Computer Chess Club Archives




Subject: Re: is the

Author: Don Dailey

Date: 04:46:41 08/01/98

Go up one level in this thread

>Hi Don,
>Thank you for your informative post - it's made me think more seriously about
>making the switch, at some point even if not now. My requirements of an OS are
>certainly not most peoples' idea of what they want, but then you made some very
>good points about usage. Personally, I hate flashy gizmo gimmicks. My PC was an
>extravagance, but having bought the best I could afford it's all mine - that is
>to say, no-one else uses it like family and so on. Unlike most computer users, I
>use the computer more for writing programs than for running them. Most of what
>you say about Unix and Linux sounds perfect for me. Do you know a good site to
>take a closer look, maybe dowload some info about it? The idea of an OS
>comprised of a large number of utility programs sounds similar to the way DOS
>functioned, and I had no trouble with that. Is the syntax very different?
>I am at a disadvantage to some extent, because everything seems to be coded in
>C, and I program in Basic. I am, however, quite pleased with the compiler that I
>use - it's a new product, a 32-bit compiler, but it depends on a Windows based
>OS. Interestingly though, the vendor (PowerBasic Inc) has announced their
>intention to develop versions for Unix and Linux. I would probably wait for that
>to happen before making the switch, but in the mean time I would be interested
>to find out more. It sounds like one or the other of these is probably the best
>choice for my particular needs.
>Thanks again,

Hi Roberto,

I don't know how standard different versions of Basic are, but there is
a "Quickbasic to C" conversion program available.   There is also a basic
interpreter but I think it's a fairly minimal implementation.  You may
want to wait for PowerBasic.   I have programmed in many different
dialects of Basic in the past, a couple of microsoft versions,
"north star basic",  a powerful DEC version of Basic and 2 or 3 other
microcomputer Basics.  The DEC Basic was really powerful and the OS
it ran on was very unix like, sort of like a Unix with Basic as the
fundamental language instead of C.  It was pretty cool.

If you get a chance, try to install a version of linux on a spare
computer or small disk partition.  You can install very little of
it or quite a bit of it depending on how much disk space you have
free for it.  A minimal installation (without xwindows) can be
quite small and you still get several consoles to work on, alt-fkeyN
will switch from one virtual console to the other.  There is no
other OS, in my opinion, that is as cool to work on with no graphical
support because the command line interface blows away anything else
and virtual consoles gives you much of the functionality of multiple
windows.  But very few people run unix without Xwindows, Xwindows is
is very nice and gives you all the bells and whistles of a GUI and
a lot more programs and utilities (graphical) come with it than Windows.
There are also several ways to program xwindows applications that will
just already be there when you do a full install.   This is usually
the way it is with Linux, the stuff you need is just there already,
no need to surf for weeks gathering your tools and compilers together
and spending lot's of money.  However in your case, with Basic there
is not a compiler but only an interpreter.  There are still many
things you CAN add to your system but they are not usually the
hard core items you can't live without.  An example of this is
compression utilities, you have to dig them up for Windows unless
this has changed recently.

Even as a chess programmer, if you do a full linux install you will
boot up your machine and Xboard and gnuchessx will already be ready
to run, fully ready to go!  This is not unusual, it's typical of
linux.  If you like graphics editors, there are 2 or 3 already there,
one of them (gimp) is supposed to be extremely powerful like photoshop
but I cannot vouch for this since I'm not interested in this kind of

I'm not crazy about the editor choices however.  Emacs is the most
powerful editor and is incredibly powerful, more than any editor
I have ever seen.  But I just don't like it for aesthetic reasons.
It's the only one I use and I'm quite comfortable  with it but
never have learned to love it.  I used to use brief and think it's
wonderful.  I understand there are commercial look-alike versions
for sale for unix and am considering getting this.  Linux has a
choice of 4 or 5 editors but I don't like any of them!  But it
turns out a lot of people absolutely love emacs, so I may just be
the exception.   I recently downloaded a free editor for linux that
I might be very happy with, time will tell.

Linux is more at home on the internet and Web than other OS's
are, since the internet was built around unix.  If you  do a
full install you will have a full blown web server built into your
OS!  People can dial in, or get to your machine via the internet and
ftp files, log in to your machine (if you give them an account)
or even run graphical programs FROM your machine.  If they are
on an Xwindows machine or device of any kind they might forget
they are on your machine, everything looks and acts the same.
Before I was at MIT, most of my ISP's used LINUX.  The only
one who didn't used NT and it was the least reliable one.  If
your ISP in UNIX based, you probably also have an account and
password and can log onto their machine and run programs assuming
they don't restrict this.  I actually logged in and WROTE programs
on my ISP's computer!  You won't be doing this with a Windows ISP
since you do not even have the option of remote logging onto any
windows machine.  Of course that's probably not why you would use
an ISP anyway, but it's just another example of how Unix is designed
to give you as much power as possible, not to control your use of it.

Anyway, you can find out for yourself, just do a search for linux on
the web.  There is a ton of stuff on it.  There a several distributions
of linux available, I recommend RedHat version 5.1 or greater.  You
might start with  or something similar.   You can go to
ANY bookstore and find a ton of books on Linux too.  The number of
linux users is growing incredibly fast and wishful thinkers are hoping
it will overtake windows, but this is completely unlikely unless
it "dumbs down" to attract the new computer user.  I would never
recommend a new computer user start with Linux and changing linux
for this kind of user would probably be counterproductive and hurt

I probably won't post any more on this subject since it is a bit off
topic and I have subjected everyone to it but if you decide to give
it a try someday, send me some email and let me know how you like
it.  It's an OS you can really get excited about and it's absolutely

- Don

This page took 0 seconds to execute

Last modified: Thu, 15 Apr 21 08:11:13 -0700

Current Computer Chess Club Forums at Talkchess. This site by Sean Mintz.