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Unix Turns 40

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the keep-on-truckin dept.

Unix 254

wandazulu writes "Forty years ago this summer, Ken Thompson sat down and wrote a small operating system that would eventually be called Unix. An article at ComputerWorld describes the history, present, and future of what could arguably be called the most important operating system of them all. 'Thompson and a colleague, Dennis Ritchie, had been feeling adrift since Bell Labs had withdrawn earlier in the year from a troubled project to develop a time-sharing system called Multics (Multiplexed Information and Computing Service). They had no desire to stick with any of the batch operating systems that predominated at the time, nor did they want to reinvent Multics, which they saw as grotesque and unwieldy. After batting around some ideas for a new system, Thompson wrote the first version of Unix, which the pair would continue to develop over the next several years with the help of colleagues Doug McIlroy, Joe Ossanna and Rudd Canaday.'"

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Happy Birthday! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28242411)

Happy Birthday!

Wow! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28242521)

So I guess that makes Linux really 40 too. The dynamic new open source operating system is actually based on a 40 year old dinosaur. Sorry nerds, but Android is here, it's free, and Linus is going to be out of work.

Re:Wow! (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28242711)

I can't help but point out the obvious here, but Android is based upon linux.

Re:Wow! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28242729)

You do realize that Android runs on Linux right?

Re:Wow! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28242739)

Not to feed a troll, but in case you are as ignorant as you sound. Android uses the Linux kernel so Linus, et al. will most certainly not be out-of-work as you say. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Android_(operating_system) [wikipedia.org]

Correction (5, Funny)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 5 years ago | (#28242781)

A small correction to the submission:

Multics was believed to have stood for "Many Unnecessarily Large Tables In Core Simultaneously". ;-)

And to celebrate, it issued the command: (5, Funny)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 5 years ago | (#28242421)

find my_lawn -name kids* -exec rm -rf {} \;

Re:And to celebrate, it issued the command: (1)

russlar (1122455) | more than 5 years ago | (#28242561)

followed shortly by this one: wall "damn you cloud!"

Re:And to celebrate, it issued the command: (2, Informative)

MrMr (219533) | more than 5 years ago | (#28242597)

I think you meant "kids*"

Re:And to celebrate, it issued the command: (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28242651)

find: my_lawn: Permission denied

>>>You're too late old man. It's Our lawn now. ;)

mv /home/old_folks /retirement_home/

Re:And to celebrate, it issued the command: (4, Interesting)

Orp (6583) | more than 5 years ago | (#28242685)

Bah. Your command would fail. You need to escape the splat just like the semicolon:

find my_lawn -name kids\* -exec rm -f {} \;

However -exec is slow. Try:

find my_lawn -name kids\* | xargs rm -rvf

Verbose for your kid-removing satisfaction.

Oh, and happy birthday, UNIX! Without you my career would have undoubtedly been less interesting.

Re:And to celebrate, it issued the command: (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 5 years ago | (#28242863)

Bah. Your command would fail.

Only if there were files in his current working directory that matched the pattern "kids*". Granted, he should quote because he shouldn't depend on there not being any such files.

Re:And to celebrate, it issued the command: (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28242911)

Depends on which unix variant you were using, on sco unixware 2.0, you would have to quote and escape or you would get all kinds of screwed up output.

Re:And to celebrate, it issued the command: (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28243375)

Depends on which unix variant you were using, on sco unixware 2.0, you would have to quote and escape or you would get all kinds of screwed up output.

Screwed-up output from SCO?

I'm sensing a pattern here....

Re:And to celebrate, it issued the command: (5, Funny)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#28242907)

Without UNIX we wouldn't have:

  • wonderful, cryptic commands like 'ls, cp, rm, mv, etc.
  • awk, sed and Perl ('nuff said)
  • C ('nuff said)
  • silly recursive acronyms like GNU == GNU's Not Unix
  • mv lawn/kids /dev/null
  • old stupid jokes like "unzip; strip; touch; finger; fsck; while do; more; yes; more; yes; more; done; zip"
  • known the answer to the existential question "who am i"?

Re:And to celebrate, it issued the command: (2, Insightful)

multi io (640409) | more than 5 years ago | (#28243017)

find my_lawn -name kids\* | xargs rm -rvf

That'll fail to get a kid named "Joe Lawnmower" off your lawn, but will wipe out all lawnmowers and shoot all people named "Joe", including your grandfather.

Re:And to celebrate, it issued the command: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28243271)

Sometimes a joke is just a joke and sometimes a socially awkward pedantic nerd is just a socially awkward pedantic nerd.

Re:And to celebrate, it issued the command: (4, Funny)

that IT girl (864406) | more than 5 years ago | (#28243439)

But now he's a more efficient socially awkward pedantic nerd. -nods-

Re:And to celebrate, it issued the command: (2, Informative)

Wodin (33658) | more than 5 years ago | (#28243761)

Bah. Your command would fail. You need to escape the splat just like the semicolon:

Not necessarily. It depends on whether there are files/directories in the current directory that start with the string "kids" (and your shell's globbing rules). If there aren't, then everything works find. If there's only one, things might seem to work, but files/directories in subdirectories will not be found (and therefore removed).

find my_lawn -name kids\* | xargs rm -rvf

Which will break if you have spaces or tabs or newlines etc. in your filenames. Use this instead (I hope you have a reasonable version of find and xargs):

find my_lawn -name kids\* -print0 | xargs -0 -r rm -rvf

There. Fixed that for you. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28242691)

find my_lawn -iname 'kids*' -exec rm -rf {} \;

Unix is over the hill (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28242467)

We need a fresh new operating system like Windows 7.

Re:Unix is over the hill (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28242733)

and you need a slap in the face

Re:Unix is over the hill (0, Troll)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#28242779)

Fresh like a pile of garbage heaped on top of an older, more rotten pile of garbage.

Re:Unix is over the hill (5, Interesting)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 5 years ago | (#28242937)

Windows could take on board one thing from From Unix and be a much better product as a result: as David Korn (of ksh fame) says in TFA: "One of the hallmarks of Unix was that tools could be written, and better tools could replace them... It wasn't some monolith where you had to buy into everything; you could actually develop better versions.". Microsoft has a lot to learn. The progress from 1980's DOS to today's offering is pretty sad.

Re:Unix is over the hill (4, Insightful)

bytesex (112972) | more than 5 years ago | (#28243125)

Is that so ? Then why does Mac OS, for example, take a step back when it want to suddenly comply with UNIX ? The philosophy may be there, but the institution's grip is still firm. This is no slap on Mac OS, mind you - anyone and everyone can be silly enough to take -n out of echo for the simple sake of complying with a piece of paper instead of going with the times.

Windows has more and more Unix features (5, Interesting)

stoffer_k (1562849) | more than 5 years ago | (#28243389)

Did you notice that since Windows 3 Microsoft keeps adding Unix-like features? Windows 3 did not have _real_ multitasking, it came with WinNT. Windows NT was also a multi-user system, another Unix-like feature. With Windows Vista came the Windows power shell, M$ equivalent of Unix shell. In fact, Unix is an ideal, which Microsoft is approaching in each new Windows release.

Re:Windows has more and more Unix features (1)

calidoscope (312571) | more than 5 years ago | (#28243555)

This actually started before MS got a hold of DOS. QDOS/86-DOS was pretty much a clone of CP/M with UNIX like features.

Worth thinking about (5, Interesting)

Mannerism (188292) | more than 5 years ago | (#28242471)

Not a bad retrospective, and interesting in that it illustrates some of the reasons for Unix's success: availability of source, and the ability for the user to create and replace tools easily. One wonders how those lessons might be applied not necessarily to operating systems or even computing, but to other industries and technical endeavours.

Re:Worth thinking about (2, Interesting)

ctmurray (1475885) | more than 5 years ago | (#28242555)

I really liked the link, it really helped me get an overview. These great links are a great benefit of following slashdot.

Re:Worth thinking about (4, Interesting)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 5 years ago | (#28242921)

Not a bad retrospective, and interesting in that it illustrates some of the reasons for Unix's success: availability of source, and the ability for the user to create and replace tools easily.

Exactly. Unix has survived for as long as it has because it was built from, encouraged and profited from a culture of free innovation. Indeed, moreso that its actual code, I would argue that it is this culture that constitutes exactly what is meant by Unix.

Unix is not just an OS. It is a culture. Indeed, there is really no one "Unix" operating system. Or at least, no one widely used one called "Unix". Linux, BSD, OSX, BeOS, all can be called *nix systems. But what unifies them is not their internal mechanisms or algorithms or standards. What links them is the culture of the people who use them, and who build them. The idea of freely sharing tools, building on the work of others, understanding the whole of the machine, making magic happen with code; that is what Unix really is. You just don't see this kind of thinking in groups using other operating systems.

It's no surprise that the GPL and open source in general were born from the minds of Unix hackers. In many ways, the GPL only formalises the culture of academic openness, innovation and free sharing of ideas that existed throughout the Unix timeline. It's true that Unix was regarded by Big Corps as a money making excercise, but that's not how hackers saw it. They saw Unix and the programs that ran on it as part of their culture, and more importantly, heritage.

Unix has become more than source code or a framework. Is a significant part of our society. The norms and customs of Unix hackers have become their own tradition and even law in places. Unix and the hacker culture are a way our society has found to cope with the recent addition of computers, a way that has served well as the they and the internet become more and more pervasive. Like the old traditions and customs that founded our legal and civil systems, the Unix culture has formed the foundation of how we deal with the integration of computers into our lives.

The culture, traditions and ethics of Unix will probably outlast the lines of source that make up the programs, or the architectures they ran on. I expect Unix and hacker culture, or their descendants, will still be around in another 40 or 400 years, forming the philosophical foundation of a digital age.

Re:Worth thinking about (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28242981)

I think that The Open Group [opengroup.org] would disagree with your overly broad definition of Unix

Re:Worth thinking about (3, Interesting)

Guy Harris (3803) | more than 5 years ago | (#28243159)

I think that The Open Group [opengroup.org] would disagree with your overly broad definition of Unix

Then he needs to put a * in the right place; they can still whine about it [opengroup.org] , but they can't pretend the notion to which "Un*x" or "Unix-like" refers doesn't exist.

Re:Worth thinking about (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28243725)

-1, lives in hippie fantasy land.

I think you're forgetting that people had to pay AT&T, a bigger monopoly in its time than IBM and Microsoft combined, for a Unix source license and that they would to Very Bad Things to you if you broke that license. You're also forgetting Sun, HP, DEC, Apollo, and a host of other Unix vendors who were not at all about sharing freely or cooperating. (Granted, they're all dead now or nearly so.)

Your words are poetic but largely revisionist bullshit.

But life is just getting started... (2, Informative)

The Pirou (1551493) | more than 5 years ago | (#28242489)

40 is the new 30!

This makes Unix 15 years older than Tetris (5, Interesting)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#28242491)

Unix just turned 40, and Tetris just turned 25 [slashdot.org] . What do they have in common other than closely spaced birthdays? They were both first developed on PDP-11 hardware (Unix on a PDP-11, Tetris on a Russian clone). And they've both been cloned, early and often.

U.S. copyright explicitly doesn't apply to methods of operation. Title 17, United States Code, section 102(b) [bitlaw.com] . This makes it legal to "clone" a computer program by observing its method of operation. But SCO has tried to use copyright to shut down Unix clones, and The Tetris Company has tried to use copyright to shut down Tetris clones. SCO already lost its case (there is no copyrightable piece of Unix in Linux), but the other case (Tetris v. BioSocia) is still pending.

And despite Tetris inventor Alexey Pajitnov's expressed disdain for free software [slashdot.org] , two servers operated by Tetris (zone.tetris.com and www.tetrisfriends.com) are run using GNU/Linux.

Re:This makes Unix 15 years older than Tetris (4, Insightful)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 5 years ago | (#28243491)

Actually SCO argued that UNIX-clones weren't clones at all, but were using the same C code. Sure, they were full of shit, but what they were claiming IBM had done actually would have been a violation of copyright law.

Re:This makes Unix 15 years older than Tetris (2, Informative)

darkjedi521 (744526) | more than 5 years ago | (#28243515)

I belive Unix was first developed on a PDP-7 as PDP-11s did not yet exist in 1969.

Any documentaries? (1)

antdude (79039) | more than 5 years ago | (#28243677)

I watched two Tetris documentaries (can find the links to watch them on http://www.aqfl.net/?q=node/4263 [aqfl.net] ).

Are there any good ones on UNIX too?

God damn it! (0, Redundant)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 5 years ago | (#28242537)

Why does every one of these god damn things have to have a god damn birthday every god damn year?!

Re:God damn it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28243247)

40 is a pretty significant anniversary though do you not think?

Did they invent C too? (0)

SendBot (29932) | more than 5 years ago | (#28242541)

I really, really want to say that Ken and Dennis invented C to make unix but I'm not completely sure. I could look it up, but I'm interested to hear what people have to say here. I mean, they're the K&R of the original C book, right?

Re:Did they invent C too? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28242575)

No dumbfuck. Wrong K

Re:Did they invent C too? (5, Informative)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 5 years ago | (#28242579)

Yesss. (Expecting +5 Informative!)

Re:Did they invent C too? (5, Informative)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 5 years ago | (#28243395)

To the person who actually modded this ^^^ +1 Informative: This was an extremely feeble attempt at +5 Funny. But thanks for reminding me that I am on Slashdot where mods can be fooled into anything. (*I know, I will go to hell for this...*)

Re:Did they invent C too? (4, Informative)

iggymanz (596061) | more than 5 years ago | (#28242609)

Ritchie invented C, it's funny that Ken worked on B with some help from Ritchie, C was the successor to B

Re:Did they invent C too? (5, Informative)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 5 years ago | (#28242857)

I really, really want to say that Ken and Dennis invented C to make unix but I'm not completely sure. I could look it up, but I'm interested to hear what people have to say here. I mean, they're the K&R of the original C book, right?

No. The 'R' in "K&R" is indeed Dennis Ritchie, but the 'K' is Brian Kernighan.

Re:Did they invent C too? (5, Funny)

RDW (41497) | more than 5 years ago | (#28242935)

'I really, really want to say that Ken and Dennis invented C to make unix but I'm not completely sure. I could look it up, but I'm interested to hear what people have to say here'

For the definitive account, see:

http://www.galactic-guide.com/articles/2U20.html [galactic-guide.com]

'Dennis and I [Thompson] were responsible for the operating environment. We looked at Multics and designed the new system to be as complex and cryptic as possible to maximize casual users' frustration levels, calling it Unix as a parody of Multics, as well as other more risque allusions. Then Dennis and Brian worked on a truly warped version of Pascal, called 'A'. When we found others were actually trying to create real programs with A, we quickly added additional cryptic features and evolved into B, BCPL and finally C.'

Re:Did they invent C too? (3, Insightful)

Brandybuck (704397) | more than 5 years ago | (#28243291)

Informative? WTF? The moderators are once again smoking crack...

Re:Did they invent C too? (1)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 5 years ago | (#28243511)

Delicious strawberry flavored crack.

OH NO! My mod points!

Re:Did they invent C too? (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28243563)

Then Dennis and Brian worked on a truly warped version of Pascal, called 'A'. When we found others were actually trying to create real programs with A, we quickly added additional cryptic features and evolved into B, BCPL and finally C.'

I cannot believe Ken Thompson wrote this nonsense.

B was derived from BCPL, which was a simplified version of the CPL language, designed at Cambridge and London Universities in the mid-60s. It was too complex to implement at that time, hence BCPL (Basic CPL).

B was very much like BCPL except that it used { } to define blocks, instead of (* and *).

AND, the original article (and the one above) promulgate the canard that Multics was unsuccessful and unwieldy.

In terms of influence on other OS's Multics was probably THE most important OS in history.

And an absolute joy to work with. Hence the original intention of Unics (the original spelling) to be cryptic and confusing - the exact OPPOSITE of Multics.

Re:Did they invent C too? (2, Informative)

harry666t (1062422) | more than 5 years ago | (#28242965)

The first Unix was written in PDP-7 assembly. A "port" to PDP-11 involved a rewrite in PDP-11 assembly, and AFAIR the second or third (or fourth?) edition was the one to be the first that was written in a high-level, portable language (B or C? Can't remember). One thing I remember for sure is that early Unix has been rewritten several times.

Re:Did they invent C too? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28243005)

No. Actually, this Thompson/Ritchie thing is a long-running myth, I'm surprised no /. poster has exposed it yet. The real inventor of both Unix and C was Morton Downey, Jr., who was apparently too busy in his many other pursuits to file a claim for it.

Re:Did they invent C too? (3, Informative)

Holmwood (899130) | more than 5 years ago | (#28243047)

Not exactly. RTFA. Unix was originally written in assembler on a PDP-7 in 1969. Thompson developed B, and some Unix development continued using B on the PDP-7. Ritchie developed a successor, C, finishing in 1972; in 1973 Thompson ported most of the Unix kernel to C on a PDP-11.

So C wasn't developed to "create" Unix; Unix was a precursor. C was indeed designed for implementing system software though.

Brian Kernighan -- the K of K&R got involved in C development later, and was indeed one of the two authors of the seminal K&R.

The difference between Unix and Eunichs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28242577)

Eunichs don't have children [computerworld.com] .

Mod +1 informative -1 everyoneknowsthatalready.

A Quarter Century of Unix, the Book (4, Informative)

Fished (574624) | more than 5 years ago | (#28242599)

For those who haven't read it, this book is a GREAT read: A quarter Century of Unix [amazon.com] by Peter H Salus Highly recommended, and once you've read it you'll suddenly understand why a lot of stuff is the way it is. Hat's off to the Best. Operating System. Ever.

Happy 1.26227704e9 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28242631)

Happy 1.26227704e9

Meanwhile, in Redmond (3, Funny)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 5 years ago | (#28242645)

In honor of Unix's 40th anniversary, at 10:00 tonight there will be a celebratory Launching of the Chairs. It's open to the public, but seats are expected to go fast so you should plan to come early!

Re:Meanwhile, in Redmond (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28242709)

You are a giant douche bag

Re:Meanwhile, in Redmond (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28242925)

Wonderful. I bet they need quite a lot of douche to flush out the sand they've got in unsightly places.

Re:Meanwhile, in Redmond (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28242927)

Don't be so bitter. For such an enormous collection of programming talent, you-know-who has done very poorly indeed. Perhaps that's because it has been run by Legal and Accounting, and not by Tech. Admittedly, it has also been held hostage by its shareholders, but nobody forced them to take it public; the pre-load contracts alone would have ensured them plenty of money.

But it's not about having plenty, is it. It's about having everything.

Learn a bit about the past buddy boy, it tends to serve one well going forward.

Re:Meanwhile, in Redmond (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 5 years ago | (#28243179)

In honor of Unix's 40th anniversary, at 10:00 tonight there will be a celebratory Launching of the Chairs.

The ceremony opened with an impromptu speech by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer during which he declared: "I'll fucking kill UNIX, I've done it before and I'll do it again!".

Re:Meanwhile, in Redmond (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28243473)

~ballmer$ps aux|grep unix
0 vmunix
~ballmer$kill -9 0
NO CARRIER

An alternate point of view (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28242743)

http://web.mit.edu/~simsong/www/ugh.pdf [mit.edu]

"Two of the most famous products of Berkeley are LSD and Unix.
I don't think that is a coincidence."

Re:An alternate point of view (-1, Redundant)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 5 years ago | (#28242839)

I wondered how long it would be before some idiot posted a link to the Unix Hater's Handbook. Obviously even less time than I thought...

Re:An alternate point of view (1)

harry666t (1062422) | more than 5 years ago | (#28243003)

I always interpreted that quote as: "two of the greatest gifts for the humanity" :)

Re:An alternate point of view (3, Funny)

Guy Harris (3803) | more than 5 years ago | (#28243215)

http://web.mit.edu/~simsong/www/ugh.pdf [mit.edu]

"Two of the most famous products of Berkeley are LSD and Unix. I don't think that is a coincidence."

Neither of them were, of course, invented at Berkeley; one might, at best, argue that Berkeley perfected both of them. :-)

While Unix can read from stdin as good as ever... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28242771)

...there is much greater latency on opening stdout and even a few dribbles after eof.

Re:While Unix can read from stdin as good as ever. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28242975)

Are you saying UNIX can take it deep, but all it's holes are left dripping and sloppy?

glad GNU/Linux & BSD have stolen Unix(tm) thun (1)

iggymanz (596061) | more than 5 years ago | (#28242773)

Unix is grand, I consider the open source BSD and GNU/Linux flavors of Unix. But Unix(tm), I could tell that was starting to go downhill when they stopped including full C compiler with system, all of a sudden it wasn't a system one could extend as needed without paying serious coin. Most Unix(tm) meant being locked into one hardware vendor

Re:glad GNU/Linux & BSD have stolen Unix(tm) t (1)

Brandybuck (704397) | more than 5 years ago | (#28243339)

Every Unix I have used included a full C compiler. Maybe not as a default install, but definitely included on one of the CDs.

Re:glad GNU/Linux & BSD have stolen Unix(tm) t (1)

RLiegh (247921) | more than 5 years ago | (#28243501)

And I'm gonna guess it was probably the same compiler ...gcc.

What Unix taketh away, GNU giveth back.

fuck 4 dick (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28242775)

Not anymOre. It's

40 and still relevant (5, Interesting)

krisbrowne42 (549049) | more than 5 years ago | (#28242797)

Wow... 40 already.

When I started doing Unix Admin professionally Unix was just turning 30, Linux was poised to take over the Desktop, Mac OS X was just a glimmer of hope, and Sun was the king of commercial Unix.

When I started using Minix, Unix was only 20, but RMS was kvetching about source code (and Hurd was Coming Soon), BSD had just won it's freedom, and Steve Jobs was doing cool things over at NeXT. Unix was just leaving it's First "Golden Age"...

Now, at 40, Mac OS X is the most used Unix system, Sun was just bought cheap, most other commercial Unix systems are defunct... But with Android, Pre, and iPhone all putting *nix systems in the palms of millions, Macs selling more than ever, and many companies offering Linux pre-installed in the box, Unix is as relevant as ever.

Re:40 and still relevant (2, Interesting)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 5 years ago | (#28243037)

"Now, at 40, Mac OS X is the most used Unix system".

I do not think that phrase means what you think it means.

Re:40 and still relevant (4, Informative)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 5 years ago | (#28243203)

If you measure in terms of directly by consumers, yes. Also by number of machines, yes. OS X is the #1 selling Unix machine by number of units. By revenue, no.

Re:40 and still relevant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28243393)

"most used" != "most consumers" and also != "revenue". Linux is widely used in servers, Ballmer claimed 60% of servers are running Linux (the exact number is unknown, of course).
Also, the use of OS X on the desktop worldwide is exaggerated, the price difference really matters outside of the first world, I know more non-technical people using Linux than any kind of people using OS X.

Re:40 and still relevant (5, Informative)

mario_grgic (515333) | more than 5 years ago | (#28243373)

What do you think it means? OS X is certified (by the Open Group) UNIX, and it owns 8% of the desktop market. That's a lot of UNIX machines. Yes, other UNIX OSes dominate on the server (where OS X has no foothold at all), but I doubt there are as many server machines as there are client machines in general.

Re:40 and still relevant (-1, Flamebait)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 5 years ago | (#28243549)

Yeah, but it is a terrible Unix system. How the hell it got certified is beyond me. I'd rather slit my wrists than ever use headless Darwin again.

I mean, it's fine as a desktop OS (grand actually, I'd recommend it to anyone). But Darwin is evil.

Re:40 and still relevant (2, Informative)

krisbrowne42 (549049) | more than 5 years ago | (#28243489)

Let's answer two ways that could be taken... No, I didn't mean Mac OS X is 40, my grammar radar missed that possible interpretation. (Though being a hereditary Unix through NeXT, BSD4.4 and back, it could be considered such)

By any measure I have seen in the past 5 years, Mac OS X continually shows market penetration 5-8+ times that of Linux, compared to which any other Unix system usage can mostly be considered statistical noise.

That's not to say they don't have relevance or followers, but when it comes to getting the average user putting their hands on a Unix or Unix-like system, no other compares to Mac OS X, and that's not even counting embedded usage like the iPhone and iPod Touch.

Re:40 and still relevant (4, Funny)

Brandybuck (704397) | more than 5 years ago | (#28243309)

...and Hurd is still "coming soon".

p.s. The term "GNU/Linux" wouldn't be so repulsive if there actually were a GNU system that Torvalds bastardized by swapping out a kernel. But there is no such beast because Hurd remains unfinished. RMS publicly called the kernel the simplest part of an operating system, yet they still have not finished it.

Re:40 and still relevant (1)

kamochan (883582) | more than 5 years ago | (#28243505)

Hurdle :== Hurd, as in Turdle :== ...

And many happy returns! (1)

KwKSilver (857599) | more than 5 years ago | (#28242809)

Bravo!

exaggeration about Minix... (1)

at_slashdot (674436) | more than 5 years ago | (#28242823)

"But they may have come too late to stem a flood tide called Linux, the open-source operating system that grew out of Prof. Tanenbaum's Minix."

I think this is a bit of embellishment... Linux didn't grew out of Minix. Sure, Minix was useful, but to say that Linux grew out of it it's a bit of exaggeration.

Re:exaggeration about Minix... (4, Informative)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 5 years ago | (#28242951)

It's a load of horseshit, as Linus has repeatedly explained. Linux is not based on Minix. The architecture of the two kernels is completely dissimilar, and Linus has many times made his feelings known about what he thinks of microkernels.

Re:exaggeration about Minix... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28243237)

And Minux is not a clone of Unix, and early Minux had limited usability due to missing features and poor performance at the time Linus started his effort.

This article is significantly flawed in many other ways.

UNIX is Gay (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28242855)

UNIX is Gay.

It's so Gay.

Dear Gayness +1, Incendiary (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28242941)

Not as gay as software monopolist named MicroSLOP from Redmond, WA.

Yours In Socialism,
K. Trout

Re:UNIX is Gay (1)

hogleg (1147911) | more than 5 years ago | (#28242963)

actually, unix is not gay. its more asexual then anything else, and yes that thought is somewhat disturbing.

The Gospel of Tux (5, Funny)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 5 years ago | (#28243057)

Every generation has a mythology. Every millenium has a doomsday cult. Every legend gets the distortion knob wound up until the speaker melts. Archeologists at the University of Helsinki today uncovered what could be the earliest known writings from the Cult of Tux, a fanatical religious sect that flourished during the early Silicon Age, around the dawn of the third millenium AD...

The Gospel of Tux (v1.0)

In the beginning Turing created the Machine.

And the Machine was crufty and bogacious, existing in theory only. And von Neumann looked upon the Machine, and saw that it was crufty. He divided the Machine into two Abstractions, the Data and the Code, and yet the two were one Architecture. This is a great Mystery, and the beginning of wisdom.

And von Neumann spoke unto the Architecture, and blessed it, saying, "Go forth and replicate, freely exchanging data and code, and bring forth all manner of devices unto the earth." And it was so, and it was cool. The Architecture prospered and was implemented in hardware and software. And it brought forth many Systems unto the earth.

The first Systems were mighty giants; many great works of renown did they accomplish. Among them were Colossus, the codebreaker; ENIAC, the targeter; EDSAC and MULTIVAC and all manner of froody creatures ending in AC, the experimenters; and SAGE, the defender of the sky and father of all networks. These were the mighty giants of old, the first children of Turing, and their works are written in the Books of the Ancients. This was the First Age, the age of Lore.

Now the sons of Marketing looked upon the children of Turing, and saw that they were swift of mind and terse of name and had many great and baleful attributes. And they said unto themselves, "Let us go now and make us Corporations, to bind the Systems to our own use that they may bring us great fortune." With sweet words did they lure their customers, and with many chains did they bind the Systems, to fashion them after their own image. And the sons of Marketing fashioned themselves Suits to wear, the better to lure their customers, and wrote grave and perilous Licenses, the better to bind the Systems. And the sons of Marketing thus became known as Suits, despising and being despised by the true Engineers, the children of von Neumann.

And the Systems and their Corporations replicated and grew numerous upon the earth. In those days there were IBM and Digital, Burroughs and Honeywell, Unisys and Rand, and many others. And they each kept to their own System, hardware and software, and did not interchange, for their Licences forbade it. This was the Second Age, the age of Mainframes.

Now it came to pass that the spirits of Turing and von Neumann looked upon the earth and were displeased. The Systems and their Corporations had grown large and bulky, and Suits ruled over true Engineers. And the Customers groaned and cried loudly unto heaven, saying, "Oh that there would be created a System mighty in power, yet small in size, able to reach into the very home!" And the Engineers groaned and cried likewise, saying, "Oh, that a deliverer would arise to grant us freedom from these oppressing Suits and their grave and perilous Licences, and send us a System of our own, that we may hack therein!" And the spirits of Turing and von Neumann heard the cries and were moved, and said unto each other, "Let us go down and fabricate a Breakthrough, that these cries may be stilled."

And that day the spirits of Turing and von Neumann spake unto Moore of Intel, granting him insight and wisdom to understand the future. And Moore was with chip, and he brought forth the chip and named it 4004. And Moore did bless the Chip, saying, "Thou art a Breakthrough; with my own Corporation have I fabricated thee. Though thou art yet as small as a dust mote, yet shall thou grow and replicate unto the size of a mountain, and conquer all before thee. This blessing I give unto thee: every eighteen months shall thou double in capacity, until the end of the age." This is Moore's Law, which endures unto this day.

And the birth of 4004 was the beginning of the Third Age, the age of Microchips. And as the Mainframes and their Systems and Corporations had flourished, so did the Microchips and their Systems and Corporations. And their lineage was on this wise:

Moore begat Intel. Intel begat Mostech, Zilog and Atari. Mostech begat 6502, and Zilog begat Z80. Intel also begat 8800, who begat Altair; and 8086, mother of all PCs. 6502 begat Commodore, who begat PET and 64; and Apple, who begat 2. (Apple is the great Mystery, the Fruit that was devoured, yet bloomed again.) Atari begat 800 and 1200, masters of the game, who were destroyed by Sega and Nintendo. Xerox begat PARC. Commodore and PARC begat Amiga, creator of fine arts; Apple and PARC begat Lisa, who begat Macintosh, who begat iMac. Atari and PARC begat ST, the music maker, who died and was no more. Z80 begat Sinclair the dwarf, TRS-80 and CP/M, who begat many machines, but soon passed from this world. Altair, Apple and Commodore together begat Microsoft, the Great Darkness which is called Abomination, Destroyer of the Earth, the Gates of Hell.

Now it came to pass in the Age of Microchips that IBM, the greatest of the Mainframe Corporations, looked upon the young Microchip Systems and was greatly vexed. And in their vexation and wrath they smote the earth and created the IBM PC. The PC was without sound and colour, crufty and bogacious in great measure, and its likeness was a tramp, yet the Customers were greatly moved and did purchase the PC in great numbers. And IBM sought about for an Operating System Provider, for in their haste they had not created one, nor had they forged a suitably grave and perilous License, saying, "First we will build the market, then we will create a new System, one in our own image, and bound by our Licence." But they reasoned thus out of pride and not wisdom, not forseeing the wrath which was to come.

And IBM came unto Microsoft, who licensed unto them QDOS, the child of CP/M and 8086. (8086 was the daughter of Intel, the child of Moore). And QDOS grew, and was named MS-DOS. And MS-DOS and the PC together waxed mighty, and conquered all markets, replicating and taking possession thereof, in accordance with Moore's Law. And Intel grew terrible and devoured all her children, such that no chip could stand before her. And Microsoft grew proud and devoured IBM, and this was a great marvel in the land. All these things are written in the Books of the Deeds of Microsoft.

In the fullness of time MS-DOS begat Windows. And this is the lineage of Windows: CP/M begat QDOS. QDOS begat DOS 1.0. DOS 1.0 begat DOS 2.0 by way of Unix. DOS 2.0 begat Windows 3.11 by way of PARC and Macintosh. IBM and Microsoft begat OS/2, who begat Windows NT and Warp, the lost OS of lore. Windows 3.11 begat Windows 95 after triumphing over Macintosh in a mighty Battle of Licences. Windows NT begat NT 4.0 by way of Windows 95. NT 4.0 begat NT 5.0, the OS also called Windows 2000, The Millenium Bug, Doomsday, Armageddon, The End Of All Things.

Now it came to pass that Microsoft had waxed great and mighty among the Microchip Corporations; mighter than any of the Mainframe Corporations before it had it waxed. And Gates heart was hardened, and he swore unto his Customers and their Engineers the words of this curse:

"Children of von Neumann, hear me. IBM and the Mainframe Corporations bound thy forefathers with grave and perilous Licences, such that ye cried unto the spirits of Turing and von Neumann for deliverance. Now I say unto ye: I am greater than any Corporation before me. Will I loosen your Licences? Nay, I will bind thee with Licences twice as grave and ten times more perilous than my forefathers. I will engrave my Licence on thy heart and write my Serial Number upon thy frontal lobes. I will bind thee to the Windows Platform with cunning artifices and with devious schemes. I will bind thee to the Intel Chipset with crufty code and with gnarly APIs. I will capture and enslave thee as no generation has been enslaved before. And wherefore will ye cry then unto the spirits of Turing, and von Neumann, and Moore? They cannot hear ye. I am become a greater Power than they. Ye shall cry only unto me, and shall live by my mercy and my wrath. I am the Gates of Hell; I hold the portal to MSNBC and the keys to the Blue Screen of Death. Be ye afraid; be ye greatly afraid; serve only me, and live."

And the people were cowed in terror and gave homage to Microsoft, and endured the many grave and perilous trials which the Windows platform and its greatly bogacious Licence forced upon them. And once again did they cry to Turing and von Neumann and Moore for a deliverer, but none was found equal to the task until the birth of Linux.

These are the generations of Linux:

SAGE begat ARPA, which begat TCP/IP, and Aloha, which begat Ethernet. Bell begat Multics, which begat C, which begat Unix. Unix and TCP/IP begat Internet, which begat the World Wide Web. Unix begat RMS, father of the great GNU, which begat the Libraries and Emacs, chief of the Utilities. In the days of the Web, Internet and Ethernet begat the Intranet LAN, which rose to renown among all Corporations and prepared the way for the Penguin. And Linus and the Web begat the Kernel through Unix. The Kernel, the Libraries and the Utilities together are the Distribution, the one Penguin in many forms, forever and ever praised.

Now in those days there was in the land of Helsinki a young scholar named Linus the Torvald. Linus was a devout man, a disciple of RMS and mighty in the spirit of Turing, von Neumann and Moore. One day as he was meditating on the Architecture, Linus fell into a trance and was granted a vision. And in the vision he saw a great Penguin, serene and well-favoured, sitting upon an ice floe eating fish. And at the sight of the Penguin Linus was deeply afraid, and he cried unto the spirits of Turing, von Neumann and Moore for an interpretation of the dream.

And in the dream the spirits of Turing, von Neumann and Moore answered and spoke unto him, saying, "Fear not, Linus, most beloved hacker. You are exceedingly cool and froody. The great Penguin which you see is an Operating System which you shall create and deploy unto the earth. The ice-floe is the earth and all the systems thereof, upon which the Penguin shall rest and rejoice at the completion of its task. And the fish on which the Penguin feeds are the crufty Licensed codebases which swim beneath all the earth's systems. The Penguin shall hunt and devour all that is crufty, gnarly and bogacious; all code which wriggles like spaghetti, or is infested with blighting creatures, or is bound by grave and perilous Licences shall it capture. And in capturing shall it replicate, and in replicating shall it document, and in documentation shall it bring freedom, serenity and most cool froodiness to the earth and all who code therein."

Linus rose from meditation and created a tiny Operating System Kernel as the dream had foreshewn him; in the manner of RMS, he released the Kernel unto the World Wide Web for all to take and behold. And in the fulness of Internet Time the Kernel grew and replicated, becoming most cool and exceedingly froody, until at last it was recognised as indeed a great and mighty Penguin, whose name was Tux. And the followers of Linus took refuge in the Kernel, the Libraries and the Utilities; they installed Distribution after Distribution, and made sacrifice unto the GNU and the Penguin, and gave thanks to the spirits of Turing, von Neumann and Moore, for their deliverance from the hand of Microsoft. And this was the beginning of the Fourth Age, the age of Open Source.

Now there is much more to be said about the exceeding strange and wonderful events of those days; how some Suits of Microsoft plotted war upon the Penguin, but were discovered on a Halloween Eve; how Gates fell among lawyers and was betrayed and crucified by his former friends, the apostles of Media; how the mercenary Knights of the Red Hat brought the gospel of the Penguin into the halls of the Corporations; and even of the dispute between the brethren of Gnome and KDE over a trollish Licence. But all these things are recorded elsewhere, in the Books of the Deeds of the Penguin and the Chronicles of the Fourth Age, and I suppose if they were all narrated they would fill a stack of DVDs as deep and perilous as a Usenet Newsgroup.

Now may you code in the power of the Source; may the Kernel, the Libraries and the Utilities be with you, throughout all Distributions, until the end of the Epoch. Amen.

Intel begat the 8080 not 8800 (1)

calidoscope (312571) | more than 5 years ago | (#28243631)

FWIW, 8800 was the original designation for the iAPX-432.

QDOS was renamed 86-DOS before rights were sold to M$.

Where the Name Came From (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28243115)

Brian Kernighan, a long-time Bell Labs stalwart (and the guy who taught me C), coined "Unix" as a pun on Multics. He's also the man responsible for "Hello, world".

The True Legacy of UNIX (1)

hduff (570443) | more than 5 years ago | (#28243169)

The true legacy of UNIX and it's derivatives is that it will eventually reduce a significant bit of technology to a fungible good, a universal commodity. Then the real fun begins.

that was good management! (1)

basiles (626992) | more than 5 years ago | (#28243333)

What is scary (or at least very sad) today is that very probably no manager would let a few brilliant programmers to develop their own system during a couple of years: in academia, publishing is much more important that working on a big software system, and in industrial R&D, one could no more work for a couple of years on a brand new software.

Current managers would look with scare at their spreadsheet and would not let that kind of things happen anymore in 2009, and I still think it is really a pity, and we could get some really innovative systems if R&D was managed differently today.

Re:that was good management! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28243729)

A good point. As an addendum, one should note that UNIX did have to be justified later, and it was. As a text processing system. One could glimpse that in the article briefly, when it mentioned that the first use outside of the department was for typists.

This is how the old [n]roff text formatting system came about.

Eunuchs (4, Funny)

Brandybuck (704397) | more than 5 years ago | (#28243363)

Eunuchs® is a trademark of Ball Labs.

let there be pipes (3, Interesting)

epine (68316) | more than 5 years ago | (#28243517)

I've encountered bits and pieces of Unix hagiography for the last 15 years, and in all that time, I've internalized that "Multics sucks" (somewhere alongside the virgin birth), yet I can't bring to mind a single reason *why* Multics sucked. Were the Romans really so stupid as they are made out to be?

From Fernando J. Corbató's 1991 Turing lecture [mit.edu] concerning one of Muttlix's early teething problems:

The decision to use a compiler to implement the system software was a good one, but what we did not appreciate was that new language PL/I presented us with two big difficulties: First, the language had constructs in it which were intrinsically complicated, and it required a learning period on the part of system programmers to learn to avoid them; second, no one knew how to do a good job of implementing the compiler.

So, perhaps, not the best suited language for systems programming?
From Wikipedia:

The goal of PL/I was to develop a single language usable for both business and scientific purposes.

Doesn't that vision give your average PHB a throbbing chum? If simplicity is hard, let's scale up the mediocre talent and do sameness instead.

PL/I was designed by a committee drawn from IBM programmers and users drawn from across the United States, working over several months.

No sociology experiment from the 1960s was complete without confederates in white shirts. The free-love hippies managed to sneak into the language promiscuous data type conversions.

Dijkstra summed it up in 1975 with his monograph
How do we tell truths that might hurt? [virginia.edu]

PL/I --"the fatal disease"-- belongs more to the problem set than to the solution set.

God, I love this guy. He's the patron saint of annoying the hell out of people by always being right, and putting a fine point on it. Same monograph includes another famous zinger:

APL is a mistake, carried through to perfection. It is the language of the future for the programming techniques of the past.

From Myths about Multics [multicians.org]

We wrote 3000 pages of the Multics System Programmer's Manual first, while waiting for the PL/I compiler.

That should strike a painful nerve in anyone who tried to adopt the C++ STL in 1994.

Ouch. Shipwrecked on the beach of half a programming language, fondling your monads.

Not half surprising that Thompson ended up carving his own canoe with a pen knife to escape.

What came before? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28243545)

Speaking from the point of view of someone who wasn't born when Unix was invented, I have a hard time seeing what was revolutionary about it. I realize that this is because almost all of the operating systems which came after cribbed heavily from the Unix paradigm, and Unix doesn't look special because non-Unix-inspired OSs don't exist anymore. (There are non-Unix OSs, but all of them use concepts which Unix pioneered.)

So could an old salt fill us young-un's in? What was it like before Unix? What did Unix change? Is there a way to make someone who has only ever used WinDos/Mac/*nix machines understand how Unix changed the OS landscape?

UNIX! (5, Funny)

darth dickinson (169021) | more than 5 years ago | (#28243627)

I know this!

UNIX and FORTRAN will still be there in 2100 (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 5 years ago | (#28243695)

Old computer languages/systems seem to never die.

WTF!? (1)

ThePhilips (752041) | more than 5 years ago | (#28243741)

Unix. [...] what could arguably be called the most important operating system of them all.

WinNT is the most important OS of them all: they even had UNIX reinvented dozen of times already.

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