Vote for ArcInfo and/or ArcView for Linux

Andrew M McDermott mcdermam at
Thu Dec 10 06:37:58 EST 1998

At 04:22 PM 12/8/98 -0800, you wrote:
>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
>> world.
>> 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
>use NT
>> 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
>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
>    fine.
>    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
>    option.
>(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
>         well.
>(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.
>                                          Thank you,
>                                          David Mandel
>                                          dmandel at
>                                          (503) 952-6570
>P.S.  The opinions expressed in this posting are mine and mine alone.
> ======================================================================
>                             An Invitation
>              *** Linux NorthWest Conference and Expo ***
> April 6-7, 1999 - Oregon Convention Center -
>                   Linux for home, school, and office
> Internet and LAN servers, office automation, data base management, GIS
>                             and much more
> ======================================================================
I have learned everything I know about computers (essentially) within the
last two and one half years. I began with DOS/Windows because it was the
only game in town (let's leave Macs out of this for now). LINUX was an
accident, a casual mention by a friend as something I might find of
interest (1 1/2 years ago).  I am now skilled in network administration at
LAN and internet levels, I am scripting in two or three languages AND
running database applications both locally and on the web, I am configuring
nameservers and http daemons, porting simple script and program suites from
SunOS to LINUX (and Win 95) etc etc etc. I am comfortable at an advanced
user level in three architectures and 5 OS's. Without LINUX this would have
been impossible to accomplish, especially in such a short time frame
without any real help beyond the support system online for LINUX.

Keep up the good work and the advocacy. I 

More information about the grass-user mailing list