[TUHS] The evolution of Unix facilities and architecture

Clem Cole clemc at ccc.com
Thu May 11 10:49:37 AEST 2017

On Wed, May 10, 2017 at 10:08 AM, Diomidis Spinellis <dds at aueb.gr> wrote:

> I've made available on GitHub a series of tables showing the evolution of
> Unix facilities (as documented in the man pages) over the system's lifetime
> [1] and two diagrams where I attempted to draw the corresponding
> architecture [2].  I've also documented the process in a short blog post
> [3].  I'd welcome any suggestions for corrections and improvements you may
> have, particularly for the architecture diagrams.
> [1] https://dspinellis.github.io/unix-history-man/

​fsck(8) is not a BSD program.   It is a CMU program originally, although
Michigan can sort of claim it also. Ted Kowalski is (was) the primary
author of fsck.  He started writing an earlier idea for it at Michigan,
which came from something like it he had seen on MTS, I believe called
"Scavenger" and IIRC we had also had TSS called 'Vulture' - which cleaned
up the 'carrion' after a disk crash (MTS and TSS are brothers for the IBM
360/67 and a number of early UNIX hacker also cut their teeth).   Anyway,
fsck, scavenger and vulture were all of the same idea.   The primary work
was done on the CMU 11/34 EE Digital lab system, in first floor of
Hammershag Hall in the mid-1970s.   Note, I had a >>very<< small hand in
fsck, as Ted was teaching me about C at the time (you can blame me for the
upper case error messages - that how MTS and TSS worked in those days).

If you look at edits and style it's clearly Ted's code.  BTW:  Ted took the
sources to fsck back to the labs when he finished it, and the program was
first released via the Summit streams but I can not tell which one [I think
PWB 2.0 was the first 'official' AT&T version - aps his old office mate at
Summit, might know].
I believe one of the AT&T features was support for RP06, which took
'swapping' and the temporary paging file stuff on the PDP-11.   That was
not need at CMU because we did not have disk that large on our PDP-11s.

Note it was was originally written for the for the 6th edition FS (which I
hope I have still have the sources in my files) as well as later for the
7th edition (or as Ted would called it UNIX/TS - which we had had a CMU
shortly after he had upgraded us - we ran a hybrid system until the 1979
when V7 was finally released).   I believe Noel recovered a copy in his
files recently.     As I have said previously, fsck migrated to a number of
sites independently - via mag tape most likely; Noel has pointed out that
MIT had it in the late 1970s also, probably brought back from BTL by one of
their summer students.   That said, it went more main stream via the BSD
4.x tapes when Joy passed it on, but all of that pre-dates BSD 4.x.

How UCB (Joy) got it is unknown, although I have also pointed out that Ted
was Joy's housemate at Michigan when they were undergrads, and Ted quite
likely sent him a tape or someone like Ken or any number of other BTL folks
could have brought it with him when they were there.​

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