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The Top UNIX Moments of the Century 200

Posted by Roblimo
from the gearing-up-for-the-next-millenium dept.
jyang writes " Performance Computing has this December article: 'The world might seem to run on UNIX, but it wasn't always so. Readers opine on the best moments of everyone's favorite OS.'" Well, among all those "end of the century" lists, we finally found a worthwhile one. ;-)
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The Top UNIX Moments of the Century

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  • ... did they?!?

    Where can I get a tarball for Netscape?

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Where's K&R C?
  • Where can I get a tarball for Netscape?

    Man, you been living in a box lately or what? :) Go to []...

  • I was surprised not to see K&R C on the list (they mentioned when Ken Thompson's mom met his dad though) although I thought it was pretty complete. The fact that mentioned the change from ^ to | as pipe impressed the hell out of me.

    It also makes you think about Richard Stallman's contribution to computing to see that like 5 things on the list are his direct doing.
  • by ywwg (20925) on Wednesday November 03, 1999 @09:16PM (#1565149) Homepage
    Is it just me or was the following entry missing:
    * Linus Torvalds uploads the linux kernel

    I mean really, that's a given!
  • What about...
    • WINE frees us all from Windows
    • SAMBA frees us from NT
    • Doom ported to Linux
    • The Berkeley 'r' commands
    ...and too many others to mention

  • technically, you can't. since the tarball at is for MOZILLA.

  • When I started using V7 UNIX there were several things that were new and nice.

    1. The CLI (command language interpreter) was a separate, user-mode program that could be easily replaced. I was used to DEC operating systems where the CLI was an integral part of the operating system, sort of like the baby alien that attachs to your face in the movie Alien. It couldn't be removed without major surgery on the OS and its tentacles were firmly embedded in the kernel.

    2. The shell didn't hardwire the command set like most CLIs of the day. You didn't have to modify the shell to add new commands, just write a new user-mode program. The shell was light on command line policy, leaving most things up to the interpretation of the user program.

  • Research Unix Edition 7 was released in 1978, and included:

    • The Bourne Shell, the first shell that was a programming language in its own right.
    • Environment variables (this was an OS enhancement, not just the shell features supporting it).
    • UUCP--the Unix/Unix Copy Program. This brought networking, email, and (a bit later) news to the masses. This feature literally changed the world.
    • File systems larger than 32MB. Unix was no longer a toy.
    • Lint, along with system sources that actually passed it (no more "register *p" for generic pointers everywhere). C was forever improved by this step, since many people learned to program in it from reading kernel sources (just like Linux programmers do today).
    • 32V, the port to the VAX--this was the ancestor of 3.x and 4.x BSD. (The 2.x BSD's ran on PDP-11's, and for a time were developed in parallel.)
    • And so on...
    This was the version that got Unix started at many Universities. It was also the last version of Research Unix to make it out of Bell Labs into general distribution for research and educational use. One can only wonder what we would have seen had AT&T not decided to squeeze money out of it, locking away further Research Editions.
  • The day Microsoft got out of the OS arena...

    Ahh, that takes me back.. or is it forwards? With time travel you never can tell.

    Apollywoggies to the Doctor...
  • "The announcement of the Hamilton Group, which begat OS/F, which killed UNIX's viability as a commercial desktop"

    Ok, call me a dunce.. but what is the Hamilton group, and when did they make this announcement?

    Funny, i kinda thought that *I* was running UNIX on my desktop.

  • The day Microsoft released Internet Explorer for Solaris

    I fail to see why this is a top moment in Unix history. If anything, this is a downfall, as as far as I'm concerned, the last thing we need running on unix platforms is Microsoft software.

    Netscape's introduction of an integrated mail, news, and browser application

    I can't say I'm too much of a fan of this one either, at least not the way it's implemented. While I use Communicator for browsing and Mail under RH6.1, I hate the fact that whenever one function (mail or browser) locks up/crashes, the other does too. I think you could have the two as separate applications that were still tightly integrated.

  • I know. Originally, when NSCP/AOL was still Mosiac, they were trying to find out what to call the new Unix client that they were developing. JWZ prompted 'Mozilla'.. and the rest is history.

    But!.. leave it up to marketing shmo-heads to screw everything up.

    You can't get a tarball of Navigator or communnicator as far as i know...


  • by Anonymous Coward
    AT&T SVR4 and the Amiga?! 1991: The release of SystemVR4 was a major stage in the growth of UNIX. But a little-known fact about the start of this industry paradigm shift was that the very first platform to receive the AT&T port of this innovative and powerfully stable pillar of UNIX was the Commodore Amiga3000(UX)!

    I can't beleive it - I can't beleive it!

    Someone *does* remember this - it's amazing :)

    I still remember the day when all those crappy newspapers called the A3000UX a 'miss of the decade'. Like "Who is going to use UNIX anyway?!". Indeed, it didn't make a lot of success, but Amiga was *always* way ahead of its time.
  • Where's K&R C?

    They mention both AT&T's compiler, which I would assume is the first. Someone corrct if I'm wrong...
  • Amazing how many of them mention free software and the FSF. I mean, GNU is not UNIX, right?
  • What about the night that Bill Joy wrote first versions of a large portion of the unix network utilites.
  • We've got almost 40 years until the end of time as we know it. (or until 64-bit Unix, whichever comes first.)

    However... kudos to BSD for developing Unix to what we have today, and the same to the Linux community, for continuing to develop it, and spread the gospel. :)

    I think I'm continually impressed with how Unix takes a more open and general approach to everything, and makes life easier in the end.

    Like how directories and even hardware devices are files, networking transparency is inherent in X (even if it took me a while to figure that out :), having different widget sets and window managers available, or having a free compiler and a useful toolset...

    Truly, if I hadn't found Unix, I would have been doomed to reinvent it. Probably starting with DOS. Ewww....
    pb Reply rather than vaguely moderate me.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I just don't understand why everything has to be written in C. Why don't they write a Fortran based OS ? Surely with Fortran's superior mathematical operations it would kill C-written UNIX. Someone should rewrite UNIX in FORTRAN.
  • ..that the work done by the FSF to construct GNU and further the efforts of free software didn't inadvertantly help Unix at the same time. Many Unices use GNU software packages. I can barely remember the last time I used a Korn, C, or plain old Bourne shell (not that there aren't others that aren't GPL'ed).

    Those were great moments for both GNU and Unix, strange as that may sound.

  • Well, of course GNU is Not UNIX, but it's impossible to talk about the history of UNIX without talking about GNU tools. What would UNIX be without them? Well, it would seem to me that the folks whom are good at writing OS stuff would have to write tools for their OS, taking them away from working on their OS. #include "GNU.h" OS people say "Hey, this kicks butt! We can go back to work on our OS now!" OS subsiquantly gets better, but relys on GNU tools for that part of it. Hence GNU and the FSF are integral in the history of UNIX, hence why there's in that list. Q.E.D.
  • I believe the first operating system for the Cray (CTSS?) was written in FORTRAN. It was later replaced with UNICOS (Cray Unix).
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Why recreate Unix? Unix is a monster because of a New Jersey mentality and of course because it's a C derivative, too.

    Unix workstations could be called `C machines', in the same way as LispMs.

    But I don't think it would make much sense having FORTRAN machines, except where you get bitten by the bugs on your C-based system.

    If I remember correctly, there was FORTRAN for Symbolics lispms, but I don't know how friendly it was for calling Lisp routines from FORTRAN. There was indeed a C compiler, and X11 (but no Motif. You can use Motif from Lisp via a CLM server running on a Unix workstation).

    BTW, Lisp is the only language besides C that has its own native X library (the equivalent of Xlib).
    It's way nicer, of course, having all that macro machinery at your disposal.
    If you need compatibility with C widget sets, you don't go through it, you use the C Xlib (directly and/or indirectly via Xt, GTK, etc.)
  • (1) Creation and adoption of x10 window software
    (2) PCC, the portable C compiler
    (3) Berkeley networking

    Don't know precise events to attach to each, but all seem to have significant impact.

  • Reading the HP-UX fsck manual page and finding a joke (the only one I know f in the standard reference docs): "You can tune a filesystem but you can't tuna fish"
    Actually, that's the tunefs man page...
  • the last thing we need running on unix platforms is Microsoft software
    Have you ever watched the bootup of a commercial unix? Stratus (Ascend, Lucent, whatever), FTX has this most disconcerting copyright message: something like Copyright [some yesr range, I'm not about to boot it just to find out] Microsoft.... Apearently, most commercial unixen have some xenix code in them now.

    I don't know how I'll react if I ever see a Microsoft copyright during a Linux boot, probably scream. But then again, if it's in the official kernel, that means that Linus accepted the patch and the code must be of tolerable quality. In that case, I'll be impressed: good quality code out of the king of if it compiles, ship it.

  • by sien (35268)
    Why isn't it ??
  • by Repton (60818) on Thursday November 04, 1999 @12:32AM (#1565180) Homepage
    Someone should rewrite UNIX in FORTRAN.

    Too right. It's time the Real Programmers [] reclaimed UN*X from the quiche eaters. Recently, the trend has been to make UN*X easy to use. The 'people' behind this abomination seem not to realise: if we do this, people will use it!

    It is clear that steps must be taken. In addition to rewriting UN*X in FORTRAN, I propose additional measures:

    • All UN*X program names to be shortened to 6 characters or less, by arbitrary removal of letters. Obscurity is a plus.
    • UN*X shell to be rewritten: Shell programming is now done in INTERCAL []. (it goes without saying that we rm -rf the entire X source tree)
    • The only editor available will be TECO [] (although I suppose ed may be appropriate also).

    It is only through measures such as these that UN*X can return to its glory days.

    Fight the good fight, gentlemen.

    Remeber: If you can't do it in FORTRAN, do it in assembly language. If you can't do it in assembly language, it isn't worth doing.


  • Because Linux Is Not UniX.

    Like all great names, Linux is actually a recursive acronym.

  • BBN built a computer called the "C machine". It had a strange word size and was designed to run C code quickly.

    AT&T designed the CRISP microprocessor to efficiently run C programs.

    Western Digital made a CPU from the original LSI-11 chip set that directly executed p-code (UCSD p-System Pascal pseudocode).

    I have a vague memory of a FORTRAN machine, I don't remember who built it.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    John Lions writes his commentery on V6 for his CS class.

    A few other people find it useful. ;-)

  • We all know Gnu's Not Unix and neither is Linux, but come on, that's just a little fun with the lawyers. Unix wouldnt be unix without GNU tools and for most intents and purposes, Linux is close enuf.

    There are old school Unix people who are reluctant to let a Linux box into their server room. The best thing that can be done to win these people over is to point out that legalisms aside, GNU/Linux IS Unix. :) Their skillsets apply with next to no learning curve.
  • Why don't they write a Fortran based OS ?
    Because FORTRAN is (rather `should be') dead.

    INTERCAL, OTOH, is not. It's about time the INTERCAL users of the world had an operating system embodying the same concepts, in the same way that (early versions, at least) of UNIX embodied C concepts (or was that vice versa?).

    Just think, a shell with INTERCAL syntax; that'd be a start :)

  • by BrianH (13460) on Thursday November 04, 1999 @01:14AM (#1565188)
    I personally consider it an excercise in semantics to argue this point, but technically he's correct in saying that Linux is not UNIX.

    UNIX was originally developed in the 70's under the auspices of AT&T Bell Labs. Because of that, AT&T owns the rights to Unix and it's direct derivatives, and receives a royalty for each true Unix sold (and no, it probably won't ever be GPL'd).

    In the early 90's, Linus Torvalds was working with a Unix derivative known as Minix, when he began working on what became Linux. He did that for two reasons: A) Minix is not free and couldn't be redistributed. B) He thought he could do a "better" job than the Minix developers had. Now, here's where the important difference between Linux and UNIX comes in. Linus couldn't use the source from UNIX to develop Linux or he'd have been forced to pay royalties (and Linux would not be free). What he did instead was write his OS so that it would be very similar, and yet not infringe on any copyrights. Because Linux uses no UNIX code, and yet is so similar to UNIX, it's proper designation is as a "UNIX clone". Nevertheless, it should also be pointed out that there are quite a few differences between Linux and the commercial Unixes, a fact I personally learned the hard way after scamming my way into a Unix administration job based on my knowledge of Linux. While I wasn't exactly lost, it was definitely "different" (AIX, in case you're wondering).
  • It is not amazingly surprising to see Richard Stallman feature so prominently on this list. Not because he has done so much for UN*X (or so little, for that matter), but because People Know Richard Stallman. They know his name, he has featured prominently in the media in the last couple of years, and projects his name is (still) attached to are doing well.

    As to his contribution to UN*X? I have no idea. I'm a newcomer to the wonderful world of SunOS, HP-UX, Solaris, *BSD and linux, I did my first man man in '93, I had my first root in '96, and I feel a lot of the Big Things In UN*X (tm) happened before my time.

    I think it is a fundamental thing with these kind of lists that they pretty much always overvalue recent contributions/songs/films/ice-cream flavours, at the expense of older ones. A lot of people only catch on later, and will not remember the first tottering steps, the first breakthroughs, because they simply weren't there yet. They will go for the more recent accomplishments, the things they *did* witness.

    So, lists like this are fun, and interesting, but I have my doubts as to their value for actually determining the impact that developments have had, the relative importance of UN*X moments.

    Jos "numbers, I want numbers!" D.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The `New Jersey' mentality is characterized by:

    - Worse Is Better approach
    - 1 `simple' language hack for each task instead of 1 properly designed language for everything.

    Current microprocessors designed thinking about low-level languages like C, Pascal, FORTRAN, etc. (not Java, Smalltalk, Lisp or even C++ RTTI comes into play).
    Unix is coded in C (plus `a couple' C++ libs). The design of the APIs is done with C[++] in mind.
    They are indeed C machines. Although a real Lisp Machine would have support for GC, tagging, CDR-coding, etc., the most important functional characteristics surface at the software level. Many people would be happy enough with an X86-based Lisp Machine, even if the hardware (PC) is crap.

    Even nice MIPS chips are so dumbly designed. Instead of adding a little bit of support for tagged and GCed languages, they keep throwing transistors at speculation and so on. That's because most EEs haven't much of a clue regarding CS beyond hacking C and assembler.

    [Yes, I know about PicoJava and that's cool. But actual use is more vapor than anything].
  • Well, Apple's Open Firmware runs on FORTRAN... so in a sense all modern PowerMacs are "FORTRAN machines" - they just don't run a FORTRAN OS.
  • Indeed, it didn't make a lot of success, but Amiga was *always* way ahead of its time.

    Yep. My only regret was the pricing structure. I lusted after Unix running on my beloved Amiga hardware for ages, but it was always priced way out my reach :-(

  • Not because it's a great text editor (although I've yet to find anything better :-), but because it prompted the development of termcap to give terminal independence. Previous applications had been hardcoded to use the escape sequences of a particular terminal.

    I'd say, in general, that most of the work done at UCB contributed more to the success of Unix than anything else. Without UCB, Unix would have probably remained in the dark ages. They gave us networking, vi, csh, and perhaps most importantly, an open source development model, which allowed Unix to become widespread.

    PS. Sure, csh syntax may suck, but without it, we'd all be using Bourne shell. csh gave us command histories, brace expansion, and numerous other goodies that we take for granted today. Without csh, other shells (ksh, bash, zsh) would be very different, if they existed at all.

  • The Berkeley 'r' commands Ah yes, a truly historic windfall for script kiddies everywhere...

    Vovida, OS VoIP
    Beer recipe: free! #Source
    Cold pints: $2 #Product

  • Can someone confirm this, but my understanding is that the Linux name really is just a hacked version of Unix, based on Linus Torvalds' name. It wasn't even chosen by Linus himself, but rather by a friend who I believe was maintaining one of the original ftp sites distributing Linux in its early days.
  • Really? Which ones? Where can I read this story?

    Vovida, OS VoIP
    Beer recipe: free! #Source
    Cold pints: $2 #Product

  • by Raul Acevedo (15878) <> on Thursday November 04, 1999 @01:51AM (#1565201) Homepage
    Ironically, they mention the release of Netscape on Linux, without mentioning the release of Linux itself...
  • (3) Berkeley networking

    It was mentioned: "integration of TCP/IP into the kernel", eh?

    Vovida, OS VoIP
    Beer recipe: free! #Source
    Cold pints: $2 #Product

  • Yep... As I understand it, the supposedly-so-great thing about FORTRAN is that it allows you to ocntrol floating-point precision better than C. (Disclaimer: I've never written in FORTRAN, and, from what I've seen of other people's FORTRAN code, I never will.) But since when do operating systems use floating-point operations? I/O is all integral, program logic is integral, symbol processing (e.g. for shells) is integral, and traditional text processing is a special case of integral computation where all operands are a byte wide. About the only thing you'd use floats for would be interaction with the real-time clock, I would guess. That's important for scheduling, but the degree of precision of the floats is not so relevant... the default works fine.

    In short, FORTRAN may be good for number-crunching, ubt that doesn't make it a good language for writing OSs.

    Vovida, OS VoIP
    Beer recipe: free! #Source
    Cold pints: $2 #Product

  • (1) Creation and adoption of x10 window software
    (2) PCC, the portable C compiler
    (3) Berkeley networking

    PCC was another product of Edition 7. The VAX C compiler in 32V (and the first VAX-based BSD's) was constructed using PCC.

    Berkeley wasn't alone in adding networking to Unix (there were at least half a dozen different protocol stacks for Unix before TCP/IP saw the light of day). But they were contracted to implement the Big One: TCP/IP. A good thing, too, since the NCP stack (NCP was the ARPANET protocol prior to TCP/IP) for Unix was pretty buggy.

    X's predecessor was W (developed, I believe, at Stanford). So C isn't the only product of alphabetic succession (its precursor was B-- Ken Thompson's BCPL derivative). I wonder why the Berlin folks haven't named their project "Y"? (Why not?)

  • The first upload of Linux (aka Do you yearn for the days...) has been mentioned. Here are a small sample of others:

    1. Ken Thompson's invention of grep.
    2. Henry Spenser's freely available RE library.
    3. Larry Wall's release of rn.
    4. Larry Wall's release of patch.
    5. Larry Wall's release of Perl.
    6. Solaris' invention of /proc
    7. The US government's decision to require POSIX compliance.

    There are just too many to make it a good sample, but the above were darned fine moments. :-)

  • by Anonymous Coward
    ought to be on the list. Read about it here [].
  • Thank you. I was waiting to see who would actually remember this.

  • I have to take issue with point 1, in as much as you *can* replace the DCL CLI that comes with VMS.

    Not many people do, as it's so damn powerful, but you can do it.

    DCL is extremely good, if a little strange to look at initially (what's with the $ at the start of every line, for example?); however, it has string handling that is way ahead of any *NIX shell. 'course that argument goes away a bit if Perl lives on your system... but not everyone does, or wants to use it.

    I feel better now.

    (I'm also a VMS admin, can't you tell?)

  • Linux does not stand for anything.
  • Another one missing in the list. The world uses more chars than you'll find in 7-bit ASCII.

    That paved the way for Unix to the non-US world (it's out there somewhere you know :-)
  • I think sun rpc deseves to be on the list. It is what enabled cliend server computing as was very popular just a couple of years ago. geach
  • I didn't know tannenbaum was so closely tied to the origins of open source. His book "Modern Operating Systems" is what got me into programming. He must write good books.
  • Linux may not be Unix, but you have to admit that it is significant to Unix, so should be mentioned prominently in this list.
  • hey!! that's my signature! get your own! :o)

  • >>>
    Well, Apple's Open Firmware runs on FORTRAN... so in a sense all modern PowerMacs are "FORTRAN machines" - they just don't run a FORTRAN OS.
    Isn't Open Firmware tied to FORTH, nor FORTRAN?

    (And I think it's that it contains a FORTH interpreter, not that it's necessarily *written* in FORTH).

  • Of course, neither does Unix. IIRC, the Jargon File describes the etymology was "a bad joke on Multix", so it is fitting that Linux is a bad joke on Unix.

    Who says it has to make sense?

  • Oh, yes. I wasn't trying to put Linux down, I was just trying to explain the difference as best I know it. As far as my personal opinion goes, Linux should be near the top of that list. While Linux is an interesting OS, it hasn't really contributed that much to UNIX directly. Indirectly it has launched innumerable geeks into the UNIX world, steered scores of programmers to write UNIX apps, and most importantly is the first UNIX variant to achieve household name status. While the vast majority of computer users still haven't ever seen Linux, they know the name. What other UNIX variant can you say that about?
  • Because FORTRAN is (rather 'should be') dead.
    (Free) Fortran is neither dead, nor should it be. Instead, at present it is in an unfortunate limbo [].

    Many university maths departments code almost exclusively in F77: everyone understands it, and it has no pointers to slow down your code. If the GNU project [] gets back on track, we could see a rennaisance in Fortran coding for Beowolf and SMP?

    As far as commercial use of Fortran, alexk [] pointed out a couple of weeks ago [] that Bloomberg [] has the bulk of its system written in Fortran. Especially, anything that has to do with their terminals and proprietary databases.

  • Yep, have to agree with this.
    Kernigan and Ritchies extortionately priced [in the UK anyway] paperback has been a staple of my programming life throughout its various editions.

    Other good moments for Unix:
    Release of PERL
    Release dates of Doom and Quake for Unix
  • Ok, Linux may not be a Unix(TM), but they said releasing Netscape on Linux was an important event!

    And even though no one's bothered to pony up the bucks to certify Linux, you can't deny that Linux has impacted Unix.
  • Well, I'm running both Linux and Unix(tm), specifically Solaris 2.6. Seems commercially viable to me.
  • As the AC above noted, C's default assuptions about pointer aliasing make certain classes of programs run like crap. The new restrict keyword is a huge step in the right direction, but it's still a Band-Aid.

    Why are sane pointer aliasing conventions important in the language? Well, since effecient code generation is something nearly everyone lusts after, compiler writers spend alot of effort "optimizing" code. Since C doesn't provide much of a mechanism for describing where pointers point, the compiler has to implement alot of guesswork. If it's not sure, it punts and outputs slow code.

    The problem is that these optimizations are hard to get right. Notice how GCC 2.95 broke the Linux kernel, unless you compiled with the new alias analysis turned off. It would be better for the language to have saner pointer semantics.

    Note that this wasn't so much of a problem in the beginning when pipelines were short and issue-widths were narrow. Nowadays, though, pointer aliasing issues are one of the biggest issues preventing code from going faster. (I know, I hit these issues regularly.) I welcome restrict with open arms.

  • Ok, I still have mixed feelings about it myself, but what about Solaris 2?

    And let's not forget /. either!
  • As I understand it, the supposedly-so-great thing about FORTRAN is that it allows you to ocntrol floating-point precision better than C.

    One of the reasons for the continuing use of FORTRAN (I won't say popularity) is infrastructure. FORTRAN optimizing compilers are really really good. FORTRAN is available in a lot of parallel computing forms and for a lot of arrary processors that have no C. The collection math libraries for FORTRAN is peerless.

    The main reason that FORTRAN was unsuitable for OS programming in the past was lack of pointers. Anonymous storage is a very powerful tool. But I believe that this is not a limitation with HPF, so it is quite feasible now to write an OS in FORTRAN.
  • The lp1 on fire bit wasn't in the docs, was it?

    BTW, who remembers the rest of the tunefs joke? (Namely, the bits that were in the actual nroff source for the man page?)

    From what I recall, the man page's source said something along the lines of "Remove this, and a Unix daemon will dog your steps until the time_t's wrap around." I unfortunately do not have access to a system with the original quote that I know of offhand. Anyone?

  • "* Netscape's introduction of an integrated mail, news, and browser application"

    Lucid Emacs (jwz's previous project) did all that and, err, edited text files, etc,etc,etc,etc,etc first! :-)

  • Okay so it didn't make it on this list but in the same edition of Performance Computing [] was the OPA Awards [] in which Linux contributers receive the coveted Editors Award (see the final entry on the page).

  • It's extortionately priced in the U.S. too.
  • Linux may not be an official Unix, but it is good for Unix. That alone makes it an important event in Unix history.

    It's important in the same way IBM PC clones were important to IBM. They weren't IBM PCs, but the fact that they were compatible and completely changed IBM's impact on the world was fairly relevant. Linux seems to be having a similar effect with respect to Unix.

  • I believe that they meant the announcement of the formation of the Hamilton Group. This was the group formed to create OS/F. Unix had the opportunity to take over the corporate desktop a long time ago, but this industry consortium fscked it up royally. Basically, CDE sucks. They needed something like GNOME or KDE but, being a big committee, were unable to come up with anything elegant.

  • We've got almost 40 years until the end of time as we know it. (or until 64-bit Unix, whichever comes first.) Actually, 64-bit UNIX already exists... Digital UNIX, now known as Tru64 UNIX []. -t
  • That those aren't necessarily big contributions to Unix (tm) (although people will no doubt disagree about their relative merit). They are, however, "famous". The list really only includes "famous" things rather than "important" things. And Stallman is "famous" so his contributions will show up disproportionately more often than other people who also made (perhaps more important) contributions.

    Notice that it is "Stallman invents GPL" and "Stallman founds FSF" (admittedly other accomplishments of his left the attribution off). I was under the impression that he had a lawyer help him write the GPL and other people were involved in the founding of the FSF. However, no names are mentioned when it comes to talking about the TCP/IP stack, pipes, sendmail, or "everything is a file". Is the GPL really more important to "Unix" than TCP/IP, pipes, and "everything is a file"?
  • by jd (1658)
    There are so many "best moments" for Unix that it would be impossible to list them all, without writing a complete history. A mere list is -bound- to miss so many out.

    Anyways, here's a few moments that I'd regard as being significant (irrespective of whether they're in anyone else's list or not). They are not in any specific order - date, importance, etc. It's just the order I wrote them in.

    • The decision to simplify the MULTICS design, thus creating the original UNIX.
    • The advent of the BSD line of Unixen, providing the possibility of Open Source OS'.
    • The advent of MACH, allowing people to see how different OS philosophies work.
    • The advent of K&R C, which made programming much easier, whilst retaining a lot of power.
    • The advent of X10, providing a networkable GUI to the real-world workstation. (Yes, Xerox' Parc developed the first GUI, with mouse, but it was not at the stage where it could be used by anyone else.)
    • The creation of Perl, which revolutionised the concept of scripts.
    • The decision by the Jolitz' to port the BSD tapes to the 386, sparking the *BSD revolution on PC's and, later, on other platforms.
    • The decision by Linus Torvalds to write a powerful terminal emulator, and release it on the network, sparking the Linux revolution.
    • The founding of the FSF, sparking the concept of free exchange of -significant- software in the marketplace.
    • The development of Sun's RPC system, making the development of distributed software practical.
    • The development of Mobile IP, fundamentally changing the concept of what a LAN is.
    • The development of Gopher and WAIS, introducing distributed information services, distributed hypertext, and distributed multimedia. The WWW built on these concepts, but did not create them.
    • The writing of TWM - a window manager SO horrible as to actually encourage people to go out and write something better.
    • The writing of "write" - the world's first Instant Messaging system, and still the best. :)
    • The developent of Exokernels - some of the fastest cores ever written.
  • by hawk (1151)

    Fortran "should" be dead? not by a long shot. No, Fortran (not FORTAN anymore, btw) is not the language to use for everything. Even though Prime did it, it is not a good choice for writing an OS.

    But when it comes time to due high level number crunching (or beyond that, merely bashing them into submission), Fortran has no peer--nothing even close.

    Yes, you can usually tune c to give similar performance. But by the time you're done tuning, I've already used the Fortran code, and am on to the next project--or the one afterwards.

    Fortan does not inlcude large portions of what c contains--which is what allows it to make assumpitons and optimizations that would be disastrous in c. It is also much faster to write (especially with F90 free-format), and easier for an "outsider" to read. (but then, there's no language yet built which is proof against crummy coding)

    I hate to think of how much longer the dynamic programming project for my dissertation would have takein in c than Fortran *shudder*.
  • Mozilla will be released about a month after the first service pack for Windows 2000. In other words real soon now.
  • >As I understand it, the supposedly-so-great thing
    >about FORTRAN is that it allows you to ocntrol
    >floating-point precision better than C.

    Matrices. Oh, my, the matrices :) Seven dimensions to comply with the standard, and most compilers offer far more. All sitting there, and ready to use, wiht nice intrinsics to manipulate them.
  • A flash in the pan which is making a lot of noise.

    But anyway, compared to NetScape on Linux I think that Linux itself is much more important. 'Netscape on Linux' is on the list. Why isn't Linux itself then?

  • The first public information on Unix (other than printing the troff files from the distribution tapes) was the Unix issue (July-August 1978) of the Bell System Technical Journal. Thompson & Ritchie had an article on the kernel, I think there were articles on the compiler, the shell (Mashey or Bourne?), ed, and nroff/troff.

    This issue holds the distinction of being the most-stolen magazine in AT&T/Lucent/Telecordia technical libraries.

    The "Bell System" was AT&T, including Western Electric (now Lucent, more or less), the "baby Bells" (now Bell Atlantic et. al.), and Bell Telephone Laboratories (now AT&T Labs, Bell Labs, and Telecordia). It was broken up when AT&T "divested" the local operating companies in 1984.
  • This is a very interesting term - release of linux... If you think about it ... The goood thing about it is that it never actually gets released ... never finished ... always something left to play with ...
  • Well, uh those were probably things that some of the old timers who dislike Linux (people like Ken Thompson, and Bill Joy, and the BSD folks) did.

    This is the new era when everything good about Unix has to do with Open Source(tm) and the FSF.
  • Glad you mention Larry's name. I'm actually surprised I read all the way through this forum and only found one person mentioning that glaring ommission.

    The other name that should have been included in the article was Zawinski. Where would we be today without jwz []? :)
  • UNIX was originally developed in the 70's under the auspices of AT&T Bell Labs. Because of that, AT&T owns the rights to Unix and it's direct derivatives,

    Make that own. They sold USL (UNIX Systems Labs) to Novell quite a long time ago. A few years ago Novell gave the UNIX trademark to X/Open (now The Open Group) and sold the System V code base to SCO.

    and receives a royalty for each true Unix sold

    Actually, SCO now receives a royalty on each derivative of the System V code base, but The Open Group controls the licensing of the UNIX trademark. It is possible to be UNIX branded and not use a single line of the original AT&T source code and not pay SCO a penny. There are fees charged by TOG, however for getting validated, and parts of their spec for what 'true UNIX' is require commercial software (Motif and CDE for example), which makes it very difficult for a free OS like Linux or the *BSDs to consider getting UNIX branded.

    (and no, it probably won't ever be GPL'd)

    That is probably correct as far as the System V code base goes (unless SCO was to go belly up or something), however it really doesn't matter that much anymore because there are good free equivalents.

    BTW, as for AIX, it differs fairly significantly from other commercial UNIXes as far as the system administration aspects go. Linux and for example, Solaris are much closer to each other than Linux and AIX are. From the point of view of a software developer or an end user, they are all more similar than from the perspective of a system administrator though.

  • And even though no one's bothered to pony up the bucks to certify Linux, you can't deny that Linux has impacted Unix.

    Yes, that can be said. A lot of the "embrace and extend" GNU projects use Linux as a battering ram to attack the standardization process, though. I guess the term "impacted" doesn't always have to carry a positive meaning...
  • Dohh. That is what I get for not previewing...
    That should read above:

    Make that owned

    Definitely past tense.

  • I loved this line.

    New with this release:

    All known bugs fixed. New bugs added.

  • "Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain! I Am The Great And Powerful Linux!"
  • I've never had so much fun as when I first started programming, in FORTRAN of course. Since then I've tried C, C++, VB (Bollocks), Java, a couple of 4GLs. The only one that didn't leave me with a hollow feeling inside was FORTH - it was a bit too structured for my liking, but it had possibilities nonetheless, especially the arithmetic operators. But nothing can bring back those early FORTRAN days (and nights).

    I also propose the banning of the tabs key and the parentheses keys for all languages - there should be no need for block indentation of code and cheating with operator precedence.
  • (This has been posted before, but I can't resist....)

    From: (Patrick J. LoPresti)
    Subject: The True Path (long)
    Date: 11 Jul 91 03:17:31 GMT
    When I log into my Xenix system with my 110 baud teletype, both vi and Emacs are just too damn slow. They print useless messages like, C-h for help and "foo" File is read only. So I use the editor that doesn't waste my VALUABLE time.

    Ed, man! !man ed

    ED(1) UNIX Programmer's Manual ED(1)

    ed - text editor

    ed [ - ] [ -x ] [ name ]

    Ed is the standard text editor.
    Computer Scientists love ed, not just because it comes first alphabetically, but because it's the standard. Everyone else loves ed because it's ED!

    ``Ed is the standard text editor.''

    And ed doesn't waste space on my Timex Sinclair. Just look:

    -rwxr-xr-x 1 root 24 Oct 29 1929 /bin/ed
    -rwxr-xr-t 4 root 1310720 Jan 1 1970 /usr/ucb/vi
    -rwxr-xr-x 1 root 5.89824e37 Oct 22 1990 /usr/bin/emacs
    Of course, on the system I administrate, vi is symlinked to ed. Emacs has been replaced by a shell script which 1) Generates a syslog message at level LOG_EMERG; 2) reduces the user's disk quota by 100K; and 3) RUNS ED!!!!!!

    ``Ed is the standard text editor.''

    Let's look at a typical novice's session with the mighty ed:

    golem> ed

    eat flaming death
    Note the consistent user interface and error reportage. Ed is generous enough to flag errors, yet prudent enough not to overwhelm the novice with verbosity.

    ``Ed is the standard text editor.''

    Ed, the greatest WYGIWYG editor of all.


    When I use an editor, I don't want eight extra KILOBYTES of worthless help screens and cursor positioning code! I just want an EDitor!! Not a ``viitor.'' Not a ``emacsitor.'' Those aren't even WORDS!!!! ED! ED! ED IS THE STANDARD!!!


    When IBM, in its ever-present omnipotence, needed to base their ``edlin'' on a UNIX standard, did they mimic vi? No. Emacs? Surely you jest. They chose the most karmic editor of all. The standard.

    Ed is for those who can remember what they are working on. If you are an idiot, you should use Emacs. If you are an Emacs, you should not be vi. If you use ED, you are on THE PATH TO REDEMPTION. THE SO-CALLED ``VISUAL'' EDITORS HAVE BEEN PLACED HERE BY ED TO TEMPT THE FAITHLESS. DO NOT GIVE IN!!! THE MIGHTY ED HAS SPOKEN!!!

  • Wasn't grep developed by Alfred Aho? He's also the A in awk, which was pretty useful in itself...
  • Would you believe that Microsoft had the foresight to declare time_t as unsigned, which gives them until 2105 to develop a 64-bit OS? :)

    They will probably need that long. :-) The problem with making time_t unsigned, is that it makes it impossible to use time_t values to represent a date/time before January 1, 1970. This is a big problem for some applications which need to represent a wider variation of times.
    It also makes their time_t incompatible with normal usage, but that wouldn't be surprising coming from Microsoft.

  • How marvelous.

    We have people who don't know the difference between Forth and Fortran in the discussion now.

    This really is Slashdot, isn't it!?!
  • Actually, SCO now receives a royalty on each derivative of the System V code base

    This is not strictly true. Some of the original System V licensees (Sun and SGI, at least) bought out the license for a large one off payment, when it was still owned by Novell, IIRC. As such, they no longer pay SCO royalties.

  • Basically, CDE sucks. They needed something like GNOME or KDE but, being a big committee, were unable to come up with anything elegant.

    Sure, CDE sucks, but it's not so much that they were unable to come up with anything elegant, but more they were unwilling to do so. It was very much a political thing, with each manufacturer having to be seen to contribute a part of it. HP's contribution was VUE, their Visual User Environment, which later became what we now know as CDE. I hated VUE back then, and I still hate CDE now. As you say, though, being designed by committee didn't help, either...

  • I remember TECO with a great deal of fondness. With what other editor could you spend more time on life games, renumbering utilities, and gray-code searches than manipulating text?

    There was even a macro VEDIT, for those times you just wanted visual editing with arrow keys and all. It was conveniently distributed without any format characters and provided weeks of fun just figuring out how it worked.

    I'm far more productive with Brief/Crisp but I've never had as much fun with an editor since TECO. It could really trash a file from the simplest typos! :)
  • Yep. Grep through /usr/include on commerical Unixen and you may well stumble across the odd Mic rosoft copyright notice, dating back to Xenix days. Certainly was true of OSF/1 a year or so ago (last time I was using a non-free Unix). I think it was in some stuff for reading DOS filesystems.
  • Solaris, obviously. The userland apps are generally 32 bit (for space efficiency), but the kernel is 64bit.

    HP-UX. Those PA-RISC machines are 64bit, right?

    IRIX runs on 64bit MIPS chips.

    For that matter, several BSDs are truly Unices, and run on some 64bit platforms. NetBSD runs on all of these, right? FreeBSD runs on several of them, and I think even Open has one or two (verification?).

    And of course, everyone's favortie 64bit Unix-alike, Linux, which runs on all of the above :)
  • > 6.Solaris' invention of /proc

    That came out of Bell Labs, it was (in some form or another) a feature of the Version 8 research kernel (the Labs' internal successor to Version 7, while the commerical side was going with the V7-based System III and System V). I heard Rob Pike give a talk on it at a Usenix back in, oh, 1985 or '86.

    I agree on the importance though. Beats hell out of grubbing through /dev/kmem.
  • But Mastering Regular Expressions credited Ken Thompson with the original version of grep, circa 1968.


My computer can beat up your computer. - Karl Lehenbauer