As I already wrote in "Sunlight at the end of the tunnel", I had very good experiences with Sun (and that was not just a single time). It was something completely different than my Experiences with Microsoft.
What I did not emphasize in that post (but in my comments on forums and blogs out there) is that all the products managed by Sun seem to have something in common: They are AWESOME!
- Open Office
I used it for a very long time - even successfully for years even under Windows before switching to Linux. The stability, reliability (if you get externally written documents) and the outstanding PDF export makes it already worth using it!
Java is a very mature programming language and when I had to decide my programmer's future, the top favorites (after longer evaluation period) were Java and .NET (C#/Mono). Beside the fact, that platform independency was a big opportunity and the only way for software development with long-term safety of the investment, I found the libraries of Java much more complete than for .NET and especially because of the coding quite strict conventions very readable. And the libraries, toolset and frameworks available is also way bigger. - But this is not only thanks to Sun - this is thanks to the very large community! I also appreciate that they did not bloat Java with too many language features just because somebody wanted to see feature x or y. So I think it was wise to not develop the Java language core too fast.
The best integrated development environment (IDE) I ever worked with. Although starts a bit too slow in my opinion it is still better compared to my last Windows experiences with Visual Studio .NET. I did exhaustive comparison with Eclipse and although Eclipse startup was a bit faster and refactoring options were more, the rest (stability, visual GUI editing and all those small whistles an IDE usually has) was better in NetBeans or either non-existing in Eclipse without searching hours for a matching Eclipse plugin in a version that was reasonable stable.
I switched over to VirtualBox first when I already planned my move to Linux and VirtualBox OSE (Open Source Edition) was there in the repository by default. So I built new test machines on VirtualBox rather than on VMWare on my Windows development machine. I noticed that it used less resources but from the features lacked a little behind VMWare in some areas. But it developed fast in the last one or two years and so you get everything you need by now. It has even a very cool seamless mode where somehow the client machine gets merged with the host and it seems to be one environment.
I think this was one of the last products that joined Sun, but nevertheless they created a very awesome toolset around MySQL that goes a lot further of what is offered along with Microsoft SQL Server.
There are a lot more products, but the above are those I use often and they are a stable and substantial part of my daily work. So Sun was a great, great company - thanks to the people behind.
Now, as the merge with Oracle is finalized, after watching the first press announcement webcasts from Oracle, I am quite positive again. Although I did not watch them all (connection speed got quite down and I was not really able to watch any more), I found the presenters very motivated and excited about the newly added manpower and product portfolio. They are not going to keep everything (Kenai for instance is going to die), but they seem to know the strengths of Sun quite well. They commited strongly to Java, NetBeans and OpenOffice as well as JavaFX for example.
And also the JavaOne conference is going to stay - just moves from the date to be held together/integrated with Oracle World.
So I hope they will continue in honor of Sun with the awareness of the responsibility for those very large communities behind the products I mentioned.
Larry Ellison said "We're in it to win it"! - I am quite positive that Oracle will do a good job. And people reading my blog (and not only those ;-) ) know that I am very critical looking at every new stuff.
Related post: Sunlight at the end of the tunnel, Popular Java myths, The future of Java.