[TUHS] Mach for i386 / Mt Xinu or other

Clem Cole clemc at ccc.com
Wed Feb 22 13:11:14 AEST 2017


On Tue, Feb 21, 2017 at 8:50 PM, Dan Cross <crossd at gmail.com> wrote:

> If I may, I think there was an additional thing at play: Linux was
> essentially Unix.
>
​But that is of course my point.   Linux is (was) UNIX, AND ...  "UNIX" as
a free UNIX *was *available at the time.​



>
> Linux "won" because people wanted low-cost or free (as in gratis) Unix
> with source that could run on modest commodity hardware, and Unix wasn't
> available at a price point that was reasonable for most individuals
> (certainly not with source).
>
​Indeed - that was 386BSD.​   At first anyone with a source license (which
was just about anyone at University - so that means students like Linus
BTW), and most commercial places had access to the BSD license.  The ftp
site for download 'Jolix' as some one called it earlier today was pretty
much the worst kept secret on the Internet.   All you had to do is ask, and
you could find it and once NET/2 was released, and then FreeBSD, NetBSD et
al came to be it was all over.

They key was in the case of 386BSD, you want to ask for it (and
officially needed a license to ask), but long before Linux shows up there
were >>freely<< available PC/UNIX systems.

And you point, which is 100% in agreement with my own is that under the
rules of Christiansen disruption, a PC/386 based UNIX that was "cheap
enough" was going to win.

The question Noel asked was why did *this flavor *of UNIX win over the
others since there were other choices.   That is what I tried to answer.
As Larry and I both pointed out, if the BSDi/AT&T suit had not occurred the
"hackers" which Larry described very well in his document, were going to
find something.   386BSD was that place.   Then it got clouded in legal
nonsense and lot of us fled.

Larry suggest there were other reasons.  He and many others think the GPL/2
vs the BSD license was important.  I really don't think so.  But that's
less of an argument.   The key is that the BSD version was cloud in legal
issues (and as Larry pointed out some strong personalities).


​...
>  So Linux comes along and it's basically a "simplest possible solution"
> Unix, freely available, runs on a PC, comes with source, and wasn't mired
> in a lawsuit brought by a major US company. It was the right thing in the
> right place at the right time.
>

​Exactly ... ​
Linux arrive at the right time, free of the *perceived* legal issues.  The
sad truth is that if AT&T had won, technically Linux would have had to be
removed from the market in the US and NATO countries.   I'll not try to
speculate what would have happened then other than to say the not only was
cow out of the barn, th
​e​
barn had caught fire so there was not place to put it back.




>
> I think there's a network effect that blinds a lot of folks to this
> reality. Most of the folks on this list had access to Unix source and, with
> no disrespect intended, it's easy to lose sight of what a big deal that
> was. But unless you were in a position to already have access to it, it was
> remarkably difficult to come by.
>
​Actually, I always found that a strange statement.  I hear you and no
disrespect intended, but  I fear that people that make that claim just did
not know where to look.  It was ignorance (not stupidity mind you) - just
lack of knowledge that is was available.

I'm going to ask Dan, were you not at an university at time?  Most schools
in the US and Europe had BSD licenses.  If you working, I can understand it
somewhat.   Many people's first UNIX experience was on a Sun Workstation so
those folks did not have UNIX source licenses.   But if you were at a
either a University or commercial enterprise with a AT&T and BSD license,
 All it took was making sure you university had one and sending and email
to the UCB folks (which many of us on this list were some of the folks that
might have read it).​ They reply (I if I got searching through old email I
might even have a copy of some where) basically was the url of the blind
ftp address to pull the iso off the ucb ftp site.  It was incredibly easy
to get but you did have to have ftp access (and know the magic path - which
if you asked was easy to get).   Even with the first ISO, at one point, I
seem to remember the bazillion *BSD floppies showed up on the one of the
netnews channels and clogging up the dial-up links for a few days.

The point was if you were at all in the community, it was pretty easy to
find the BSD code.

Which brings me to my point... many developers abandoned it - and most of
them certainly know how to get it.  They why I think the incorrect belief
that legal entanglement (miss guided as it turned out) where not there with
Linux.

By the time the legal case was settled, the developed had "completed
enough" of what was missing in Linux from *BSD that many folks never went
back.   And the newbie never knew any better.




> Linux filled a gap that a lot of people were looking to have filled.
>
​Agreed..​ but that gap would not have been there if the AT&T legal case
had not clouded it all.   Imagine that if the case had no occurred, the
hackers were already working with *BSD.

So then the question comes which Larry raises, was the UNIX personalities
and/or the licensing what would have caused Linux to rise.

I don't think so, because BSD had too much of a lead - already had
networking, windowing, and in fact had a "better" installer on a PC/386.
The first stuff "distro" that was at all reasonably easy t install was a PC
was slackware and that was partly because they pulled a bunch of stuff from
the stuff Jordan had created.

But they problem was that FreeBSD et al was starting under a legal cloud, I
know I was worried.  I ran it on two of my systems, but was working on
Linux on another to hedge my bet.  I was not sure BSDi/UCB would win, so I
started helping make Linux work better too.

Clem
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