summary: X terminals

From: Todd Pfaff (todd@flex.Eng.McMaster.CA)
Date: Tue Nov 26 1991 - 22:03:21 CST

My original posting asked:

> From: todd@flex.Eng.McMaster.CA (Todd Pfaff)
> Subject: X terminals
> To:
> Please relate to me your experiences with X terminals in a Sun workstation environment.
> Any horror stories?
> How about colour X terminals?
> With OpenWindows or vanilla X?
Actually, this question was worded poorly. Obviously, X terminals don't run OpenWindows
(the X/NeWS/SunView xnews server). I think what I really wanted to know is how well
do they work in Openlook, Motif or other window-manager environments.
> How well do the vendors respond to problems?
> Do bug fixes come out often, and how easy it to apply them (PROM changes or software?)?
> How about connecting a local printer to an X terminal printer port? Is it easy to set
> up remote printing to an X terminal port (just specifying rm and rp in printcap?)?
> Any recommended models?
> What is minimum recommended memory? Do they take industry standard SIMMs?
> Anybody supporting X11R5 yet?

Here's a summary of replies.

From: David Fetrow <>

 NCD 19" mono. No problems so far under Vanilla X


 I'd like to move the /tftpboot directory for security reasons but the
font directory for using fonts over NFS is hardcoded into ROM. Grrr.

 I like it a lot but be warned, there are rumours of radical price
drops 1st quarter 1992 in lowend disked RISC workstations.

From: (Liam R. E. Quin)

* Can't use an X terminal to run Open Windows itself (the X11/NeWS/SunView
display server), of course. X terminals don't support NeWS at all, so you
can't run pageview or AnswerBook on an X terminal.

* other X and openwindows programs are generally OK, although you may need
to install fonts.

* Memory is important. Get at least 3 meg, preferably more.

* the NCD terminals are the best I've seen, and boot from a Sun (or other) NFS
or tftp boot server. Good manuals, easy to set up, but you need 10 to 20
meg of disk on the host (shared between all x terminals).

From: liz@isis.cgd.ucar.EDU (Liz Coolbaugh)

Nope. We like them a lot. Be aware that they use a *lot* of server
resources, though. We have 25 of them around and were amazed how much
server memory, pty ports and io they could use up. If you bought
them now, you'd have the advantage of being able to run window managers
and xterms directly on the X terminals, which should help. Unfortunately,
my users aren't too enthusiastic about learning mwm after learning
twm :-(. We are using NCD X-terminals, by the way.

We have never purchased colour X terminals. You should make your own
judgment on that. My reasoning was that if you need colour, then you
are doing graphics. If you are doing graphics, you should have a
local CPU to run graphics on. This was fueled by local budgets as well,
where it is much easier to get extra money for a workstation instead
of an X-terminal, but very difficult to get money for a server upgrade
because your X-terminals were using all your server resources ...

I've had very good luck with NCD. We had hardware problems and they
addressed them very well, eventually arranging to swap out all our
monitors ahead of time to prevent a power supply problem from blowing
them up one at a time. Since then, they've been very reliable.

We get software on our servers. *Very* easy to change. The cute part is
figuring out how it will affect users and warning them.

I have only worked with NCD's. They have new models out I haven`t tried.
We've been happy with their 19 inch monochrome.

We run with 5MB per X-terminal and haven't had a problem yet. If you
run more applications locally you *might* need to upgrade, but it
seems unlikely. They support the same SIMMS as a MacIntosh, which makes
them readily available and cheap.

From: Nigel Mitchem - System Support <>

We at City Uni (com sci dept) now have about 17 X terminals and
another 3 on the way.
The client is a solbourne 5/600 with 32Mb memory, twin SPARC
and 2.3 Gb disk. ANother similar machine has just been delivered
with 64Mb of memory as our ageing gould powernode will be put
out to grass by Christmas.

We use Vanilla X, as ftped, X11R4 , we were in process of bringing
up R5 but Im not quite sure why we stopped, maybe someone heard buggy
rumours, anyway I expect we will but once several other sites have taken
the plunge.

All of our units are NCD, a mixture, NCD19, NCD19B, NCD15B, NCD17C.
We recently looked at Visual X terminals but they are a bit crap,
supposedly same spec as NCD19 but a hell of a lot slower. Crab X terminals
have caught my eye, specially as we can get em cheap in this country
but Im awaiting a reply from their sales people. The new Hewlett Packard
X terminals look good (RISC based) but it depends on what sort of price
they turn 'em out. All the NCDs are 68000-68020 processors, but they are
good enough, price is important.

At the mo, even though the market is being hit by players from all over the
place, NCD are still putting up their prices in this country. Basically,
they know their market share will hold for a while, they've been around the
longest at reasonable price and are pretty reliable. The RISC based machines
arent cheap enough yet.

Oh, by the way, I dont think Im alone in using NCD in academia in this


Todd Pfaff                      \ Internet:
Dept. of Mechanical Engineering  \   Voice: (416) 525-9140 x2902
McMaster University               \    FAX: (416) 572-7944
Hamilton, Ontario, CANADA  L8S 4L7 \

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