[TUHS] Linux vs. other X86 options

Charles H Sauer sauer at technologists.com
Sat Feb 25 05:20:27 AEST 2017

Since the X86 discussions seem to have focused on BSD & Linux, I thought I 
should offer another perspective.

TLDR: I worked on System V based UNIX on PCs from 1982 to 1993. IMO, 
excessive royalties & the difficulty of providing support for diverse 
hardware doomed (USL) UNIX on x86. It didn't help that SCO was entrenched in 
the PC market and slow to adopt new UNIX versions.

Longer Summary:

>From 1975-82 at IBM Research and UT-Austin C.S. dept, I tried to get access 
to UNIX but couldn't.

At IBM Austin from '82 to '89, I worked on AIX and was involved with IBM's 
BSD for RT/PC.

Starting in '89, I was the executive responsible for Dell UNIX 
for most of its existence.

The royalties Dell paid for SVR4 plus addons were hard to bear. Those 
royalties were at least an order of magnitude greater than what we paid to 

We couldn't support all of the devices Dell supplied to customers, certainly 
couldn't afford to support hardware only supplied by other PC vendors.

SCO had dominant marketplace success with Xenix and SVRx products, seemingly 
primarily using PCs with multiport serial cards to enable traditional 
timesharing applications. Many at Dell preferred that we emphasize SCO over 
Dell SVR4.

When I joined my first Internet startup in 1996 and had to decide what OS to 
use for hosting, I was pretty cognizant of all the options. I had no hands 
on Linux experience but thought Linux the likely choice. A Linux advocate 
friend recommended I choose between Debian and Red Hat. I chose Red Hat and 
have mostly used Red Hat & Fedora for my *IX needs since then.

Today, Linux device support is comprehensive, but still not as complete as 
with Windows. I installed Fedora 24 on some 9 and 15 year old machines last 
week. The graphics hardware is nothing fancy, a low end NVIDIA card in the 
older one, just what Intel supplied on their OEM circuit boards in the newer 
one. Windows (XP/7/10) on those machines gets 1080p without downloading 
extra drivers. (Without extra effort??) Fedora 24 won't do more than 
1024x768 on one and 1280x1024 with the other.


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