ArcGIS 9.3 unix port

Probably I just missed them all, but I did a fair amount of searching trying to find other users reviewing the ArcGIS 9.3 unix port, trying to decide if I should run ArcGIS on unix or Windows.

Well, I’m here to say, stick with windows. The unix port uses enormously more CPU to achive the same goals. It’s built on a porting platform called MainWin, which seems to have been written to allow porting developers to avoid having to do too much work when porting a product from one OS to another, but doesn’t seem to have given much thought to, for example, efficiency. I would guess that ArcGIS on Unix uses about 5 times the CPU – and GIS is usually pretty CPU-intensive, so this is a Very Bad Thing.

Also, a lot of functionality that works well on windows, such as starting and stopping services, deleting services, etc, works poorly or not at all on unix. ( caveat: I didn’t try installing the patch, and I didn’t try 9.3.1 – this may have all been fixed).

The unix port also definately has a ‘we didn’t feel like actually porting the application’ feel to it – processes show up with names like ‘dllrunner {hex-guid}’ and ‘arcsoc.exe’. While it’s sort of amusing watching the opposite of Cygwin happen, it doesn’t give one warm and fuzzy feelings that a lot of effort was put into taking advantage of the operating system’s native strengths.

The unix port also seems to have reletively bad process isolation. When one process is off generating cache tiles, other completely unrelated services will become unusable.

I do give ESRI props that they bothered to try and make a unix port. I just wish they had done it in the traditional way of actually porting the code / writing support libraries for unix to replace any key windows-OS functionality, instead of by slapping it in a win32-replacement framework and calling it a day.

On the *good* side – migrating the services from a unix server to a windows one took very little time, and was smooth and painless.

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