From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Eric S. Raymond) Subject: PC-clone UNIX Software Buyer's Guide Date: 6 Jul 1993 02:26:07 GMT
Last-update: Mon Jul 5 14:30:06 1993
You say you want cutting-edge hacking tools without having to mortgage your
wife, your kids, and your dog? You say arrogant workstation vendors are
getting you down? You say you crave fast UNIX on cheap hardware, but you don't
know how to go about getting it? Well, pull up a chair and take the load off
yer feet, bunky, because this is the PC-clone UNIX Software Buyer's Guide
Many FAQs, including this one, are available via FTP on the archive site
rtfm.mit.edu in the directory pub/usenet/news.answers. The name under which
this FAQ is archived appears in the Archive-name line above. This FAQ is
updated monthly; if you want the latest version, please query the archive
rather than emailing the overworked maintainer.
What's new in this issue:
* CD-ROM driver bug in Esix 18.104.22.168
* A fix for a longstanding Dell non-bug!
* Corrections to BSDI info
Gentle Reader: if you end up buying something based on information from
this Guide, please do yourself and the net a favor; make a point of telling
the vendor "Eric's FAQ sent me" or some equivalent. The idea isn't to hype
me personally, I've already got all the notoriety I need from doing things
like _The_New_Hacker's_Dictionary_ --- but if we can show vendors that the
Guide influences a lot of purchasing decisions, I can be a more effective
advocate for the net's interests, and for you.
I. INTRODUCTION. What this posting is. How to help improve it. Summary of
the 386/486 UNIX market, including 8 SVr4 products, SCO UNIX (an SVr3.2),
BSD/386, and Linux. What's new in this issue.
II. GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS. A brief discussion of general hardware
requirements and compatibility considerations in the base SVR4 code from UNIX
Systems Laboratories (referred to below as the USL code). None of this
automatically applies to SCO, LINUX, or BSD/386, which break out the
corresponding information into their separate vendor reports.
III. FEATURE COMPARISON. A feature table which gives basic price & feature
info and summarizes differences between the versions.
IV. VENDOR REPORTS. Detailed descriptions of the major versions and
vendors, including information collected from the net on bugs, supported
and unsupported hardware and the like.
V. UPCOMING PORTS, FREEWARE VERSIONS, AND CLONES. Less-detailed descriptions
of other products in the market.
VI. HARDWARE COMPATIBILITY TABLES. A set of tables summarizes vendor claims
and user reports on hardware compatibility.
VII. FREEWARE ACCESS FOR SVR4 SYSTEMS. Information on the SVR4 binaries
VIII. FREE ADVICE TO VENDORS. Your humble editor's soapbox. An open letter
to the UNIX vendors designed to get them all hustling to improve their products
and services as fast as possible.
IX. INTO THE FUTURE. Things to know about where the major vendors
(especially USL) think they're going.
X. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS AND ENVOI. Credit where credit is due. Some praises
and pans. What comes next....
Note: versions 1.0 through 4.0 of this posting had a different archive name
(386-buyers-faq) and included the following now separate FAQs as sections.
pc-unix/hardware -- (formerly HOT TIPS FOR HARDWARE BUYERS) Useful general
tips for anybody buying clone hardware for a UNIX system. Overview of the
market. Technical points. When, where, and how to buy.
usl-bugs -- (formerly KNOWN BUGS IN THE USL CODE). A discussion of bugs
known or believed to be generic to the USL code, with indications as to which
porting houses have fixed them. None of this applies to the two BSD-based
Readers may also find material of interest in Dick Dunn's general 386 UNIX
FAQ list, posted monthly to comp.unix.pc-clone.32bit and news.answers.
The purpose of this posting is to pool public knowledge and USENET feedback
about all leading-edge versions of UNIX for commodity 386 and 486 hardware. It
also includes extensive information on how to buy cheap clone hardware to
support your UNIX.
This document is maintained and periodically updated as a service to the net by
Eric S. Raymond <email@example.com>, who began it for the very best
self-interested reason that he was in the market and didn't believe in plonking
down several grand without doing his homework first (no, I don't get paid for
this, though I have had a bunch of free software and hardware dumped on me as a
result of it!). Corrections, updates, and all pertinent information are
welcomed at that address.
This posting is periodically broadcast to the USENET group comp.unix.sysv386
and to a list of vendor addresses. If you are a vendor representative, please
check the feature chart and vendor report to make sure the information on your
company is current and correct. If it is not, please email me a correction
ASAP. If you are a knowledgeable user of any of these products, please send me
a precis of your experiences for the improvement of the feedback sections.
At time of writing, here are the major products in this category:
Dell UNIX Issue 2.2 abbreviated as "Dell" below
ESIX System V Release 4.0.4 abbreviated as "Esix" below
Micro Station Technology SVr4 UNIX abbreviated as "MST" below
Microport System V Release 4.0 version 4 abbreviated as "uPort" below
UHC Version 3.6 abbreviated as "UHC" below
Consensys System V Release 4.2 abbreviated as "Cons" below
Information Foundation System V Release 4.2 abbreviated as "IF" below
Univel UnixWare Release 4.2 abbreviated as "Univel" below
SCO Open Desktop 3.0 abbreviated as "ODT" below
BSD/386 1.0 abbreviated as "BSDI" below
Yggdrasil Linux/GNU/X abbreviated as "LGX" below
The first six of these are ports of USL's System V Release 4. Until last year
there was a seventh, by Interactive Systems Corporation. That product was
canned after half of ISC was bought by SunSoft, evidently to clear the decks
for Solaris 2.0 (a SunOS port for the 386). The only Interactive UNIX one can
buy at present is an SVr3.2 port which I consider uninteresting because it's so
far behind the others; I have ignored it.
Note that ODT is SCO's full system with networking and X windows; what they
call SCO UNIX is missing most of those trimmings.
BSD/386 is *not* based on USL code, but on the CSRG NET2 distribution tape.
Complete sources are included with every system shipped!
LGX is a freeware OS built around Linux, a POSIX-emulating UNIX lookalike
written from scratch by Linus Torvalds and others and currently in late beta.
The information given here is based on the Yggdrasil Software CD-ROM
distribution, which adds the GNU tools, X and other well-known freeware.
AT&T's own 386 UNIX offering is not covered here because it is available and
supported for AT&T hardware only.
All the vendors listed offer a 30-day money-back guarantee, but they'll be
sticky about it except where there's an insuperable hardware compatibility
problem or you trip over a serious bug. One (UHC) charges a 25% restocking fee
on returns. BSDI offers a 60-day guarantee starting from the date of receipt
by the customer and says: "If a customer is dissatisfied with the product, BSDI
unconditionally refunds the purchase price." Dell says "30 day money-back
guarantee, no questions asked".
Some other ports are listed in section V.
To run any of these systems, you need at least the following: 4 MB of RAM and
80MB of hard disk (SCO says 8MB minimum for ODT 3.0; Dell 2.2 also requires 8
MB minimum). However, this is an absolute minimum; you'll want at least 8 MB
of RAM for reasonable performance. And depending on options installed, the OS
will eat from 40 to 120 meg of the disk, so you'll want at least 200 meg for
real work. To run X you'll need a VGA monitor and card, and 12-16MB RAM would
be a good idea.
Installation from these systems requires that you boot from a hi-density 3.5
floppy (some also supply a 5.25" boot disk, but the older floppy size is
rapidly passing out of use). Most vendors offer the bulk of the system on a
QIC 60 1/4-inch tape; otherwise you may be stuck with a hefty extra media
charge and loading over 60 diskettes!
CD-ROM is increasingly popular as a distribution medium; SCO and BSDI offer it,
and LGX is *ony* distributed on CD-ROM. BSDI will even sell you a CD-ROM
reader for US$225 (or you buy the same Mitsumi drive at Radio Shack or Best Buy
for US$199+tax). In general, if the initial boot gets far enough to display a
request for the first disk or tape load, you're in good shape.
USL SVr4 conforms to the following software standards: ANSI X3.159-1989 C,
POSIX 1003.1, SVID 3rd edition, FIPS 151-1, XPG3, and System V Release 4 ABI.
4.0.4 ports conform to the iBCS-2 binary standard. The SVr4 C compiler (C
Issue 5) includes some non-ANSI extensions (however, note that as of mid-1992,
no SVr4 ports other than AT&T's have been formally POSIX-certified).
SCO conforms to the following standards: ANSI X3.159-1989 C, POSIX 1003.1 FIPS
151-1, XPG3, iBCS2, and SVID 2nd Edition. Despite the
marketing droids hacking at its version number, SCO is not conformant to System
V Release 4 or SVID 3rd Edition.
All SVr4 versions include support for BSD-style file systems with 255-character
segment names and fragment allocation. In general this is a Good Thing, but
some SVr3.2 and XENIX binaries can be confused by the different size of the
inode index. You need to run these on an AT&T-style file system. SCO (as of
SCO UNIX 3.2v4 and ODT 2.0) has an `EAFS' file system which adds symlinks and
long filenames. Old SCO binaries can be confused by long filenames.
All SVr4.0.3, SVr4.0.4 and SCO versions include the UNIX manual pages on-line.
Dell stocks Prentice-Hall's SVr4 books and will sell them to you with your
system (in lieu of printed manuals) at extra cost. You can order them direct
from Prentice-Hall at (201)-767-5937. Warning: they ain't cheap! Buying the
whole 13 volumes will cost you a couple hundred bucks. Microport has their own
manual sets derived from the same AT&T source tapes as the Prentice-Hall set,
included with their system; UHC bundles in the Prentice-Hall books themselves.
The SVr4.2 versions, due to malignant idiocy by USL, typically do *not*
include on-line man pages. However, IF has re-inserted them.
SVr4 includes hooks for a DOS bridge that allows you to run DOS applications
under UNIX (the two products that actually do this are DOS Merge and VP/ix).
Most vendors do not include either of these with the base system, however.
All these systems support up to 1024x768 by 256 color super-VGA under X. The
640x480 by 16 colors of standard VGA is no problem; everybody supports that
compatibly. However, X servers older than the Xfree86 or X11R5 version (that
is, MIT X11R4 or anything previous) are hard to configure for the clock timings
of your controller and monitor scan frequency unless you have one of the
standard combinations USL supports or your vendor has configured for it.
There are a couple of known hardware compatibility problems the USL code
doesn't yet address. See the companion "Known Bugs" FAQ.
To interpret the table below, bear in mind the following things:
All these products except BSDI/386, Linux, and SCO ODT are based on the SVr4
kernel from UNIX Systems Laboratories (USL), an AT&T spinoff. Thus they share
over 90% of their code and features. Product differentiation is done primarily
through support policy, bug-fix quality and add-on software.
The `USL support?' column refers to the fact that USL support is a separate
charge from the source license. With the former, a porting house gets access
to AT&T's own OS support people and their bug fix database, and the porting
house's bug fixes can get folded back into the USL code.
These systems come either in a "crippled" version that supports at most two
simultaneous users, or an unlimited version. Generally the vendors do allow
you to upgrade your license via a patch disk if your requirements change, but
this invariably costs slightly more than the base price difference between
2-user and unlimited systems.
The "run-time" system in the price tables below is a minimum installation,
just enough to run binaries. The "complete" system includes every software
option offered by the vendor; it does *not* bundle in the cost of the
Prentice-Hall docs offered by some vendors as an option. You may well get
away with less, especially if you're willing to do your own X installation.
Starting with SCO UNIX 3.2v4.2 and Open Desktop/Server 3.0, SCO is
selling 3 levels of license: 2-user, 16-user and unlimited. Our "complete"
liating is for the unlimited system.
(Note that these tiers of license are a consequence of USL's royalty policies:
each vendor must pay a royalty to USL for each license sold, and the size of
the royalty varies according to how many users are allowed.)
Prices are for QIC-tape configurations, except SCO and LGX which are for the
CD-ROM distrbution. Some vendors will supply the OS on floppies, but they
don't enjoy doing so and may charge substantially more for a diskette version.
Typically, CD-ROM distributions cost less than tapes.
The `Upgrade plan' section refers only to upgrades from previous versions
of the same vendor's software.
The numbers under support-with-purchase are days counted from date
of shipment. The intent is to help you get initially up and running.
The engineer counts below are as supplied by vendors; .5 of an engineer
means someone is officially working half-time. The `Uses USENET' column is
`yes' if there is allegedly at least one person in the engineering department
who reads USENET technical groups regularly and is authorized to respond to
USENET postings reporting problems.
The `DOS Bridge' row gives the version number of DOSMerge supplied with the
system, if any. DosMerge 2.0 has roughly the caoabilities of DOS 3.0, though
it is reported to be quite flaky and hard to configure. DOSMerge 2.2 has the
capabilities of DOS 5.0, and DOS Merge 3.1 has the capabilities of DOS 5.0 +
Windows running in "Standard" (286) mode.
The AF_UNIX row tells which versions support UNIX-domain sockets. These
are a separate namespace from the INET sockets, local to each machine and
used by some applications because they cannot be spoofed over the network.
The `ISO9660' column tells whether the OS can read ISO9660 filesystems.
The `Rock Ridge?' column tells whether the Rock Ridge extensions for UNIX
are known to be supported.
A dash `-' means the given feature or configuration is not offered. A `yes'
means it is currently offered; `soon' means the vendor has represented that it
will be offered in the near future. A `no' means it's not offered, but there's
some related information in the attached footnote.
System Price (US$) Has Reduced price
Base USL Run-time only Developer's printed upgrade from
Vendor Version support 2-user Unlim 2-user Unlim docs? SVr3.2 SVr4
SCO 3.2.2 - 595(g) 1595(g) 2290(g) 4590(g) y y -
Cons 4.2 ?? 495 755 1270 1535 y - -
Dell 4.0.4 y - - 995 1295(b) y(e) y (h)
Esix 4.0.4 y - - - 1095(g) - - -
IF 4.2 y 299 819 995 1490 y - -
Univel 4.2 y(u) 249 1299 599 1199 y - -
MST 4.0.3 - 249 449 799 849 - - (h)
uPort 4.0.4 y 500 1000 3000 3500 y(f) y (h)
UHC 4.0.3 ??(a) 695 1090 1990 2385 y - -
BSDI BSD - - 545(c) - 1045(c) - - -
LGX Linux - - - - $60 - - -
Table 2: SUPPORT FEATURES
With 800 Support FTP Read # Engineers Support
Vendor sale number? BBS? server? USENET? Support Devel. contracts
SCO 0 y y y y 60+ 55+ per year
Cons 30 y y(i) - - 6 ??(m) per year
Dell 90 y - y y 5 10 per year
Esix (j) - - y y ?? ?? (j)
IF 90 y soon soon soon 2 2 custom
Univel (j) y (v) soon y ?? ?? (j)
MST 30 - - - - 2 3 per year
uPort 30 - y - y 4 6 per year
UHC 30 - soon - -(l) 2 27 per year
BSDI 60 y - y y 1.5 6.5 per year
LGX - - - - y ?? ?? -
Table 3: DISTRIBUTION MEDIA
Floppy disk ------------- QIC tape ------------ via
3.5" 5.25" 60MB 125MB 150MB 250MB 2GB CD-ROM network
SCO y y y - - - - y -
Cons y(n) y(n) y - y - - - -
Dell - - - - - y y - y
Esix y - y(w) - - - - y(w) -
IF y y y - - - - - -
Univel - - y(w) - - - - y(w) y(w)
MST y y y y y - - - -
uPort y y y - y - - - -
UHC - - - y y - - - -
BSDI y - - - - y - y y
LGX - - - - - - - y -
Table 4: X OPTIONS
X/News MIT AT&T AT&T X11R5 Open Motif X
X11R3 X11R4 Xwin3 Xwin4 Look Desktop
SCO - - - - y(o) - 1.2.2 3.5
Cons - - - - y - 1.1 -
Dell - y - - y 4i 1.1.4 -
Esix y - - y y 1.0 1.1.0 -
IF - - - y - 4i 1.1.4 -
MST - - y - - 2.0 1.1.2 3.0
uPort - - - y - 4i 1.1.3 2.0
UHC y - - - - 4i 1.1.3 -
BSDI - - - - y - (p) -
LGX - - - - y - - -
Table 5: MISCELLANEA AND ADD-ONS
DOS UNIX ISO9660 Rock
Bridge? SLIP? PPP? sockets support Ridge?
SCO 3.1 y y n y -
Cons - - y - y -
Dell 2.2 y - y - -
Esix - y n(r) - soon -
IF - - - ?? y -
Univel y - - ?? y -
MST - - - ?? - -
uPort soon y - ?? - -
UHC - soon soon ?? ?? -
BSDI y y y y y y
LGX y soon - y y y
(a) UHC had a support contract at one time but may have let it lapse. I
expect to have better information on this soon.
(b) This price is for customer-installed UNIX. If it's factory-installed on
Dell hardware, it's $500 less.
(c) $1045 is for credit-card tape orders; POs are $50 more; CD-ROM $50 less
. Educational site licenses are available for $2K each.
(d) Previous issues alleged that "No unlimited licenses have been sold yet."
Feedback from the net indicates that all MtXinu systems now being sold
(e) Extra-cost option.
(f) With complete system only.
(g) Price is for CD-ROM; add $100 for tape, $200 for floppies.
(h) Free with support contract, charge otherwise (charge ~$500).
(i) Support contract customers.
(j) Unlimited free phone support.
(k) Charges by the half-hour phone call.
(l) UHC says they used to be net-active and want to be again when they can
afford the man-hours.
(m) Consensys explicitly refuses to release this information.
(n) There's an $80 media charge for the diskettes equivalent to the normal
60MB distribution tape.
(o) SCO's own X11R5 implementation.
(p) Motif for BSDI is available from a third party.
(r) Mark Boucher <firstname.lastname@example.org> has written a PPP driver for ESIX
(t) You can get a MUI module supporting Motif for $95 extra.
(u) Univel is half-owned by USL.
(v) Patches are available on Compuserve and FTP; SCO also has its own
(w) 3.5" floppy drive required for booting
In general, the SVr4 market breaks into two tiers. The bottom tier is
Consensys and MST; low-ball outfits selling stock USL with minimal support for
real cheap. The top tier is Dell, Esix, Microport, UHC, Univel and IF; these
guys are selling support and significant enhancements and charge varying
premiums for it. Your first, most basic buying decision has to be which tier
best serves your needs.
One further note: it *is* possible to buy some of these systems at less than
the list the vendor charges! I found some really substantial discounts in one
mail-order catalog ("The Programmer's Shop"; call 1-(800)-421-8006 to get on
their mailing list, but be prepared to wade through a lot of DOS cruft).
Vendor reports start here. Each one is led by a form feed.
SCO UNIX System V Release 3.2 Version 4.2
SCO Open Desktop Lite Release 3.0
SCO Open Desktop Release 3.0
SCO Open Server Network System Release 3.0
SCO Open Server Enterprise System Release 3.0
The Santa Cruz Operation, Inc.
400 Encinal Street
PO Box 1900
Santa Cruz,CA 95061-1900
1-(800)-347-4381 (customer service and tech support)
email@example.com --- product info by email, sales requests
firstname.lastname@example.org --- support requests (support contract customers only)
All of SCO's products include printed documentation; however, special
"limited documentation" editions of the multiuser Open Server offerings are
available at lower cost for use in large multi-system installations, by VARs
creating embedded applications, etc. The actual products used for the price
Run-time 2-user: SCO UNIX 3.2v4.2 2-user CD-ROM
Run-time 16-user: SCO UNIX 3.2v4.2 16-user CD-ROM
Run-time unlim-user: SCO UNIX 3.2v4.2 unlim-user CD-ROM
Development 2-user: SCO Open Desktop Lite 3.0 CD-ROM
+ SCO Open Desktop Development System 3.0 CD-ROM
Development 16-user: SCO Open Server Enterprise System 16-user CD-ROM,
+ SCO Open Desktop Development System 3.0 CD-ROM
Development unlim-user: SCO Open Server Enterprise System unlim-user CD-ROM,
+ SCO Open Desktop Development System 3.0 CD-ROM
Add $200 each to the last two for full docs. Aescription of ODT Lite
appears below; basically, includes UNIX+TCP+X but not NFS, LAN Manager Client,
or DOS Merge.
In addition to all the other things, a bundle is currently on sale to
qualified developers (which means "pick up the phone and call SCO to find out
whether you're qualified"). The bundle offers ODT 2.0 Personal System
(i.e. 2-user) and ODT 2.0 Development System plus the SCO Optimizing C
Compiler, all on floppy + tape (QIC-60) media, for a total of $795. You do not
have to be a member of a developer's program; that's the total cost. Down
sides: 2-user system, limited quantities, limited support, must qualify, and
down-rev software (but can be upgraded). Up sides: currently the only way to
get the Intel Optimizing C Compiler, and a very good price (list price of the
two ODT components is like $2500, not even considering icc).
SCO's package and option structure is (excessively) complicated. At the
moment the `bundles' to keep track of are:
SCO UNIX System V/386 Release 3.2 Version 4.2 "UNIX"
SCO Open Desktop Lite Release 3.0 "ODTL"
SCO Open Desktop Release 3.0 "ODT"
SCO Open Server Network System Release 3.0 "OSNS"
SCO Open Server Enterprise System Release 3.0 "OSES"
The "SEPARATE" column indicates whether and how that item is available
separately, e.g. if you were building a system starting with SCO UNIX
and adding unbundled components.
UNIX ODTL ODT OSNS OSES SEPARATE
SCO UNIX 3.2v4.2 x x x x x
2-user license available x x x
16-user license available x x x
unlimited-user license available x x x "License pack"
limited printed doc package avail x x Yes
X11R5, Motif 1.2.2, X.Desktop 3.5 x x x R4/1.14/no xdt
DOS Merge 3.1 x x Yes
MS-DOS 5.0 x x Bundle w/Merge
SCO LLI (net card) Drivers 3.1.1 x x x x Download
SCO TCP/IP 1.2.1 x x x x Yes
SCO NFS 1.2.1 x x x Yes
SCO IPX/SPX 1.0.3 x Yes
LAN Manager Client x **LAN Man Server
PC-Interface server x From Locus
SCO IPX/SPX is an implementation of the Novell IPX/SPX protocol stack.
Applications exist which use this. The only application SCO provides is a
network login service; this does not provide Novell filesystem client or
LAN Manager Client provides UNIX access to DOS / OS/2 LAN Manager
filesystems; it is not a server. ** LAN Manager Server is available
separately; it is not a client and the client portion of ODT cannot
coexist in a system with LAN Man Server.
PC-Interface server interfaces to Locus PC-Interface clients for DOS.
There is a Locus PCI product for the Mac; a separate server product from
Locus is required to interface to that.
There are piles of them. I was most impressed by the docs for the CodeView
debugger and MASM assembler, but the presence of ISAM support would probably be
more significant to the ordinary commercial user.
Development systems: UNIX development system includes compiler, tools,
base UNIX libraries. ODT development system (which is for ODT, OSNS or
OSES) provides that plus libraries for X, Motif, TCP, NFS, LAN manager,
IPX/SPX, PC/Interface, and the "Software Mastering Toolkit" for
producing installable distributions of your code.
We now have an Intel Optimizing C Compiler package, a compiler from
Intel which understands 486 and Pentium CPU pipeline behavior and
produces code optimized for those processors.
TCP, NFS and Merge are all available as add-ons to the base UNIX product
(but pricing is more favorable in the above bundles). LAN Manager
Server is available, provides file service to DOS, OS/2, Windows LAN
Manager clients. VP/ix (alternative DOS compatibility service) is
MPX: provides support for multiprocessor 386/486/Pentium machines with
up to 30 processors (though I've not seen a live machine with more than
8 -- that waits on the hardware designers).
SCO bundles with X also include 18 clients (what in marketingese are called
``personal productivity and groupware accessories and controls'') which
include: mail, help, edit, paint, term, print, login, clock, color, session,
mouse, lock, and admin (official names all prepended with "SCO") as well as
DOS, load, and calculator clients. (The supplied clients have changed a
bit for 3.0; I don't have details yet.)
SCO accepts software problem reports from anyone, Dell or non-Dell hardware
and whether or not they have a support contract (email to email@example.com). If
you don't have a support contract, don't count on getting a reply acknowledging
Starting with the new releases, there is no warranty support period.
Defective media etc. are warranted; but if you want to talk to someone on the
phone about technical issues, you pay.
My source thinks, but is not really sure, that you can still get questions
handled via Internet mail or the sosco BBS system for a limited time, either 30
or 60 days. Support contracts are available for various periods and with
various levels of support.
SCO has BBS coverage and a local support operation in the UK as well as the
US; BBS coverage only Germany. Local support is, in theory, to be provided by
See the appendix for details. SCO provides a Hardware Compatibility
Guide with its software.
The docs are impressive; you could get a hernia trying to lift them all.
There's an `MPX' kernel available from SCO that supports multiprocessing.
Though this is a 3.2 kernel, SCO has added support for SVr4-like symbolic
links and long filenames to Version 4.
SCO has a standard driver announcement protocol which allows the
utility hwconfig(C) to print out detailed configuration info on hardware
attached to the machine.
SCO's cross-development and DOS emulation support is unusually rich. It
includes lots of system utilities for I/O with a DOS filesystem, as well as
cross-development libraries and tools in the Development System. Microsoft
Windows 3.0 and Windows 3.0 applications are supported (in real mode), and
Windows 3.1 and applications in "standard" mode (which means the Windows kernel
runs in '286 protected mode). Graphical MS-DOS applications are supported in
CGA graphics mode within an X window, and VGA graphics are supported in
The SCO install process auto-configures a proper set of drivers for
your configuration based on what it finds by polling the hardware.
SCO tar(1) chokes horribly on long filenames and symbolic links.
This has been fixed in the MSv4.2 maintenance supplement.
SCO tar also fails to back up empty directories. SCO provides "pax"
(Portable Archive Exchange) which does what you expect.
Petri Wessman <Petri_Wessman@hut.fi> has reported that SCO 3.2.4 sometimes
gets into a state in which exec(2) succeeds called from a binary but exec
reliably fails called from a shell.
WHAT THE USERS SAY:
XENIX is the UNIX port hackers love to hate, but at 70% of the market SCO
must be doing something right. In general, SCO UNIX and XENIX are reputed to
be a very polished and stable systems. Unfortunately, they also drive
developers crazy because of numerous tiny and undocumented divergences between
the SCO way and the USL-based releases.
The SCO support system is heavily bureaucratized and prone to thrash when
processing questions of unusual depth or scope. While probably adequate for
the random business luser, hackers are likely to find the contortions
required to get to a master-level developer very frustrating.
SCO in general has the fairly serious case of corporatitis you'd predict
from their relatively large size --- no-comment policies and
compartmentalization out the wazoo.
On the other hand, they sent me an unsolicited free copy, and I got huge
amounts of useful technical and hardware-compatibility info "unofficially" from
SCOer Bela Lubkin <firstname.lastname@example.org>. Gee. Maybe I should flame vendors more
Consensys System V Release 4.2
1301 Pat Booker Road
Universal City, TX 78148
(800)-387-8951 (sales and support both)
Basically this is a stock USL Destiny system with the stock USL bugs. It
doesn't seem to carry over the Consensys 4.0.3 changes.
You get free phone support until your system is installed, to a maximum of
30 days. After that they charge per half-hour of phone time. They like to
do support by fax and callback. They'll sell support contracts by the year.
They have a support BBS at (416)-752-2084.
Knowledgeable customers report they're good about supporting the bits they
wrote (see below) but terrible at dealing with generic SVr4 problems.
See the appendix for details.
Trying to install the system administration package *after* first
installation of the OS with v4pkg doesn't work. You can work around this
by using `pkgadd -d ctape1'.
WHAT THE USERS SAY:
During the life of their 4.0.3 release, Consensys had a dismal reputation on
USENET; horror stories of nonexistent followup on bugs abounded.
However, David Mason <email@example.com> writes "they appear to be
installing a lot more telephone support. In fact for a yearly fee they will
sell support and they apparently have been hiring people for a few months now.
Additionally, when I talked to a support person there, he seemed actually
willing to help me, as opposed to the hostile go-away attitude I encountered
shortly after we bought their SVR4 product 9 months or so ago. Maybe they are
One 4.0.3. customer (J.J. Strybosch, <firstname.lastname@example.org>) reported that
Consensys charged his credit card for more than they quoted him. If you deal
with them, watch your credit card statement carefully.
These people used to be the bad boys of the SVr4.0 market --- not a company
you wanted to deal with unless low price was the most important thing. There's
some reason to believe they're trying to improve their act with 4.2; if so,
more power to them.
Consensys explicitly refuses to say how many development engineers they have
on staff. In this and some other matters they've adopted a corporate style
that appears defensive, evasive, secretive, and not conducive to trust. I
couldn't make their V.P. of sales understand that this appearance is a serious
liability in dealing with UNIX techies and distinguishes them from the
competition in a distinctly negative way.
Dell UNIX System V Release 4 Issue 2.2.
9505 Arboretum Road
Austin TX 78759
(800)-BUY-DELL (info & orders)
(800)-624-9896 (tech support: x6915 to go straight to UNIX support)
email@example.com --- basic Dell info
firstname.lastname@example.org --- support queries
Dell bundles a DOS bridge (Locus 2.2, supporting DOS 5.0) with their base
system. They also include cnews, mmdf, perl, elm, bison, gcc, emacs gdb, Tex,
network time protocol support, and other freeware, including a bunch of nifty X
clients! Also included: the Xylogics Annex server for TCP/IP network access.
FrameMaker is also included, but runs in demo mode only until you buy a
license token from Unidirect.
Dell *does* support their UNIX on non-Dell hardware. They are quite
definite about this. They will deal with software problems reported from
non-Dell hardware, but you're on your own when dealing with hardware
incompatibility problems unless you can reproduce the problem on a
Dell PC. However, it is also policy that if you lend them the offending
hardware, they will work with the vendor to come up with a fix, and if
they can't make that work they'll refund your money.
You get 90 days of free phone support on a toll-free number, starting on
resceipt of your registration card (no card, no support). Yearly service
contracts range are $350 per year for the limited license, $500 for the
Dell accepts software problem reports from anyone, Dell or non-Dell
hardware and whether or not they have a support contract. If you don't have
a support contract, don't count on getting a reply acknowledging the report.
Dell maintains a pair of Internet servers (dell1.dell.com and
dell2.dell.com) which hold patches, updates and free software usable with
About upgrades, Dell says "If you have a support contract, the upgrade is
free, unless we've added something with significant royalty burden to us. We
may make a charge at that point. We didn't when we added Graphical Services
4.0 at the introduction of Dell UNIX 2.1. If you don't have a contract, then
the cost is basically Media+Royalty+Admin+Shipping."
X.desktop 3.0 will be supported soon. NeWS isn't going to happen at all;
they couldn't get it to work reliability.
Dell has demonstrated a 486 port of NeXTSTEP at trade shows.
Dell is going to move to Solaris someday. Declared policy is that they're
not going to phase out SVr4 until at least a year after their first *reliable*
version of Solaris, in order to provide an upgrade path. However, there is
some evidence that they're bailing out of 4.0 UNIX early; mainly, that it gets
less and less play in the Dell catalog (the Spring '93 catalog didn't list a
price) and Dell employees have been notably evasive on the subject of Dell
Dell employees have unofficially said that they are working on a new release
(due shortly), called 2.2.1. It is a major bug fix release. Many bugs that
were introduced by the gcc-2.1 compiler that was used in 2.2 are now gone, as
2.2.1 will be compiled with gcc-2.3.3 (or maybe later). This release
supposedly fixes the "who -r" malloc overrun problem, the inetd bug with long
/etc/passwd files and others as well.
The big plus in the Dell code is that they've fixed a lot of the annoying
bugs and glitches present in the stock USL tape.
The installation procedure has been improved and simplified. You can
install Dell UNIX through your network from another Dell box once you've booted
the hardware with a special disk provided.
Both benchmarks and anecdotal reports make them significantly faster than a
stock USL system. Interestingly, Dell's manager for UNIX development tells me
this is all due to bug fixes and careful choices of some OS parameters.
A source at Dell has asked me to point out that Dell's SLIP can be
set up, configured, and stopped while UNIX is running; some other
versions (such as SCO's) require a reboot.
Dell device drivers are *very* unlikely to work on other SVR4 versions.
Dell includes some kernel extensions (not required, so other SVR4 device
drivers should work) to make life in support a little easier. A program
called showcfg will list all recognised device drivers and the IRQ,
I/O address, shared memory and so on. The device driver has to register
this info. Dell has told USL how to do this, it's up to them when or even
if they want to use this in a future release.
Dell device drivers are also auto configuring, for the most part. Check out
/etc/conf/sdevice.d/* and see how most of the devices are enabled, but with
zeroes in all fields for IRQ, I/O and memory. Those are autoconfiguring
drivers. Dell thinks that this makes life much easier; you only need to set
one of the configurations that they probe for! The device registration helps
this, by eliminating possible overlapping memory or I/O address usage. (On the
other hand, idconfig(1) is no longer helpful, when I/O, IRQ and mem are all
zero). The 2.2 release adds a utility `setcfg' which can be used to remove
unneeded drivers, shrinking the kernel.
Dell UNIX also has drivers for the Dell SmartVu found on some machines (a
little four character LED display on the front panel). By default this shows
POST values, then disk accesses, finally "UNIX" when running and "DOWN" when
halted. You can write to the device.
Dell's SCSI tape driver includes ioctls to control whether hardware
compression is used.
Some Dell systems have a reset button. On the Laptops these are wired
directly to the CPU. On the desktop and floor-standing systems Dell UNIX can
catch the interrupt; it's used to do a graceful (init 0) shutdown. Other
UNIXes will do a processor reset when the button is pushed.
About 95% of 2.2 was built using GNU cc for a significant performance
improvement over pcc.
Performance monitoring of uucp transfers doesn't work. Creating
/var/spool/uucp/.Admin/perflog results in uucico logging statistics to the file
correctly. However, using uustat -tsysname results in either a memory error or
you just being returned to the shell with no output. This bug is known to
Dell and being worked on now. It's still broken in 2.2.
Merge is seriously buggy in many areas. It takes ages to start up in an
xterm and then sometimes crashes in the process. Attempting to use its
simulated expanded memory results in the system becoming slowly corrupted which
later results in virtual terminals disappearing and the system gradually
locking up. Really fun stuff! And it can only cope with 1.44M discs. These
are generic Merge problems, not really Dell's but Locus's fault.
There are some dropped stitches in the supplied USENET tools. The nntp
server has been compiled for a dbm history file while c-news has been compiled
for dbz. With nntpd this only shows on the ARTICLE <message-id> command which
either returns that the article with that id can't be found or crashes the
server. Also, they forgot to include the nntpd manual page or nntpxfer.
Dell's device driver autoconfiguration doesn't properly set up the
mouse port on the ATI Graphics Ultra card (the Dell mmse driver has
its IRQ hardwired to 5, contrary to what the manual says; the Ultra
wants to use IRQ 2). You need to either remove all other mouse
drivers or use the DOS install program to manually force the card's mouse IRQ
Dell's drivers don't recognize a Western Digital Elite series ethernet
boards hard or soft configured to use IRQ10. Other IRQs work OK.
Out of the box, Dell's mail system is configured to use sendmail. The
changes necessary to re-enable the SVr4 mailer are not obvious; in particular,
/bin/rmail apparently needs to be linked back to /bin/mail, rather than
/usr/ucb/binrmail. Also, /etc/mail/mailsurr needs to link back to
/etc/mail/mailsurr.smtpd rather than /var/sendmail/mailsurr, and links
/etc/rc2.d/S88smptd and /etc/rc0.d/K88smptd need to be created to
Dial-up SLIP does not lock the serial port correctly. When slipdialup starts
up, it sets a lock in /var/spool/locks containing its process id. Once the
connection has been successfully made, slipdialout then terminates. Any process
with access to the port, such as ttymon, will then examine the lock file, see
that the process no longer exists and remove the lock file. The slip connection
will then fail to work, with slip and ttymon fighting over incoming
Netters have reported that Dell's serial comm port cannot be made to work
bidirectionally, neither with uugetty nor ttymon. This was reported
by Bob Kirpatrick <email@example.com> after systematic testing
with the aid of Dell's support staff, and confirmed by Karl Denninger
<firstname.lastname@example.org>. Karl says "The only solution I have ever seen is
to install something like SAS...the base ttyxx drivers are hosed, have been
hosed, and continue to be hosed in this release." SAS is a freeware tty
driver available for FTP from world.std.com in pub/kwc/sas-1.25.tar.Z.
Your editor has discovered differently. Here's the recipe to
direct connect a Dell box to another machine: Use uugetty -r -t60 *on
a ttyXXh device*, then make sure your Devices file refers to
Dell doesn't maintain a list of non-Dell motherboards and systems known to
work. And they're not willing to talk about the list they don't maintain,
because it would amount to endorsing someone else's hardware.
Dell promises that you can bring its UNIX up on any Dell desktop or tower
featuring a 386SX or up (it's hard to get the product on to the notebooks).
Notebooks can't drive a QIC tape and there aren't drivers for the pocket
Ethernet or token-ring adapter.
Andrew Michael <Andrew.Michael@brunel.ac.uk> says "If you're buying Dell
UNIX for non-Dell hardware, first try booting the Dell floppy on it. From
experience, some BIOS ROMs cause Dell SVR4 to lock up at the point where it
tries to talk to the hard disk. If it gets to the point where it asks you
whether you want to install or not you can be pretty sure that all is well. An
AMI or Phoenix BIOS is OK; be careful of anything else."
See the appendix for more.
Dell sells hardware, too :-). They are, in fact, one of the most successful
clonemakers, and will cheerfully sell you a Dell computer with SVr4 pre-
installed. Their systems are expensive by cloner standards (with as much as a
$1000 premium over rock-bottom street prices) but they have a rep for quality
and reliability their competition would probably kill for.
You can get Dell product information by sending an email request to
WHAT THE USERS SAY:
Most people who've seen or used it seem to think pretty highly of the
Dell product, in spite of minor problems. However, recently there have been
a few glaring exceptions, suggesting that Dell's support quality may be
A user in England observes: "Dell is the only firm that I found supplying
Unix at the real monetary exchange rate, not the usual computer pounds=dollars
nonsense. In the UK the 2 user version costs 699 pounds, which is pretty close
to the US price in dollars. For those of us who don't live on the left-hand
side of the pond (there are a few of us!) that's a distinct advantage." He
adds "Dell's UK support is pretty good. Not as good as Sun, but then you don't
pay as much! From previous experience, SCO support in the UK is, well, pretty
Robert L. Holder <email@example.com> writes "I found [the 30-day
money-back guarantee, no questions asked] to be not true for the Dell product.
I called them last month to place an order for Dell Unix. I did have some
concerns so I asked about what money back guarantee they offered. I was told
that they had a 30 day money back offer on Dell "hardware" but the Dell Unix
product was not included. I used the 800 DELL number and spoke to a sales rep.
In fact he left me on hold several times to confirm the story with the Dell
Unix product." Perhaps there's been a policy change since Jeremy Chatfield's
departure --- I'll have to check this out.
And Christopher Perez <firstname.lastname@example.org> was moved to write: "Dell's
support sucks. Big time. In each and every time I called with a problem, I
ended up solving the problem myself. Everyone I spoke with had the same story:
`I've never heard of that one...'". He tells a horror story involving
three months of network and UUCP configuration problems, with essentially no
help from support. Dell would be wise to worry about this.
Dell was until recently the clear market leader in SVr4s. The combination
of low price, highest added value in features, and reputation for quality made
them very hard to beat.
However, they say they have no plans to move their source base to 4.2. Thus,
they're at some risk of losing their lead to IF and Univel, especially since
they lost Jeremy Chatfield (their former UNIX program manager) to IF.
Dell denies rumors they are bailing out of the 4.0 market. Rumor had it
that they've cut their support staff and that Dell UNIX wasn't going to be
listed in Dell's Spring '93 catalog. Dell's UNIX program manager says that the
omission of Dell Unix from the Fall catalog was a last-minute maneuver to make
space for other software Dell marketing wanted to add, that it was a surprise
to the UNIX group, and that Dell UNIX *would* be listed in the Spring catalog.
She also claims first-line UNIX support staff has recently been *increased*.
UNIX was listed, but with no price. And it appears that the UNIX support
group has dispersed, with their most experienced people leaving the company.
First-line UNIX support is now being handled by the "Networking Support" group,
which isn't very clueful about UNIX.
All the signs are that Dell is preparing to abandon its 4.0 product. Thus,
I can no longer recommend Dell UNIX as a purchase.
ESIX System V Release 4.0.4
Esix Systems, Inc
1923 E. St. Andrew Place
Santa Ana, CA 92705
(714)-259-3020 (tech support is (714)-259-3000)
ESIX can be bought in the following pieces:
ITEM CD-ROM Tape Floppy
Base system (+networking+devsys) 995 1095 1195
GUI 495 595
Note that the base system without networking cannot be upgraded to the
base system with networking; you'd have to replace at full cost.
Purchase buys you unlimited free phone support. However, be warned that
there are only two engineers assigned to the job and they are swamped.
Patches are available via anonymous ftp to esix.everex.com.
They intend to do a USL System V Release 4.3 late this year or
early next --- yes, 4.3! They're skipping 4.2.
See the appendix for details. ESIX supports an unusually wide
range of peripherals.
They advertise support for the Textronix X terminal.
No one has reported any incompatibility horror stories yet.
According to Esix, this port uses the stock USL 4.0.3 libraries. Thus it
must have the known bug with sigvec() and may have the rumored bug in the BSD-
compatibility string functions.
James D. Cronin <email@example.com> writes: When developing X applications
under Esix, watch out for mmap(2) failure. This is caused by an incorrect
version of mmap() defined in libX11.a and libX11.so. This bug existed in Esix
4.0.3, and continues in 4.0.4 and the recently shipped Xwindow bug fix it
(which seems to have more bugs than the original version). One workaround is
to remove the offending file, XSysV.o, from libX11.a and link with the Bstatic
In 4.0.3 there is a bug in the sc01 driver used for CD-ROMs that
causes kernel panics. The fix is to upgrade to the 4.0.4 driver, which
is most easily accomplished by upgrading to a 4.0.4 system.
Unlimited free support sounds wonderful, and might be ESIX's strongest
selling point. However, ESIX users on the net have been heard to gripe that in
practice, you get the support you've paid for from Esix --- that is, none.
That isn't at all surprising given Esix's staffing level. If this guarantee is
to be more than a hollow promise, their technical support has to get more
Evan Leibovich <firstname.lastname@example.org> is a long-time netter who makes his living
as a consultant and owns an Esix dealership (he now does Univel too). He says
you can get ESIX at a substantial discount from him or other dealers, also that
dealers are supposed to do first-line support for their customers (which he
does, but admits other dealers often fail to). Evan is obviously devoted to
the product and probably the right guy to email first if you think you'd be
interested in it.
WHAT THE USERS SAY:
Ron Mackey <email@example.com> writes "In general, we are pleased with ESIX.
We still have problems driving the serial ports at speeds greater than 9600
baud. We also still see occasional PANICs. These appear to be related to
problems with the virtual terminal manager." This may be the generic USL asy
William W. Austin <uunet!baustin!bill> writes "The support from Esix seems
to be usable if (a) you are a hacker, (b) you know unix (sVr4 internals help a
lot), and (c) you get past the sales guy who answers the help line (Jeff
[Ellis] is *very* helpful). If I were a computer-semi-literate, commercial
user who only wanted his printer to work, etc., I might be up a creek for some
problems (no drivers for some boards, no support for mouse tablets, etc., but
that's what VARs are for). All in all, the support is at least a little better
than what I expected for free -- in many cases it is *far* better than the
support I got from $CO (is SCO really owned by Ebenezer Scrooge?)"
[Note: Jeff Ellis has since left.]
A longer appreciation from Ed Hall <firstname.lastname@example.org>: "I had a problem with
the ESIX X server. I got through to technical support immediately, and was
promised a fix disk. The guy on the phone was actually able to chat with on of
the developers to check to see if the disk would solve the problem. The disk
came four days later."
"On the other hand," he continues, "I get the feeling that ESIX has only
made a mediocre effort to shake out the bugs before releasing their system-- or
even their fixes. For example, they `repaired' their X server, but the new
server only ran as root (it made some privileged calls to enable I/O
ports)--they quickly had to release a second update to fix this new problem.
They obviously fixed a lot of things in the new server, and performance is
improved quite a bit as well, but the stupid error they made in the first
"fixed" version should have been found with only the most minimal of testing."
"They've done some work on the serial driver, but there are still some
glitches (occasional dropped characters on a busy system at 38400bps, and a
real doozy of a problem--a system panic--when doing simultaneous opens and
ioctl's on a tty0xh and ttyM0xh device. This latter problem was due to my
using the M0xh and 0xh devices improperly, but panics are inexcusable. No idea
if this is a SYSVR4 problem or due to their fixes.)"
"So my impressions of them are mixed. Perhaps I just lucked out in geting
such rapid response on my support call, but I was impressed by it nonetheless.
On the other hand, their QA needs work..."
Esix changed owners in early '93. Their parent company, Everex,
went chapter 11. The Esix division was sold, intact, to James River
(makers of the ICE UNIX-to-DOS bridge).
James Hillegass, president/owner of James River, has told me that the
new Esix is going to stress reliability and wide hardware support.
Evan Leibovich writes: "What distinguishes Esix, at this time, is its
reliance on VARs and resellers. Its newest brochures even say "for VARs only"
(though these will be redone soon). Esix has benefitted by a decent VAR network
which has not only given it a better route to end-users than the Dell or
Consensys direct route. Also, these dealers and VARs have provided Esix with a
handle on the marketplace that (I believe) many of the other vendors lack. Esix
is no better, and no worse, than those in the field who sell, install and
Information Foundation System V Release 4.2
One Tabor Center, 1200 17th Street, Suite 1900
Denver, CO 80202
Phone: 1-(800)-GET-UNIX (sales)
email@example.com (tech support)
Here is the most recent IF module price list:
FS-TAPE Enhanced UNIX Desktop TAPE & DOCS $299
FS-DISK DISKETTE & DOCS $399
FS-LICN LICENSE ONLY $249
MS-TAPE Extended Multi User TAPE $390
MS-DISK Module DISKETTE $365
MS-DOCS DOCUMENTATION $130
NS-TAPE Networking Module TAPE $250
NS-DISK DISKETTE $250
NS-DOCS DOCUMENTATION $25
CS-TAPE C Development Module TAPE $335
CS-DISK DISKETTE $300
CS-DOCS DOCUMENTATION $155
GS-TAPE GUI Development Module TAPE $995
GS-DISK DISKETTE $1,095
GS-DOCS DOCUMENTATION $200
C2-DISK C2 Security Module DISKETTE & DOC $149
Bug reports are accepted from any customer, at any time.
90 days installation support; call (800)-284-UNIX.
They will have patches available on an FTP server, a BBS, and via UUCP.
Send in your registration card to get `passive support' (email notification
of bugs & fixes, BBS, UUCP & FTP access to patches. There's also `active'
(phone) support, priced per annum depending on your configuration or on a
per-site basis. IF says it will happily work out custom support plans for
They plan to have 20 support engineers by the end of '93.
Sometime in '93, a tasty selection of PD software (probably rather
resembling Dell's selections) will be appended to the distribution tape.
They've promised to email me a list of hardware known to work, which
will appear in a future posting.
Incorrect font handling in some help system titles.
WHAT THE USERS SAY:
I haven't received any users yet.
It's early days yet, but it looks to me like these guys are for real ans
will give Univel some serious competition. They're behaving like they want to
lead the SVr4.2 market; they're one of only two outfits with both source and
USL Master Binary licences (the other is Univel). Hiring Jeremy Chatfield away
from Dell was a smart move --- expect to see the successful elements of Dell
UNIX's formula repeated here.
Univel UnixWare Release 4.2
2180 Fortune Drive
San Jose, CA 95131
The package comes in two versions; the Personal Edition is a
limited-user workstation platform, with only Netware networking support
bundled (TCP/IP is an option). Another add-on called Personal Utilities
adds unlimited user capabilities, BSD compatability, and additional font
support and demonstration applications.
The Applications Server is an unlimited-user version which includes
all of the above packages plus extra server facilities; TCP/IP and NFS is
They offer a special bundle for developers for $695. Ask for details.
The Development system is sold separately from the base system, and
can work on either the Personal Edition or Application Server. Add-ons
for the development system include the Motif API and a device driver
An encryption package provides kernel-level support for secure NFS and
other DES encryption facilities.
As yet, there are no known bugs specific to the Univel port. Some
bugs generic to all SysVr4.2s are described in the companion usl-bugs
Micro Station Technology, Inc.
1140 Kentwood Ave.
Cupertino, CA. 95014
firstname.lastname@example.org (product info & orders)
C Development System
X11R4 and X11R3
30 days of support free with purchase.
1 year of fax/email support is $299, 1 year of phone support is $599.
They expect to upgrade to Motif 1.2 and X11R5 Summer '93XS. No plans for
They decline to release information on hardware known *not* to work
for fear of offending vendors.
This port probably uses the stock USL 4.0.3 libraries. Thus it probably
has the known bug with sigvec() and may have the rumored bug in the BSD-
compatibility string functions.
The DOS support is only 2.0-compatible (< 32-meg DOS partitions).
Another outfit offering stock USL real cheap. They were actually the first
to try this (in Fall '91) and were the price leader until Consensys blew past
These guys really want to sell you preinstalled UNIX on their clone
hardware. Configurations range from $1349 to $5599 and look like pretty
WHAT THE USERS SAY:
I have one experience report from Ray Hill, <email@example.com>, who's
been running MST on a 486 for a month or so. He says it works; elm, cnews, and
trn are up, so standard UNIX sources compile up and work fine. His only
criticism is the relative skimpiness of the printed docs.
Harlan Stockman <firstname.lastname@example.org> writes "MST has been very
helpful at every step of the way; phone and e-mail support have been timely."
Geoffrey Leach <email@example.com> warns that some of the files
(specifically, socket library headers) necessary to build X11R5 are bundled in
the networking option --- this may meen you have to buy it even if you don't
actually intend to network any machines.
Anyone who's been to a hobbyist computer expo in the last five years knows
that the low-price clone-hardware market is full of small, hungry companies run
by immigrants, often family businesses. Their English is sometimes a little
shaky but (in my experience) they're honest and their product is good, and
their prices are *real* aggressive.
MST seems to be one of these outfits. Since Consensys ended their promo
MST is now the low-price leader in this market.
Microport System V Release 4.0 version 4
108 Whispering Pines Drive
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
firstname.lastname@example.org (sales and product info)
Networking (TCP/IP, NFS)
User Graphics Module (X GUIs)
Graphics Development Module (X toolkits + man pages).
A few freeware utilities are included, notably kermit(1) and less(1).
They include a single-user copy of a program called `JSB MultiView'. It's a
character-oriented desktop program that front-ends conventional UNIX services
for character terminals and also provides a calendar service and
pop-up phone-book. It's something like a character-oriented X windows; each
on-screen window looks like a terminal to the application.
The base price includes printed docs. This is effectively the same content
as the Prentice-Hall SVr4 books; both are troffed off the SVr4 source tapes.
They have been very lightly edited for the Microport environment.
The base price includes 30 days or 1 year of phone support respectively
depending on whether you bought the base or complete system. Support is
said to be excellent for serious problems, not so good for minor ones (this
is understandable if one assumes their support staff is very good but
overworked, a hypothesis which is plausible on other evidence).
They have a support BBS at (408)-438-7270 or 438-7521. However, the level
of activity is low; one customer said (late February 1992) that they hadn't put
anything useful on it in six months (Microport responds that they've been too
busy hammering on r4 to spend lots of energy on it).
DOS Merge will be folded into the system soon.
Microport believes they have a lead in multiprocessing SVr4 UNIX and intend
to push it.
File-system support for CD-ROMs is coming.
See the appendix for details.
Math co-processors: Cyrix 20/25/33, Intel 80387 20/25/33, Weitek.
No one has reported any incompatibility horror stories yet. Bernoulli boxes
and Irwin tapes won't fly, but who cares.
When I asked what differentiates Microport from the other SVr4 products,
the answer I got is "performance". The Microport people feel they've put
a lot of successful work into kernel tuning.
And, indeed, benchmarks from independent sources show that Microport's
fork(2) operation is quite fast. Other vendors show about 60 forks per
second on the AIM Technologies SUITE II benchmarks; Microport cranks 80.
This is the most dramatic performance difference the AIM tools reveal
among any of these products. Microport's other benchmark statistics
are closely comparable to those of its competitors.
Microport also offers a multiprocessing SVr4 which will run on the
Compaq SystemPro, the ALR PowerPro, the DEC 433MP, and the Chips &
Technologies Mpax system.
Microport has moved the socket headers and libraries necessary to build X
out of the networking option package into the development system, so you
don't have to buy an extra module to hack X.
According to Microport, this port uses the stock USL 4.0.4 libraries. Thus
it must have the known bug with sigvec() and may have the rumored bug in the
BSD-compatibility string functions.
David Wexelblat reports that "Microport's enhanced asy driver does not work
correctly (or at all) for hardware flow control - you can't open the ttyXXh
devices under any circumstances. This was true in 3.1, and is still true in
4.1. The good news is that SAS (Streams-FAS) works fine for modems. But SAS
won't work with the AT&T serial mouse driver. So I've got asy on my mouse port
and SAS on the other one on my dumb-card. [...] Microport is still prone to
silly errors. The Motif development system, which is described in the release
notes as being included with the Motif runtime system in the 'complete'
package, is in fact missing from the tape. They have it available seperately,
but I had to call them to get it. The 'pixed' application for X.desktop 3.0 is
compiled with shared libraries that are not included with the release. Hence
it does not work. I had to call them about this, too."
These people sold a lot of shrink-wrapped UNIXes years ago before going
chapter 11. They're back, leaner and meaner (with a total staff of just
Microport says it's primarily interested in the systems-integration market,
where customers are typically going to be volume buyers qualifying for deep
discounts. Thus, they're relatively undisturbed by the certainty that their
high price point is losing them sales to individuals.
WHAT THE USERS SAY:
I've received one good comprehensive experience report, largely favorable,
from David Wexelblat <email@example.com>.
Microport is a small, hungry outfit with a lot to prove; they've already
gone bust once (I was a customer at the time :-() and they haven't yet
demonstrated that they've got a better strategy this time out.
They're perhaps a mite too expensive for the support quality they can offer
with less than fifteen people, and kernel-tuning isn't going to win them a
following on hardware that every year swamps those tweaks with huge increases
in speed for constant dollars.
And, like UHC, they have techies answering the phones and the techies have a
clue. This certainly improves them as a bet for wizards and developers. If
multiprocessing is important to you, and/or you're looking for a small outfit
where you can develop personal working relationships with the tech people who
matter, Microport might be a good way to go.
UHC Version 3.6
3600 S. Gessner
Houston, TX 77063
Networking package (TCP/IP).
X + Motif
X + Open Look
The base price includes printed docs. This is effectively the same content
as the Prentice-Hall SVr4 books; both are troffed off the SVr4 source tapes.
30 days free phone support with purchase.
All their engineers take tech-support calls for part of their day.
They have 2 doing it full-time. The product manager is a techie himself
and takes his share of calls.
A support contract costs $1195 for one year. This includes 75% off
on all upgrades.
They are in the process of bringing up a BBS with a window into their
bug report and fix/workaround database.
It was emphasized to me that UHC wants to be known for the quality of
their support, which they feel is the product's strongest differentiating
X11R5 by mid-May or thereabouts. They have it running now but don't
consider it stable enough to ship.
See the appendix for details.
The asy driver in version 2.0 won't talk to the NS16550AFN UART, which
is supposed to be pin-compatible with the standard 16450.
This port probably uses the stock USL 4.0.3 libraries. Thus it probably
has the known bug with sigvec() and may have the rumored bug in the BSD-
compatibility string functions.
They claim that according to USL they have the largest installed base of
SVr4 customers, and to have been first to market with a shrink-wrapped
SVr4 (in 1990).
UHC also claims to have performed and maintained IBM's official UNIX port
for the MicroChannel machines.
A subsidiary of Anam, "a holding company with a diversified portfolio".
UHC now also sells and supports Univel UnixWare. They say their policy
will be to continue sales and support of both UHC UNIX and UnixWare, as they
feel the products are apprpriate for different markets.
WHAT THE USERS SAY:
The only comment I've yet seen on the UHC OS was an extended description of
a successful installation by a satisfied netter. He made it sound like a good
I have one absolutely incandescently glowing report on UHC support from a
developer named Steve Showalter <shwasl@Texaco.COM>. He says: "We've been
running UHC's OS for about a year now...been EXTREMELY happy with it. The
support we receive is without a doubt, the finest we have received from any
Duke Smith (c/o firstname.lastname@example.org) writes: "Another absolutely
incandescently glowing report on UHC support: I called the Programmer's Shop
about UHC & wound up talking to UHC tech support to find out if the sucker
would run on my machine. The guy took considerable time to explain all the
different things that might be causing the problem, and emphasized that the
same hardware problems which were probably causing Consensys not to run would
also hose UHC. This led me to contact ALR tech support (also a glower) who took
all of 1-1/2 days (not including shipping) to do the necessary upgrades, on
warranty because apparently their ads that it will run Unix are covered by
warranty. The glowing thing about UHC is, the guy helped me get a competitor's
port working, and I told him he was gonna get in dutch with the marketroids and
his response was that maybe I would remember them the next time I or someone I
knew needed a system. He's right. I'll use Consensys until I can afford
something better for my own system (it's still better than DOS...), but from
now on my clients will get pointed toward UHC, not Consensys, whose
absent-parent attitude is going to keep them from ever becoming anything but
the destitute hacker's Unix vendor."
On the other hand, William G. Bunton <email@example.com>: "So, I give a
thumbs up for the product. I give a thumbs down for the company, and it's
enough that I'm taking my future business elsewhere." He tells a horror story
about the 2.0 version involving a three-month runaround, a letter to their VP
of marketing, and lots of broken promises. Apparently UHC does sometimes drop
This is reinforced by Darryl V. McDaniel: "Based upon conversations with UHC
and other people with UHC 22.214.171.124, UHC has a severe problem with revision
control. Just because two customers have 126.96.36.199, doesn't mean that they all
have the same version. It appears that UHC doesn't even know what they are
shipping." The best evidence he gives is that he's never seen the mouse-
middle-button problem which others (including your humble editor) have
He also says: "Man pages have wrong section numbers, confusion between
compatibility package (SVR4, BSD, XENIX), etc. Man pages from DDDK overlay man
pages of same root name. UHC acknowledges that this is their bug."
I found both the people I talked to friendly, candid, technically
knowledgeable, and willing to answer sticky questions. I came away with a very
positive impression of the outfit's operating style.
There are experienced UNIX developers who value dealing with a small,
responsive outfit where they can develop good working relationships with
individuals. UHC says it likes to sell to wizards and might be a good choice
for these people.
Berkeley Software Design, Inc.
3110 Fairview Park Drive, Suite 580
Falls Church, VA 22042 USA
(800)-800-4BSD -- info & orders
703 204 8086 - Information/vox
703 204 8087 - Information/fax
(719)-593-9445 - Rob Kolstad in Colorado Springs
None. You get an unlimited user license, binaries *and sources* for the
entire system (this includes X11R5 and full BSD networking sources with both
Internet and GOSIP OSI protocol stacks). What more could you want?
Note that BSDI sells ``binary right to use licenses'' -- for
additional binaries at your site for $200. Likewise, if you're a 3rd
party software dude looking for a delivery platform, redistribution of
binaries for turnkey systems starts at $200. Quantity discounts are
available for both these schemes.
The purchase price include 60 days of phone support.
A telephone-support contract is $595 per year; email-only support
is $295/year; upgrade only is $195/year (+$50 each for QIC-tape
installations, as opposed to CD-ROM). Alternatively, you can buy
phone support at $20 per 12 minutes.
There is a support email list.
Capability to run SVr3.2 binaries (including SCO binaries) in 1993.
Rob Kolstad sez: "We're pleased to be shipping V1.0 for BSD/386".
Both AT&T's injunction request and its request for reconsider were
See the appendix for details. New drivers are being added all the time.
Most multiport serial boards aren't supported (they're working on it).
BSD/386 supports the RISCOM/8 multiport serial card (SDL: 508-559-9005) and
includes a driver for the MAXPEED serial cards.
This version is *not* based even in part on USL code and has no AT&T license
restrictions. Rather, it derives from Berkeley UNIX (the CSRG Networking 2
release, somewhere between 4.3 and 4.4).
Many of the BSD/386 tools, including the compiler, are GNU code.
This system's libraries, header files and utilities conform to X3J11, POSIX
1003.1 and POSIX 1003.2 standards. POSIX Certification is schedule for the
first half of 1993.
WHAT THE USERS SAY:
Guy Dawson <firstname.lastname@example.org> writes: "I've been using BSD/386 since July
92 and an *REALLY* happy with it. The system is complete - a full development
environment. Getting the system is a great win. It's easy to install the
components you want and to add/remove components later. Mount the cd and copy
the files from the CD. The CD distribution is in ISO9660 format with Rock Ridge
extensions. BSD/386 will mount both standard ISO9660 CDs and those with RR
extensions. Installing the system from a CD-ROM is easy. I followed the BSDI
guide line when configuring the system h/w and had no problems. It was as easy
as DOS or Windows. My system is made up of a cheap motherboard and I/O cards -
except for the SCSI controller and video card ( Adaptec and Orchid ). There are
also other cards used by DOS/Windows in the machine that BSD/386 does not know
about and does not get tripped up by them. They also supply a boot manager so
that you can run multiple OSs. My system currently boots off an IDE drvice
which has a 109Mb DOS partition and a 11MB BSD/386 /root filesystem. When
BSD/386 boots it mounts the rest of the operation system from a SCSI disk. I've
also connected the system into TCP/IP networks and interoperated with Suns and
a VAX runinng TCP/IP on VMS. The system also serves as an NFS server to Unix
boxes and PCs running PC-TCP."
I expect this will become a hackers' favorite.
All this, and sources too...I salivate. I am tempted. Not sure I'm ready
to change OSs at the same time as I switch machines, though. SVr4's got better
continuity with the 3.2 I'm running now. Ghu, what a dilemma!
Yggdrasil Linux/GNU/X (LGX)
(Linux is a freeware product, with sources and kernel and dizzying
combinations of add-ons available via FTP on Internet. This entry is based on
the low-cost commercial LGX distribution from Yggdrasil, which adds GNU and
Yggdrasil Computing, Inc.
Post Office Box 8418
Berkeley, CA 94707-8418
USENETter Adam J. Richter formed Yggdrasil Computing Inc. to distribute a
Linux-based USL-free UNIX clone on CD-ROM. He writes "The alpha release has
been shipping since December 8th . The beta release is shipping and the
first production release should ship in late March." For more info, check out
the anonymous FTP area in netcom.com:~ftp/pub/yggdrasil.
The Yggdrasil base product is a CD-ROM including:
* The Linux 0.99.4 and 0.99.5 kernels.
* An installation script.
* TCP/IP and XFree86 X11R5 support.
* MPEG full-motion video player for X.
* Ghostscript (GNU freeware PostScript interpreter/previewer).
* TeX, groff (GNU freeware nroff clone).
* Tcl, Tk and Wish for rapid prototyping.
* GNU C, C++, gdb, f2c, bison, flex, make, emacs, elvis (vi clone).
* System V shared memory and IPC.
* BSD-like file system with flexnames, symbolic links and FIFOs.
* An ISO9660 CD-ROM filesystem with Rock Ridge extensions.
* a XENIX-compatible file system.
* a DOS filesystem and DOS emulator.
* kermit and Z-modem telecommunications.
* Talyor UUCP 1.3.
The production CD-ROM is planned to be $60.
Yggdrasil has a policy of filling the unused space on the CD-ROM with with a
"Chef's Surprise" assortment of goodies. On the beta release CD-ROM, this
consists of the X11R5 contrib director plus the Andrew 5.1 GUI source tree.
On the production release, it will probably be a dump of a major Linux
If you need to ask, don't use this software. Linux is user-supported
freeware; the only way to get support is to watch the net (especially the
comp.os.linux newsgroup) and track the frequent new releases from Linus
Torvalds and friends.
If you want to get actively involved, join the linux-activists mailing list;
to subscribe, mail to "email@example.com". Up-to-the
minute info is also available by fingering firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, watch the Linux FAQ in news.answers.
The command set is basically the GNU toolkit, so it's maintained by FSF.
Linux is now in late beta. Linus Torvalds is concentrating on kernel
development; many other people are working on tools. Future plans include
improved TCP/IP (ftp, telnet), more tape drivers, a compressed file system, and
the ability to run Xenix binaries.
See the Appendix for details. Besides what's listed there, the Yggdrasil
release includes support for:
* Adlib, Sound Blaster, Sound Blaster Pro, Sound Blaster Pro 2,
Thunderboard, ATI Sterio F/X, and Media Vision ProAudioSpectrum 16 sound
cards, and for playing audio CD tracks. Other Media-Vision cards are
not supported yet.
* Sony CDU-31A non-SCSI CD-ROM.
Complete sources for everything are included!
Linux claims to be "mostly" POSIX, System V and BSD-conformant (with the
emphasis on POSIX). POSIX job control is supported. The buzz is that it's
pretty easy to port stuff from other UNIXes; this is supported by the presence
of the GNU toolset and lots of other freeware.
Linux's X is Xfree86 (see below).
You can actually boot and run LGX using a supplied floppy and the CD,
without touching your hard drive. This is useful for evaluating the system.
Linux seems now to be the leading freeware UNIX, having overtaken 386BSD by
virtue of a very large and active development community. It's changing fast
enough that this entry is likely to be chronically behind the facts.
WHAT THE USERS SAY:
Tune into comp.os.linux. I don't have a concise user report on this system
yet; anybody feel like writing one?
If the idea of a free UNIX collectively developed by the net turns you on,
this is the system to get involved with.
If you're using an Ultrastor 14F controller, you must hard-reset the machine
when you reboot; otherwise it won't be detected.
If you set your machine name to something longer than 14 characters, login
will not work. This appears to be due to a C library bug.
The S3 X server has problems reading the config files generated by the X
configuration script. Some working S3 config files are included.
There's a free X distribution that's worth checking out in lieu of the
vendor-maintained ports. It's called XFree86, and it's a souped-up version of
the 1.2 X386 server supported for SVr4, 386BSD and Linux. It supports the
WD90Cxx (Western Digital - Paradise PVGA1 Supersets)
ATI18800,28800 (ATI SVGA - not 8514!)
The Xfree maintainers recommend ET4000-based boards, except for recent
Diamond models. There is no support for S3, ATI 8514 or TIGA chipsets.
Source patches based on X11R5 PL17, from MIT, are available via anonymous FTP
from export.lcs.mit.edu (under /contrib/XFree86) and at various other sites;
binaries for various OSs are also widely available (consult the archie service
on Internet, using the search string "xfree" to find a site near you).
XFree86 is known to work under all the commercial ports covered above except
Consensys's 4.2 (which will be supported in Release 1.2); also under Linux and
386BSD. The maintainers believe it will fly on any ISA/EISA clone box running
Send email to David Wexelblat <email@example.com> or to
firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
There are three other commercial SVr4 UNIX ports on the market for which I do
not yet have detailed information. I hope to cover them in future issues.
Sun's port for 386/486 machines, just released. I hope to add a full vendor
report on this nextish.
This is said to be a bare-bones port by an outfit that mainly sells hardware.
The price advertised is $649 for a complete 2-user + devtools system.
1050 East Duane Avenue, Suite B
Sunnyvale, CA 94086
Tel: (408) 733-2966
This is a SVR4 UNIX port enhanced for real-time work, offered by Siemens AG.
8500 Nuremberg 1
I don't yet know if this version is going to be sold in the US. In the info
I have, prices are quoted in Deutschmarks.
NeXT has a 486 port of the NeXT environment scheduled for beta release in
4th quarter '92.
There are some freeware alternative UNIXes available for the 386/486. None of
these are yet complete and mature hacking environments, but they show promise
(and require much less in minimum hardware to run). They are:
Under development by Bill & Lynne Jolitz & friends (this is the same 386BSD
project described in Dr. Dobbs' Journal some time back). This OS is based on
the NET/2 tape from Berkeley, resembling the commercial BSD/386 release
described above, and like it is distributed with full source. The aim is to
produce a full POSIX-compliant freeware BSD UNIX. Version 0.1 is now out,
including FP emulation, SCSI support, coexistence with DOS, and many more new
features. Passwording has to be acquired separately due to US export
regulations, but the system is otherwise fairly complete; I have seen it run.
There's a lot of traffic in comp.os.386bsd about this project.
This is the long-awaited and semi-mythical GNU kernel. It's being worked on
by the Free Software Foundation (the people who brought you emacs, gcc, gdb and
the rest of the GNU tool suite) but it's not ready for prime time yet. It's
said to be a set of processes layered over a Mach 3.0 kernel. The 386BSD and
Linux developments both lean heavily on GNU tools.
There is one other not-quite-freeware (cheapware?) product that deserves a
This is a roughly V7-compatible UNIX clone for Intel boxes, sold
with source by Prentice-Hall for $169 (there's an associated book for
a few bucks more). It's really designed to run in 16-bit mode on 8086
and 286 machines, though the UK's MINIX center offers a 32-bit kernel.
UUCP and netnews clones are available as freeware but not supplied
with the base system. A large international community is involved in
improving Minix; see comp.os.minix on USENET for details.
These freeware and "cheapware" products exert valuable pressure on the
commercial vendors. Someday, they may even force AT&T to unlock source to stay
Finally, there is a class of commercial UNIX clones that claim to emulate UNIX
or improve on it without being derived from AT&T source. The major products
of this kind for 80x86 machines seem to be Coherent, QNX and LynxOS. The
following information about these has been supplied by various USENETters:
COHERENT is a small-kernel UNIX-compatible multi-user, multi-tasking
development O/S for $99.95 that uses less than 14Mb of disk space, runs on most
286-386-486 CPU systems, has a (pre-ANSI) C compiler and over 230 UNIX commands
including text processing, program development, administrative and maintenance
functions. The GNU tools are available as pre-compiled binaries and source
from MWC. Coherent resides on a partition separate from DOS and can access the
DOS file system with the DOS command. It has no network or Xwindows support,
but netnews has been ported and it has its own newsgroup, comp.os.coherent. It
is fully documented with both a comprehensive 1200 page manual and an on-line
manual. Mark Williams Company provides excellent support including a UUCP
access BBS and has just announced Release 4.0, the 386 version of COHERENT
(which removed the 64K-address-space limit on the compiler). A big selling
point of this system is its minimal HW requirements --- only 1MB of memory,
a 10MB root partition, and monochrome (or better) monitor. As there's no FPU
code yet, there's no point in buying a 486 for this puppy.
QNX is a POSIX-compliant microkernel OS with real-time capability, targeted
to mission critical, performance sensitive applications like factory
automation, process control, financial transaction processing, and
instrumentation. They claim an installed base of over 200K systems worldwide.
The microkernel is only 7K and implements a message-passing model; other pieces
can loaded in at runtime, supporting anything from a small real-time executive
up to a full multi-user time-sharing system (including transparent DOS
emulation supporting Windows 3.1 in protected mode). QNX networking supports
standard protocol suites, but uses very fast, lightweight protocols for
QNX-to-QNX node communications; QNX machines on a network can be treated for
most purposes as a single large multiprocessor, and the OS itself can be
distributed across multiple nodes. Here is contact information for the vendor:
Quantum Software Systems Quantum Software Systems
175 Terrence Matthews Cr. Westendstr.19 6000 Frankfurt
Kanata, Ontario K2M 1W8 am main 1
voice: (613) 591-0931 x111 (voice) voice: 49 69 97546156
fax: (613) 591-3579 (fax) fax: 49 69 97546110
QNX support is offered via voice and FAX hotline and a BBS. There is also
a newsletter and an annual international users' conference.
LynxOS is a 386 UNIX specialized for real-time work, available from Lynx
Real-Time Systems Inc. of Los Gatos, California. It includes TCP/IP, NFS, X,
etc. Most of the development tools are GNU. The kernel is pre-emptable and
supports threads and dynamically-loaded device drivers.
These tables summarize vendor claims and user reports on which hardware will
work with which port.
To save space in the tables below, we use the following *one-letter*
abbreviations for the OS ports:
S SCO UNIX version 3.2v4
C Consensys System V Release 4.2
D Dell UNIX Issue 2.1
E ESIX System V Release 4.0.4
I Information Foundation System V Release 4.2
V Univel 4.2
M Micro Station Technology SVr4 UNIX
P Microport System V/4 version 4
U UHC Version 3.6
B BSD/386 1.0
A `c' indicates that the hardware is claimed to work in vendor literature.
A `y' indicates that this has been verified by a user report.
A 'v' indicates that the board vendor supplies a driver or server.
A `.' indicates that whether this combination works is unknown.
An `n' indicates that the vendor advises that the combination won't work.
A `*' points you at footnote info.
A blank column indicates that I have received no vendor info on the
hardware category in question.
The following general caveats apply:
* All ports support EGA, VGA, CGA and monochrome text displays.
* All ports support generic ISA serial-port cards based on the 8250 or 16450
UART. According to the vendors, the asy drivers on Dell, Esix, Microport,
BSD/386 support the extended FIFO on the NS16550AFN UART chip.
Indeed, Dell tech support will tell you this feature was present in the
base USL code. UHC says its 4.0.4 drivers will talk to the 16550s.
SCO has supported the 16550 since 3.2.2.
* I have not bothered listing ordinary ST-506/IDE/RLL drives, though lists
of them are given in vendor literature. This is a very mature commodity
technology; anything you buy should work with one of the supported
controllers unless it's defective.
* Vendors' supported hardware lists are not models of clarity. Some items
may be listed under a couple of different names because I don't know that
they're actually the same beast. I have been very careful not to make
assumptions where I am ignorant; thus, some hardware may appear less
widely supported than it actually is.
* These tables are grossly incomplete.
Also, be aware that there is a fundamental design problem in the ISA
architecture that can cause 8-bit boards used in a system with 16-bit
boards to flake out even if they're actually compatible. Jeremy Chatfield
(formerly of Dell, now of Information Foundation) describes it this way:
"We've seen (and fixed) this with several card combinations. If you have an 8
bit card and a 16 bit card in the same address range, then the address decoding
on the ISA bus will find that the 128KB range includes a 16 bit card. It
therefore programs itself for 16 bit I/O. If you then do I/O with the 8 bit
card, every other data byte is garbage. You will also have a reboot problem,
because the 16 bit card usually starts in 8 bit mode and has to be switched to
16 bit mode. If the switch back to 8 bit mode is not made, and the address
range is the c0000-d0000 range, close to the VGA BIOS, the VGA BIOS accesses
are screwed, because they are performed in 16 bit mode because of the above PC
H/W architectural problem. We include a deinit sequence in all the 16 bit
device drivers that causes a shutdown to reset the accesses to the safer 8 bit
mode. Of course, after a panic, the machine still has boards set up in 16 bit
mode, so you might observe the problem then.
This affects *all* PC OS's. I have seen cases where DOS failed to reboot
because of the same nonsense (network card in 16 bit mode in same address
region as VGA BIOS). Clever programming can resolve in several ways."
All the SVr4 systems inherit support for a fairly wide range of hardware from
the base USL code (version 4.0.3 or 4.0.4); SCO UNIXes from 3.2.2 up, ODT
and Linux also support all these devices:
* All PC disk controllers (ESDI, IDE, ST-506 in MFM and RLL formats).
* The Adaptec 1542B SCSI adapter. Note: you'll have to jumper your
SCSI devices to fixed IDs during installation on most of these. For
Linux you need to leave BIOS initialization on.
* Western Digital's 8013EBT Ethernet card, and its equivalents
the WD8003 and WD8013. SVr4v4 and Linux add the 3Com 3C503.
* VGA adapters in 640x480 by 16 color mode.
* "C" protocol serial mice like the Series 7 and Series 9 from Logitech and
the PC-3 mouse from Mouse Systems (however, we've had one report of an
ostensible PC-3 clone called the DFI200H not working).
All SVr4 4.2 ports inherit support for these additional devices:
* "M" and "M+" protocol mice like Microsoft's and the newer Logitechs.
* SCSI WORM drives including the Toshiba and Maxtor RXT-800HS.
* SCSI Optical Disks: Maxtor Tahiti-I and II, Sony SMOE501
* SCSI CD-ROM drives: Toshiba XM-3201B, NEC CDR-82, Pioneer DRM-600,
* ET3000-based SVGA boards at up to 1024x768x16, WD90C10-based boards
at up to 1024x768x16, WD90C11-based boards at up to 1024x768x256.
* IBM-compatible Token Ring cards
The SCO versions support all these mice and token ring cards.
If you can fill in any of the gaps, or convert a `c' to `y', send me email.
S C D E I V M P U B L Systems
c . c c . Acer (all 386/486 models)
. . . . c ACCELL 486/33 ISA and 386/40 ISA
. c . . . ADDA AD-428P-25, Portable 486/25, 486/33, AD-328D-25
. c c c . ALR Business VEISA 386/33-101
c . c . . ALR (all 386 and 486 models)
y . . . . applicationDEC 316,316+,325,325C,333,425,433MP
c . c . . Apricot LS, LS 386SX, XEN-S 386
c . . . y Arche 486, Master 486/33
. . c c . AST (models not specified)
. c c c . AST Premium (models not specified)
c . c . . AST Premium 386,386/33,486/25T*E*,486/33T*E*
c . c c . AT&T 6386 machines
. . c c . Compaq (models not specified)
c c c c . Compaq DeskPro 386/33.
y . c . . Compaq DeskPro 486s/20,486/25/486/33L,386/20,386/25
y . c . . Compaq Portable III 386, SystemPro
c . c . y Compaq SLT 386s/20
. . c . y CompuAdd 320
c y y c y y y . CompuAdd Model 333
. . c . y CompuAdd 320
c . c . . DEC DS486, DECpc 433, DECpc 433T
c . c . . DECstation 320,325,425
c y . c c . Dell 310,325,325P,333P,316SX,316LT,320SX,320LT.
c y . c c . Dell 433P,425E,433E,425TE,433TE,4xx[DS]E,486[DP]xx.
. . c . y DynaMicro 486/33
c . c . . EasyData 386 model 333
c . c . . Epson Equity 386/20PC,386/25,386SX; Epson PC AX3,AX3/25
. c c c . Everex (models not specified)
y . c . . Everex 33,386/20,486,486/33
. c c c . Gateway 2000 (models not specified)
. y . c c y Gateway 2000 (486/33 ISA)
. . c . y . Gateway 2000 486/25
. n . . . Gatewat 486 VESA
c . c . . Groupil Uniprocessor 25MHz Tower
c . c . . GRiDCase 1530,1550SX
. . c c c High Definition Systems 486/25 ISA and 386 SX/16 ISA
. y c . . High Definition Systems 386/40 ISA
c . c . . HP 486 Vectra series
c . . . . IBM PS/2 and PS/Valuepoint
c . c . . IBC 486
c . c . . ITT 486
y . c . . Micro Way Number Smasher 486/33
c . c . . Mitac 386, MC3100E-02, S500
c . c . . Mitsuba 386
c . c . . Mitsubishi PC-386
. . c . y MORSE PAT 386PX 386/40
. . c . y MORSE KP 386T 386/33
c . c . . NCR 316,316SX,3386
c . c . . NEC 386/20,486/25, BusinessMate and PowerMate
y . c . . NEC 386/33 BusinessMate
c . c . . Noble 386
c . c . . Nokia Alfaskop System 10 m52, m54/55
c . c . . Northgate 33
. c c c . Northgate 386/33
. y . c . . Northgate 486/33
c . c . . Olivetti 386/486 machines
c . c . . Olivetti XP-9
y . c . . Packard-Bell 386x
c . c . . PC Craft PCC 2400 386
c . c . . Phillips 386, P3464 486
. c c c . Primax (models not specified)
c . c . . SNI 8800-50, 8810-50, PCD series
c . c . . Schneider 386 25-340, 386SX System 70
c . c . . Siemens Data Systems Model WX200
c . c . . Starstation
. . c . y Tandy 3000
c . c . . Tandy 4000
y . c . . Tatung Force 386x
c . c . . Tatung Force TCS-8000 386, TCS-8600 386
. c c c . Tangent (models not specified)
. y c . . Tangent 386/25C
. c c y . Tangent 433E (486/33 EISA)
. . c . y Technology Advancement Group EISA 483/33
. c c c . Televideo (models not specified)
c . c . . Televideo 386/25
c . c . . Texas Instruments System 1300
. . c . y Texas Instruments System 80486/33Mhz
c . c . . Toshiba T3100,T3200,T5100,T5200,T8500,T8600
. . c . y TPE 486/33 & 486/50
. c c c . Twinhead (models not specified)
y . c . . Twinhead 800 (486/33)
. c c c . Unisys (models not specified)
c . c . . Unisys PW2 Series 800/16,800/20,800/25
c . c . . Victor 386 25, V486T
c . c . . Wang MX200, PC 380
c . c . . Wyse 386
n . c . . Wyse Decision 486/33 (intermittent crashes)
c . c . . Zenith 386 and 486 machines
. . c . y Zeos 486DX-50
S C D E I V M P U B L Motherboards
c . . AGI
y y . . A.I.R. 486/33EL w 256K cache
. c . ALR
. c . AMAX
c . c . AMI (model not specified)
y c . AMI Enterprise II (33 & 50)
y . . Amptron AMD386/40
. . y Amptron ISA 486DX/33
. c . ARC
n . c . Cache Computer (model not specified)
. . y Cache Computer 386-33
. c . Chips & Technologies chipset
y . c . Chips & Technologies 33DX
c c . Club AT
. c . DataExport
y . c . Dell
. c n . DTK (model not specified)
y . n . DTK 386/33
. . c EISA Tech 80386SX MHz
y . . . Eteq 386
y n . . Eteq 486
. c . Free Technology (model not specified)
. . . Free Technology 486/33 EISA board
y . . . Free Technology 486/50DX
y y . . Gigabyte GA-486US 33MHz 256K Cache
c . . y Intel 302 (386/25 + 387)
. . y Intel 403E (486/33 EISA)
. c . Microlab
c y c y c Micronics 386/25
c c y c Micronics 486/33 ISA
y . . Micronics 486/33 EISA
. c . Mitac
. . . Modular Circuit Technology 386/SX 16Mhz
y . . . Motherboard Factory 386/40, 486/33 (Northgate's OEM)
. c . Mylex (model not specified)
c c . Mylex MI-386/20
y y y y . Mylex MAE486/33
y y . . NICE 486DX/50 EISA
y . c . OPTI 486
. c . Orchid
. c . PC-craft
y y . . TMC Research Corporation PAT38PC 25/386,33/386
y . . TMC Research Corporation PAT38PX 33/386,40/386
. . y Zida 486DX/50 ISA
* These two tables probably way *understate* the compatibility of most ports.
Most ISA or EISA motherboards will work with all of them. However, Jeff
Coffler <email@example.com> reports: "I couldn't get the Cache
Computer CPU board to work at all with Dell UNIX, even though they claimed
they work with SCO. Flaky, timing-related failures."
* Quote from Kolstad, "The external caches on the most advanced
boards are usually not tested well for UNIX-like applications. We
see problems occasionally that disappear when the caches are disabled.
Once reproducible, the vendors can usually repair the problem."
* A source at UHC describes the DTK boards as "dogshit" --- he says they
generate a lot of spurious interrupts that DOS is too cretinous to be
bothered by but which completely tank UNIX. He says DTK seems uninterested
in fixing the problem. Other correspondents confirm that this has been
going on for several years. On the other hand, another correspondent says
his company has 20 DTK machines running UNIX with no problems. We advise
that you actually *see* any DTK board boot UNIX and run for a while before
* Dave Johnson <firstname.lastname@example.org> reports that since upgrading from a 386 to
an Eteq 486, they've had lots of UHC random panics due to page faults in
kernel mode. UHC is looking into this.
S C D E I V M P U B L Video Cards Max Res ChipSet
. c y . . * . . Appian Rendition GRX 1024x768x256 TIGA34010
c c y . . * . . Appian Rendition II, IIXE 1024x768x256 TIGA34010
c c . . . . . . Appian Rendition III 1280x1024x256 TIGA34020
. . . . c . . ARC V-16 (Paradise) ???? ????
c . . . . . . AST motherboard video 1024x768x256 WD90C31
c . . . . . . AST VGA Plus 800x600x16 WDC
. . c c c c . AT&T VDC 600 (Paradise clone) SVGA ????
. . c . . . . AT&T VDC400 CGA ???
. . c c . . . AT&T VDC750 EGA ???
c y . . . c . c ATI Ultra 1024x768x256 Mach 8
c . . . . . . ATI UltraPlus & UltraPro 1024x768x256 Mach 32
c y . . . c . c ATI Vantage 1024x768x256 Mach 8
c . . . . . . ATI Wonder SVGA N Wonder
c y c c c c n y ATI Wonder+ SVGA N Wonder
c . c c . . . ATI Wonder XL 1024x768x256 ????
. . . . c c . ATI (type not specified) ???? ????
. y . . . . . . Boca SuperVGA 1024x768 ET4000
c . . . . . . Bull ProStation 25i 1024x768x16 ????
c . . . . . . Chips 451 800x600x16 N C&T451
c . . . . . . Chips 452 1024x768x16 N C&T452
c . . . . . . Cirrus Logic VGA 6410 800x600x16 ????
c . . . . . . Cirrus Logic GD542X 1024x768x256 N ????
c . . . . . . Compaq Advanced VGA 640x480x256 N ????
c . . . . . . Compaq AG1024 1024x768x256 ????
c . . . . . . Compaq LCD VGA 640x480x16g N ????
c . . . . . . Compaq Plasma 640x400x2 N non-VGA
c . . . . . . Compaq ProLinea 3 1024x768x16 N WD90C11
c . . . . . . Compaq ProLinea 4 1024x768x256 N ET4000
c . . . . . . Compaq ProSignia 1024x768x16 N WD90C11
c . . . . . . Compaq QVision 1024x768x256 N ????
c . . . . . . Compaq VGC 640x480x16 N ????
c . . . . . . Compaq VGC 132 800x600x16 N ????
. . . . . . c Compuadd Hi-Rez card w/1meg 1024x768 ET4000
c . . . . . . Cornerstone SinglePage 1008x768x2 ????
c . . . . . . Cornerstone PC1280 1280x960x2 ????
c . . . . . . Cornerstone DualPage 1600x1280x2 ????
c . . . . . . Cornerstone DualPage 150 2048x1538x2 ????
c . . . . . . DEC 433w 1280x1024x256 TMS34020
c . . . . . . DEC motherboard video 1024x768x256 N WD90C30
c y . . . . . . Dell motherboard video 1024x768x256 WD90C31
c . . . . . . Dell PoerLine 450 DX "Jaws" 1280x1024x256 ????
. y . c c . c . Dell VGA 1024x768 ????
c y c c c c y c Diamond SpeedStar 1024x768x256 ET4000
c . . . . . c Diamond Stealth 1280x1024x16 S3
c* . . c . . c Eizo MD-B07, MD-B10, Extra/EM 1024x768 ET3000
. . . c . . y ELSA WINNER 1280x1024 82C480
. c . . . . . Everex ViewPoint VRAM SVGA+ ????
. c . . . . . Everex ViewPoint True Color SVGA+ ????
. c . . . . . Everex UltraGraphics II EV-236 1664x1200 mono
. . . . . . . Fastwrite VGA 800x600 ????
. . c . . . . Genoa SuperEGA HiRes 1024x768 ????
. . . c . . . Genoa 5200 1024x768 ????
c c c c c c c Genoa 5300/5400 superVGA SVGA N ????
c . . . c . c Genoa 6000, 6400 SVGA N ????
c . . . . . . Genoa 7000 SVGA N ????
c . . . . . . Grid 1530 laptop 640x400x2 CGA-like
y c . . c . . Hercules monographics display 720x348 mono
c . . . . . . HP UltraVGA 1280x1024x16 S3
c . . . . . . IBM 8514/A 1024x768x256 8514/A
c y . . . . . . IBM VGA VGA VGA
c . . . . . . IBM XGA 1024x768x256 XGA
c . . . . . . IBM XGA-2 1024x768x256 XGA-2
c . . . . . . Imagraph ITX 1280x1024x256 TMS34020
c . . . . . . Intel motherboard video 1024x768x256 N WD90C3x
c . . . . . . Matrox MWIN1280 1280x1024x256 N 8514
c . . . . . . Matrox PG-1281-CV 1024x768x256 ????
c . . . . . . Matrox PG-1281 1280x1024x256 ????
c . . . . . . Matrox PG-1281/s 1280x1024x16g ????
. c . . . . . MaxLogic SVGA ????
c . c v . . . Microfield T8 1280x1024 TIGA34020
c . . v c . . Microfield V8 1280x1024 ????
c . . . . . . Microfield I8 1280x1024x256 TMS34020
. . . v . . . Microfield X-8 1280x1024 ????
c . . . . . . Micronics MVC 1280x1024x256 82C41
c . . . . . . Miro Magic 1280x1024x256 N 82C48
c . . . . . . Miro Magic Plus 1280x1024x256 N 82C481
c . . . . . . Miro Crystal 8.24 1280x1024x256 N 82C481
c . . . . . . Miro Crystal 4.16 1024x768x256 N 82C481
. . . . * . . Mylex GXE (EISA) 1280x1024 TIGA34020
c . . . . . . NCR 77C22 1024x768x16 77C22
c . . . . . . NCR 77C22E 1024x768x256 77C22E
. . . . . . y Nth Engine/150 1280x1024 82C480
c . . . . . . Number Nine GXi 1280x1024x256 N 34020
. c . . . . . Oak Technology OTI-067 1024x768x256 ????
c . . . . y . Oak Technologies Oak 077 1024x768x256 Oak 077
c . . . . . . Olivetti EVC-1 (EISA) 1024x768x256 82c452
c . . . . . . Olivetti LSX50X5 1024x768x256 N ET4000
c . . . . . . Olivetti m300-28 1024x768x16 N OTI-067
c . . . . . . Olivetti m300-30 1024x768x256 N WD90C31
c . . . . . . Olivetti m300-40/m388-25/m400-* 1024x768x16 N C&T452A
c . . . . . . Olivetti m400-60 1024x768x256 N Mach 8
c . . . . . . Olivetti m480-xx 1024x768x16 N C&T453
c . . . . . . Olivetti OVC 640x480x16 N ????
. . . . . . c Optima Mega/1024 1024x768 ET4000
c . c . . . . Orchid Designer SVGA ET3000
c . . . . . c Orchid Fahrenheit 1280x1024x16 S3
c . . . . . . Orchid Fahrenheit 1280 Plus/VA 1280x1024x16 S3
c y . . c c c Orchid ProDesigner 800x600 ET3000
c y y c c y . y Orchid ProDesigner II/1024 1024x768 N ET4000
c . . . . . . Orchid ProDesigner II/e 800x600x256 N ET4000
c * c c y . y Orchid ProDesigner IIs 1024x768 N ET4000
c . c c . . . Paradise VGA Plus VGA PVGA1A
. c c . c c c Paradise VGA Professional VGA PVGA1A
c c . c . c . c Paradise VGA 1024 SVGA WD90C00
c . . . . . . Paradise 8514/A SVGA+ 8514/A
c . . v . . y PixelWorksWhirlWin 1280x1024 82C480
. . c . . . . PerfectView SVGA ????
c . . . . . . QuadRAM QuadVGA SVGA ????
. . . . c c . Qume Crystal 1024x768 T4000
c . . . . . . Renaissance Rendition II 1024x768 TMS34020
y y y . . c . c Sigma Legend 1024x768x356 N ET4000
. . c . c c . Sigma VGA/H 800x600 ????
c c c . c c . STB EM-16 VGA, EM-16+ VGA SVGA ET3000
c . c . . . . STB Extra-EM SVGA ET3000
. c c . c . c STB PowerGraph w/1meg 1024x768x256 ET4000
c . . . . . . STB Wind/X (BIOS 1.0) 1024x768x16 S3
c . . . . . . STB Wind/X (BIOS 1.1) 1280x1024x16 S3
. . . . . . c Swan SVGA with VCO chip 1024x768 ET4000
. . c . . . . Tecmar VGA VGA Et3000
c c c . . . . Tecmar VGA AD SVGA ET3000
c . . . . . . Toshiba Grid 758 & 1500 laptop 640x400x2 CGA-like
. . . . . . c TRICOM Mega/1024 1024x768 ET4000
c . . . c . . Trident SuperVGA ???? T880
c . c c . . c Trident TVGA 8900 1024x768x256 T8900
c . . . . . . Trident Impact I & III 1024x768x256 T8900
c . . . . . . Tseng Labs ET3000 VGA 1024x768x16 T3000
c . . c c c . Tseng Labs ET4000 VGA 1024x768x256 T4000
. c . . . . . Vectrix VX1024 (TI-34010) 1024x768 ????
. . c . . . . Vega VGA 800x600 ????
c . . . . . . Verticom MX/AT 800x600 ????
c . . . . . . Video Dynamics SprintGXU 1280x1024x16 S3
c . . . . . . Western Digital WD90C11 1024x768x16 N WD90C11
c . . . . . . Western Digital WD90C30 1024x768x256 N WD90C30
c . . . . . . Western Digital WD90C31 1024x768x256 N WD90C31
c c . . c c . Video7 FastWrite VGA 800x600 x2, x16 ????
c . c . c c . Video7 VRAM VGA 1024x768 Video7
c . . . c c . Video7 VRAM II VGA SVGA Video7
c . . . c c . Video7 VEGA EGA 640x380 Video7
c . . . . . . Video7 VGA1024i SVGA Video7
c y . . . . . . Zenith/Bull motherboard video 1024x768x256 N WD90C3x
c . . . . . . Zenith WAM 1024x768x256 N 8514/A
In this table, an `SVGA' resolution code signifies the following resolutions:
1024x768 at 2 and 16 colors, 800x600 at 2, 16, 256 colors, and 640x480 at 2,
16, 256 colors. SVGA+ adds 1280x1024 at 2 or 16 colors. Some non-interlace
boards are marked with N. Greyscale boards are marked with a `g' suffix'.
Caveats in interpreting the above table:
* All super-VGA cards will work at VGA resolutions and below (that is, resolu-
tions up to 640x480 in 16 colors).
* Because color is of secondary importance for most UNIX applications, I list
only the highest dot-density resolution of a board that supports more than
one. Some boards have lower resolutions with more colors.
* This list is not exclusive. Many (perhaps even most) dotted combinations
will work. UHC claims that any SVGA based on an ET3000, ET4000, Paradise
or Genoa chip-set will fly; Dell echoes this with regard to ET3000,
ET4000, WD90C0xx cards, and the same is probably true of all other vendors.
* The Renaissance GRX-II is the same board as the Appian Rendition II; the
company changed its name. The II/XE is compatible with the Rendition GRX
and the Appian Rendition II, it differs in architecture in that it supports
more DRAM and runs a little faster than the older cards. All
Rendition II type cards run at a maximum resolution of 1024x768-256,
the Renditon III runs at 1280x1024-256 with its full VRAM set.
* An ESIX reseller says all the TIGA34010-based video cards are pretty much
alike and ESIX will drive any of them (the prudent user should probably ask
to see the card working before committing). ESIX also supports 720x348
resolution on cheap Hercules-compatible monochrome tubes, and the Everex
UltraGraphics display at 1664x1200 resolution.
* Beware the Trident and Oak chipsets. Many clone vendors bundle these with
their systems because they're cheap, but they break the Roell server and
some other X implementations. Also, they appear to argue with the WD8003EP
net card, and no re-arrangement of the jumpers seems to fix it. Xfree86
supports the Trident, but the developers say it's slow, and should be
avoided. The OAK is not supported.
* Third party server technology from companies like MetroLink can support
higher performance, higher resolution TIGA and proprietary technology.
* Dell's 2.2 adds X11R5 servers for VGA 640x480, 800x600 and for the Tseng
Labs ET4000 and WD90C11 in up to 1024x768 16 or 256 colour. Appian
Rendition II (formerly Renaissance) for 1024x768 TIGA 34010. Highest
performance from the ATI Ultra 1024x768 256 colour, and highest resolution
from the 1280x1024 256 colour JAWS (Dell proprietary card developed in
association with Lotus and MicroSoft)
* The Orchid ProDesigner IIs (top speed 80 MHz, not the 75MHz version) works
with both X386-1.2D and X386-1.2E (beta). It works ok with the ESIX 4.0.3
X11R4 stuff at any resolution under 1024x768. But the driver does *not*
work with 1024x768 (timings are way off). The vanilla ProDesigner II does
work correctly with both the X386 and the Esix X11's (R5 and R4,
respectively). Note: this info may change in ESIX 4.0.4, which uses a
* The Qume Crystal is a private-label version of the Tseng Labs VGA card.
* Linux uses XFree86. See the section on XFree86 for supported cards.
* The Mach8 chip is often called the 28880; the Mach 32 chip is often
called the 68880.
* SCO supports the Eizo MD-B07 only up to 800x600x16.
S C D E I V M P U B L Mice
c y c c y y y (Logitech-compatible) 3-button serial mice (C protocol)
c y c c c n (Logitech-compatible) 3-button bus mice (C protocol)
. . c . . n ATI Wonder+ bus-mouse port
y . . . . c ATI Graphics Ultra bus-mouse port
c . . . . . HP C1413A Mouse
y y . c . . IBM PS/2 keyboard mouse
c y y c c c n Logitech MouseMan (M+ protocol)
c y y . c c c c Logitech Trackman (serial, M+ protocol)
c y c . c n Logitech Trackman (bus, M+ protocol)
c . . . . . Logitech hi-res Keyboard Mouse
c y c c c c Microsoft 2-button (serial, M protocol)
c y c c c n Microsoft 2-button (bus, M protocol)
c . . . . . Olivetti Bus Mouse
c . . . . . Olivetti hi-res Keyboard Mouse
. . . . . . SummaMouse
c . . . . . Summagraphics Bitpad
* See the discussion of mice at the beginning of this section for details.
* BSD/386 says it supports all 1200-9600 baud serial mice, specifying Logitech
as an example. This is probably true of all vendors.
* X11R5 (X386 1.2) supports all of the known mice on SVR4 in a native mode,
bypassing the mouse driver. This wasn't true with X11R4 (X386 1.1b).
So if you're using X386 1.2 exclusively, you can use (say) a MouseMan
regardless of which SVR4 you're using.
* Dell 2.2 includes an auto-configuring mouse driver that's supposed to
work with about anything. Non-factory-installed 2.2s may require a
patch from support to handle the Logitech Mouseman.
* Linux uses Xfree86 and thus supports most C and M-protocol mice in both
serial and bus formats.
S C D E I V M P U B L Multi-port serial cards
c . . . . AMI lamb 4 and 8-port
v y c c . Arnet (models not specified)
c y . . . Arnet 2,4 and 8-port and TwinPort
c . c c y c AST 4-port
. . . . . Async Accent 4 (see note)
v . . c . Central Data
c . . c . Chase Research
c c . c . Computone (models not specified)
v y . . . Computone Intelliport
c . . . . Computone ATvantage-X 8-port
c . . . . Comtrol Hostess-4
c . c c . Comtrol Hostess-8
v . c y . Consensys PowerPorts
c . . . . CTC Versanet 4AT and 8AT
c y . . . Digiboard 4 and 8-port
. y c c . Digiboard DigiChannel PC/8
v . . . y . Digiboard Digichannel PC/Xe-16 (see note below)
v y . y . Equinox
c . . . . Kimtron Quartet 4-port
y . c c c . Maxpeed
c . . . . Olivetti RS232C Multiport board
c . . . . Quadram QuadPort 1 and 5-port
. . . . c . SDL RISCOM/8
v y . c . Specialix
v y . c . Stallion OnBoard
. . . c . Stargate (models not specified)
v . . . . Stargate OC4400 (4-port) and OC8000 (8-port)
c . . . . Tandon Quad serial card
. y . c . Technology Concepts
c . . . . Unisys 4-port
* Only SCO, Dell, Esix and Microport listed multiport cards at all.
As some are `smart' cards which require special device drivers, you should
*not* assume that a board is supported on a particular port unless the
vendor explicitly says so.
* SCO says it supports just about every dumb card out there which multiplexes
multiple ports onto a single interrupt -- *except* the Bell Hub6; and we
support *no* intelligent multiport cards -- but the intelligent card vendors
all have drivers for SCO.
* MtXinu says they have *no* multiport support right now.
* The Chase, Computone, Intelliport and Specialix cards will run under
SCO using a vendor-supplied driver.
* The Maxpeed SS8-UX2 doesn't support RTS/CTS flow control, and requires
its own config scripts rather than using inittab and gettydefs. The
BSDI people think it works with their config stuff.
* Peter Wemm <Peter-Wemm@zeus.dialix.oz.au> writes: "In 2.1, Dell's drivers
(direct from Stallion) are flakey. I have been annoying the living daylights
out of the developers (Stallion) here in AUS, and their new drivers have an
`interaction' problem with the reboot mechanism in dell's kernel. A reboot
causes the VGA card to be disabled." Jeremy Chatfield of Dell replies:
"We haven't seen the problem he reports. Most likely the problem he's seeing
is an icky [generic] one for UNIX on a PC." He then proceeds to detail
the 8-16 clash described at the beginning of this section. Peter Wemm
adds that the 2.8s.6 drivers supplied with Dell 2.2 seem to be good, but
that you should *not* install the 2.8s.7 drivers; they interfere with
the reboot mechanism.
* Digiboard makes an SVr4 UNIX streams driver available via download for the
* The Async 4 probe routine terminally confuses the Ultrastor 14 disk
controller. Also, this driver is not part of the default beta build.
S C D E I V M P U B L Disk controllers
c c c c . y Adaptec 2320/2322 (ESDI)
c c . c . . Adaptec ACB 2730C (RLL)
c y . c . . Adaptec ACB 2732C (RLL)
c . . . . Compag 32-bit Intelligent Drive Array Controller
c . . . . Compag 32-bit Intelligent Drive Array Controller-2
c . . . . Compag 32-bit Intelligent Drive Array Expansion
. c . c . c CCAT100A (IDE)
. . c . . Chicony 101B
y y c c . . Data Tech Corp 6280 (ESDI)
. . c . c DTG 6282-24
. c c c . . Everex EV-346 (ST506)
. c c c . . Everex EV-348 (ESDI)
. c c c . . Everex EV-8120 (IDE)
y c . . . . Lark ESDI controller
. c c c . . OMTI 8240 (ST506)
. c . . c . PSI Caching controller (ESDI)
c c . . . . SMS OMTI 8620 and 8627 (ESDI)
. y . . c . Ultrastor 12C, 22F
y y . c c c Ultrastor 12F
c c . . n . Ultrastor 22C (caching EISA version of 12F)
. y . c . . Ultrastor 22CA
c y c c . . Western Digital 1003 (RLL)
c . . . . Western Digital 1005
c y . . . Western Digital 1006V-MM2 (ST506)
y y y c . c Western Digital 1007 A,SE2 (ESDI)
c . c . . Western Digital 1009 SE1/SE2
* All these ports should support all standard PC hard-disk controllers (ESDI,
IDE,ST-506 in MFM and RLL formats).
S C D E I V M P U B L SCSI controllers
c . . . . . . . Adaptec 1510 (1520 without boot ROM)
c . . . . . . . Adaptec 152x (non-bus mastering ISA host adapter)
y y c c c y y c * c Adaptec 1540, 1542
c n . . c . . . . Adaptec 1640 (MicroChannel version of 154x)
c y c . c y c n c . Adaptec 1740,1742 (EISA) (1542 emulation mode)
y y . c . * c c Adaptec 1740,1742 (EISA) (enhanced mode)
v . . . c . . . Always IN2000
v c . c c . . c BusLogic BT-542B
v c . v c . . . BusLogic BT-742A (EISA) (mPort specifies Revision F)
v . . c . . . . Buslogic BT-545S
v . . v . . . . Buslogic BT-747S, 640A, 646S/D
c . . . . . . . Compaq SCSI Option Adapter and Compression Adapter
y . . . . . . . Corollary SCSI-CPU
. . . c c c . . DPT PM2102 caching controller (MFM emulation)
c . . c c . . . DPT PM2102 caching SCSI controller in SCSI mode
c . c c . . . . DPT 2011, 2012A, 2012B
. . . c . . . . Eclipse 720E
. c . . . . . . Everex EV8118/8110
c c . v . . . c Future Domain 1660, 1680, 885, 860
c . . c . . . . Future Domain 1790/1795, 600, 700
y . c c . . . . IBM HardFile (their SCSI host adapter for MicroChannel)
v . . . c . . . Mylex DCE (EISA)
y . . . . . . . Olivetti ESC-1 (EISA)
. . . v . . . . Procomp Pro-Master
. . . . . c . . PSI caching controller
. . . . . . . c Seagate ST0x
c . . . . . . . Storage Plus SCSI-AT "Sumo"
. . . . c . . . Ultrastor 32k, 34f
v . . v . . . c Ultrastor 14F, 34F
v . . v . . . . Ultrastor 24F, 124F, 144F
c y c . c c c . c Western Digital WD7000
c y . . . . . . . Western Digital WD7000-EX (EISA version of WD7000)
. . . v . . . . Zynx ZX401, ZX402
* UHC started shipping a native-mode 1740/1742 driver in mid-April. It
requires a full SCSI-2 tape drive.
* BusLogic used to be known as BusTek. The BusLogic 542 is a clone of the
Adaptec 1542. At least one respondent thinks it works better and faster
with the Adaptec drivers than the Adaptecs do! The BusLogic 742 has more
complicated antecedents; it's an EISA clone of the 1542, not necessarily
compatible with the 1742.
* There's a known bug in the Adaptec 1742 firmware that produces hangs
when it's used with certain SCSI tape drives, including the popular
* Bill Austin <uunet!baustin!bill> writes: "the 1740 patches on ESIX [4.0.3a]
do work but only bring the speed up in enhanced mode by about 15% over
standard (643Kb/s vs 535Kb/s) in writing, although the *read* speed
has nearly tripled (2,833 Kb/s) (this is using "iozone 16"). This may give
some idea of what improvement to expect from native-mode 1740 operation.
* Wolfgang Denk <email@example.com> reports that SCO ODT 2.0 running an Adaptec
1542 cannot work with the following Hewlett-Packard drives:
HP 97536 SL
HP 97536 S
A source at SCO says "This problem is known to us. In some
not-yet-clearly-understood fashion, these HP drives interact badly with
our implementation of scatter/gather disk transfer ordering. There are
two different workarounds: you can turn off scatter/gather in the SCSI
disk driver, or you can get updated drive control board ROMs from HP."
S C D E I V M P U B L Network cards
c . . . . . . c . 3COM EtherLink I 3C501 and 3C502 (see note)
c c y c c c . y c 3COM EtherLink II 3C503
c . . c . . . c . 3COM EtherLink 16 (3C507)
v . . . . . . . . 3COM Etherlink 3C509
c . . c c . . . . 3Com 3C523 & 523B EtherLink/MC
c . . . c . . . . 3Com 3C523 EtherLink/MC TP
. . . . v . . . . Adax APC-MCX
. . . . . . . . c Alta Combo
. . . . . . . . c Artisoft Lantastic AE-2
v . . . v . . . . Buslogic 560A, 560T, 760A, 763E
c . . . . . . . c Cabletron
v . . . v . . . . Codenoll CodeNet 8340, 9540, 9543, 9740, 9440, 9443
c . . . . . . . . Compaq NwtFlex Ethernet/Token Ring Adapter
c . . . . . . . . Compaq 32-bit DualSpeed Token Ring Adapter
. . . . . . . . c D-link Ethernet II
. . . . v . . . . DTK ELN-001B
. . . . v . . . . Eclipse 720E
. . c . . . . . . Everex EV-2015, EV-2016, EV-2026, EV-2027
c . . . . . . . c HP 27245A EtherTwist Adapter Card/8 ISA TP
c . . . . . . . c HP 27247A EtherTwist Adapter Card/16 ISA TP
c . . . . . . . c HP 27250A ThinLAN Adapter Card/8 ISA BNC
c . . . . . . . . HP 27248A EtherTwist EISA Adapter Card/32
c . . c . . . . . IBM Token-Ring Network Adapter
c . . . . . . . . IBM Token-Ring Network Adapter II (short and long card)
c . . . c . . . . IBM Token-Ring Network Adapter 4/16
c . . . . . . . . IBM Token-Ring Network Adapter/A
c c . . . . . . . IBM Token-Ring Network 16/4 Adapter/A
. . . . v . . . . Kodiak EISA
. . . . . . . y . Lan Research LR-2000 (NE2000 compat)
c . . . . . . . . Microdyne (Excelan) EXOS 205, 205T, 205T/16
c . . . v . . . . Racal Datacomm NI6510 ISA and ES3210 EISA
. y c c c c c . . Intel PC-586 aka iMX-LAN/586
. . . . c . . . . Intel Ether Express 16 TP
. . . . . . . c c Novell NE1000
c . . . c . . c c Novell NE2000
c . . . . . . . . Novell 3200
. . . . v . . . . Proteon Pronet 4/16 Token Ring
y y y c . c c c y c SMC & Western Digital 8003 and 8013 and variations
. y . . . . . . . WD TokenRing card
. . . . v . . . . Zynx EISA-Action 7X301
* Dick Dunn <firstname.lastname@example.org> opines "Somewhere along here, somebody
needs to note that the 3C501 is a miserable-misbegotten-son-of-a-lame-she-
camel-and-a-desperate-jackal Ethernet card, at least in UNIXland. It has
serious problems in any serious multi-user system because of various
hardware idiosyncrasies which are on the order of can't-walk-down-the-
street-and-chew-gum." Do tell, Dick!
* Linux is claimed to support all 8390-based Ethernet cards.
S C D E I V M P U B L Tape drives
c y c . c y . c Archive 2150S or Viper 150 21247 (SCSI, QIC-150)
c c . c c . . Archive Viper VP150E
c . c . c c . Archive Viper 60 21116
c . c . c c . Archive Viper 150 25099
c . c . . . . Archive FT60i (Scorpion 5945C)
c . . . c c . Archive Viper 2525 25462.
y . . . c . . Archive 60 - 525MB (QIC-02 and SCI)
c . . . c . . Archive 4mm 4520 DAT
c . . . c c . Archive Python models 25501-003, -005 and -008 (SCSI)
c . . c . . . Archive Python DDS 4520NT and 4521NT DAT drives
c * . . c c . Archive XL (5580 & friends)
. . . . c c . Archive 3800
. . . . . c . AT&T KS22762 and KS23495 (SCSI)
c . . . . . . Bell Technologies XTC-60
. c . . . . . Caliper CP150
c . . . . . . Cipher CP-60B, CP-125B
. c . . . . . Cipher ST150S-II
c . . . . c . Cipher ST150S2/90 (SCSI)
n . . . c . . CMS Jumbo - 60MB QIC-40
. . . v . . . CMS Powertape
. . . c . . . Control Data US-22762
n . . . . c . Emulex MT02/S1 +CCS INQ (SCSI)
. c . . c . . Everex Excel Stream 60, 125, 150
. c . . c . . Everex5525ES (SCSI)
. c . . c . y Everex EV-811, EV-831, EV-833
c . . c c c c Exabyte EXB-8200 (SCSI)
c . . . . . c Exabyte EXB-8500 (SCSI)
. . . v . . . GigaTrend UniDAT
c . . . . . . HP 35450A (SCSI)
. . . c . c . HP 88780 (SCSI)
. . . . . c . HPCIPHER M990 (SCSI)
. . . . . c . NCR H6210-STD1-01-46C632 (SCSI)
c . . . . . . Mountain 8mm Cartridge
y . . . . n . Mountain FileSafe 150MB (QIC-02)
c . . . . . . Mountain FileSafe 60-300MB (QIC-02)
y y . . . . . y Sankyo 525ES (SCSI)
. . . . . c . Sony SDT-1000 (SCSI)
. . . . c . . Tallgrass 150 - 525MB SCSI
c . . c . . . Tandberg DQIC (SCSI)
y . . . . . . Tandbrg TDC-3660 (SCSI)
. . . . . . . TUV DAT
. . c c . . . Wangtek 5099EN24 (60MB)
c y . . . c . . Wangtek 150SE (SCSI)
y c . c c y . Wangtek 5150ES (SCSI)
c . . . c . . Wangtek 60 - 525MB (QIC 02 and SCSI)
c . . . c . . Wangtek 6130 - HS 4mm DAT.
c . . . y c . Wangtek 5125ES ES41, 5150ES ES41, 5150ES FA0 (SCSI)
c . c . . . . Wangtek 5125EQ (125MB)
c . c c . . . Wangtek 5150EQ (150MB)
c . . c c c c Wangtek 5150ES SCSI-3 (SCSI)
c . . . c . c WangTek 5150PK QIC-02 (QIC-150)
c y . . . . . . Wangtek 5525 (SCSI)
c . . . c c . Wangtek 6130-F (SCSI)
c . . . c c . Wangtek KS23417, KS23465, KS24569 (SCSI)
* All SVr4s inherit USL support for QIC-02, QIC-36 1/4", or SCSI tape
interfaces, using QIC-24 (9-track, 60MB), QIC-120 (15-track, 125MB) or
QIC-150 (18-track, 150MB) formats.
* A user says of Dell: it appears that anything using Wangtek QIC02/QIC36
controllers works; this should include the Wangtek 525MB, Cipher ST150S2,
and Archive 2150S drives.
* UHC specifies the following tape controller/drive combinations: Wangtek
PC-36 + Wangtek 5099-EN, Everex 811 + Wangtek 5150-EN, Bell Tech + Wangtek
5150-EN, Archive SC499-R + Archive External FT-60, Archive VP402 + Archive
Viper 2150L, Everex 811 + Archive Viper 2150L, Bell Tech + Archive Viper
2150L, Archive VP402 + Archive Viper 2150L.
* UHC claims that Any floppy tape supporting the QIC-107 physical and QIC-117
logical interface specs and QIC-80 or QIC-40 recording formats should work.
This is probably true of other vendors as well.
* BSDI says it supports almost any Wangtek 1/4" standard 3M streamer with a
QIC-02 or QIC-36 interface. However, they admit that the Archive SC402
QIC-02 controller will not work. BSDI says it will support almost any SCSI
tape unit, as well. A small patch was required to get the Sankyo E525ES to
* Floppy tapes don't work on Dell; USL provides the support, but it collides
with Dell's code for auto-detecting the density of a diskette.
* SCO's tape compatibility table lists drive/controller pairs; not all drives
listed have been included here. They allege that any QIC-02 drive should
work. Unofficial sources inside SCO claim any SCSI drive ought to work.
* A source at SCO says the CMS Jumbo is neither compatible with QIC40/QIC80
nor Irwin "standards", vendor supplies their own driver which SCO does not
support. He also said "CMS is in general fairly UNIX-hostile; don't buy
their stuff if you have a choice." Tom Haapanen <email@example.com> adds
simply "Ick. Stay away!" On the other hand, Jerry Rocteur <jerry
@lncc.com> praises their hardware and says he found them quite helpful and
knowledgeable. Your editor has no experience on which to base an opinion.
* The Emulex MT02 is a QIC02 bridge controller for the SCSI bus -- lets you
take an old QIC02 drive and run it on a SCSI bus. It is said to use a
very old version of the SCSI spec; caveat emptor.
* John Plate <firstname.lastname@example.org> writes: "According to a fax from the Archive
manufacturer Maynard, [the XL 5580 drive only works with ESIX 4.0.3] if the
tape drive is "drive" two! Which is the same as disabling the second floppy
drive and then set a jumper on the tape drive."
S C D E I V M P U B L Non-Winchester mass storage
. c . . . . . Bernoulli 90MB exchangeable SCSI
. . . n . . . Chinon CD-ROMS
c . . . . . Compaq Dual-Speed CD-ROM Drive
c . . . . . DEC RRD42
c . . . . . Hitachi CDR 1750s
c . . . . . Hitachi CDR 3750
. . . c . . Hitachi, Toshiba (models not specified)
c . . . . . IBM External CD-ROM
c . . . . . IBM Internal CD-ROM II Disk Drive 1104
. . c . c . Maxtor RXT-800HS
. . c . . . Maxtor Tahiti-I, Tahiti-II (floptical disk)
. . c . . . NEC CDR-82 (SCSI CD-ROM)
c . . . . . NEC CDR-73
c . . . . . NEC CDR-73M
c . . . . . NEC CDR-74
c . . . . . NEC CDR-75
c . . . . . NEC CDR-77
c . . . . . NEC CDR-83
c . . . . . NEC CDR-83M
c . . . . . NEC CDR-84
c . . . . . Olivetti CDR-5541
v . c . . . Pioneer DRM-600 (SCSI CD-ROM)
. . c . . . Sony CDU-8012 XM-3201B (SCSI CD-ROM)
. . c . . . Sony SMO E501 (floptical disk)
c . . . . . Sony CDU-541-01
c . . . . . Sony CDU-6110-01
. c . c . . Storage Dimensions XSE1-1000S1 optical disk
. y . c . c SyQuest cartridge media
. c . . . . . Tandata
c . . . . . Texel DM-3024
c . . . . . Texel DM-5024
. c . c c . Toshiba TXM-3201A1 CD-ROM
. . c . . . Toshiba XM-3201B (SCSI CD-ROM)
. c . y c c . Toshiba TXM-3301B CD-ROM
. . . c c . Toshiba WM-C050
. c c c c . Toshiba WM-D070 WORM drive
c . . . . . Toshiba XM-3101B
c . . . . . Toshiba XM-3201B
c . . . . . Toshiba XM-3301B
c . . . . . Toshiba XM-3401B E1
* Univel's Hardware Compatibility Guide claims that UnixWare works OK
with Chinon CD-ROMs, but Dave Parker <dlparker@gator!dlpinc00> says they
US4BINR is an archive dedicated to binaries (executable compiled program)
for UNIX System V Release 4 (SVR4) on 386/486 PC computer.
Our goal is to provide easy access to precompiled programs. Those
programs are (hopefully):
Up to date.
Useful or fun.
Uploads annoucement are made in comp.unix.sysv386 and comp.unix.sys5.r4.
US4BINR carries PD, Freeware, shareware, games, etc... US4BINR is a non profit
US4BINR is available using anonymous ftp or email server.
Connect to wuarchive.wustl.edu and go to the
To get help about the mail server, send the following message
There is an archive of "custom" installable SCO UNIX binaries at:
It includes things like cnews, trn, elm, nntp, perl, gcc, etc. These
are also sent out periodically on the biz.sco.binaries news group.
As a potential customer for one of the SVr4 ports, it's to my advantage to
have everybody in this market competing against one another as hard as
possible. Accordingly, some free advice to vendors, which I'm broadcasting to
all of them and the public so as to put just that much more pressure on each
You have a serious image problem with many hackers which you've exacerbated
recently by falling behind the SVr4 leading edge and then engaging in what
certainly appears to be an attempt to sucker careless buyers with deceptive
product naming. But the reaction to this wouldn't be nearly so vehement if
it didn't come on top of years of discontent with more technical choices.
There's too much stuff in the SCO kernel and admin tools that's different from
USL and *not better*; too much stuff that raises weird little compatibility
problems that shouldn't be there. Verbum sap.
This different-but-not-better problem is perfectly reflected by the one
thing about the otherwise-excellent SCO documentation that sucks moldy moose
droppings; the rearrangement and renaming of the reference manual sections.
Your technical writers entertain a fond delusion that this helps nontechnical
users, but all it really does is confuse and frustrate techies with experience
on other UNIXes. Lose it.
Everybody but SCO:
SCO's documentation set is to die for (except in the one respect noted
above), and they add a lot of value over the base UNIX with things like ODT DOS
and CodeView. Only Dell comes even close to matching SCO in the nifty add-ons
department, and even they have a lot of room for improvement. If you want to
outcompete SCO, you have to be *better*; this means (at minimum) supporting a
windowing debugger and ISAM libraries and DOS support that goes beyond 2.0.
Get a real support address. Bang-path accessibility doesn't impress anyone
any more --- in fact, it looks faintly quaint. You guys ought to be
email@example.com to follow the simple and logical convention SCO and Dell
and ESIX and Microport and UHC have established.
I think you have a serious attitude problem. So far, you're the only outfit
out of nine to refuse to divulge information for the comparison tables. While
you have a perfect right to do so, it smells bad --- as though you think you
have weaknesses to hide. I tried to discuss this with your VP of sales (Gary
Anderson) and got back very little but evasions, suit-speak, defensiveness, and
attempts to divert me from the issues (and I don't mind admitting that the
conversation made me pretty angry and didn't end very pleasantly). This man's
behavior is all too consistent with reports of Consensys's dismissive behavior
towards customers and continued refusal to acknowledge technical problems.
In this corner of the industry we have a tradition of collegiality, mutual
trust, informality, and candor. If you plan to be here for the long haul, you
need to learn how to work with that rather than fighting it. Behaving like IBM
will only get you hammered.
1993 PS: there are some signs of improvement, especially the staffing-up in
support and a slightly friendlier attitude from your reps. And Gary Anderson
is gone. But you've still got a ways to go in making up for past mistakes.
Everybody but Yggdrasil:
Mene, Mene, Tekel, Uparshin! A complete, working UNIX plus GNU tools plus X
is now available for $60 --- *with sources*. Your prices have to drop by an
order of magnitude, or your service has to get a whole hell of a lot better, if
you're going to try and compete with that. Adapt or die.
You had an enviable reputation and the best 4.0 product on the market. You
blew it by throwing away your support group. Now you look to be preparing to
dump the 4.0 product entirely for Solaris --- and doing it on the sly.
If you want the market to trust you again, you've got to come clean
about where the 4.0 release is going.
Everybody but Dell:
Despite recent troubles, Dell is still the outfit you have to beat if you
want to lead this market. And forget "positioning" ---- that means doing
everything they do *better* than they do; providing a more stable, more
feature-rich, better-polished system at a lower price. That's not going to be
easy, but don't con yourselves that you have a choice. Meet the ante, or
For starters, offer all the free software Dell does --- and *more*. All it
will cost you is the media, right? Even if you have to plaster CONTRIBUTED
SOFTWARE, NOT SUPPORTED on it, include perl, elm, bison, gcc, emacs, gdb, mush,
patch, compress, etc on your distribution tapes. Heck, include some *games*
(SCO includes games with UNIX but not the full ODT product; and makes some
games available for download on their BBS).
Nethack, empire, zork, stuff like that. Your engineers use and
play with all this in-house anyhow, yes? And you're selling to guys
just like your engineers. They'll love you for it. Trust me.
Set up a `sales' address to take product queries if you don't already have
Everybody but Dell and SCO:
A Dell person warns that the kinds of tweaks to the source made by porting
houses can break X/Open (XPG3) conformance. Dell and SCO test every build with
VSX (the X/Open-approved XPG3 test suite) and Dell reports that it often finds
places where seemingly innocuous bug fixes cause XPG3 violations. Other UNIX
vendors would be well advised to do likewise.
Set up an 800 number for tech support. Support customers hate spending time
on hold, and they hate it like poison when they have to *pay* for the hold
time. The more overloaded your support staff is, the more important this
gets. Verbum sap.
You went belly-up and got acquired. You've got to prove yourselves now,
and it's going to be tough against the new low prices on Univel and other
products. Tried-and-true isn't going to cut it; you need to come up with
something brilliant. Good luck.
Esix, MST, UHC:
Get 800 numbers for product info, too.
Set up a firstname.lastname@example.org alias to your cs address, see above. What would
that take, a whole five minutes? :-)
On present trends, your software prices are cheap enough; you'd probably
get more sales mileage out of pulling down the hardware prices for your
Everybody but MST and Microport:
Set up a `sales' alias to your info and orders email address. A universal
convention for this means just one less detail prospective customers need to
Your complete system is way overpriced relative to what other vendors in the
top tier are selling. If I were a corporate customer, there is no *way* I
could justify spending the $1K or $2K premium over Dell's price --- not when
Dell has the rep it does for quality and features. You aren't offering
anything but a crippled copy of JSB Multiview to justify that premium and
that ain't enough.
There's some evidence that you've got a technical lead on the competition.
Push it; push it *hard*. You're first off the blocks with 4.0.4; keep that up,
be first out with a stable 4.3. Market yourselves as the leading-edge
outfit, court the hard-core wizards as their natural ally, detail somebody
who's fluent in English as well as C to listen and speak for you on USENET, and
keep the promises you make there.
You've decided to push support; that's good, but follow through by getting
that 800 number. Don't lose those small-company virtues of candor and
flexibility, trade on them. Your policy of having all techs clear up to the
product manager take turns on the support lines is a damned good idea, stick
with it. And I'm sufficiently impressed with what I've heard from your guys
that I think you might be able to fight Microport for the friend-to-wizards
mantle, too. Maybe you should try.
Everybody except BSDI:
BSD/386 includes *sources*. For *everything*. Be afraid; be very afraid.
In effect, this recruits hundreds of eager hackers as uncompensated development
and support engineers for BSDI. Don't fool yourselves that the results are
necessarily going to be unfocused, amateur-quality and safe to ignore --- it
sure didn't work that way for gcc or Emacs. The rest of you will have to work
that much harder and smarter to stay ahead of their game.
Don't you get complacent either. The 386BSD and Linux distributions are
breathing down *your* neck...
The most effective things you can do to to seriously compete with SVr4
vendors are: a) emphasize standards conformance --- POSIX, FIPS, XPG3, etc.,
and b) follow through on your support promises. Just another flaky BSDoid
system isn't really very interesting except to hobbyists, even with sources ---
but if it were proven a reliable cross-development platform it could capture
a lot of hearts and minds among commercial software designers.
Do something about your product names! Even the cases that don't appear
to be deliberate deception are very confusing to the customer. If you're
releasing an enhanced 4.0.3 or 4.0.4 that's what you ought to *call* it. I
Consensys UNIX Version 1.2 --> Consensys UNIX 4.0.3 revision 1.2
Dell UNIX Issue 2.1 --> Dell UNIX 4.0.3 revision 2.1
ESIX System V Release 4.0.4 --> Esix UNIX 4.0.4 revision 4
MST SVr4 UNIX --> MST UNIX 4.0.3
Microport System V/4 version 4 --> Microport UNIX 4.0.4
UHC Version 3.6 --> UHC UNIX 4.0.3 revision 6
The fact is, all these idiosyncratic version-numbering systems do you no
good and considerable harm. At worst, they make it look like you're trying to
pull a scam by deceiving people about the level of the base technology. At
best, they parade your internal revision number (which conveys no useful
information unless one is an existing customer considering an upgrade already)
and obscure the really important information. Do your product differentiation
elsewhere, in substance rather than nomenclature; it's not useful here.
You're *all* badly understaffed in support engineering, and it shows. Boy
does it show --- in poor followup, long hold times, and user gripes. The first
outfit to invest enough to offer really first-class quick-response support is
going to eat everyone else's lunch. Wouldn't you like to be it?
It's always tough to get vendors, especially vendors as big as USL, to
be candid about current development and future directions. Here are some
things I've gleaned from usually reliable sources:
There's not going to be a SVR4.0.5. As far as USL is concerned there was
SVR4.0 Version 3 (internally known as v7.4) and SVR4.0 Version 4 (internally
known as w3.4). There won't be a SVR4.0 Version 5 because USL did SVR4.2
(originally SVR4.1dt) next, and is currently working on SVR4/ESMP. Maybe
there'll be a set of patches for SVR4.0 Version 4, but that's probably it.
So if anybody tells you they are going to have `SVR4.0.5', be skeptical.
There are significant kernel bug fixes going form SVR4.0.3 to SVR4.0.4, but no
real functional changes. Watch out for the memory manager in SVR4.0.3.
What some people call SVR4.3 isn't officially named that. At USL, it's
called SVR4/ESMP (Enhanced Security, Multi Processor).
There is an MP version of SVR4.0 that was done by the Intel Consortium
(primarily NCR and Intel). It is often called SVR4.0/MP or sometimes SVR4.1.
Vendors with MP versions of SVR4.0 are probably offering this, rather than a
Many netters have sent me email contributing technical information,
feedback, and comment. Thanks to all. It's in combinations of individual
mission and collective cooperation like this one that the net really shines,
and I'm grateful to everybody who's worked with me to improve the signal/noise
The level of cooperation I've experienced from vendors' program managers,
techies and marketing people since the first issue has generally been
outstanding. Particular high marks go to Jeremy Chatfield (formerly of Dell,
now of Information Foundation), Bela Lubkin at SCO, Kristen Axline at
Microport, John Prothro and Sam Nataros at UHC and Bela Lubkin at SCO, with
very honorable mentions to Rob Kolstad at BSDI. By cooperating intelligently
with this FAQ, they've done a great job of serving the market and representing
their corporate interests.