[TUHS] finding help in v7 in 1980

Noel Chiappa jnc at mercury.lcs.mit.edu
Sat Nov 11 04:32:30 AEST 2017

    > From: Will Senn

    > what was it like to sit down and learn unix V7 on a PDP? ... What
    > resources did you consult in your early days

Well, I started by reading through the UPM (the 8-section thing, with commands
in I, system calls in II, etc). I also read a lot of Unix documentation which
came as larger documents (e.g the Unix Intro, C Tutorial and spec, etc).

I should point out that back then, this was a feasible task. Most man pages
were really _a_ page, and often a short one. By the end of my time on the PWB1
system, there were about 300 commands in /bin (which includes sections II, VI
and VIII), but a good chunk (I'd say probably 50 or more) were ones we'd
written. So there were not that many to start with (section II was maybe 3/4"
of paper), and you could read the UPM in a couple of hours. (I read through it
more than once; you'd get more retained, mentally, on each pass.)

There were no Unix people at all in the group at MIT which I joined, so I
couldn't ask around; there were a bunch in another group on the floor below,
although I didn't use them much - mostly it was RTFM.

Mailing lists? Books? Fuhgeddaboutit!

My next step in learning the kernel was to start reading the sources. (I
didn't have access to Lyons.) I did an 'cref' of the entire system, and
transferred the results to a large piece of paper, so I could see who was
calling who in the kernel.

    > What were your goto resources? More than just man and the sources?

That's all there was!

I should point out that reading the sources to command 'x' taught you more
than just how 'x' worked - you saw how people interacted with the kernel, what
it could do, etc, etc.


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