[TUHS] SunOS vs Linux

Dan Cross crossd at gmail.com
Fri Jan 6 13:56:08 AEST 2017

On Wed, Jan 4, 2017 at 12:08 PM, Clem Cole <clemc at ccc.com> wrote:
> On Wed, Jan 4, 2017 at 11:17 AM, ron minnich <rminnich at gmail.com
> <https://mail.google.com/mail/?view=cm&fs=1&tf=1&to=rminnich@gmail.com>>
> wrote:
>> Larry, had Sun open sourced SunOS, as you fought so hard to make happen,
>> Linux might not have happened as it did. SunOS was really good. Chalk up
>> another win for ATT!
> ​FWIW:  I disagree​.  For details look at my discussion of  rewriting
> Linux in RUST
> <https://www.quora.com/Would-it-be-possible-advantageous-to-rewrite-the-Linux-kernel-in-Rust-when-the-language-is-stable>
> on quora.   But a quick point is this .... Linux original took off (and was
> successful) not because of GPL, but in spite of it and later the GPL would
> help it.  But it was not the GPL per say that made Linux vs BSD vs SunOS et
> al.
> What made Linux happen was the BSDi/UCB vs AT&T case.      At the time, a
> lot of hackers (myself included) thought the case was about *copyright*.
>   It was not, it was about *trade secret* and the ideas around UNIX.  *
> i.e.* folks like, we "mentally contaminated" with the AT&T Intellectual
> Property.
> When the case came, folks like me that were running 386BSD which would
> later begat FreeBSD et al, got scared.   At that time, *BSD (and SunOS)
> were much farther along in the development and stability.   But .... may of
> us hought Linux would insulate us from losing UNIX on cheap HW because
> their was not AT&T copyrighted code in it.    Sadly, the truth is that if
> AT&T had won the case, *all UNIX-like systems* would have had to be
> removed from the market in the USA and EU [NATO-allies for sure].
> That said, the fact the *BSD and Linux were in the wild, would have made
> it hard to enforce and at a "Free" (as in beer) price it may have been hard
> to make it stick.    But that it was a misunderstanding of legal thing that
> made Linux "valuable"  to us, not the implementation.
> If SunOS has been available, it would not have been any different.  It
> would have been thought of based on the AT&T IP, but trade secret and
> original copyright.

Yes, it seems in retrospect that USL v BSDi basically killed Unix (in the
sense that Linux is not a blood-relative of Unix). I remember someone
quipping towards the late 90s, "the Unix wars are over. Linux won."

Perhaps an interesting area of speculation is, "what would the world have
looked like if USL v BSDi hadn't happened *and* SunOS was opened to the
world?" I think in that parallel universe, Linux wouldn't have made it
particularly far: absent the legal angle, what would the incentive had been
to work on something that was striving to basically be Unix, when really
good Unix was already available?

Ah well.

        - Dan C.
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://minnie.tuhs.org/pipermail/tuhs/attachments/20170105/171c1fee/attachment.html>

More information about the TUHS mailing list