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VMS or Unix version?

Charles Bailey bailey at genetics.upenn.edu
Mon Nov 28 21:03:33 EST 1994


In article <1994Nov28.161608.723 at chmeds.ac.nz>, gordon at chmeds.ac.nz writes:
> A mixed group of scientists here has proposed purchasing GCG, running on 
> an Alpha workstation of some description.
> 
> My question is which operating system: OSF/1 (Unix by any other name would 
> smell as sweet) or OpenVMS?
> 
> We are probably more familiar with VMS; arguements are advanced that most of 
> the tools for molecular biology are being developed in a Unix environment. 
> Against this, I've ported several to VMS with minimal trouble.
> 
> I'm interested in your opinions and prejudices on this issue.

I'm not sure there's a general answer to this question.  You'll need to make
the decision based on the particular needs of your site, comfort of users,
etc.  You've said that your users are more familiar with VMS, and implied that
the major use for the system would be GCG, which is perfectly comfortable under
VMS.  (Some would say it is more comfortable under VMS than Unix.)  This would
appear to make VMS the right choice for you.

While I agree that a lot of the biological software out there is being
developed on Unix systems, much of it does port to VMS without major headaches
(and, for the most part, fie on the authors of that which doesn't, but that's
another thread . . .).  There are a few trouble spots - Unix-specific system
calls, required toolkits (e.g. what's up with Tcl/Tk in the VMS world?), but I
don't think the possibility that porting some future application to VMS would
be difficult is enough reason to avoid an OS which will make most of your users
happier.

Finally, if you've settled on an AXP, the decision isn't as binding as it might
otherwise be - if you decide to changes OSs in the future, just install the
new software.  If your university participates in DEC's educational licensing
programs, the cost of the changeover will probably be small.

Finally, the disclaimer - while I'm speaking only for myself, and have no
connection to DEC, I'm an unabashed fan of the AXP and VMS.  If only DEC could
get out from under terminally shortsighted planning and marketing . . .
Caveat lector.

                    Regards,
                    Charles Bailey

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