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The BioTeam's Bill Van Etten explains why Apple Computer is acquiring a new sheen in the life sciences.


March 10, 2003 | "One reason is certainly ease of use. The other is having desktop productivity tools that are manageable by a person with Unix [operating] underneath. Right now the options are Windows without Unix or Linux without desktop productivity tools. So, [Unix-based] Mac OS 10 is my desktop [operating system] of choice. I have no use for an operating system that is not Unix for my research. I mean, Windows is completely useless.

"If you took the hundreds of bioinformatics applications that are available, could you run them all on Windows? If you want to put Windows and Mac OS 10 on top of Linux, you can do that. But to be able to run Microsoft Office side by side with BLAST in a terminal window without having to do weird emulation, that's a big deal. To be able to take the output from a Unix command line and bring it into Microsoft Word or the other way around, that's very useful.

"I think Apple likes us because we have credibility with Linux and Solaris, and they get [feedback] about their shortcomings and the benefits. Also, we've been working with them for a year or more, helping them understand the space and where they fit in the market ... In situations where ease of use is required, they win hands down in terms of providing high-throughput computing. So if I were a small laboratory where I had to build and support my own large-scale computing environment, like Texas A&M, I would say that Apple Xserve fits in very well. Also, any situations where a large fraction of the compute power goes to these vectorized applications like BLAST. You can buy 10 times fewer machines to get the same computing done."


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