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

Warner Losh imp at bsdimp.com
Sat Mar 18 01:55:21 AEST 2017

On Thu, Mar 16, 2017 at 8:16 PM, Jason Stevens
<jsteve at superglobalmegacorp.com> wrote:
> Well $999 would get you source..
> https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/32/93939063_729b710163_z.jpg?zz=1
> With more and more magazines of the era being scanned and put online, I
> should try to find the 1800itsunix...

In June 1993, you could already get FreeBSD, NetBSD and 386BSD as well
as BSD 4.4-lite. I think Minix was also available and several other
'also ran' Unix clones of the era whose names have slipped from my

Most of the folks in this thread are lamenting the era before the Net2
release when nothing was available without some kind of encumbrance.
And they do have a point. Where you went to school mattered a lot for
how much access to the sources you could get.

But I was at a school that had a liberal source access policy. You
asked Mike and he told you where to find the source. :) Mike was the
director of the computer center, and he also told you not to release
it and it would be an expellable offense if you shared it or copied
off the servers. But at the time, I didn't have enough disk space on
my PC to do that.... and I always had dialin access to the encumbered
4.2BSD sources as well as the SunOS 3.x sources. But without a machine
to run it on, it was hard to hack the kernel, or even know the good
kernel code from the bad with certainty.... Wasn't until my senior
year that the OS course switched over from writing an OS for a
TOPS-20-like machine emulated on a TOPS-20 machine to writing modules
to replace bits of SunOS with your own code...

It was also part of an evolving notion of "OPEN". The SunOS systems
were Open. Totally Open. All the protocols they used were documented
and others could write implementations to them. And there was even a
sample implementation for things like NFS. For the day, that was super
open. Try it with VMS, which had some of the protocols documented and
some of those you could implement w/o running afoul of DEC's (claimed)
IP of various flavors... Sure, it isn't as Open as today, but it was
the first steps down that path...

So Unix has always been an open system. It's just that it's help drive
the notion of Open, including motivating people to work on Linux while
the last bits of it were being freed up and the inevitable legal
hassles that caused.... Of course, various commercial flavors
complicated this picture significantly....  But various commercial
Linux vendors don't really release their sources today, so it can be
hard to get all the bits you need, especially in BSP land.... So Linux
is open, but only mostly open since compliance isn't universal....


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