mac vs. unix OS

jahayes at miavx1.acs.muohio.edu jahayes at miavx1.acs.muohio.edu
Wed Feb 27 13:32:06 EST 1991

I post here some comments about the relative benefits of using
UN*X versus some PC platform, in particular the macintosh. I'm 
deliberately avoiding cross-posting this to mac groups in order
to avoid starting a MCIBTYC flame-war. Let's stay topical, and
perhaps some good information can be passed. I have edited the
article to which I am responding HEAVILY; any errors or altered
meanings are, of course, my own mistakes.

In article <9102270127.AA00156 at largo.ig.com>, JMILLER%VXBIO.SPAN at STAR.STANFORD.EDU writes:
> MAC vs. UNIX part 1
> Good points(what's wrong with the mac):
> b)Sequence Format Interconversion:
>>What if you have a sequence in one format, and the next program you want
>>to use requires a different format? (Say, a 1 or 2  at the end of the
>>sequence to indicate topololgy.) .... The point is YOU CAN'T MAKE
> This is the thing I dislike most about the mac....

This is not particularly accurate. There are excellent editors that can
be called up more or less instantly (e.g. QUED/M by Paragon, and MacSink,
a desk accessory and therefore always available without changing directories).
Even so, firing up the editor, editing the file, saving the changes, ought
to take any competent mac user on the order of seconds. It's reminiscent
of the current AT&T flap that "your calls take 40% longer to connect with
other services!" Yeah, about seven seconds compared to five. Big deal.

>>PROGRAMMING....[objections to mac programming deleted] 
> [and good points in response also deleted]
>>Again, I pose the question: Why did Macintosh have to eliminate all of the
>>features that make an operating system truely useful?

I guess the question is, what is "truely [sic] useful"?

My own interest in the mac as a platform for scientific work is twofold:

1) Preparation of scientific documents/analysis of some data. It's a
fine WP environment, much better, IMHO, than any UN*X platform. It is
also reasonably powerful in data analysis (though this is a function
of available software; the stats field has broadened considerably in 
just the last year or so). Great at graphics. But that's not what you
mean, is it?

2) Simulation modeling. This is two-pronged: I use STELLA for some 
models, and write others myself in Pascal (my wife then translates
them to C for fun. Some fun.). The current home-made simulation was
originally written on a Sun 3; it runs better, faster, and more easily
on my wife's mac IIcx. Sure, I guess I could spring for an Apollo or
some such to get truly blazing speed, but it isn't UN*X that makes
that work. In short, the mac environment is an excellent place for me
to do my research computing. Moreover, the Pascal code is extremely
portable - the port from the Sun to the mac took me all of about
five minutes. And the original version was written, revised, and
debugged on a Mac 512, then ported to the Sun, again, in about five
minutes. If the language itself is reasonably consistent, crossing
OS's should be relatively do-able.

> An Additional Awful thing about Macs and PCs:
> Both macs and PCs are dismal when it comes to recovery from crashes.

I can't speak to the ease of recovery under UN*X. But then, I have
experienced few problems with crashes on the mac, though it is, of 
course, difficult to recover without familiarity with something a la
MacsBug or equivalent (is there an equivalent?)
> Is connectivity all that good?
>   The one place connectivity is fantastic is in mail/ftp type
> communication....

This is, of course, available for macs. I write this post on my 
funky ol' mac plus, pipe it over the departmental AppleTalk network,
over a GatorBox, to the campus backbone. Whoosh! Away it goes. File
transfers are wonderful now that they ftp directly to the mac.
Again, whoosh.

And finally, the mac does support its own version of UNIX, it's
called A/UX 2.0, and to this untrained eye seems every bit as
confusing, unfriendly, and inscrutable as the real thing. It
does require a fairly high-end mac to run, of course, but it's
there (my understanding was that it was done so that the Air Force
could buy tons of macs, since they require UNIX compatibility...).


Josh Hayes, Zoology, Miami University, Oxford OH 45056
jahayes at miavx1.acs.muohio.edu, or jahayes at miamiu.acs.muohio.edu

More information about the Bio-soft mailing list

Send comments to us at biosci-help [At] net.bio.net