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NOTE: This posting is being sent to the AILIST, SLUG, TI, XEROX, SUN
and WorkStation bulletin boards
Here at the AI Research & Applications Branch - NASA Ames Research Center,
we are planning to buy several Lisp or possibly non-Lisp workstations in
the near future and want to look at alternatives to Symbolics, of which
we have 7 + a 3600 file server at the present time.
Possible alternatives are (in no particular order):
Several things that concern us are:
Are we maximizing productivity and minimizing cost in our
current environment ? How can we accomplish these goals
in the future ?
Is our current environment of Lisp Machine workstations going
to continue to offer us the best development environment ?
General purpose workstations offering Lisp, Prolog, Pascal,
FORTRAN, C, etc, are coming on strong.
We will be supporting outside users who have non-Symbolics
equipment; what is the most portable development/delivery
environment that we could have, consistent with our software
requirements ? (see below)
If we move to a non-Symbolics environment, what environment
will minimize the portability costs ?
Our software requirements are object oriented Lisp, Prolog, two-way
calling interface between Lisp & Prolog, rich window system/graphics
(monochrome and color) facilities and a productive development environment.
We would appreciate any comments, experiences and recommendations of people
who have used two or more of the above Lispms/work stations. We are
familiar with two Lispm comparisions which have appeared on bboards:
Dandelion vs Symbolics, 17 Sep 86, steve@siemens.UUCP
Explorer vs Symbolics, 23 Oct 86, miller@ur-acorn.ARPA
In order to liven up this discussion, we thought the repetition of
some previous bboard claims about Lispm/workstation capabilities would
elicit honest, deeply-held opinions ! Here goes:
1. The Symbolics window debugger is unmatched anywhere.
2. Symbolics' on-line documentation is much better than TI's
TI's suggestion system is much better than Symbolics'.
3. Symbolics' networking is much better than TI and better in general.
4. With Symbolics GC, must boot ea. 14 day.
With TI GC (no ephemeral exists) must boot ea 0.5 day
5. Symbolics and TI are so similar that it is easy to carry skills back
6. Xerox's window system is easy to use but less powerful than Symbolics.
7. Xerox's GC is really a 'reference counter' and therefore CAN'T
reclaim circular lists. Other than that, however, Xerox's GC is much
better than Symbolics.
8. VAX's GC takes 6 sec (with 9 meg) while Symbolics' takes 1 hr.
9. VAX must have >5 Meg to be useful.
10. VAX's LISP Language Sensitive Editor is about as useful as EMACS.
11. A SUN without disks is useless.
Furthermore, here are a few issues to flame on -
- hardware - failure rates, ease of fault analysis
- window systems
- garbage collection
- Initial ease of use / overall user interface.
- Power for highly trained user
- online documentation - completeness, clarity
- performance metering
- debuging tools
- maximum paging space
To try to keep this discussion in one central place and since I do not
subscribe to all the bboards to which this is being posted, I would
suggest (subject to Ken Laws veto) that all responses be posted to the
AIList (AIList@sri-stripe.ARPA). However e-mail to me if you have any
problems with that proposal.
Will Taylor - Sterling Software, MS 244-17,
NASA-Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA 94035
phone : (415)694-6525