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From: s...@valid.UUCP
Newsgroups: net.decus,net.unix,net.usenix
Subject: Favorite operating systems query
Message-ID: <339@valid.UUCP>
Date: Sat, 14-Jun-86 05:06:35 EDT
Article-I.D.: valid.339
Posted: Sat Jun 14 05:06:35 1986
Date-Received: Tue, 17-Jun-86 10:38:07 EDT
Distribution: net
Organization: Valid Logic, San Jose, CA
Lines: 38
Keywords: VMS, Multics, UNIX, fanaticism

I recently learned, via a Datamation article, that Honeywell is de-supporting
Multics, and that Honeywell's customers are screaming and hollering.  The
reason this was interesting to me is that Multics, like UNIX(TM), is a
``cult'' operating system, by which I mean that it has a hard core of
rabid, fanatical defenders.  (Of course, none of us on the net is a drooling
OS groupie; we all have sound technical reasons for preferring some
systems to others.)

For the last few years I've been a UNIX (ahem) user/fan/implementor, but
recently my work -- I'm maintaining a schematics editor -- has led me
into VMS.  Now, to me, VMS is "just another vendor-supplied operating
system."  I don't like it as well as I like UNIX, but then again, I
don't know it as well as I know UNIX, either.  However, I've recently
heard that there is a breed of VMS partisan every bit as intense as
the most stalwart UNIX die-hard.  So, finally to get round to the point,
I have some questions:

	1) For the VMS fans out there: what's your favorite feature(s) of
	   the system?  Why do you like it?  How does it help you?

	2) Likewise UNIX and Multics fans.  (How do I get to a Multics
	   site?  I'm not on the MILnet...)

	3) For anybody out there: what's your favorite system, or most
	   fondly remembered, or the one you were most fanatical about?
	   Why did you like it so much?

Part of my reasons for posting are individual: I'm interested in learning
more about VMS so that I can do my job better.  But I'm also interested
in the sociology of the thing, and if you are too, post or mail me.


"After changes upon changes, we are more or less the same."
					-Paul Simon.
S.

(TM)UNIX is a trademark of AT&T Bell Laboratories.
VMS is a trademark of the Digital Equipment Corporation.

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harvard!uwvax!geowhiz!larry
From: la...@geowhiz.UUCP (Larry McVoy)
Newsgroups: net.decus,net.unix,net.usenix
Subject: Re: Favorite operating systems query
Message-ID: <452@geowhiz.UUCP>
Date: Sun, 15-Jun-86 21:57:27 EDT
Article-I.D.: geowhiz.452
Posted: Sun Jun 15 21:57:27 1986
Date-Received: Wed, 18-Jun-86 02:51:56 EDT
References: <339@valid.UUCP>
Reply-To: la...@geowhiz.UUCP (Larry McVoy)
Distribution: net
Organization: UW Madison, Geology Dept.
Lines: 73
Keywords: VMS, Multics, UNIX, fanaticism

In article <3...@valid.UUCP> s...@valid.UUCP (Steven Brian McKechnie Sargent) writes:
>
>	1) For the VMS fans out there: what's your favorite feature(s) of
>	   the system?  Why do you like it?  How does it help you?

I think that the main complaints with Unix from VMSites are

1) the BSD fortran compiler is the worst excuse for a compiler the world has 
   ever seen (reports of 4 to 400 times slower than VMS fortran).

2) Related to (1), VMS fortran is a SUPERSET of ANSI Fortran 77 *and* is the
   defacto scientific standard.  There are very few scientific research 
   centers (remember science includes physics, math, chemistry; computer
   science is only questionably a science) that don't have Vaxen running VMS 
   with the VMS fortran compiler.  A great deal of established software depends
   on the extensions provided by DEC.

3) Likewise with DCL (Dec Command Language).  It's like sh with more obscurity.
   *Large* DCL programs exist (my father who is a physicist has a modelling
   program with an enormous dcl frontend, like 10-15K lines. Unfortunately, 
   stuff like this is not uncommon).  This could be solved by writing a dcl-like
   shell.

4) EDT - the VMS screen editor.  Somebody already fixed this by writing an emacs
   interface to emulate EDT.

5) Real time support.  Other than Masscomp's RTU, VMS is the only company that I
   know of which supplies real time support.

[From here on out they are my personal complaints; 1-5 were complaints that I
 have to listen to everytime I bump into a VMS person.  They are as of yet
 blissflly ignorant of #6].

6) File system.  Why, oh, why, must the Unix file system be so fragile?  VMS
   never loses your files.  And it's faster to boot up.  I have no idea what
   the difference is in design but somebody ought to have a look & see what
   could be done.

7) IPC. Shared memory, sockets, pty's, pipes, ioctls all over the place.  And
   the only one that's not been hacked in as an after thought is pipes. IPC in
   Unix bytes the giant weenie.  Talk to the guys at CMU, they've got all kinds
   of literature defending Mach based on this (and other design) problems.

8) Robustness.  VMS almost *never* crashes.  Unix crashes all the time.  You
   damn near can't survive without source because you're always fixing 
   something.  DEC has never handed out VMS src.  Unix is the ultimate example
   of "the quick fix solution"; those solutions always turn out to be wrong
   in the long run (trust me, this is the voice of experience talking. Sigh).

9) Related to (7), networking support.  Sockets are gross.  This isn't just
   my opinion, ask the DoD what they think of sockets.  Remote filesystems,
   remote devices, etc, are all being kludged in by every OEM in the field.
   Have fun trying to make them all work together.  Design?  We don't need no
   stinkin' design, we got 10,000 lines of code.

OK, now that I've got all the fanatics foaming at the mouth, let me throw in my
disclaimer.  I've been a Unix fanatic myself for the past 4 years.  I'm just
not blind to the problems that exist in Unix.  As a research vehicle,  as a 
development system, it's the nicest thing I've ever used.  However, I have 
real problems recommending Unix as a "users" system.   It needs a nursemaid
to survive properly.  Read net.mail - every time the postmaster at some large
site leaves his job the mail gets all fouled up.  What happened to programs
that run themselves, without being nursed?  Unix has too much folklore & 
guru-ness about it to be accepted into the mainstream.

-- 
Larry McVoy
-----------
Arpa:  mc...@rsch.wisc.edu                              
Uucp:  {seismo, topaz, harvard, ihnp4}!uwvax!geowhiz!larry      

"Just remember, wherever you go -- there you are."
 	-Buckaroo Banzai

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nike!ucbcad!ucbvax!hplabs!tektronix!orca!hammer!seifert
From: seif...@hammer.UUCP (Snoopy)
Newsgroups: net.decus,net.unix
Subject: Re: Favorite operating systems query
Message-ID: <2121@hammer.UUCP>
Date: Wed, 18-Jun-86 15:31:22 EDT
Article-I.D.: hammer.2121
Posted: Wed Jun 18 15:31:22 1986
Date-Received: Sat, 21-Jun-86 11:45:58 EDT
References: <339@valid.UUCP> <452@geowhiz.UUCP>
Reply-To: tekecs!doghouse.TEK!snoopy (Snoopy)
Distribution: net
Organization: The Daisy Hill Puppy Farm
Lines: 18
Keywords: VMS, Multics, UNIX, fanaticism

In article <4...@geowhiz.UUCP> la...@geowhiz.UUCP (Larry McVoy) writes:

>8) Robustness.  VMS almost *never* crashes.  Unix crashes all the time.

Doghouse has not crashed due to software for over a year, and that
was when I was evaluating a new kernel and found a problem.  (Which
the kernel group fixed before I signed the paperwork to ship the
release.)  Hardware crashes are another story.  I don't have a UPS,
and it's hardly Unix's fault that someone plugs too much stuff in
and throws the circuit breaker.  I haven't lost any files, at any rate.
(And yes, fsck runs automatically when the machine comes up, unless
it was run as part of a clean powerdown.)

If your machines are crashing "all the time", something is wrong,
but don't blame it on "Unix".

Snoopy
tektronix!tekecs!doghouse.TEK!snoopy

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harvard!topaz!uwvax!geowhiz!larry
From: la...@geowhiz.UUCP (Larry McVoy)
Newsgroups: net.decus,net.unix
Subject: Re: Favorite operating systems query
Message-ID: <454@geowhiz.UUCP>
Date: Fri, 20-Jun-86 02:38:20 EDT
Article-I.D.: geowhiz.454
Posted: Fri Jun 20 02:38:20 1986
Date-Received: Sat, 21-Jun-86 10:47:30 EDT
References: <339@valid.UUCP> <452@geowhiz.UUCP> <2121@hammer.UUCP>
Reply-To: la...@geowhiz.UUCP (Larry McVoy)
Distribution: net
Organization: UW Madison, Geology Dept.
Lines: 41
Keywords: VMS, Multics, UNIX, fanaticism

In article <2...@hammer.UUCP> tekecs!doghouse.TEK!snoopy (Snoopy) writes:
>In article <4...@geowhiz.UUCP> la...@geowhiz.UUCP (Larry McVoy) writes:
>
>>8) Robustness.  VMS almost *never* crashes.  Unix crashes all the time.
>
>If your machines are crashing "all the time", something is wrong,
>but don't blame it on "Unix".

OK, OK, I'll bite on some of the replies I've received.

1) There are a large number of fanatics out there who foam at the mouth when
   ever someone bad mouths Unix.  Tough life.  I have no sympathy for such.

2) I was wrong about VMS src, I guess they do release it - on microfiche unless
   you want to pay mega$$ for machine readable.  Sorry.

3) In regards to Unix robustness - I'll make you all a challenge: I'll bet I can
   take a commercially available Unix (BSD based, I don't play w/ AT&T & they 
   don't play w/ me) and find twice as many ways to screw it up as you could
   in VMS.  This means anything from kernel bugs to application bugs.

   The point is that Unix systems are hacked together things which work most
   of the time; you learn real fast which buttons not push.  In VMS they took
   those buttons away.  It's a much more solid product.

4) Crashing:  You bet it crashes.  Until you fix the bugs.  Even the people who
   denied this said that if you added this or pushed that or diddled the other
   thing it would crash.  Like I said, it crashes all the time.  Look at the 
   list of bugs *known* about BSD Unix.  Look at tektronix, they claimed to 
   have a port of 4.2 with over **2000** bug fixes.  2,000??? In a distribution
   version of Unix?  Come on.  At CS here it took them 6 months to a year to 
   get 4.2 to the point that it didn't crash each time the load got to 20 on a
   780 (I know, I used that vax during the "fixing" period).
-- 
Larry McVoy
-----------
Arpa:  mc...@rsch.wisc.edu                              
Uucp:  {seismo, topaz, harvard, ihnp4}!uwvax!geowhiz!larry      

"Just remember, wherever you go -- there you are."
 	-Buckaroo Banzai