The NEXTSTEP Bandwagon

User Group News

User groups around the country are settling into the new Intel-based world with meetings and programs designed to show off white hardware. Different groups are reacting in different ways. The sentiment in some remains diehard offering support for black-hardware users while others have become testing grounds for the bewildering array of new choices and are actively proselytizing PC user-group members to join the NEXTSTEP bandwagon.

Jamie O'Keefe of the Boston Computer Society (BCS) reports that Continental Computers and Software Services and Solutions came up from Connecticut to talk about the benefits and problems of the Intel PC architecture. Chris Lu-cas, president of Continental Computers, showed methods members could use to configure Intel PCs with the least amount of confusion.

Countering some of the conventional pessimistic wisdom about drivers, Lucas commented that NeXT has written more drivers than most other UNIX vendors for Intel PCs. BCS members thought that the NEXTSTEP Configuration Tool was far easier to use than SCO or Interactive UNIX.

A number of users are moving to the Intel platform, especially corporations, but some are still sticking with NeXT's hardware. The BCS-NeXT group plans to work with the BCS IBM PC group to inform people about the power of NEXTSTEP.

At the Ottawa (Canada) NeXT User Group, Hayward Lam reports that there is interest in Intel hardware among users, but, in general, people are still in love with their black hardware. At a recent meeting, however, a local VAR announced that it had completed a $500,000 NEXTSTEP-for-Intel deal with Transport Canada. Included in the deal are little black switch boxes that the VAR, computerActive, makes to connect to a cordless headset. Users will be able to use it for TV signals, phone, and Simon Says. Users were impressed by the major improvement in noise reduction and liked the idea of walking around and talking on the phone or doing work with Simon Says.

The Oregon State University Group has had a training session in the last few months. An informal survey of attendees revealed that most of its members are sticking with black hardware for the time being. "There has not been any form of ground swell of new Intel converts. We have an ongoing stream of students who are looking at NEXTSTEP for their PCs at home, but it is not a big group yet. So I would say that interest has been steady and is not growing much at all," says John Sechrest.

From Rohit Khare and Walt Duflock, we hear that SCaN, the Southern California NeXT User Group, recently invited Workstation 2000's Tim Finnegan to come and demo the Intel GX, which members agreed is the best-integrated solution for NS/FIP shipping today. Somewhat surprisingly, there were few "horror stories" with installing NS onto a wide variety of generic hardware configurations.

Walt has some tips for other user groups: "Getting machines to show at meetings has always been an issue. There seem to be two sources of white hardware for user groups: hardware vendors, like Workstation 2000; and companies that have Intel boxes for development. The best way to get a ma-chine is to call and ask. Most vendors and companies are happy to lend a machine and hand out some literature."

Also be sure to remember to confirm with the demonstrators which version of NEXTSTEP they require and what hardware. One final thought: always bring extra power strips. The new machines often seem to require a lot more plugs than the old black hardware, and outlets can be hard to come by when you need them.

by Dan Lavin