Date: Sun, 7 Mar 1999 18:41:02 +1100
Reply-To: Tim Churches <email@example.com>
Sender: "SAS(r) Discussion" <SAS-L@UGA.CC.UGA.EDU>
From: Tim Churches <tchur@BIGPOND.COM>
Subject: A version of SAS which runs under Linux?
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"
There has been considerable discussion on this list about SI's apparent
intransigence (or is it diffidence or indifference?) on the subject of a
version of SAS for Linux, despite the rapidly growing support for the Linux
operating system. This growth in support includes not just individual users
but also many of the world's largest software companies (excepting THE
largest...), who are actively promoting Linux and are releasing native Linux
versions of their flagship products. Further discussion on SAS-L has
focussed on a suitable marketing model for SAS for Linux, given that a great
deal of software for Linux is free, including many of the Linux versions of
software released by major software companies.
One suggestion has been that SI release a very cheap or free version of SAS
for Linux which is based on an earlier release of SAS so as not to entice
potential customers away from paying for a more recent version.
Some of the benefits of such a version of SAS, which I will refer to as
"free SAS" might include:
a) widespread adoption of free SAS in educational institutions, where SAS
has been at a disadvantage due to cost issues (even with academic discounts
for SAS license)
b) widespread use of free SAS in developing countries (and in impecunious
NGOs in developed countries), where SAS has always been too expensive to
c) the training benefits of a) and b), since shortage of SAS-literate
personnel has often been a barrier to the adoption of SAS in corporate
d) the humanitarian benefits of b)
e) a firm presence in the Linux mindspace, given that Linux looks like it is
about to take-off in a big way
f) lots of opportunites for cross-promotion of commercial versions of SAS.
It occured to me that maybe SI has a version of SAS which would be just
right for this purpose: SAS Version 6.04 for MS-DOS.
Although I haven't tried it, SAS Version 6.04 for MS-DOS will almost
certainly run under Linux on Intel-based machines (which is the vast
majority of Linux machines) using the DOSemu subsystem (DOSemu is a DOS
emulator which allows MS-DOS programmes to run under Linux - see
http://www.dosemu.org for details).
All that SI would have to do is verify that SAS V6.04 works reliably under
DOSemu (volunteers may be able to help with this task) and then just
recompile it with the setinit licensing bits removed. Therefore the
development cost to SI would be minimal.
Of course, SAS V6.04 for MS-DOS also runs under MS-DOS. There are many more
286, 386 and 486 computers running MS-DOS (+/- Windows 3.x) than there are
Linux boxes. Old PCs running MS-DOS are the norm in many developing
countries as well as many educational institutions. Therefore, releasing a
free version of SAS V6.04 for MS-DOS would also acheive benefits a), b) c)
and d) above far better than a native Linux version of SAS, while still
making many Linux users happy.
Yes, I know the idea of having to use an MS-DOS program is anathema to many
Linuxistas, but the rest of us are not really interested in such computing
theological issues and just want to get the job done with the best balance
of cost, reliablity, speed and facilities.
Personally, I think that SAS V6.04 running under DOS emulation under Linux
would be just fine for very many purposes. However, after using Version 6.12
or V7, very few users would want to go back to using V6.04. That is the
point: free SAS V6.04 would be adequate for many uses where SAS has been
ruled out because of cost, but not very attractive to the majority of users
who can already afford more recent versions of SAS (or who need SAS on
heavyweight hardware like mainframes). Of course, some of the new SAS users
which free SAS would attract would ned up migrating to a commercial SAS
For those who are familiar with SAS V6.04 for MS-DOS, it was one of the
first versions of SAS (actually 6.03 was) which was written entirely in C
and was a precursor to Versions 6.06 onwards on multi-user platforms (Unix,
VMS, mainframes) and Windows. SAS V6.04 shares almost all of the same data
step and procedure syntax as SAS V6.06 or later, but lacks things like
dataset indexing and compression. It does not have a true GUI interface -
the choices are a command line interface for batch mode or a clunky
character-mode interface with the usual "3 windows" (Program Editor, Log and
Output). It does include SAS/AF and SAS/FSP but does not support Frame
entries - the interface would be familiar to users of SAS on mainframe
terminals i.e. decidedly utilitarian. Production of high resolution graphics
is supported through SAS/GRAPH but there are no drivers for GIF or other
Web-related formats, although most importantly PostScript output is
available (which can then be converted to just about anything else thhrough
post-processing). Various modern statistical procedures are absent, such as
PROC LOGISTIC and PROC GENMOD. However, there are numerous free DOS-mode or
native Linux alternatives for these available.
So, how do people feel about this proposal? Should we petition Dr Jim?