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On Thu, 6 May 1999, Anastassis Perrakis wrote:

> I feel I have to say that I very much support Alun's ideas and initiative.
> A personal feeling, is that the main advantage of the cursed big M monopoly,
> is uniformity.
> ie the NEED of unix distributions to have source code available in order to
> address the
> noumerous 'flavours' of unix, is by default eliminated in an NT distribution.
> So, commercial
> compilers (which need to be purchased by a FEW labs which can afford it
> anyhow)
> and precompiled program distribution will make everybody's life easier,
> both developer's AND end users ! So, I guess Alun is in the right path !

Whilst I concur that Alun's efforts to port CCP4 to NT should be supported,
because NT is clearly going to be around for the foreseeable future, I don't
see that there is a valid argument for binary vs. source distribution.  I
would view this as the start of a slippery slope.  To me there nothing
special about NT, it's just Yet Another Operating System, no different from
the other OS's (various Unix's + VMS) than they are from each other.

So if there's an argument for distribution of NT binaries (and I'm not saying
there is!), then why not for the other OS's too?  Alun will no doubt counter
that he doesn't have access to all available OS's to make the binaries, only
to a subset, then why not distribute binaries for that subset, and let the
other OS's continue to rely on source distribution?

There's also the argument that the commercial compilers for NT produce better
code than the free ones, but that's also true in many cases (e.g. Linux) for
the other OS's.  Source development will continue to rely on Unix systems
because the debuggers under NT are virtually useless.

My main concern would be that the additional special effort required for NT
might become out of proportion to its usage in the user community, which
might mean that other more pressing matters may get delayed as a consequence.

-- Ian

 Ian J. Tickle                           | Phone:  (+44) 171 631 6854
 Department of Crystallography           | Fax:    (+44) 171 631 6803
 Birkbeck College (University of London) | Email:  i.tickle@bbk.ac.uk
 Malet Street, LONDON WC1E 7HX, UK       | WWW:    http://www.cryst.bbk.ac.uk/