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SAS Institute Announces Linux Port Of SAS Software 83

stoney27 wrote to tell us about another big -- no, make that huge name porting their product to Linux. This time, it's SAS, porting their SAS data-warehousing and management software to Linux. In a world filled with FUD and innuendo, it's refreshing to hear SAS research vice president Bob Moran explain the move by saying "[m]any IT managers are attracted to the reliability and ease-of-use of Linux." Given their market, it's almost predictable that the first release is for Red Hat specifically, but this release says they intend to support all major distros.
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SAS Institute Announces Linux Port Of SAS Software

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  • >So anyway, I guess this is great news for Linux. Given SAS, some
    >decent database support and the work IBM has done recently porting
    >Linux to big systems I believe it would be fair to crow a little!
    >Linux is no longer a fringe OS, but is now becoming a major player in
    >the business market. World domination is actually starting to seem
    >plausible.

    And to think this is being done without Linux getting a single shred of support from Microsoft and it's stooges in the trade press. It really says something, doesn't it?
  • >Could this become a stumbling block for smaller distro's acceptance if
    >say 4 major distros get most of the support from most companies and
    >the little distro's do not?

    Well since the vast majority of the little distros are rip-offs of RedHat....err what was your point again?
  • by jochen ( 2803 )
    Many big banks in Germany use SAS on both mainframes (S/390) and Unix. Having SAS on Linux really helps the developers of SAS solutions as most of them don't have their own workstation to develop their software on. And development on NT and CPORTing the stuff to Unix is no good solution, either...

    I really hope that SAS not only ports the other Unix versions over to Linux, but also provide the client parts like Enterprise reporter, database miner or IT Service Vision (former CPE), as well.

    -- Jochen
  • It's very hard to get people to understand why a distro isn't a flavor (like normal UNIX)

    $ ls /sbin/yast
    /sbin/yast
    $ ls /usr/lib/libjpeg.so*
    /usr/lib/libjpeg.so
    /usr/lib/libjpeg.so.6
    /usr/lib/libjpeg.so.6.0.1

    Need I say more?

    Up yours!

  • Actually I agree with you. Whoever was kind enough to correct the moderation down as offtopic really should have marked it as underrated rather than informative (although I suppose there are a few people that didn't realize that SAS Institute is quite close by to Red Hat in Durham, N.C., as it is just down the road in Raleigh, N.C). I thank them all the same.
  • Actually I am aware that they are located in the Concentrated Area of Relocated Yankees, but years ago I got the founder of SAS temporarily confused with the club Charlie Goodnight's and it pops back up from time to time. It's been a long time since I lived anywhere in the RTP area or even got up there to visit and have to rely on the News and Observer to keep up.
  • They and RedHat*are*practically next door neighbors.
  • Unless you were willing to spend a boatload of cash to run SAS on a mainframe you had to be very very patient running it on a high end PC or a Unix box. SAS always had the mindset that while they make awfully good SW they weren't going to dumb it down in order to run effectively on cheap hardware. Well now that HW is fast and cheap you can finally have a SAS environment that's just as complex as that on the big iron. If nothing else this spells the end of running SAS on its own LPAR.
  • BTW: My friends who did SAS always took pains to remind me that you don't pronounce it 'Sass',
    but rather 'Ess Ay Ess'. It really chapped their balls to hear it the wrong way...

    Well, all of my friends and relatives that work at SAS, along with the HR people I've talked to in the past,
    and Dr. Jim Goodnight (President of SAS and owner of the building that my brother-in-law's restaurant
    occupies in Cary) all pronounce it "sass".

    --Kit

  • There is a slightly different perspective that I would like to point out. This would allow more Statistics departments to switch over to Linux. The major (and superior) development environment for Statisticians is S. A Linux port for S [mathsoft.com] already exist. More importantly there is R [r-project.org], a free implementation of S which is equally good if not better than the commercial version. So, now you have essentially everything you need as a statistician on Linux.

  • to here a company say..."well, we might as well jump on the bandwagon."

    Sorry, I was born cynical.
  • Some Cynical definitions

    1: Ones the guys in Marketing have heard of.
    2: Ones you can buy at CompUSA or Fryes.
    3: Ones that Cheapbytes sells many of. For random values of Many.

    Personally, I'd consider any distribution with some degree of independent engineering behind it to be major. But I'm not knowledgable enough to qualify or apply that. So I go back to the cynical definitions myself.
  • Why do so many men mistake RedHat for Linux.

    Why do people mistake Windows for an Operating System?

    They listen to the marketing hype and belive it, and they don't know the distinctions involved.

  • Ok, let's get this over with:

    REAL programmers type dd if=/dev/ttyS0 of=bzImage
    and WHISTLE into their MODEM!

    (Now just one more comment about "you had rocks?", and we're done. :-) )

  • I cannot tell you how happy this makes me!

    I'm working as an application developer on SAS in the Windows environment. I'm a Mac person at home, and since SAS has stopped actively developing their Mac product I was afraid I might be pushed into the grasp of Microsoft.

    More importantly, for hopes of future development, having _ANY_ desktop platform version of SAS other than Windows greatly increases the likelihood of having even more versions. That is, a Linux version will force SAS to develop features in a way that doesn't depend on Windows, which will make it more feasible to port to other platforms at a later date.

    This is great!
  • I use Linux at home and at work. The few times I have to boot to Windows95 (to check my Exchange mail, fill out my Excel time sheet, etc) I find I have a constricted feeling. No virtual desktops? No "send to back" for windows? Poor multi-tasking?

    You may argue that these aren't "ease of use" items. On the contrary, anything computing environment where I am relaxed and productive is by definition "easy to use". If I am tense (any minute this could crash), angry (it just crashed) and unproductive (I'm waiting for a reboot) then it must not be easy.
    --
  • Amen to that... and I have to use it's GUI on a m/f ! Still SAS has always struck me as dummed down COBOL with a pretty (hey I've got a colour terminal) interface wacked on the top to cover any deficiencies.
  • I assume that they mean they will "support" the "major distros" by releasing RPMs. The program itself is still runnable on any distro of Linux though. All that would be needed would be to convert rpm to tgz or just download a tgz.

    Chris Hagar
  • The obvious next step is to provide some duct tape and wrapping around these tools to provide similar functionality (though not run-alike compatibility) to SAS

    Which is an interesting statement of itself. In most MVS shops I've found that SAS is frequently used as the glue and duct tape itself, often in the role of a batch scripting facility.

    I've not seen how well it works with other Unix platforms, does it tend to fill more of a pure stats facility, since Unix has vastly better native scripting?

  • BTW: My friends who did SAS always took pains to remind me that you don't pronounce it 'Sass', but rather 'Ess Ay Ess'. It really
    chapped their balls to hear it the wrong way...


    Erm, I think your friends might have been having a laugh ... It is definitely pronounced "Sass", certainly that's the way everyone I know who uses it pronounces it. I have also been using it myself for about 10 years. Those at the SAS Institute (sales droids) call it "Sass" too.

    It is fairly well known (in the UK, at least) that the "Ess-Ay-Ess" is an elite regiment of the British Army ...
  • by droob ( 71208 )
    I somehow doubt he meant "ease of use". Configurability, yes. A bit more ease than the standard MS product, yes. But surely other environments would spring to mind first if "ease of use" was a major goal. What's the opposite of FUD?
  • Okay. I see your point. These are all the same things I miss when I boot into Win98 from BeOS.
    I just have a hard time swallowing the word "ease" along with the installation, configuration, and updating of any Linux distro.
  • by dpk ( 73475 )
    ...In my feeling RedHat is the desktop distribution of Linux, Slackware closer to the production server distro....

    I think SuSE is a much better desktop distribution than RedHat - its always on the cutting edge of XFree86 (Top execs are on the board) and KDE. And you also get 6 CDs of apps. I haven't found RedHat's niche yet... I do think that in the corporate US market, which is what SAS is targeting, RedHat has the strongest foothold in the Linux Server realm.
  • I want on a SAS course in Adelaide, South Australia 2 years ago, and ask about using SAS under Linux. I was told that they didn't officially support it, but that the the wizards at the SAS Institute had already gotten it working under Linux as an unofficial project.

    Given that it alreadly runs on so many Unix's, this should have need an almost no-brainer. Anyone at the Institute care to comment?

  • It's definitely pronounced "Sass".
  • This is one of the lamest thing about commercial Linux products. It makes people think of Linux as just another UNIX now being splintered into commercial factions. It ought to stop, before people just don't want to bother with it. I know I wouldn't bother if there were 30 different Linuxes to choose from and any given package only worked on a few of them. Choice is good, but lack of flexibility is not. Even when it's illusionary.

    Any differences between distros and Linux-flavours should be generic. If there are differences that ain't, somebody should do something about it.

    - Steeltoe
  • As an application design specialist, I'm deeply offended by your post. I develop solutions for my company's mission critical intranet e-business server. I use a combination of Visual Basic, Powerpoint, Lotus 123, Enterprise Java, Oracle 8i, Excel and SQL Server. They allow our customers scalable and robust e-commerce transactions to compete in the New Economy. We are a Fortune 500 corporation and we are looking for an integrated application design solution. Looks like SAS might be able to provide us with the tools to better serve our valued e-business-to-e-commerce customers.
  • First question: They will have to release it in .rpm, .deb, .tgz and any other package formats available. Second Question: Even if it works on Redhat, a related distro may use an older version of a package, ie libjpeg. Another example would be Corel compacting a 4 CD Debian distro into 1 CD. They may have tossed something important that SAS needs.
  • ...ease-of-use of Linux." Given their market, it's almost predictable that the first release is for Red Hat specifically...

    Why do so many men mistake RedHat for Linux. It's a distribution for God sake !!! I remember the time where slakware was the main distribution... and it sure wasn't easy....

    In my feeling RedHat is the desktop distribution of Linux, Slackware closer to the production server distro....

    My $0.02

  • Since this is commercial software, I'll assume it's not going to be OSS.seriously.

    The SAS community have a proud record of swapping code. An example is MXG - one of the major MVS resource monitoring tools.

    BTW, I believe that one of the reasons SAS does so well, though very quietly, is that it is a privately held company. The stock holders are committed to the company, as much as they are to making money. Of course, you don't need to produce as much editorial comment (to keep your name in front of the stock holders) either.

  • Everyone I know who works for SAS or is in anyway associated with SAS (which is quite a few since I live in the city where SAS is headquartered) pronounce it Sass.
  • You shouldn't be offended. It's just the "Real coders don't eat quiche" argument.

    There's a school of thought that states that if you use Assembler then you're a high level programmer. C is just about bearable if you only want to write a quick program that doesn't really do anything. You don't want to admit to using Java to these people. Being successful is no excuse.

    (Why do I get the feeling people are going to take this too seriously.)

    Real programmers use NMOS diagrams.

  • Linux is an operating system - software that helps applications and hardware work together - related to UNIX.
    Great! This means that I don't have to put up with either the bugginess/instability of Microsoft OSs, or with the complexity of Linux, or use any OS for that matter.

    After all, the operating system only helps... :)

    --

  • Except that SAS has been available on Unix for many years.

    Exactly; that's my point. Not that it's available for Linux, it makes Linux that much more viable for corporate clients.

  • Ummm - $75.00 for Solaris on as many systems as you want to install it on?

    I will admit that I haven't seen that price before, and it is excellent. The only glaring restriction is that it must be used on systems with 8 or less CPUs, but that's not really Linux's market anyway, now is it? ;-)

    Why use Linux if there's a real Unix available for next to nothing?

    There are a few reasons. Portability is one, and architecture support is another. Say I want to make a cheap x86 web server. Solaris rules the Sparc world, but with x86, there would be no reason to choose Solaris over Linux. (I've used x86 Solaris, and it's nothing to brag about.)

    Having said all of this, I'd choose FreeBSD over Linux. But the story wasn't about FreeBSD.

  • It is clear you have not used SAS before. SAS itself is not user friendly at all and dont follow any GUI standard apart SAS GUI standard, so all platforms have the same look and feel. A SAS user can easly be productive because it is the same user interface he is use to in other platforms. I have used SAS on mainframes, WNT and several UNIX flavors and I have to tell you, as expected WIN32 sucks as SAS platform. SAS is a very CPU/RAM intensive application and there is no reason to run it on a platform with those high hardware requirements as WINNT. Do not even try it at W95. I sure SAS over Linux will have a better benchmark results and lower hardware requirements than W32 platforms.
  • It's very significant for us. I am the sysadmin at the statistical office of a pediatric cancer research group collocated at the University of Florida. The Pediatric Oncology Group [ufl.edu]. We collect and analyze data from hospitals around the world participating in NCI sponsored pediatric clinical trials. We perform all of our data collection with Linux servers. We have one IBM AIX box which is used for SAS analysis and 12 Linux servers for everything else. We're looking forward to making the transition to homogeneous servers (linux).
  • There was some talk where I work (I work for a medical research group) about migrating off of the SAS platform due to it's lack of support for Linux about a year and a half ago. One very interesting argument was brought up against migration which I hadn't even thought about. SAS is the only statistical analysis tool which was been tested in a US supreme court case. I was told that there may be legal liabilities if an organization uses an analysis tool other than SAS. Something to think about... How would an free software app stand in court? --- * views expressed are my own and do not necessary represent those of my employer
  • As I read the announcement, the port was for "the SAS System". Presumably this includes all system components.

    What I understand of the SAS architecture is that it is largely platform independent, with the dependent stuff largely isolated into a (small?) number of modules. Probably less than 10% of the codebase. Meaning that you get a lot of portability bang for your programming buck.

    The SAS C Compiler is what SI themselves developed to build SAS itself. So it was probably one of the earlier technical ports to the Linux platform. Moreover, it's been generally known for a couple of years that SI have been running a compile farm based on FreeBSD, particularly for their Mainframe products. Smoke that.

    My guess is that SAS/Toolkit (the developers library) will be availble for Linux -- at a price. C'est la vie.

    What part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?

  • SAS's announcement is really great news for Linux, and it's something that users had been requesting for years, going back to a request by Christa Keil in 1993. There is no single solution providing the depth and breadth of data analysis and processing capabilities as SAS. I spent seven years as a SAS developer for clients in healthcare, banking, policy research, finance, biotech, and pharmaceutical sectors.

    Two years ago I launched the SAS4Linux [netcom.com] website and mailing list to focus the campaign. While it did generate interest from users, and responses from SAS Institute, I tend to think SI arrived at its own conclusions in deciding to market the port.

    As others have noted, there is a bit of "too little, too late" from a number of folks as well. I now count myself as a former (recovering?) SAS programmer. I've been sufficiently infected with free software concepts to feel that there are several things about SAS which could be improved. In fact, many of them have been, though they are approached in a number of different, and distinct, open source projects.

    The obvious next step is to provide some duct tape and wrapping around these tools to provide similar functionality (though not run-alike compatibility) to SAS. Stay tuned ;-)

    What part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?

  • Interesting observation. I guess in a way SAS is something of a Perl equivalent for the mainframe -- general, high-level, all-purpose, interpreted tool. Comparatively it's relatively inexpensive (though by no means cheap), as well.

    There are other MVS scripting tools though -- JCL has certain capabilities. REXX is also there, though I believe it's a relative newcomer. SAS's advantage is that it eats many common MVS file formats with relative ease. The same file-based inter-process communication method is used in both SAS programs and MVS jobs. Given that many MVS processes are heavily task, batch, and data oriented, it's a reasonably good fit.

    The main differences on Unix are that there is much more system interactivity -- jobs can be interactive or trigger interactive events -- and interprocess communication often occurs as a data pipe rather than a disk file. A data step or SQL view approximates the latter. Pipelines save scads of disk I/O, and are a really cool feature. If an entire set of processes can be pipelined (data streamed from beginning to end), processing can be much faster than if a file or dataset has to be generated and read at each stage.

    Unix is script-tool rich -- shells, sed, awk, Perl, Python, Tk,.... Yes. While some scripting tasks could be handled by SAS, you'd in general try to avoid doing this.

    What part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?

  • I won't comment on wether I consider SAS useful anymore, but there is a lot of dormant user experience out in the job market. Within our company SAS is quickly dying. Even two years ago almost all of our inhouse homgrown mission critical apps were programmed in SAS. There are many experienced SAS programmers within our company but a scant few are willing to admit it. With the more recent trends toward integrated applications with dumbed down GUI frontends the trend is clear. SAS is dying. Long live SAP.

    Maybe this will breathe some new life into SAS.

  • This is truthfully the last piece of software that I need which did not run under Linux. SAS has been the only thing that has kept other Unices in my data center for the last two years. This will make my life so much easier, as I will be able to work on my data and write papers from beginning to end with only my laptop and an occasional Internet connection (for Medline, etc.).

    I know I will have to wait a while until it is available, but this completely changes my long term planning for future hardware purchases.

  • SAS Institute already delivers solutions that run on all the major operating-system platforms, including the leading versions of UNIX (Solaris, HP-UX, AIX, and Tru64, with support for Project Monterey planned), as well as Windows 2000, Windows NT and mainframe operating systems.

    This company obviously has a thorough commitment to providing Unix solutions, and aren't stepping into the market with no grasp on the Unix ideals and concepts. Kudos for porting their product over to Linux!

    EraseMe
  • This is not a dumb question. I answer this all the time where I work. I encourage everyone who considers themselves to be a Linux Advocate to bone up on your distribution skills. Learn about each distro and what sets it apart and what makes it the same.

    Essentially, where I work, we are being told to test software on 4 different distros. We think it would be easier to just test on one distro and have them tell us what minimum kernel, etc we need to make the app work. But marketing wants to be sure it'll work on RedHat and Suse. They don't know that under the hood, they use the same code (essentially). They also don't want to put technical minimum rquirements on the box (it seems) because it's easier to just say "For use with RedHat 5.2" or similar. It's very hard to get people to understand why a distro isn't a flavor (like normal UNIX), especially if they are not technical at all.


    Bad Mojo
  • The press release isn't specific about the software products to be released. Can anyone comment about this?

    The SAS C Compiler is used quite extensively in the IBM mainframe world. It would be interesting to know if porting between Linux and MVS would be impacted by this announcement.

  • Everyone I know who works for SAS or is in anyway associated with SAS (which is quite a few since I live in the city where SAS is headquartered) pronounce it Sass.

    Hmmm... Perhaps they were pulling my leg, or maybe it is a West Coast thing. I was told that it was like 'SAP' which, should never be pronounced like it is spelled.

    Jack

  • Most of them have figured out, at least in the IT department, that MS products are useless for mission critical applications. Traditionally, the next step would be commercial Unix, but Linux is actually starting to be placed in the first round of options.

    Except that SAS has been available on Unix for many years. After being a SAS user for about 10 years, in 1995 I switched over to being a Unix network manager in a Solaris shop that used SAS.

    I also note that the method described in the "windowing" patent for Y2K fixes was available in SAS over 10 years ago.

    Anomalous: inconsistent with or deviating from what is usual, normal, or expected
  • Since this is commercial software, I'll assume it's not going to be OSS. All the same, it's very nice to hear "big names" taking Linux seriously.

    Most of them have figured out, at least in the IT department, that MS products are useless for mission critical applications. Traditionally, the next step would be commercial Unix, but Linux is actually starting to be placed in the first round of options. The feature/performance hit isn't as bad as it used to be, and it's a hell a lot cheaper than corporate licenses for Solaris or Tru64.

    IMHO, IBM's open support of Linux has probably done more than anything else to open corporate minds to it.

    This will get even better with 2.4.

    It's good to remember that, despite some opinions on Slashdot, Unix always has been and probably always will be primarily a server OS. The desktop is just an added bonus. Linux doesn't have a chance of touching Windows on the desktop for at least three more years anyway. (Things move fast in the computer world, but Average Joe PC is slow to change.)

    The marketshare to be gained by Linux in the present is in the server room.

  • by Duxup ( 72775 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2000 @11:10PM (#1201849) Homepage
    WARNING: Possible dumb question.

    SAS mentioned they're support the major distros.
    What do most people consider "major distros"?

    WARNING: Possible dumber question.
    What say would be some of the things that would keep a program working in say Generic Distro A, where it doesn't work in Generic Distro B?
    I've heard people mention "such and such doesn't work in X distro but it does in Y distro, but rarely why. Are there any major things that seem to keep things from working in one to the other distro?

    Could this become a stumbling block for smaller distro's acceptance if say 4 major distros get most of the support from most companies and the little distro's do not?
  • I don't much like SAS, but it is one of the biggest names in business software on the planet. Ghu knows how many companies have SAS software running one or more of their mission critical systems. Hell, my company uses it for Payroll!

    But if you every take a look at the development environment I guarentee you will shudder. Really weird stuff, with the data and the language all mixed up. I know some people who have worked with it in the past and they showed it to me and tried to explain it. I never really understood...

    But that opaqueness is apparently exactly why SAS consultants make the big bucks. Like Oracle; you get paid extra for learning lots of weird stuff that doesn't work anywhere else.

    So anyway, I guess this is great news for Linux. Given SAS, some decent database support and the work IBM has done recently porting Linux to big systems I believe it would be fair to crow a little! Linux is no longer a fringe OS, but is now becoming a major player in the business market. World domination is actually starting to seem plausible.

    BTW: My friends who did SAS always took pains to remind me that you don't pronounce it 'Sass', but rather 'Ess Ay Ess'. It really chapped their balls to hear it the wrong way...

    Jack

The UNIX philosophy basically involves giving you enough rope to hang yourself. And then a couple of feet more, just to be sure.

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