[TUHS] The evolution of Unix facilities and architecture

Clem Cole clemc at ccc.com
Sat May 13 01:46:08 AEST 2017

I just did a small amount of hunting.  The oldest printed USENIX Proceeding
seems to be 1983 [which was the one Rob gave 'cat -v considered harmful' -
although only the abstract is in it].

George did the ordered writes work earlier as I was still at Tektronix,
because I remember getting a tape from him a putting the changes into our
V7 system.

If we hunt around for a 'Purdue-EE' distribution circa '79-'81 we should be
able to find it.  BTW: as a piece of History for Diomidis on that same tape
is fix for one of the first '0-day' UNIX exploits I can remember.  I'll see
if I can find it and identify it for you.   That would be a good piece of
history to call out.

The story is this ...

George was very upset when he found it.  But this was during the time when
UNIX was fighting a bit for it's life in the press as not being a 'real'
OS.   DEC and IBM making claims that it was a toy, *etc*.   So most of the
the hacker community took it pretty seriously.   It is funny, today we
would react in the opposite manner.,  But, there was a big 'hush-hush'
meeting at a Summer USENIX that was very exclusive to be invited too.    We
were in a private conference room, the door was locked etc.   I remember
that Dennis was there, Joy was there. Ron's old friend Mike must have been
in it.  I think a couple of the Rand folks.   Anyway - it was an issue with
profile(2) -- surprise, surprise.   Pretty easy fix.   We all took the code
back and promised to get patches out ASAP and not tell any one about it.


On Fri, May 12, 2017 at 11:18 AM, Clem Cole <clemc at ccc.com> wrote:

> I should have said -- it was not hypothetical -- George implemented it
> and published the code and we all picked it up,
> On Fri, May 12, 2017 at 11:17 AM, Clem Cole <clemc at ccc.com> wrote:
>> George Gobble of Purdue did the FS work to V7/4.1 to fix the FS
>> corruption issues.   That was taken back by Kirk (wnj) and incorporated in
>> 4.1A.    It may have been before USENIX was creating proceedings.   I'll
>> have to look on my shelf at home or maybe ask George.
>> Clem
>> On Fri, May 12, 2017 at 11:12 AM, Noel Chiappa <jnc at mercury.lcs.mit.edu>
>> wrote:
>>>     > From: "Ron Natalie"
>>>     > Ordered writes go back to the original BSD fast file system, no?
>>> I seem
>>>     > to recall that when we switched from our V6/V7 disks, the
>>> filesystem got
>>>     > a lot more stable in crashes.
>>> I had a vague memory of reading about that, so I looked in the canonical
>>> FFS
>>> paper (McKusick et al, "A Fast File System for UNIX" [1984)]) but found
>>> no
>>> mention of it.
>>> I did find a paper about 'fsck' (McKusick, Kowalski, "Fsck: The UNIX File
>>> System Check Program") which talks (in Section 2.5. "Updates to the file
>>> system") about how "problem[s] with asynchronous inode updates can be
>>> avoided
>>> by doing all inode deallocations synchronously", but it's not clear if
>>> they're
>>> talking about something that was actually done, or just saying
>>> (hypothetically) that that's how one would fix it.
>>> Is is possible that the changes to the file system (e.g. the way free
>>> blocks
>>> were kept) made it more crash-proof?
>>>      Noel
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