Date: Fri, 22 Mar 2002 13:29:54 -0800
Reply-To: Bill Anderson <wnilesanderson@COX.NET>
Sender: "SAS(r) Discussion" <SAS-L@LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
From: Bill Anderson <wnilesanderson@COX.NET>
Subject: Switching from Windows to UNIX
Here a couple items you will enjoy.
UNIX systems seems to work a lot better than Windows when you are using the EXACT options in PROC FREQ or NPAR1WAY. I have found time improvements by a factor of 20 or more when I moved code from a PC (with 1 gig of RAM no less) to a UNIX box. The result is that you can do some analyses on UNIX that just aren't feasible on a PC.
The sysparm option -- for passing command line parameters to a SAS program -- is a natural thing to do on UNIX, and I have found it really helpful. You can pass important items to the SAS code, such as file names, without touching the code itself. This makes it easier to verify that the code you ran is the code you validated sometime earlier. In principle you can do the same thing in Windows, but it doesn't seem so natural there.
UNIX has lots of nifty utilities, and occasionally these come in useful when strange things happen. I have actually had occasion to use a hex file dump (od -xc <filename>) to figure out what was wrong with a data file. Such utilities can be purchased for Windows, but they are out of the box with UNIX. You can also easily write UNIX shell scripts to invoke SAS, do things with the output files, and iterate depending on the results of the SAS session.
UNIX has an incredibly stupid backgammon program (gammontool), so that whenever you want to really beat up on the computer, a method is there. (More productive than swearing at Bill Gates.)
The vi editor is a gem, once you get it set up for your own preferences. There is a learning curve, but you may never want to go into the SAS windowing environment once you learn vi.
On the other hand.
Watch out for the slashes in file names, since UNIX assigns a special meaning to \. (When I recently went from UNIX to Windows -- perhaps a really stupid thing to do -- I discovered to my pleasure that Windows SAS will accept the UNIX / in a file name, and send the needed \ to the file management system.)
The file management system has a number of advantages over Windows, but beware. When a file is gone, it is GONE! You can wipe out a whole directory tree without even receiving a warning. Hopefully your IS folks have a good backup system, so you lose only one day's work.
SAS graphical output just doesn't seem to work as well as in Windows. In every specific instance I eventually found a workaround, but in Windows the same things worked right away.