Cover V01, I04


Publisher's Forum

I've just returned from two weeks of trade shows. I stopped first in Boston for Software Development Fall '92, where I taught sessions on debugging and on C coding techniques. From there I went to UNIX Expo to help staff our Sys Admin booth.

I was a little apprehensive about taking Sys Admin to UNIX Expo; I was afraid the show would be dominated by end users ("system what? Can I use that with my wordprocessor?"). I was pleasantly surprised. We gave away over 3,000 sample copies to potential readers and found that nearly everyone who passed the booth admitted to doing at least a little system administration. We met a significant number of people who already subscribe and were able to get some firsthand feedback about the magazine -- nearly all positive. We also met some potential authors and advertisers. All in all, a very productive trip.

Not remarkably, very few of those who admitted to doing system administration claimed it as their first love. (When we print a Sys Admin t-shirt, it should bear a slogan like: "I'm a System Administrator: it's dirty work but someone has to do it.") Invariably attendees told us they did system administration only because they couldn't avoid it or because no one else at their site knew how. (There's a message in there somewhere.) Even so, most seemed intrigued with the idea of a magazine just about system administration. That was gratifying.

Aside from the positive reception for Sys Admin, I was most taken with an AlphaWindow demonstration. Clark Brown of Structured Software Solutions Inc. (and one of our authors) demonstrated an AlphaWindow version of their FacetTerm session manager. I liked the combination -- I liked it a lot. The alpha standard provides virtually all the functionality of the typical graphical windowing environment (complete with mouse and with icons for suspended and background processes) without all the processor and communications overhead associated with a full graphics implementation. Perhaps Bill Gates can afford to put a graphics competent workstation on everyone's desk, but I can't. AlphaWindow terminals coupled to a good session manager looks like a very reasonable compromise. I only hope the marketplace comes to the same conclusion.

Sincerely yours,
Robert Ward (...!uunet!rdpub!saletter")