Vote for ArcInfo and/or ArcView for Linux
dmandel at transport.com
Tue Dec 8 19:22:17 EST 1998
I got tons of email regarding my recent posting promoting ports of
ESRI software to Linux. Indeed, I have gotten so much that I'm not
able to respond to it all. I do want to thank people for the advice
and encouragement. It is very helpful.
After reading all the responses and responding to many or most of them
personally, I feel a few of them require a general response. I got
questions and comments like:
> That is about the stupidest damn thing I have ever heard....
> If someone is unhappy with Arc on NT then their NT isn't setup right.
> Linux is a perfectly acceptable operating system for inexperienced hacks
> to run FTP servers out of their house, it has no place in the
> ok, i know the pricing policy for UX+NT, but i was interested
> in LINUX license prices for AI/AV... !?
> I was wondering, WHY should we vote to port ESRI software to Linux? I
> and haven't had any problems? Give us a top 5 list of reasons
> why, or something to support your request.....
> Subject: Vote for ArcInfo and/or ArcView for Linux
> Send reply to: grass at cecer.army.mil
My response follows:
(1) Reasons to port ESRI software to Linux
(a) Managers want something cheaper and more flexible than
proprietary Unix workstations. They prefer standard PC
hardware. However, many users still prefer Unix.
Linux is a suitable compromise.
(b) A port to Linux would prove ESRI's commitment to Unix.
ESRI says they are committed to Unix; but no one believes
them, and this makes it difficult to convince management
to purchase new Unix workstations. A Linux port would
make it easier to buy Suns, SGIs, etc.
(c) System administrators want something which is easy to
integrate with the existing Unix workstations and servers.
At the very least, every workstation (Unix or Windows)
should be able to mount disks from any other workstation.
Ideally, workstations with expensive specialized hardware
and/or software should support remote usage via telnet or
something like telnet. Windows lacks telnet services,
and proprietary Unix can not mount Windows disks.
Linux has all telnet (client&server) services and can mount
or serve nfs and smb filesystems. This makes it uniquely
useful in integrating Windows with proprietary Unix systems.
(d) Programmers want to create new software rather instead
of rewriting existing software. Programmers who have
written AMLs which shell out to use Unix commands
would find the faster to port to Arc on Linux than Arc
on Windows. Moreover, many programmers want to continue
using classical tools like Fortran, C, make, m4, rcs, and
emacs to create software; and they want to continue writing
software which uses perl, tcl/tk, and other unix shell
commands. Most of these tools exist for NT, but they are
a pain to get working under NT.
(e) Many GIS power users are used to using tools like emacs,
cut, paste, egrep, xv, gimp, ghostview, and grass. Some
of them also like multi-panel window managers like cde.
Most of these tools exist for NT, but they are a pain to
get working under NT.
(f) Many users complain about NT's slowness and lack of
robustness. While NT is very slow and bloated compared
to Linux, I have personally found it rather robust.
Still, I get lots of complaints, especially from remote sensing
people, about problems with NT crashing. Maybe their systems
are miss configured; but if this is true then NT systems
must be difficult to configure correctly, because I hear
these complaints a lot.
Many people are happy using ArcView and ArcInfo on NT, and that is
However, others are not happy with ArcView and ArcInfo on NT, and can
no longer afford proprietary Unix workstations (at least not
exclusively). These people need the ArcView and ArcInfo on Linux
(2) What would ESRI gain from a Linux port?
(a) A Linux port will not lead to more sales since ESRI owns the
entire GIS software market already. However, a Linux port
would protect ESRI from future competition by invigorating
ESRI's Unix products. From ESRI's point of view this is
important as any future competitor will be building Windows
software. By promoting Windows exclusively ESRI is forcing
it's current customers onto it's competitors' platforms.
(b) Altho a Linux port would not generate more sales for ESRI
in the USA, it might generate more sales internationally.
As I understand, ESRI has competitors in Europe and Linux
has already become a major player as a corporate OS in
Europe. This may be true in other parts of the world as
(3) How should ESRI price a Linux product?
(a) They should price their Linux products the same as their
Windows software. Indeed, I recommend that they follow
the Portland Group's pricing philosophy in regards to
Linux vs. NT pricing. The Portland Group prices software
by the workstation. Since PC workstations often dual boot
Linux and NT, the Portland Group puts Linux and NT versions
of their software on the same CD. Users are allowed to
install either or both versions since the workstation can
only be running one OS at a time. The doggles ESRI uses
to protect ArcInfo on Windows, would also be required for
ArcInfo on Linux. These would prevent cheating in the dual
OS/ dual boot situation just as well as they do in the
Windows only situation.
(4) Is Linux a serious OS or simply a hobby OS?
I remember mainframers who wouldn't take minicomputers seriously.
I remember minicomputer users who thought PCs were limited to
home use. Wake up and smell the roses. One may not like Linux,
but when companies like Intel, Compaq, IBM, Oracle, Informix,
Corel, Novell, ... are committing to it; it must be serious.
dmandel at transport.com
P.S. The opinions expressed in this posting are mine and mine alone.
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