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The Strange Birth and Long Life of Unix

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the not-quite-over-the-hill dept.

AT&T 293

riverat1 writes "After AT&T dropped the Multics project in March of 1969, Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie of Bell Labs continued to work on the project, through a combination of discarded equipment and subterfuge, eventually writing the first programming manual for System I in November 1971. A paper published in 1974 in the Communications of the ACM on Unix brought a flurry of requests for copies. Since AT&T was restricted from selling products not directly related to telephones or telecommunications, they released it to anyone who asked for a nominal license fee. At conferences they displayed the policy on a slide saying, 'No advertising, no support, no bug fixes, payment in advance.' From that grew an ecosystem of users supporting users much like the Linux community. The rest is history."

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No support, no bug fixes (-1, Offtopic)

CmdrPony (2505686) | more than 2 years ago | (#38240986)

This is also why many people prefer Windows and Mac OSX. They want support and bug fixes.

Re:No support, no bug fixes (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38241082)

"in 2008 Microsoft confirmed a vulnerability in Internet Explorer, which affected some versions that were released in 2001"
i rest my case

Re:No support, no bug fixes (-1, Flamebait)

CmdrPony (2505686) | more than 2 years ago | (#38241114)

Now that's a good support cycle, almost 10 years. How long Firefox has? At most a few months, but seeing their recent release cycle it looks like two weeks.

Re:No support, no bug fixes (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38242012)

you want the bugfixes? download the new version.. wtf?

Re:No support, no bug fixes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38241976)

Didn't your beloved Apache web server have a major security vulnerability for just as many years? Despite it being open source...

Re:No support, no bug fixes (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38241138)

Most people prefer Windows because most people are idiots.

Re:No support, no bug fixes (1)

CmdrPony (2505686) | more than 2 years ago | (#38241172)

Are you saying all gamers are idiots?

Re:No support, no bug fixes (1, Insightful)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#38241220)

No, some gamers don't prefer Windows, they just boot it as a second OS to play.

Re:No support, no bug fixes (1)

CmdrPony (2505686) | more than 2 years ago | (#38241324)

I also prefer it as desktop OS, and not just for games. I use Linux on servers because that's where it shines best, but Linux in general either doesn't have the desktop programs I want or they're poor options. Like for example I love PHPEdit for editing php files, like I do with Visual Studio for .NET programs. Linux lacks compared to those, especially if you want to develop with C# or any other sane higher level language or for Windows. Another case is photo editing. There's both Photoshop and Paint Shop Pro along with several video editing programs and website designing programs like Artisteer [artisteer.com] . Those don't support Linux and there just isn't anything equivalent. Linux totally lacks on software catalog side of things. There just isn't any programs available.

Re:No support, no bug fixes (-1, Troll)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#38241678)

> There's both Photoshop ...which is a pro tool for professionals and comes with a pro price tag.

You are a poser loser and possibly a pirate.

Re:No support, no bug fixes (1)

abigor (540274) | more than 2 years ago | (#38242004)

The good old ad hominem attack. I guess the truth hurts.

Re:No support, no bug fixes (3, Informative)

stanlyb (1839382) | more than 2 years ago | (#38241716)

Actually, KDevelop, Anjuita, SourceNavigator, Kylix are pretty good IDE for linux. And MSVS compared to Borland IDE (CodeGear now) sucks, to say it plainly.

Re:No support, no bug fixes (-1, Offtopic)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 2 years ago | (#38241836)

One day you'll use an IDE that doesn't suck and will immediately have a different opinion.

Re:No support, no bug fixes (3, Interesting)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | more than 2 years ago | (#38241848)

any other sane higher level language

Is Java an insane higher level language? What about Eclipse, which works well with a whole range of high AND low level languages?

There just isn't any programs available.

I find that most of my needs are met. In fact, a lot of the programs I use on Windows were ported from Linux. The only piece of software I pay for (a developers merge tool) had it's origins on Windows, but they sell a Linux port - presumably in recognition of the fact that so many professionals find Linux machines productive.

If you want to do C#, Monodevelop is available, although was distinctly inferior to it's Windows progenitor, SharpDevelop, the last I looked. But that's also true of Mono itself, IMHO. Aristeer is written in C#, so in principle there's no reason it couldn't be run on Mono / Linux, unless it uses some of the features that Mono hasn't caught up with yet.

For PHP (and a host of other things too) there's Komodo IDE (with it's free / Open counterpart Komodo Edit).

You probably have a point on the media side of things. But I think a media person could justifiably prefer OS X to Windows.

Re:No support, no bug fixes (-1, Flamebait)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 2 years ago | (#38241968)

Leave programming to the professionals, ta.

Re:No support, no bug fixes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38242040)

So you prefer the programs that run on Windows, but I still don't hear an argument for Windows itself.

Re:No support, no bug fixes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38242232)

And what's the problem with Windows 7? It boots fast, doesn't crash, the file system is reliable, and its memory footprint is smaller than OS X or Ubuntu. My only real complaint is that the included commandline tools are weak.

Re:No support, no bug fixes (1, Interesting)

toadlife (301863) | more than 2 years ago | (#38242228)

Also, try to find a Linux equivalent to WinMerge. There is none. KDiff is the closest you can get, but not close enough. I've been using Linux to compile Android kernels and WinMerge is perfect for getting a high level view what the various kernel devs (who don't use git properly) have done to the stock Samsung kernel source.

I resorted to Running WinMerge under Wine. It crashes whenever I do certain functions, but the native linux alternatives are so bad that I put up with it.

And don't get me started on gnome. Holy crap what an abomination. I used to enjoy the KDE 3.x series on my FreeBSD desktops. It was functional and relatively customizable, but this transition of the linux community to gnome boggles my mind, even with the clusterfuck that Kde 4.x series was/is. KDE 3.x is still better than the current Gnome IMO.

And before anyone replys, yes, I know I can choose a distro that uses KDE or install it myself. I've been around that block, and will be doing it again soon.

-1 Flamebait

Re:No support, no bug fixes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38241376)

No, just the ones who don't know how to install and use wine.

Re:No support, no bug fixes (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38241644)

If you said that before the NT6.x release (Windows Vista/7) I'd totally agree with you.

However, like it or not, but Windows 7 is not the best platform to develop for. Those who don't know that the GUI != the OS are the real idiots.

We're talking distributed object orientated, self-healing, fully modular microkernel stuff with the most powerful API's here. They just didn't whack some Disney sauce upon it like Apple, but apple is like a thin layer of chrome over a scrapyard; shiny, but worthless.

Re:No support, no bug fixes (5, Insightful)

darkonc (47285) | more than 2 years ago | (#38241304)

Well, if you read the Microsoft EULA, you'll notice that they don't promise bug fixes either. It just isn't advertised that way (although they definitely do supply advertising)... and sometimes the support just consists of "yes, I think that's unfortunate, too".

Re:No support, no bug fixes (3, Informative)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | more than 2 years ago | (#38241598)

Unless you buy windows on a disk in a cardboard box, the only support you will get is some minimum wage tech in india employed by dell/hp/etc.

Servers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38242064)

Come on dude, we're talking about server systems here, not desktop unix which isn't exactly a "consumer" product. FYI, only a handful of linux people actually want linux to "take over the desktop". The rest of us have already preferred it for 15 years.

Future (5, Insightful)

masternerdguy (2468142) | more than 2 years ago | (#38240990)

I can see some form of UNIX making it to the 22nd century and beyond.

Re:Future (5, Funny)

swanzilla (1458281) | more than 2 years ago | (#38241098)

I can see some form of UNIX making it to the 22nd century and beyond.

+1 Forth-sightful

Re:Future (1, Informative)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | more than 2 years ago | (#38241300)

Fail. That's:

1 + Forth-sightful.

Re:Future (1)

tangent (3677) | more than 2 years ago | (#38242158)

Are you sure? I would have thought it would be

1 Forth-sightful +

Re:Future (5, Funny)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#38241100)

Not the 32bit versions though. They wont make it past 2038.

Re:Future (1, Insightful)

CmdrPony (2505686) | more than 2 years ago | (#38241370)

That's easy to fix, just reset the timer. We should change 0 to 2000 anyway, it's much better place for it than 1970.

Re:Future (4, Insightful)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38241602)

Just before 2038, there will be tons of hype about "The End of the Epoch!", just like "Happy New Year 2000! Nothing works anymore!" Plenty of work for onery, old C programmers like me, with lawns to get off of.

After 2038, when everything is still working despite dire predictions, we will have to wait a bit for the next opportunity, when the 64 bit epoch runs out . . .

Re:Future (5, Informative)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 2 years ago | (#38241732)

After 2038, when everything is still working despite dire predictions, we will have to wait a bit for the next opportunity, when the 64 bit epoch runs out . . .

64-bit Unix time will run out on December 4, precisely at 3:30:08 PM, 292,277,026,596 AD. It will be a Sunday.

By then I fully expect computers will already have migrated well into the gigabytes-per-machine-word range, or will no longer be using bits as we know them. Either that, or we'll have encountered the heat death of the universe, so it will be irrelevant.

Version 1, shirley? (1)

Nimey (114278) | more than 2 years ago | (#38241038)

since the old versions were known as Version 5, Version 7, and so on.

Re:Version 1, shirley? (1)

Coeurderoy (717228) | more than 2 years ago | (#38242174)

System I, I think System II got the "versions", then they "jumped" to System III, although many people allready had sidejumped to Berkeley.
But indeed it started with System, not versions, (but the "versions" made it popular :-))
I found particularly interesting the "programmers work bench" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PWB/UNIX [wikipedia.org] wich had all kinds of cool programming and text processing tools :-)

So THEY invented "RTFM!" (0)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 2 years ago | (#38241070)

eventually writing the first programming manual for System I in November 1971
From that grew an ecosystem of users supporting users much like the Linux community.

For those few who are new here and don't know what RTFM means, read the RTFM!

Re:So THEY invented "RTFM!" (2)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 2 years ago | (#38241870)

For those few who are new here and don't know what RTFM means,

which obviously includes you because otherwise you would not have written:

read the RTFM!

UNIX family tree (5, Informative)

HockeyPuck (141947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38241072)

Image from wikimedia of the UNIX Family Tree [wikimedia.org]

Re:UNIX family tree (1)

HiroProX (2502852) | more than 2 years ago | (#38241186)

They missed IRIX.

Re:UNIX family tree (5, Informative)

the linux geek (799780) | more than 2 years ago | (#38241236)

And DG/UX, Reliant UNIX, Risc/os, SINIX, Unicos, Dynix, and about twenty other moderately successful moderate 90's UNIX systems. If you look closely, it's only showing systems that are either still alive or ancestors of systems that are still alive.

Re:UNIX family tree (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38241268)

troll.

Re:UNIX family tree (2)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | more than 2 years ago | (#38241436)

You forgot ULTRIX, although why anyone would want a computer in their home is beyond me.

Re:UNIX family tree (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38241596)

IRIX is still alive, looking grave but still kicking. The last release is from 2006, and I guess support is supposed to continue till December 2013 at least.

Re:UNIX family tree (1)

Guy Harris (3803) | more than 2 years ago | (#38242084)

And they also missed a line from SunOS 4 to SVR4; they showed it as a line from 4.3BSD instead. The SVR4 VM system and VFS layer came from SunOS 4.x, and the dynamic-linking mechanism, although changed a bit with the switch from a.out to ELF, also came from SunOS 4.x. Most of the BSDisms added to SVR4 also came from SunOS 4.x rather than directly from 4.3BSD.

Re:UNIX family tree (5, Informative)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 2 years ago | (#38241356)

That's just the "Light" version.

A more complete version is here:
http://www.levenez.com/unix/ [levenez.com]

Includes IRIX, Reliant, SINIX, Risc, Unicos, Dynix.

And more fun stuff like iOS.

Re:UNIX family tree (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 2 years ago | (#38241418)

I miss Irix. :-( And Indigo Magic.

Re:UNIX family tree (2)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 2 years ago | (#38241658)

I have several unopened sets of Irix 6.x buried somewhere in a box in my basement. Alas, I've nothing to run them on. As I recall, Irix came complete with lots of utilities, but the C complier was crippled, unless you paid extra, PPP was crippled unless you paid extra, etc. etc.

Re:UNIX family tree (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 2 years ago | (#38241766)

True about the Irix libs for the C compiler.

I have an Indigo R4400 Elan and an Indigo2 R4400 MaxImpact. They are elegant space-heaters, that also run antique FIrefox versions.

Re:UNIX family tree (1)

sunderland56 (621843) | more than 2 years ago | (#38241814)

Wouldn't it be awesome to port Irix to the Chinese MIPS laptop? [lemote.com]

Re:UNIX family tree (4, Informative)

HockeyPuck (141947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38241332)

This is a much better tree, has atleast a hundred different versions on it...

http://www.levenez.com/unix/ [levenez.com]

Re:UNIX family tree (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38241508)

And this is even a better version than that.

http://www.levenez.com/unix/ [levenez.com]

Re:UNIX family tree (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38241544)

I guess GNU has nothing to do with UNIX, eh?

'Linux' should be 'GNU/Linux', on that diagram if nowhere else.

Re:UNIX family tree (1)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 2 years ago | (#38242014)

GNU is Not Unix

the clue is in the title

Re:UNIX family tree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38242016)

What about those of us running BSD/Linux?

The heydays ended ten years ago (1)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | more than 2 years ago | (#38241074)

The heydays ended ten years ago:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Operating_systems_used_on_top_500_supercomputers.svg [wikipedia.org]

The culprit? Linux.

Re:The heydays ended ten years ago (4, Insightful)

the linux geek (799780) | more than 2 years ago | (#38241196)

Top500 is basically irrelevant as a model of the server industry as a whole. UNIX is still kickin' on scale-up commercial servers and doing pretty well at it.

Re:The heydays ended ten years ago (3)

sunderland56 (621843) | more than 2 years ago | (#38241752)

Do you really consider Unix and Linux to be two separate things?

If lawyers didn't exist, Linux would not have been needed.

Re:The heydays ended ten years ago (3, Informative)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 2 years ago | (#38241946)

Yes, they are different things.

UNIX implies a specific API and several other things. Several OSes are UNIX, including Mac OS and Solaris.

Linux is an OS that is not UNIX as it intentionally does not implement the requirements for being called UNIX and as such has never and will unlikely ever be certified as a UNIX.

Just because you don't know what the words you use MEAN doesn't mean no one else does.

Re:The heydays ended ten years ago (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#38241960)

No. Linux was needed because the FSF takes too long to finish anything. Even without the lawsuits, GNU would have had broader mass market appeal than the BSD.

Re:The heydays ended ten years ago (3, Insightful)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 2 years ago | (#38241860)

[smacks G3ckoG33k with a wrench, and drags him into another room]

Look here, we have something to explain to you.. Unix spawned many variations.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/77/Unix_history-simple.svg [wikimedia.org]

All were similar in concept, but had their own ways of doing things. As this branched away from a common path, most groups agreed on a common set of rules, known as POSIX.

Once you've learned how one Unix-like environment works, you can use them all. You will find that a Linux server, an Android phone, a TiVo DVR, and even an Apple desktop, all operate in very similar ways, although each has its quirks.

The outstanding rogue operating system now is Windows. They too have recognized that they are missing out by remaining completely non-compliant, and have begun incorporating various aspects of POSIX as add-on (SFU or SUA) and 3rd party (Cygwin) packages.

The chart you displayed should have had the "Unix" name divided between major and minor groups. Major being operating systems such as Linux. Minor elements combined in as "Other Unix" and "Other OS". In that, "Windows" having such a minor share, should have only been labeled "Other OS".

In November 1993, Cray, Inc accounted for 40% all systems in the graph, and the largest share of the "Unix" segment. It would have been a mixture of UNICOS, COS, and Solaris. "Unix" as a specific OS only accounted for 15%. Even those were simply the OS name provided for the list, as an indication of a Unix-like operating system, not that it was actually "Unix".

Now get back out there, and don't make me hit you with a wrench again.

Re:The heydays ended ten years ago (1)

Guy Harris (3803) | more than 2 years ago | (#38241990)

The heydays ended ten years ago:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Operating_systems_used_on_top_500_supercomputers.svg [wikipedia.org]

The culprit? Linux.

...which is a UNIX-compatible OS.

I'm curious how much recognizably-AT&T-derived code is in the current commercial UNIXes; probably more than in Linux distributions, but it might not be as much more than people think. UNIX's legacy is more the APIs and command-line interface than the actual code, and Linux has that stuff.

Re:The heydays ended ten years ago (4, Insightful)

DesScorp (410532) | more than 2 years ago | (#38242034)

The heydays ended ten years ago:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Operating_systems_used_on_top_500_supercomputers.svg [wikipedia.org]

The culprit? Linux.

Linux is Unix. Even if it's not certified as such. If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, etc. People started using Linux in the first place because they wanted "a Unix" for personal use. Linux is just a clone of Unix. In the end, it's not really all that different from "Unix proper" than the various flavors of licensed Unix are from each other. I'd argue that most Linux systems are a good deal closer to, say, Solaris, than OS X is... an officially certified Unix.

The most intelligent OS I've ever seen (0)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38241076)

Sure wish Microsoft, who with the hindsight of Xenix, had adopted more *ix practices in Windows. I know some are there, but buried. Windows is such a pile of muck in a darkened room and when I first had my hands on an *ix system I fell in love with the simplicity and flexibility of it. Then there was Linux - build according to your needs, which utterly blew my mind. How long until we finally say Good-bye to non-*ix system architecture?

Re:The most intelligent OS I've ever seen (4, Insightful)

jeremiahstanley (473105) | more than 2 years ago | (#38241380)

Yes, the camel surely looks elegant in the desert. But then again, fish don't climb trees.

Just because something works well in one area doesn't mean that it will function well outside of that area. This is why there will always be "other methods" for operating systems.

Re:The most intelligent OS I've ever seen (4, Informative)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38241738)

Yes, the camel surely looks elegant in the desert. But then again, fish don't climb trees.

Just because something works well in one area doesn't mean that it will function well outside of that area. This is why there will always be "other methods" for operating systems.

Windows is such an incredibly fragile system - all eggs in one basket. While it made sense for mass sall of PCs with a single disk, by feat it left the programs, work, operating system, registry, swap space, all on one disk. You can choose to save your work done in various suites on other drives, but they are still fooling around with Drive C:, D:, E: etc. If I need to reinstall the OS I end up with such a massive corruption of drivers I'm almost better off starting from scratch, but I'd lose all my installed programs, because Microsoft likes to keep them all in Program Files on the C: drive, where the OS resides. I can move my memory swap to another physical drive, to relieve some I/O burden, but it's not well known how to do this. Having application, operating system files, swap file and work files all on one disk is such a horrible idea, particularly without even the benefit of partitions (to protect some files or installed applications during a re-install)

I configured my first Linux box to have a tidy spot for the OS and its sources, not too much bigger than necessary (safety factor of 2). Put swap file on its own partition and installed all applications on a separate physical drive, with workspace for each on separate partitions. Flexible. I can change my harddisk configuration with a minimum of fuss. Try that with Windows.

Re:The most intelligent OS I've ever seen (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38242006)

Don't worry, Ploettering and his merry band of audio-saboteurs are about to fuck that up too.

Last thing I heard from them wrt their latest concoction - "systemd" - was that configurations with more than one partition, specifically a separate /usr was "unsupported" and "not something that had a place in a modern computer."

Why do what these deluded jackasses have to say carry so much weight?

Re:The most intelligent OS I've ever seen (0)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 2 years ago | (#38242094)

Your whole first paragraph can be summed up with 'I don't know how to use windows, won't bother to google for solutions I'm looking for, and don't even understand why I want to do this things, but I'm going to bitch about it like its Microsoft's fault I'm ignorant of how Windows works'

I configured my first Linux box to have a tidy spot for the OS and its sources, not too much bigger than necessary (safety factor of 2). Put swap file on its own partition and installed all applications on a separate physical drive, with workspace for each on separate partitions. Flexible. I can change my harddisk configuration with a minimum of fuss.

Bullshit.

I have no doubt you can change your configuration, but you clearly spent too much time deciding how to layout your first Linux box. Typical of someone doesn't something because they saw someone else do it, not because they understand why to do it.

You're bragging about how bad ass you are, yet you're too stupid to realize that you put a metric fuckton of silly effort into a problem thats unlikely to effect most people as they'll probably replace the machine before a hard drive issue or need to reinstall occurs. See most people aren't like you and don't fuck their OS up so often that they plan on how easy its going to be to reinstall.

MOST people have better things to do then dick around with a PC all day long to make it uber perfect when all they are going to do is spend 15 minutes using it to browse facebook and check email. You're the kind of guy who brings a 55 ton bull dozer to your friends house to help him dig a hole for his new mailbox.

Re:The most intelligent OS I've ever seen (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#38241786)

Your comment would be more convincing if Unix weren't infact running everywhere and doing a better job at it.

Microsoft sandbagged for a long time. The users suffered for it and a lot of needless extra costs were incurred because of it.

I remember ... (5, Interesting)

versimilidude (39954) | more than 2 years ago | (#38241112)

I remember the first time I saw Unix, in 1976. The first step in installing it was to compile the C compiler (supplied IIRC in PDP-11 assembler) and then compile the kernal, and then the shell and all the utilities. You had an option as to whether you wanted to put the man pages online since they took up a significant (in those days) amount of disk space. Make was not yet released by AT&T so this was all done either by typing at the command line or (once the shell was running) from shell scripts.

Re:I remember ... (4, Interesting)

Guy Harris (3803) | more than 2 years ago | (#38241886)

I remember the first time I saw Unix, in 1976. The first step in installing it was to compile the C compiler (supplied IIRC in PDP-11 assembler)

As I remember, and as the "SETTING UP UNIX - Sixth Edition" document says (see the start *roff document in this V6 documentation tarball [tuhs.org] - yes, I know, tarballs are an anachronism here :-)), V6 came in a binary distribution that you read from a 9-track tape onto a disk:

If you are set up to do it, it might be a good idea immediately to make a copy of the disk or tape to guard against disaster. The tape contains 12100 512-byte records followed by a single file mark; only the first 4000 512-byte blocks on the disk are significant.

The system as distributed corresponds to three fairly full RK packs. The first contains the binary version of all programs, and the source for the operating system itself; the second contains all remaining source programs; the third contains manuals intended to be printed using the formatting programs roff or nroff. The `binary' disk is enough to run the system, but you will almost certainly want to modify some source programs.

You didn't have to recompile anything (at least not if you had more than 64KB; I had to do some hackery with the assembler to get it to run on a 64KB machine, as there wasn't enough memory to run the C compiler - I had to stub out the pipe code with an assembler-language replacement for pipe.c, and then recompile the kernel with a smaller buffer cache and the regular pipe code). Most users probably either had to or had good reasons to recompile the kernel (different peripherals, more memory for the buffer cache - or less memory in my case, so I had to shrink it from 8 whole disk blocks to 6 - etc.), and if you weren't in the US eastern time zone or didn't have daylight savings time you had to change ctime.c, or whatever it was called, in the C library for your time zone, recompile the C library, and then rebuild all utilities with the new C library (no Olson code and database, no shared libraries, no environment variables so no TZ environment variable).

Re:I remember ... (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 2 years ago | (#38241916)

do I smell a whiff of Gentoo in here?

Re:I remember ... (1)

c0d3g33k (102699) | more than 2 years ago | (#38242038)

Gentoo sounds much less painful, since it's nicely automated. But probably less fun since you don't generally need to modify sources to get things working the way they need to.

going around patents and copyrights (0)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#38241160)

note that the entire history of Unix is permeated with history of lawyer intervention and lawsuits, all thanks to the copyright and patent laws that exist because of government and that are enforced by government agencies and courts. This is just one more reason to abolish all patents and copyrights.

Not directly related to telephones? (5, Insightful)

cashman73 (855518) | more than 2 years ago | (#38241180)

Since AT&T was restricted from selling products not directly related to telephones or telecommunications, they released it to anyone who asked for a nominal license fee.

It's interesting how AT&T couldn't support it for this reason, because today, UNIX is at the heart of both iOS and Android, which run some of today's most popular telephones.

Re:Not directly related to telephones? (5, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38241264)

Since AT&T was restricted from selling products not directly related to telephones or telecommunications, they released it to anyone who asked for a nominal license fee.

It's interesting how AT&T couldn't support it for this reason, because today, UNIX is at the heart of both iOS and Android, which run some of today's most popular telephones.

Also at the heart of OS X. One of the smartest moves by Apple and Jobs, replacing the hideous old Mac OS with something built on Mach and borrowing heavily from BSD. Apple made the painful leap and it paid off handsomely.

Re:Not directly related to telephones? (1)

Desler (1608317) | more than 2 years ago | (#38241276)

Except that's not all that interesting. This just in: technology used in different areas than originally designed for. zOMG!!!

Re:Not directly related to telephones? (1)

jonnythan (79727) | more than 2 years ago | (#38241338)

I think he's commenting on the fact that AT&T wasn't allowed to sell it because it wasn't related to telephones, and now it's at the core of today's most popular telephones.

Re:Not directly related to telephones? (3, Insightful)

AB3A (192265) | more than 2 years ago | (#38241518)

Yes, but imagine trying to argue this to Judge Greene during the breakup of AT&T in the early 1980s.

AT&T stayed out of that fray because there was no way in hell that they could have argued that this was a possible outcome based upon what was going on with the state of the art at the time.

http://www.canadianfreestuff.com (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38241184)

I think it just the matter of habit. People are lazy and want everything on one click. If we were thought to use command line instead of clicking on the button, we would not have this problem.

Re:http://www.canadianfreestuff.com (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#38241646)

I am even more lazy.

I just realize that a little bit of work upfront can save me more work later or even allow me to achieve something new with minimal effort.

Unix users are no less lazy. They're just a little smarter about it.

Read some of the original Bell System docs, too (5, Informative)

Myself (57572) | more than 2 years ago | (#38241204)

Several issues of the Bell System Technical Journal tell the story of UNIX [alcatel-lucent.com] , in their own words. This one [alcatel-lucent.com] in particular is interesting.

Re:Read some of the original Bell System docs, too (5, Informative)

Myself (57572) | more than 2 years ago | (#38241262)

Here's the index of the July-August 1978 issue [alcatel-lucent.com] where the whole series of articles appears. Better format than the search above.

Re:Read some of the original Bell System docs, too (1)

kiwimate (458274) | more than 2 years ago | (#38241922)

Thanks! Fascinating reading. Like this snippet:

UNIX systems generally have a good, though not impeccable, record for software reliability. The typical period between software crashes (depending somewhat on how much tinkering with the system has been going on recently) is well over a fortnight of continuous operation.

(The term "fortnight" is not widely used in the U.S., so I'll clarify that a fortnight is two weeks.)

Re:Read some of the original Bell System docs, too (1)

kiwimate (458274) | more than 2 years ago | (#38241984)

Cardinal sin of replying to myself, but this one is too good not to post (in the spirit of the apochryphal "640K should be enough for anyone"). From page 1962:

...most installations do not use groups at all (all users are in the same group), and even those that do would be happy to have more possible user IDs and fewer group-IDs. (Older versions of the system had only 256 of each; the current system has 65536, however, which should be enough.)

Re:Read some of the original Bell System docs, too (1)

Myself (57572) | more than 2 years ago | (#38242226)

You already replied to Myself two posts up...

spongE (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38241278)

I've never seen well-known Clearly. There future. EvEn The curtains flew this very moment, United States of others what to You all is to let Are you a NIGGER

So Windows got ahead because of regulations? (1)

mc6809e (214243) | more than 2 years ago | (#38241364)

Makes me wonder whether or not we'd be using as many Windows machines had the government allowed AT&T to sell and market Unix.

Re:So Windows got ahead because of regulations? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38241512)

Of course we would be. We'd still need an OS that's useful.

Not really (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38241594)

Makes me wonder whether or not we'd be using as many Windows machines had the government allowed AT&T to sell and market Unix.

We probably would. If ATT had been allowed to sell Unix, it almost certainly would have priced it way too high for IBM's taste.

Indeed, ATT tried selling a Unix-based personal computer (which, with typical former-Bell-System flair, they termed the "AT&T Unix PC") in the mid-80s, after they'd divested the local phone companies and could legally do whatever they wanted. It flopped, since it was obscenely priced at $5000, which was about twice the price of a fully-loaded DOS PC.

Re:So Windows got ahead because of regulations? (2)

BitterOak (537666) | more than 2 years ago | (#38241630)

Makes me wonder whether or not we'd be using as many Windows machines had the government allowed AT&T to sell and market Unix.

No. Windows got ahead because it was designed primarily as a platform for running high level applications, such as word processors and spreadsheets, by single users on microcomputers rather than being designed as a multi-user, general purpose platform for programmers and other users who could invest a little more time in learning their way around the operating system. Also, Windows was backwards compatible with an operating system (DOS) which ran on older computers that did not have the hardware resources to support a full, multi-user operating system (x86 processors before the 80386 did not have the memory protection features necessary for a multi-user operating system). Microsoft got in early with DOS on the PCs, and kept their lead going forward through backward compatibility and name recognition.

Re:So Windows got ahead because of regulations? (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#38242168)

Windows was born ahead.

It was born ahead, because it was the successor to DOS.

DOS was successful because of it's association with the previous computing monopoly, namely IBM.

AT&T Needs *De*regulation??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38241702)

And the recent attempts to merge with T-Mobile aren't enough to tell you why your statement is beyond reckless?

Makes me wonder whether or not we could even afford to pay for cellular service had the government allowed AT&T to circumvent government; regulation in the interest of the "user".

Re:So Windows got ahead because of regulations? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#38241888)

Windows? Windows didn't even exist back then. The competitor on the low end was CP/M. A few years later MS introduced their CP/M clone, DOS. Windows came about a decade later. No one used UNIX on personal computers because it was only lightweight by mainframe / minicomputer standards. Most personal computer didn't have protected memory and multitasking was a completely pointless operating system feature on a system that barely had enough RAM for one program.

Window got ahead because DOS was already entrenched and it provided backwards compatibility. Early versions of Windows ran on DOS, so in the worst case you could always quit Windows and run the DOS program outside, but most business apps ran happily inside the Windows DOS box. Most people installed Windows 3.0 and earlier as a way to run multiple DOS programs at once.

user experience (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38241452)

I've worked with Unix twice. The first time in 1996 and the second time from November 2011 to June of this year. It is as user unfriendly now as it was in 1996.

Re:user experience (1)

MechanicJay (1206650) | more than 2 years ago | (#38241634)

I've worked with windows -- first in 1996 and most recently December 2011. It is as user unfriendly now as it was in 1996.

Re:user experience (1)

tgeek (941867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38241664)

Yeah, but what other OS would allow you to time travel backwards? From November 2011 to June 2011 . . .

Re:user experience (5, Funny)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 2 years ago | (#38242106)

Unix is perfectly user friendly, it's just careful who it is friends with.

They actually got sued over the support. (5, Informative)

darkonc (47285) | more than 2 years ago | (#38241620)

According to a friend of mine (who had a single-digit Unix license #), AT&T originally refused to release UNIX on the advice of their lawyers because the anti-trust agreement prevented them from getting into non-phone markets. The universities who wanted access to the, then fledgling, OS then sued them over a clause that prevented AT&T from suppressing technology. The universities won that battle.

So (after probably sticking their tongue out at the lawyers who originally nixed the release) they released UNIX ... and were then sued by other computer companies for violating the "phones only" clause of the anti-trust agreement. AT&T also lost that battle.

So now it was law. They couldn't suppress the technology, but they couldn't market or support it because it wasn't directly phone- related. That's where they came up with the rather convoluted system where, for a nominal price ($1 for universities, and more ($20K, I think for companies), and signing a non-disclosure agreement, anybody could get a mag tape with a working system, and source code, a pat on the back and a 'good luck'.

ALL support was done by users (who, pretty early on got better at it than any company would have been) -- but the non-disclosure agreement meant that you couldn't just post a file with the fixed code in it... so that's where diff(1) patches came into play -- they exposed the fix without exposing too much of the source code. In some cases where patches were extensive, the originator of the patch would simply announce it and require people to fax a copy of the first page of their license before being emailed the fix.

AT&T was also rather pedantic about protecting their trademark, which resulted in people often using the UN*X moniker rather than include the trademark footnote at the end of their postings.

Smaller /. numbers here, please (1)

Cragen (697038) | more than 2 years ago | (#38241892)

Seems like this sort of story always brings out the low number /.'ers. I remember one post in the last few years where each reply was by a lower post until someone showed up with a number under 1000. (If I remember right, lol. Memory is not my strong suit now. And the older I get, the less I can about that. lol) While this was all happening, I was changing vacuum tubes in military crypto boxes. lol Hell, I remember my dad testing our TV's vacuum tubes at the A&P grocery store.

Re:Smaller /. numbers here, please (1)

c0d3g33k (102699) | more than 2 years ago | (#38242180)

Hell, I've tested vacuum tubes down at the drug store too. Son, is that you? :-)

Very likely many people of your generation and younger have done the same thing if they own a tube guitar amplifier (or audiophile stereo equipment). After the tube testers disappeared from drugstores, you could still test them at Radio Shack (and buy replacements too). No more - now you just order a replacement set on the internet.

The History of a Rolling Trainwreck (1)

oakwine (1709682) | more than 2 years ago | (#38242044)

My first encounter with UNIX was learning it on a dialup system back in the days when CP/M was still the user operating system. It looked to me like a vast rolling trrainwreck that was continually evolved to keep it more or less functional. Teams of wizards surrounded it and made lots of money from its care and feeding. I became one of the wizards. But I still hated it. And do.

So basically what AT&T still does with Android (3, Funny)

Kamiza Ikioi (893310) | more than 2 years ago | (#38242130)

'No advertising, no support, no bug fixes, payment in advance.'

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