GCG on VMS vs UNIX (was Re: future software directions)

John Reinitz reinitz-john at cs.yale.edu
Fri Feb 19 11:30:40 EST 1993

In article <1993Feb19.130334.25145 at gserv1.dl.ac.uk> BAKERK at FRIR.AFRC.AC.UK (Ken Baker) writes:
>STADEN package is only available as UNIX. Why is there this facination for
>UNIX? As I understand it, the major benefits of UNIX over VMS are as follows:
>(And I should stress that I am not an expert, just a concerned citizen)
>1] More flexible
>2] Smaller instruction set makes it faster
>3] Supports a graphical user interface

VMS supports a graphical user interface too. Instruction sets are
a property of hardware. Flexibility is important... 

BUT the main reason unix is preferred over VMS is that it is
not the proprietary product of a single vendor, like VMS. 
When unix was developed at Bell Labs, the phone company couldn't
sell software, so they basically gave unix to universities.
Hence unix is now widespread, and runs on everything from PC's to
Crays. I *do* *not* claim that unix is better than VMS... I have used
VMS, and it has certain advantages. Someone I know at digital
who sneers at unix admits that they should have given VMS away...
...if they had,  maybe it would be the OS of choice today and not
unix. If you stay with VMS, you are at the mercy of a company that
may become bankrupt in the next few years.

>1] Does this matter to the average molbio user? The ablities to get
>directory listing in multiple formats, command piping etc etc, aren't really

They are *very* useful once you understand them.
The level of the average mol. bio. user will have to improve
over the next few decades. It is simple as that. I still remember
when the average bio. lab needed to know nothing about 
cloning methodology---no longer true! Using the full power
of unix is like *not* buying all your enzymes in  little kits...
...the best labs usually don't, because they understand the
technology best.

>I suppose what I am doing is to plead to whoever matters, please don't abandon
>us VMS users. I know that UNIX gurus regard VMS with a kind of amused contempt
>but there are a lot of us who can see advantages in keeping it.
That contempt is misplaced. Ask them if they can write an Air Defense
system in Unix :-) (VMS does realtime, unix doesn't). Nevertheless,
you could be a victim of the market... be warned!

>Comments, anyone?

John Reinitz
"Mark what ills the scholar's life assail:
Toil, envy, want, the Patron, and the Jail."
	--Samuel Johnson, Vanity of Human Wishes.

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