Saving UNIX from /dev/null
I review the efforts being undertaken to preserve old versions of
UNIX, to gather information needed to maintain these systems, and the
progress to provide legal access to old UNIX source.
- UNIX turns 30 years old at the end of 1999
- Its elegant design & the powerful paradigms given to it by
its developers are a major factor in its success
- By 1973, UNIX had:
- Multiple concurrent users with passwords
- Multiple protected processes with swapping
- Process signals
- Hierachical filesystem with mountpoints
- User/group/other r/w/x file permissions
- Hard links on files
- Devices accessed as files
- The C language
- Kernel written in C: image size of 26 Kilobytes
- File I/O: open(), close(), read(), write(), seek(), pipe()
- Processes: fork(), exec(), wait(), exit()
- 35 of the 48 syscalls are still in existence today
- UNIX is definitely part of computing history.
- UNIX's history is pretty well documented.
- There has been little effort to preserve the artifacts of UNIX.
- Why would anybody want to?
- A personal interest in memorabilia.
- Own old hardware which can run these systems: PDP-11, VAX etc.
- A few people maintaining/improving old systems: 2.11BSD, Quasijarus.
- PUPS is a loose affiliation of people involved in the preservation,
maintenance and development of UNIX.
- Originally just for PDP-11 systems, now for all `old' UNIX systems.
- Our web page is at
http://minnie.cs.adfa.edu.au/PUPS/. See also
- We also have a mailing list, with over 150 subscribers. A quiet list.
- Mailing list used to announce additions to our archive, ask about
UNIX history, help each other out with software/hardware questions.
- This is a central part of PUPS: a repository of src, bins, apps,
info & misc. stuff related to UNIX.
- Kept as a set of on-line files.
- Where data comes from tapes, we try to retain details of record
structure, and transcribe handwritten labels.
- Usually, tape contents are copied & converted to `tar' format.
- Tapes come in as they are found; we are lucky to have found several
computer `packrats' who kept old stuff.
- The PUPS Archive contains:
- Bell Labs UNIX:
- V5, V6, V7, V7 patches.
- PWB/UNIX, Mini-UNIX, 32V, SysIII, SysV.
- 1BSD, all 2BSDs, 3BSD, all 4BSDs, Net/1, Net/2.
- V7M, Ultrix-11.
- Homegrown UNIX:
- AUSAM, other modified versions.
- Several old USENIX tapes; the Software Tools.
- Bug Fixes:
- An archive of net.v7bugs. 2BSD and 4BSD bug fixes.
- Tools to deal with tapes, filesystems etc.
- Several hardware emulators.
- Recently, we received source to a UNIX kernel dated January 1973.
We have managed to get it to run on a real PDP-11/45.
- A UNIX source license is still required to access the source code.
- `Untainted' systems (Linux, the free BSDs, Minix) don't, obviously.
- Getting a V7 license was impossible: you had to get a SysVR4.2 one. $$$
- The only other access was the newly-released Lions Commentary.
The copyright only allows you to read the book.
- Steven Schultz & I began to lobby SCO for cheap licenses in 1996.
Freely-available source was out of the question, said SCO.
- An on-line petition to SCO (with 350 signatures) helped to convince
them of the interest in cheap licenses.
- With excellent support from Dion Johnson at SCO, `Ancient UNIX'
licenses came out in March 1998.
- A license costs US$100, & covers V1-V7, 32V, and derived PDP-11
systems. 165 people have bought licenses so far.
- Covering 32V was critical: this allowed Kirk McKusick to sell a 4CD
set of all BSD releases.
- SCO doesn't distribute media with the license. PUPS does, instead.
- We have on-line access to the PUPS Archive, for UNIX license holders.
Currently, over 100 people have access.
- We have a network of 19 volunteers who distribute the archive on CD-ROM
or tape. This is done on a cost-recovery basis.
- So far, at least 40 CDs have been distributed.
- We are also interested in any UNIX memorabilia, including artwork.
- Below is one of the oldest pieces of UNIX art, done by Phil Foglio in 1976.
- The original has gone to /dev/null. This comes from a photo
of a t-shirt owned by Mike O'Brien.
- All the research manual editions (V1 - V7) still exist.
- Dennis Ritchie has the V1 manual on his web page.
- Several PUPS members are scanning in and OCR'ing the paper
manuals to recreate the on-line versions.
- UNIX user groups were vital in the early days, as AT&T provided
no software support.
- The groups' newsletters are a mine of useful information.
- I am working with Dave Horsfall to try & scan in all the old
AUUGNs, make a CD-ROM, and pass it on to AUUG for safe-keeping.
- One other project is a UNIX family tree.
- Access to the original sources is useful here to track down
- An initial attempt is hopefully hanging up in the foyer.
- We need details of the commercial UNIX versions.
- Preserving UNIX is a pastime, like preserving old cars.
- It will one day be useful for computing historians and
- Since PUPS was formed in 1995, we have put together an
impressive collection of UNIX material.
- We have a network of people with a large amount of old UNIX
- Our greatest achievement is to make cheap UNIX source licenses
- Preservation is ongoing. We will start to work on systems from
the 1980s and 1990s soon!
- Donations of UNIX material to our archive is most welcome.