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brl-smoke!laca...@rand-unix.arpa
From: laca...@rand-unix.arpa
Newsgroups: net.micro
Subject: Re: Symmetrics s375
Message-ID: <1322@brl-smoke.ARPA>
Date: Fri, 13-Jun-86 09:43:49 EDT
Article-I.D.: brl-smok.1322
Posted: Fri Jun 13 09:43:49 1986
Date-Received: Sat, 21-Jun-86 06:39:03 EDT
Sender: n...@brl-smoke.ARPA
Lines: 22


RE:
    We got a flier from an outfit in San Jose, CA called Symmetrics that
    sells 4.2 Unix machines using National Semi's 32000 series chips for $5k
    to $10k. My question is, does anyone has seen the little machines? Are
    they for real? We are thinking of a getting a few sight unseen which is
    not very wise and I was hoping some out there could help us.

I saw one at a Usenix meeting.  It seemed to work, but I didn't really
test it.  It was very small, and had good specs for the money.  As I recall,
it had 4M Ram, 50M Disk, FULL 4.2 (no subsetting!), an ethernet port,
a 1M floppy, a connector for scci drives/tapes, a connector for more
floppies, and an ethernet connection.  At the time they wanted $9K if paid
up front, and $10K with P.O.

If you buy some, please let us know how you like them.

      Mark LaCasse                  qantel!hplabs!sdcrdcf!randvax!lacasse
      c/o The Rand Corporation       cbosgd!ihnp4!sdcrdcf!randvax!lacasse
      1700 Main Street              lacasse@Rand-Unix
      Santa Monica, CA 90406
	213/393-0411  ext. 7420

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From: hoffman%p...@CSNET-RELAY.ARPA (Bob Hoffman)
Newsgroups: mod.computers.workstations
Subject: Re: Symmetrics s375
Message-ID: <8606182108.AA21097@ucbvax.Berkeley.EDU>
Date: Wed, 18-Jun-86 14:11:50 EDT
Article-I.D.: ucbvax.8606182108.AA21097
Posted: Wed Jun 18 14:11:50 1986
Date-Received: Fri, 20-Jun-86 01:02:28 EDT
References: <8606120943.aa24236@VGR.BRL.ARPA>, <
Sender: dae...@ucbvax.BERKELEY.EDU
Reply-To: Bob Hoffman <hoffman%pitt.u...@CSNET-RELAY.ARPA>
Organization: Univ. of Pittsburgh, Computer Science Dept.
Lines: 18
Approved: wo...@red.rutgers.edu

UUCP site 'winfree' is a Symmetric 375.  I have played with this box
and I'm quite impressed.  The basic machine comes with 2mb RAM and a
Rodime 50MB drive.  Winfree has 4mb RAM and an 86MB Fujitsu drive.
The average access time of the Fujitsu drive is much lower than the
Rodime, so that would be my choice, were I buying one.  The unit has
three RS232 ports and, I believe, one Centronics printer port.  Early
units did not have Ethernet hardware and Symmetric sold them for
several $K less than the current model.  As recently as April, they
still had some available.  The processor is a National Semiconductor
32016 and the O/S is NSC's GENIX, which is a true 4.2bsd port.  The
head man at Symmetric is Bill Jolitz, of Berkeley fame.  For an
owner's report, contact Bdale Garbee (winfree!bdale).  Winfree has
uucp connections to pitt and bellcore.  I will forward any mail sent
to me.

-- 
Bob Hoffman, N3CVL       {allegra, bellcore, cadre, idis, psuvax1}!pitt!hoffman
Pitt Computer Science    hoffman%pitt@csnet-relay

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seismo!lll-crg!lll-lcc!qantel!vixie!paul
From: p...@vixie.UUCP (Paul Vixie Esq)
Newsgroups: net.micro,net.micro.ns32k
Subject: Re: Symmetrics s375
Message-ID: <105@vixie.UUCP>
Date: Wed, 25-Jun-86 03:15:50 EDT
Article-I.D.: vixie.105
Posted: Wed Jun 25 03:15:50 1986
Date-Received: Sat, 28-Jun-86 07:55:38 EDT
References: <1322@brl-smoke.ARPA>
Reply-To: p...@vixie.UUCP (Paul Vixie Esq)
Organization: Vixie Enterprises, San Mateo, Calif
Lines: 141
Summary: Symmetric 375 pseudo-review

In article <1...@brl-smoke.ARPA> laca...@rand-unix.arpa writes:
>
>RE:
>    We got a flier from an outfit in San Jose, CA called Symmetrics that
>    sells 4.2 Unix machines using National Semi's 32000 series chips for $5k
>    to $10k. My question is, does anyone has seen the little machines? Are
>    they for real? We are thinking of a getting a few sight unseen which is
>    not very wise and I was hoping some out there could help us.
>
>I saw one at a Usenix meeting.  It seemed to work, but I didn't really
>test it.  It was very small, and had good specs for the money.  As I recall,
>it had 4M Ram, 50M Disk, FULL 4.2 (no subsetting!), an ethernet port,
>a 1M floppy, a connector for scci drives/tapes, a connector for more
>floppies, and an ethernet connection.  At the time they wanted $9K if paid
>up front, and $10K with P.O.
>
>If you buy some, please let us know how you like them.

Well, *I* bought one, and this message intends to let you know how I like it.
Disclaimer: except for buying the machine, I have no connection (financial,
personal, or otherwise) to Symmetric Computer Systems.  I do expect to
benefit from people buying machines, since a large installed base usually
means cheaper and more plentiful software.  I'll not bias this "review"
from that or any other motive, however -- but you'll have to take my word
on it.  Then again, what else would you do?

The Box:	about 20 lbs, H 7" x W 14" x D 12"
		has scope-type handle for carrying
		32016 (32-bit internal, 16-bit external bus)
		32 or 64-bit floating point; 200000+ flops
		virtual memory; up to 16Mb per process
		2 megabytes, 10 megahertz, no wait states
		4 serial ports, up to 19200 or 38400 (but not
				both in the same kernal. odd.)
		1 parallel port (comes with centronics-type cable)
		1 floppy drive (mine's a teac) at 800K formatted
		1 hard drive (mine's a 86Mb fuji; 50Mb rodime is std)
		1 floppy port (you could add three more drives here)
		1 hard drive port (any ST506-type will do; there is
				a connector inside for a third drive but
				they didn't bring it out to the rear panel)

The OS:		Berkeley 4.2, sort of.  Actually Genix 4.1 (from BSD 4.1)
		enhanced 'til it works like BSD 4.2 with a few 4.3 goodies.
		it compiled 2.10.3, 4.3 rn, microemacs, kermit, and some
		MSDOS crudgle, all with "BSD 4.2" enabled in the respective
		makefiles.  i didn't have to modify any of it.  [as it
		happened, I *did* modify kermit, but it turned out to be
		unneccessary]

Languages:	a gold mine.  cc, pc, asm, franz lisp, prolog, apl, basic,
		something called CRL and/or Pearl, f77.

Ethernet:	my box is the "OEM"-type, which means:
			it costs $4K less
			it comes without official BSD documentation (owner's
					manual and online man pages only)
			it has no ethernet hardware (software's here though)

Mass Storage:	the standard box comes with a 50Mb/40ms rodime drive.  this
		drive is quieter than mine, but for an extra $1200 i got a
		86Mb/25ms fujitsu drive.  i pile pillows atop the machine
		when i go to sleep -- otherwise the drive noise is very evil.
		NOTE: the 50Mb drive is "virtually noiseless" compared to mine.

The Company:	SCS is very small -- but the people are Extremely Competent.
		The man who designed the machine and ported the OS worked for
		NS while the original 32k/genix/cc design/porting was going
		on - so he knew what he wanted from this little box.  He had
		time to demo my machine for me when I picked it up, and he
		Really Knows His Stuff.

Repairs:	alas, my machine was imperfect: the battery-backed-up-clock
		was running wild when the machine was powered off; it gained
		a week every eight hours.  not critical: I just set it every
		time I booted until SCS made time to repair it (about two
		days, really).  When I brought it in, they fixed it without
		any major effort [under warrantee, obviously].

Speed:		ugh.  cc grinds, a lot.  compiling kermit in parallel on this
		machine and a vaxstation-2 was astounding: the uvax II beat
		my 375 by a factor of three.  otherwise, it's just like being
		on an unloaded 750 (which aint much these days, 'til you look
		at the size and cost of the machine in question).

Genix:		is evil.  I'm glad I didn't buy any of the other
		32016/Genix boxes around.  This OS has a slightly nonstandard
		a.out file format, which means: GNU Emacs' cutesy tricks won't
		work; sendmail.fc isn't in the format expected by sendmail
		(this has a workaround: did you know that sendmail will compile
		sendmail.cf each time it runs if sendmail.fc is zero-length?);
		cdb doesn't work; lisp's "import .o file" doesn't work.

BSD 4.2:	is coming.  In July.  At which point the a.out nastiness will
		disappear; the compilers will go faster (something called the
		Berkeley Language Suite or some such -- never having been a
		4.1 user, I didn't realize how fast the 4.2 compilers were
		in comparison).  I would have regarded the July promise as
		"Real Soon Now" except that I've met the man who's doing the
		work, and I believe him.

Summary:	if I didn't have a new OS coming in a month or so, I'd be very
		unhappy with this machine -- it's usable but not astounding in
		its performance or OS completeness (i.e., I don't have the .o
		files to build my kernal, or the .c files for UUCP dialing...)

		However, the machine runs, runs well, runs reliably, and some-
		time in July will run much faster.  I can carry it off to work,
		UUCP or Kermit source onto it at 19200, bring it home and play
		all night.

		For now I'll say "recommended".

		When I get the real live OS, I'll probably be saying
		"highly recommended".

Prices:		are confusing, but let's try: 

		With Ethernet:	$9450, $8495 prepaid (quantity discounts)
		Without:	$5550, $4995 prepaid (no quantity discounts)
		86Mb drive:	add $1200
		140Mb drive:	add $3450
		8Mb RAM:	add $2800
		SCSI port:	add $600
		Source code:	add $2000 (educational institution price)

Symmetric:	After all that, prices and all, I have no rules left to break
		(if I am) by including their address.  I stress again, however,
		that I have no connection to Symmetric other than as a satis-
		fied customer.  Their address is:

			Symmetric Computer Systems
			1620 Oakland Road, Suite D200
			San Jose, CA  95131
			(408) 279-0700

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Paul Vixie
{hplabs,dual}!qantel!vixie!paul
		     ^^|^^
		       +----- my S375

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From: bb...@crash.UUCP (Bill Blue)
Newsgroups: net.micro,net.micro.ns32k
Subject: Re: Symmetrics s375
Message-ID: <111@crash.UUCP>
Date: Tue, 1-Jul-86 19:36:47 EDT
Article-I.D.: crash.111
Posted: Tue Jul  1 19:36:47 1986
Date-Received: Wed, 2-Jul-86 06:47:20 EDT
References: <1322@brl-smoke.ARPA> <105@vixie.UUCP>
Reply-To: bb...@crash.UUCP (System)
Distribution: na
Organization: /etc/organization
Lines: 88

I also have an s/375 and have some additional comments to Paul's.

Let me preface this by saying that in general, I am pleased with the
machine.  Like Paul, I feel there could be a number of improvements,
many of which are 'promised'.

Mine's the version without ethernet, but with 2mb ram and an 86mb Toshiba
drive internal.

As I said above, I like the machine, but I am not very pleased with 
the company.  Yes, I know they are small and are trying hard.  But
internal company problems and changes should not project negatively
toward the customer.  When I received the machine there were a lot of
problems. The filesystem had been installed incorrectly, among other
things.  It took me over a week of reporting bizarre problems (which of
course, had to be something I'm doing wrong) for them to come to the
conclusion that it may be *their* fault.  Machine had to go back.  About
a week later I got it back and most all of the problems had been taken
care of.  Fine, but what about those remaining?  I found out that many
of them were already known and would be taken care of in the final
software release in July.  Ok, I'll go with that (not that there was any
choice).  I was also informed that I was taking up far too much of their
time, and that they had spent too much time on my problems already!  Oh,
REALLY?  MY problems?  Indeed.  What about all of MY TIME that was wasted
on THEIR PROBLEMS?  This is a preposterous attitude, which hopefully, is
not representative of the entire company, but rather one or two
individuals.

I originally ordered my machine in late April (I got lots of attention
until after the order was shipped, by the way).  But I was also promised
the full Unix manual set, itemized in the user agreement that I was
required to sign, as an item that I would receive in two to three
weeks.  After more than a month, I called to find out where the manuals
were.  Interesting.  Between the time I received my machine and the time
I called, there had been a policy change and manuals were no longer
being provided with the non-ethernet version. That's fine, but why
should that affect MY order?  I was told by several people prior to
giving the order that manuals were included, and my documentation so
states.  Now they're saying that if I want the manuals, it'll cost me
another $150!  Unethical?  You bet.

Other observations/extensions to Paul's thorough comments on the machine:

Compiler:  Painfully slow.  Actually, it's the loader that's the prime
culprit, the compiler/assembler seem reasonable, but probably will be
better in next release.  The loader *has* to be.

Clock:  Software timekeeping loses two minutes per day.  Backup clock
loses about two minutes per week (on mine).  Software timekeeping is so
slow that I had to put a hardware to software update (date `rtc`) in
crontab so the system would be reasonably close.

Speed:  Not bad, overall.  Pretty peppy at times.  But incoming data via
uucp just kills it, especially at 2400bps.  They say it should hardly
matter much, but it does - a lot.  In fact, the loader times more than
double during incoming uucp data at 1200bps.  I don't think that's the
way it should be but of course, it must be something *I'm* doing wrong.

System upgrade in July:  Really looking forward to that, EXCEPT that the
machine MUST be sent to them for it.  It involves a complete reformat
and reinstall, from the ground up.  That means that the multitudes of
hours that may be invested in your current operations (all the fine
tuning, support files, config files, news files, user accounts and
directories, etc etc) are going to have to be completely rebuilt,
selectively, from backups.  That's a major pain - not to mention time
offline if your unit happens to be in a 'responsible' position to other
sites, which mine is.  I *wish* there was another way.

The BSD being supplied in July is supposed to have Chris Torek's
dial-in/dial-out mods to the kernel so you don't have to dedicate
certain ports to dial-in operation only, and others to dial-out
operation only.  That will be a real plus.  In fact, one of my decisions
to buy this unit was based on that mod being available.  Also support
for reading/writing MSDOS format disks may make it too.

Noise:  My system is very quiet and runs very cool.  The drive is
a little noisy when it seeks, but it's not objectionable to me. 
Practically no fan noise.

I think the overall hardware box is pretty well thought out and
engineered, and as Paul observed, obviously done by competant people.
Unfortunately, they definitely lack finesse when it comes to business
practices.  It's this deficiency that has bitten a number of well
intending small companies.  Many of which are no longer with us.

A semi-pleased-but-somewhat-disappointed customer,

--Bill Blue	{ihnp4, akgua, sdcsvax, noscvax}!crash!bblue

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From: p...@vixie.UUCP (Paul Vixie Esq)
Newsgroups: net.periphs,net.micro,net.wanted
Subject: Looking for a **real** 19200 CRT
Message-ID: <108@vixie.UUCP>
Date: Sat, 5-Jul-86 11:31:23 EDT
Article-I.D.: vixie.108
Posted: Sat Jul  5 11:31:23 1986
Date-Received: Mon, 7-Jul-86 01:26:11 EDT
Reply-To: p...@vixie.UUCP (Paul Vixie Esq)
Organization: Vixie Enterprises, San Mateo, Calif
Lines: 28

I finally have a machine (a Symmetric 375) that'll do 19200 and 38400 baud
(both in character and in bit spacing, it seems).  Unfortunately, my Z100 PC
won't take a continuous stream of that stuff without sending XOFFs to throttle
the Symmetric.  At 19200, by the time the Symmetric has seen and responded to
the XOFF, the Z100's input buffer is history.  In fact, the Z100 sends XOFFs
at 9600, too, but the Symmetric responds to them in time.  

I want a terminal.  It needs upper/lower case, and it needs to be able to do
19200 (or 38400, ideally) without any nulls inserted or any input throttling
done, EVER.  It should also have INS/DEL CHR/LIN, CLR EOL/EOP, and CUR ADDR.
Attributes (without magic cookies) would be nice; so would extra screen mem,
detached kbd, large amber screen, and ANSI.  But these are candy.  I might
consider something that needs NULs on certain screen operations, as long as
there is a reliable table of how many for which operation at what baud rates.

I know that with the advent of the 8051/8052, everybody who makes terminals
uses a microcomputer chip, and runs it at a fairly low speed to keep support
chip costs down.  The only terminal I've ever seen able to take 19200 without
throttling is the old ADM3a and the SOROCs.  Neither is an option here.

I expect to pay a **lot**.  For a terminal that'll do what I want, money is
not a large factor in the decision to purchase.

Please send mail, I don't have a full news feed yet.  Hints, flames, me-toos,
advertisements are all welcome at:

	ucbvax!dual!qantel!vixie!paul	(if you don't know the bay area)
	{fortune,qantel}!vixie!paul	(if you do)

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From: b...@ncoast.UUCP (Brad Banko)
Newsgroups: net.unix,net.unix-wizards,misc.misc
Subject: Re: Unix box for $10 a month!  Is this a scam?
Message-ID: <1637@ncoast.UUCP>
Date: Sun, 26-Oct-86 11:09:30 EST
Article-I.D.: ncoast.1637
Posted: Sun Oct 26 11:09:30 1986
Date-Received: Tue, 28-Oct-86 02:29:08 EST
References: <230@boake2.UUCP> <912@cbmvax.cbmvax.cbm.UUCP> <267@puff.wisc.edu>
Reply-To: b...@ncoast.UUCP (Brad Banko)
Organization: North Coast Public Access UN*X, Cleveland, OH
Lines: 19
Keywords: cheap unix box
Summary: another amazing deal?

Has anybody heard of, or actually have one of the Symmetric 375 machines
from SYMMETRIC Computer Systems, San Jose?  I just got info from them today
from BYTE... what they offer seems incredible... it is a portable box with
a "750" inside running BSD 4.2 with all utilities... everybody's favorite
languages  f77, Pascal LISP PROLOG BASIC apl, and even C... it has half the
speed of a 750 (hence the name "375", a 50 meg Winchester drive... four
serial ports... AND, you can take it home at night!  They sell it for
$4995 (about $9000 with ethernet) and their number is:

		408 279 0700


			Brad Banko
			...!decvax!cwruecmp!ncoast!btb
			Cleveburg, Ohio
			"The heart of Rock n Roll"

-- 
Bradley T. Banko

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From: p...@vixie.UUCP (Paul Vixie Esq)
Newsgroups: net.unix,net.unix-wizards,misc.misc,net.micro.ns32k
Subject: Re: Unix box for $10 a month!  Is this a scam?
Message-ID: <183@vixie.UUCP>
Date: Thu, 30-Oct-86 15:10:13 EST
Article-I.D.: vixie.183
Posted: Thu Oct 30 15:10:13 1986
Date-Received: Fri, 31-Oct-86 20:23:51 EST
References: <230@boake2.UUCP> <912@cbmvax.cbmvax.cbm.UUCP> <267@puff.wisc.edu> 
<1637@ncoast.UUCP>
Reply-To: p...@vixie.UUCP (Paul Vixie Esq)
Organization: Vixie Enterprises, San Mateo, CA
Lines: 29
Keywords: cheap unix box

In article <1...@ncoast.UUCP> b...@ncoast.UUCP (Brad Banko) writes:
>Has anybody heard of, or actually have one of the Symmetric 375 machines
>from SYMMETRIC Computer Systems, San Jose? [...] it is a portable box [...]
>running BSD 4.2 with all utilities... everybody's favorite languages (f77,
>Pascal LISP PROLOG BASIC apl, and even C)... it has half the speed of a 750,
>a 50 meg Winchester drive... four serial ports... AND, you can take it home
>at night!  They sell it for $4995 (~$9000 with ethernet) and their number is:
>
>		408 279 0700

Yes, I own one of these.  It is all it's advertised to be.  Useful options
are:

	replace 50Mb/45ms drive with an 86Mb/27ms:		~$1200
	scsi port:						~$850
	replace 800K floppy drive with cartidge tape drive:	~$600
	replace 2Mb RAM with 8Mb RAM:				~$2900

All prices from memory.  Call SYMMETRIC for exact details.

Although I have had some software problems with this machine, they have
evened out as of the latest release, and many were my own fault anyway.

I can reccommend the machine.

I don't work for SYMMETRIC.
-- 
Paul A. Vixie       arpa: p...@vixie.UUCP, nike!ptsfa!vixie!p...@seismo.CSS.GOV
San Mateo, Calif    uucp: {ptsfa,qantel,fortune,crash,winfree}!vixie!paul

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From: r...@ICST-CMR.arpa (Root Boy Jim)
Newsgroups: net.unix-wizards
Subject: Re:  NS32032 and UNIX
Message-ID: <4936@brl-smoke.ARPA>
Date: Mon, 27-Oct-86 11:49:31 EST
Article-I.D.: brl-smok.4936
Posted: Mon Oct 27 11:49:31 1986
Date-Received: Mon, 27-Oct-86 22:42:45 EST
Sender: n...@brl-smoke.ARPA
Lines: 20


	I am looking for any information about any systems that run UNIX(tm)
	on a National Semiconductor NS32032 processor.

I believe National itself has something called Genix, but I have heard it
has problems. Sequent and Encore are two OEM's that build multiprocessor
boxes with ns32032 brains and have adapted unix to run in that environment.

	Thanks,
	Tom Perrine
	Logicon - Operating Systems Division
	San Diego CA
	
	ARPA: Perr...@LOGICON.ARPA or Perr...@DOCKMASTER.ARPA
	
	(Root Boy) Jim Cottrell		<r...@icst-cmr.arpa>
	I have seen these EGG EXTENDERS in my Supermarket..

Please note that NBS neither recommends for or against specific products
or vendors. These are my personal opinions. I do not speak for NBS.

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From: p...@vixie.UUCP (Paul Vixie Esq)
Newsgroups: net.unix-wizards
Subject: Re:  NS32032 and UNIX
Message-ID: <178@vixie.UUCP>
Date: Tue, 28-Oct-86 20:58:22 EST
Article-I.D.: vixie.178
Posted: Tue Oct 28 20:58:22 1986
Date-Received: Wed, 29-Oct-86 21:51:03 EST
References: <4936@brl-smoke.ARPA>
Reply-To: p...@vixie.UUCP (Paul Vixie Esq)
Organization: Vixie Enterprises, San Mateo, CA
Lines: 24

In article <4...@brl-smoke.ARPA> r...@ICST-CMR.arpa (Root Boy Jim) writes:
>>	I am looking for any information about any systems that run UNIX(tm)
>>	on a National Semiconductor NS32032 processor.
>
>I believe National itself has something called Genix, but I have heard it
>has problems. 

Yes, GENIX has many problems.  Mostly because it was/is based on 4.1BSD, even
though 4.2 was available before GENIX was.  At this point, I believe National
is working very hard on SVID compliance, which is just about the worst thing
they could do (in my fanatical opinion--please disagree by mail if you must).

Symmetric Computer Systems in San Jose makes a 32016 box that works quite
well.  I own one.  Symmetric has brought most of 4.2 and parts of 4.3 into
the operating system (Symmetrix), which was originally based on GENIX.

Sequent's machine is a very fast multiprocessor, but is expensive.  The
Symmetric 375 I'm typing this on weighs 25 pounds, is 14in X 6in X 12in,
has a 96Mb/28ms drive, an 800K floppy, four ports, 2MB ram, a 10MHz 32016,
optional SCSI and ethernet, and sold for about $6300.  Cheaper models are
available with smaller/slower hard drives.
-- 
Paul A. Vixie       arpa: p...@vixie.UUCP, nike!ptsfa!vixie!p...@seismo.CSS.GOV
San Mateo, Calif    uucp: {ptsfa,qantel,fortune,crash,winfree}!vixie!paul