003.
Yutaka Yasuda, Cobalt Users Group.
(usersgroup@cobaltqube.org)

From acquire till RaQ550

Cobalt had been acquired by Sun Microsystems in September 2000. That procedure had been finished by the end of 2000. Then the Cobalt logo sign of the entrance of their office changed to Sun's one, and the office building also had been called by the serial number of Sun's too. Unfortunately, at that years, "New Economy" - the business condition that was called by US economists - bagan to show some depression trend. The stock price of Sun was also going down as same as all of other companies. Probabry Cobalt got a luck. If Cobalt was not acquired, the stock of Cobalt might be as good as waste paper. They succeed to find a stable sponsor before the crisis was comming.

b02.jpg b04.jpg b03.jpg b01.jpg

It was so hard to do make a balance in the black for hardware business company such as Cobalt, even under these good state condition. But I heard Cobalt had succeed to reach their balance to even at the last their quarter. If you remember the situation at these years, you also can understand how Cobalt succeed and how important to get stable funds. Anyway I can say, there are a lot of companies at that time that make the black balance by empty stock. Yes, Cobalt was not.
The after of the merger, October 2000, Mark Orr had retired from Cobalt.

"Is Sun good farther for Cobalt, or not?" People discussed about it after the merger and there were tons of rumors but Cobalt just ran straight forward. For example, the developments and sells of Chili!Soft was continued. A logo sign of Qube 3 had been changed to "Sun Cobalt" but that's all. Qube3 itself was going on streight forward. Especially in Japan, support service was fully improved by Sun. And ported application software was growing. Exactly, new Sun Cobalt brand has no major progress but anyway Cobalt business was going on. Cobalt just diffused to the market silently.
Then April 2002, Stephen DeWitt also left from Cobalt. He lead and finished a big business, that was the merge of two companies.

September 2002, after the long absence, RaQ550 was released that was the first product after the merger. It was based on Sausalito architechture that was implemented for Qube3. RaQ550 system was of course expanded it to multi domain compatible. High speed processor supported heavy load jobs be stable. I tell the truth, we, who touched Cobalt so long time, RaQ550 was well balanced model. So it made one more great step ahead from the previous products. The market confirmed it. There were no competiter on the apliance server market.
At last, Cobalt reached this position by 5 years.

End of Life

There was so long absence from RaQ4 to RaQ550 announcement. And there was no plan of Qube4 and the product life of Qube series itself was also unsettled. Under these situation, LX50 had been reelased as Cobalt brand in September 2002. That was not a server appliance, only just PC/AT architechture of 1U form. Sun called it as Generic Linux system then Sun Linux 5.0 software was included but it is almost same as RedHat distribution. Anyway this was the first product of Sun that was x86 based and not Solaris but generic Linux. We were afraid that the roadmap of Cobalt as an appliance.

After that release, October 2002, Vivek had also left from Cobalt. Cobalt office was also left from Ellis street then staff moved to Network Circle campus of Sun in Menlo Park but to be scattered. Vivek never moved to there with his Cobalt team.
Even the acquisition itself was not contested takeover, Cobalt server appliance product was contraction trend. Of course we should remember that it was the very hard contraction mood years for all departments of Sun Microsystems company. The first restructuring of Sun had been done at that season.

May 2003, Finaly the end of life of Qube3 had been announced. The end of May was the day of last buy, the 4th June was the last sell. Of course it is not the end of the server appliance product because Sun continue to support works and RaQ550 also continue to sell. But Qube was the symbol, all of the time of Cobalt. Then we have got lonely for the end of life of Qube as a real product.

b05.jpg b06.jpg b07.jpg

To Open Source

February 2003, Before the endo of life announcement. I have got an email from Cobalt team because they wont to consider about the possibility of the open source Qube3, urgently.
The messages showed the limit as "tomorrow evening" but that was sent in yesterday. There was only few hours for their meeting. I get an international call immediately but he was not there. I left a message to call back me and sended an email with my phone number to make sure. Then I was waiting patiently few hours.... The call back from him had been setted my mind at rest.
Open Source project progressed steadily, in June 2003, Qube3 source code had been released.

Actually, we, Cobalt Users Group did not push the open source project and we also don't know how progress the project was. Only we can say, Qube, the soul of Cobalt did not died by the end of their production. The DNA will be alive forever in the sea of Open Source.
Of course we don't think it is enough that the DNA will remain in the history of the computing. Now, there is big opportunity on the way of Open Source Qube. I am exciting about the potentiality of it like in those days, 1998.

DNA of Cobalt will not only resuscitate the body by the sea of Open Source but also evolute itself. I am so glad to join in this process with Cobalt Users Group.

[BACK]