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FORCED to buy new cart for XL400?

As one of the people who made the decisions about the QIC-100 vs. QIC-11
tape drives and software distribution, I will be happy to answer the
specific questions below, and the philosophy behind the issues of
QIC-100 vs. QIC-11.

The general philosophy is that if we come out with an embedded product,
the software distribution mechanism must match the mechanism of the
host.  When we decided to implement MacIvory, we decided that the
"peaceful co-existence" route was the right way to go.  We also decided
the MacIvory had to be able to be a stand-alone machine, so that it
really could be used as a delivery vehicle.  This means that we had to
use tape drives compatible with the Macintosh, not tape drives
compatible with the 36xx-series machines.

When it came time to decide what tape drive to use on the XL400, we
decided that since the Ivory software was the same, we would use the
same tape drive, and we wouldn't have to cross master and installation

It's not conceptually difficult, or even difficult in practice to write
the contents of one kind of tape onto another kind of tape.  The
mastering is a very small part of the tape generation process.  The
larger part of the tape generation process is installation-testing and

The SQA group spends its entire resources installation testing a release
for at least 4 weeks, to master and test all the tapes for a release.
(It generally takes closer to 8 weeks for all products.)  If we were to
cross-master, then we would spend at least half those 4 weeks on every
cross-master.  Then we would have to be able to duplicate the software
onto the appropriate media, and we would have to ship every customer a
custom kit of upgrade software.

Right now, we are able to have a software update kits packed for us by a
vendor.  If we were to allow our customers to order software updates by
the kind of tape you wanted, we would have to kit and pack the software
by hand ourselves.  That would add an enormous cost.

The problem we have is this:  There are many customers who already have
36xx machines with cart tape (QIC-11).  Some of those people have bought
MacIvories or XL400s.  We have some customers who have already bought
MacIvories or XL400s with cart tape drives (QIC-100) who are now buying
refurbished 36xx machines.  We cannot afford the time to cross-master,
installation test, and duplicate every tape we produce.

    Date: Fri,  4 Aug 89 15:49:24 EDT
    From: MILLER@vax.cam.nist.gov

    It seems  that  ALL  software  for  MacIvory's  and XL400's will ONLY be
    delivered on the small cartridges.  We already have two carts (large) at
    our site;  it  seems  extravagant  to  buy  another.   That's one of the
    reasons we have networks.

    Is it really that hard to write this stuff onto large tapes?  IBIN files
    can live on a 3600's disk, and I can load world files onto a local  disk
    from a remote  cart; Cant  symbolics write  them onto  a remote  cart as
    well?  In any  case we  should be  able to  get the  layered products on
    large carts.  It is admittedly a  bit more trouble to organize  the tape
    production, but you do have computers and we're NOT talking about having
    to stick a large cart drive into an XL400 cabinet.

    If this  is  indeed  the  policy,  I  find  it rather arbitrary.  So the
    XL400's are compatible,  huh?  If  it is  not the  policy, I  apologize;
    However, my customer  rep thinks  this is  the policy  and even  she was

    Is anybody else having problems with this?  What do the symbolics people
    on the list think of this?

	    Bruce Miller

    Date: Fri, 4 Aug 89 17:16 EDT
    From: rjb1%vega%gte.com@RELAY.CS.NET (Richard J Brandau)

      It seems  that  ALL  software  for  MacIvory's  and XL400's will ONLY be
      delivered on the small cartridges.  We already have two carts (large) at
      our site;  it  seems  extravagant  to  buy  another.   That's one of the
      reasons we have networks.

    I took a census of our large form-factor cart drives, and it comes to
    seven.  When we bought our first MacIvory, I raised hell with our sales
    rep about having to buy yet another tape drive.  She acted sympathetic
    and volunteered to accept my nasty letter, but it had no effect.  The
    reply, attributed to the software support organization, was that they
    didn't want to have to deliver all the releases and ECOs in both

    Somehow someone slipped an order past purchasing, and now we own one of
    those little tape drives.  So slow that it makes me nostalgic about

    But I could live with all that if it weren't for the fact that I now
    have an unduplicated tape drive, while before, I had plenty of

    This used to bother me a lot.  I thought for a while that I could maybe
    bribe somebody in Symbolics to cut the large tapes for me.  Or to make
    it more convenient, maybe they could just increase the price of software
    support to cover the extra trouble.  But wait!  Aren't we paying enough
    for this already?

    So that's when I gave up on Symbolics support.  This year I recommended
    that they cancel the hardware contract and let the machines die with
    dignity.  Now, that software renewal is starting to look pretty
    tempting, cost-consciousness-wise.

    -- Rich Brandau
    GTE Laboratories