OT: Comparison of Unix systems and window managers

Hi folks,
Sorry for the OT post, but I think people here might be able to offer me some worthwhile advice.
I currently run Solaris 9 on a Sun Ultra 2 as my main workstation. I
like Unix and need it for many of the things I do. But no operating system is perfect, and sometimes I have to do a re-install. Recently, I've been finding it difficult to find the software packages I want for Solaris 9. Mostly I get my packages from http://www.blastwave.org /.
Gimp is a good example. The last release of Gimp 1.2 was great. It did almost everything a basic image editor needed to do, and was also fast and reliable. Gimp 2.2, by comparison, is a pig. It's slow and bug- ridden. Sometimes I can't even get it to save an image without dumping core. Now I would upgrade to Solaris 10, but I don't like it much. This is mainly because I use Gnome as my main window manager. I know this isn't a popular choice, but to me Gnome 2.0.2 (which came with Solaris 9) was a good compromise between speed and user friendliness. Then Sun ruined it with the Java Desktop System in Solaris 10.
This seems to have happened to almost every operating system. All of them seem to have reached a peak in the early 2000s. Windows 2000 Professional was, in my opinion, the best ever Microsoft OS. Mac OS 9 was the best Apple OS. Solaris 9 was the best Sun OS. Since then, all of these operating systems have been spoilt in pursuit of eye candy. I just don't understand it. Who wants the Fisher Price look of brightly- coloured buttons and stupid animations? Obviously people don't see the world the way I do.
But I don't really like the very basic Unix window managers either. I rarely use CDE, and I always hated FVWM. I want a nice compromise, without the eye candy or bloat. Gnome 2.0.2 with the "Crux" theme was great (yes, I like the way Windows looked in pre-XP days, it was good).
So I'm wondering if I might find a more satisfactory compromise with another kind of Unix. I'd rather stick with Unix as opposed to Linux. I was thinking about FreeBSD, probably on PC hardware. Anyone here use it?
Basically I need a reliable Unix OS with good third party software support. Reliable software without major bugs is much more important to me than having the latest version of everything. And I want a window manager which is intuitive and user friendly (preferably resembling the traditional Windows look) but without eye candy or stupid animations. It seems so hard to find a window manager which occupies the middle ground between CDE and the latest versions of Gnome and KDE.
So should I stick with Solaris 9 or try something else? Any suggestions would be appreciated.
Best wishes,
Chris
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Chris,
Solaris 10 blows. 9 is where it was getting good as you pointed out. Frankly, if you can use the VI editor, anything can be done. An Ultra 2 with the Sbus is the killer as well. Our E10K's I used to manage were Sbus over PCI (real bad choice from upper mgt. at the time). Your hardware resources are taxed hard on 10 period. I have a quad E450 with 8gb for my main workstation on Solaris 9 I hated 10 from the install to the packages and patches. My two cent opinion is stick with 9. When tuned properly it's bullet proof. Obviously you know what you are talking about Iggy and a few others of us here are geeks with torches and tool. I have an Ultra 10 in the shop running ProE for my cad/cam. I have a Intel based server running Server 2003 64bit for my AutoCAD and it sucks.
Not really ot at all.
Rob
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    O.K. I've been using Solaris 10, and am currently running U3. I've got U4, but have not yet installed it.

    Hmm ... I don't find gimp 2.0.2 (which comes with Solaris 10) to be buggy -- I've never had it dump core on me, and I've never encountered bugs which I've noticed. This is the gimp which comes with Solaris 10 (and it happens to be compiled as 32-bit code, even though Solaris 10 won't run on a 32-bit machine -- it wants the ultras, which are all 64-bit as you know.)
    It *could* be that the bugs you are encountering are from your choice of window manager -- and almost certainly the slowness is. To my mind, *any* version of Gnome has too much eye candy, which costs CPU cycles.
    I'm doing most things on an Ultra-60 (very similar to the Ultra-2, except 450 MHz maximum CPU speed, instead of the 400 MHz maximum for the Ultra-2. Both run dual CPUs, but the Ultra-60 uses PCI bus instead of SBus, so you can get more modern interfaces (such as LVD SCSI) which are not available for the Ultra-2. Also, there are slots for *two* Creator-3D framebuffers, so you can run double headed if you so desire.
    Note that there *are* much faster machines around. I have one Sun Fire 280R (a rack-mount server) which happens to have dual 900 MHz "Ultra-III Cu" CPUs, and can be pushed to dual 1200 MHZ Ultra-3 CPUs should you so desire. While I do most things on the Ultra-60, the Sun Fire 280R gets used for things where I need the speed. It appears to be much faster than the 2X speed increase you would expect from a jump from 450 MHz to 900 MHz. I understand that this was a result of some significant optimizing of the Ultra-III CPUs and of Solaris 10 to work with that.
    And while not everybody would want a rack-mount server with a noisy set of fans, the same CPUs and system board run in the Sun Blade 2000 -- and that one has fans which speed up or slow down according to the cooling needs. At the moment, the room temperature (by my chair) is 78F, the temperature inside the computer is 93F (at the remote system control card), and the two CPUs are running at 131F and 127F respectively. (The high-temperature warning starts at 199f for the CPUs, and the "Failure" zone starts at 203f.
    The Sun Fire 280R and the Sun Blade 2000 both boot (by default) from Fibre channel drives. I have a pair of 146 MB drives in mine, but larger are available. There is an internal SCSI bus which is used only for the DVD ROM drive (and optionally for an internal tape drive as well), and a separate external 68-pin SCSI bus which has all fifteen IDs free for drives.
    Note that I went to the Ultra-60 because I needed a LVD SCSI card -- which is not available in the SBus cards, but is in the PCI cards. That card has now moved to the Sun Fire 280R.

    I've never gotten to like Gnome -- it slows things down too much, even in Solaris 9. And it has too much in the way of fancy images which I don't need.

    Quite the way I feel about Gnome, FWIW.

    I used OpenWindows until forced by its disappearance to move to CDE, which I am currently still using. If CDE vanishes, I will probably move to FWIM. I used TVWM before going to OpenWindows.
    Each move loses something, and gains something else.

    So -- why don't you compile Gnome 2.0.2 yourself?
    BTW -- not only is Sun allowing download of Solaris 10 for free (other than the need to register), but they are also now making their fancy development system and cc/c++/FORTRAN compiler available for free as well. If you hit them at the right time, they will even ship you DVD-ROMs with the OS (for both SPARC and X86) and the development system for free.
    There are things which compile better with gcc, and other things which compile better with Sun's cc. And one of the problems with gcc and gnu-based packages is that there are now incompatible versions of some of the libraries. You need to compile package X and have to first compile the latest version (or at least a later version) of libraries Y, Z, and W. Then, when those are installed, you discover that older programs have stopped working, because they *required* the older versions of one or more of those libraries. So there is something to be said for sticking with Sun's cc and c++.
    Your problems with the GIMP may well be that of library versions, especially if they are third-party compiled and downloaded to your system. You should either use the version of the GIMP which Sun supplies (in /usr/swf/bin, if you are trying to find it), or compile it on your system so the libraries match what you have.

    I don't use that -- but I use OpenBSD. Not as a desktop, but as a firewall (with PF), and for servers which I have to leave exposed to the outside world, like web servers.
    I seldom even install a window manager, because I normally connect to these systems via SSH -- or if I do need to log on directly, I will be doing something simple enough so the raw console suffices. Note that I have OpenBSD both on UltraSPARC systems and Intel CPUs.
    And I think that you will discover the problems with GNU's libraries with just about any unix version.

    And what I have seen of Gnome has *always* struck me as having too much eye candy.

    Try getting a slightly more modern box (The Sun Blade 2000 would be really nice -- especially if you get it with a pair of 1200 MHz CPUs.) I run CDE on the Ultra-60, with my Sun Fire 280R as a file server (using the ZFS version of RAID which comes with Solaris 10), and backups with an Exabyte 430 tape library using Mammoth-2 drives.
    Oh yes -- the Sun Fire 280R and the Sun Blade 2000 can accept up to 8GB of RAM, while the Ultra-2 (and my current Ultra 60) are limited to 2GB of RAM. For things which need a lot of RAM (such as the GIMP), the more RAM you have the better. And the faster (and more) swap space you have, the better, too. I presume that your Ultra-2 is fully loaded with 2GB of RAM.
    Just my points of view.
    Good luck,         DoN.
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Christopher and Rob, I would at least invest some time into getting FVWM2 and making sure that it does what you want, before writing it off. That's what FVWM2 is good at -- at doing exactly what you want. I used it extensively since 1994, first on AIX and then on Linux. It is extremely customizable and very reliable and powerful.
I even use it on Windows with Cygwin.
i
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Gents,
As a side bar- I have a very good friend I build his bracket race engines for his wife's car (She is one of the best drivers I know) that aside, I get payment in gear. He is a Sun VAR reseller. If you ever need anything let me know. I have piles of stuff from Ultra 10's to a complete E10K PCI and two racks of 480R's and Blades from failed .coms also- tons of Exabyte Mammoth M2's and DLT 35/70's and flexpaks. I need a 24" Sun LCD. The one thing he can't get..... I just can't get over the fact two years ago a Ultra 10 450 with a gig and a 100 gb drive was $2500.00 now 30.00 on Ebay.... Ouch!! Not to mention I have tons of stock in Sun and SGI I can use for shop rags! How many houses have Enterprise 10000's in them? Wanna help me move next month Iggy? The stuffs all upstairs in my office....And we thought the shop would be a bitch to move!
This group just keeps getting cooler by the day!!
VI forever!!
Rob
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On 2007-10-29, Rob Fraser <FraserRacing> wrote:

Sounds like Christopher may be interested. I am personally only use Linux for Unix, these days. Only PCs for hardware.
i
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I'd be glad to unload a Ultra 5 or 10 to him. I'm fishing for an Ultra 40 now. Nothing worthwhile under 3k but I need the 280 dual cores
Rob
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According to Rob Fraser <FraserRacing"AT"RobFraser.Net>:
    [ ... ]

    Hmm ... any chance that you can lay your hands on a pair of magazones for the Exabyte 430 tape library? I have one, but only the built-in magazine -- the two removable ones were long gone before I got the library (for $30.00 at a hamfest last year. :-)

    I'm using a mixture of 19" and 17" LCD monitors on various systems. Or do you *really* need the Sun 24" one?

    Ouch!
    If that is the one I remember from before I retired, that is really heavy. An over-width rack (21"? 23"?) with ten plug-ins each carrying its own CPU, and two big trays for six full-height 5.25" drives at the bottom. (Or was that the Enterprise 1000?) If yours is running UltraSPARCs, then it is a different model from what I knew, which pre-dated the Ultras.)
    The biggest that I have currently in use is the Sun Fire 280r, though the old Sun 280R (Sun3 CPU, rack-mount VME bus cage.) was bigger and heavier before I retired it.
    And yes -- I do have to do metalworking to rack-mount some of these things, just to bring it marginally on-topic. :-)

    :-)
    Well ... I've always preferred jove, and remember enough vi to get the sources for jove configured on a new processor. Emacs for the serious work where jove gets unhappy -- like with lines over 1024 bytes long. :-)
    Enjoy,         DoN.
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What's the insert look like? Holds 10 tapes, right? Both ends beveled on the back, or one? Where is the oval?

There are adapters from the (mumble) connector to both coax and VGA, does that help?

Yeah lets not talk about Sun and SGI stock ever again, mmm-kay?

We just rolled in a new 4-node E25K cluster last weekend. Went without a hitch. MMMMMmmmm, shiny.

My days of building hardware for racks at home are over but yeah, I've done my share of making angle-brackets for shelves at home in the shop.

emacs? I thought I knew you, DoN. I am dissapointed.
Dave
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wrote:

SW13 died with Sbus. I just wanted a matching bitchen' monitor

DONE and DONE!!!!!

Perrtty aren't they!

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On Mon, 29 Oct 2007 19:35:27 -0500, Rob Fraser <FraserRacing> wrote:

Ya, that's the one. Died you say? You haven't seen my shop, an odd assortment of lathes, bandsaws, mills, grinders, and old Sun and SGI hardware. Don't ask, it's not pretty.

Grumble and grumble-mother-farker-i-hate-you-the-end-grumble, yeah. Made a shitload on rhat, divested to a bunch of, well, you can guess.

Oh, hell yes. You should see my, er, our, perfstat graphs. /me loves extra capacity. So, is it wrong that I consider all 1600+ of our boxes as "mine"? Because, the way I see it, if my pager goes off when it breaks and I have to wake up to fix it, it's MINE. Money doesn't enter into it, it's about responsibility. And, Crom help you if you deploy something to MY servers without proper change control, dammit. Ahem. You know who you are, and no, don't ask me to be a reference because neither of us would like that.
(nevermind, the one guy who knows WTF I'm talking about is astonishingly unlikely to read this)
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According to Rob Fraser <FraserRacing"AT"RobFraser.Net>:

    [ ... ]

    You mean the 13W3? It is not dead at all. It is present in the Creator-3D PCI format cards (but not PCI connectors) for the Ultra-60 and the Ultra-10 (plus many others, but these I know for sure. Come to think of it, there are two slots for it in my Sun Fire 280R -- but the mounting for them is not present in the case. They *are* used with the same system board in the Sun Blade 2000, however. I guess that they did not want to put the system load of a fancy framebuffer on a system built as a file server.
    Enjoy,         DoN.
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DoN. Nichols wrote:

I don't think anyone actually manufactures a device including 13W3 today, though, do they?
Chris
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A server farm is just like running a cattle farm... You just get SNMP & Raised floors to plow!
I dig ya Sir!!
Rob
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    Well ... since I don't *have* one (only the permanent one on the other side), I don't really know what it looks like. I don't think that there *is* an oval in this style. It is put in with the tapes facing away from you. The magazines hit some sense switches in the ceiling of the library to tell it that they are present (or not, as happens to be the current case). The pickup arm runs along a track between the two removable magazines on the near side and the fixed one plus the (up to_ four drives on the other side. (oh yes -- there is also an import/export port to the right of the door which accesses the magazines). It also has a bar-code reader, so I set up to make my own barcode labels. Here is the tail of the output from "mtx -status" on that system (plus a few lines from the head):      ===================================================================== Storage Changer /dev/scsi/changer/c3t0d0:2 Drives, 31 Slots ( 1 Import/Export ) Data Transfer Element 0:Empty Data Transfer Element 1:Full (Storage Element 28 Loaded):VolumeTag DD-B1008 Storage Element 1:Empty
    [ ... ]
Storage Element 19:Empty Storage Element 20:Empty Storage Element 21:Full :VolumeTag-B1001 Storage Element 22:Full :VolumeTag-B1012 Storage Element 23:Full :VolumeTag-B1003 Storage Element 24:Full :VolumeTag-B1004 Storage Element 25:Full :VolumeTag-B1005 Storage Element 26:Full :VolumeTag-B1006 Storage Element 27:Full :VolumeTag-B1007 Storage Element 28:Empty Storage Element 29:Full :VolumeTag-B1009 Storage Element 30:Full :VolumeTag-B1022 Storage Element 31 IMPORT/EXPORT:Full :VolumeTag=CLEAN-01 ====================================================================The tape from "Storage Element 28" is currently in "Data Transfer Element 1"
All those slots from "Storage Element 1" through "Storage element 20" are the two (non-existent) magazines.
FWIW    The magazines are Exabyte part number: 1010867 (10-slot magazine)
    I've got samples of two other styles of 10-slot magazines, and librarys which use one of them. The other style is simply used (by me) for storing tapes out of the dust. :-) I've also got some 7-slot magazines for the EZ-17 single-drive libraries.

    They might help him. I'm using the 13W3 to VGA adaptors on several systems with LCD monitors connected. The one which I am typing at (A KDS LCD monitor) is the only one which really doesn't deal gracefully with the default 1152x900. It thinks that the closest is 1152x850, and leaves 50 lines of pixels off the bottom (or the top) of the screen. But -- once I set the system to an alternative resolution, things are fine. (For a while, I had to run with a bunch of things moved off the bottom of the screen so they remained visible. :-)
    [ ... ]

    *Nice* hardware.

    Well ... the latest was because the rack which I am using (A DEC rack from the VAX period) has unthreaded rails, and I don't have enough clip-in threads, so I had to make bars with the 10-32 threaded holes at the proper spacings to allow me to clamp in the rack slides. (This sort of project makes me *really* happy that I have a Tapmatic head for my drill press. :-)

    I only use emacs under duress -- but still in preference to vi. Jove I find very comfortable, with no programming language lurking in it, and I've been using that since I first compiled it on a BBN C-70 at work. (That machine did not even *have* VI -- just line editors, and it was too heavily loaded to really work well with emacs. :-)
    Think of jove as "emacs lite". :-) Most of the keyboard sequences are the same, and I learned them (with jove) before I ever had access to vi. :-)
    And -- jove did not have macros which could be exploited for "privilege escalation" -- unlike some earlier versions of vi.
    Enjoy,         DoN.
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| Voice (all times): (703) 938-4564

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According to Rob Fraser <FraserRacing"AT"RobFraser.Net>:

    [ ... ]

    O.K. Not sure whether Sun ever bundled that library with their systems. I know that I had to add some lines to /kernel/drv/st.conf to have it properly use the Mammoth-2 drives -- though the Mammoth-1 (8900) drives were already understood.
FWIW    The Exabyte part number for the magazines is:
        1010867 10-slot magazine
    and it is not one of the earlier 10-slot magazines -- I have     examples of two of those, and they are far from what is needed.
    Thanks!
    [ ... ]

    O.K. I can understand that.

    Sounds like a good way to keep the house warm. (Or to seriously run up the air conditioning bill -- which I already have too much experience with. :-)
    Enjoy,         DoN.
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On 29 Oct 2007 05:07:40 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@d-and-d.com (DoN. Nichols) wrote: <snip>

<snip lots of good stuff> ===========Thanks for the insights/suggestions/observations. While many of us are not [yet] running unix/linux and its open source applications, discussions and first hand experience such as this are very helpful in making us aware of what's out there, and some of the problems we might encounter if we decide to switch [rather than fight].
Unka' George [George McDuffee] ===========Merchants have no country. The mere spot they stand on does not constitute so strong an attachment as that from which they draw their gains.
Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. president. Letter, 17 March 1814.
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What do you think of Knoppix?
Jim Wilkins
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On Mon, 29 Oct 2007 16:49:48 -0000, Jim Wilkins

========I have had better luck with Ubuntu.
http://www.ubuntu.com /
As you may have noticed in my other posts I have just been able to upgrade from 28.8k POTS to 1-10m wireless internet connection. This eliminated one of my main problems which was getting a windows modem to work with any version of linux.
I am currently just now updating all my windows software, and getting the "undocumented features" when operating with a h/s wireless connection, especially my ZA firewall, under control. As soon as I get this done, it will be time for either a dual boot system, or the conversion of one of my older computers with a ram upgrade to Ubuntu Linex.
In some ways I am locked in to keeping Windows because of my cad application [Intellicad], web page design soft ware [Frontpage], custom Word macros, Excel add-ins [Winstat], programming environment/compiler [Power Basic CC], etc.
FWIW - I am running w2k professional and it does indeed seem to be more stable and faster than the later versions of Windows, which appear to be resource/memory hogs for no apparent end-user benefit. But then again that's the American way, bigger, heavier, more expensive, bigger engines, premium sound systems, just like our cars.
Unka' George [George McDuffee] ===========Merchants have no country. The mere spot they stand on does not constitute so strong an attachment as that from which they draw their gains.
Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. president. Letter, 17 March 1814.
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