[TUHS] the guy who brought up SVr4 on Sun machines

Larry McVoy lm at mcvoy.com
Thu Jan 5 04:44:48 AEST 2017

On Wed, Jan 04, 2017 at 07:23:12PM +0100, Joerg Schilling wrote:
> BTW: in order to avoid more missunderstandings, could you mention when you have 
> been in the Sun kernel group and what kind of things you did with the kernel?

Sure.  Here's some notes I put together for Eli Lamb when I was thinking
about moving to Dec (to work for Jim Gray).  The date on the file is 
1992 so I had been there about 4 years.  I was in the kernel group from
1988 to about 1992, then moved over to hardware where I did a cluster
based NFS server and LMbench.  Then I went to SGI and did a new name
server that could serve all of California on a 200 mhz server, made
NFS deliver serve up files at 60MB/sec per file (we could do as many
streams in parallel as we had network cards).  


I showed up in October 1988.  This is what I can remember that I've done
since I've been here.  When I interviewed at DEC, their HR people thought 
I was lieing and I went through two more interviews before they finally
believed me.

* Doubled file system throughput.  Publication.  Generated sales.  Talk to
  Steve Kleiman for confirmation.

* Single handly implemented POSIX conformance in the 4.x OS.  Bullet item
  on lots of sales.  Talk to Don Cragun for confirmation.

* Implemented smoosh - basis for Avocet and nselite.  Talk to Shannon for

* Implemented nselite - almost *all* kernel devlopment on 5.0 and 4.x 
  is currently under nselite.  Nselite has saved manyears of time (see
  Karl Danz and Larry Bassel for mgmt confirmation; Len Brown & Roger
  Faulkner for engineering confirmation; I also have statistics of
  usage:  nselite is more widely used than the NSE or Avocet).

* VM, swap, tmpfs performance.  I improved tmpfs write rates from 300KB to
  7MB / second.  Talk to Howard Chartok, Steve Kleiman, Peter Snyder for

* STREAMS, tty enhancements.  Done under POSIX but had nothing to do
  with POSIX.

* Porting tools for SunOS 4.x to any known Unix implementation.  Talk to
  Rob Gingell for confirmation.

* More fires in the kernel than I care to think about.  I can run through
  bug traq to find these, many are boring, but all consumed substantial 
  time.  I have somewhat of a reputation of a kernel hack largely because
  of these firedrills.

* Designed and built the first Sun clustered system, Sunbox.  Hired and
  managed a team.

* Taught two Quarters of Graduate level OS at Stanford while working full
  time at Sun.  TA-ed the same course before that, Stanford ask me to teach
  it when Bob Hagmann retired.

* Extensive consulting with other groups:

  - Lisp people, VM issues, Cris Perdue.
  - Fortran crowd, I/O issues, Robert Corbett.
  - SWSMON - kernel tuning, Anh Nuygun.
  - Dragon crowd I/O issues, SCSI performance, Jean-Marc Frailong.
  - Pluto people picked up many of the ideas in the SCSI card proposal,
    Dave Banks.
  - Avocet crowd is picking up all the positive ideas in nselite due to
    my team player efforts with them.  Talk to Marla and Giordano for
  - Okins group, SunBox, Okin for confirmation.
  - Mike Scott, HA NFS.
  - Disk performance, Rich Clewett.
  - Performance benchmarking, etc, Nhan Chu & group.
  - Big memory systems, Bill Peterson.
  - NFS group, performance, cache consistency, John Corbin.
  - UFS crowd, delayed I/O, quickcheck, Tom Wong, Blake Lewis.
  - SMCC, presto, omni, SCSI.

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