How to choose a new 386 UNIX PC...

John E Van Deusen III jiii at visdc.UUCP
Sat Sep 23 05:31:05 AEST 1989

In article <4635 at ursa-major.SPDCC.COM> dyer at ursa-major.spdcc.COM
(Steve Dyer) writes:
> In article <648 at visdc.UUCP> I wrote:
>> I would like to suggest that you people at Interactive (or SCO or
>> Bell/Intel) put together a stand-alone X terminal software package
>> to run on low-end 386s.  [It solves the] problem of poor X server
>> performance on 386 machines running UNIX ...
> First, X runs fine under AIX PS/2 using an 8514 display adapter and
> ... the 8514 16" screen.  It's quite snappy ...  I suspect that the
> problem is trying to use X on VGA displays ...

The only thing I have against the 8514A is the lack of NON-INTERLACED
1024x768 resolution and the lack of such boards for the AT bus.  I think
that the concept of the graphics processor is right on the beam, because
trying to force pixels one-byte-at-a-time across an 8MH AT bus may very
well be at the heart of the problem.

The drawback to the particular configuration that you cite is that it
is a PC solution, not a multiuser one.  It is not cost effective to give
each user a PS/2 capable of running AIX, if the application is running
on another set of machines.  The configuration is FAR too expensive to
be used only as a terminal.  That goes for any PC hopped up with enough
hardware and UNIX-based software to be able to function as an X-terminal.

A 20MH 386 board with 4MB, a display, and a ethernet adaptor is NOT too
expensive to be used as a terminal.  The problem comes when you need to
add a big disk and expensive software consisting of the UNIX OS, TCP/IP,
X windows, and Merge (Note 1): all this for each user.  By then so much
is invested that it is natural to try to run some application as well.
This requires a bigger disk, at least another 4 MB of memory, hassling
with cache memory, and a processor upgrade to 25 or 33 MH (double the
price of the mother board for each).  If you need to run multiuser, then
you are back at square one.  This is why I suggested that ISC, SCO, etc.
create of version of all this UNIX software that ONLY functions as an X

> IBM sells "X Windows for DOS" and Locus sells what I believe to be the
> same product, PC/Xsight. ...  I believe you are limited to what you
> can do in 640K, but I could be wrong.

I know that Locus is working on an extended-memory version of PC/Xsight.
The problem is that such extensions are non-standard.

> -- 
> Steve Dyer
> dyer at aka {ima,harvard,rayssd,linus,m2c}!spdcc!dyer
> dyer at, dyer at

Note 1: In case it isn't obvious, the reason for basing an X terminal on
a PC is to have access to peripherals and cards that currently only work
with MSDOS.  PC/Xsight, for instance, allows the I/O from MSDOS
peripherals to be piped to UNIX applications.
John E Van Deusen III, PO Box 9283, Boise, ID  83707, (208) 343-1865


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