[TUHS] Why Linux not another PC/UNIX [was Mach for i386 ...]

Clem Cole clemc at ccc.com
Wed Feb 22 13:38:43 AEST 2017


On Tue, Feb 21, 2017 at 9:25 PM, Steve Nickolas <usotsuki at buric.co> wrote:

> I started screwing around with Linux in the late 90s, and it would be many
> years before any sort of real Unix (of the AT&T variety), in any form, was
> readily available to me - that being Solaris when Sun started offering it
> for free download.


See my comment to Dan. I fear you may not have known where to look, or whom
to ask.‚Äč As I asked Dan,  were you not at an university at time? Or where
you running a Sun or the like -- i.e. working with real UNIX but working
for someone with binary license, not sources from AT&T (and UCB)?

I really am curious because I have heard this comment before and never
really understood it because the sources really were pretty much available
to anyone that asked.  Most professionals and almost any/all
university students had did have source access if they ask for it.  That is
part of why AT&T lost the case.   The trade secret was out, by definition.
  The required by the 1956 consent decree to make the trade secrets
available.   A couple of my European university folks have answer that the
schools kept the sources really locked down.   I believe you, I never saw
that at places like Cambridge, Oxford, Edinburg, Darmstad or other places I
visited in those days in Europe.   Same was true of CMU, MIT, UCB et al
where I had been in the USA, so I my experience was different.

The key that by definition, UNIX was available and there were already
versions from AT&T or not "in the wild."  You just need to know where to
look and whom to ask. The truth is that the UCB/BSDi version of UNIX - was
based on the AT&T trade secret, as was Linux, Minix, Coherent and all of
the other "clones"   -- aka look-a-likes and man of those sources were
pretty available too (just as Minix was to Linus and 386BSD was to him also
but he did not know to where/whom to ask).

So a few years later when the judge said, these N files might be tain'ted
by AT&T IP, but can't claim anything more.  The game was over.  The problem
was when the case started, techies (like me, and I'm guessing Larry, Ron
and other ex BSD hackers that "switched") went to Linux and started to
making it better because we thought we going to lose BSD.

That fact is if we had lost BSD, legally would have lost Linux too; but we
did not know that until after the dust settled.  But by that time, many
hackers had said, its good enough and made it work for everyone.

As you and Dan have pointed out, many non-hackers did know that UNIX really
was available so they went with *Linux because they thought that had no
other choice, *when if fact, you actually did and that to me was the sad
part of the AT&T case.

A whole generation never knew and by the time they did have a choice but a
few religion began and new wars could be fought.

Anyway - that's my thinking/answer to Noel's original question.

Of why Linux over the over the PC/UNIX strains... I think we all agree that
one of the PC/UNIX was going to be the winner, the question really is why
did Linux and not a BSD flavor?
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