[TUHS] Unix clones

Steve Johnson scj at yaccman.com
Sat Apr 8 07:58:22 AEST 2017

Thoth was under development at Waterloo when I was there, and I really
enjoyed talking with those folks.  They viewed the parts of the
system as inhabitants of a community and gave them clever names --
this led to some interesting discussions about the distribution of
functions in the kernel.   For example, I remember that the guy who
killed processes was called "Big Al", and when the process was dead
the "Undertaker" was called, etc.

There were also some B-inspired languages that got worked on:  eh? 
was a simpler version of B, and its follow-on was called zed.  Don't
know that they ever got out of the university, though...


----- Original Message -----
From: "Wesley Parish" <wes.parish at paradise.net.nz>
To:"Clem Cole" <clemc at ccc.com>
Cc:"The Eunuchs Hysterical Society" <tuhs at tuhs.org>
Sent:Fri, 07 Apr 2017 13:12:21 +1200 (NZST)
Subject:Re: [TUHS] Unix clones

 's/DNS/DNA/' - Not a problem. Thanks!

 I'd come across Thoth mentioned in an OS book at the U of Canterbury
(NZ) Science Library; they also 
 had a copy of the Tunis book. But I never took the time to read them.

 Getting them put into a time frame is useful - it gives an external
perspective to Salus' book, eg, this is 
 what some non-Unix folk thought of Unix at the time.

 Wesley Parish

 Quoting Clem Cole <clemc at ccc.com>:

 > s/DNS/DNA/ - dyslexia sucks....
 > On Thu, Apr 6, 2017 at 2:02 PM, Clem Cole <clemc at ccc.com> wrote:
 > > âtry-II sorry about that...â
 > >
 > >
 > > On Wed, Apr 5, 2017 at 9:18 PM, Wesley Parish
 > <wes.parish at paradise.net.nz>
 > > wrote:
 > >
 > >> The mention of UNOS a realtime "clone" of Unix in a recent
 > raises
 > >> a question for me. How many
 > >> Unix clones are there?
 > >>
 > >
 > > âAn interesting question.... I'll take a shot at this in a
 > note
 > > there is a Wikipedia page:
 > https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Unix_
 > > variants that I don't fully agree with.
 > >
 > > The problem with all of this question is really depends where you
 > place
 > > which boundary on the following continuum:
 > >
 > > non-unix add-unix ideas trying to be
 > > unix might as well be unix research unix
 > > stream
 > >
 > > eg VMS eg Domain eg UNOS
 > > eg Sys V, BSD/386 & Linux Vx & BSD VAX
 > >
 > >
 > > Different people value different things. So here is my take from
 > > "cloned" systems I used/was basically aware....
 > >
 > > Idris was a V6 clone for the PDP-11, which I saw 1978ish. I can
say I
 > > was able to recompile code from v6 and it "just worked" so from a
 > user's
 > > standpoint it might as well has been. But the compilers and
 > assemblers
 > > were different and I never tried anything "hard"
 > >
 > > The first attempt to "clone" v7 that I knew about was in France,
 > > written in Pascal - I think at Ecole Tech in Paris? The name of
 > > project escapes me, but they presented the work in the 1979/80
 > > USENIX (Blackhole) conference in Denver. There were no
proceedings in
 > > those days. I believe it also ran on the PDP-11, but I never ran
 > so; so
 > > I have no idea how easy it was to move things from Seventh
 > But I
 > > also don't think they were working binary compatibility, so I
 > it
 > > landed more toward the center.
 > >
 > > The Cruds folks (Goldberg) wrote UNOS shortly there after (early
 > > It was definitely not UNIX although it tried to have be mostly.
 > had
 > > CRDS box at Masscomp and before I arrived they plan had been to
use it
 > get
 > > code working before the RTU was running. But the truth was it
 > > because it was not UNIX. The 68000 vs Vax issues were far, far
less of
 > an
 > > issue than UNOS != UNIX. To Goldberg's credit, he did have a
 > of
 > > cool things in it. I believe only system commercial systems that
 > > Kanodia & Reed's Sequences and Eventcounts, were UNOS, Apollo
 > and
 > > Stellar's Stellix (I'm not sure about DG - they might have also
 > one
 > > point). But these were hidden in the kernel. Also the driver
model he
 > > had was different, so there was no gain writing drivers there.
 > >
 > > Mike Malcom & Dave Cheriton at Waterloo developed Thoth (Thoth -
 > Thucks),
 > > which was written in B, IIRC. Ran on the PDP-11 and was very fast
 > > light. It was the first "ukernel" UNIX-like/clone system.. Moving
 > code
 > > from V7 was pretty simple and there was attempt to make it good
 > to
 > > make it easy to move things, but it was not trying to be UNIX so
 > was
 > > somewhere in the middle.
 > >
 > > The Tunis folks seem to have been next. This was more in the left
 > side
 > > of the page than the right. I think they did make run on the
 > but
 > > I'm not so sure how easy it was to move code. If you used their
 > > concurrent Pascal, I suspect that code moved. But I'm not sure
 > easy it
 > > was to move a raw K&R "White Book" C code.
 > >
 > > CMU's Accent (which was redo of Rochester's RIG) came around the
 > > time. Like Tunis the system language was an extended Pascal and
 > fact
 > > the target was the triple drip Perq (aka the Pascalto). The C
 > compiler
 > > for it was late, and moving code was difficult, the UNIX
 > was
 > > clear.
 > >
 > > Apollo's Aegis/Domain really came next - about 82/83 ish. Like
 > it
 > > was written in hacked up Pascal and the command were in
 > Ratfor/Fortran
 > > (from the SW Tool User's Group). C showed up reasonably early,
 > the
 > > focus did not start trying to be UNIX. In fact, they were very
 > > successfully and were getting ISV's to abandon VMS for them at a
 > good
 > > clip. UNIX clearly influenced the system, but it was not trying
to be
 > > UNIX, although moving code from BSD or V7 could be done fairly
 > easily.
 > >
 > > Tannebaum then did MINIX. Other than 8086 vs PDP-11-ism, it was a
 > pretty
 > > darned good clone. You could recompile and most things pretty
 > "just
 > > worked." He did not support ptrace and few other calls, but as a
 > V7
 > > system running on a pure PDP PC, it was remarkably clean. It also
 > a
 > > large number of languages and it was a great teaching system -
 > is
 > > what Andy created it be. A problem was that UNIX had moved on by
 > > time Andy released it. So BSD & V8 were now pretty much the
 > of
 > > "UNIX" - large address spaces were needed. As were the BSD tools
 > > extensions, such as vi, csh. Also UUCP was now very much in the
 > thing,
 > > and while it was a pure v7 clone, it was the lack of "tools" that
 > it
 > > not a good system to "use" and it's deficiencies out weighed the
 > value.
 > > Plus as discussed elsewhere, BSD/386 would appear.
 > >
 > > Steve Ward's crew at MIT created TRIX, which was a UNIX-like,
 > although
 > > instead of everything being a file, everything was a process.
 > was
 > > supposed to be the system that rms was originally going to use
 > GNU, but
 > > I never knew what happened. Noel might. I thought it was a cool
 > system,
 > > although it was a mono-kernel and around this time, most of the
 > research
 > > had gone ukernel happy.
 > >
 > > Coherent was announcement and its provenance is questioned,
 > as
 > > discussed was eventually released from the AT&T official inquiry
 > you
 > > can look it your self. It was clearly a V7 clone for the PC and
 > more
 > > complete than Minix. I also think they supported the 386 fairly
 > quickly,
 > > which may have made it more interesting from a commercial
 > It
 > > also had more of the BSD tools available than Minix did when it
 > first
 > > released.
 > >
 > > CMU rewrites Accent to create Mach, but this time splices the BSD
 > kernel
 > > inside of it so that the 4.1BSD binaries "just work." So it's bit
 > > and a new system all in one. So which is it? This system would
 > > OSF/1 and eventually become Apple's Mac OS? I think its UNIX, but
 > can
 > > claim its not either....
 > >
 > > By this point in time the explosion occurs. You have Lion's book,
 > Andy's
 > > and Maury Bach's book on the street. he genie is clearly out of
 > bottle,
 > > and there is a ton of code out there and the DNS is getting all
 > up.
 > > Doug Comer does Xinu, Sheraton does V-kernel, Thoth is rewritten
 > become
 > > QNX, and a host of others I have not repeated. BSD's CSRG group
 > > break up, BSDi would be created and their 386 code come out. It
 > > clearly "might as well be" if it was not. Soon, Linus would start
 > with
 > > Minix and the rest is history on the generic line.
 > >
 > > Clem
 > >
 > >

 "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

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