Win9x, WinNT, or Win2000

T

Thread Starter

Townsley, Bill

Hi all,

I am in the (very) preliminary steps of creating a new control system. I am also in a unique position that this is a grass-roots installation. As such there are an awful lot of options available. The only constraint that I
have is the actual PLC hardware...it will be a SLC 500 series since they currently have some SLC 5/0x hardware that was moved over from another
location (but not installed). I am also hoping to leave the future expansion end of things wide open. That is, I will want to add Internet
capability, PalmPilot capability, etc. in the future. The overall system is pretty small with less than 500 I/O points. HMI software is also yet to be decided.

I was looking at using Ethernet for the control backbone and a separate Ethernet for the 'office' backbone. I was also looking at using an OPC
server and RS Linx to serve the data from the PLC's (~ 3) to the Operator stations and Engineering stations.

So, getting to the point...what OS do you think I should use: Win9x, WinNT, or Win2000?

Thanks for any advice.

Bill.
 
Wow Bill, that's a tall order. It sounds like you are building the architecture from scratch, which is the best place to start.
The company I work for, WebDock Information Systems and Automation, focuses on connecting Allen Bradley hardware, like your SLCs, to enterprise networks as well as setting up new network installations.
From 1000 miles up, I would initially recommend Windows NT as your O/S basis. That is primarily what we recommend, depending on the plant. NT has much better security features than 95 and is used by many large scale plants. Win 2000 is not fully tested and fully supported by all automation vendors in my opinion. It all depends on the timing of your installation. In the far term, like a year or so, Win 2000 may be your better option, but for right now NT is still the market standard (that we have seen).

As far as expandability and information serving goes, Ethernet is definitely the answer for information network. A solid ethernet (separated from the office network is a good plan) can start with a couple SLCs and expand up to a systems we have worked with on the order of several hundred PLCs serving data to hundreds of plant floor workstations and office PCs.
For HMI, there are many good packages out there, each one best suited to a certain installation. I would recommend looking at Rockwell's RSView for mid level installation or possibly GE's Cimplicity system for high level integration over the ethernet network.

It sounds like you have a great opportunity to seriously enhance your plants capabilities but at the same time have a difficult task of determining proper architecture ahead of you. If you would be interested, WebDock could certainly help you out with some of these decisions. You could contact me at [email protected], or check us out at www.webdock.net

And good luck to you!
 
Hi Bill,

Anyone who would use Windows 9x/ME in a business or industrial application *deserves* the problems that they will inevitably have. Win 95/98/ME is an OS barely suited to the home user...

If you don't already have NT4.0 systems to support or installed then I would go with Windows 2000. The stability of Win2k is great. I have many Win2K systems deployed in SoftPLC applications and performance/stability is
excellent! If you have any questions about W2K and automation/control, please feel free to contact me.

Is your background primarily Windows operating systems? There is an effort to create a Free programmable controller on Linux with HMI and drivers at www.puffinplc.org Unfortunately, it is in its very early stages and the support your are looking for is just not there yet. You might check it out though...

Regards,

Phil Covington
vHMI Automation LLC
http://www.vhmiautomation.com
phi[email protected]
 
C

Curt Wuollet

Hi Bill

I'd opt for d): none of the above. Ron Gage has tools for AB Ethernet I believe and your system would cost a lot less and have better uptime
if you used Linux. Instead of reinventing the wheel, you would be doing extremely valuable groundbreaking work and could draw on the Linux
automation community we have established at linuxplc.org.

Regards


Curt Wuollet
 
A

Alex Pavloff

> So, getting to the point...what OS do you think I should use:
> Win9x, WinNT, or Win2000?

Without a doubt, NT. If you have to have Windows, and its just going to be sitting there without any user interaction most of the time, use Windows NT. Windows 9X doesn't have the long term reliability of NT (of course, exceptions abound), and Windows 2000 is still fairly new.

Windows 2000 is a much better desktop operating system than Windows 9X and Windows NT, but I have yet to come up the "must have" reason to run it on a server.
 
F

Fred A. Putnam

Definitely Win 2000, Microsoft's latest. In our 2 years of experience with Win
2000, it has proved to be as easy to set up as Win9x and as crashproof as NT.

Regards,

Fred 11/2/2000
 
R

Ralphsnyder, Grayg

NT.

You can lock the box down enough to keep out unwanted 'operator hackers'. It is reasonably stable enough for use as an OS for operator interfaces or engineering workstations. As always, I wouldn't use a PC as a controller
except in instances where the process being controlled can withstand the effects of a PC crash. Dells are decent.

95 is too hackable and 2000 is too new.

10BT is plenty network for your brief description. Good move on separating business and process networks. You can use a dedicated pc to serve process data to the business network if needed.

Take a look at the Wonderware offerings for an operator interface. NT works well with the AB PLC softwares as well as with the Wonderware product.

Grayg Ralphsnyder
 
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Ranjan Acharya

Which OS? Anything except Win9X, especially if you want security and a modicum of stability.

Some of the AB products are still not all the way there for Win2000 (we have had a few minor problems, note the emphasis on minor), so WinNT might be a good short-term compromise if you want minimal hassles. On the flip side, Win2000 will replace WinNT and AB will eliminate the problems in future service releases or new versions. Win9X is not true 32-bit (no matter how you slice it, it is a 32-bit extension on top of 16-bit DOS for the i80X86 whereas NT was originally written as a true 32-bit multi-tasking multi-threaded OS for the MIPS CPU and then ported to the i80X86), it is unsecure and it crashes more than either NT or 2000. Note that if you are serious about security then you need to check out places like
http://www.sans.org/ and http://support.microsoft.com/ as well as various
MSCE texts and other books at your local bookshop. NT and 2000 are relatively not secure out of the box and require a lot of coaxing via
policies and registry restrictions (and service releases / service packs from http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com/). A good place to look for hints on locking down systems is http://www.jsiinc.com/. For a nominal fee
(US$49) you can load their NT/2000 tips. Alternatively you can browse them for nothing on the Internet. Do not forget to invest in the Resource Kit from Microsoft too.

In my personal experience, most of us Systems Engineers and Systems Technicians are really sloppy when it comes to security. I have seen dozens of systems with out-of-the-box Windows that get hacked to death by bored operators (golf games, pornography, wild / outrageous desktop schemes, actual [accidental?] deletion of software and so on).

Do not let any MIS people talk you into placing all the systems on their MIS network. Using the MIS routers / switches, get your own control segment with 192.168.X.X IP addresses. The server is the only place where MIS might want to read stuff from. Get them to close all the unnecessary TCP ports via SERVICES that no one needs (e.g., FTP and TELNET).

RJ
 
Bill,

All of the RSI software you require, including RSLinx, RSLogix, and RSView will run in a safe and stable fashion on Windows 2000. As that will be the most prevalent and supported OS on most of the PC's you are likely to buy, that's the one I would use.

The only caveat I can offer is that the classic 1747-PIC interface to the DH485 protocol does not work in Windows 2000 because of the more robust
HAL. I have worked around this with 1747-KE or 1770-KF3 modules, or with Ethernet / DH485 passthrough functions in the SLC-5/05 controllers. I have even used USB/RS232 converters with the KE or KF3 devices (to avoid
tying up my serial port).

As others have said, if you have a large installed base of Windows NT equipment, by all means keep it and run Service Pack 6. Otherwise I'd run regular old Windows 2000 workstations.

Good luck,

Ken Roach
Rockwell Automation
Seattle, WA
 
R

Ranjan Acharya

<clip>
I'd opt for d): none of the above. Ron Gage has tools for AB Ethernet I believe and your system would cost a lot less and have better uptime
if you used Linux.
</clip>

Nothing against Linux, but I don't think that AB have RSView for Linux yet or RSLogix for Linux yet.

RJ
 
J
Most industrial software is certified to run on certain operationing systems and service packs. I suggest you use the one specified by the HMI manufacturer. Choose NT over 9x of course. In fact, when calling for support on these products the manufacturer will usually ask you what OS you are using first. If your not using the right one, they will tell you call back when you are.


Jay Kirsch
Macro Automatics
2985 E. Hillcrest Drive, Ste 101
Thousand Oaks, CA 91362
[email protected]
 
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Robert Dusza

Bill,

I would not use Win9X. Don't know much about W2K, haven't used it yet. We have two SCADA systems installed and using WinNT. One is for the
water plant and the other is for the wastewater plant. WinNT is very stable and so long as you don't add software that has not been checked out you will be ok.

Good luck.

Bob
 
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Curt Wuollet

Hi RJ

And they never will without demand from folks who want to use Linux tools. Nothing says you can't program the PLC's with MS conversely, that doesn't mean you need MS at runtime. There are Linux SCADA packages and even whole process controls systems. This is one of the reasons I started the Linux PLC project, the vendors are getting very close to _depending_ on MS and that is not acceptable to us where life or property are at risk. Accepting a known risk like that is gross negligence. I'll put it this way, would you want your Iron Lung running Windows98? Linux is doable if you want to do it.

Regards

cww
 
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Ranjan Acharya

<clip>
And they never will without demand from folks who want to use Linux tools. Nothing says you can't program the PLC's with MS conversely, that doesn't
mean you need MS at runtime. There are Linux SCADA packages and even whole process controls systems. This is one of the reasons I started the Linux PLC project, the vendors are getting very close to _depending_ on MS and that is not acceptable to us where life or property are at risk. Accepting a known risk like that is gross negligence. I'll put it this way, would you
want your Iron Lung running Windows98? Linux is doable if you want to do it.
</clip>

Don't beat up us Systems Integrators about the OSs. We use whatever the customer wants. They usually know what they want e.g., they are a Siemens shop or A-B shop. Sometimes they ask for advice -- typically a choice between (for example) RSView or Wonderware (the OS is pre-determined at that point). I will use Unix, Linux, Windows NT or even Windows 9X or anything
else for that matter. It is the customer's choice. I can only advise and consult. It is not my job or place to hammer them.

The politics of dependence on Microsoft are irrelevant to me (I don't necessarily like it either, their OSs are not particularly brilliant). I enjoy the fact that Linux is coming along and will (in the near future) be
able to offer alternatives to Microsoft. I look forwards to a major vendor such as CiTect, Allen-Bradley / Rockwell, Siemens, Wonderware, Parker,
Cutler-Hammer ... bringing out non-MS systems as an alternative.

Until the major vendors (or a brand new vendor appearing like CiTect but with a Linux solution) choose to provide an alternative to Microsoft, I
cannot see recommendations to end-users who want to deal with a major vendor about Linux being particularly useful. For example, if they are an A-B shop and want to know the best OS to run their AB applications on. AB's "soft PLC" for example, runs on plain out-of-the-box NT -- is that a good idea? Perhaps yes, perhaps no. For an A-B shop, the alternatives to A-B are
irrelevant because they are not suddenly going to buy someone else's Linux "soft PLC" that does not run their A-B ladder or use RSLogix.

Also, as a Systems Integrator going to a customer that has several different automation vendors with several different OSs is a little bit more difficult than a customer who has standardised around one or two vendors with one or two OSs (there are only so many OSs that a laptop and average-sized brain can support) -- little boxes in the corner that are still running CP/M that
no one knows about are excluded! I do not think that the customers like it much either because their technicians and engineers waste a lot of time training on stuff that they will not use enough to become proficient in.

RJ
 
C

Curt Wuollet

I'm not beating on you, I'm stating fact. What you say is a reasonable attitude. The problem is that we quickly run into the chicken and egg dilemma. We can't use it until vendors support it and the vendors won't support it because no one
is using it. To attempt to break this cycle in less than 5 years or so, I am asking that systems integrators ask about Linux tools and profess interest in a cheaper more stable environment. There is absolutely no down side to having a choice. Your customers _will_ begin asking about Linux because they will be using it for mission critical enterprise software and for internet services. It would be good to get the ball rolling now so that we can offer it 2 or 4 years from now. I expect it will take about a year of professionals asking about it to get the vendors interested and another year or two to port anything. In the meantime we could use some pioneers (with willing customers) to demonstrate that it can be done and is in fact a superior solution after you get past the roadblocks
Microsoft is putting up to prevent you from choosing anything else. I am one but, I am also on the excrement roster of many vendors and cannot be perceived as abjective. That's why I suggested it. A paradigm change is _always_ good
for business.

Regards

cww
 
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