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

Wesley Parish wes.parish at paradise.net.nz
Thu Jan 5 13:00:06 AEST 2017

Quoting Larry McVoy <lm at mcvoy.com>:

> On Wed, Jan 04, 2017 at 07:50:27PM -0500, William Pechter wrote:
> > Where would the current FreeBSD be if you compared it with SunOS4?
> That's a good, and hard question. One of the nice things about SunOS4
> was the VM system and the VFS layer and the VNODE layer. Those were 
> really well thought out. They all, so far as I know, were Bill Joy
> dreams, but Steve Kleiman was the primary driver of the vnode design
> but I think Joe Moran was the main coder of all of that. It's one of
> those things that people copy but don't get right. I think Linux got
> closer than FreeBSD did.
> I haven't dug into the FreeBSD kernel in years so who knows, maybe
> it is fantastic. When I last looked it was lagging way behind SunOS
> (which isn't fair, Sun was a business and as such had buildings full of
> motivated people who were making it better. There was a building with
> just networking people in, we're talking a two story building with I
> dunno, ~100 offices). They threw more resources at it that FreeBSD has
> ever had.
> If you took the ~1992 SunOS and stacked it up against the 2016 FreeBSD,
> well I would hope that FreeBSD would be better but I wouldn't bet on it
> across the board. It would certainly have more drivers (and if we're
> being honest, that's 99% of the work, all this generic kernel stuff
> is super fun to talk about but all the real coding is in the drivers).
> I think the more interesting question is would {Free,Net,Open}BSD even
> exist if there had been a Free SunOS. I'm 100% convinced the answer 
> to that is a resounding no.

My understanding which was that of an interested layman in 1991 and just bitten by the bug, and based 
upon the comments of some of the computer science staff of the U of Canterbury, NZ, at that time, is 
that 386BSD held everybody's attention. (I mentioned in 1992 reading about Linux in a computer mag 
to one of them and he told me 386BSD was where the action was.) i80386 PCs were relatively cheap, 
BSD was (relatively) free from AT&T's legal claims, and 386BSD was even freer and targeted that cheap 
powerhorse. My guess is that if Sun had spun off a Free SunOS, it would've been ported to the 386. 
What would've happened then is anyone's guess.

Wesley Parish

"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 Goldwyn

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