View Full Version : Re: NT machines versus UNIX machines

11-01-1999, 09:11 AM
I hesitate to post this because feelings can run so strong about this, but
I've had experience with both UNIX and NT, as well as Macintoshes and Amigas
and the whole gamut... and I couldn't resist. I have good friends who I
respect who prefer UNIX, as well as Macintoshes, but here's a little about
why I've settled on NT.

Just so you know where I'm coming from: for many years I worked as a UNIX
programmer working mainly with Sun and other UNIX machines, and just in the
last 5 years or so have been working more and more with NT and Windows. I
now do some freelance 3D animation (want to do more :) using mocap and Max
and Lightwave, and I teach 3D modeling at a local community college, all
using networks of dual Intergraph NT machines and other assorted NT clone
machines, both at the college and in my home.

I used to evaluate software packages for UNIX as well as things like
X-terminals and stuff, but I've felt that the price/performance of these
Windows machines is just so much better that it outweighs the other problems
NT has for most people, at least most people with a limited budget. My
is that it's very hard today to ignore how the PC's popularity is driving
price/performance issue because there's such a big market and so much
competition. e.g. If you look at the cross platform benchmarks for programs
like Lightwave and Lightscape (i.e. computationally intensive apps), in
general the performance gap between "PCs" and "Workstations" has
completely disappeared.

So I really look upon this whole issue as analogous to the old thing where
people talk about VHS having been inferior to Sony's Beta video tape format,
yet the market settled on VHS anyway. I feel that way about the
Intel/Windows architecture - it's just the standard "player" for the
software, like a commodity item like a television set or a refrigerator,
where the market forces are driving prices down in a way much different than
the UNIX world in general.

So to push the analogy, if your real need is simply to watch a movie in a
VCR (i.e. render frames of animation in my case), it's clearly more cost
effective to run up to Best Buy and get a cheapie GE VHS VCR (the PC clone)
than to go through some dealer that caters to video editors and TV stations
to get some professional Sony edit deck (i.e. the expensive proprietary UNIX

At the same time, I do curse the heck out of my NT machines every time I go
to add a new piece of hardware and wind up with these blasted IRQ conflicts,
and I do get blue screens in NT (crashes) more often than I like. But I
tell myself that I don't add hardware every day, and the crashes in NT
aren't so frequent that they're keeping from getting my work done and they
usually *seem* to be issues/bugs with the particular software packages I'm
using not so much a fundamental issue with NT. This is not to deny that
crashes are a *major* issue and potentially hugely costly in addition to
being frustrating, it's just I had the same frustrations with applications I
used on UNIX, so I'm not convinced that these are reasons enough to spend
potentially a *lot* more money on an expensive proprietary UNIX workstation
when (depending on what UNIX machines and what PCs you're looking at) you
can potentially buy a small ethernet network of PC machines for the same
amount of money.

Hope this is helpful. I suspect you'll be successful whichever way you go.
But if you're really trying to optimize the price/performance issue for
something computationally intensive (like rendering animation frames for
me), I think NT is the way to go unless you're just made of money.

My $0.02,

Darren Cruse
Freak Accident Digital Media
1723 Boneta Ave
St. Louis Mo. 63117, USA

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