SUMMARY: Unix/DOS Integration

From: David Weidlich (WeidlichD@radium-vs2.Hanscom.AF.MIL)
Date: Sat Mar 18 1995 - 06:36:12 CST

>Dear Sun-Managers:

>I wonder if you could provide me with some information.

>Here is the problem: In my office environment we have a
>group of Sun workstations (IPCs, IPXs, SS2s, SS5s, & SS10s)
>all running Solaris 2.3. We also have a larger group of PCs
>running the Microsoft Office Suite (i.e., Word, Excel, etc.).
>The "all-wise and all-knowing ;-)" management team has
>decreed that the Sun workstations should be able to run
>Microsoft Windows applications.

>Can you guys help me out with integration software pros &
>cons, is WABI the answer ? any horror or success stories ?


In general people thought that WABI 2.0 using the supported applications was
good. However, it was pointed out that the workstation should be no smaller
a SS2. Soft Windows by Insignia was also highly recommended. One horror story
was received about Soft Windows for SUNOS 4.1.3. Special Thanks to Steve
who recommended the "Wabi 2.0 aids in 'sometime' Windows use" article in the
February 27th edition of PC WEEK.

Many Thanks to the following who replied:

Adrian Lee <>
Frank "Scruffy" Miller <frankm@master.CNA.TEK.COM>
Nobert Saazer <>
Derald McMillan III <>
Pablo Ruiz <>
Catch Ingersoll <>
Ted Nolan <>
Frank Greco <>
Robert Thompson <>
Tox Gunn <>
Steve Ehrhardt <>
Graeme Robertson <>

David Weidlich
Tel # 617-863-2400 x246
Fax # 617-862-3201


Have you had a look at the Tektronix WinDD product (it would
mean buying in Tektronix X terminals) - it's an interesting approach
to the integration problem.



Wabi runs reasonably well on a Sparc5/10/20 with the certified
set of apps. Also, take a look at WinDD by Tektronix. This utilizes
an NT server with the client side on Solaris. Try looking at the
Tek web page (


Wabi is ok, but slow. Be sure to serve it from a fast host. (use SS10/Solaris
I had trouble installing word6, but after some tries, I copied
the word directory from our PC and it works.

An other point is the licensing. With wabi you can buy on word license
and install it at one point. You can than start many copies from word,
which requires extra licenses...



We currently run the Microsoft Office on WABI 2.0 and it works
just great. The only thing is that, technically, you have to
have a different WABI directory for each person. That would
mean that you would have to install Microsoft Office on your
machine as many times as you have users. I am looking into using
linking to solve this...but no joy yet.

Good Luck,

Derald H McMillan III


Wabi is OK. If you are only going to run MS Office, I think all the apps
are software compatible list. However, if you have the money (599.00 per
client), SoftWindows by Insignia is a much better choice

Pablo Ruiz E-mail:


   In my network I have a 150 user Banyan Vines 5.54 (8) and 25 user Novell
3.12 network, and 50 SPARCstation all running Solaris 2.3. All PC's are
running Desktop IV software (Microsoft Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Access).
The UNIX/DOS intergration tool I use is Insigna SoftWindows 2.1. Softwindows
allows me to connect to both Banyan and Novell file servers (but not at the
same time). Right now SoftWindows runs with a 286 instruction set but the new
release coming out in the 2nd quater will have a 486 instruction set.
If you plan on connecting to a network I would go with windows emulation
software such SoftWindows or SoftPC from Sun. I only had a test copy of WABI
and did not like it. The main reason was the sneaker net to get file from Sun
to the PC.

Chatch Ingersoll

I don't have much personal experience to guide you here, but I can say
that Wabi 2.0 is much better than 1.x, and that the Microsoft Office
products are on its "supported" list. I've installed it on an SS2, and
performance is liveable, but slow. This is based on a few public
domain windows programs, and builtins like "write" (I don't have any
actual large windows apps to test, we're a Unix shop). I've got doubts
that you'll have acceptable performance on an IPC or an IPX..

Ted Nolan


        Forget about running WABI directly on the older IPC/IPX/SS2
        machines; you may be able to run WABI remotely but display
        on these machines... I haven't tried that.

        The SS10 (and SS20) machines have no trouble with WABI.
        But... I strongly suggest using 2.4 though.

        Be aware that WABI only runs a finite set of Windows apps (but
        these apps cover 80% of the Windows biz market).

        Frank G.

I tried using SoftWindows for SunOS4.1.3
and had a lot of problems. So much so, that I sent
it back and asked for our money back! We couldn't
run WordPerfect6.0 for Windows, had floppy read/write
problems, the program always comes up with the num-lock
key on though the sun keybd indicated that it was off, installation was very
difficult because the program is not
setup proplerly to run over a NFS mounted filesystem for
multiple users, etc., etc., etc. The worst part is that
the tech support group never came up with any timely fixes! Your results may
be different on the Solaris 2.x platform.
        On the positive side, and I can't believe I'm
saying this, Sun's SunPC product is quite good within
a SunOS 4.1.3 environment. (It is actually the same
program from Insignia Solutions but modified for the
Sun environment.) I had a relatively easy time
with installation and setup within an NFS environment for
multiple users and the program has run virtually bug-free.
We have run many Windows applications such as Lotus,
Excel, WP, and Word with little or no problems. The only
complaints that we have had are slowness and screen size.
My understanding is that Sun has a new release for
Solaris 2.x that allows infinite screen resizing of the
DOS/Windows window, a feature that you will want!
        So, after all that, I would recommend evaluating the SunPC product. Good
luck in your quest.

Bob Thompson


You should be able to run most of the Office suite under SunPC, but there's a
caveat: while I've done no tuning to the SunPC install I did last week,
running windows under it maxed out the CPU utilization on a SS10, while only
providing 386SX-level performance. I expect better performance might be found
if some tuning was done, but emulating an x86 chip in software is
cycle-expensive. Any chance of convincing management to go for shrink-wrap
licenses of *similar* applications that could run native (I think WordPerfect
comes to mind as a word processor, Lotus 1-2-3 for a spread, etc.)


I am faced with a similar dilemma, and I'm planning to use WABI under
Solaris for x86 to allow for xhosting the MS Windows apps to the
Suns. From my research so far (I caution you that I haven't *tried*
this yet), this seems like a reasonable solution.

WABI on even a fast SPARC incurs quite performance penalty, due to the
required emulation of the Intel processor. Xhosting off of. say, a
fast Pentium avoids this, pllus allows you to concentrate all of the
potential hassles of administering WABI on a simage station.

Potential problems:

1) Sun only guarantees that the "top" 25 Window applications will run
   under WABI, although others will *pobably* work as well. Their
   preferred list is likely to lag a release behind current ones.

2) Even under the best circumstances, applications won't run as fast
   under WABI as on a native Windows system. Xhosting from a fast
   x86 platform will be about 60% as fast as running the same application
   native on a 486-33. I have seen this sort of system demoed, though,
   and it should keep anyone but the so-called "poswer users" happy
   enough. If all the user does is run Excel all day, though, better
   get them a PC, or run SoftPC with a x86 SBus card.

There's a good review in PC Week, Feb. 27, 1995 (P.74) that gives
benchmarks and other good information. I'd also like to hear what you
get form any other sources - particularly the horror/success stories.

Hope this helps,

Steve Ehrhardt


I am using WABI and running MS Office without any problems.
I am also talking NFS to a Windows NT server and we have mounted
systems (bothways). We are also looking at MS mail, but this will
require NFS the way we have it implemented (we do not have a NT NFS
license other than demo :-) ). But on the whole, I have taken PC
version spreadsheets and the like and loaded with out problems on the
SS5 (2.4) So I don't think you will have any problems (so long as you
are using "standard" apps.

Graeme R.



This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.2 : Fri Sep 28 2001 - 23:10:19 CDT