[TUHS] System Economics (was is Linux "officially branded UNIX")

Clem Cole clemc at ccc.com
Thu Mar 16 10:45:38 AEST 2017

Arthur's behavior, I think really proves my point....   you were able to do
that because UNIX was (is) open and was being studies and used by a lot of
people had folks did have access to the source. You did not see VMS, NT or
the like having academic books written about them, and used as models in OS
classes.  You would not have been able to do that with NT or VMS.

And whole point is that when AT&T did try to pull it back as a trade
secret, they failed.  The courts said -- no.  This is open....  this has
been published - this story has been told.  These ideas out "out there."

That is why if AT&T had >>won<< the BSDi/UCB case, technical Linux and all
the clone were in violation also.   It it was found to be a "secret" - but
the court made it clear.  It was not.  And by the way, the Lions book could
never be legally bought - it was the most copied text around.

The whole term "Open Systems" was used to define Unix to being with.   The
idea is that Unix was the first of OS that people really knew what was
happening under the covers.  There were no secrets - you got / could get
the sources (even with Sys V) but it might cost $s.

I also understand the disappointment that many of you had because you did
not have access to the sources.  I get it.  I see that would have been
frustrating.   Particularly when it was so close and yet so far.  And it
does seem like it was club that you couldn't belong, which I find sad
because many of never looked at that way.   I also see that if you were not
in that club, you might be seen by some "in the club" as not having done
anything "worthwhile" and need to "prove" something.

If that is what how you feel, I truly want to make sure you understand I do
not believe either of those things and never have.

Josh -- all I am asking is you to be respectful of the term and the folks
that created it, industry and frankly the market and opportunity that Linux
and today's tech has so wonderful exploited.  So I ask you to please call
it Free and Open and I'm fine either way, although it will grate me when I
see you and other make that misunderstanding.

I believe that Linux was and >>is<< important and it does matter!!!  The
Cool Kids did something, I am many others are thankful and proud of them
for doing ... it Linux is an great piece of technology and its paying a lot
of bills for a lot of people today (including me).  I do not want to be
seen and knocking Linux in anyway.

But I do see a lot of people "knocking" Unix because it was not "free" and
frankly it was a different world.   That's why I'm trying help explain the

Maybe it is too subtle for you to see and you had to live it to fully
understand it.

I fear you think because I did have access to sources, I think I was some
how special.  My point has always been, we really were not.  Other than the
specialness of the time was based on economics, because the cost of the
systems that ran UNIX was so high, that was what limited.    Which comes
back to my main thesis...  this is an argument about economics and cost --
WINTEL economics changed things -- so the question is asked -- did having
access to the sources play into the openness or not?

My point is that it was open >>before<< WINTEL existed, so you can change
it being open or not.   What "Free UNIX" did was make the "wisdom" spread
even faster - it was an accelerant but it did not change the basic piece.

UNIX was different .. it was open... it open up minds and created and
industry, which now Linux (a "free" UNIX implementation) is undisputed
leader - created by some cool folks that  I personally very much respect
and admire.

I do fear a problem is that you seem to be equating "open" with "having
access to the source" - where as the term was coined to mean "the ideas are
available for all to see and share in" - as in a mathematical, and academic
style of openness. Open University, Open Book, Open Ideas etc...   I
suspect your definition has narrowed that definition to include that unless
the sources are in front of you, *the ideas are not really available; *which
is why I cringe and it is a hot button for me and I find it wrong.

In the end, definition does not change the status of what Unix was.   It
was the definition of Open Systems -- it was published and I do stand
behind that.   And in the end, it could not be claimed as trade secret
because it was ->> by definition<<- open and known. But traditional Unix
from AT&T was never >>free<< and that fact is not going to change either.
It may some how in the future, but that past is true and as a result, Linus
and other did an end-around and created and awesome >>free<< solution.


On Wed, Mar 15, 2017 at 7:46 PM, Arthur Krewat <krewat at kilonet.net> wrote:

> Another common thread in this discussion has been universities had access
> to the source code, so just go ask the right people at your school.
> Which is all well and good, except for those that never went - for various
> reasons. I never even graduated High School ...
> I had "access" to the 4.2/4.3BSD sources, but only because a friend of
> mine worked at a university.
> It was when I was forewarned that said university threw away piles of
> VAXes and tapes that I then had my grubby hands on the source code to BSD
> and a few other things.
> This is where the NFS 2.0 source code came from that I gave to Warren :)
> When I got my grubby hands on FreeBSD, I nearly cried. This was before I
> went dumpster diving.
> On 3/15/2017 4:27 PM, Larry McVoy wrote:
>> In terms of source access, you're in the country club.
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