Last night's Solaris updates went pretty well. Trouble is, Sun Microsystems isn't very good at making things easy. I never thought I'd say this, but Sun could take a lesson from Microsoft when it comes to OS updates. You could say Microsoft has more need of them and, therefore, more practice. Contrary to myth, however, the Unix world does regularly need fixing, and skipping patches, whether your flavor is Solaris, Unix, Linux, or Apple OS is done at your peril. Sun's Update Manger GUI in Version 10 is completely non-intuitive and help is practically non-existent. A late-night Support call and nearly 24 hours of followup with three different Sun support staff and the system still hasn't been explained to me in any way that comes close to making sense. I still don't know what to do to get the update completed. To add insult to injury, in order to even find the Sun Microsystems support telephone number I had to go to Google and do a Web search in the "outside world" to find the page back on the Sun.com site that had contact information! Gad! And we're paying for this!? So one computer got patched, thanks to prep work by a third-party vendor. The other did not get patched. Oh, and you have to pay for a service contract with Sun to even access the update downloads. Right about now, that company in Redmond is looking pretty nice.
I installed a pretty new Barracuda "Spam Firewall" at the office. Received it from the big brown truck and unpacked it. A couple of minutes of setup straight out of the box and you can get a Web interface across the network. Set the base configuration and it's ready to use. A request to our DNS managers and our mail got routed through the box. In the Web interface you can do everything by way of configuration. Scores of configuration settings allow tailoring the system to specific needs and a graphic-rich reporting area lets the administrator view what the device is doing and why. It's looking great! I can already see a difference in the spam levels in our email. I think staff are going to love this! Makes me look good, too. It's on a 30-day trial but I'll bet we buy it. The firmware update for this little machine took about 15 minutes (mostly download time), was easy to do, and it was free. Anti-spam and anti-virus updates cost less than $500 a year and install automatically.