[TUHS] Mach for i386 / Mt Xinu or other

Clem Cole clemc at ccc.com
Wed Feb 22 01:02:22 AEST 2017


On Tue, Feb 21, 2017 at 7:02 AM, Noel Chiappa <jnc at mercury.lcs.mit.edu>
wrote:

> So there is a question here, though, and I'm curious to see what others who
> were closer to the action think. Why _did_ Linux succeed, and not a Unix
> derivative? (Is there any work which looks at this question? Some Linux
> history? If not, there should be.)
>


​I​'ve thought and written a bit about this question a bit [
Would it be possible/advantageous to rewrite the Linux kernel in Rust when
the language is stable?
<https://www.quora.com/Would-it-be-possible-advantageous-to-rewrite-the-Linux-kernel-in-Rust-when-the-language-is-stable>
 &
 Why did Unix succeed and not Multics
<https://www.quora.com/Why-did-Unix-succeed-and-not-Multics> ] ​
​
and I'll not repeat all of here but
​as one of the people that did switch from 386BSD to linux at the time, the
reason for me was purely because of the AT&T/BSDi case.    You are right, I
wanted a "free" (i.e. very inexpensive) UNIX for the 386 and the "big
guns"​ were not going to give it.   I thought we had it the 386 port BSD
which I had helped in a small way to create.

​But I like, most hackers of the day, misunderstood incorrectly​ the case
to be about *trade secret *and the all based around the 1956 consent
decree, IBM vs AT&T; telephones and the computers. I was worried AT&T would
win because it was going to hard to cleaim that that the BSD code was not a
derivative work of the AT&T *copyright code base *(not understanding the *trade
secret*  and the  *copyright* difference mattered).

So...I switched to Linux *not because I thought it was "better"* - in fact,
I b*tched (and still do) about many gratuitous differences, but as I knew
that we needed something for "consumer" HW (which was bring driven by the
WINTEL economics), and I was willing to use the "lessor" technology (Linux)
because it was "good enough" and gave me what I needed (UNIX on a PC/386).
I thought (incorrectly) somehow original Linux's European authorship was
going to protect me and my fellow hackers ever though it was not as good as
my beloved BSD system.

Simple put - using Christiansen's theories:  Linux "won" because:

   - it was "good enough",
   - had a lot of people behind it that valued that was there and invested
   in making it "better", and
   - the economics of the platform (PC/386 - WINTEL etc) was on the fastest
   grow curve [and its Christiansen's economic disruption was displacing the
   Mini & Workstation].


BTW: at the time, I argued with the Roger Gourd and the OSF folks, that if
they released (sold) the OSF/1 RI uK which had not AT&T technology in it
(again thinking Copyright not Trade Secret); I was suggesting $100/copy
there was a market for it.  I just could not get them interested.

Sun has done the RoadRunner and had their 386 port of Solaris; but again.
All the "UNIX" folks were still interested in pushing out "iron" so were
blind to the WINTEL economic disruption.

Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda .... sigh

Clem
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