X-Windows, InterViews, and molecular biology software

Brian R. Smith brsmith at cs.umn.edu
Sun Feb 17 22:19:54 EST 1991

In <Feb. at presto.ig.com> dow at presto.ig.com (Christopher Dow) writes:
>In article <1991Feb15.202358.1984 at cs.umn.edu>, brsmith at cs.umn.edu (Brian
>R. Smith) writes:

>	Unless, of course, you wish to _eat_ by selling what you write
>(my .sig ins wholly unambiguous).  The Free Software Foundation makes
>it clear that they do not want, and can legally prevent you from,
>using their software for commercial software

Not exactly.  You are not allowed to use parts of GNU software in
commercial software UNLESS you supply source code (for the GNU part)
and some way to re-link the binaries.  (But don't take my word for
it - FSF is pretty clear on this point.)

You CAN, though, use GNU software to compile YOUR code without
restrictions.  I assume the same goes for g++.  You do have to be
careful not to use the GNU libraries, but that's not that hard for
gcc.  For G++, I admit, it could be tricky.

[...Opinion volleying over speed of C++ code...]
>	I wont argue this point with someone whose .sig leads me to
>believe he is a professor of computer science ;-).

I guess I should take that as a compliment.  I've only had my B.S. for
eight months now...  :-)

>	Some in this thread have mentioned specific platforms which 
>will not support X server software.  However, I do stand corrected,
>as my X11R4 server is 704K (What did you do to make it so big?).

My X11R4 server is running on a 1600x1280 screen on a sparc-based
system, which may be part of it.

Yes, there are platforms that do not (or cannot) support X.  I don't
mean to sound snobbish, but I think they'll fall by the wayside.
(Even if you get a Mac or PC X server, you still can't run a program
on the Mac/PC and display on another X server - it's only a one-way
support.)  And, if they are replaced by Unix machines, many
departments are going to HAVE to hire an experienced system
administrator to care for and feed them.  Even if workstation
manufacturers manage to put a workable system administration layer
over Unix (as NeXT is trying to do), the underlying software still
must be understood.

I can't see any way around it.  Unix is already complex, and it's not
going to get any simpler.

>	However, it is much cheaper to purchase commercially developed
>software than to hire a programmer to support it.  We are talking
>about biologists, and I don't think too many biology-related curicula
>require the coursework or experience needed to support such systems.

I'll grant you that.  But, even working as a part-time undergrad for
the CS dept, I had time enough to find, patch, and report several
minor (but annoying) bugs in the X release and surrounding programs.
All in all, I'd say it took me less time to find the problem in the
source and recompile than it would to phone a support center and
explain the problem.

Anyway, as to your original points:

C++ produces slow (translated) code, and g++ is not suitable for your
needs; I can only say that commercial native-C++ compilers (rather
than the translators) should be available in the near-future, if they
aren't already.

X is the wave of the future; I think we agree there.  I'd go further
and say the X will also help Unix supplant various proprietary OS's.

InterViews isn't yet production-quality or widely supported software;
True.  I think it will be, though, with MIT X consortium support.
And, IMHO, it makes developing GUI-based tools much simpler and faster
than anything else I've tried.  (My experience is limited to Xview,
Xt, and straight Xlib, however.)

That should be enough opinion-mongering for tonight.
brsmith at cs.umn.edu                <This space intentionally left almost blank.>

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