molecular biology software

Mon Feb 18 16:22:00 EST 1991

I will conceed that the time has come for me to get into the world
of UNIX, not for any other reason than a series of programs which would
help us out greatly is only available on a SparkStation running X-windows.
Since my laboratory is populated with Mac's, and a few IBM PC clones, I've
been very interested in the recent debate.

Frank Kolakowski writes:

>There are several reasons to use Unix. And a few more to use X-Windows.
>Most of these reasons stem of the ability of machines with
>these features to do multiple things at once, with reasonable throughput.
>Alas not every lab needs a Unix workstation, but most would really
>benefit if they did.
> First costs of hardware:
>	Macs are not cheap but neither are workstations
>	For about $10,000 you can get a workstation
>	of modest means to do most of the things you want to
>	do in molecular biology or biochemistry.
>	This workstation will allow n individuals to access
>	the "same" files at the same time.
>	3 macs and a laser printer is a whole lot more
>	than 1 workstation, 1 laser printer and a few dumb
>	terminals.

Do not the above statements need clarification?
Seems to me the price comparisons depend on which Sun or
Mac you're comparing.

> Next multiple "jobs":
>	In our lab we would like to have the ability to
>	search GenBank, write a manuscript and 
>	analyze data by more than one person simultaneously.
>	With your mac or PC first you probably dial up to
>	a campus wide facility to do the database search
>	since multiple databases are not such a good idea.
>	While you are doing that, it is difficult to do
>	anything else.
>	With X and Unix, you could open up a window,
>	run telnet, and do your search, while you have your
>	wordprocessor running in another window, and a graph of
>	your latest experiment in a third.

Sorry Frank, but I disagree.  Your e-mail was received in the VersaTermPro 
window on my MacIIcx with 2 page monitor, while I was working on a manuscript
in a MicroSoft Word window and printing a figure just created with MacDraw
in another window.  Oh yes, I also was running a GenBank search in Batch
on our VAX.  I'm running MultiFinder with Mac OS version 6.05 and although
it is not "true" multiprocessing, it works just fine.

My question is "Why do I have to learn an operating system?"  I have no
idea of how the Mac OS works, but do know that it is easy to use, has a
very short learning curve and uses routines from the Mac Toolbox.  I've
even programmed in C and FORTRAN on the Mac, used toolbox calls and written
real live Mac applications.  Ifyou tell me that it's the same as X-windows
or similar than that's fine, I can learn that.  But your 2 arguments above
are way off........
It seems to me there are 2 good reasons for getting into a Unix environment.
1. You're forced to because that's the only system on which your favorate
   programs will run on.
2. You want more mips for your $, because for under $20 K you can get a
   SparkStation with 16 meg RAM and blow the socks off your Mac, VAX or
   whatever.  (DOS is so outdated it's not worth discussing)

Another reason is multi users, but why bother when the VAX is there.
Yet another reason is that you were a CS major, learned C and love Unix.
Fine, but who is going to learn the Unix OS in my lab?  Guess it will be

	"Is it time to do Molecular Biology yet Daddy"
	"No son, it's time to learn Unix"


Best to one and all,

 *  Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry     Dept. of Chem. and Biochem. *
 *  INTERNET: BROE at aardvark.ucs.uoknor.edu      University of Oklahoma      *
 *  BITNET:   BROE at uokucsvx                     620 Parrington Oval, Rm 208 *
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 *  FAXnet:   405-325-6111                                                  *

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