[TUHS] Happy birthday, Dennis Ritchie! [ really sun vs dec/apollo --> X and NeWS ]

Larry McVoy lm at mcvoy.com
Wed Sep 13 23:35:42 AEST 2017


Yeah but not the SCCS history.  And the source tapes went through
Bill Shannon who would grep the source for swear words and other
stuff before blessing it.  At least that's how it was when I was 
there.

On Wed, Sep 13, 2017 at 01:30:22AM -0600, arnold at skeeve.com wrote:
> And buried in this story is another reason Unix / BSD people went with
> Sun --- (if you had the licenses) they would give you source! Even for
> educational institutions, where I mostly worked, getting source out of
> DEC / IBM / HP was essentially impossible.
> 
> Arnold
> 
> "Steve Johnson" <scj at yaccman.com> wrote:
> 
> > Funny.? From the outside I had a rather different view of why Sun was
> > successful.
> >
> > In 1986 I came to CA to work for what became Ardent/Stardent.? We
> > made the decision to go with Sun disc-less workstations.? They got us
> > more computing power, on paper, for less $$.
> >
> > Roughly a quarter of the machines shipped to us were DOA.? When we
> > got them running, the OS had a memory leak and needed to be rebooted
> > several times a day.? The NFS server had the delightful property of
> > sometimes inserting 1024 zeros into a file it was writing or
> > serving.??? (It was so bad that we hacked the OS to check every
> > executable for 0-blocks in the instruction space and refuse to run
> > it.? This was especially true for the MIPS cross compiler -- 0 was a
> > NOP on the MIPS, and encountering a block of zeros caused execution to
> > slide down a slippery slope of NOPs into the middle of some other
> > routine with a different stack layout, where it proceeded to do the
> > most mysterious things...)
> >
> > We would go out to lunch every day and trash talk Sun up one side and
> > down the other.? And then we would go back to work and order more
> > Suns.? Because THEY UNDERSTOOD WHAT WE NEEDED, and were TRYING TO
> > GIVE IT TO US.? The other manufacturers were selling application
> > delivery vehicles rather than attempting to support software
> > development.? Eventually we ironed out many of the issues (often by
> > changing or hacking the code).? The only fly in the ointment was the
> > service department.? Dealing with Sun customer service was like
> > spitting into the wind.? We would report the same bug every week and
> > they swore the bug had not been reported before.? The memory leak
> > problem became so serious that we told them that we would only renew
> > the service agreement if they would put a date when that would be
> > fixed.? They refused to do so, and we canceled the service contract,
> > bought a couple of extra Suns for spares, and heaved a sigh of relief.
> >
> > Steve
> >
> > ----- Original Message -----
> > From: "Jon Steinhart" <jon at fourwinds.com>
> > To:<tuhs at tuhs.org>
> > Cc:
> > Sent:Tue, 12 Sep 2017 08:35:24 -0700
> > Subject:Re: [TUHS] Happy birthday, Dennis Ritchie! [ really sun vs
> > dec/apollo --> X and NeWS ]
> >
> >  arnold at skeeve.com writes:
> >  > 
> >  > In particular, the creation of NFS and then the efforts to make it
> > into
> >  > a de-facto standard (giving away the RPC and XDR code) was a HUGE
> > thing.
> >  > 
> >  > They weren't afraid to swim upstream, either. Even though NeWS
> > never took
> >  > off (even when combined with an X server), it was an interesting
> > design,
> >  > ahead of its time even.
> >
> >  It's interesting that you mention the two of these together. It's my
> >  opinion that the main reason that NeWS failed was because of the
> > success
> >  of NFS.
> >
> >  I recall that Apollo was really pissed off by NFS because they felt
> > that
> >  their token-ring network was better but lost because NFS was given
> > away.
> >  In hindsight, they were wrong; while the token-ring performed better
> > in
> >  large networks, the advent of switches made that moot. In any case,
> > when
> >  NeWS was released nobody except Sun knew how to do the graphics (even
> >  Adobe didn't know how to do it fast for display) and Apollo et. al.
> > was
> >  worried that Sun would give NeWS away and make it yet another de
> > facto
> >  standard a la NFS. This led to the formation of the Hamilton Group
> > which
> >  was a thinly-disguised industry consortium that existed only for the
> >  purpose of making sure that NeWS didn't succeed.
> >
> >  > DEC, IBM, and HP, all seemed to be playing follow the leader to Sun
> > for
> >  > many years.
> >
> >  I mentioned this to a lot of people after Sun died. Few seem to
> > realize
> >  how much of what became PC manufacturing technology resulted from
> > innovations
> >  at Sun.
> >
> >  ron at ronnatalie.com writes:
> >  >
> >  > NeWS had serious issues. However, the same guy who was the NeWS
> > proponent
> >  > learned from mistakes and the result was the must more successful
> > Sun
> >  > tehnology: JAVA.
> >
> >  I'm going to take issue with the above. NeWS had way fewer serious
> > issues
> >  than X. It's main reason for failure was the coordinated effort to
> > kill it
> >  from others in the industry. As the guy who single-handedly prevented
> > X
> >  from becoming an ANSI standard, I'd be happy to start another thread
> > on
> >  this topic if people are interested. Part of the result of the
> > Hamilton
> >  Group effort was the misguided attempt to merge X and NeWS which was
> > a
> >  botched disaster.
> >
> >  Java is not the result of learning from mistakes in NeWS. I have
> > joked with
> >  James that I feel that his legacy is being the person who first
> > realizes that
> >  technology is changing to the point where something can be done using
> > an
> >  interpreter. If you look at his project history, he's done this many
> > times.
> >  I think that it's more accurate to say that Java is the result of a
> > lifetime
> >  of learning from interpreter projects. I fully expect some new
> > interpreter
> >  to take over AWS sometime soon :-)
> >
> >  Jon
> >

-- 
---
Larry McVoy            	     lm at mcvoy.com             http://www.mcvoy.com/lm 


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