[TUHS] Ninth Edition incomplete?

Norman Wilson norman at oclsc.org
Sat Apr 1 05:16:07 AEST 2017

I'll have to have a look at what's actually in the archive,
but it's important to understand that there was barely a
`distribution' of 8/e and never really any of subsequent

There was a distinct V8 tape, assembled mainly by Dennis
with some help from me, in the fall of 1984.  It did not
exactly match the manuals that were printed, I think only
for internal use, a few months before.  It was sent out
to about a dozen universities (and perhaps other sorts of
non-commercial places), with an individual letter agreement
with each destination to cover licensing.

Anything after that from the original Computing Science
Research Centre was effectively just random snapshots.
There was a Ninth Edition manual printed up, but it still
didn't really match the state of the system, partly
because nobody felt up to doing the all that work and
partly because various parts of the system were still
changing rapidly.

I remember personally making a few such snapshots at
various times, e.g. one for a certain university (again
under a one-off letter agreement), another for the
official UNIX System Labs folks in Summit (I took the
tape over there personally and helped get the system
running).  I have no idea whether any of those is in
Warren's archives, and I don't remember whether anyone
else made any such snapshots, though my role in the group
by then was such that I'd probably have been involved.

The `V9 for Sun' distribution was done by someone from
one of our sister groups.  He took a snapshot of our
system at some point and worked from that.  There wasn't
any organized way to keep his stuff in sync with ours, and
I don't think his stuff got a lot of use in the long run
so there was little motivation to fix that.

All of that at least partly explains the skew between
system and manual pages; it was really like that.  (Remember,
we were a research group, not a production computing
centre or a development shop.)  Snapshots may have been
made hastily enough that some things were missed, too.

The 10/e manual came out in early 1990.  It happened
because enough of us wanted to have a current manual
again, Doug was willing to take on the big task of
overall editing for Volume 1, and Andrew Hume was
energized to make Volume 2 happen--the first Volume 2
since the Seventh Edition.  There was a lot of rewriting,
cleanup, merging of related entries, and discarding of
stuff we no longer used or no longer considered an
official part of the system.  I remember that the first
printed copies arrived just in time for me to get one
before I left the wretched suburbs forever in June 1990.
Since I'd spent a lot of time working over the power-of-two
sections (2 4 8), I was pleased about that.

One thing that helped energize others about that manual,
by the way, was that I felt the parts I was responsible
for were way, way out of date, and that it was no longer
accurate for the system to call itself Ninth Edition
when it booted.  But Edition always meant the manual,
so Tenth Edition would be wrong too.  I made the boot
message say 9Vr2.  I figured that would annoy people
enough to help convince them to help get a new manual
out.  I have no data as to how big a help that was.

I don't know how many `V10 distributions' Warren has
at this point, but one of them is derived from a
snapshot I made during a visit to Bell Labs in 1994
or 1995.  I had rescued some MicroVAXes before they
disappeared into dumpsters, and decided it would be
fun to set up a system or two running Research UNIX
for my private enjoyment.  (I was working at a
university that had a letter agreement for 9/e--one
of the tapes I'd made, in fact--and a certain
department head at Bell Labs decided that as long
as I didn't spread the code around, that was probably
enough to keep lawyers happy.)  I made rather a raw
snapshot of the root, /usr, and the whole master
source-code area, but with /etc/passwd trimmed of
any real passwords.  Some years later (and with the
help of the resulting running systems) I made a
few tar images for Warren to keep in his secret
box pending the license issue (which we were discussing
even back then).  I removed some stuff that didn't
belong to Bell Labs and wasn't really part of the
system (e.g. some big mathematical packages, a huge
bolus of X11 code that had never compiled and never
would), and segregated in a separate tar image some
stuff that was arguably part of the system but that
might technically belong to others (e.g. our workhorse
C compiler was based on pcc2, work scj had done over
at USG/USL after he'd left the Research world).

None of that was really curated either, and there had
certainly been further changes to the system since
the final 1990 manual was printed, not all of which
had been properly reflected in /usr/man.

So don't call those systems distributions, because
they're not.  More important, don't expect them to be
fully coherent, because they aren't: they're snapshots,
not formal releases.

Norman Wilson
Toronto ON

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