[TUHS] Portability (was: BSDi Imaging)

Greg 'groggy' Lehey grog at lemis.com
Mon Feb 27 16:31:42 AEST 2017

On Sunday, 26 February 2017 at 17:08:39 -0800, Steve Johnson wrote:
> I couldn't disagree more.

I think you could have :-) But thanks for the followup and the

> Late in 1974, as I recall, Dennis mused "You know, I think it would
> be easier to move Unix to a new machine than to change a large
> application to run on another operating system."  I ... offered to
> write a portable C compiler.

By that time C on the PDP-11 had been round for a couple of years,
right?  And then you go on to be portable.  On the other hand, my
understanding of Algol and Cobol is that they didn't start with any
specific architecture in mind.  And it was that difference that I was
thinking of when I said that C wasn't designed to be portable.  A
matter of viewpoint, maybe.

I'm not belittling the design of C, nor your or Dennis' work, but
there's nothing you've said here that suggested that C was designed
from the outset to be portable.

> So C was indisputably intended to be portable, at least in that
> sense.  And in practice it was highly portable while sacrificing
> little in performance on different systems (unlike some other
> languages).

That certainly applied to the difference between C and Algol.  In
defence of Algol, it had no prior art to build on.

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