[TUHS] Linux vs. other X86 options
Charles H Sauer
sauer at technologists.com
Sat Feb 25 05:20:27 AEST 2017
Since the X86 discussions seem to have focused on BSD & Linux, I thought I
should offer another perspective.
TLDR: I worked on System V based UNIX on PCs from 1982 to 1993. IMO,
excessive royalties & the difficulty of providing support for diverse
hardware doomed (USL) UNIX on x86. It didn't help that SCO was entrenched in
the PC market and slow to adopt new UNIX versions.
>From 1975-82 at IBM Research and UT-Austin C.S. dept, I tried to get access
to UNIX but couldn't.
At IBM Austin from '82 to '89, I worked on AIX and was involved with IBM's
BSD for RT/PC.
Starting in '89, I was the executive responsible for Dell UNIX
for most of its existence.
The royalties Dell paid for SVR4 plus addons were hard to bear. Those
royalties were at least an order of magnitude greater than what we paid to
We couldn't support all of the devices Dell supplied to customers, certainly
couldn't afford to support hardware only supplied by other PC vendors.
SCO had dominant marketplace success with Xenix and SVRx products, seemingly
primarily using PCs with multiport serial cards to enable traditional
timesharing applications. Many at Dell preferred that we emphasize SCO over
When I joined my first Internet startup in 1996 and had to decide what OS to
use for hosting, I was pretty cognizant of all the options. I had no hands
on Linux experience but thought Linux the likely choice. A Linux advocate
friend recommended I choose between Debian and Red Hat. I chose Red Hat and
have mostly used Red Hat & Fedora for my *IX needs since then.
Today, Linux device support is comprehensive, but still not as complete as
with Windows. I installed Fedora 24 on some 9 and 15 year old machines last
week. The graphics hardware is nothing fancy, a low end NVIDIA card in the
older one, just what Intel supplied on their OEM circuit boards in the newer
one. Windows (XP/7/10) on those machines gets 1080p without downloading
extra drivers. (Without extra effort??) Fedora 24 won't do more than
1024x768 on one and 1280x1024 with the other.
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