Xterminal (which one) summary

From: Tom Bodine (tbodine@utig.ig.utexas.edu)
Date: Wed Jun 22 1994 - 09:41:56 CDT

Last week I asked four questions about X terminals on usenet:

1. Is it true that 19 inch Color Monitors for Sun3's are flakey?

    ( Leo Cazares, Apple Computer, Imaging Division)
        The old 19 inch Hitachi monitors...are really fuzzy, so if you
        use small fonts like I do, you will have a hard time reading.

   ( David DiGiacomo )

        The 19" Hitachi and Ikegami monitors are not that great. 16"
        and 19" Sonys are usually solid.

2. Any one have gripes about using old Sun3's as Xterms?

   ( David DiGiacomo )

        They are fine if you don't mind the fan noise. It helps to
        have a GX frame buffer.

   (Luis Fernandes)

        We have 2 sun3's hanging off a SPARC2 and a SPARC1, all with
        hitachi colour 19" monitors (which sun doesn't make anymore
        (hint hint)). No problems for 5 years and counting...running
        365 days a year...

   adrian@itamaesan.rutgers.edu ( who deals with eighty two Sun3 Xterminals):
   (Adrian Rodriguez CAIP Center)

        Of these, most of the 3/60s are color, almost all of the
        3/1[45]0s are dual-headed color/bw, and the 3/200 is a
        dual-headed color/bw. The people downstairs have about 25 b&w
        3/80s and 4 color 3/80s. All of them are running X11R5 and
        SunOS 4.1.1_u1 in a half-homegrown xterminal configuration.
        The Sun 3s are really great. Have piles of boards that we pick
        from other people's trash (!!). They are the most
        cost-effective way we've found to put X on everyone's desk.

3. The FAQ contains 20 to 30 list entries of X terminals under $3000,
   which should I buy?

   ( Jeff Wasilko )

        I've used NCD XTerminals before (and also administered them). I
        had a bunch of 17cr's. I was very happy with (them). The
        drawing speed was quick, and they were easy on (my) eyes.

   (David L. Markowitz Solaris Systems Division - Genisco Technology )

        I was going to recommend you look at the SPARCClassic X (Sun's
        X-terminal which is really a stripped-down workstation), and
        you still should, but for $3000 you can buy a whole
        SPARCClassic! List price is now $2995, and at that price
        includes (I think) 16 MB RAM, 207 MB Disk, 15" color monitor,
        59 MIPS, etc.

        The SPARCClassic-X starts at $2445, and is upgradable to a
        SPARCClassic. This price may be lower now, since the
        workstation price was lowered.

   (Pamela Pledger, Legato Systems, Inc)
        We only have 2 kinds of Xterms here. We have 12 NCD xterms.
        They work pretty well. Sun and NCD are very good about
        supporting them. They are more configurable. We have the 3.01
        software which does not have an easy to use gui to install.
        Often there are odd problems. When they broadcast for xdmcp
        server, the ncd displays a menu to choose. That is nice, if
        you ever expect to have a few. ( BEWARE SCO XDM does not
        support the NCD Xterms. ) We buy the default systems, greyscale
        & 19" with 5 mb memory. They are a little slow. But we've had
        them for 2 years, so maybe they have improved. It's a one
        peice unit which is nice and clean on the desks. Now, the
        suns! Well, I love 'em. They can all be upgraded to classics,
        which is nice. They come with 8mb of memory which is nice.
        They have a very easy gui to admin with. They do not give a
        menu of xdm hosts. They do not confugure very much. There are
        two peices, which is sloppy sometimes. But we like them much
        better than the ncd's. We've had almost no problems, but
        they've all been wierd ones with the NCD's. I've never had to
        call sun about the Xterms.

        We run our software on them as tech support walks people
        through their problems. They don't get hit very hard, but the
        users ( especially the ncd users ) complain about slowness of
        the server. We have 12 NCD's and 4 sun xterms on a ss10
        running sunos 4.1.3, with gb of disk for their home
        directories, and 128 MB of memory. We will upgrade our ss10 30
        to a 50 with the next xterm purchase.

4. Which would be the best display for seismic data processing?

   (Lee J. Silverman Brown class of '94, Brown GeoPhysics ScM '95):

        ...consider buying a 486 and a large color monitor and run Linux.

   ( David Crane consultant to the World Bank):

        (Don't buy Xterminals)... They are a waste of money. You can
        get the same resolution and far more function from a PC-based
        X-terminal "emulator". In many cases, you are better off with
        a small RS-6000 or equivalent RISC.

   (Greg Wimpey, Western Geophysical, Div. of Western Atlas, Inc. )

         We are using NCD 17" and 19" terminals here. We have found
        that the 19" screens are much better for displaying seismic
        data. The more the better is the general rule. The NCD X
        server seems stable; we have very few complaints of terminals
        hanging, crashing, etc. It seems, though, that these terminals
        are not very good at memory management. If you do not have
        gobs of memory installed (say, only 4MB of data memory),
        opening and closing lots o' windows leads to a situation where
        memory is too fragmented to open more. At this point, the
        terminal must be rebooted. We got around this by installing 8
        MB in each terminal.

Along with these answers I got a few advertisements without any more
information than is in the FAQ.

The FAQ poster also sent me the FAQ again. I thought this unecessary
since I specifically stated that I had read it. Still, thanks for the

"Network Computing" September 1993 has a very good article on page 30
comparing six Xserver programs for MS-Windows. In this article they
made performance comparisons between servers on the PC and the X
server on a SPARCclassic. The classic was generally twice as fast as
the PC.

There is a fine article on "Six X terminals at work" on page 34 of March 1994
"Advanced Systems."

This article gives these performance figures for these xterminals:

System Xmark Ftrs Admin Perf Docs Sprt Ovrall
                        10% 25% 30% 10% 25% rating
Sun ClassicX 2.25 3.0 4.5 4.0 3.0 3.0 7.3
Tektronix XP117c 1.59 4.5 3.5 3.5 4.5 3.0 7.1
IBM X Term 40 1.40 2.5 1.5 3.0 4.5 4.0 5.7
Phase X SGS-CE1 1.39 3.0 4.0 3.0 4.0 3.5 6.9
Digital VXT 2000 1.18 3.0 4.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 5.6
NCD ECX 0.62 4.5 3.5 2.5 3.0 3.0 6.2

( Ftrs - features, Admin - administration, Perf - performance,
  Docs - documentation, Sprt - support, Ovrall - overall )

While looking around the data bases at Perry-Casteneda Library on the
UT campus. I found one other article comparing X terminals in PC Week
Oct 21, 1991, where the reviewer raved about the HP 700 series
terminals ( which are discontinued ).

I got some advertisments in the mail, one included an article from SCO
Magazine reviewing HDS terminals. This magazine is out of print. A
reprint can be ordered from CMP Publications. 516-562-5212. To use a
credit card you must fax it. The price is $11.00.

I called Unix Consulting for the UT Computation Center to ask about the
new graphics computing center Xterminals. Mike Certa made the decision to
buy NCD 19r black and white terminals. The reasons cited by the person
I spoke with were that NCD has the market share and they provide very
good software support. She also indicated they came in with the low

I spoke with Lisa at Sun Western Division Sales ( 1-800-786-0404) and
obtained this educational pricing:

SPARCclassic X 16in color 8MB $2474
SPARCclassic X 20in color 8MB $3272

SPARCclassic 16in 535MB 16mb $3357
SPARCclassic 20in 535MB 16mb $5477

Vicki M. at Network Computing Devices gave me these prices:
NCD17cr 17in 6MB $2,747
NCD19c 19-in 6MB $3,022

Since HP is pushing a series of X terminals targeted at the Sun Market, I got
these prices from the Aptrex salesperson:

C3252A,191,004 19in 8MB $ 3000.00
C3251A,170,004 17in 8MB $ 2200.00
B4470AA CD-Rom Server Software $ 99.00


        My strongest inclination is to buy the Sparc X because it
        offers an upgrade path, it has very good performance, and Pam
        Pledger indicates that the management load is minimal.

        My second choice would be the new HP series Aptrex, although
        I've only information from HP. This is because of that rave
        review in PC week on the 700 series. I assume if they did those
        well, then HP has done Aptrex well also. Further more they are
        very competitively priced, and are willing to give prospective
        customers thirty day free trials to prove their worth.

        My third choice is NCD. Just as the computation center chose
        them for their low prices, market share and software quality;
        so would I. They are currently running a price reduction
        program for the academic world that also makes them very

        I discount the advice to buy IBM-PC's to run server software
        purchased seperately since this will add another operating
        system to manage, plus the performance figures cited in the
        Network Computing article indicate poor performance overall for
        this option.

			Regards Tom Bodine
# Hatred and bitterness can never cure the disease of fear, only love
# can do that.   (Martin Luther King Jr.)

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