[TUHS] Happy birthday, Dennis Ritchie! [ really sun vs dec/apollo --> X and NeWS ]
arnold at skeeve.com
arnold at skeeve.com
Wed Sep 13 17:30:22 AEST 2017
And buried in this story is another reason Unix / BSD people went with
Sun --- (if you had the licenses) they would give you source! Even for
educational institutions, where I mostly worked, getting source out of
DEC / IBM / HP was essentially impossible.
"Steve Johnson" <scj at yaccman.com> wrote:
> Funny. From the outside I had a rather different view of why Sun was
> In 1986 I came to CA to work for what became Ardent/Stardent. We
> made the decision to go with Sun disc-less workstations. They got us
> more computing power, on paper, for less $$.
> Roughly a quarter of the machines shipped to us were DOA. When we
> got them running, the OS had a memory leak and needed to be rebooted
> several times a day. The NFS server had the delightful property of
> sometimes inserting 1024 zeros into a file it was writing or
> serving. (It was so bad that we hacked the OS to check every
> executable for 0-blocks in the instruction space and refuse to run
> it. This was especially true for the MIPS cross compiler -- 0 was a
> NOP on the MIPS, and encountering a block of zeros caused execution to
> slide down a slippery slope of NOPs into the middle of some other
> routine with a different stack layout, where it proceeded to do the
> most mysterious things...)
> We would go out to lunch every day and trash talk Sun up one side and
> down the other. And then we would go back to work and order more
> Suns. Because THEY UNDERSTOOD WHAT WE NEEDED, and were TRYING TO
> GIVE IT TO US. The other manufacturers were selling application
> delivery vehicles rather than attempting to support software
> development. Eventually we ironed out many of the issues (often by
> changing or hacking the code). The only fly in the ointment was the
> service department. Dealing with Sun customer service was like
> spitting into the wind. We would report the same bug every week and
> they swore the bug had not been reported before. The memory leak
> problem became so serious that we told them that we would only renew
> the service agreement if they would put a date when that would be
> fixed. They refused to do so, and we canceled the service contract,
> bought a couple of extra Suns for spares, and heaved a sigh of relief.
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Jon Steinhart" <jon at fourwinds.com>
> To:<tuhs at tuhs.org>
> Sent:Tue, 12 Sep 2017 08:35:24 -0700
> Subject:Re: [TUHS] Happy birthday, Dennis Ritchie! [ really sun vs
> dec/apollo --> X and NeWS ]
> arnold at skeeve.com writes:
> > In particular, the creation of NFS and then the efforts to make it
> > a de-facto standard (giving away the RPC and XDR code) was a HUGE
> > They weren't afraid to swim upstream, either. Even though NeWS
> never took
> > off (even when combined with an X server), it was an interesting
> > ahead of its time even.
> It's interesting that you mention the two of these together. It's my
> opinion that the main reason that NeWS failed was because of the
> of NFS.
> I recall that Apollo was really pissed off by NFS because they felt
> their token-ring network was better but lost because NFS was given
> In hindsight, they were wrong; while the token-ring performed better
> large networks, the advent of switches made that moot. In any case,
> NeWS was released nobody except Sun knew how to do the graphics (even
> Adobe didn't know how to do it fast for display) and Apollo et. al.
> worried that Sun would give NeWS away and make it yet another de
> standard a la NFS. This led to the formation of the Hamilton Group
> was a thinly-disguised industry consortium that existed only for the
> purpose of making sure that NeWS didn't succeed.
> > DEC, IBM, and HP, all seemed to be playing follow the leader to Sun
> > many years.
> I mentioned this to a lot of people after Sun died. Few seem to
> how much of what became PC manufacturing technology resulted from
> at Sun.
> ron at ronnatalie.com writes:
> > NeWS had serious issues. However, the same guy who was the NeWS
> > learned from mistakes and the result was the must more successful
> > tehnology: JAVA.
> I'm going to take issue with the above. NeWS had way fewer serious
> than X. It's main reason for failure was the coordinated effort to
> kill it
> from others in the industry. As the guy who single-handedly prevented
> from becoming an ANSI standard, I'd be happy to start another thread
> this topic if people are interested. Part of the result of the
> Group effort was the misguided attempt to merge X and NeWS which was
> botched disaster.
> Java is not the result of learning from mistakes in NeWS. I have
> joked with
> James that I feel that his legacy is being the person who first
> realizes that
> technology is changing to the point where something can be done using
> interpreter. If you look at his project history, he's done this many
> I think that it's more accurate to say that Java is the result of a
> of learning from interpreter projects. I fully expect some new
> to take over AWS sometime soon :-)
More information about the TUHS