UnixWare grows up
*UnixWare grows up; Novell's revamped SVR4.2 environment proves very workable. (Novell Inc.'s UnixWare 1.1 Personal Edition includes Unix System V Release 4.2 reference implementation) (includes PC Week March 21, 1994 v11 n11 pN1(2) PC Week March 21, 1994 v11 n11 pN1(2) UnixWare grows up; Novell's revamped SVR4.2 environment proves very workable. (Novell Inc.'s UnixWare 1.1 Personal Edition includes Unix System V Release 4.2 reference implementation) (includes related articles summarizing UnixWare upgrade, recommending the package and describing rival products) (PC Week LABS: Review) (PC Week Netweek) by Blakeley, Michael Abstract Univel's UnixWare 1.1 Personal Edition operating system, which is the reference standard for Unix System V Release 4.2 (SVR4.2) on Intel microprocessors, has been enhanced to include broader hardware support, Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) and Microsoft Advanced Merge DOS/Windows emulation functions. Univel is offering the UnixWare 1.1 Personal Edition at a reduced cost of $249. The upgrade is free to registered users of Version 1.0. The company will also offer the UnixWare Application Server for $1,299 and the UnixWare Software Developers Kit (SDK) for $99. The new release corrects some user complaints about the serial drivers contained in the UnixWare 1.0 package. It also complies with the Common Open Software Environment (COSE) group's Common Desktop Environment (CDE) Unix user interface and adds support for the Open Software Foundation's (OSE) Motif 1.2 standard for access to NetWare file and print services. Full Text Injecting much-needed vitality and workability into its reference implementation of Unix System V Release 4.2, the Novell Inc. Unix Systems Group's UnixWare Version 1.1 includes broader hardware support, some bug fixes, and TCP/IP and DOS emulation as standard equipment, based on testing by PC Week Labs. The overhaul should be welcome relief for those 35,000 or so purchasers of UnixWare 1.0, who defied the "never buy Release 1.0 of anything" maxim and snapped up Univel's Unix iteration for X86 processors upon its November 1992 debut. Complaints ranged from limited hardware compatibility to flaky serial-port drivers and bad man pages. Despite these serious limitations, the Univel platform wound its way into traditional Unix markets, where the low cost of Intel platforms made UnixWare an attractive desktop system. In addition, organizations with a mix of Unix and NetWare systems were attracted to UnixWare's excellent integration with NetWare's mail, file, and print services; UnixWare machines have transparent access to NetWare file and print servers, and they can act as gateways between Novell's Message Handling Service and Unix-style SMTP mail. With UnixWare 1.1, these benefits still hold true, and early implementers can upgrade to Version 1.1 for free. To lure still more devotees, Univel has reduced the price of the Personal Edition to $249; the Application Server is priced at $1,299, and the SDK now sells for a mere $99. Operational requirements Though UnixWare Version 1.1 will run on a 386 with 8M bytes of RAM and an 80M-byte disk partition, running any iteration of Unix comfortably demands at least a fast 486, 16M bytes of RAM, and gobs of disk space. If you're running an X-based GUI, a fast video subsystem really helps. Unfortunately, most video adapters require specialized drivers for enhanced performance or resolution. UnixWare 1.1 does include drivers for some popular video subsystems, but it lacked a driver for the S3 chip set in our test machine, a 50MHz 486DX2-based Dell Computer Corp. 450/ME workstation with 16M bytes of RAM. On the hardware-compatibility front, the latest release of UnixWare supports new SCSI controllers from Adaptec Inc. and Future Domain Corp., additional Ethernet cards (including Eagle Technology Inc.'s ubiquitous NE3200), and video hardware from Tseng Laboratories Inc., Sigma Designs Inc., and other vendors. PC Week Labs was pleased to see the Adaptec 1510 SCSI card on the list of host bus adapters supported by UnixWare Version 1.1. However, after an entire week and multiple calls to technical support, a Novell technician told us that "there might be a problem with some revisions of the board." This is not good news for a card with only one jumper bank and one chip. We finally switched to an Adaptec 1740 board, and everything worked fine. The installation process hasn't changed from Version 1.0. You still boot from three floppy disks (or more if you have special hardware drivers to install) and then continue the installation with CD ROM or an existing UnixWare server, or by wading through a mile-high stack of floppy disks. Software enhancements After installing the operating system, we immediately noticed -- and were grateful for -- several minor enhancements. The man pages now work from the command line instead of requiring a cryptic symbolic link (the symbolic link is now on the CD). However, the @ sign still maps to the kill signal, making E-mail difficult to address. UnixWare 1.1 includes TCP/IP support in the out-of-the-box Personal Edition and Application Server versions, rather than requiring the purchase of extra floppy disks, as did the initial release. In addition, UnixWare's TCP/IP support implements remote access via PPP and remote management via SNMP. Widespread complaints about the serial drivers in UnixWare 1.0 prompted a fix; Version 1.1 includes graphical administration tools to configure dial-up access and local dumb terminals. We were able to configure a terminal line on COM2 in less than 5 minutes. COSE compliance The multivendor COSE (Common Open Software Environment) standard for Unix was established after the release of UnixWare 1.0, so this update provided an opportunity to standardize UnixWare. The principal elements of COSE's Common Desktop Environment are SVR4.2 support, the Open Software Foundation's Motif 1.2, access to NetWare file and print services, SunSoft Inc.'s ToolTalk interapplication messaging, graphical log-in, and Hewlett-Packard Co.'s Visual User Environment. UnixWare 1.0 included SVR4.2, NetWare access, and a graphical log-in. The latest release has added Motif 1.2 and beefed-up NetWare support by including compatibility with NetWare 4.x servers. However, ToolTalk and the Visual User Environment remain absent. Release 2.0 of UnixWare, slated for mid-1994, is expected to increase overall COSE compliance. UnixWare 1.1 also includes Advanced Merge, a DOS/Windows emulation package that shipped after UnixWare 1.0 hit the streets. Advanced Merge provides 286-like DOS 3.3 emulation, extended and expanded memory, NetWare access from within DOS, access to local DOS partitions, and access to COM and LPT ports. Hands-on report To test UnixWare's DOS/Windows compatibility and performance, PC Week Labs ran the ZD Benchmark Operation's PC Bench 8.0 and WinBench 4.0 tests. UnixWare's graphical performance under PC Bench seemed slower than its performance under WinBench, but we were unable to complete testing due to PC Bench's requirement for 386-mode operation. WinBench testing completed successfully, which bodes well for UnixWare's overall Windows compatibility, since WinBench 4.0 makes use of a large portion of the standard-mode W indows API. Microsoft Corp.'s Windows 3.1 isn't shipped with UnixWare 1.1; it must be installed by the end user on top of the DOS emulation. Once installed, Windows feels more usable and faster than any graphics-intensive DOS-based application we've tested. However, Windows under UnixWare is still no speed demon. Though the multitasking nature of the underlying operating system caused our WinBench 4.0 test results to vary somewhat, UnixWare 1.1's Windows emulation averaged around 20 percent of the total performance of the same 50MHz 486DX2 system running native Windows 3.1. Windows emulation under UnixWare 1.1 felt like running Windows on a medium-speed, 386-based machine -- in other words, if you have one or two Windows applications that see occasional use, Advanced Merge probably will meet your needs. Overall, UnixWare Version 1.1 provides excellent functionality. The update fixes the previous release's known problems, adds some new functions, and points the Unix community in the right direction. Those who need the combination of Unix functionality and tight NetWare integration will be well-served by UnixWare 1.1, and registered users of UnixWare 1.0 should take advantage of the free upgrade.