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19990330: Technology strikes again.

>From: "Michael Trapasso" <address@hidden>
>Organization: Western Kentucky University
>Keywords: 199903261750.KAA00325 OS/2 to Unix transition


>     Once again the technological world advances ... which means I lose 
>     information! :)
>     Of course I'm refering to the loss of the McIDAS OS-2 capability 
>     planned for this July.  I can't begin to tell you how excited I am to 
>     write another NSF Grant Proposal! :)
>     Keeping in mind that we are a relatively small operation here at WKU, 
>     what system would you recommend we upgrade to.  Or at least what are 
>     my options?

If you want to keep running Unidata software, you will have to move to
some flavor of Unix.  The cheapest option is to run a version that
we support on PC's - either Red Hat Linux, or Solaris for Intel.  You
should check with your computer people to see which operating system
(if either) they support.  For a system to ingest and display data, you will
need a minimum of a 300 MHz system with at least 128 MB of memory and a 
large (9 GB or larger) hard drive.  For a display system only, you could 
get away with 64 Mb of memory and a smaller hard drive, but more memory 
is better.  Make sure the components you get are compatible with the
operating system.  Once you decide on an operating system, you can
check the maker's web pages for compatible hardware.

As for the Unidata software you want to use, you have a couple of
options.  First, to receive data, you would need to install the LDM
software which would provide you with access to a data feed (like
you have in McIDAS-OS2 now).  As for display software, you could
use McIDAS-X (the Unix version of McIDAS) which has an interface which
is very similar to McIDAS-OS2.  That would require the shortest learning
curve.  Tom is working on a Graphical User Interface (GUI) to make
accessing and displaying data easier than using the command line or
the F-Key menu.  Your other option is use GEMPAK/NAWIPS which provides
several GUI's (NWX, GARP) that many smaller schools have found very
useful for quick access and display of data.  There would be a bit
of a learning curve because it is new software, but the interfaces
are pretty intuitive and easy to figure out quickly.

If you decide to go to McIDAS-X, one thing to note is that McIDAS
is implementing a distributed access system called the Abstract
Data Distribution System (ADDE).  This allows you to connect to
remote servers for your data instead of having to ingest it yourself.
There are several Unidata McIDAS sites that are running ADDE servers
and you might be able to have one of them serve up data to you instead
of running the LDM and ingesting it yourself.  The main drawback to
this route now is that the GUI and F-Key menu available in McIDAS 7.5
are not completely using ADDE commands yet.  However, that is high
on Tom's list of enhancements and the 7.6 version due out this summer
will probably mostly use ADDE.  Many of the options in the McIDAS-OS2
7.5 F-Key menu use ADDE commands now.

>     I'll discuss this upgrade with our computer support people, and then 
>     I'll follow up by asking for recommendations for specific components, 
>     and exactly what I need to request from NSF.

Find out what they support and if you have any questions on machine
specs, let us know.

It might also be useful to find out how much of McIDAS you use so
we could get a better feel for what might suit your needs.  Do you
use it every day/semester in class?  Do the students use it?
What particular functions do you use?

As said before, if you have any more questions about this transition, let
us know.

Don Murray

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