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

Wesley Parish wes.parish at paradise.net.nz
Thu Mar 16 10:46:40 AEST 2017

One of the problems was the hardware system price ratio to software system price. When you could get 
a 486 PC for $5-10k and the SysV source license (for 4.3BSD!) was $100k, it seemed rather monstrously 
disproportionate. :)

This mismatch didn't exist in the Minicomputer world, where a VAX cost rather more than $5-10k and 
the price for a source license was thus not disproportionate.


Wesley Parish

Quoting Clem Cole <clemc at ccc.com>:

> BTW Josh, I am trying to be respectful here. I suspect you are tad
> younger
> I am and your early introduction into UNIX was on the WINTEL platform,
> not
> on the DEC systems like mine. So, if I'm going to make a guess you were
> not in a position when you were introduced to be able to get access to
> the
> sources.
> So in your experience the UNIX source were closed to you personally
> (and
> many others). I get that. But it does not change the fact it, there
> were
> available and there open and were not a secret. Which was very
> different
> from many of "closed" systems (says Cisco, or much of the other
> infrastructure) of the day. They always have been. Even System V.
> It was quite easy to get source if you were willing (and could pay).
> I'm
> not suggesting that it was easy for you could and I understand that
> frustration. I personally would not have been able to pay for the
> licenses, but I was being employed by firms that could and valued my
> abilities, so they did. This was also true for many educational
> institutions.
> Sun and DEC actually were quite liberal with their source licenses,
> because
> AT&T had been. They had to be also - because their customer required
> it.
> The point is there is a difference between "open" and "free." There are
> a
> lot of things that are open and we can look at but not touch or have
> the
> wearwithall to modify. But that does not change their openness - we can
> still (and do) learn from them.
> Linus and many of us learned because UNIX (the ideas) and the basic
> implementations were open. We talked about them, they were well
> specified.
>  We wrote application that relied on those ideas, APIs etc. And Linus,
> Andy Tannenbaum and Plaguer before them reimplemented those ideas and
> created clones. *Unix was and is "open" and the implementations were
> and
> are available.* The problem for many is the price to look at the
> implementations - that I grant. And for many, for some of those
> implementations, can be high. But it does not make them "closed."
> The effect may seem that way to you, but it was not and is not the
> same.
> All, I'm asking you to say, is that traditional UNIX implementations
> such
> as System V were not "Free and Open," unlike Linux some of the other
> Unix
> clones. And that make all the difference.
> They were and still are open.
> On Wed, Mar 15, 2017 at 3:28 PM, Josh Good <pepe at naleco.com> wrote:
> > On 2017 Mar 14, 21:11, Clem Cole wrote:
> > >
> > > My point is that you (and many others) equate "open" and "free" - I
> ask
> > > you to please not make that error. Open means we can talk about it
> and
> > > share it, see it. Which is exactly what we did "back in the day".
> But
> > as
> > > people pointed out you had to pay AT&T to be a member of the UNIX
> club if
> > > you were commercial, although any University type could be apart
> for
> > free.
> >
> > What UNIX for PC in the '90s had the option to buy a source code
> license
> > for that specific version, so that PC hackers could write drivers for
> > their hardware and tune the kernel internals to their liking, or be
> able
> > to fix themselves a bug in the serial port driver, etc.?
> >
> > Certainly not OpenServer, not UnixWare nor SCO Xenix. Did DELL Unix
> > offered a payware source code license for their product? I'm not
> aware
> > of such.
> >
> > From System V onwards, UNIX became closed source in what matters,
> that
> > is, the version running on your hardware and the version with the
> drivers
> > you are using (unless you were an employee at IBM, DEC, HP or SUN
> running
> > propietary hardware and happened to be in the right group).
> >
> > It is obvious to me that RMS's GNU movement was aimed at solving that
> > very problem. And if that was a problem, then the "UNIX openness" you
> > talk about does not seem to have been very practical at all. At
> least,
> > it was totally useless to PC hackers, like Linus Torvalds - he had to
> > write his own UNIX, because he was not able to get any UNIX source
> code
> > he could readily compile and run on his i386.
> >
> > --
> > Josh Good
> >
> >

"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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