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Apart from issues which have included supplements this is the smallest issue of FORUM to be published for a number of years. It was originally intended to have a Cray supplement to this issue, but this has become an independent life form, the first issue of the Atlas Centre Advanced Research Computing Newsletter. This newsletter will be published more frequently than FORUM, at least initially, and has its own mailing list - contact me and ask to be added to the list otherwise you will not continue to receive copies.
On behalf of both Central Computing and Informatics Divisions I wish you a peaceful Christmas and good New Year.
Ros Hallowell, Editor, Central Computing Division
Report on VAX Users meeting
There were some 21 attendees at the meeting held on 18 September. The items raised included:
- Networking. Mrs Weston gave a status report.
- Open meeting. A number of aspects of the open meeting were raised. Attendance had been disappointing but is was felt a second open meeting at end June/start July 1987 would be worthwhile. It was felt that rather more information should be given to potential attendees.
- Membership. It was thought that membership of the VUG committee should be possible for all Managers of SERC supported Networked VAXs (or MicroVAXs). It was not felt that in practice this would greatly increase the size of the meetings.
- GKS. The need for RAL support of GKS on VAXs was again emphasised.
- Mailing Lists. Two lists, VUGMEMB and VUG have been set up on RL.GB
- Added support. Interest was expressed in greater central support for VAX & Micro VAX /VMS and utilities.
- Software Licensing. Dr Pett reported that 45 machines had been signed up for the central Networking software maintenance arrangement.
- Tex. There was a presentation and considerable interest from sites. It was noted that there is a worrying divergence developing between IBM and VAX sites for high quality document preparation - IBMs using SCRIPT and VAXs using Tex.
Richard Ansorge, VAX (VMS) User Group Chairman
Report of GEC Users Group
The last meeting of the GEC Users' Group in its present form took place on 23rd, 24th September 1986 at Cosener's House, Abingdon.
Future Meetings. GEC users have long felt that computing should be applications driven. Indeed the group's submission to the Needs of Engineering Working Party made it clear that users were not concerned in detailing specific hardware for replacement of the GECs but rather what use could be made of the hardware in terms of applications. With this history, the group welcomed the suggestion that joint meetings be held of all users of ECF. The first joint meeting is scheduled to take place in April 1987.
How best to ensure that information on all topics related to computing is made available to all users was again discussed. An ECF Newsletter as an addition to FORUM was considered. A mailbox has been set-up to enable users to contact the group chairman at CHAIRMANGEC@RL
Graphics. The GKS library should be available by the end of October. After discussion it was agreed that Graphics Section would then provide hooks so that users could produce drivers for their own peripherals.
Network Support. Users welcomed the appointment of Phil Overy to Network Support and hope that he can deal with MAIL problems. Too much MAIL still disappears down black holes. Often these black holes occur on campus but there is no clear mechanism for dealing with them. Some centres accept responsibility, others do not.
Seminars. As usual two seminars were given in the afternoon.
An Introduction to SUS was given by Julian Gallop. This talk, which covered the Common Base Policy, history of support for SUS and currently supported systems, was of great interest to the users at this time of change.
Applications Software - Users welcomed the presentation by Jim Diserens of Technology Division giving details of the different packages supported by the group on different computers.
- Chairmanship of Group. Andre Schappo will take over as chairman of the group from now on.
Anne MacKinnon, Retiring GEC User Group Chairman
Prime General Meeting
The General Meeting of the Prime User Group took place at The City University on 17th September.
Concern was again expressed that better contact should be established with users in order to ensure that progress was being made in the right direction. To this end several points were raised :-
- the need for more users to attend meetings (9 from 7 sites were present) and to become involved in raising relevant matters, problems etc.
- the need for feedback from users on suitable topics for presentations. What do users want to hear about?
- the possibility of local user meetings such as those held by UMIST.
Dissatisfaction continues with the maintenance response of Prime despite the involvement of the company at the previous meeting. The view was expressed that the problem lay in managerial support for the ground engineer.
There was still uncertainty about the future of PRIMIX. The meeting agreed that it would not be a good idea to move people from a satisfactory PRIMOS system to a UNIX type system which had yet to perform satisfactorily.
A proposal was made to change the default kill and erase characters in order to facilitate login over network and message transfer.
The inability to use ACSL with F77 GKS would be solved by a F77 compiled version of ACSL.
The University of Sussex would cease to use Prime computers after March 1987.
The afternoon was taken up by two presentations.
The first, on Application Software, was given by John Simkin of Vector Fields Ltd - a company set up to take over support from BTG for a number of software packages originally produced at RAL. These were now being developed and a fuller report of the packages available might be appreciated in a future issue of Forum or Prime Support News.
The second presentation was an Introduction to Single User Systems by Peter Kent of RAL. This was a very clear review of the standards established as Common Base Policy. The rise of Sun Microsystems Ltd continues with an extended range of products, while development of the Perq at ICL has been discontinued.
A Sun 3/160 Deskside workstation was thoughtfully provided after the meeting for anyone who was interested in its capabilities.