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  1. Technology
March 28, 1989


By CBR Staff Writer

Personal computer distributor Frontline Distribution Ltd has signed an exclusive UK distribution deal with Hunter Systems Inc, Mountain View, California for Hunter’s XDOS binary compiler and run-time package, which enables MS-DOS software to run under Unix. Frontline will be selling the software on to hardware manufacturers, software developers and end-users interested in migrating MS-DOS-based software onto Unix. XDOS enables MS-DOS packages to be converted in a on-off operation, regardless of the Unix target machine. Software developers can lease Hunter’s XDOS analyser, which produces a key file specific to the application: the process can sometimes be completed fully automatically within three minutes, but normally requires some programmer intervention, which may take a few days. Once a key file is produced, it can be run in conjunction with the original package and a machine-specific converter for the target machine. Key files for 14 mainstream packages, including Lotus 1-2-3, dBase, WordStar, Paradox and Framework are currently available, but Frontline plans to approach others with vertical market packages, and is setting up a conversion centre at its Basingstoke, Hampshire offices. According to Frontline’s Mike Cherry, XDOS will run 8086-based MS-DOS programs around 10 times the speed of a traditional emulation product, and between 70% and 90% as fast as the same application re-written from scratch for the target system. Sun 3/260 workstations are said to run the packages at 80386 speed, and are Frontline’s initial target market, but versions for Honeywell XP, NCR Tower and Sony News machines are also ready. Cost is UKP5,000 for a month’s lease of the analyser (a one off operation for each application package). Existing key files cost UKP90 (one user) UKP170 (four user) or UKP320 (eight user), and the machine-specific converter costs UKP450 for the Sun-2/60. Future developments from Hunter include an 80386 version, and software to convert MS-Windows applications to support X Window under Unix. Hunter is also working on several RISC versions, including the Motorola 88000, and a product to convert between the Computer Consoles Inc and Sun Sparc RISC chips, though Frontline hinted it would also be interested in an MS-DOS-to-IBM RT version.

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