[TUHS] Mach for i386 / Mt Xinu or other

Andy Kosela akosela at andykosela.com
Wed Feb 22 10:52:26 AEST 2017

On Tuesday, February 21, 2017, Larry McVoy <lm at mcvoy.com> wrote:

> On Tue, Feb 21, 2017 at 07:02:18AM -0500, Noel Chiappa wrote:
> > So there is a question here, though, and I'm curious to see what others
> who
> > were closer to the action think. Why _did_ Linux succeed, and not a Unix
> > derivative? (Is there any work which looks at this question? Some Linux
> > history? If not, there should be.)
> http://www.mcvoy.com/lm/bitmover/lm/papers/srcos.html
> is worth a read, I was very much in the middle of all this at the time.
> I think Linux succeeded because:
>     - it was free and GPLed.  BSD license is nice but it has the problem
>       that people can take it closed source and not give back changes.
>     - no lawsuit
>     - Linus (as mentioned, much stronger leader than any in the Unix world)
>     - no religion.  I can't make this point hard enough.  At Sun, we
> couldn't
>       change any API, any utility, it was compat to the point that it was
> not
>       useful.  Look at SVr4/Solaris /proc and then look at Linux /proc.
> The
>       Linux one is way, way, way, way more useful, you can dig shit out
> with
>       shell scripts.  The rest of the Unix world was blindly posix compat
>       even when posix compat made no sense.  Linux was glorious in that
>       Linus wanted compat but was willing to break it for good reasons.
>     - good enough
>     - fun, all the cool kids were there.
> Here is perhaps something that will resonate with this crowd.  When I was
> teaching OS at Stanford, for file systems I made people go through the
> thought process on when you write what (think the sync writes so the FS
> isn't busted when you crash).
> For years, the BSD guys insisted that Linux was doing it wrong because
> they didn't do the sync writes, they did ordered writes (but the BSD
> guys didn't understand the write ordering so they thought it was busted,
> as did I).
> But Linux wasn't busted, they had carefully gone through the process
> of figuring out when stuff had to be first so that you could survive
> a crash.
> The BSD guys refused to believe that it was possible, they were stuck
> on writes had to be synchronous in order to get a file system that
> wasn't corrupted on a crash.
> I eventually started convincing them that Linux had it right by saying
> just untar some big tarball and unplug the power in the middle of that
> on a system with UFS and a system with ext2.  Tell me what happens when
> you power it up.  Answer?  The UFS based system dropped you into a fsck
> nightmare of unattached inodes, the ext2 based systems lost some data
> but the file system was fine.
> Obviously, the Linux approach won, it's better.  Way better, higher
> performance and a much better user experience.  But the traditional
> Unix guys had to be dragged kicking and screaming, over a decade,
> into that world.  It's stuff like that that made Unix stagnate while
> Linux forged ahead.

Interesting points.  I think Linux really succeded because big IT players
like IBM, HP, Oracle etc. started to promote and financially support
it around 99.  Before that time Linux and FreeBSD went head-to-head and one
can argue that actually FreeBSD was more technically advanced at that time.

When IBM poured millions of dollars in developing Linux it showed.  After
year 2000 the growth of Linux was phenomenal -- it started to show
up everywhere, from embedded world to supercomputers.

Hardware support from big vendors also helped make it the official Open
Source Unix.  To this day you will not get a support contract for FreeBSD
from HP or Dell, and they make up the majority of what you see in modern
data centers.

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