Experience with SCO UNIX 5.3

Walter Mecky walter at mwtech.UUCP
Mon Dec 11 01:11:21 AEST 1989

Here are the emails I received for my posting to SCO UNIX experiences:

From: mikros!gargoyle.uchicago.edu!tabbs!aris (Aris Stathakis)

> 5. What about software: X11, TCP/IP, VP/IX for *SCO UNIX* ?

Open Desktop should be released by SCO soon now.  This will turn your 386
box into a (sort-of) Sun workstation type machine.  Open Desktop is a 
package that includes the following:

Dos Merge (Run dos stuff under UNIX)
NFS (I think..)
and a whole bunch of other stuff.

All this is included in ONE package, and will cost only MARGINALLY more
Than SCO XENIX.  Really worth waiting for i think..
From: mikros!txsil.lonestar.org!bobh (Bob Hallissy)
>2. Is there an online manual in SCO UNIX 5.3 ?

Yes. But nroff is an optional product. All manual pages from SCO are
already nroff'd & compressed. Other than no nroff in the base product,
the manuals are really good except for one thing: they use the xenix
section naming conventions, eg commands are section C, not section 1.

>4. How do SCO UNIX and ISC 386/ix compare (documentation, support, bugs,
>   device drivers, performance especially to disk IO) ?

Find a copy of _Unix_Review_ magazine from August 1989 -- there is a
pretty in-depth comparison by Tom Yager starting on pg. 83. His "report
card" results are:

		       ISC     SCO
	Installation	B-	B-
	Documentation	C-	A+
	System Admin	A	C
	Performance	A	B+
	Dev't Sys	B	A
	X Windows	B+	B-
	Support		B	B+
	Feature Set	B	A

>5. What about software: X11, TCP/IP, VP/IX for *SCO UNIX* ?

All are available now. VP/IX has been there for a while, X11 and TCP/IP
were just (this week?) released. I saw them demo'd last night at an
open-house from our vendor in Dallas.
From: mikros!mergvax!udc!uiucuxc!n4hgf.gatech.edu!wht (Warren Tucker)
>         Should I buy 386/ix or SCO UNIX 5.3  ?
-----> SCO !!!!!!!! But I'm biased and here's why:
My system: Compaq Deskpro 386/20, 4 Mb RAM, 155 Mb ESDI CDC Wren IV,
Digiboard 8-port dumb serial card, Microcom 9600 baud modem, USR Courier
2400 baud modem, Wyse 60 (19200 baud), TAPR Amateur Radio TNC (4800
baud), Yaesu FT-980 HF transceiver (4800 baud), Motorola VME147 68030
connected via 4 9600 baud asynch ports [what a peripheral :-)].

> My question to all of you who have experience with the SCO UNIX and/or
> ISC 386/ix:
> 1. Does SCO UNIX have so many bugs as noted here ?

I've only been running it for three weeks, but I've been through
100,000+ processes, heavy IPC and shared memory usage (200 IPCs/second),
run about 20 meg through HDB UUCP.  I've had three unscheduled
shutdowns, all power failures -- it recovered nicely each time (no wierd
disk problems with fsck, etc).  The uptime has been 99%+.  Every one of
my XENIX 386 programs ran (as binaries) without flaws, with the
exception of kmem readers (they merely had to be recompiled).  One
simple morse code speaker driver fit into the new kernel JUST by
recompiling and gluing in.  I got MUSH, smail 2.5 and pathalias going in
an hour (no predjudice against MMDF, I just finally grokked a mail
system and wanted to keep moving without learning a new Art overnight).

The ONLY bug I've found is that the new vi marks a file dirty merely
by reading it in IFF modelines are in use.  I reported it via the
sosco bbs and got a call the next afternoon.  They're gonna fix it.

> 2. Is there an online manual in SCO UNIX 5.3 ?

Yes. So much that I had to clobber my DOS partition (:-) finally)
to get it all on there.  It is a very complete set of packed 'cat'
pages not requiring you to have nroff.

> 3. How is the support from SCO ?

Haven't needed but 1 item other than what I just mentioned.  I got a very
good technical response in two days regarding the [non-]necessity for
SIGUSR1/SIGUSR2'ing getty when stealing an in/out line (not exactly your
front-end, phone-answering, coffee-drinker stuff).

> 4. How do SCO UNIX and ISC 386/ix compare (documentation, support, bugs,
>    device drivers, performance especially to disk IO) ?

The SCO installation went without a hitch.  The documentation (about
20 pounds of it) is the BEST unix documentation I've ever seen.
The only thing that bothers me is my lack of experience with the C2
trusted system security features (SCO value added).  I've never been
fond of Brown Shirts looking over my shoulder.  But, there is a "Die
Himmler Die" button (sysadmsh System->Configure->Security->Relax) that
worked right away.  C2 is nice, but not for my little fortress of
secrets :-).

As to disk I/O, I'm using the Acer Fast File System (default) and it
seems to be as fast as XENIX 386 was.  This is with 256k of buffers as
opposed to the 307k I had with XENIX (reduced bufs 'cause the UNIX
kernel is larger).  I can do three makes at one time and still get
reasonable response response from vi.  The 386/20 CPU runs the Plum Hall
benchmarks slightly faster than our Sun SPARCstations on all but the
function call figures.

I've seen two 9600 baud and one 2400 streaming ZMODEM file transfer
sessions keep up with close to max theoretical transfer rates.  And this
is while watching the transfers with my curses-based siomon program in
0-delay mode running on a Wyse 60 at 19200.  The siomon display queue
numbers get blurry sometimes, so the update rate is good (read: 4 CPU
and async I/O intensive processes getting scheduled very nicely).  I do
async for a living, and I'm really pleased with the performance I get
with even the dumb 8-port card (which the kernel automagically
recognizes, from a list of preconfigured cards half a page long!).

The bothersome system hang you get sometimes when XENIX sync's the big
one and stops the world for a few seconds is not present with UNIX.

> 5. What about software: X11, TCP/IP, VP/IX for *SCO UNIX* ?

I don't have any of those.  Sorry.

I've been a very satisfied customer of XENIX since 1986.  One thing
you get with SCO you don't get with ISC is GREAT Xenix compatibility,
which means LOTS of BSD code lays right in.  Being a Sun and Pyramid'
hacker, I -like- that lots.

That's all for now. Thanks to all who answered. Any comments ?

Walter Mecky

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