Joe Smith jes at
Thu Oct 3 15:45:57 EST 1996

Oh dear.  Here we go again.  I don't meant this to be advocacy and I
refuse to get involved in a PC vs. Unix discussion (as much as I enjoy
them ;-).  It's just a different opinion.

In article <530ecc$qj7 at> gilbertd at (Don Gilbert) writes:

   My original question regarding Sequencher (Mac), and
   Phrap/Phred/Consed and Staden packages (Unix) was aimed at finding
   the best program, regardless of platform.  There is value in central (Unix)
   systems that are multi user, better at multi tasking, and often
   higher performance (at at higher cost of course).

[space added not in original]
                                                       There is value
   in desktop systems (Mac and Wintel) that are managable and usable by
   biologists w/o special training, that work in an easy to use manner
   and do all the important things a biologist needs.  

I agree: there's value in both.  We use both in the lab to good

But, while the PC systems have caught the workstation in performance,
and sometime ago surpassed them in price/performance, they have also
increased greatly in complexity.  Around here at least, I find that
Don's last statement no longer rings entirely true.  People spend a
lot of time fiddling around with the Macs and PCs, trying to get
things to work.  We also spend a lot of money trying to keep up with
the latest (and hopefully compatible) versions of the OS and all the

If all you want to do is turn on the computer and run a word
processor, then yes, it's OK.  But in many cases where people are
trying to do 'all the important things a biologist needs', PCs are not
terribly easy to setup and maintain.  And for PCs that are used in a
lab setting, with networks and multiple users, it gets much worse.

OTOH, with the advent of Linux and other cheap/free Unixes, the
price/performance gap is completely gone.  There is no longer a
premium to be paid to run Unix.  The usability gap is also shrinking
as more commercial software becomes available.

So, I see a value in the desktop Unix market, in that there's more
stability and more room to grow smoothly.

 Joe Smith
 University of Pennsylvania                   jes at
 Department of Physiology
 Philadelphia, PA 19104

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