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Color alternatives on Symbolics
Date: Mon, 4 Mar 1991 16:45-0500
From: Hornig@RIVERSIDE.SCRC.Symbolics.COM (Charles Hornig)
Date: Thu, 28 Feb 1991 10:46 EST
I need to know more about the various hardware alternatives for color on
the Symbolics: price, robustness, support, etc. For example, is a color
X terminal the route of least cost? ...
Genera needs lots and lots of memory on the X terminal for bit-save
arrays. Don't even think about less than 8MB. If you plan to use a lot
of windows (editor, Zmail, Lisp, etc.), I'd recommend 16MB. Keep this
in mind when comparing costs.
I exclusively use X terminals right now: GraphOn (B&W) and NCD17c (Color).
The GraphOn has 512K and that's all it will ever need due to its architecture
(the Sun that it's using as its server needs enough memory to handle the
windows). We have 8MBytes in the NCD and that's all we've needed even when
I've had four or five genera windows, a IBM 3179g emulator window, FrameMaker, and
other Sun software. Right now with running an IBM 3179g, a genera window, and
one Unix shelltool, I have over 6MBytes X terminal memory free. Note: if you
do not compile all the genera fonts and make them available (xset fp+ path;
xset fp rehash), then you need more memory and it goes much slower.
I like NCD terminals. At one point there was a bug in their NCD17c
(color) terminal which made it not work properly with Genera.
The NCD does not have much resolution (the size of my genera console (scl:send
(tv:mouse-default-superior) :size) is 922 643). They have not fixed the
foreground color switch problem, but it is only a slight nuisance. The NCD is
a very good quality machine. (The color switch problem is that sometimes the
foreground comes out as a different color than you selected. Usually in pop
up menus or in other windows when you scroll. The color the comes up appears
to be a function of the correct foreground and background colors. For
example, if you use black on white sometimes it comes out white on white. If
you use sienna on azure, it comes out cyan. If you use brown on ivory, it
comes out ivory. If navy on PapayaWhip, then violet. As you can see, careful
selection of the colors will at least make the wrong color readable. The
problem seems correlated with excessive net traffic or slow communications.)
You can pick the foreground and background of each Genera "screen". You
can have multiple screens up on the terminal at the same time.
A definite advantage, popping one screen on top another takes less than a
second. You can see different ivory processors or have multiple consoles to
the same processor.
Non-color Genera programs will use the foreground and background colors
of their screens. Genera selection (Select key, etc.) works inside one
Selection works inside all genera consoles (even multiple consoles on the same
Symbolics processor) unless you restrict the console to a specific activity.
The genera console invocation program allows you to restrict a console to a
specific activity (e.g., editor). It also allows you to exclude the
status-line (a definite advantage for remote communications in that it reduces
the rate of screen changes).
You use an X window manager to select between different
For remote communications (over a modem), I'm recommending the GraphOn with
certain caveats. It is much faster than the NCD. The other X terminals don't
even merit consideration. The caveats are that it is monochrome, the 14"
monitor's resolution is even less than the NCD, using the select key to switch
activities or even pressing reply to a mail message (doing anything requiring
it to redraw the screen) takes 45-60 secs., using X window selection to change
screens, however, only takes 3-5 secs., the keyboard (the "dec" compatible
one) is terrible both in manufacturing quality and in layout for using genera
(e.g., no <end> key except in the numeric keypad).
If Symbolics would ever use the native window system to handle pop up menus
and activity selection, then the Graphon would always take only 3-5 secs per
It's advantages are that as long as you don't switch activities it beats the
pants off the NCD in terms of speed (the ncd can take 5 secs just to display a
line wrap), it's lighter than the NCD, and it costs less than 1/5 of the NCD.
Merely comments of a user, not official amoco stands, of only as much value as
the electrons the carry it, etc.
Don Mitchell firstname.lastname@example.org
Amoco Production Company (918) 660-4270
Tulsa Research Center
P.O. Box 3385, Tulsa, OK 74102