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What is UNIX, Anyway?

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the it-sure-tastes-unixy dept.

218

Lieutenant writes "Technology professionals have loosely used the term "UNIX" since the first person had to explain the difference between the Berkeley and AT&T flavors, so it's not surprising to find as many UNIX standards as there are versions of the operating system. Peter Seebach wades through the wellspring of UNIX standards and sorts them out for you, concluding that the rumors of the death of UNIX are (as usual) greatly exaggerated."

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Not a bad article. (3, Interesting)

Anti-Trend (857000) | more than 8 years ago | (#14901539)

This editorial definitely seems to be for marketing purposes, being both hosted by IBM and directly confrontational about Microsoft. Still, interesting enough article; it's always tough to be brief and to the point about such a complicated subject. I especially like the author's point about the liquidity of the Microsoft "standard" API which is so touted as a counterpoint to *nix implementation -- DOS, Win16, OS/2, Win32, WinNT, WinXP, .NET, Vista... versus POSIX. Yeah, he's right, it sounds pretty ridiculous when you put it that way. That being said, the article's pretty light on the details. For those rare individuals interested in reading more than TFA, here's a little more info on UNIX [wikipedia.org] and the POSIX standard. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Not a bad article. (5, Informative)

(Score:1) (181164) | more than 8 years ago | (#14901544)

For the history of Unix (timeline), read this one:
http://www.levenez.com/unix/ [levenez.com]

Re:Not a bad article. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14901570)

Holy Schnike. From the looks of the Unix Timeline graphic at top of that linked page, somebody has lots of time on their hands.

Re:Not a bad article. (1)

masklinn (823351) | more than 8 years ago | (#14901781)

Well, the guy also has a Computer Languages Timeline [levenez.com] (with only the 50 most used/interresting languages or so)...

Timeline also has... (1)

KwKSilver (857599) | more than 8 years ago | (#14902043)

lots of links to other unix stuff.

Repeat after me (1)

furry_wookie (8361) | more than 8 years ago | (#14902100)

Repeat after me...... AIX is not UNIX. :)

Re:Not a bad article. (4, Informative)

seebs (15766) | more than 8 years ago | (#14901678)

Hosted by IBM just because it's a regular column on standardization. In all the years I've written for IBM, the only edit they've ever made on such grounds is that they changed the word "Belkin" to the name "Company X" in my article about Belkin's packet-hijacking routers. Oh, wait; I think they disliked a couple of comments I made about Verisign once. Mostly, if there's no obvious liability, they don't get involved.

Re:Not a bad article. (2, Interesting)

ROOK*CA (703602) | more than 8 years ago | (#14902003)

I especially like the author's point about the liquidity of the Microsoft "standard" API which is so touted as a counterpoint to *nix implementation -- DOS, Win16, OS/2, Win32, WinNT, WinXP, .NET, Vista... versus POSIX.

Good point, I think the most distinguishing factor is marketing, Microsoft has been consistantly been able to map out a clear transition from API to API (as well as inserting a dash of FUD when required), even if customers and/or ISVs knew there was going to be transition pain, Microsoft was there to assure them of backward compatibility and/or easy portability (even if some of those "assurances" were a bit "hyped") . It's a bit harder for the *NIX world to communicate this to customers & ISV's since you have vendors competeing in the same space against each other and trying to differentiate their *NIX based offerings from everybody elses.

It's funny but I think a lot of customers & ISVs happily accept vendor lock-in in the case of Microsoft, but are hestitant when it comes to *NIX, even though in reality *NIX generally speaking turns out to be the more flexible (portable) platform. No accounting for taste I guess :).

Re:Not a bad article. (2, Insightful)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 8 years ago | (#14902126)

Good point, [...]

Not really.

Firstly, because that list is artificially inflated ("Win32, WinNT, WinXP" are all the same thing - Win32).

Secondly, because the unix side is just as bad, if you compare apples to apples (ie: throw X and associated libs into the mix - how many widget libraries can you name ?).

Thirdly, because binary compatibility on Windows is very well maintained. It's not uncommon for those twenty year old DOS and Win16 binaries to run unmodified on Windows XP or 2003 (and probably Vista). Woe betide most with a twenty year old non-trivial unix app and no source code. Heck, with something like Linux you're lucky if binaries work between one major relase and the next, let alone 10 - 20 years worth of them.

Re:Not a bad article. (2, Informative)

peragrin (659227) | more than 8 years ago | (#14902156)

Um what are you smoking?

16-bit windows and dos apps only work if they are non-trivial. I can't upgrade our work computers out of windows 95 and windows 98 because we depend on non-trivial software that doesn't run on the NT line. So MSFT is just as bad as everyone else. Try running some of the early versions of word in XP or win2k3 it doesn't work, and the modern versions can't read the older formats. been there. tried that, considered it lost.

Most linux problems aren't binaries but library and their various and multitude of locations.

Re:Not a bad article. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14902225)

Ah, no, faggot. I can install a.out compatibility libraries here and run an ~8 year old binary
just fine. I won't say 20 years because Linux hasn't been around that long.

And actually, while you're being overly technical, 20 years ago was before windows 2.0 was
released, and I'm very sure that XP has a lot of problems running old dos (and that era of
windows) programs.

Re:Not a bad article. (2, Informative)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 8 years ago | (#14902073)

I especially like the author's point about the liquidity of the Microsoft "standard" API which is so touted as a counterpoint to *nix implementation -- DOS, Win16, OS/2, Win32, WinNT, WinXP, .NET, Vista... versus POSIX. Yeah, he's right, it sounds pretty ridiculous when you put it that way.

Particularly since the "Win32, WinNT, WinXP" part of it are all the same thing, so the real progression is:

DOS, Win16, OS/2, Win32, .NET.

Re:Not a bad article. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14902082)

- The Windows comparison is ridiculous. Everything from Win32 upwards will run on all Windows operating systems. Yes - there are a few caveats (as Raymond Chen would point out) but a well written Win32 app will run on Vista just as well as it did on Win95.

As for .Net and WinFX, those are layers on top of Win32. Similarly,in the *nix world, you have options of coding to Gtk or Qt or wxPython. Its silly to expect GUI APIs developed a decade ago to not change in today's world of super fast GPUs.

This potshot at Windows ruins the article, IMHO.

Re:Not a bad article. (1)

jbplou (732414) | more than 8 years ago | (#14902305)

DOS, Win16, OS/2, Win32, WinNT, WinXP, .NET, Vista

Kind of not true also. One of the main drives behind .NET is that develping in .NET allows applications to move between different Window O/Ss as long as you have the .NET runtime. Microsoft wants you to develop for Vista in .NET just like they want you to devleop for Windows Server 2003 and XP in .NET.

Also I really don't think Microsoft ever wanted anyone going to OS/2.

it's ok (5, Funny)

rayde (738949) | more than 8 years ago | (#14901542)

i don't take any reports of UNIX's death as fact without a Netcraft confirmation.

Re:it's ok (3, Funny)

narkotix (576944) | more than 8 years ago | (#14901555)

....no but apparently some whacko reckons aix aint made by ibm and its all part of the big plan...u know the krill files

The IBM Unix variant, AIX, is rumored to have been developed by space aliens

Re:it's ok (3, Funny)

NitsujTPU (19263) | more than 8 years ago | (#14901593)

Have they said anything about Slashdot dying?

There are 11 whole posts (so far) on a story where geeks get to stroke their egos by showing their ignorance and calling everything in sight a version of Unix.

Heck, I didn't even see anybody post a *BSD is Dying troll.

Re:it's ok (4, Funny)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 8 years ago | (#14901606)

Heck, I didn't even see anybody post a *BSD is Dying troll.

That's because it is already dead.

Re:it's ok (1)

NitsujTPU (19263) | more than 8 years ago | (#14901720)

Yeah, but it lives on through OS X and all of the its bastard children, or something.

Re:it's ok (1)

tigga (559880) | more than 8 years ago | (#14901874)

Heck, I didn't even see anybody post a *BSD is Dying troll.

That's because it is already dead.

Really? Troll is dead already?
Good! It was annoying because of it's boring stupidity...

Unix is in everything (0)

RLiegh (247921) | more than 8 years ago | (#14901554)

From XP (Unix->VMS->WNT) to MacOS...for being a dead OS, it's certainly got quite a social life.

Re:Unix is in everything (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14901624)

(Unix->VMS->WNT)
Only an american could be so ignorant of history. VMS [wikipedia.org] VMS did indeed lead to NT, but had nothing to do with unix.

Re:Unix is in everything (3, Funny)

zephc (225327) | more than 8 years ago | (#14901626)

Indeed, the story of UNIX today is depicted in this documentary [imdb.com] .

Re:Unix is in everything (1)

eneville (745111) | more than 8 years ago | (#14901909)

This is a better documentary of UNIX evolution: http://imdb.com/title/tt0308808/ [imdb.com]

Re:Unix is in everything (3, Insightful)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 8 years ago | (#14901629)

VMS is absolutely nothing like Unix.

Re:Unix is in everything (2, Informative)

stx23 (14942) | more than 8 years ago | (#14901630)

Huh? Unix isn't remotely related to VMS.

Single Unix Standard, Version 3 (4, Interesting)

Gopal.V (532678) | more than 8 years ago | (#14901561)

As a programmer, that's what I really consider as Unix - sus v3 [unix.org] .

I code for this API and the sources end up being source compatible. But then there are library paths and stuff, which is why even something as homogenous as Linux is forced to create LSB [linuxbase.org] standard. The API standard OTOH, is crystal clear - look at the API tables [unix.org] in terms of availability. And yeah, my project is called Portable.net [gnu.org] , so I've put in my time writing portable code for various platforms (even BeOS [dotgnu.info] and SkyOS [osnews.com] ). Wish the threading models worked the same, that's all :)

There is just *nix ... just *nix and VMS - everything else is somewhere in between.

Re:Single Unix Standard, Version 3 (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14901634)

I code for this API and the sources end up being source compatible.

Oh boy, you haven't deployed any code in the real world, have you?

The total number of conformant implementations of SuSv3 (or even v2) is zero. None. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

Everything, including the linux/glibc, BSD, and proprietary unix-like platforms, differs from the spec in subtle and complicated ways. SuS and POSIX are paper standards, not things that you will encounter in software. They're fodder for managers and marketing; they have little or no engineering value. And the differences are important to the point where you have to modify the source of your program to support other platforms, once the program becomes sufficiently complicated. As a rule, a complex program with no platform-specific hacks is a complex program that has bugs on some platforms which have not been found/fixed yet.

This isn't likely to change in a useful manner. Most of the platforms approximate SuS/POSIX as closely as they can without breaking existing applications. Successive revisions of SuS/POSIX become more vague in order to encompass more of the things that happen in the real world. So a good way to look at these two is to consider them an inefficient and fairly inaccurate attempt at documenting the common features of a set of platforms. If this process was completed perfectly, the resulting document would be so vague and cover so many platform-specific hacks that it would be of limited value. Since the documents get updated much more slowly than the software, they will probably never be completed to a satisfactory level of accuracy.

Re:Single Unix Standard, Version 3 (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14902210)

Well, that's certainly a negative way to put it, but what if anything could they do any better? It's not like it would be particularly practical or reasonable for unix vendors at this stage of unix history to break backwards compatibility for the sake of future compatibility.

So, the unix vendors do the next best thing: they make whatever changes they can to bring their platforms to uniformity without breaking backwards compatibility, and they maintain a common standards document that documents the cross-platform compatible functionality. When they inevitably make mistakes in the documentation process, they remove specifications that they cannot implement complatibly in all unix systems.

The most important point here is the intent of the unix vendors: They are working towards compatibility wherever they can, and they are striving for accurate documentation of the compatible functionality. There's nothing to disparage in their actions, even if they make the occasional mistake -- at least they are improving all the time.

Even linux developers are known to deviate from the SUS occasionally, but they too do strive to implement the standard wherever possible. Yes, the Single Unix Specification is incomplete and flawed, but it's the best thing we've got.

Re:Single Unix Standard, Version 3 (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 8 years ago | (#14901695)

just *nix and VMS - everything else is somewhere in between.

MSDOS is between *nix and VMS?

Re:Single Unix Standard, Version 3 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14901730)

MSDOS is sort of based on CP/M which was sort of based on VMS.

Re:Single Unix Standard, Version 3 (1)

menkhaura (103150) | more than 8 years ago | (#14902200)

Don't stretch it.

Re:Single Unix Standard, Version 3 (2, Informative)

Octorian (14086) | more than 8 years ago | (#14902329)

Yeah, you'd have to stretch things to make those comparisons. VMS may have some syntactic similarities to DOS, but not as many as you'd think. Let's take a complete file path, for example:
UNIX: /files/stuff/foo.txt
DOS: C:\FILES\STUFF\FOO.TXT
VMS: SYS$SYSDEVICE:[FILES.STUFF]FOO.TXT;1

Though DOS and VMS both use "DIR", while UNIX uses "ls". However, both DOS and UNIX use "cd", where VMS uses "SET DEFAULT". DOS and UNIX also use "mkdir", where VMS uses "CREATE/DIRECTORY". Though UNIX uses "-foo" for command switches, where both DOS and VMS would use "/FOO", but VMS doesn't require a space between the command and the switches.

Re:Single Unix Standard, Version 3 (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 8 years ago | (#14902236)

ah, so MS-DOS is between CP/M and Windows

First Sale Doctrine (5, Interesting)

David Hume (200499) | more than 8 years ago | (#14901564)

FTFA:
A single programmer who wants a copy of the POSIX specification would have to pay US$974 for it. That gets a one-year subscription; you are not licensed to continue referring to the standard thereafter.
What about the first sale doctrine [wikipedia.org] ? Do they really contend that you cannot "refer" to the standard after one year? Do they do a mind wipe? Or is just that your subscription for updates lapses after one year?

Re:First Sale Doctrine (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14901600)

They'll probably try to stop you from using it by applying the Patriot Act. I think in section 3.14.a.2.2.b it says that a terrorist is someone who uses standards documentation without renewing their license.

Re:First Sale Doctrine (5, Informative)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 8 years ago | (#14901688)

You can (legally) get it for free at unix.org and opengroup.org. An individual paying a $974 annual fee for it has more money than brains.

UNIX ? (1)

this great guy (922511) | more than 8 years ago | (#14901565)

UNIX is not UNIX ! Hmm wait... no sorry I heard that or something close somewhere else.

Re:UNIX ? (5, Funny)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 8 years ago | (#14901614)

XINU [wikipedia.org] Is Not Unix.

(It's actually a giant space clam that wants you to give all your money to L Ron Hubbard)

Re:UNIX ? (2, Informative)

koinu (472851) | more than 8 years ago | (#14901795)

I have more reliable sources than wikipedia: Linux [encycloped...matica.com] .
I know why I'm using FreeBSD.

Re:UNIX ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14901636)

U N00b! Intellect Xpected.

Not Dead (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14901575)

He's just restin'

old paradigms (4, Insightful)

jonastullus (530101) | more than 8 years ago | (#14901582)

isn't unix:

- everything is a file
- every file is a stream of bytes
- do one thing and one thing well, Keep It Simple Stupid
- human readable/editable config files
- principle of least privilege
- services as daemon processes
- clear separation of kernel and userland (although this one is debatable)
- multi-user environment (despite the name)
- remote access facilities
- console/automation oriented, powerful shells
- ./configure && make && make install

?

well, that's just a few things that come to my (linux/bsd slanted) view of what (a modern) unix is...

Re:old paradigms (4, Insightful)

grahamlee (522375) | more than 8 years ago | (#14901628)

You've used a couple of Plan 9 and Sprite paradigms, some things which never applied to Unix[*], a load which apply to operating systems in general and an implementation artefact of GNU autoconf. I really hope that's not Unix....

[*]"least privilege" - MACs would predate setuid() if that were the case. For instance

Re:old paradigms (1)

jonastullus (530101) | more than 8 years ago | (#14901651)

yes, the "./configure" bit might have been a bit misplaced. but i was less "defining" unix and more trying to capture what frequent users of unix systems would have in common. and the "./configure" idea factored into it for me, although this might well be a GNU invention.

don't many programs under BSDs do it like that too, BTW?

i don't quite understand your MAC commentary. if i had meant MAC i would've said so.

The principle of least privilege requires that a user be given no more privilege than necessary to perform a job..

and from what i understand about unix systems, this has been an important aspect since they have supported multiple users. even though lacking ACLs and MAC, it's never been very fine-grained or comfortable.

Re:old paradigms (3, Interesting)

grahamlee (522375) | more than 8 years ago | (#14901710)

To take the specific point of MACs, if UNIX was about giving you the least privilege necessary to get your job done, then the concept of setuid (which gives you *all* the privileges available) would never have existed. Tools like sudo, solaris profiles, SEDarwin/SEBSD and the like have come up to try and plug this privilege leak but fundamentally, Unix has a binary privilege model. You either have none, or you have them all. More generally, I think it's hard to fundamentally sum up Unix (without using one of the technical definitions, such as "something which implements SUS"); when it comes down to it it's a C language API and a set of tools which implement that API, running a multiuser multitasking OS. I think a good description would be "an OS that one person can grok"...

Re:old paradigms (2, Informative)

Cow Herd (Anonymous) (600893) | more than 8 years ago | (#14901875)

...the concept of setuid (which gives you *all* the privileges available)...


The setuid bit on an executable file gives you the privileges of the owner of the file. It is mostly used as setuid-root, but doesn't have to be.

setuid(2) is a different matter of course, because you need to have uid 0 for it to work at all.

Re:old paradigms (1)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 8 years ago | (#14901993)

It is mostly used as setuid-root, but doesn't have to be.

I use setuid all the time, but never as root. In particular, running game servers, I always have crond check to make sure all is well, and restart if needed as a regular user. If there is ever a buffer overflow issue with the game daemon, at least the access would only be as the user, not root.

Re:old paradigms (1)

jgrahn (181062) | more than 8 years ago | (#14901638)

isn't unix: [...]? well, that's just a few things that come to my (linux/bsd slanted) view of what (a modern) unix is...

You're not Linux/BSD slanted, as far as I can tell. And even ancient Unices match almost all the items on your list.

Eric Raymond's The Art of Unix Programming sums up the meaning of "Unix" pretty nicely, by the way. And in great detail.

Re:old paradigms (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 8 years ago | (#14901689)

You failed to mention:

Heirarchical file system

attach new filesystem anywhere in the old one

networking (UUCP, Ethernet, mail, etc)

User name based login accounts (with 8 char limit :-)

Re:old paradigms (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 8 years ago | (#14901777)

isn't unix:

- everything is a file


No. Not everything is a file in Unix (exceptions started piling on as hacks for originially unintended devices, etcetera started piling on), that's why there is Plan9 - where everything is a file - from the original creators of Unix at Bell labs.

http://cm.bell-labs.com/wiki/plan9/plan_9_wiki/ [bell-labs.com]

Re:old paradigms (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14901892)

This is about as accurate as "What is old-school D&D" or "What is 1e feel". Everyone is going to pony out their favorite sacred cows.

"Processes." (1)

Ivan Matveitch (748164) | more than 8 years ago | (#14901988)

Turning a physical computer into n virtual computers that each execute machine instructions in a separate address space. Throw in a bunch of interprocess communication mechanisms (filesystems, sockets, shared memory, etc) and you get unix. The model is so successful because it is so conceptually unambitious.

Correlation, Causation, LSD (5, Funny)

Quirk (36086) | more than 8 years ago | (#14901588)

In some cases, existing practice in a field reflects a decision a college student at Berkeley made at 3 AM.

"There were only two things to come out of Berkeley in the 60's, LSD and Unix. I doubt that is a coincidence."

MISQUOTE (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14901697)

"There are two major products that came out of Berkeley: LSD and UNIX. We don't believe this to be a coincidence." - Jeremy S. Anderson

Re:Correlation, Causation, LSD (1)

blafasel (471018) | more than 8 years ago | (#14902309)

... and LSD, ironically enough comes from switzerland [wikipedia.org] , though berkeley certainly played an important role [wikipedia.org] .

great, we slashdotted IBM and Coral Cache :-P (2)

Hakubi_Washu (594267) | more than 8 years ago | (#14901589)

IBM (http://www-128.ibm.com/developerworks/power/libra ry/pa-spec13/?ca=dgr-lnxw01UnixStandard [ibm.com] ):
Our apologies The IBM developerWorks Web site is currently under maintenance. Please try again later. Thank you.
Coral Cache (http://www.ibm.com.nyud.net:8090/developerworks/p ower/library/pa-spec13/?ca=dgr-lnxw01UnixStandard [nyud.net] ) :
Error: 500 Internal Server Error Server CoralWebPrx/0.1.16 (See http://coralcdn.org/ [coralcdn.org] ) at 216.165.109.81:8090
Makes one smile :-)

Mirrordot has it (2, Informative)

oglueck (235089) | more than 8 years ago | (#14901613)

Mirrordot [mirrordot.org]

Thanks (1)

Hakubi_Washu (594267) | more than 8 years ago | (#14901699)

Thank you

Re:great, we slashdotted IBM and Coral Cache :-P (1)

NitsujTPU (19263) | more than 8 years ago | (#14901729)

45 posts (and you know most people don't RTFA)... my assumption is that that server was built on one of the original IBM PCs.

Had to be said. (3, Funny)

deblau (68023) | more than 8 years ago | (#14901590)

"The nice thing about standards [wikipedia.org] is that there are so many to choose from." -- Andrew S. Tanenbaum, author of Minix.

The Spirit of UNIX (5, Interesting)

murdie (197627) | more than 8 years ago | (#14901591)

Probably the oldest standard that people still refer to is AT&T's 1985 System V Interface Definition (SVID).

I routinely use printed Seventh Edition (Bell Labs Research) UNIX manuals, even when writing C for Linux. It also helps one remain blissfully ignorant of the 'cat -v' option and similar excrescences. Also the Tenth Edition UNIX manuals. I have to remember the changes introduced by Standard C and the like, but it's convenient to have the essence of the modern-day manual in printed form. Of course, there are some people out there who delight in using Fifth, Sixth, Seventh etc Editions on PDP-11s etc - see the PDP-11 UNIX Preservation Society, http://minnie.tuhs.org/PUPS/ [tuhs.org] . I wish I had a larger garage! How much would a PDP-11/40 cost me now, anyway?

Peter Salus' book "A Quarter Century of UNIX", Addison-Wesley, 1994 (corrected 1995), ISBN 0-201-547771-5 is a good informal UNIX history.

"Those who do not understand UNIX are condemned to reinvent it -- badly."
                                                  -- Henry Spencer

It's not what the inventors think (0)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 8 years ago | (#14901648)

Not only is UNIX dead, it's starting to smell really bad." Rob Pike [herpolhode.com] - circa 1991

The inventors of Unix don't use it any more, isn't that enough for you people.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: The Unix Legacy (pdf) [herpolhode.com]

Re:It's not what the inventors think (1)

jgrahn (181062) | more than 8 years ago | (#14901703)

The inventors of Unix don't use it any more, isn't that enough for you people.

No. I'll stop using Unix when something more useful to me comes along. That hasn't happened yet, obviously.

Plan 9 could have been useful if Unix was bad enough to make people migrate.

As it is, something that replaces Unix would have to have enormous technical advantages, no social or economical disadvantages -- and a complete Unix compatibility subsystem. I think Pike has written about that effect too, somewhere...

Re:The Spirit of UNIX (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 8 years ago | (#14901709)

How much would a PDP-11/40 cost me now, anyway?

I know somebody who probably threw away 20 or so 11/84 and 11/83 systems recently.

I think your answer is "not much" if you know which bin to look in.

Re:The Spirit of UNIX (1)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 8 years ago | (#14901867)

Until your first power bill came in I suppose...

Correction (3, Informative)

XanC (644172) | more than 8 years ago | (#14901721)

That's ISBN 0-201-54777-5, or 978-0-201-54777-1.

Re:The Spirit of UNIX (1)

MROD (101561) | more than 8 years ago | (#14901836)

From my experience, I'd say the first "UNIX standard" was AT&T Version 7, which was the common ancestor. I seem to remember this being used as the base standard at least when it came to basic functionality and API.

mnennnnn (1)

Helen Keller (842669) | more than 8 years ago | (#14901594)

kytf jxcjvoixcvj :: POIJPIPOhghghgIPO

Re:mnennnnn (3, Funny)

Bloke down the pub (861787) | more than 8 years ago | (#14901705)

That command is only valid for System V type variants.

Re:mnennnnn (5, Funny)

ettlz (639203) | more than 8 years ago | (#14901724)

kytf jxcjvoixcvj :: POIJP>>IPOhghghgIPO

That command is only valid for System V type variants.

Ah. I see you've been forced to use AIX as well!

Answer (5, Funny)

ceeam (39911) | more than 8 years ago | (#14901663)

Unix is not GNU.

Re:Answer (1)

CCFreak2K (930973) | more than 8 years ago | (#14901698)

Wouldn'd that make it Ung instead?

UNIX hater's handbook. (3, Interesting)

mumblestheclown (569987) | more than 8 years ago | (#14901666)

Unix hater's handbook [simson.net]

it's funny AND true.

/ seriously thinks UNIX like systems need to go the way of VAXen.
// well, actually not so much the systems themselves, but the assinine UNIX mentality of "harder is better" and "more documentation eliminates the need for good design.", which set back Computer Science departments and academia 15 years behind industry.
/// fortunately, one of the unintended side-effects of Linux is that the mentality, at least amongst Linux users, is slowly, ever so slowly, fading away.

Re:UNIX hater's handbook. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14901694)

Fark off

Re:UNIX hater's handbook. (3, Funny)

MROD (101561) | more than 8 years ago | (#14901826)

// well, actually not so much the systems themselves, but the assinine UNIX mentality of "harder is better" and "more documentation eliminates the need for good design.", which set back Computer Science departments and academia 15 years behind industry.
/// fortunately, one of the unintended side-effects of Linux is that the mentality, at least amongst Linux users, is slowly, ever so slowly, fading away.


Hmm.. yes, in /// you say that Linux programmers are going away from //. They are, they're just not doing the documentation. ;-)

Re:UNIX hater's handbook. (3, Insightful)

AlexMax2742 (602517) | more than 8 years ago | (#14901854)

Hmm.. yes, in /// you say that Linux programmers are going away from //. They are, they're just not doing the documentation. ;-)

Which is why we have BSD.

Re:UNIX hater's handbook. (1)

10101001 10101001 (732688) | more than 8 years ago | (#14902262)

Unix hater's handbook

it's funny AND true.


Yes, and not true of GNU in many cases.

/ seriously thinks UNIX like systems need to go the way of VAXen.

To an extent I agree. But the only paradigm I've seen that's a good replacement for UNIX is something like EROS, and I'm still waiting for a working implementation. // well, actually not so much the systems themselves, but the assinine UNIX mentality of "harder is better" and "more documentation eliminates the need for good design."

Actually, the mentality is "simpler [code] is better", often to the point of requiring the user to do some bizzaro things to make things work right. GNU has really worked to fill in these gaps, probably because when reimplementing things they got fed up with problems innate to the old tools. Admittedly, some of the solutions are really just hacks of a sort (--).

, which set back Computer Science departments and academia 15 years behind industry.

I'd say it's the reverse. I'd say UNIX is much like unicellular life. Unicellular life is simple, multiples rapidly, and it functions well at the limited number of tasks it does. Without life like this, there'd simply never have been the means to build more complex, multicellular life. And even with this more complex life, there's still many nitches where unicellular life is still best. UNIX was/is a very good design for the job it's itended to do. But it's clearly not the solution to a lot of complex problems. Oh, and Windows isn't remotely either, as it's stuck in the same paradigm of VMS/UNIX, but with some more complex ACLs slapped on top. /// fortunately, one of the unintended side-effects of Linux is that the mentality, at least amongst Linux users, is slowly, ever so slowly, fading away.

I'd say GNU is responsible more for this. Truthfully, though, it'd be a pretty drastic fork away from anything *nix-like before there will be real progress in this area. The good part, though, is that Linux could provide the means to this new OS's driver needs. Applications, though, would probably be a massive rewrite.

easy (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14901679)

UNIX Is Not linuX

Re:easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14901818)

hm, UNIX is UINX? don't think so pal

ibm slashdotted? (1)

marafa (745042) | more than 8 years ago | (#14901727)

what? what is going on?
Our apologies

The IBM developerWorks Web site is currently under maintenance.
Please try again later.

Thank you.

IBM On demand servers slashdotted?! (1)

unforkable (956731) | more than 8 years ago | (#14901732)

Our apologies

The IBM developerWorks Web site is currently under maintenance.
Please try again later.

Thank you.

!!

Well, maybe they're running Windows on demand!

Re:IBM On demand servers slashdotted?! (1)

ClamIAm (926466) | more than 8 years ago | (#14901848)

Hmm, maybe slashdot could advertise "On Demand" DDoS?

Define it by its limitations (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 8 years ago | (#14901739)

Maybe it would be easier to see what Unix is by pointing out the weaknesses, reading "The Unix Hater's Handbook" for instance:

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

Which, despite the name is not a mindless bashfest and is interesting.

--Plan9/Inferno and Lisp Machine advocate--

Re:Define it by its limitations (2, Informative)

moranar (632206) | more than 8 years ago | (#14901940)

It is a mindless bashfest. Nevertheless, it is interesting. There is some truth in their madness. But they themselves admit that it's over the top and to be taken with a grain of salt. At least the book, I'm not sure about the mailing list/newsgroup.

Re:Define it by its limitations (2, Interesting)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 8 years ago | (#14901968)

I'll disagree - it's a series of articles by people who worked with Unix (back then) and have other systems to compare it to, I consider many of the articles surpass the atyppical +5 posts here on slashdot^_^

Surely, if Unix was a stable and standardised API (1)

C A S S I E L (16009) | more than 8 years ago | (#14901784)

...we, erm, wouldn't need Autoconf [gnu.org] ?

Re:Surely, if Unix was a stable and standardised A (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14901865)

>...we, erm, wouldn't need Autoconf?

Actually, that is precisely why autoconf can exist.
Because Unix is a stable and standardised
API the differences between various flavors of Unix
are small enough that it's possible to write
an application like autoconf/automake that
can handle the small differences between the
platforms.

As someone who has had to write over 100 packages for
portability I appreciate that the flavors of Unix
are close enough that autoconf/automake can work.

--Johnny

unix (1)

wwmedia (950346) | more than 8 years ago | (#14901839)

unix brings me back to college days

back them doing assignments on windows was more fun than unix command line...

alot of people on our course got put off from ever touching unix and linux thanks to this

Say what you want about Windows. (-1, Troll)

Runesabre (732910) | more than 8 years ago | (#14901858)

I've been developing a fairly complex multimedia application that runs on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. Using the executable built using VC7 on my Windows XP machine, I am able to run that binary on an old Win98 machine that was built 7 years ago without a single change or recompile. When I get a machine loaded with Vista, I'm confident that exact same binary will also execute without issue.

That's pretty amazing when you think about it. And if I really wanted my applicaiton to run on Windows 95, I could simply recompile using VC6 and have one binary running on every Windows version from Win95 through Vista.

Compare that to Linux where I'm lucky to even get the binary from one distribution to work on the previous version of the same distribution much less a version of the same distribution from 7 years ago. And forget trying to get that binary to work on a different Linux distribution.

Re:Say what you want about Windows. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14901932)

Yes it goes to show just how inefficent windows apps are because it can reverse its instruction sets all the way back to 386.

Re:Say what you want about Windows. (1)

Ami Ganguli (921) | more than 8 years ago | (#14902109)

Are you sure about that? I confess that I haven't tried running old binaries on new systems (with source code available there doesn't seem to be much need) but I know that the Linus, at least, is dogmatic about making sure that the Linux system call interface is always backwards compatible. You can run binaries that were compiled against Linux < 1 unmodified today.

I'm not as confident that the same is true of userspace, but I bet it's not that different. Where there have been incompatible user-space ABI changes (glibc, gtk) the distributions I've used make the older versions available and useable alongside the newer versions.

"Win32" dektop apps do run on Vista... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14901903)

The statement about how many platforms Microsoft have is not entierly fair. As far as desktop applications are concerned (not device drivers and not server applications), the API (usually referred as the Win32 API) is the same starting from Win95, it's practically only extended since then. That is, desktop applications that were written for Win95 run on WinXP (and most certainly on Vista too) without recompillation or emulation or any trick. And Windows is traditionally about dektop applications (office, internet borwser, mail) and multimedia and games, not about servers.

UNIX is dead because AT&T SROwed it up. (1)

CaptainKirkCaptainKi (958941) | more than 8 years ago | (#14901914)

AT&T sold UNIX to the SRO group who believed they could use ownership of the UNIX code to sue Linux and make a load of money by 0wning Linux in the process, shutting it down, and selling their own brand of UNIX (UnixWare) in its place. The net result was that the court said that Linux was NOT a rip of UNIX. AT&T knew this anyway which is why they sold it in the first place. LINUX effectively killed the future of Bell Labs' UNIX. If you want to use UNIX then you can buy UnixWare, IRIX, HP-UX, AIX, all of which are now mostly useless to the world at large. LINUX is replacing these mission critical OSs. BSD is the other option. See this diagram for a brief history of Unix Development http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Unix.png [wikipedia.org]

Last time I checked, UNIX was a trademark (3, Insightful)

layer3switch (783864) | more than 8 years ago | (#14901960)

Yup. UNIX isn't an OS. It's a trademark and a standard. And Linux is a kernel, not an OS.

http://www.unix.org/ [unix.org]
http://www.kernel.org/ [kernel.org]

Also Windows aren't OS. It's an opening constructed in a wall or roof that functions to admit light or air.

Lastly Apple is not a company. It's a god damn fruit. Why is that ESPECIALLY MacOS users don't seem to get that Apple Computers are PC!?!? Try to ask a MacOS user this. "Do you have a PC?" I bet, 99% of them will say "No, I don't have PC, but I have a Mac." WTF??

Re:Last time I checked, UNIX was a trademark (1)

CaptainKirkCaptainKi (958941) | more than 8 years ago | (#14901973)

If want to say UNIX is not an OS it is standard then fine. But what this article is talking about is UNIX based OSs. We call them UNIX systems. So calling them a UNIX OS is fine too. Linux is the Kernel yes, and a Linux kernel with opens sourse software is called Linux/GNU. However for sake of arguement we just called the whole OS Linux and any UNIX based OS, a UNIX-based UNIX. Some would go ever so far as to call BSD, UNIX.

More FUD from Zonk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14902016)

The message of the story is, "Look what a mess UNIX is".

That's what Zonk wants you to remember.

still an amazing OS (3, Interesting)

yagu (721525) | more than 8 years ago | (#14902157)

I've been working with Unix/Solaris/SunOS/Linux/AIX/AUX/BSD/ATT Unix, et. al. now for over twenty years. I mostly love the environment, I'm self-taught, and never have stopped discovering new and cool (and sometimes amazing) things about how Unix works.

I've pretty much always always been able to sit down and immediately be productive in a Unix environment. Things are stored and arranged in a surprisingly consistent way (not always in the same places, but one of a few organizations (/etc vs. /usr/etc)), and for those hard to find arrangements you need only know "find".

Considering how many different Unixes there are it's actually impressive how compatible and consistent they are across the Unix universe. It's only my opinion, but I find adapting and adjusting to the Unixes far easier than the various versions of Windows.

portability wtf (1)

jilles (20976) | more than 8 years ago | (#14902231)

"With rare exceptions, porting hassles between UNIX systems are long forgotten."

Yeah right. We're down to complaining about porting apps between versions of the same distribution of linux and here's a guy claiming that porting hassles between UNIX systems ar long forgotten. Come on, you can't claim that with a straight face even if you are working for Microsoft.

It's not like your 1993 binary of wolfenstein will work out of the box on win XP but the chances of binaries from that era doing something are a lot higher than say running any unix binary from that era on the latest Red Hat/Debian/Whatever. Compiling with the latest GCC almost guarantees running into porting issues, never mind the particular OS you are doing that on. Probably hello world works fine but anything doing something less trivial is likely to not work at all. Generally problems increase as you (necessarily for non trivial stuff) depend on libraries not part of any of the Unix standards. For example, these standards do not cover anything related to graphics or user interfaces so you're fucked if your app is non trivial enough to include a (G)UI.

Is a Linux an Unix? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14902297)

I use Tomahawk Desktop [tomahawkcomputers.com] . Is a Linux an Unix? If so, on what grounds people call Unix is dead?
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