[TUHS] SunOS vs Linux

Joerg Schilling schily at schily.net
Tue Jan 10 21:02:45 AEST 2017

Rico Pajarola <rp at servium.ch> wrote:

> Now stop picking on Joerg already. Not every university was invested in
> Unix. In practice Unix source was pretty much unobtainable if you happened
> to live outside of the "Unix bubble".
> I grew up and went to school/university in Switzerland, and getting access
> to UNIX source was nothing but a crazy pipe dream at the time. I don't even
> know if my university had a source license (I can't imagine they didn't),
> but in any case it wasn't something that they would let you use as a normal
> student. None of my inquiries at the time resulted in anything that would
> allow me to get access to Unix source. If the university had it, this
> wasn't public information, and they didn't share. I couldn't prove that my
> university had a license, and I had no way to get the actual bits. This was
> the 90ies btw.

Well, I did not say that it was easy and that every university did have source 
access, but universities that had people who have been interested in UNIX did 
usually try to get source access.

It did take time to get it and I remember that TU-Berlin received the Svr2 
sources when AT&T launched Svr3.

In order to get SunOS source code, you needed to have a AT&T source license and 
another from Sun. This was close to impossible for a smaller company......

On the other side, Sun did give away parts of the SunOS source that was not 
based on AT&T code. If you have been a big OEM (and H.Berthold AG was a big 
OEM) you received what Sun believed was helpful for business. I e.g. received 
the keyboard driver in spring 1986 and I wrote the enhancements to support 155 
keys from the Berthold keyboard and to switch layouts for different languages.

In January 1986, I received a one sheet of paper description for a SCSI VME 
board that was made of a DMA chip and a few PALs. I wrote a SCSI driver and we 
demonstrated a SCSI interface to our high resolution scanner at the "Drupa"
fair in April 1986 in Düsseldorf. The demo used a diskless client machine as I 
could either bind the Sun SCSI framework into the kernel or mine and then we 
could no longer access disks. 

Sun mamagers attended that fair and a few weeks later, I had access to the Sun 
SCSI driver framework and to Matthew Jacobs - the architect of that code. This 
resulted in my "scg" driver, the first SCSI pass through driver that I used to
e.g. format disks while the kernel was running. Sun at that time had to boot a 
standalone program for disk formatting, but Sun did take my idea after I 
explained it to Matthew Jacobs.

Even with these connections, I was not able to get a AT&T source license for a 
complete SunOS kernel source. This was because IIRC the AT&T license did cost 
200000 $ for non-university entities and H.Berthold AG would not spend that 
much money for a source license. Here Horst Winterhoff helped and asked Bill 
Joy whether he could give me the sources for my dimploma thesis.

So you are right, you had to be somehow connected to the right people to get 
source access. But people who have been interested usually have been 
connected...even though the world was harder to explore these days.


 EMail:joerg at schily.net                  (home) Jörg Schilling D-13353 Berlin
       joerg.schilling at fokus.fraunhofer.de (work) Blog: http://schily.blogspot.com/
 URL:  http://cdrecord.org/private/ http://sourceforge.net/projects/schilytools/files/

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