[TUHS] the guy who brought up SVr4 on Sun machines

Wesley Parish wes.parish at paradise.net.nz
Thu Jan 5 13:00:06 AEST 2017


Quoting Larry McVoy <lm at mcvoy.com>:

> On Wed, Jan 04, 2017 at 07:50:27PM -0500, William Pechter wrote:
> > Where would the current FreeBSD be if you compared it with SunOS4?
> 
> That's a good, and hard question. One of the nice things about SunOS4
> was the VM system and the VFS layer and the VNODE layer. Those were 
> really well thought out. They all, so far as I know, were Bill Joy
> dreams, but Steve Kleiman was the primary driver of the vnode design
> but I think Joe Moran was the main coder of all of that. It's one of
> those things that people copy but don't get right. I think Linux got
> closer than FreeBSD did.
> 
> I haven't dug into the FreeBSD kernel in years so who knows, maybe
> it is fantastic. When I last looked it was lagging way behind SunOS
> (which isn't fair, Sun was a business and as such had buildings full of
> motivated people who were making it better. There was a building with
> just networking people in, we're talking a two story building with I
> dunno, ~100 offices). They threw more resources at it that FreeBSD has
> ever had.
> 
> If you took the ~1992 SunOS and stacked it up against the 2016 FreeBSD,
> well I would hope that FreeBSD would be better but I wouldn't bet on it
> across the board. It would certainly have more drivers (and if we're
> being honest, that's 99% of the work, all this generic kernel stuff
> is super fun to talk about but all the real coding is in the drivers).
> 
> I think the more interesting question is would {Free,Net,Open}BSD even
> exist if there had been a Free SunOS. I'm 100% convinced the answer 
> to that is a resounding no.
>  

My understanding which was that of an interested layman in 1991 and just bitten by the bug, and based 
upon the comments of some of the computer science staff of the U of Canterbury, NZ, at that time, is 
that 386BSD held everybody's attention. (I mentioned in 1992 reading about Linux in a computer mag 
to one of them and he told me 386BSD was where the action was.) i80386 PCs were relatively cheap, 
BSD was (relatively) free from AT&T's legal claims, and 386BSD was even freer and targeted that cheap 
powerhorse. My guess is that if Sun had spun off a Free SunOS, it would've been ported to the 386. 
What would've happened then is anyone's guess.

Wesley Parish


"I have supposed that he who buys a Method means to learn it." - Ferdinand Sor,
Method for Guitar

"A verbal contract isn't worth the paper it's written on." -- Samuel Goldwyn


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